A Dream Of Peace


claire_icon.gif noah_icon.gif

Scene Title A Dream of Peace
Synopsis Shattered.
Date January 28, 2020

Rolling hills of grass threaten the steep incline of nearby mountains. Here, the air is crisp and clean and birdsong carries for miles against the soft patter of lightly falling rain. There is only one house to mar the natural landscape here, surrounded by dense boughs of douglas fir trees. The simple wooden cabin, intended for one but not built for two, glistens with freshly fallen rain.

There is an old pickup truck parked beside the house, a 1967 Ford, engine idling. It’s vehicles like that, old ones built before the advent of computers in cars, that survived the electromagnetic burst that created the Pacific Northwest Dead Zone. Rust is a greater threat to the vehicle these days, but it still has several more years left in it.

At the back of the truck, Noah Bennet makes a concerted grunt of effort as he lowers the tailgate and reaches in to grab a battered old cooler stacked beside two others. “Clairebear!” He calls up to the cabin, “I’m back!” He’d gone out to visit the Guardians, to trade firewood for fresh meat and vegetables from their gardens. He’d also gone to offer logistical advice, discreetly, but he never presumes that’s worth anything.

The two loaves of fresh bread still sitting in the passenger seat say otherwise.

Near Snoqualmie State Park
Snoqualmie, Washington
PNW Dead Zone
January 28th
3:14pm Local Time

For Claire Bennet, it’s been a long road since coming out to Snoqualmie. The Dead Zone is anything but, at least this far north. Life has been simple, traditional, quiet. It’s been more than a year since she left Wolfhound behind and reconciled with her father, a year since she realizes that the Noah Bennet who would kick in doors and fight didn’t exist anymore. It was more than a year ago when she decided to stay and help take care of him.

There’s no modern hospitals out in Snoqualmie, no healers. Noah Bennet isn’t sure what he has, and Claire is among the few people that know for sure that he has anything. Maybe it’s just old age, maybe it’s something else. But he’s been falling from time to time, dropping things he’d been trying to hold. Can’t keep his hands steady much anymore either. Her father was always someone invincible in her eyes, someone larger than life. Now, it seems, life is larger than him.

Today he insisted he could make the drive out to the Guardians on his own. He was feeling better. It’s a less than fifteen minute drive, and he came back in one piece. It didn’t stop Claire from worrying the entire time. But it’s the more mundane tasks he needs help with. Dishes, chopping firewood for when the nights get cold, keeping company. He was all alone out here, largely by his own design, to pay penance for what he’d done in his younger years.

In some ways, he sees this turn of events as the best thing to happen to him in years. He has his daughter back, and nothing else matters.

“Don’t you dare lift anything!” Comes the muffled yell from in the cabin, Claire heard the truck and was rushing to get a jacket and pull her boots on. In fact, as the door swings open, she’s pulling on her last boot.

There was a time when she didn’t need to worry about the cold, Claire couldn’t get sick. However, ever since her ability had faded away…

Claire sneezes and, in a hurry, runs a jacket sleeve under her nose.

She often found herself with some sort of cold. It was part of the reason she stayed behind… or at least unless she wanted to see Walker. Yeah, Claire might have a crush. (Sorry daddy!) Laces still lose on one boot, she is out the door and down the stairs. Of course, before he can complain about carelessness, she pauses long enough to tie the laces.

Slightly breathless, Claire is by his side, attempting to take the cooler from him. Her nose is red from the current cold. It’s winding down, but still a bother. “Go sit, I got this.” The cooler she swung off the back of the truck and held to the side, so that she can go up on tiptoes and give her father a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Welcome home, daddy,” is added sweetly as an afterthought, to try and take the sting away from Claire wresting control of the cooler from him.

Noah’s smile is short and simple, but also stubborn as hell as he only reluctantly lets go of the cooler. “I’ll go make some room in the icebox,” he notes as if he has to sound like he’s busy doing something while Claire is helping out. Too many years of being the one to nag her to do anything as a father, and now he feels guilty when he can’t help out in return as much as he’d like.

Slipping away from Claire, Noah makes his way into the cabin with her not far behind. The other cooler and the bread in the truck are left waiting for them. Halfway to the kitchen, Noah pats down his pockets and hisses. “Forgot the keys in the truck,” he mumbles, embarrassed. “I’ll be right back,” he clarifies, sidling past Claire with a quick touch of his hand to her shoulder as she’s coming in.

She can see Noah through the windows, stepping back out into the rain, walking along the front side of the cabin and then out of sight. The interior of the house still smells like firewood, more than half cleaned up from the earlier-than-spring cleaning Claire had been doing while Noah was out. They’re having Candace over for dinner tonight, it would be nice if the place wasn’t quite as cluttered. Even if she’ll probably make it so they’re having dinner on a tropical beach somewhere. It’s the thought that counts.

“Hand rail,” Claire offers as a reminder as she continues into the kitchen and set down the cooler. She knows she sounds like her mother when she says stuff like that, in fact, she might be grimacing slightly. The lid is only half opened, when her eyes move to follow his path out to the truck.

Only when he gets out of sight does Claire let out of the breath she was holding and finish opening the lid. As she starts to unload the first cooler, lips press together. “Shit. Did he forget the dill?” she murmurs under her breath. Maybe it was in the other cooler.

“Hey, Daddy? You got the dill right?” It was a simple thing, but the fact the most she had to worry about was if he had remembered the dill… it was amazingly freeing. Something she’s been thankful for every day.

Noah doesn’t respond immediately, but on the same token the noise of the truck engine idling doesn’t stop either. Claire packs away a few more things in the icebox, and then still hears the sound of the truck’s noisy engine through the cabin wall. It had been a few minutes. Too long.


Claire looks up from the cooler, brows furrowed. The woman listens for a moment, ear tilted towards the door. It wouldn’t be the first time he doesn’t hear her, but like always that little chill of unease settles into her stomach. The cooler is abandoned in favor of finding her father. “Dad?” This time there is concern in her voice. Worry.

What if he fell again? Cracked open his head.

Scenarios play through the former-regenerators head as she heads for the door. Claire’s steps quickening as she steps through the doorway. “Hey, groceries need putting away, you’re not getting out of that.” It was a lame attempt at covering the growing brick of anxiety.

Claire run!” Is the strangled response that she hears come from the back of the truck. She turns reflexively toward the sound and finds Noah flat on the ground, his glasses broken and a boot in the small of his back. Standing over Noah, a brunette woman in a slim-fitting suit of black body armor stares up at Claire with vibrant gold eyes.


Claire is familiar with the sonorous hum of telekinesis and she can feel that subtle vibration in the air all around Lanhua Chen. “I don’t want to have to kill him,” she says to Claire, “but I will if you so much as move.”

The pained sound of her father’s voice washes over her like a bucket of ice cold water, sending her forward a few steps towards him. At least, until the threat is issued and she stumbles to a stop. “No.” Claire blurts out in a panic hands out with palms pointed towards the woman, blue eyes wide with panic.

See? Claire is still, like an immovable statue. This stranger has her full attention. “Don’t hurt him, please.” Her father can hear the pleading edge to her voice. No matter how much he wanted her to run, she didn’t want to lose him. He was all she had left. “What do you want?! We don’t have anything.” They lived simply for a reason.

“Don’t ask me,” Lanhua says with a snap, motioning with her chin toward Claire. For a moment there’s confusion on how to interpret the gesture, until the hairs on the back of Claire’s neck stand on end and she feels a hand come down on her shoulder. “Ask her.

The woman behind Claire is as unfamiliar as she is striking, but it’s her eyes that Claire has seen before. Those unnaturally blue, cold, lifeless eyes that once haunter her uncle Peter’s face, eyes that once haunted the face of Kazimir Volken himself. Claire feels the deathly chill of something otherworldly sink into her shoulder like a thousand biting teeth, shooting pain up through her bones.


“Come with me,” the vessel of the black conduit says to Claire, “and he lives. A life for a life.” Noah has not looked away from Claire for a moment, his eyes pleading with her to run, to leave him behind, to get away even though he fears — knows — that may not be an option any longer.

There was a time that Claire was better about situational awareness, but not now. Not after a year of peace. So the hand on her shoulder is startling, making the small woman jump. Breath catching as she twists a look over her shoulder. My god… whispers through her mind, but doesn’t pass clenched teeth. As the sense of her mortality sinks in, Claire knows.

Now she was truly scared.

Her head whips around to meet her father’s eyes. She can already see her decision, just from the love that shows. Claire’s whole world was under Lanhua’s boot. “O-o-kay. Just… please let him live.”

Her fate decided, Claire mouths ‘I’m sorry.’ to her father.

Claire, no!” Noah hisses, but Lanhua spreads her fingers and presses his face down into the cold, wet earth with an unseen hand. Her gold eyes level back on Claire, then sweep to the black conduit’s vessel. Without another word, Lanhua steps off of Noah’s back and walks over him, then proceeds to stride towards Claire, flexing her hand open and closed as she releases him from her telekinetic grasp.

“Smart move,” Lanhua finally says as she approaches Claire, angling a look back over her shoulder as Noah who struggles to push himself up from the mud. The vessel for the black conduit steps around to the other side of Claire, and momentarily her eyes likewise turn gold before they flutter shut. She spreads her arms, palms upturned, and begins to radiate a rippling heat mirage around her body.

Noah struggles on the ground, reaching inside his zippered jacket, but when he finally withdraws the revolver from his underarm holster there’s a flash of light and a crack of thunder and all three are gone, save for smoking footprints where they once stood. Noah exhales a shuddering breath, gun hand trembling as rain streaks down his face.

No,” he whispers, jaw trembling.


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