At The Crossroads



Scene Title At the Crossroads
Synopsis After his failure at the Deveaux Building, a devil approaches Richard with a bargain…
Date January 1, 2018

Failure was always hard to accept, but this…

This was catastrophic.

It had been a week since the failed attempt at the Deveaux Building rooftop, a week since Richard was the closest to bringing Elisabeth home as he’d ever been, and it all fell apart so spectacularly. It is a bitterly cold day for the first day of the New Year, and Richard Ray finds that it stings less than the sense of defeat that lives bone deep. The skies are cloudy today, hiding the deformation of the aurora now swirled over the island of Manhattan, visible only in thin ribbons of light when the clouds briefly break. Gusting, flurries of snow intermittently whip across the open and otherwise unoccupied park. The slivers of green that once made up the park are now all hidden beneath a thin crust of freshly fallen snow, the same that dusts the tops of chess tables, like the one where Richard is seated. There is no one to play him here, today. There’s supposed to be, though.

There was an ad in the paper, a rendezvous. Ruby hadn’t ever been late.

Fulton Park


NYC Safe Zone

January 1st

8:17 am

It’s been a week of going through the motions, of a numbness that Richard hasn’t felt since the days after Nazahat. He was so certain that they were going to succeed, that the portents and prophecies he was following would lead him to a reunion with his family…

And in the end, nothing but failure. That barest glimpse of success was, if anything, even worse than complete failure.

Somehow, the fact that Ruby hasn’t made it just seems appropriate.

He reaches out with a black-gloved hand, sweeping snow off the chess table that he’s sitting at, delving a hand into a pocket to pull out a single worn piece - a black king, the stone it's made of chipped and scratched. He sets it down in the middle of the table and looks at it silently, considering it.

As if there might be some answers there.

Just alternating squares of black and white. The real answer comes in one of those colors, though, contrasting against the white of the snow.

“Richard.” Richard.

The sibilant hiss comes from a shadow that slithers out from beneath the table, black on white, vaguely in the form of a cloak draped over a man, tattered and shredded at the edges. It turns a vacant, face-like swath of darkness up to Richard, expectantly. Richard knows what devil this is, and it isn’t the one he knows.

“I take it you got my message.” Message.


That hiss is as familiar as the sound of his own heartbeat, as familiar as the whorls and lines of his fingerprints. His own ability, torn from him and thrown in his face to rub salt in an old wound, all with the face of the man who’s killed too many of his friends.

Richard freezes for a long moment, his hands resting on the edge of the table, staring at the shadow as his heart hammers violently in his chest. He does his best to keep the rising panic from his face, draws in a slow, shaky breath and tries to keep his voice level.

“Only two people know how to reach me this way,” he says quietly, tightly, “How did you, Agent Black?”

Please,” Samson echoes in his shadow form, slithering up the bench seat on the opposite side of the table and coalescing into the form of a ragged old man with deep sunken eyes shrouded in a duct-tape parched winter coat. “I read the paper, you know what my ability is. I'm not an idiot.” Then, quieter. “Plus, I like to keep my eye on you.”

But Samson isn't here to critique old Soviet-era cloak and dagger techniques. “Your lady friend is fine, she's just indisposed for the moment…” he says, leaning forward with a wheezing breath, yellow teeth bared. “I saw your fancy light show on top of that old building. Find what you were looking for?”


Richard’s tone is still tight, curt, his jaw tensing as he looks at the old man sitting across the table from him, “I didn’t.”

He draws his hands slowly back along the table to his edge, falling to rest to his knees as he straightens, “How’s the cancer?”

“Not great.” Samson grimaces, swallowing awkwardly as he sits back. “I'll get to the point, Richard. I need something, and you need something I have.” There's a wary look from Samson to Richard, then down to the chess board and back again.

“You're digging into all this shit,” Samson says with a wave of one hand, “without knowing where you're digging. But I remember, Richard. Like I tried to tell you months ago… I was there when this all started. They never caught me.”

Samson flashes a smile, yellow and sickly. “They tried, but they failed. But I know what you're missing… and I'm willing to trade you the keys to the universe, if the price is right.”

“If the price is right,” Richard repeats, flatly.

He leans forward again, a spark ignited in him as he rests one arm on the table, “You know what this is… even better than I do, if you’re telling the truth. You know what’ll happen if that thing breaks free. Do you really thing you’ll be safe? That Gabriel will be safe?”

Samson squints, staring at Richard for a long moment as his head slowly angles to the side. “I have a feeling we’re discussing different things,” he says with one brow slowly raised. “I’m talking about the machine the Company built, the one you tried to replicate out of sticks and nails up on that rooftop.”

The what the Company what?

“Whatever you’re on about, it won’t matter much if I’m dead,” Samson says, trying to sound disinterested in Gabriel’s fate, knowing that it leaves him in a bad position to negotiate. “I’m dying, Richard. You’re clear as day on that, I know. I also know you’re resourceful. All I need is a name, Richard. A regenerator, a healer, someone who can fix what time’s done to me… and I’ll tell you where they tore open time and space.”

“My life,” Samson holds up one hand, “for your dreams,” he raises another, weighing the two.

A single brow lifts a little upwards. “Interesting,” Richard murmurs, “You don’t know as much as you think you know… but I’ll give you that you probably do know things I don’t. You probably should’ve stayed for the full presentation, honestly.”

Fingertips drum over the surface, and he counters— “Why are you so desperate to live longer, Gray? Are you just going to continue going around killing people for their abilities? Why? Is it like some fucking game of Pokemon where you just want to collect them all?”

“What do you want, Samson?”

“When you're on death’s door, I'll come and ask you why you want to live, and see if you can come up with a convincing answer for a stranger.” Samson says with a soft exhalation of smoke from his mouth, even though there's no cigarette in sight, though he does stink of them. “This isn't about my plans for the future, Richard. It's about the present.”

Pointing a yellow nail down at the chessboard, Samson stares across the divide at Richard. “You let me worry about me, and I'll let you worry about you. It's as simple as that. Give me what I want, and I fill you in on what you're missing.”

“I think it is, actually,” retorts Richard, leaning back, brows raising a little, “If I give you something like this, do you really think that I’m off the hook for whatever you do afterwards? Do you even realize how many of my friends you’ve killed? Molly was a child.”

He glares at the man across from him, “Why haven’t you gone after Monroe? You know full well the man is exactly what you need.”

Him again,” Samson slaps a hand down on the table. “Eve tried to foist the same trick on me, but unfortunately for both of you it won’t work. I can’t find him. I tried, once, and it was like trying to find a grain of rice in a bag of other grains of rice. Never felt anything like that before…” he squints, corners of his mouth tight. He makes no apologies for Molly, for the others he’d killed.

Samson does, however, remark on Richard’s responsibility. “What you lose sleep over on any given night isn’t my problem. It comes down to what will burn you more, helping me?” One bushy, gray brow rises. “Or failing to help the people you’re trying to help? Which one will eat you up inside more?”

At the information about Adam’s elusiveness, Richard arches a single brow upwards. “Hmn,” he exhales, filing that detail away for the future.

“I’m good at digging, Samson. You know that. Sooner or later I’ll find what you know, even if I have to sort through every penny in the United States Treasury,” he says, a single brow lifting slightly, “If I fail, though? Not only is everyone in the world fucked beyond belief, including you and your son, but I’m fairly certain that every alternate timeline in this cluster will be as well. Every possibility taken by a thing that lives between worlds.”

A slight lean forward, “The thing that the Company was trying to bury when they wiped everyone’s memories.”

One corner of Samson’s mouth rises in a near-imperceptible smile. “You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think you can play the high-minded sympathy maneuver with me. You said it yourself, I’m a monster.” Samson spreads his hands, as if that were his closing argument in a legal battle and he were addressing the jury.

“You’re resourceful, and you’re right… given enough time, you’d fine it. But you and I both know time isn’t a luxury you have.” Samson’s smile grows. “I told you, I read the paper.” He flattens his hands together, palms pressed tightly as though he were praying. “I know enough to know this,” he motions to the sky, “is what you need. Last I read, the storms end on the fourteenth. You’ve got two weeks or…”

Shrugging, Samson leaves that where it lays. “So, what’ll it be, Richard? Will you bargain with the devil at the crossroads, for the fate of the world?

“Outside of Monroe, I don’t actually know any regenerators,” Richard admits, “At least none whose abilities are strong enough to get rid of that cough of yours…” A curl of his lips up at one corner, a humorless smile.

A hand comes up, rubbing over the side of his face, “I might be able to find a healer that could help you. Potentially. But again… we don’t exactly have a lot of time here, Samson, as you pointed out yourself.”

Samson makes a noise in the back of his throat, enticed, leaning in a little closer. “I don’t need you to secure their assistance, you can trust I’ll do that fine on my own. And before you go screaming about how you don’t want your pet healer killed, I know too well most healers can’t heal themselves.” His dark gray brows furrow. “Besides, I don’t want people coming to me to fix their bumps and scrapes.” At that notion, Samson flashes a sharp, yellowed smile.

“Tell me your healer’s name, and I’ll take care of the rest.” Slowly, Samson raises one brow, leaning closer. “I swear I won’t harm a hair on their chinny, chin, chin,” comes with a wheezing laugh.”

Richard smirks as the hand drops away. “Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you? I give you a name, you turn into a pillar of smoke and drift off to find them, and I never see you again,” he says dryly, “No, you may hold most of the cards here, Samson, but I hold the one that you need.”

He taps a finger against the top of the chess piece, “You give me what I need to know, and if it all pans out, you get what you need. We both know full well that if I skip out on my end of the deal you have a thousand and one ways to get revenge, so you don’t need to worry about that part.”

Eyes narrowing, Samson leans in slowly, the corners of his mouth downturning into a visible frown. He's silent for a long time, but then as he's about to speak, his voice hitches and he hunches forward in a fitful and agonizing bout of coughing that turns into dry heaving at the end. Samson doubles over, hands on his knees, blood drooling out of his mouth from a strand at his lower lip.

Wiping the blood away, Samson turns a steely look up to Richard, breathing wet and shallow. “Fine,” he rasps, “but under one condition. I go with you. And as soon as you've got what you need… you give me what I want. Or I start killing people.”

Samson's terms are delivered through clenched jaws and stained teeth, his eyes still watering from the long and wracking cough. “Deal?

Richard would be lying if he didn’t admit to himself that there was a hint of dark pleasure as the man doubles over coughing, as that blood spills down his lips. Cancer couldn’t’ve happened to a better guy.

He nods then, slightly, curtly. “Fine,” he allows, agreeing to the terms, “Deal.”

Sliding his tongue across his teeth, Samson swans at his mouth with the heel of his palm and finally has calmed down his agitated breathing.

Sunspot,” Samson says with a raise of his brows. “The Sunspot Solar Observatory in Sunspot New Mexico. Arthur had the original Looking Glass moved there when they were trying to figure out what it was. The Kill Squad I worked for operated out of the observatory facility.”

Samson clears his throat, looking down to the chessboard, then back up again. “In October of 82, they fired the machine up after making repairs. It tore open a hole in the sky,” he points up, “lights like this, too.” He turns his eyes up to the sky, then down to Richard.

“Mr. Renautas said it broke something. He always was a coy fuck. Said it made the firmament thin.” Samson shrugs, not really sure what to make of that. “Overly poetic too. But if you're looking to do what I was going to do, and pull someone from another place?” He sneers, then, his expression softens unusually.

“That's where I was going to do it, after I killed your boy Mateo. But…” Samson closes his eyes and shakes his head. “I've seen what comes from the other side. It's never the one you lost. Just a shadow.”

“You would’ve regretted that. Just like your own ability, some aren’t comfortable to contain… and I think you have enough already going on inside your head, Gray,” Richard observes with a rough snort, “Sunspot…”

His jaw tightens slightly, “Is it still there? At Sunspot? Or did they dismantle it?”

“Don't know,” Samson says with a slow shake of his head. “It's been thirty-six years. I doubt it's the same as I remember it there. Company came and went, the folks with the gas masks and white vans probably inherited the mess. Or… who knows?” He shrugs again. “Sometimes things get lost.”

“But I know what I saw there, Richard. I know what they did. Even if I don't know the scientific words for it,” Samson says as he begins to fade away into a three-dimensional form of seething darkness, “I know when something is broken.Broken.

“I'll see you there…” See you there.

And with that, Samson is gone.

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