Be Done


alia_icon.gif berlin_icon.gif des_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif samson_icon.gif

Scene Title Be Done
Synopsis After making a deal with Samson Gray, Richard leads a team out into the wilderness of New Mexico in search of a forgotten piece of the past that may hold the key to bringing the Travelers home.
Date January 4th, 2019

There’s roughly two thousand miles between New York and New Mexico. That’s why there’s a personal jet parked in a clear stretch of flat desert-come-airstrip.

There’s six miles of rough mountain between the Raytech Industries jet, a white dot on a field of tan sand and badlands, and where a group of sun-battered hikers are ascending a mountainside shadowed by tall pine forests. Scrub vegetation grows short and dark against the oppressive reign of the sun, but regions where cool shade afforded by pine boughs spouts with soft white and red flowers. It’s hard to imagine vegetation this lush, this untouched, divided by a rocky mountain range from a scorched wasteland, but that is what they see.

Pausing to look down the mountainside, Richard Ray can see the jagged ruins of Alamogordo, flattened by conventional ordinance during the war. There were millions of people living here less than a decade ago, and now… they're just gone.

Sunspot, New Mexico

January 4th

2:15 pm Local Time

After hours of walking, with aching legs and sweats-stained brows, the Raytech expedition into New Mexico has reached its final destination. Coming through the pine forest to a mountaintop clearing, they see the tower before anything else. A white, angular spite of smooth metal with a squared top from which radio antenna extend upward like spears.

Through the now sparse treeline, a single story building with a shiny steel roof gleams against the natural backdrop. There's a parking lot, overgrown by tall grass and short flowers, but no remnants of cars parked here. Instead, beneath the shadow of one of the trees, there is a lone man.

“Funny running into you here,” is the greeting by which Samson Gray begins the day’s events. He is ragged looking; a rail-thin ghost of a man with an overgrown and unkempt beard, wild hair, and a stooped posture. His clothes are ratty, third-hand things: Patched jeans with stains, shoes that are separating from their soles, and a light flannel shirt with its sleeves rolled up to reveal how bone-thin his arms are.

Samson’s tired eyes have no light left in them, just the broken fatigue of a dying man.

It's difficult to feel terrified of the man waiting for them once they actually come upon him. He's almost more ghost than man, but Des knows better than to underestimate Samson Gray. Wounded animals are often the most vicious.

To her credit, she never once asked Richard if he was sure about this. He wouldn't have even approached her, wouldn't have asked her to take the risk, if he wasn't absolutely certain. This is how they can save them. This is worth doing.

So here she stands, facing down the man who started her down the path she's on now. Who's nearly brought it to an end more than once. Des resists the urge to reach up and rub at either of the two scars hidden by her dark fringe. "Fancy that," she replies in greeting, false brightness injected into her tone.

Kaylee Sumter’s attention is on the observatory, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know the old man wasn’t there. She knew almost as soon as he mental signature tickled at the edge of her mind. It was ignored allowing Samson to make whatever entrance he wishes. Though when he does greet them, the telepath pulls her attention from the scenery to the man.

The sight of Samson is a bit worrisome, but is doesn’t show in the telepath’s features, nor does the unease that’s settled into the pit of her stomach. It’s been there since Richard laid out his plan. Plagued her… Still none of that shows through the smile she offers to the old man, a brow twitches up a little with amusement. “Mr. Grey, what a surprise.” The sarcasm and lie in that statement is pretty blatant, even if delivered brightly.

Alia frowns, but says nothing. The fact she has her backpack with her, loaded with only gods knows what, the laser pointer on her keyring, and a bag of doughnuts and a thermos of coffee should say SOMETHING, but what, is likely only known to a few people. She gives the man his space, though… She doesn’t like this, but doesn’t have a better solution to what is already proving to be a late holiday.

“Gray.” Richard regards the old man with a dark look from eyes darkened further from lack of sleep, his jaw set in an uneven line to match the line of his lips. He’s not happy to see his old friend’s father, that’s for certain, but there’s no aggression there either. They need each other and they know it, today at least.

Tomorrow may be different.

A hand comes up, fingers raking back through sweat-darkened hair as he turns his gaze to the tower’s hand reaching up to the heavens as if to grasp the dreams of now-dead astronomers, then back to Samson. “This the place, then?”

There’s determination there, but a whisper of desperation behind his eyes. He doesn’t have as much faith in what they’re doing since the failure on the Deveaux Building’s rooftop; unsure even if his lover and daughter are alive. But he has to try. And keep trying.

Berlin seems to have a bit more spring in her step than the others when they reach the facility. Whether that's due to youth or her mix of abilities, she's not saying. She looks the older man over, her head tilting. She has no history with him herself, just stories told and retold like nightmares clinging on even in the waking world. No history, but she is here with a purpose. Stepping forward, her ability reaches out to the man, taking stock of his condition. Both to make sure he wasn't lying and to see what kind of work is ahead of her.

Samson’s weary but hawkish features are squared on Odessa when the group approaches. There’s a brief pinch of his brows, then nothing but a quick look to the ground, a glance over at Berlin, and then an assessing look at Alia before he turns his attention on Kaylee and Richard. “Yep. End of the line,” Samson says with a hint of tired whimsy, stepping out from under the shadowed bough of a pine tree, squinting at the sunlight.

“This way,” Samson says with a wheeze as he turns toward the white tower rising up over the pines. As he walks, Samson motions to the building with a shaky hand. “The Richard B. Dunn observatory,” comes with a smile. “Built ostensibly by the US government, but secretly the Company. Part scientific research outpost, part black operations headquarters once the scientists got moved to Antarctica.”

Berlin can feel every splitting ache in the old man’s body, every arthritic grind, every arrhythmic palpation, every congested artery. In her assessment, it isn’t just cancer that’s killing him, it’s old age. It’s something a healer can’t fix. The cancer is there, undoubtedly, more advanced and aggressive than Benjamin Ryans’, located in his lungs and throat. She didn’t need to smell the nicotine on him to know he was a smoker. But then there’s severe arthritis, there’s anemia, there’s a weak heart, there’s gum disease, an abcess in his jaw eating away bone, and on top of all that he’s going blind and likely can’t see past thirty or so feet. The only thing that isn’t broken or falling apart is his mind.

Through the treeline, Samson slowly leads the group out into the parking lot. There, concealed by a corroded copper statue of the sun, is a beat up old brown Lincoln, no license plates and a muffler held on by bent coat hangers and soup cans. It doesn’t look like it’s been here since the 80s, even if the car is from that era.

“What you want’s not in the lobby,” Samson says, motioning away from the blown out glass front doors of the main building, but instead to the side entrance that leads directly into the tower. “I’ll show you in… give you the nickel tour.”

The stare is an uncomfortable one to shoulder. Tension coils its way through Odessa's shoulders and wariness makes the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Ultimately, he doesn't suddenly decide he'd like her ability more than he'd like to fulfill this deal.

Maybe that comes later, somewhere around the time the invited member of Wolfhound decides this can be a dual purpose trip, perhaps. But for now, they all have a tenuous sort of truce. Everyone's here for something and she'll worry about making sure Richard gets what he needs before she focuses on saving her own skin.

The nickel tour awaits, after all.

An amused smirk follows the revealing of the observatories name. The parents must have had fun naming that guy is her only thought. Kaylee gaze shifts back to the building again, as she moves to follow the old man, only hesitating long enough for some of them to move first. She wasn’t in too much of a hurry, with that unease weighing her down.

As the car comes into view, brows twitch up. A quick wonder if it is Samson’s, before Kaylee eases her grip on her ability letting is flare out, thinning the walls between her and others. It is a peripheral awareness, the murmur of their minds get a little louder, but she still isn’t paying attention to the words. It was simply an early warning system against anyone sneaking up; because, she can’t trust Samson not to just poof without warning.

The technopath meanwhile sends a brief ping from a digital broadcaster in her pocket every few minutes or so. She adjusts her backpack carefully. “…not named by a precog, hopefully?” She asks as the group approaches the tower.

She dislikes coincidences.

“Antarctica,” Richard observes, gaze finally leaving Samson to look up at the tower again, a hand coming up to slide his shades down and peer over the brim of them, “The Colobanth facility, I assume? I should pay it a visit one of these days, see what Doctor Roux was up to down there…”

The blown out doors, the damage to the buildings is noticed, and he grimaces slightly. What are the chances that enough of what they need is still here for them to use? Still, he follows, a hand dropping to the butt of the Banshee at his hip. The danger of squatters and looters is high, after all.

“Who the hell was even on this ‘kill squad’ with you, anyway, Gray?”

Blue eyes assess the old man, expression stony. Any reaction she has to just how bad off he is gets buried deep. Her gaze moves to Richard, an eyebrow lifting. Whatever she wants to say to him has to wait. She follows, too, close enough to Samson to be able to speak lowly to him in semi-privacy. "You must be in a lot of pain," she says, although the words come without sympathy. Without much of any feeling at all. A clinical observation. "That must be difficult."

Life is pain, kid…” Samson grouses as he walks past the dust-shadowed front windows of the observatory lab building. “You either learn to deal with it, or it deals with you.” He stifles a cough, grimacing as he does.

It isn't until his breathing has regulated that he looks over to Richard. “The only people on the Kill Squad other than me are a fat stack of fucking corpses.” Then, with gray brows raised he adds, “you'll see.”

As Samson passes by the front of the parked car, he casts a glance at the cracked windshield, then moves past the vehicle and to the metal security door to the observatory tower. Raising one hand, Samson calls forth a harmonic rumble and then wrenches the handle down, snapping a lock inside the door like a pencil. He hauls the door open, then starts to make an after you gesture, but stops himself partway and just shakes his head and walks inside.

Beyond the doorway is a white-painted metal corridor just wide enough for two people to stand side by side. A paper map of the facility, yellowed with age, is set inside a plexiglass sheathe on the wall. Samson walks right past it, and it's clear from the tracks his shoes are leaving in the dust nobody’s been here in a long while. But the presence of black equipment cases marked with the serial number I-1108, somewhat modern looking, implies that someone was, at least.

Samson ignores the crates, moving out of the hall and into a high cylindrical chamber that the telescope rises like a pillar through the middle of, making the room take on a somewhat donut-like shape. Alia doesn't sense anything electronic inside the cases as she passes them, but feels the presence of other electronics further in.

Samson stops across the room from a series of white-painted metal stairs and wind up through the hollow interior of the tower. Against the column in the center of the room is a bank of computer terminals, integrated desks, and scientific equipment used in the application of telescopes and deep space observations. But someone was here. There's a metal folding chair by one of the computers, an old handheld tape recorder, crumpled balls of paper, a blank notepad stained with coffee, and an hardcover book entitled…

Activating Evolution.

“Tada,” Samson says with a wheezing lack of fanfare, arms held up as if to reveal some big circus show, rather than a dusty metal-walled room with computer equipment from — at best — the 1990s. There's not even the bodies of the Kill Squad he'd promised. There's just dust and junk.

"I'll just…" The bespectacled brunette waves a hand through the air in front of her, "there." The effect is apparent when the door doesn't swing shut until they've all passed through and she gestures again dismissively over her shoulder.

The facility itself is taken in with unveiled interest, even if there's little to be seen in the disused outpost. Odessa's steps falter as she passes by the crates, beyond curious about what could be inside as something about their designation needles her. But that isn't what they're here for. Once they reach their destination, she carries on to the computer banks and to the notepad to take a peek at its contents.

Not a body in sight. Des would like her nickel back.

The telepath is quiet, eyes cast to the ground as she follows listening with other senses for anything off. However, Kaylee finds nothing and looks up catching sight of the map. Progression slows as she studies the yellowed map, brows lifted in curiosity. What a strange place… Leaning in to read some of the faint notes, she notices the retreating hum of Samson and moves to follow again.

You sssshould open that.

The telepath’s eyes flicker over to the crates, led there by a glimmering of black scales just out of the corner of her eye. Maybe she should open — Kaylee’s jaw clenches and she forces herself to look away.

You sssshould open that. The voice in her head repeats, bringing her to a complete stop. “No I shouldn’t,” Kaylee whispers under her breath. It might be ssssomething usssseful. The snake in her head coos encouraging her.

Kaylee glances towards the others and back at the cases. Well, she was curious. “Probably just scientific equipment,” she says softly, brushing a hand over the surface. Her head snaps up and stares at a point on the other side of the boxes.


Though only Kaylee can see Tyler Case sitting cross-legged on one of the cases, his expression is reflected in a furrow of her brows. “What's in the box?” Tyler whispers. It's that movie quote. He's obnoxious.

“You, too?” Clearly, the telepath was being outvoted by the entities in her head. “Fine…” Kaylee sighs out. “A peek and then can we please get back on track?”

Alia stays quiet. And guarded. She eyes the crates as suspect, and even gives the contents a mental poke to see if anything inside is electronic… for the moment though, she mostly is just nervous and jumpy. Then again, she isn't carrying a Banshee. Just a very seriously powered laser pointer on her keychain, and whatever is in her backpack…which likely includes the tazer modified sword in its concealed sheath.

After she's convinced she isn't gonna get jumped by early DoEA robots in disguise, she starts examining the computer equipment, seeing what, if anything, is actually still functional.

“I’m speechless in awe,” Richard observes sarcastically to go along with Samson’s declaration, turning a suspicious eye on the man; a single brow arching upwards over eyes darkened and sunken from a lack of sleep. “What are we looking at here, Gray? There’s no Looking Glass here, no bodies, no… anything, really. What’re you playing at?”

A hand twitches a little closer to his sidearm, paranoid pricking the hair at the back of his neck.

"It seems like it's dealing with you pretty well," Berlin notes, as if there's no question as to who is winning Samson's battle with his morality. Because there is no question.

She lets him take the lead properly when they enter the building, and she follows along silently. Her power keeps an eye on the group, making sure they don't lose anyone and making sure she knows if anything takes them by surprise. But even when the big reveal isn't, she doesn't have a word to say about it. She's not here for the looking glass or the bodies, after all.

Samson just shrugs helplessly in response to Berlin, stepping aside as Alia comes up to the console and checks out the computers. Switches flick into an on-position, a satisfying click of 90s-era power toggles. But there's nothing to switch on. Surmising by the absence of any real presence inside the consoles, Alia figures this place was cut off from the power grid when the Dead Zone was formed, the border of which lies just over the mountains to the west. They'll need to bring in generators.

Over by the computers, Des’ eyes settle on the notepad. The top page is blank, though the crumpled mess of other notes on the floor may not be. The digital recorded next to the notepad looks too new to be from the 1990s, but not modern enough to be some sleek Yamagato hardware. It looks like it was frequently used. And frequently dropped, or perhaps thrown.

Meanwhile, as Kaylee takes a knee by one of the plastic cases, Tyler disappears from her peripheral vision. The latches pop open softly, and as she opens the lid of one case, it reveals a folded suit of durable white nylon fabric, like a hazmat suit. There's also a respirator mask helmet with a dome visor and— she suddenly remembers what she's looking at. This is the garb of an Institute Retriever.

As Samson watches everyone fan out, he shakes his head. “I didn't promise you the Looking Glass, I promised you where it was activated… and…” Samson lifts one slow hand, and everyone can feel a rush of air very slowly circulating in the room and pushing out to the walls. It feels like an HVAC system kicked in, but Samson is the source of the air currents. “The bodies?” Samson tilts his head back and exhales a cloud of corrosive yellow-green chlorine gas that is funneled up overhead, then fanned out last everyone until it contacts the walls and begins to smoke.

“You weren't looking in the right place.” Samson intones as the last trail of corrosive vapor escapes him.

The gas does to the paint on the walls what it would've done to flesh and bone. It dissolves it. Strips of acrylic paint come sloughing off the walls like snake skin, revealing bare concrete below as the layers of white crumble and crack away. But beneath the paint there is something time couldn't hide…


There’s your Kill Squad, Richard.”

Burned into the walls like the blast shadows of Hiroshima, several human silhouettes stand stark against bleached concrete scored white by an unfathomable energy. Samson looks at the shadows burned into the walls, then back to Richard. “This is where Arthur Petrelli tore open the universe.”

Crouched on the floor, Des picks up the crumpled pieces of paper and begins smoothing them out against her thigh, trying to catch a glimpse of what was being worked on here. She's about to reach up for the tape recorder when the circulation of air begins.

Odessa's head snaps up to regard Samson and what he's doing. For a moment, she believes that the fat stack of bodies is about to be the lot of them. That this was all some kind of trap.

The reality is almost more horrifying.

"Jesus Christ."

There is a hiss of surprise from Kaylee at the sight of the suit, letting it fall back into the case like it burned her. It brings back old memories into sharp focus, ones she’d rather left in the dark parts of her mind. Even though she wants to cringe away from it and leave it. Their loss is Raytech’s gain… though how were they even there in the first place? What else could be hidden in there.

Waste not, want not. It was right of course. It was salvageable.

“Hey Richard, get a look… at…” Kaylee starts, but the words die on her lips at the sensation of the air moving when it shouldn’t be. Standing slowly, she carefully steps out of the hall and into the room, just in time for Samson to start spewing out the green gas. There is a tense moment when she wonders if she missed something… but, fascinated, she slowly turns watching the progress until the paint slowly falls away.

As the shadows of dead men are revealed, Kaylee’s hands move to cover her mouth and eyes wide. “Oh my god…” Ooo…How fasssscinating…

Alia frowns. She sees the shadows. And frankly isn’t sure what to think. A raised eyebrow, even as she opens a spot on her backpack, and pulls out a screw driver. It seems a lack of power isn’t going to completely stop the technopath. Who brought a old hard drive to USB enclosure adapter, her laptop, and a solar panel in that bag, as well as the screwdriver set.

She can’t do much about the past. She can only learn from it to avoid making the same mistakes.

Exhausted and desperate by this point, Richard just glares at the old man. “What use could this possi…” The sudden exhalation of yellow-green gasses have him recoiling back, taking a step back towards the door as a hand drops to the butt of his pistol. Useless likely against Samson, but it makes him feel better.

Then it focuses on the walls, and he watches… eyes widening as he realizes what he’s seeing. “What… what happened? What did he… oh.”

Sudden realization; a bark of humorless laughter, his head falling back to gaze at the ceiling. “You didn’t mean you could fix it. You mean you could tell it was broken. The fabric between worlds, worn bare here… like at the Deveaux Building.”

“Only there haven’t been a multitude of breaches here to foul the connection.”

Berlin looks into the hall at Kaylee's hiss, hand moving to her weapon. It's the first hint that she's more on edge than she seems, but the second comes when she sees the suit. She moves into the hall, her hand reaching for the lid of the box to slam it shut. Her hands linger, holding it closed as if she expects the suits themselves to pop out and capture them. Lucky for her, most of the room is too preoccupied to see her hands shake when she steps back from the boxes.

She's together again when she comes out of the hall, although her walk halts when she sees what everyone else is reacting to. Approaching one of the shadows, she reaches up to brush her fingers along it. It almost seems like she's unaware of the conversation happening behind her as her attention turns to the next one, her hand dragging along the wall as she makes her way to the next.

Oz isn't far away,” Samson says in a low rasp, affording a brief look over to Berlin. “Whatever hell you plan to unleash here… I don't want any part of it. This place nearly killed me three decades ago, and I'm not about to let it get a second chance.” Pupils dilated, Samson inspects Berlin, then Alia. Unfamiliar faces.

Tucking one hand into the pocket of his ratty jacket, Samson looks back to Richard. “Is this good enough for you?”

As Samson and Richard talk, Des finally sees what's written on the pieces of paper. Number sequences, made up of three digits, a period, and then four digits.


All crossed out. In total, there must be hundreds of combinations. She's seen enough radio frequencies to know one when she sees one. What's more worrisome is that she's seen the handwriting before as well.

It's Richard’s.

Slowly, Des lifts her head from her study of the crumpled notes. Her gaze settles on Richard, expression one of disbelief. "This has happened before." She gets to her feet and brings the smoothed-out sheets over to hold out to him. "Babe, this is you." She shakes her head, "Or Ezekiel?"

Pushing the scraps of paper off on Richard, she moves back to the tape recorder, hoping the batteries might still have some juice. First she presses rewind, gives it a couple seconds, then Des pushes down the button for playback.

“So you were here when this happened?,” Kaylee asks Samson while motioning to the shadows. It was fascinating in some ways, even when it repulses her. The telepath can’t help but find herself somewhat relieved there is no Looking Glass there.

Des’ discovery distracts her from her curious scrutiny of the past, “What did you say?” Shuffling over to Richard, she tries to catch a glance at what he’s being shown. Kaylee looks back at the hallway. “She’s right.” her head jerking towards the crates, “those things are filled with Institute retriever suits.” Watching Des mess with the recorder, she adds, “Maybe before he started all of his insanity, that other you must have been scouting for the best location or better one?”

Alia glances up. She shrugs a moment, and sighs “Rather not consider what Black King was doing with this.” She pauses and considers it despite what she just said. “Tuning the Mallet?” She finally offers, after extracting the hard drive from the old computer she first targeted. She’ll do a data drag out of it later. Assuming anything survived on it. For now it’s time to focus on the people around her instead. “Or maybe a looking glass here. To retrieve from elsewhere.” She frowns.

“… When you start this thing up this time, please, something other than La Mer?”

Richard’s about to respond to Samson when there’s the words from Desdemona, and he turns towards her with a furrowed brow. “What?”

He stalks across the room over to meet her half-way, taking the notes in his hand, rustling through them with a deepening frown. “This… was me. Why are these— wait.” He looks up, eyes wide as he looks through the room, “Gray, where was the Looking Glass in here when they turned it on? Did he take it? Shit, if he did…”

A look to the wall, towards the west, “Kravid might have the goddamn thing.”

"La mer," Berlin sings softly under the rest of the conversation, as if the mention of the song drew it out of her, "qu’on voit danser le long des golfes clairs." Her French is good. Too good, even considering that she spent some time in Canada. It's a native speaker's accent, a native speaker's comfort. She's just not the speaker it belongs to. "A des reflets d’argent, la mer…"

Taking in a breath, she turns to the others sharply, as if just tuning in to what's being talked about. "If Kravid has it," she says, like nothing strange was happening at all, "we'll find her. One mountain a day, Richard. We're only halfway up this one."

Samson looks around the room for a moment, nostrils flaring when he's asked another question. “It was there,” he says, pointing to the central shaft of the telescope running vertically through the tower. “It faced the main doors.” Then, with a twitch of his brows and a crook of his mouth adds, “I was on assignment,” he says, “the day they turned it on. Luck of the draw.”

“Otherwise,” Samson raises his brows and motions with one hand to the shadows burned into the walls, “a lot of things would be different, wouldn't they?” Sliding his tongue over his teeth, Samson starts to say something, but Richard cuts him off.

«I don't even know anymore…»

No, not Richard. The voice belongs to Tyler Case, but not the cadence. It emanates from the recorded, battery still holding a small charge after these last seven or so years powered off.

«I don't understand what the Company found here. What they'd go through such lengths to hide. I sent the hardware to the Arcology, Kravid’s team can take it apart. What was my mother doing? What did she find that scared them so much?»

Narrowing his eyes, Samson slowly begins to make his way over to Berlin as the others listen t the recorder.

«I've wasted a month here. For nothing.»

As he approaches Berlin, Samson slides something out of the pocket of his jacket, smooth and subtle, a practiced sleight of hand.

«I'm just running out the clock, it feels like. Less than a year to go now. Once we hit that threshold… the day prophecy dies…»

Getting in close beside Berlin, Samson discreetly offers a book of matches out to her, his tired eyes locked on hers rather than the item in hand.

«I can't keep doing this.»

Samson’s jaw sets tight.

«I'm so tired.»

The recording stops.

Des stares down at the tape recorder silently, listening to the message left behind by a man at the end of his rope. She can feel his desperation. Ezekiel was never supposed to be the monster he became. There's a pang of sympathy, even though she hated the man in life. Hated what he did to her and the path his actions set her down. When the recording ends, she presses down the button to stop with an audible click!

Slowly, she turns back to the room, gaze drifting between everyone gathered before settling on Richard for a moment, then ultimately on where Samson stands next to Berlin.

Tyler’s voice catches her attention right away. Kaylee looks down at the recorder, it was weird to hear him talk like that. Her head shifts to the side as if hearing something, with her eyes following suit after, looking at the man that’s living in her head. She gives a soft, “Huh,” sound and looks at Richard. “It’s always weird to hear you coming from a different voice.” Stepping back, she turns to look at the after images. “So the Institute did have it… but not just that, you had no idea what it was.” Interesting.

Kaylee steps away and moves to get a closer at the shadows, oblivious to the happenings around her for a moment. It’s not hard to get distracted when there are two extra voices.

Alia’s attention spins to the recorder, her hand moving to her keychain as she hears that voice….before spotting both the source, and Samson’s stalking. She shifts where her hand is going towards, to the back of her backpack, as she quite simply gives a questioning sound to the room at large. She however doesn’t try for stealth or sleight of hand There’s just the obvious bit of metal scraping on a non-metal.

The sound of that voice - the voice of his friend, in his own intonation - has Richard’s head snapping up, pupils dilating slightly in an adrenaline response as he stares at the recorder, heart slowly easing again after his brain insists that it’s just a recording.

Ignorant to anything going on in the room, he listens… and then breathes out a long, shaky sigh, a hand coming up to rub over his face. “Damn it, Richard,” he murmurs, “Why didn’t you listen? None of this was necessary, none of it— damn it.”

He looks down at the papers in his hands, useless scribbles of a man trying to figure out the impossible. So quietly that probably only Des can hear it, standing as close as she is, he murmurs, “Is this all that’ll be left of me, one day, too?”

Berlin glances over at the new voice. She never met the man who lead the Institute, but it isn't hard to put together who he is. There's a twitch of her shoulder before she turns away again. To breathe. She didn't think coming here would be hard— so distant from her own interactions with the Institute. But as it turns out, not as distant as she would like.

Her eyes open when she senses Samson closer to her and she looks over at him, meeting his eyes as she takes the matches. Her fingers flick the book open before she glances down at it.

“We both got what we care here for, three,” Samson intones in a wheezing voice before his body crumbles like an overburned campfire log, tumbling down into a swirling cloud of ashes that churn with their own internal momentum. The ashes pool out around Berlin’s feet, roll in an undulating mass in swift retreat toward the observatory's door.

The carpet of smoke is as fast as it is startling to watch, and unlike most times people see Samson decompose into that choking cloud, there is no scream of violence to follow, no telekinetic rumble, no pyroclasmic flash of fire or howl of wind. There is just a modern-day nosfetatu, breaking apart into smoke, blown away on an unfelt wind.

Berlin’s eyes have been focused down on the matchbook in her hand. Something written in pen inside the cover. An address…

A hospital?

And a name, one unfamiliar to her…

Astor Loukas, Room 27C.

And a warning, crystal clear…

Help him, or there'll be no helping you.

Des' eyes grow wide as Samson's shape starts to shift and break down. She's braced for attack. For something. Not for his simple departure. A shudder runs through her several moments after Gray has disappeared. Only then does she finally begin to relax, shoulder sagging with relief.

Her boot-clad feet carry her forward, back to Richard's side. One arm wraps around his shoulders, her hand resting at the back of his neck. "You're not what he became," Des assures in a quiet voice. "Who knows what will remain of any of us, but that fate isn't yours."

While Kaylee does appear distracted, hands playing along the shadowy smudges on the wall, in trust she is listening for a shift in mental tones. She knows what is coming and she’s preparing herself to do something she might regret.

Thankfully, that moment won’t come. Samson’s voice pulls her from the scrutiny, just in time to watch him dissolve into ash, and start to leave. Relief fills her and the telepath notably relaxes. Thank goodness.

While others might not say it, the telepath isn’t about to let him leave without a… «Thank you, Mr. Gray.» Kaylee’s mental voice follows after his retreating smokey form. For what, is left undetermined… For showing them this place? For leaving? For not killing anyone? To be honest, probably, all of the above.

Alia puts her things away as she sees this isn’t going south. At least, not due to anyone present. “…. Gonna need generators to power all this up. Might be able to get something from this when we’re out in the sun though.” She holds up the recovered drive from the computer. “… And no, you, not him. Not even close.”

Though she stares over towards the recorder a moment. What Prophecy had the Black King been trying to outrun?

And What Reality was he trying to tune to?

“Maybe,” Richard says quietly, leaning into Des’s arm slightly though still looking at the half-maddened notes with a slightly haunted look, “Maybe.” The man who wore his face, who lived a life much like his to a point, seems to be one whose steps will ever follow him throughout the years at this point. He touched too much, and left little untouched.

The glimpse of smoke out of the corner of his eye has him lifting his head, then, brow furrowing in confusion. “Wait, where— where did Gray go?” Just disappearing like that hadn’t been in his plan! Pulling away from Des, he turns, tone wary and uncertain, “Berlin?”

Berlin looks at the address, the name, and watches the smoke pool below her. "I understand," she says in a whisper. She's not sure that he can hear her that way, but she says it anyway. As a reassurance, if a clinical one.

Folding the matchbook, she slides it into her pocket. When she hears her name, she turns to look at Richard. "He's dying, healer or not," she says, glancing after the trail of smoke, "and he knows it." The look she gives Richard promises a better explanation later. Probably with less people around.

With Samson a lingering shadow of smoke somewhere in the New Mexico sun, with his car abandoned where it died outside of the observatory, there is no telling where the elder Gray will go now. No telling what his future motives may be, beyond the one seemingly selfless thing he has ever done in his long and bloody life. But Richard Ray hadn’t truly come here for Samson. He was an afterthought.

The blackened marks on the walls, shadows of the dead seared into stone, serve as a reminder of the high hubris invoked here. But neither the mistakes of the past nor the uncertainty of the future could stop what was already in motion here, as Alia builds mental plans for repowering the observatory computers, as Des considers the weary voice of a time traveler on the hand recorder, as Kaylee considers the equipment locked in heavy plastic crates, as Berlin considers the unfamiliar name scrawled on an empty matchbook, they all come to the same realization.

There is more work ahead.

And they can rest when they’re done.

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