Anarchy In The UK, Part I


cooper_icon.gif emily5_icon.gif gutierrez_icon.gif lance_icon.gif liza_icon.gif

Scene Title Anarchy in the UK, Part I
Synopsis SESA covertly deploys a team to investigate a lead on Jac's attempted kidnapping.
Date April 17, 2021

The hallway is empty, silent, and yet unwelcoming. The bright daylight streaming in through courtyard-facing windows feels oppressive, the sky feels like a threat, freedom feels like a lie. Emily’s heart is racing in her chest as she hurries down the hall with Cooper at her side, both a reassurance and an anchor.

Neither of them are willing to leave through the same exit they’d come in from. Exit signs clearly posted in the hall lead them to a stairwell rather than the elevator, and once out of the hall Emily can feel her anxiety spiking in tremors. Cooper takes the lead down the stairs, skipping two steps at a time, looking up over his shoulder at Emily as she follows him with as much haste but less steadiness.

Clutching an envelope in one hand, Cooper can’t help but keep an eye out for the younger agent-trainee. He only realizes how bad his own nerves are when he feels how sweaty his palms have become and how short his breath is. When they reach the bottom of the stairs he doesn’t open the door to the lobby, but the glass door out to the interior courtyard. As Emily and Cooper hurry out into the green, they can see people moving into the hall on the second floor through the windows, dark silhouettes advancing on the glass, looking down into the courtyard. Shouting, unheard.

The two break into a sprint, Cooper at the lead and Emily galloping along not far behind him. The pursuit sends a chill down her spine, spurs her into a faster pace. She can’t bring herself to look back over her shoulder, just sprint behind Cooper and pray he knows where he’s going. By the time the two make it out of the circular courtyard and onto the sidewalk, the bustling streets of London feel like a cacophony of muffled noises.

Cars passing by, pedestrians on the sidewalk, no one seemingly aware of what just happened and yet everyone feels suspicious. Emily spots a security camera high on a lamp post angled down at she and Cooper at the same time Cooper is taking her by the wrist and running into traffic. The whir-click of his prosthetic legs carry him across the street to the middle of the roundabout, then out the other side where a black sedan sweeps up alongside him.

The driver throws open the passenger side door, leaning out and locking eyes with Cooper. One hand on the wheel

one hand on a gun.

Thirty-Six Hours Earlier

CIA Headquarters, Claycomo
Washington, K.C.

April 17th
3:17 pm

The new headquarters for the CIA exists within the shell of what was once a Ford Automotive assembly plant in Claycomo, a suburb of Kansas City. While the facility’s interior still bears industrial bones, there is little evidence of the location’s former automotive heritage.

Four agents from the SLC-Expressive Services Agency stride through tall, glass doors at the building’s front entrance into the lobby. They cross over a tile mosaic depicting the CIA’s shield and the words encircling it: The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence.

“Agents!” greets a broad-shouldered man in a tailored suit from across the busy lobby. Carlos Gutierrez strides confidently toward the gathering of agents and junior-agents, waving cheerfully at them.

That’s right! Cooper strides right in. Aw yeah. Brand new leg coming through. He still has a limp and was fast tracked to be ready to go - Marlowe made sure she was on his speed dial should he have an issue - but he just oozes confidence. A crooked smile on that bearded face, he nods a greeting at everyone that looks their way.

It was like he was showing off a shiny new toy, except… people can’t see it under the pants he’s wearing. He’s at least made sure to wear a suit - gray- and a dark blue shirt, coupled with a tie about the same shade as the suit itself. He’d look totally professional if it wasn’t for his shoes, Converse sneakers.

That smile brightens even further as they are greeted, offering a lift of his hand to show he saw him. “Agent Gutierrez! Nice to meet you, sir,” Cooper greets once he’s closer, offering a hand to shake. “Been forever since I stepped foot in Kansas City, I like what the government has done with the place.”

Reminding herself this was all for Squeaks was one way Emily made it through the door. Reminding herself she's traveled even further than this earlier this year is another. Still, this trip didn't come without anxieties.

Some of them even had names. A glance to Cooper identifies one of them. But even he seemed to be on his best behavior.

She lifts her chin slightly in greeting to the enthusiastic CIA representative, leaving the more jovial greetings to the other, more personable agents in the retinue. There's flint in her gaze whether she means there to be or not. Between why they're here and who they're meeting with, no matter how nice he might seem on this first blush, she has her pick of reasons.

While it's been plenty of time since Elizabeth Messer became an agent, Liza always finds time to beam at the moments where she's addressed as one. It's an earned title with weight to it — weight she's eventually gotten to really understand. She moves with the others towards Gutierrez, her own smile warm and cheerful. Whatever confidence she has seems much more under control in contrast to Cooper's abundant show of it. Instead, she lets her chipper attitude do all the talking for her — and, it seems, she's content to let the other agent do the talking.

Dressed in grey slacks and a rose-hued ruffled blouse with sensible shoes, it certainly pulls the professionalism together. Still bubbling just below the surface is Liza's perpetual energy, though this is directed towards the two younger agents. Her gaze darts from the direction of where Cooper was chatting up Gutierrez and rests on Emily and Lance, as if checking them both to see if their limbs were all still present and accounted for. After all, it was entirely possible someone got into something the second her back was turned! Like a mother hen herding her chicks, she makes sure that all the members of the group are still present before she chimes in cheerfully shortly after.

"Good afternoon, Agent!"

Not only are all of Lance’s limbs intact, but he’s not even wearing a ridiculous tie today! His usual minor rebellion against dress code has been set aside for something in plain black, his one grey suit freshly cleaned, he’s doing his best to make an impression and look like he belongs here.

It seems he’s actually taking this seriously.

“Agent Gutierrez,” he greets with the others— a tight smile, a nod of his head, hands moving to fold behind his back so they aren’t tempted to any mischief.

Gutierrez steps in to shake Cooper’s hand first, a firm and heartfelt gesture. “Agent Cooper, I’m glad to see you up and around again. I heard about what happened in New Jersey, you’re a testament to your department.” As he releases the handshake, Gutierrez makes a point to go down the line of agents, first to Liza.

“Agent Messer,” Gutierrez says, offering her the same firm handshake. “I’ve read all about you, I’m eager to see your work in the field. I have no doubt it will be exemplary.”

Then, he continues down to, “Junior-Agent Epstein.” There’s a moment of hesitance before Gutierrez offers her his hand. “You did well handling that human trafficking ring with Sawyer. Director Nazan speaks highly of you. Your father is quite a legend here, too, but I’ll try not to hold that against you.” He says with a genuine and warm smile, mixed with a soft laugh.

Finally, “Junior-Agent Gerken.” He says with an offer of his hand. “Excellent work with the raid on Shedda Dinu. You did your country proud and saved countless lives. Hopefully we’ll be able to do the same.”
With the introductions in order, Agent Gutierrez nods deeper into the building. “We’ll take an office and I’ll run you over the logistics.”

“Hey, you know what they say, ‘can’t keep a good cop down’… or agent as it were,” Cooper jokes lightly with a crooked smile, stepping aside as the man moves down the line. Watching him quietly, observing the man handing their op.

When the Agent Gutierrez motions further in, Cooper gives a nod and motions him to proceed. Maybe he can sense Emily’s anxieties about him, because he gives the young woman a reassuring wink, before following after.

And there goes their histories, proving Gutierrez has read on them all. Emily likewise takes a moment before she smoothly accepts the hand offered to her, wondering about what goes unsaid, whether it has to do with the other mission she's been on this year, or something else entirely.

"Pleasure to meet you," she says before letting go. A beat passes before she adds on, feeling weightless despite all the coolness of her exterior, "If you won't hold your opinion of him against me, I'll try not to do the same to you."

It's a joke, or it's meant to be. The smile she bears is small and thin before she falls into line after Cooper.

With a pleased return of the handshake, Liza offers a smile. "You're too kind, I'll do my best," she offers before she lets her attention move down the row to the junior agents. It seems whatever potential worrying about them she had, it's been sated and she's more than happy to return her thoughts to the work at hand.

As she falls in to move with the rest of the group to head further inside, she notes the interaction between Cooper and Emily and her smile broadens. She looks pleased as punch.

At the recognition of his previous case, Lance looks pleasantly surprised— even if the subject at hand isn’t a pleasant one for him. He accepted the offered hand in a firm shake, admitting, “A lot of it was luck, but my trainers always said even luck’s something you need to recognize and take advantage of. Thank you.”

Like his father picking up the very earpiece he was connected to.

He moves to follow, trying not to chuckle at Emily’s comment about her father.

Gutierrez seems to take all of it in stride, and is as much an easy-going participant to this cloak and dagger situation as he is a federal agent.

He’s in good company in that regard.

A Short Time Later

The conference room Gutierrez sets up the agency’s visitors in is a soundproofed room similar to SESA’s vault on Governor’s Island. The door locks from the inside and has no electronic devices within, providing a discreet place to discuss matters in private. Gutierrez pushes a box of donuts to the middle of the table.

“There’s some coffee on the side cart,” Gutierrez says with a motion over his shoulder to a wheeled cart with a few push-pump carafes of coffee and paper cups. “Feel free to help yourself.”

Sitting forward, Gutierrez folds his hands in front of himself. “But, before we go any further, I want you all to be fully aware of precisely how dangerous this assignment is on both a personal and professional level. Getting caught in the UK could be disastrous to SESA, though I doubt personally harmful. There’s no way the UK would risk harming a federal agent, let alone a prolonged detention. But the harm to your agency and mine?” He shakes his head. “I just want to make sure you’re all clear on that before we progress.”

The donuts get a chuckle from Cooper, who has no shame or hesitations to raid it. “You have done your homework, Agent Gutierrez,” he jokes lightly, while plucking a sugar coated donut from the box. “Next time you visit the Safe Zone I’ll buy you one of the best donuts around.”

That said, Cooper settles in to listen, chewing on a bite. “Is this one of those, if you get caught the government disavows any knowledge that we exist kinda things?” He looks at Lance and Emily, the only two he was really worried about in this, not that he shows it.

“Totally understood,” Thomas assures, as it wasn’t his first rodeo there. “I have no desire to kill my career or anyone else's on this.” At least, not on purpose.

"I'm not unfamiliar with that level of risk," Emily says while she pours herself half a cup of coffee from the carafe. She turns from the station without adding any fixings, content to hold it for its warmth until it's safe to drink. She remains standing, meeting Cooper's look with a calm one of her own.

"Agent Gutierrez, SESA would have been remiss in letting us leave New York without conveying that potential for harm. We're all here because we understand, and are proceeding anyway." Turning back to the CIA agent, she assures him, "This is worth it."

Emily's eyes linger on Gutierrez's a moment longer before she looks off, deciding suddenly her coffee is cool enough to drink after all. She also opts for a seat finally, next to Cooper, placing him between her and the local agent.

Liza's attention remains momentarily on her sugar with coffee flavoring as she seems to be making a very particularly calculated beverage. She lets the conversation go on and doesn't add her own commentary until she's settled into the seat next to Emily. "So we do this very carefully and don't do anything that gets us caught," she takes a sip of the hot coffee, pleased with the mixture.

"We're a creative lot, I'm sure we can find a way to handle this without causing a kerfuffle and ruffling feathers."

“We should enjoy the coffee while we can, I hear all you can get overseas is tea,” Lance murmurs as he settles down on the other side of Liza from Emily, “Maybe we should bring a few bags in our carry-ons.”

Okay, he can’t be 100% professional the whole time.

“I’m aware,” he admits, “But the situation seems worth the risk.”

“This is absolutely worth it,” Gutierrez parrots back without a second thought. “Alright, so long as you’re all on board. Can’t be too safe in this line of work. And as far as Agent Cooper’s question goes, thankfully it isn’t like that. If we get caught, and that’s a big if, we need to identify ourselves as American intelligence agents and just surrender. It’ll cause a lot of blowback, but it should guarantee our safety because the British government isn’t going to want to start an unplanned international conflict over some spooks investigating a crime they should’ve caught on to.”

Though even as Gutierrez says that, he spreads his hands. “That said, if we learn otherwise in the field, we’ll have to play accordingly. But that’s the plan of action at present.” He then reaches across the table and picks up a donut from the box and waves it in the air.

“Now, as far as plans of action go…” He settles back, looking around the table. “This is going to be a two-pronged insertion, because we can’t risk hitting the Archer homes with enough time for one to warn the other, or vice-versa.”

Gutierrez takes a bite of the plain donut, taking a moment to chew before motioning to Cooper with what’s left.

“So, here’s how it’s going to go down…”

Two Days Later

Regent’s Crescent Flats
London, England

5:52 pm Local Time

The curving, whitewashed exterior of Regent’s Crescent is decorated by evenly-interspersed columns that give the facade a Grecian atmosphere. The luxury flats within are for London’s wealthy elite and the grounds give off a sense of austerity that is foreboding to federal agents from the war-torn United States.

“Kathryn Archer lives in a luxury flat located at 26 Park Crescent in Marylebone, London.

The roundabout in front of the building is busy with traffic at all hours of the day, making the arrival of a single and understated black sedan as an unremarkable event. Neither Emily Epstein nor Thomas Cooper look much like themselves when they step out of the back seat of the sedan onto the sidewalk, dressed in clothing designed to fit in with the wealthy upper class of London’s financial elite. Gutierrez, in the driver’s seat, offers them a thumbs up before pulling away from the curb.

Epstein and Cooper will take point at Kathryn’s flat.

The two approach up the sidewalk toward the central lobby entrance, and from the street they can see the window to Archer’s flat on the second floor with its verdant, garden terrace. There is no one outside, no sign that they’re being watched.

Now, the first matter of business will be getting into the building without raising any alarm.

The front doors of Regent’s Crescent are black-painted iron, bars over glass. Outside, a doorman in a dark uniform stands at rigid attention, chin up and hands folded behind his back.

Security on the building is tight. Non-residents aren’t allowed inside without checking in on an expected guest list.

“Raquelle is gonna kill me for letting someone else cut my hair,” Cooper grumbles under his breath to his companion, as he stands on the curb looking upwards. His hair had been neatly cut and his beard…. He missed messing with it. Fingers scratch and the severely shortened facial hair. “I feel so exposed.”

Thomas’ elitist outfit included a turtleneck under a suit jacket, a nice pair of slacks and shoes that looked far more expensive then his bi-weekly paycheck. The whole outfit was probably more than his yearly.

Okay, that might be exaggerating.

“Showtime… well mostly for you.” Offering his arm out to Emily, Cooper gives her a crooked and yet confident grin. “Shall we, my dear lady?”

The "Yeah." that Emily breathes out is a bit overwhelmed, completely at odds with her cool exterior. She belongs, or her posture and poise says she does. The wide-necked lavender blouse she wears etched with black floral stitching is cinched to her waist by a thick black belt. Blackened sleeves match black leggings which go with smart black flats, and a black skirt.

If it seems like there's a theme, it's because there is.

How good are you at selling a lie? You might need to be creative to get past the front door.

When they turn to go in the door, passing whatever visual requirements are needed to enter without question, they're confronted with someone at the front desk who doesn't recognize them. When asked for their purpose and who they're here to see, Emily's eyes are ringed with red that isn't entirely for show. "Oh, I'm terribly sorry," she apologizes, a young woman regretful to be out of form.

"I'm here to see my aunt, we've just got back in from a funeral… she told me to stop by before my flight because there was something my uncle wanted me to have." She becomes suitably distressed on mention of the dearly 'departed', but pulls herself together. Stiff upper lip. "I'm positive we aren't on the list, but I haven't much time before I must get back to the airport. Could you please just let us up? It's very important." Emily presses her lips together in a prim smile, still on the verge of tears.

The single man at the front desk blinks, taken aback at the situation and Emily's presentation of it. He doesn't even question the whisper placed into his mind, concerned about being in the way at such a delicate personal juncture. "Do you know which way you need to go from here, miss?" he asks as he begins to step aside, pulling out one of the guest lanyards to offer it to her and Cooper both. He starts to ask for additional details, but he's cut off by the reply to his initial question.

"Yes," Emily says gratefully, her eyes still starry with tears. "Yes, it's been a few years since I've visited, but I remember the way. Thank you." He offers the thing he's being thanked for without thinking.

And then they're in, and they turn to head up the grand staircase.

After slipping the lanyard around her neck, Emily wipes a hand by her eyes, waterproof liner holding. "Jesus Christ," she whispers in an aside to Cooper, her heart hammering in her chest. "I didn't think that'd work."

Once you're in, look like you belong. First floor flats begin with 1, second with 2. From the main entrance, odds flats are on the left, even on the right. It's simple.

She keeps her head down when passed by someone who lives here, her footsteps charting a path cut to the right once they crest the top of the staircase.

Kathryn’s flat is located on the second floor, number 212

The stairs provide a quicker access to the second floor, less likely for security cameras to catch a good view of either Emily or Cooper’s face with the wide angle as well. On the second floor landing, Emily is able to use her lanyard to bypass the mag lock on the hallway door, bringing she and Cooper into a white walled hallway with a narrow sliver of red carpet on white marble. Copper light fixtures shine bright and doors line either side of the hall, spaced out far apart indicating the luxurious size of the residences beyond.

Now, this will be the tricky part.

As they move down the hall, Emily and Cooper find the hallway rather quiet. There is little noise from each flat and so far no more residents in the hall.

Kate Archer is married. Wife, Lauraleigh O'Donnell-Archer.

Not too far now.

Son, Jude Archer. We don’t know if they’ll be home.

“Okay… so… if they are home,” Cooper stands a distance from the door, squinting hard attheir target. He shakes a finger at it, the idea just at the tip of his tongue. “If they are home….” Clearly he’s struggling with the concept of people possibly being home.

Rubbing his temples, he looks rather constipated. But then….

“Oh! Oh! I know!” Cooper turns to Emily, excited. “I’ll go over to the door and take this key,” Cooper whips the key out of his pocket and shows it to her. It is quite the dramatic reveal of his…. hotel room key? “If they answer… I’ll act drunk and you can be my niece. And convince them we live elsewhere and I am indeed drunk! We retreat and come back later.” He sounds so proud of this idea.

“Ooooor… “ Cooper points to the red box near his shoulder. A fire alarm?

Brow pulling in an upward furrow of concern, Emily cants her head at him and completely breaks her calm facade. "Christ, Cooper—" The sigh she lets out is nearly a whine, her hand coming up halfway to her head, like to facepalm. To her credit, she stops it before the action is firmly sealed. "If they're here, and we choke, we just say— oh sorry, wrong door and that's it. We can't do something dramatic like that and risk them calling someone to throw us out."

The breath she draws in is anxious and tense, captured and held until it is decidedly less that. "Okay?" she asks before carefully exhaling it away. With a closing of her eyes to hold that feeling tight in her center, she straightens her posture and closes the distance to the door.

She lifts her hand to knock.

If they're not…

No answer.

Emily bows her head for a moment like she's steeling herself, then glances to Cooper at her side.

“Wow, you are just no fun,” Cooper tsks softly in a tease, moving to follow her without giving cameras a good look at his face. “We’ll do it the boring way, then.” Though what she doesn’t see is the senior agent's proud smile, it’ll be gone before she looks directly at him again.

Thomas waits quietly as Emily knocks.

Agent Cooper has the less-than-legal skills to get you both in there.

“‘Scuse me,” Cooper quips quietly stepping up to the plate, pulling a small zippered pouch from his inner pocket. “Watch my back,” he murmurs as he plucks out the picks he needs and hands her the pouch to hold. He gives her a quick wink, before he crouches - leg whirling softly - and carefully gets to work.

Would you like to swing on a star,” Cooper starts to sing softly under his breath as he holds the one pick in place and works through the pins. “Carry moonbeams home in a jar.


“Wah-la,” Cooper whispers and takes his pouch back to put away the tools. “One count of breaking and entering… check.” How he can say that like it is no big deal… it’s a mystery.

Standing there holding the kit Cooper is committing his crime with brings an ill-timed thought about the nature of accessory to an incident that nearly brings Emily to let out a faint laugh under her breath. She waits, though, standing at an angle beside him in a way she imagines blocks the view of his hands at the door while he kneels.

Perhaps he's simply tying his shoe.

It certainly feels like that was short enough it could have been the case. "Remind me to get an electric lock for my desk when we get back," she asides while slipping him the pouch back. She turns into the door, knocks twice again softly, and then pushes the door in. Her heart's in her throat, but she opens the door and steps inside like she might as well belong there— like she has every reason to be.

Though, as soon as Emily sees the inside of the apartment, she couldn’t feel any more out of place.

The Archer residence looks so expensive as to be intimidating. Immaculately decorated, immaculately cleaned, cold, and somehow impersonal. While it looks like someone lives here, it looks like it necessarily reflects a personality that wasn’t plucked out of a catalogue. The flat is quiet, brightly lit by diffuse gray light spilling through tall windows framed in gauzy, white curtains.

What stands out is the smashed laptop on the kitchen floor visible immediately on entrance. It lays on its side, screen cracked, keys scattered like broken teeth from a shattered jaw. There’s no other sign of violence, enough that Cooper rather instinctively sees it as an expression of anger more so than something like a break-in.

The adjacent open-concept living room looks untouched. Doorways to the right lead into a brightly lit pair of bedrooms off a short hallway, and to the left a study and sitting room. The flat feels as silent as a tomb. No sign of Archer, her wife, or their son.

Once you're in, you're going to need to get your hands on anything you can that can prove Archer's involvement.

Cooper is humming wordlessly the same song as he closes the door behind him and follows after the young woman, noting the condition of the place. Well, firstly he notes the color… “White… what is the appeal of white? Makes me feel sorry for the kid. I mean, are you even allowed to have fun here?”

Only once he’s given his opinion on the decor does he turn his attention to the rest of the place… The humming comes to a stop when he notices first the laptop and then the glass. “A place as immaculate as this and they leave a glass of wine and this…” Crouching Cooper picks up the laptop and deposits it on the counter, leaving Emily to snag the keys. “…laying around.” He turns it this way and gives a low whistle. “Something pissed her off. Maybe Geico couldn’t actually lower her car insurance rates.”

Don’t ask.

He glances at Emily and gives a shrug before pushing the on button, when the indicator lights up, he looks impressed. “Well… still works at least.” When the cracked screen jitters and jumps, he rolls that comment back, “Sorta.”

Pushing it towards her, Cooper twists a look over his shoulder at the hallways. “You are a part of the techie generation, snap chats and you tubes and stuff…. maybe you can figure this out. I’m going to make sure we’re alone here.”

Cooper starts humming again as he leaves her there with the computer.

The idle chatter behind Cooper's commentary filters itself out of Emily's attention almost by second nature while the comments that hone in on details that identify the wrongness of what few details there are at first glance in the home. She takes her time in making her way further into the flat, wide eyes swiveling for signs of anyone who might've been here and just not heard the knock before she allows herself to start looking at those closer details that Cooper is already honing in on.

This is her first break and entry, all right? The first of any that matter like this, at least.

When the laptop is passed off into her hand, she gives Cooper a look out of the top of her eyes before she sets the laptop down on the kitchen counter without bothering to pick up the missing keys. They'd take too long to fix, and with any luck, she'll not need them.

The world being how it is nowadays, there's a good chance that proof of her involvement might come in the form of electronic data…

Emily slips a hand into her waistband to pull out a thumb-drive that was given to her before they left the States, one she's kept close ever since their meeting with Gutierrez. The busted frame of the laptop makes for a difficult fit of the drive into the USB port, but the active laptop reads the drive automatically— and as such, executes what's written there.

I’ve got some tools for you, should it come to that.

Glancing down the hall, Cooper slips into the first room belonging to a kid of excellent taste. The agent doesn’t spend too much time there, only noting Jude’s taste in comics with an impressed look. He might have those same comics himself.

It’s the parent’s room that gets his attention. Cooper quickly starts to shift through drawers - ignoring that some are rather intimate - and ruffles through the closet. Everything gave him the impression of folks leaving in a hurry. With the ability that at least one of the sisters have… it makes sense.

Teleportation was a good ability for quick escapes. It also meant Thomas needed to be on high alert in case they popped in again.

He’s quickly pulled out of his thoughts when one of the nightstand drawers doesn’t open right away. He gives it another firmer tug, before noting the keyhole. Well. Crouching, he makes short work of the lock. How many times in the war did he do just this? On Staten?

Popping open the drawer, Cooper feels a sense of disappointment when he sees the typical things you’d expect to find in a locked drawer. Hubba hubba. Moving things around, he huhs softly at nothing else being there. On a whim he taps the bottom of the drawer and grins as the floor of the drawer rattles a little, proof of a loose board. Using what little fingernails he has, he pries the bottom out and finds an envelope.

As soon as he lifts the flap, Cooper knows he has something. “Whoa… Hey, Em!” He calls out quickly exiting the room after putting the drawer back together, envelope in hand. “I got something.” He spreads out the photos on the counter next to his partner.

If you find something physical, you'll need to make like an inspirational poster as much as possible. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Pulling out his phone, he quickly snaps photos of the series of photos… just in case. Each of the photos is concerning and damning…

The NYC Safe Zone with a clear view of the Raytech campus, and based on its status sometime before the campus expansion that was made in mid-2020.

A row of storage lockers at a very clean mass storage unit. No visible address or details enough to recognize where it is.

A warehouse by a pier with an old gaslight-style street lamp on the corner. This matches the unusual security footage from Raytech when Archer disappeared and slipped to a place that looked just like that one.

A low-ceilinged, dirt-floored root cellar in a building with mortared river stone walls.

Alone, it might not be enough to be damning in court… they needed more, but it was a damn good start.

While the computer works, Emily feels tethered to it, so Cooper's reapproach is a gratefully-met thing. "What've you got?" she barely has time to ask before the photos begin to be sprawled out. The sight of Raytech's campus in photograph is enough to raise the hair on the back of her neck, but then there's more.

"Are these— reference points for teleportation?" She lifts a hand to point at the lockers in particular. "A dead drop, maybe?" She squints harder at the third photo before murmuring, "You know, maybe I'm seeing what I want to see— but that looks an awful like the other side of the portal she opened up on camera…"

Worrying her lip, Emily looks back to the laptop. Come on, hurry.

It's wizardry to her— her skill with most machines lying in understanding hardware— but she's grateful for the plug-and-play malware in this moment as she watches the password begin typing itself into the machine.

A Welcome message displays briefly, and then the screen displays a view of the recovered session. An email window appears.

From: moc.seigolonhcetesrevni|siri.v#moc.seigolonhcetesrevni|siri.v
To: si.neesnu|rehcra.k#si.neesnu|rehcra.k
Sent: Friday, April 16 10:52 pm
Subject: (null)

they're coming for you

…and if it feels like the situation is getting uncomfortable, get out.

Emily swallows hard, pulling out her phone so she can take a picture of the screen first, the messaging. That domain name, unseen, gave them another foothold to swing to. "Someone from Inverse told her to run. We've gotta fucking…"

Her hand hovers over the trackpad before she shift it about, with great effort, to eventually hit the forward button. Keys are missing, but the switches underneath are still there. With difficulty and some backspacing when keys are pressed too many times by accident, she manages to hit send, forwarding the message to an email that just looks like a random series of letters with a generic domain. It's one she'd set up before they boarded the plane, in case there was anything like this she'd need to forward herself.

"We've gotta let Lance and Liza know," Emily finally finishes her sentence. She tries to do more with the trackpad and ends up frowning, looking away back to Cooper. She pulls the thumb-drive. "We got something good off of this. I can come back to it if we need to. Where else is there to look in here?"

“Sure looks like reference points,” Cooper murmurs, shuffling the pictures back together and tucking them into the envelope again. “Teleporters can’t really jump without references, I mean there is the rare exception, such as Hiro Nakamura… but blind jumping can often result in being discovered dead, half in a pillar.” He tucks the envelope of photos into his jacket for now, he’d make sure they’re returned to the drawer before they leave.

Although, looking at the email, “I wonder if they’re even going to come back,” Cooper wonders squinting through the cracks in the screen, at the email. He huhs softly, “This was from before we even left the Safe Zone. Who else could be after them?” He asks, straightening and looking at Emily briefly.

“Anyhow.” Thomas twists to point at the only place he hasn’t been. “Door number 2 is awaiting a peek behind it.” He gives a flourish of his hand for her to proceed him. “Ladies first.”

Don’t stick around if it feels like you might be in over your head.

Emily has no qualms with that. Tucking the drive back into her waistband, she opens the door with the side of her hand and pushes it in. She waits a moment, just in case, but also—

"There's mud in here. Dried." She frowns down at the footprints on the ground, then steps around them as she navigates into the study. The dried footprints align with what they know now— that this place may have been empty for days already.

Phone still in hand, she rotates it to crouch and take photographs of the smudges left behind. There weren't any mudprints like this outside of this room, and even then, nowhere really it could have come from. "What if the sisters are working together?" Emily thinks aloud. "The one in the country came when called… maybe Kate here's just a contact? A broker?"

She frowns, not sure, and not wanting to assume unnecessarily. Shaking her head, she comes back to her feet.

“Reading my mind, Epstein,” Cooper comments thoughtfully, looking through desk drawers for anything of interest and tapping at the bottoms, looking for more false bottoms. “Though, what are the odds that both sisters have the same ability?” He shuffles through some papers to see if anything sticks out. “I mean, they are identical twins. Same egg and..” he realizes what he’s saying… “You get my drift. Though, chances are their abilities rely on one another to work, that is a scenario I’ve seen before.”

Thomas gives a huff when he comes up empty handed.

He considers the rest of the room, before settling his attention on the bookshelf. “Hey Emily… take the low shelves?” He asks, shifting around the desk to start pulling books. “You’d be surprised how many bad guys get ideas from movies,” he says with a crooked grin, flipping pages of a book before putting it back and pulling the next.

"Twins having a shared ability…" Emily trails off rather than finish that thought, remembering Julie's situation. Not just that, but the dossier about the twin who escaped from PISEC. Linked telepathy. "It's definitely not impossible."

When Cooper turns his attention to the shelves, at first all she can do is arch an eyebrow. Seriously? But she takes the lower of the three shelves of books, pulling them out by their spine and replacing them after giving them a good shake. One after the other she goes, feeling silly the whole while.

Then one book feels lighter than the rest, and she feels silly for thinking so until—

Something shuffles about in a hollow space inside the pages. Emily's eyes widen in disbelief even as her hands are moving to spread the book open across her palms.

She moves to the desk to lay the book down and take its contents out one by one. "More photographs…" she murmurs at first, until she gets to the third one, fingers freezing and her heart arresting in her chest. "Oh my god," she breathes. "Oh my god, that's—"

It was a photograph of Squeaks' bedroom.

Rapidly pulling out the photos one after the other, she lays them in a position where as many of them can be seen as possible, possessed to expose them all. She counts one after the other, each photograph taken either directly in sleeping quarters or through the windows of one.

They add up to precisely the number of plane crash victims.

"Brynn's room, Squeaks' room— it's all of them. All of theirs." Emily captures a series of snaps of the reconnaissance photos and finds herself uncertain what next steps there even are to take. She turns to Cooper with a furrowed brow and still-widened eyes.

We don’t know who precisely we’re dealing with, or what their connections could be.

Cooper pauses in his own work, putting the book back he was searching, shifting his attention to the photos in her hands. He snatches a picture of a familiar house front and a familiar window that led to Gillian’s Room. They might not be dating anymore, but she was still his friend. So seeing that made his lips press tight with a flash of anger.

Bingo.” Thomas says triumphantly.

Offering a hand out for some more of the photos, Cooper’s free hand pulls out his phone. “Let's divide and conquer, put everything back, and beat feet the heck out of here.” The ball of anxiety at his core was tightening the longer they stayed in that place. Especially since there was apparently another mystery group involved.

Emily would agree, but… knowing what she knows now…

"We should take the book," she suggests quietly, her mouth hardly moving with it. "If she's run and they're not coming back…" Looking up from the book, the shelf of Emily's long bangs sweep off her shoulder and frame the side of her face. "Even if she comes back, it'd be easier for them to assume it's the fault of… whoever else is after her, right?"

As she starts to try and convince him of her logic, she's already putting away the photographs back into the order they were before, stacking them back into the hidden compartment of the book when that's done.

"The laptop's damaged, bulky. Harder to move. The book, though…" Emily glances back up to Cooper with it in hand, permission sought. At least in theory. She already seems mentally halfway to the door with it.

Cooper makes an uncertain sound at the back of his throat, looks at the book in her arms like it’s Pandora’s box. “You remember what he said though, right?” How could they forget? There was even a slide screen about it.

Remember, take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Rubbing his hands across the back of his neck, Cooper again makes that noise at the back of his throat. There is clearly a silent debate going on in that head of his. After a long moment, he lets out a heavy sigh….

“Leave the book. Take the pictures from there and the ones I found in the bedroom.” Cooper just couldn’t let those pictures stay. “Won’t be admissible in a court of law, if it goes to trial though,” he mentions as he moves for the door.

There is always a catch.

"None of this is. But it's answers for people who deserve them."

As adamant as Emily is on that point, though, she has no promise she won't be bound from sharing the details of what they've found. In this moment, though, she chooses to hope. The same way she chooses to hope they're getting out of here unscathed.

She shuffles the photos out into her hand again, replaces the book on the shelf, and takes the envelope of photos from Cooper to add their newly-found ones into the mix. With so many, it's a tight fit, but she thumbs the tongue of the envelope closed and passes it back for him to carry. She certainly didn't have anything suitable to do it with.

Emily lets out a breath she didn't know she was holding, some of the tension in her shoulders diffusing as she follows Cooper back into the apartment proper.

Tucking the photos into his inner jacket, Cooper gives her an understanding smile. “Come on. Let’s get out of here and show’em what we got. Then let's get like.. English food. Like…” Like what Cooper? He ponders this as he leads her out of the apartment.

“I dunno what,” Cooper comments after a moment of pondering, “I just know I’m hella hungry.”

And if anyone else shows up looking for Archer…

That’s when Emily hears the soft electronic beep of the card reader outside the apartment engage, and the magnetic buzz of the door unlocking.

Someone is here.

…get out.

Instinct takes hold before hair even has time to raise on the back of her neck. Sneaking around at night when she was younger, to game when she should have been asleep and had to dodge her mother's presence in the dark, suddenly pays off in the most unexpected of ways. She grabs Cooper's arm by the crook of his elbow and pulls him hard to the side, into the living room space and around the side of the wall.

She waits out of line of sight of the front door, tense, trusting she doesn't need to hush Cooper. Not in this instance. Emily doesn't even look at him, her eye on the opening to the front hall, her ears straining to hear footsteps and the number of them.

Cooper doesn’t need to be moved or hushed, in fact, he takes up a position that keeps him out of line of sight from the door. His head tilts to listen to what was coming their way, his face is devoid of any of its jovialness.

His body tenses, ready to take down anyone that finds them. But with hope Thomas won’t have to. He was of the same mind as his trainee. He’d rather not get caught and avoid confrontation if need be.

The doorknob turns and the door opens, and a pair of footsteps move into the apartment without so much as a greeting or a warning.

Please. Don’t get caught.

In spite of the fact that there are two sets of footsteps scuffing through the foyer of the apartment, neither Emily nor Cooper hear any talking from their position tucked away just outside of line of sight. There’s a soft click in the overwhelming silence, one that Emily doesn’t know quite as intimately as Cooper does.

It’s the sound of a firearm’s safety being turned off.

Followed by the sound of the apartment door shutting.

The light in Emily's eyes shifts when she hears the door shut. It's difficult to not feel as though they've suddenly been locked into a dangerous situation, even though she can't see the two who've entered yet, can't see just how they are or aren't armed.

She lets go of her control on her ability, feeling it unfurl around every aspect of her communication. When she turns her eyes up to Cooper in silence, she feels it latch onto him. It's hard to see anything in her look as anything other than a silent question of: What do we do? Her own wide eyes plead with him for an answer.

Pale green eyes widen slightly and his breath hitches as Cooper tries to rationalize if he heard a click or not. Everything points to yes and that was concerning. That means someone possibly knows they are there or at least is expecting company.

When Emily looks at him, Cooper for a moment looks a little deer-in-the-headlights. Though he does try and convey though making a finger gun, that they were armed. Looking down the hall they’re in, he realizes their luck. Because, near them, there was an open bedroom door. Knowing they don’t have much time, he snags Emily’s elbow and nods his head to the son’s bedroom.

Cooper felt confident that those people were there for the same reason they were. If that was a fact, then the son’s room would be of no interest. Tugging Emily after him, Cooper tries to move as quietly as he can into the boy’s room and towards the closet. It might be a tight fit, but it was better than facing armed unknowns.

Breath held as though that alone might give them away, Emily follows after in silence, glad for the soft bottom of the flats rather than anything harder that might make more sound. They had a gun, these people had guns.

She drops to a crouch to duck under hanging clothes in the open closet, navigating awkwardly to the side in an attempt to make herself small, make room for Cooper as quickly as possible.

“Laptop’s on,” a man with a British accent calls from the kitchen. Emily and Cooper can both hear people moving around the apartment now, at least a pair of footsteps.

“They just came through the lobby, check the balcony.” Another, older sounding man with a similar accent instructs. Emily and Cooper can hear footsteps going that way, toward the balcony doors in the living room. The rattle of curtains sliding on rings accompanies a loud sigh, followed by the balcony doors opening.

“Nothing.” The younger man calls from outside the apartment.

“Study is empty,” the older man calls from even further away than last time. “Go check the bedrooms, and make sure you don’t let them slip past you; they might be Evos.”

Footsteps begin to creep closer down the hall.

Head tilted listening, it’s probably a good thing that the light was faint in the closet; Emily can’t see Cooper’s face paling. That wasn’t good news at all. He’d hoped that they were not looking for them.


Cooper frantically looks around the closed confines of the closet, spotting a brightly colored NERF gun. Emily can barely hear the resigned sigh as he reaches up for the gun and pulls it down. Looking at her past it, his smile pulls to one side, before quietly loading it.

Shifting slightly to point the toy gun at the door, Thomas looks at Emily hoping she can see him. He points at her, points at his own lips and then the door. Basically, he wants her to use her mojo on whoever it is. He’ll… just shoot a dart in their eye.

Emily's eyes widen when Cooper goes for the nerf gun. "What are you doing?" she whispers so quietly she practically mouths it. "I can't talk them down if they feel threatened. I…"

Her head whips back to the door, and knowing there's someone coming, and that use of their ability might be the only thing to save them, she grits her teeth and shifts around Cooper, slender form standing and sidling past the hangars to come into view again. She steps out into the room, bringing her better in line with the door, and making it more difficult to see Cooper whenever he… does whatever he plans to.

She leaves her hands by her side, plainly visible, and looks in the direction of the door, nearly unblinking. She readies the subtle knife of her ability, waiting for the door to open so she can lay reassurance down on—

On whoever the fuck this happens to be.

The man who comes through the bedroom door is tall and broad shouldered, thick in the middle, and hung in an off-the-rack charcoal gray suit. His black tie, matte sidearm, and conservative haircut makes him look at least something like a federal agent. But the pin on his lapel of a torch bearing a twisting flame sends Emily’s stomach into knots.

It’s Torchlight, the UK’s answer to the Company.

The Torchlight agent locks eyes with Emily, shocked to see someone out in the open, and raises his firearm in both hands. “Down on the floor!

Emily's hands tick up just a bit higher, reinforcing their emptiness and inoffensiveness. "I don't mean you any harm," she tells him calmly, sincerely. The blue of her eyes flit only for a split second to the gun pointed at her before she looks back up at the agent wielding it. Her discomfort with the weapon, her feeling it's unnecessary, is plain enough to be felt. "I think we want the same thing here…" she starts to explain gently.

Thomas had really tried to stop her, but she was too quick.

He can only stare at the door for what feels like forever, while his brain works to stop panicking and figure out how to get them out… especially when he hears the guy shouting at Emily.


He could hang back there and let her deal with them, maybe giving him a chance to get away with the evidence and they could come back for her later. Who was he kidding? That wasn’t who Cooper was, though. He glances at the colorful nerf gun, barely visible in his hand, and at the door. Lips press tight. He knew what he had to do.

“Hey!” Thomas calls out before pushing the door open, pushing out the hand with the nerf gun. But he doesn’t shoot it, he lets it drop to hang upside down on his trigger finger. The door is bumped further open showing him and his other hand held up in surrender. “We’re honestly not looking for trouble here.” Almost the moment he recognizes the torch….


Emily’s persuasive power steadies the Torchlight agent’s hand, and he looks over his shoulder to the doorway and calls back, “In here!” In a clear, but not alarmed voice. He looks back to Emily and Cooper, gun out but not quite leveled to shoot.

“You’re trespassing in an active crime scene,” the Torchlight agent says with a shifting look between the two. “I really don’t want this t’have t’go hard, so if you two can lie down on the floor an’ put your hands behind your heads that’d make all of this a lot less painful.”

Behind the agent, another man steps into view in the doorway in a matching suit with an identical pin in his lapel. He doesn’t have a gun out, but his eyes have a lambent cast of burnished red emanating from them. “Two sets of tracks,” he says as if in confirmation, “heat patterns in the carpet in here. Two people only.” He looks up to Emily and Cooper and the glow in his eyes dissipates. “I think it’s just them.”

“Down on the floor,” the gun-toting agent says casually with a bob of his pistol’s barrel down toward the carpet. “If you’d be so kind.”

Emily only turns her head slightly when Cooper calls out, attention not leaving the guy with a gun pointed at her. She calmly wields the knife of her ability, letting it saw away at things like nerves and impulse to follow procedure. Hands still up by her side, she stresses, "There's really no need for that… We didn't know what happened here. We've come a long way for a chance to speak with Mrs. Archer, that's all. If something's happened, if that's not possible… we can just go, peacefully."

The blue of her eyes shifts from the first man to the second, meeting the dispersing red of them, the weight of her sincerity held in them.

Cooper can only hope Emily is doing the thing. The guy stepping into the room gets a glance and a small wave of one uplifted hand.

“Sure, man,” Thomas comments brightly, without any of the tension he’s feeling. Hands out so they can see he doesn’t have anything, he shifts to kneel. “It’s like she said, we had no idea what we’d find here. We were just hoping she’d be here to talk.”

“Makes sense,” the gun-wielding Torchlight agent says with a hint of tension in his brow. His partner is about to say something contrary, but the moment he meets Emily’s eyes his will melts away and compliance bleeds through.

“Yeah, mate, just head on out.” The other agent says to Emily and Cooper as he steps out of the way. “We gotta clean up here anyway.” Emily can see the vein throbbing at the side of his head, subconscious desires battling with the conscious. These men are trained, conditioned to resist these sorts of things. This tenuous grasp she has on their psyche can’t hold forever.

“You have a nice day, luv,” the gun-wielding agent says as he starts to inspect the room.

Emily's hand at Cooper's shoulder is firm, trying to keep him from sinking down further. She knows— feels that this is working. Knows from experience that it'll hold so long as she maintains proximity, and that they need to be moving as fast as possible, into as many people as possible when they exit that range. Him first, her second, to give them at least one last step of advantage.

"Thank you," she says, smoothness of tone unfailing. "You, too. Again, I'm sorry about the trouble."

She walks from the room after Cooper, heart pounding. Once they're in the hall, she ups her tempo to a brisk one and whispers, "We find a pen, stamps. Put the envelope in the mail, send it home." Her voice is shaking. "Send it to my place or yours." Not anywhere obvious, like addressing it to SESA or the CIA.

"Okay?" Emily asks, her fear finally bleeding through.

It is one of those rare times that Cooper is speechless. Even before Emily touched his shoulder, he’d frozen mid action, just barely hiding the surprise as they were simply released. What Emily had done at the front desk had been cool, but this was down right amazingly cool.

There had been no resistance when Thomas was pushed towards the door, lengthening his stride once they are out the door. He doesn’t approve or disapprove her idea, it wasn’t the time… at the moment they needed to get to the car and their handler.

Admittedly,It takes a lot of restraint not to just bolt.

As soon as they are out of the sight of the men, he doesn’t make for the elevator, choosing instead to hit the fire escape. “Be ready to run, especially if they snap out of it… that one guy can track us. We’re not going out the front,” he says as soon as they are through the door, glancing over the edge - looking down and then up - before heading down. “I don’t trust that there isn’t more of them covering the exits so be ready.”

I’ll be driving a circuit around the building, if you need an emergency pickup you need to make it to this rendezvous point.

The hallway is empty, silent, and yet unwelcoming. The bright daylight streaming in through courtyard-facing windows feels oppressive, the sky feels like a threat, freedom feels like a lie. Emily’s heart is racing in her chest as she hurries down the hall with Cooper at her side, both a reassurance and an anchor.

Neither of them are willing to leave through the same exit they’d come in from. Exit signs clearly posted in the hall lead them to a stairwell rather than the elevator, and once out of the hall Emily can feel her anxiety spiking in tremors. Cooper takes the lead down the stairs, skipping two steps at a time, looking up over his shoulder at Emily as she follows him with as much haste but less steadiness.

Clutching an envelope in one hand, Cooper can’t help but keep an eye out for the younger agent-trainee. He only realizes how bad his own nerves are when he feels how sweaty his palms have become and how short his breath is. When they reach the bottom of the stairs he doesn’t open the door to the lobby, but the glass door out to the interior courtyard. As Emily and Cooper hurry out into the green, they can see people moving into the hall on the second floor through the windows, dark silhouettes advancing on the glass, looking down into the courtyard. Shouting, unheard.

The two break into a sprint, Cooper at the lead and Emily galloping along not far behind him. The pursuit sends a chill down her spine, spurs her into a faster pace. She can’t bring herself to look back over her shoulder, just sprint behind Cooper and pray he knows where he’s going. By the time the two make it out of the circular courtyard and onto the sidewalk, the bustling streets of London feel like a cacophony of muffled noises.

Cars passing by, pedestrians on the sidewalk, no one seemingly aware of what just happened and yet everyone feels suspicious. Emily spots a security camera high on a lamp post angled down at she and Cooper at the same time Cooper is taking her by the wrist and running into traffic. The whir-click of his prosthetic legs carry him across the street to the middle of the roundabout, then out the other side where a black sedan sweeps up alongside him.

The driver throws open the passenger side door, leaning out and locking eyes with Cooper. One hand on the wheel

I’ll be there.

one hand on a gun.

I promise.

Get in!” Gutierrez shouts.

He doesn’t need to shout twice.

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