A Light In The Darkness


bf_cassandra_icon3.gif elisabeth4_icon2.gif vf_kaylee_icon3.gif

Scene Title A Light in the Darkness
Synopsis An unexpected reunion brings a sliver of hope.
Date November 8, 2017

Resistance HQ

The trauma of arrival, the ride in the bus, the place they've landed… Elisabeth, like most of the others, needs a little time to wrap her head around it. On the bus, Elisabeth kept Aurora cradled to her in her lap, snuggled under her chin and finally sleeping thanks to an extra boost by Aunt Kaylee. Exhaustion is a real thing coupled with the shock of finding out they're not landing home…

They're in one piece. They're …. safe is not the right word. But they survived to get here. And regrouping is going to take a little time. The failure to arrive home is gut-wrenching. Elisabeth sought out this quiet corner and let Aurora explore a bit, to unexpected results. They've already met one of the inhabitants of the place. It was a bigger shock than she was expecting, and the conversation with Aurora over why the other Liz's voice looks the same to the little girl as her mother's was not exactly simple.

"So she's the same as you but not you?" Aura asks again, trying to make that make sense.

Elisabeth patiently explains once more. "This is a whole other world, sweetheart. It's like when you look in the mirror and you can see yourself there? The hole that Mateo makes lets you step to the other side and come out in a world on the other side of the mirror. There aren't all the same people, but there will be a lot of the same people." For a little girl born into and raised in a world where powers were the norm, the explanation is actually perhaps a little simpler than trying to explain alternate worlds to kids here in Wasteland, the audiokinetic muses.

"Huh." The 5-year-old snuggles down into the blanket they have and ponders the thought. "She doesn't like me," she observes.

Blinking down at the girl, Liz quirks a brow. "What makes you say that?"

"Her blues and greens are… darker?" Aurora doesn't know how to explain that.

"Well, maybe it's just that her voice is just enough different than mine — maybe she didn't sing as much, so the notes in my voice have something her voice doesn't. Or maybe she got hurt in her throat and it's roughing up her sound," Elisabeth suggests. "I don't think it has anything to do with her feelings, though — my voice doesn't change with my feelings, right?"

Aurora ponders. "Nope. It's always the same color, even when you're mad," she agrees.

"Well, there you go then." Elisabeth grins faintly. "Get some sleep. Aunt Kaylee's gonna come over in a bit and I think I need a nap." And she knows the child does. She finally gets her daughter settled again for some more sleep. She allows herself an hour to lay with Aurora before gently disentangling herself and covering the little girl carefully, leaving her under the watchful eye of her aunt. Making her way to her feet, she goes looking for some answers. Or maybe just… to get up to speed on what to expect next.

The bombed-out building that Nancy and the Bus Tribe have taken up residence is just that - the shell of a building that’s been shaken and cratered, with several gaping holes in the roof that somehow don’t affect the structural stability of the rest of the building. Built long before the war, thick stone walls and steel trusses make the place more of an impromptu fortress than a warehouse, allowing people to relax in temporary security with a solid place to put between them and the world.

Most everything of value stored here had been shipped to other locations long before the war, and most of the crates that remain have been ransacked for anything of use or value. Notably, several pallets of charcoal have been left in a corner out of the weather, giving people the chance to make light and cook what meager supplies they’ve managed to collect. With the damage to the roof confined to one of the outer corners, temporary barriers have been put into place to keep the worst of the dust from swirling around, allowing those that call this place a refuge to have a brief but welcome respite from the howling wind and dust that seems to be everywhere in this world.

In a puddle of light in one of the offices with an outside window, an executive desk has been transformed into a workbench. The blotter, once the domain of bills of sale and personnel reports, has been replaced by the components of a partially disassembled submachine gun, the woman sitting with her back to the door as she performs a quick teardown and clean of her weapon. The soft click of precision machined parts sliding against each other can be heard as she lifts the bolt out of the bolt carrier, wiping it off with a clean, oiled cloth before slipping it back in, turning her head slightly when another woman pokes her head in to ask her a question.

What exactly is asked probably can’t be heard, but the response is. “Sure, tonight, once everyone is settled down. Get your things and come back here. We’ll look back to the good times before.”

The woman bobs her head in thanks and runs off, leaving a small trinket on the ledge by the door - several rounds of ammunition and a bottle of water - that are taken in and set aside as the woman with the gun starts to sing in French Creole.

It’s an odd song to hear sung, certainly. Disassembling and reassembling a gun in time to the music is the last place you’d expect to hear anything children’s music, and in French Creole, it’s a little jarring. The song is familiar, but the words don’t seem right until the beat can be determined. It’s something more apt to be sung to a child being played with. When the chorus comes, it’s obvious…

“Oh, M. Soleil, Soleil, M.Soleil d’or, S'il te plait brille sur moi…”

She knows the lyrics, and the sound of them brings a lump to her throat. Cassie used to sing it to Aurora, before she was sucked into a vortex to God only knows where. Elisabeth takes a moment to brace herself before clearing her throat, pretty much expecting that she's about to come face-to-face with the current analog of Cassandra Baumann. "Excuse me?" she says quietly. "I was hoping I could get a sitrep so I can get up to speed around here?"

The submachine gun is slowly coming together as Cassie sings. Raffi in the middle of a war zone is one of the crazier things that may be heard. It’s with the final click of magazine into the gun that she trails off, hanging her head a little as she reaches up to wipe something off of her cheek, her head low, letting out a slow breath. This is a place of somewhat safety, so she’s not entirely on guard all the time, as she normally is, so Elisabeth’s approach, while noted, isn’t entirely met with suspicion or a drawn weapon. It’s met with resignation. Another request for the past, more than likely. Something she’s gotten used to in her months here. Her ability gives people the ability to escape this place into the memories of happier times for a short time, almost like Eve does with her intoxicants. This person approaching, more than likely, will have another of those requests.

It’s the voice, though, that hits her. Like an electric shock, coursing from head to toe. The simple request for a sitrep has Cassie sitting straight up, elbows locked, gripping the edge of the desk for a second as she tries to calm the sudden increase in her heart rate. It can’t be her, can it? Still, with her back to the door, there’s a slight movement of the seated woman’s head - a nod of assent. “I don’t know much about what’s going on, I’m sorry, but I’ll fill you in on what I know. We just had some new arrivals from God knows where and the rumor mill is in full effect..” The old office chair creaks as Cassandra turns fully to face the woman in the door, gaze starting at her feet and moving up, stopping when she reaches the other woman’s face. “Oh my god….”

Her hands come up to her mouth in shock, eyes wide. “L…liz?”

A faint smile quirks her lips. "I'm sorry… I didn't mean to startle you. I… yes, I'm Liz. But… not yours." Elisabeth's regret is plain — she's assuming this is Wasteland's Cassandra. "I just came in with the travelers. We weren't exactly expecting to land here, so anything you can tell me would be welcome."

Cassandra is quiet for a few moments, the occasional gust of wind punctuating the silence that fills the room. And then, finally, she speaks.

“I never met this world’s Liz.” she begins, her voice quiet, gaze fixed on the other woman. “I’m a traveller too. Probably from an entirely different reality than yours…Jesus..” The chair leans back with a creak, Cassie’s hands coming up to push through her hair in frustration. “It all seems so insane when I even think back on it - like the plot of a soon-to-be-cancelled tv series or something, but it /really happened/ and here I am.” She sits back up, her boots clomping on the floor, a small cloud of dust rising from the impact of her feet. “Here’s the gist of it all. I was working for a company called Pinehearst back in my world, and was hired to research an experiment for them, called Looking Glass. Things happened, and I was given a choice. Either I face an ongoing early morning assault from evolved attackers in my pajamas, bent on killing me and everyone else in the complex and taking control of Looking Glass, or turning the damn thing on, rolling the dice and ending up wherever this is.”

She looks over her shoulder at the outside world, through the grimy, dust-coated window for a second or two, before looking back at the dark-haired woman. “Potential instantaneous obliteration and a chance at life or being hunted for a few terrifying hours before I caught a bullet was the choice, so I came through the gate and, poof. Here I am.” She sits quietly for a second. “My Liz? She was my best friend. I gave her information on Looking Glass because she needed to know it. I know I deleted some memories for her, but what they were, I have no clue. Hell, I even babysat her daughter Aurora when I was in New York from a little bit after she was born until about…middle of 2015, when I got stuck out in Colorado.” Cassie wipes her face again, trying her best. She’s not crying, you’re crying. “I was teaching Rory creole. She said my words looked like lavender. It’s silly, isn’t it? What we think about sometimes?”

“That’s neither here nor there, though.” This can’t possibly be /that/ Liz, right. “Let’s get started.….how much history of this place do you know already? If anything, I’m pretty good at history and recounting facts.” And in fact, she is. When Eve wasn’t putting her through her paces, Cassie was learning about what brought the world to this state because what else could she do? Got to know where you stand before you can find which direction to go in.

By the time she is halfway through her recitation, Elisabeth has tears running down her face and her hands are covering her mouth. She literally bends double standing there like that, holding in the anguish and the guilt. Straightening up, she sucks in a huge breath, still fighting back …. Screams? Sobs? Maybe she doesn't even know. "Oh God, Cassandra… I tried so hard to get to you!" She wraps her arms around her middle, too overwhelmed to even really do anything else. "I sent help… but it was already too late. I got the message you left. I…. I didn't even know what the hell to tell your parents. Oh…. Oh God." She wavers a little and slowly sinks to the floor, sitting down hard.

Everything seems to sort of blur into itself for the foreseeable future. Even Eve, with her precognition, wouldn’t be able to predict what’s coming next. The admissions from Liz hit, solid blows causing the younger woman to curl into herself, her eyes clamping closed in an effort to stem the surge of tears that comes without warning. Pushing herself up, Cassandra manages to stay upright for a second on wobbly knees before she taking several halting steps towards Liz - Her Liz - before her legs just kind of stop working. She sinks to the ground right next to the other woman, just inside the doorway of the office, reaching out for the other woman’s hands from her spot on the floor.

“I….” Cassandra’s voice cracks, one hand coming up to scrub her eyes with the back of her hand, trying to wipe the tears away, to be strong, but that really doesn’t help. “I…I always told Rory that it was okay to cry when you were sad or happy.” she stammers, choking back a sob before lunging toward Liz, pulling her into a tight hug. “It wasn’t your fault, Liz…it wasn’t my fault either. It…it just kind of happened and I ended up here.”

Wrapping her arms tightly around the younger woman, Elisabeth gasps out sobs that are stifled into Cassie's shoulder. So much to say… and no words to do it. All she can do is hold the girl who is little more than a child herself while they both do a little crying. Or a lot of crying. When she can finally get it under control, Elisabeth lets her go and leans back, cradling Cass's jaw while she looks the girl over. "Jesus. I can't even believe…. You've been here since then?" Christ.

"I'm so fucking far beyond grateful that you survived, Cass. Aura's gonna be over the moon."

Cassandra nods, the tears flowing freely now - tears of joy that she’s found her friend again. Thankfully, emotions do tend to run hot in this world and soon the crying has tapered off to something where they can have a kind of conversation. She gives Elisabeth a watery smile, hands resting on the older woman’s shoulders, her head bobbing in the affirmative. “I’ve been here since that phone call so long ago. After I set the phone down the system was booted, the gate was open, and I just jumped in. Ended up here and fell in with Eve and her group.”

“Aura’s here?” Survival is important, but her little charge, the girl she’s been missing for almost a year, is right up there in ranking. And why wouldn’t she be? Liz isn’t the sort of mother to leave her daughter behind, after all, and it’s not like it was planned that they all end up here in the middle of a massive world war, was it? “How is she? She’s not hurt, is she?”

"Thank God," Elisabeth breathes, and she can't help the wry smile that creases her swollen face. "Eve does it again." Because if it's not Tamara, it's definitely Eve who has pulled Liz's own ass out of the fire any number of times. "I heard you it all when you set the phone down and I felt so fucking helpless," she admits. "And of course Aurora's here," she scoffs with a grin. "Oh, she's not hurt. A bit… traumatized." That might be putting it mildly, but she's not entirely sure — Kaylee will be the person she trusts to tell her how bad off the little girl may be.

"Things.. . have seriously gone to hell in a handbasket. I have to talk to Magnes — he survived the Pinehearst explosion after all — and apparently his fucking dumb ass knew that we were going to land here and not home." Liz's blue eyes are cold. "I might have to deck his ass into the middle of next year." She shoves a shaking hand through her hair. "But we had no choice regardless — they took Addie, Cassandra." The little girl with whom Aurora spent so much time, the one that Liz always called 'going to her cousin's house.' "And they kidnapped another little boy too. This is a clusterfuck wrapped up in a goatscrew."

“I can imagine. I felt pretty helpless, too, standing on the precipice like that. I mean…I saw ON-1 broadcast into this world and she….didn’t make it there or back.” She does not add that she thought she was jumping into oblivion, choosing to take her fate into her own hands instead of trusting it to an unknown she knew instead of an unknown she didn’t. “It was bad there at the end, Liz. At first it was just security, but when Pinehearst was exposed, it all went to hell, fast. None of us could leave, and we were forced to continue research at gunpoint. I mean, Miss Kravid used at least a couple of evolved that were really good with technology to try and experiment with Looking Glass, and I know that two of them were sacrificed exploring and making the Looking Glass work. ON-1 and another one called Rebel.” Cassie gives another sniffle. “I worked for almost a year trying to repair ON-1’s hardware, and even brought her through the gate on a SSD, but the passage ripped pretty much everything apart.” She wipes her eyes. “I buried ON-1 at the Ecodome beneath a tree. I hope she knew I was trying to help.”

Cassie sits back, reminded of something. She starts unbuttoning her shirt, explaining as she goes. “Almost everything I brought with me here was lost. The suit for the passage was shredded by heat, the backpack I had with survival stuff was shredded and burnt in chunks, Travelling between dimensions is traumatic to the timeline, and the universe doesn’t seem to like changes that mess with continuity. The only thing that survived besides me and the clothes on my back was this.” Cassie tugs a thumbdrive from beneath her shirt, tied on a long shoelace as a necklace, twisting at the end, the metallic case glinting before she buttons her shirt back up. “You’re the only person who knows about this. You told me to keep my eyes open, so I did. On this drive is everything there was from Looking Glass that I could get my hands on in plain text. Somewhere around 120 gigabytes of data and schematics on every bit of that machine. Given enough time and resources? With this, you could probably build another one.”

A blink. “And who’s Magnes? Who all is with you?”

The data dump from Cassie is definitely a lot to take in. And she sucks in a deep breath of shock at the information that Cassie is in possession of Looking Glass. Jesus fucking Christ. Dragging her hands down her face, Liz just stares for a long moment. "I… could explain a lot of this to you, but you know what? I can go you one better." She reaches for the chain around her neck and pulls it out, detaching the old dog tag from it. She hold it out. "Here's a start on my infodump on you… the rest… we just need a little time to absorb, I think."

The little dog tag is taken reverently, Cassie leaning back, turning it over and over in her hands, running her thumbs over it, feeling the texture of the little bit of tin and the weight of the memories locked inside. The memories she locked inside. “Thank you…” she whispers softly, leaning in to squeeze Elisabeth in a nearly choking hug, the thumb drive untied, the little dog tag added alongside it. She’ll need to find a better chain at some point but for now, the shoelace is the perfect thing to keep them safe.

“Can you take me to Rory? Is she awake? Can I see her?” Cassie is almost bouncing with excitement as she gets to her feet and goes back to the desk, taking up her submachine gun and slings it across her chest in a practiced motion. After a second she looks down at herself with a sheepish smile. “It’s amazing what a girl can do when her life is at stake, isn’t it?”

Elisabeth returns the tight hug with equal fervor. This young woman… to find her alive and here is a miracle. She laughs. "She's asleep just around the corner — I asked Kaylee to keep tabs on her. But of course you can see her." She tilts her head studying the look that Cassie now sports and her smile is… proud, her tone admiring."Kiddo, it looks good on you. I always knew you were a strong one." She just wishes Cassie hadn't had to be. "Let's go see Aurora, and after whatever passes for dinner this evening, we'll sit…. You can revisit your own memories and then we'll talk a bit more in depth, okay? You still don't quite have the full picture, but it's time you do."

She needs just a little time to assimilate the things she's already seen, and she's barely been here three hours. Pulling in a breath, she leads the way back toward where she left the little girl snoozing under the watchful eye of her aunt. She makes a point of calling out toward the telepath, "Hey… it's me. I've got company." And you're not going to believe who it is.

Cassie blushes at the praise. “I had a good role model.” She says, nodding toward Liz. “Your experiences and stories helped me get through the past month without getting too terribly traumatized.” As they walk, Cassie stows her weapons. Inside means guns are safe, the dangerous end pointed away and towards the ground to keep accidents from happening. With new visitors around, too, it's probably best to not be threatening. Cassie has an idea of what Liz can do with her ability, and others might be able to shred her from any direction so, better safe than sorry.

She lingers behind as they draw closer to the little corner that's been claimed for Rory and the visitors, letting Liz announce their arrival, watching the little bundle that could only be a sleeping Aurora.

Still where Liz left her, Kaylee Thatcher is sitting with her back against the wall next to the sleeping girl, fingers brush lightly at the girls hair. The telepath still looks like a mess after everything that happened. This wasn’t exactly the world before where getting cleaned up was easy. Not quite odd is the fact that she seems out of it, eyes unfocused as if either day dreaming or lost in her thoughts.

Maybe it is a combination of spoken and mental words or the familiar tone of another humming mind joining with Liz’s; but, Kaylee slowly comes back to herself. A few blinks and her gaze lands on a familiar face “Cassie!” Kaylee offers brightly, though she doesn’t get up from where she is, not wanting to disturb her niece. “Glad to see you are okay, though, I’m sorry you had to end up here.” There is no need to confirm who the young woman is, the telepath has her way of knowing. A glance goes to the busy world beyond. “It’s a little like being home.” Which isn’t a good thing.

Almost as soon as the smile appears it fades away and a glance goes to Liz, “I hope it is okay, I didn’t get rid of the memories, but I blurred them a little. It won’t last forever, but it’ll give her time. Let me know when the nightmares start again and I’ll see what I can do.” Her head shakes a bit, “But being where we are, it’ll take too much to block it all as time goes on; but we can lessen the effects a little.” There is a small smile as she adds, “I’ll offer the same to Lynette and Mateo.”

It rather amuses her that Kaylee is taking it so calmly. She doesn't think that they're all inured to the insanity, but … the more things change, the more they don't. It seems like the unexpected is just to be expected. When the telepath explains what she's thinking, Elisabeth nods slightly. "I'm actually…. Really glad you didn't remove them," she admits quietly, moving to join the telepath. She's an audiokinetic. They won't wake the little girl. "I don't think removing them or blocking them is the best way to manage trauma." She grimaces. "There will come a point where I need you to unlock mine for good, Kaylee." The door in her own brain that she shied away from opening.

"Besides," Liz adds softly, "she's already seen this world's version of me. And she seems to be handling the world itself mostly in stride. I think… blurring the worst of it and allowing her to become the person she's meant to be can only make her stronger within herself." Blue eyes flicker to the telepath, as if seeking her agreement.

But she steps out of the way to let Cassie move to sit next to Kaylee and Aurora. She has been one of the touchstones of Aurora's life since she was born.

The arrival of the visitors, as they've been colloquially called, was only a few hours ago, but they've already integrated into the tribe fairly seamlessly. When there is no support group available, those left quickly cling together to form one, finding solace in the structure. Names really haven't been passed around yet, so the appearance of Kaylee Thatcher is a wonderful surprise. “Oh my god, is that….Kaylee!” Cassie actually gets a bit loud, like when girls meet up at a club on a busy night, even squeaking a little and approaching a bit quicker before she calms herself, smoothing her scavenged BDU in an effort to look presentable - a small sliver of vanity in an otherwise insane world.

“Rory’s little. Look at the Great Depression and how it affected people generations removed. She'll remember these experiences and will make them work for her. She's got a strong mommy and auntie Kaylee.” Cassie looks to Liz with a smile before offering Kaylee a smile of her own, shuffling closer to crouch on the opposite side of Aurora. She stays stock still for a second, watching the rise and fall of the sleeping girl, reaching out to hover her hand over the little girl's hair, curling her fingers through and stroking it reverently after a second.

“She's really here.” Cassie whispers. “Thank god for small miracles.” Then, a little louder, so Rory can hear, in French. <“Fais do do, Rory, mon petit frére…Your auntie Cassie’s here to help your mother again.”>

When Cassie moves to sit with the girl, Kaylee shifts aside for her, pulling away her own hand; and, with that her grip on the girls mind. Loosening the suggestion to sleep, so that the girls can bond again. “I agree,” Kaylee offers softly, “Even if I’m not a mom… so it’s not really my call and can’t really say I know best.” A lopsided smile offered to Liz.”But, I do know we are shaped by events in our lives.”

Pushing to her feet, Kaylee shifts away a bit. Always with that bit of distance. “I wouldn’t be me with out what happened.” Fingers trail along her scar a little.

Hearing voices a little ways away, Kaylee can’t help but be curious. “So Cassie, what do you think of our hosts?” She wants to ask especially about Peter and Woods, but keeps the query rather general instead. “That Bellamy guy seems a bit… “ The look she sends in the direction of the voices is a flat one. “Intense?” Probably a polite word for him really.

Elisabeth nods to the telepath. "You don't have to be a mother to be bloody brilliant at what you do," she tells the woman who is her sister in all but blood really. "And you know her well. I think she's pretty resilient. Although meeting the other me and … her brother… was a little shocking for us both, I think." Her other brother — Aura already knows Cameron, just not that he was her brother too.

Aurora shifts in her sleep when Kaylee releases her, and the sound of the French words makes her come further toward wakefulness. She opens hazel eyes, looking confused, and then delight lights up her small features. "Cass!!!" The 5-year-old scrambles upright to throw herself into her favorite babysitter's arms.

Watching them, Liz smiles faintly. She pulls her sound field around herself and Kaylee for a moment so that she can murmur, "I… Bellamy? So… I don't know anything about him here. But… the other you knew him." She grimaces a little. "I'm… not sure what to tell you and what to bite my tongue on here."

Cassie sits quietly as Rory stirs, pulling the little girl into a tight hug as she surges up into her embrace. “Hey there, peanut.” Her voice is remarkably calm, considering the tears streaming down her cheeks. “I couldn't let you and your mom have all the fun without me, could I?” She gives the five year old a gentle brush against her cheek. “You sit here in my arms and go to sleep. I'll be here in the morning and we'll figure out a something.”

Liz and Kaylee get a glance at that, Cassie stroking Rory’s hair until she falls asleep again, the simple touch beneath her fingers remarkably soothing to Cassie.

“This crew is….rag-tag, best I can tell, but considering what most of the people went through in this world, that's not a surprise. Scared and looking for safety. Pursued by the government because were evolved. It's…bad here. Real bad.”

Cassie goes quiet here, moving on to the people. History will come later. “Eve’s the leader of this little crew. Her heart is definitely in the right place, even though she's hurt by the death of her friend….Gillian, I think? She uses her ability to keep us out of trouble and find places like this that are safe or have something that we can use - gas, food, or shelter.” Cassie thinks for a moment. “Most of the people here are ground down to the ragged edge. Stress and hunger are taking their toll. I think my being around has helped a lot, though, letting people forget about what they've gone through for just a little while. And as far as the rest of the people go? It's probably best that you take the time to go and introduce yourselves In the morning. I'll take you around to folks so they know you're okay. And Mr. Bellamy? He keeps mostly to himself. Wound tighter than a fine watch. He's not really talked to me. I think he thinks the whole ‘another world’ thing is a bunch of crap or the random rantings of a lunatic. Still.” Her hand stills on Rory’s head. “He's a good man from what I can tell.”

“Not sure I want to know,” Kaylee admits blanching a bit at the woman who is a sister to her. The telepath has shied away for years finding out anything about that ‘I am the law’ version of herself. “All I know, is the dude here growls a lot and he could really use a bath.” Seriously.

Attention is given to what Cassie says, head bobbing a bit as she listens. There is a grimace at the mention of Gillian. “Another timeline, another Gillian…” A glance goes to Liz out of corner of her eye as she adds blandly, “and another Peter.” Her head gives a little shake, remembering her life the last time they thought Gillian was dead. “Did they ever find her body?” Kaylee asks without thinking, quickly waving hands in front of her of in a stopping motions. “Don’t answer that..”

Taking a deep breath, Kaylee sighs out softly, “Eve… leading.” The idea strikes her as weird, “But, I admit, it was good seeing her alive again.” One of the more colorful people the Hub had, it had been when she died. “This place is too surreal.” And that was a lot coming from her.

Swallowing hard, Elisabeth includes Cassandra in the conversation even as Aurora goes back to sleep in the younger woman's arms. It's been a really intense day. "I don't even know where to begin exactly… it's not as surreal as you might think," she says quietly. "If you understand the science behind it — which I only barely do, really — it basically follows the science fiction theme of anyplace a major event happens, a new timeline can split off where the world follows the other path. I don't think it's as simple as turning left or right changing everything, but…" She shrugs a little. "All of the timelines we've seen so far, their breakpoints are close in time. Not more than 10 years in behind us. So… the people alive at the time of whatever the incident is… those people are in both places at once and the timelines get further and further apart as time passes."

Sighing, Elisabeth says, "All of which is the long way of saying… it makes sense that some things would be very similar." She shoves her hand through her dark hair. "I never…. " She shakes her head a little. "Magnes knew we were going to land here. And he never said one fucking word. I can't even…"

She leans her head back against the wall. "I wouldn't blame either of you a tiny little bit if you wanted to string us up for landing us here," the audiokinetic admits softly. "This was not supposed to be what…"

“Honestly, we could all use baths, but water is more important for drinking, and soap takes up room in the bus. Last good bath we had was…end of June, I want to say. Hopefully we'll cross a river soon so we can clean up good and refill the water tanks.” Kaylee’s question gets a small turn of her head and a sigh. Gallows humor is rife here, so the question is finally responded to with a smirk and a shake of her head in the negative. “Before my time here, unfortunately, but knowing Eve, if there were a sliver of Gillian not being gone, she would have chased that clue to the ends of the earth, no matter the obstacle.”

From her spot with Aurora cuddled up, Cassie reaches out to take Elizabeth's hand, giving it a squeeze. “Stop that.” Cassie has steel in her voice, a change from her usual tone. “What was supposed to be went out the window when we all leapt through dimensions and ended up here. How and why we got here doesn’t matter, and looking back doesn't get us any closer to a way out. Stringing you up - something I don't want to do because I love you to pieces - won't do any good, although you might want to kick this Magnes guy in the dick for not warning you about this place. That's just messed up. You could have come with so many things to make survival here easier.”

She slips her hand into the breast pocket of her coat, withdrawing a candy bar which is tucked into Rory’s hand. “If she gets hungry, you tell me. If any of you get hungry, you tell me. I'll find food somewhere for y’all.”

The mention of Magnes gets a narrowing of Kaylee’s eyes. Shifting to where she can crouch, knees popping, there telepath says quietly, “Liz.” There is a quick glance to the side as if she saw something, but still she continues, “I think he’s been talking to dad. Not—” Kaylee sighs. “Not my dad, but a version of him. You’ve dealt with him. He’ll tell you anything to protect me and Richard.” No matter what world it is in.

A nod goes to Aurora, “Family first, always.” Kaylee easily recites the words spoken to her by Edward Ray. She is a mother, she’d understand. “Who knows what he told Magnes, but the way he was talking when we got here. Dad manipulates to get what he wants.” As much as she loves her dad, she still understands his motivation and purpose.

Reaching out in a rare moment of contact, Kaylee offers ther older woman a smile and a nod of agreement to Cassandra, “She’s right. So realize right now that this is not on you, sis.” It felt weird using that word. “Not to mention, I know what I signed up for in all this.”

Elisabeth grimaces at Kaylee's words. "Yeah," she says grimly. "I should have a heart attack of not-surprised. I should have suspected that right from the start when they got back from Moab." She looks at her daughter and Cassie, then back to Kaylee. "It's perhaps the one thing about your father that I do understand." She grips both women's hands tightly for a long moment. "We'll figure something out. I just… need a little time to regroup." She smirks faintly. "Seems like I say that every couple of years or so," Liz observes drily.

“It's a tradition.” Cassie says with a soft giggle, Aurora snuggling closer into the babysitter’s chest, her free hand going down to cuddle her close. “We’ll sit down with the powers that be in the morning and try to figure something out. We've got to.” She bends to kiss Rory on the crown of her head. “For her, at the very least.”

There is a short nod to Liz, hands pressing against her knees to push to her feet. “Regroup and get some sleep,” Kaylee points out with a knowing look at the audiokinetic. “Won’t do any good to that baby girl if you are tired.” Again that glance to the side as if she is seeing something, “I’m going to go check this place out and then do the same.” The telepath is well known for her curiosity after all.

Pressing fingers to her lips, Kaylee leans down to press them to the sleeping girl's head. “See y’all tomorrow, ” is offered to the adults.

"Get some rest," Elisabeth offers. "Let me know if anyone needs anything?" Kain's injury and the injuries suffered by others still concern her — especially in this place where it's going to be hard as hell to make sure wounds stay clean. And Kaylee? Check up on this world's version of Elisabeth too, please? She's… she's not right in the head. And something she said today makes me afraid for her. And for what she might do to her son in her despair. When Kaylee's brows shoot up, she shrugs a little. //I hope I'm just misreading it and overreacting. Just… // The telepath's assurance that she'll check eases her mind a little.

Sighing quietly, Elisabeth scoots to settle in on the other side of Aurora, her blue eyes taking in the sight of the little girl curled trustingly into Cassandra's arms. "How are you really doing?" she asks Cassie seriously. This is so not the world that the postcog should have ever seen.

Kaylee gets a wave as she heads off to explore the world that is the abandoned warehouse, Cassie deflating a little, curling around Aurora and leaning against Elisabeth in the same motion, her eyes closing as she lets out a shuddering sigh. “This place is terrible.” she murmurs, brown eyes glancing up to Elisabeth’s blue ones. “Can you make it so she can’t hear. I want her dreams to be nice, not tainted by what this world is.”

Once the silence field has lowered, the sound from the outside cutting off like the world’s best headphones were just put on, Cassie turns to Liz. “I’m…not good. No-one here can even claim to be okay in the slightest. This world is like something out of a post apocalyptic game or movie. Disease that affects evolved, hunger, environmental catastrophe, killer robots, and a war that the United States is fighting on multiple fronts. Millions dead, Liz. Millions. And they’re the bad guys in this situation.” Cassie curls her arms around Aurora, giving the snuggling, sleeping girl a tight hug.

“I’ve been getting information - bits and pieces, here and there - about what brought this whole thing on. You were talking about timelines shifting when major events happened? Well, all the good stuff that happened in my world seems to have never happened. Evolved were put in camps, negated, and in some cases, sterilized so they couldn’t reproduce. The US Government was run by a group called Humanis First after the president was imprisoned for being evolved and not telling.” Cassie leans back against the wall, eyes closed, remembering. “There was resistance, sure. Not everyone was an asshole but the assholes had guns and the will to use them. The bad stuff was sent out of country to try and get someone out there, one of the allies or the UN, to do something, but the US just…” she trails off as Liz holds up a hand.. “I’m doing world history, aren’t I?”

She changes the subject to herself- an uncomfortable thing, but what needs to be done. “I don’t like looking back at myself, Liz. I’m not good.” She finally says, more tears escaping from beneath closed lids. “I try to be cheerful and put on a smile, but it’s hard to find anything to smile about. I’ve been learning to fight and shoot. I’ve…killed, Liz. Three men, in the desert, to rescue Eve, when they ambushed her. We buried them in the desert. I couldn’t just leave them for the crows, even if they were going to kill us. It’s hard to be a good person here, since survival is it. Us or them, and there aren’t that many of us left.”

“We’ve got to find a way to get out of here.” Cassie says, pleading. “We’ve got to.”

Elisabeth holds up a hand to slow Cassandra down. "I … know most of that already. Slightly different details, but … the world that I come from, we learned this a few years ago. It's a long story," she tells the younger woman. "Suffice to say… the world history lesson is not what's important here."

She reaches out to cradle Cassandra's cheek and brings her gaze back up to Liz's own. "Do not ever let yourself believe that being willing to kill to survive makes you a bad person," she says in a soft, stern tone. "Everyone has a breaking point, Cassandra. Everyone. And everyone has a survival instinct. What you know of me is only part of me… I've killed people too. Not in the line of cop work, but outright killed someone to protect someone I love. We all like to believe we're beyond those feelings, but we're not. I would kill in a heartbeat to save Aurora, to save Kaylee or Isabelle or you. And you have to find a way to manage the guilt of that without eating your own gun… because it's the only way to look yourself in the mirror, baby."

“Family is family.” Cassie gently brushes her fingers through Aurora’s hair, almost like one would a sleeping kitten or a teddy bear, the little girl’s closeness doing wonders for her mental state. “I’d do it for you or Rory or Eve in a second, too. I hated doing it, but I did it because it was down to us or them, and I didn’t come to a different dimension to lay down and die.”

She tugs the little flash drive and dog tag from beneath her shirt, where it rests against her heart, and holds it up, watching it twist in the silence. Liz’s ability will make things quiet, but the wind still works against things. “I think I have it easier than most people. I can choose to forget everything if I wanted to, but that’d just be re-opening the wound over and over again, every time it happened.”

"Yes, you would," Elisabeth tells her quietly, honestly. "I never wanted any of this for you, but…" She pauses and bites her lip. "A part of me knew it might come. I know what it took to take down Pinehearst in my world. I know … that my world is fighting the Second American Civil War somewhere in these years. I think that certain things have to happen … Richard always said time has inertia, kiddo. And I'm learning that much like those old Terminator movies implied, you can't stop certain kinds of things from coming to pass. You can only change their details. There is an order to things… a path that they'll take. And nature will reassert the path in a different way if you thwart her."

“You couldn’t have foreseen this coming. No-one could. There are too many moving parts, too much uncertainty, too many butterflies flapping their wings to even have an idea that everything we’ve done led up to this moment in the middle of a war zone. You know?” Cassandra’s voice is low, barely a murmur over the sound of dozing Rory. “I think a part of me knew something like this was a possibility. I wouldn’t have been hiking so much otherwise before getting here, wouldn’t have tried to plan ahead on the off chance I had to run for my life. It would have been easier to just stay away from Pinehearst. I mean, it was me that gave them the final parts to make Looking Glass even operational.” She blinks, a realization coming, unbidden. “Does that mean that back home, there’s going to be a war like this, over the Evolved, or has that chain of events already passed and we got lucky enough to not stumble down the right path?”

Cassandra grimaces. “Dimensional travel makes my head hurt.”

Elisabeth sighs. "Cassie…. Use the dog tag, please. I need you asking questions with full awareness of who and what I am." Her tone is quiet, but she is serious. And she is still keeping Aurora from hearing anything at all.

“This will take a little while, but I understand…and this is the first time I’ve pulled something back out. Should be interesting.” Cassie reaches into one of the pouches on her belt, pulling out a length of the American flag - two stripes and a strip of stars - that she ties around her eyes in a familiar movement, not disturbing Aurora. The practiced movement of an experienced babysitter. She settles back against the wall and places the dog tag gently in the palm of her hand, letting the thumb drive go back around her neck before she lets her power sink in, the world around her fading to reveal the New York apartment from so many years ago, the vision limited to Liz, the sleeping Aurora, and her.

“It’s funny, you know? Seeing yourself in the past like this. It reminds me of the old home movies on film that my Granny would pull out, showing the kids christmas from the sixties when they were young and on the bayou…” She goes silent as the scene starts to unfold, watching quietly, starting at her entrance to the apartment three years ago, being told that there was a secret she needed to explore, memories locked inside a penny embedded in a block of lead. Physical proof of parallel universes before Looking Glass ever got entirely off the ground, thanks to the explosion at Pinehearst’s New York branch. Liz’s explanation of who she is, of what she was, and where she came from.

Slowly the vision fades, Cassie taking off her blindfold, looping it around her neck to hang there to dry before she turns to Liz with a wan smile.

“We never ended up getting that ice cream, did we?” she whispers softly.

"We did," Elisabeth smiles gently, reaching out to stroke Cassandra's hair much the same way she does with Aurora. "Just a couple days later." She swallows hard. "So now … you understand what I mean when I say my world. But… the answer to your question is that yes, I expect your world will have some kind of war happen as well. Arthur Petrelli, in theory, kept both the Humanis First members in check and pretty much decimated the Vanguard, but… there's always someone wanting to fill the gap. And Felix and your world's Kaylee both had proof of human rights violations, as you saw. Felix had a lot more than that. Things… are going to go sideways there too. No world is perfect."

That makes sense. No world is perfect, but Cassandra can’t help but think that there are far better places to be than here and now, but fate and circumstance have conspired to place her and those she loves in this world. Still, it could be worse, if her parents or grandmother hand come along for the ride.

“I try not to think about this world’s…um…me….” She frowns a little. “Damn, that still takes some getting used to. Wondering if she’s alive or dead, wondering if…her family is okay in Louisiana. Wondering how parallel things were between this world and mine. Still, that doesn’t matter right now, does it?” This is followed by a shake of her head. “I just hope that back home it doesn’t get nearly as bad as it is here. That it’s one and done and doesn’t end up with a million people sacrificed on the pyre of Evolved rights.”

"Well…. Your world, for what it's worth, outwardly had far more going for it than any other world that I actually have seen or heard firsthand information on," Elisabeth points out. "One would hope that they've come far enough with Evo rights to be able to withstand the fall of Pinehearst's founder without necessarily throwing the baby out with the bathwater." She doesn't know that will be the case. Can't even guess if they might be that progressive. But she can have hope.

"As to what we find here? Let's… just give me a few days to get the lay of the land, and we'll figure out what the fuck comes next," she sighs. Looking over, she strokes Cassandra's hair. "Sleep. Nothing is getting close to you guys while I'm here." It might be the first solid night's sleep Cass has gotten since she arrived, though Liz has no way to know if that's the case. She does know nothing is getting close to these girls while she keeps watch.

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