Beat The Clock


devi_icon.gif seren3_icon.gif

Scene Title Beat The Clock
Synopsis The weight of the timeline imposed on those involved with Project Agartha is a heavy one; one which Seren seeks help with when they struggle to face it down with positivity.
Date June 27, 2021

It's unlike Seren to be stressed.

Even when they underwent reparative gene therapy for their ability, they handled it stoically. They coped with the agony of it in their own way, tapping into their restored power to create themself a new friend to help them manage with both that transition– and the life one left by their breakup with Rue Lancaster.

Even when they nearly died attending Eve Mas' terrorist-attacked Evolved Woodstock in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and had to spend weeks in recovery and then in physical therapy, they somehow took it all with as much grace as anyone could expect to have. Quietly, keeping their struggle private.

The thing on their mind now goes far, far beyond either of those situations in scope, though.

Devi's Office

Raytech Industries Campus

"I can't–" Seren is saying as they burst through the door, pulling it immediately shut behind them. Baird follows them in, somehow managing to not get clipped close by the swift shutting. Today he looks like a horned stoat again; not a pure white like he usually is, but greyish brown of body, with a black tail, and only a white belly. He lifts his head to peer up toward Devi intently. Meanwhile, Seren's hands shake as they come up and also look at her, uncertainty in their silvered eyes. "I c– I can't, I don't know what to–"

Their hand comes up by the side of their face to try and regain some composure, rubbing at their cheek as they try to collect their words. "I know we just started. I saw the numbers today, though, and I don't know how– I don't know how we make it in time." Their eyes gleam again as they wander the room when Seren professes with a tightening voice, "And I can dream up so much, but I can't find a way to make this all happen any faster."

They're tense, leaning back against the door with various hallmarks of a panic attack manifesting in their behavior. "And then the fire is going to be here in a few days– they can't stop it– and-a-and we'll lose time…"

Devi lifts her head from where she’s seated. That is - the floor. Amidst a mass of the thing all good mechanics hate: paperwork. Schematics, doodles, memos, emails. Sure this stuff was digital somewhere. Just not here. Who knew there was even a printer in this place, anymore?!

The biker looks up from her the paperwork nest, disheveled locks flopping away haphazardly to reveal her tattooed features sans any of its normal embellishing makeup. In half-a-heartbeat, she’s unfolded and moving. “Hey. Hey-hey-heyhey.” Her hands come to rest on Seren’s shoulders, giving a squeeze that is one-part gentle comforting and two-parts tightened ‘get-yo-shit-together’. “Breathe. In the now, Little Bird. First… breathe.” She starts leading by example despite the way her gaze flickers over Seren, searching out any physical signs of injury beyond those mentally plaguing her smaller friend.

Seren does their best to heed that, closing their eyes and taking in a deep breath. It's held, and their eyes shimmer less with tears and more just the usual affect of their ability by the time they open it and breathe out again. In the space they do that twice more, Baird sniffs at Devi's scent before curiously going to examine the paperwork she's left behind.

Exhaling the last breath as a sigh, they look up to Devi with a weak shake of their head. "I'm trying… really hard to be in the now," Seren whispers. "But it's hard not to think about what everything's going to look like in a few months, and how much worse it's going to be if we can't… if we can't finish…"

Their hands lift up in a helpless, general gesture at everything around them.

While the biker bitch plays zen guru, Baird’s recon reveals a chaotic display of various projects. Too many projects. Of course there is magnified pieces of The Ark that are in-flux as the mechanic tweaks this, adds defenses to that, and… hell only knows what she’s doing over there. Additionally amongst the nest, there are specs on SPOT, the CADUCEUS, schematics some sort of egg-shaped construct, and maps of the United States coastlines.

“If we can’t finish…” Devi begins, her husky tone quiet. “Then we…” She looks back to the work scattered along the floor and the most adorable interloper there-on…

“Hey, Nosey.” She scolds the creature with a look and then gives a suggestive, unsubtle nudge-nudge of her head back to Seren: Come do the snuggle-thing. Provide the comforts.

The tattooed femme turns back to her small friend with a smile. “Trust Car-Richard. And, if we can’t finish in time, well then… trust me.” She lowers her chin, the shifting reveal dark circles under darker eyes. “Just enough to keep your head on those shoulders, ‘kay? Can you do that?” Devi gives said shoulders another squeeze, drawing her starkly pale lips into the best efforts of a smile.

Seren takes advantage of the moment that Devi looks away to wipe at their face again, trying to edge eyeliner back to where it's supposed to be rather than a ring of grey eyeshadow. Do they succeed? Impossible for them to know, but they believe they must, and so therefore they look much more put together by the time that Devi turns back around– eyes still gleaming silver rather than ringed with red and raccoon. Baird, for his part, has spent that time chittering and then climbing up Seren's leg.

With Devi's encouragement, there are a pair of brown wings pressed neatly against Baird's back. Or were they there all along?

"Mister Ray's great, and I trust him, and I trust you, too," Seren promises, but their brow creases anyway. "And I trust that everyone who knows what's going on is going to do their best to try and… and make all this work, it's just…"

They let out a long breath and paw at their cheek again, at a tear that doesn't appear to be there but is. A blink later, their ability-induced composure fades, but Baird butts his nose against their cheek and their hand goes around the back of his head to scritch at it, seeming comforted. "I think my biggest fear is we get some of it done, but not all of it– and then we have to cut down on who goes in. We have all these people who know the world's gonna end, who are going to get the door shut on them at the last moment because we couldn't…"

The thought is cut off before the anxiety can be given more life than it already has been. "And I want to stop that. Anyone who has to live with this and who has to build this thing that outlasts the future should be … we all should be able to get in it in the end. But what if we can't get everyone in? And because we couldn't– what if we don't have what we need to really outlast whatever is coming? It just… forestalls the inevitable."

Seren shakes their head once, seeming somewhat relieved for having gotten all that out even if it's very much a dark cloud that's very close to hanging literally over their head. "I just can't stop thinking about it."

Devi smiles softly at Baird as she listens to the wash of anxiety that flushes out of Seren’s system via their face. Her hands fall away and wander up into her hair, taking all back from her face, only to let it fall back around tattooed shoulders exposed by a camo-colored beater top. “Funny how we control our brain, but when it matters it controls us.” Sounds like some drug-induced pseudo-epiphany, but it stands.

The Director moves across the office, shuffling a few papers with her boot, to toss aside the tousled blanket and pillow on the small black leather loveseat. She takes a spot and pats the area next to her. “This weight shouldn’t’ve been put on you. On us. For real, we should be fighting for our own, but seems I got a thing for you dotes with the hero-complex.” She sighs and rubs her eye with the back of a fist.

“We got a kick-ass team, Little Bird. But, every moment you let that what-ifs win is another moment we aren’t kicking ass and taking steps. It’s another brick that doesn’t get set, another bed that doesn’t get filled…” Is this tough-love shit helping or hurting? It doesn’t matter, because it’s coming, spewing out - the that which has fueled the sleepless nights over schematics and sweat-drenched days under machines.

She turns her face to Seren. “There’ll be plenty of time to replay what we should’a or could’a done, when we’re all locked down. For now, it’s just a waste of valuable fucking time.”

The invitation to have a seat is taken, and in the time it takes for them to get there, Baird has spread his wings over Seren's shoulder in a comforting pseudo-embrace. Catlike purring thrums from within the creature's chest as he clings to his summoner, hug finally loosing when Devi begins her pep talk. He looks at her over Seren's shoulder, and Seren in return can't look quite over at her.

But their expression shifts the moment that the reality of things is laid out so inescapably, the logic-numbed loop of anxiety broken. They look down at their palms, and for just a moment, one hand starts to close– a sturdy red brick in it very visibly– before their fingers continue to curl in and the illusory object dusts to nothing. Seren looks up after that, across the room and still not at Devi until she squares on them again.

With one last rub at their cheek, they turn to return her look with a small nod. "You're right– miss Devi, you're really right. I can't let the worrying win." They take in a deep breath to truly center and reset themself, blinking hard once.

"The fires that are coming– I'm worried about everyone here, too, but I should see if I can get me and my work moved to Detroit until it's over." They don't sound particularly enthused about that decision, but they seem confident in it nonetheless. "We'll lose more time. And once things are really underway… I should probably go out there entirely. Be right there on the ground in case there's any need for… for redesigns, or other new challenges we have to sort through." The corner of one lip worries, canine sunk into skin as they think and then recenter their gaze on Devi. Draped over their shoulder, Baird continues to purr. "If we're going to beat the clock, we need to start acting as one party. If there's slack I can pick up, I'll try."

They reach out and take hold of one of Devi's hands firmly. For all their dedication, the fear they have still lives under the surface and can be felt in that. "Does– does that sound like a good plan?"

”What?! No! That’s not what I fucking meant!” Devi lurches to her feet and throws her arms in the arm. “You can’t abandon me here. What if you get hurt!? Or, what if someone attacks the construction site!? Or, what if-… FUCK!” She sweeps an arm across her desk - send papers, tablet, and a beautiful obsidian raven figurine sailing to the floor to crash and splinter in hundreds of pieces.

Only… She doesn’t. She doesn’t move. It takes damn near a full half-minute to even deliver a slow blink.

She looks at the polished avian figurine perched on her desk. “The best plan,” she tells it. She turns her dark gaze back to Seren with a warm smile. “We need you there. Someone we can trust. Someone with the cajones to do what needs to be done and get it right.” And you’ll be closer to The Ark as the clock keeps





“I’ll put in a request for the arrangements now. We’ll pre-schedule return trips at allotted times reflective of our benchmark goals.” To make sure you’re back in time, if those goals aren’t met.

Devi begins to nod with true enthusiasm now. Her free hand comes to rest atop Seren’s own, a couple comforting pats given before a little touch pokes at their shirtsleeve to check for the CADUCEUS device put there a few months prior. “Look at you… You got this.” A lopsided smile turns into a signature devilish grin. “I suppose you can’t leave Baird here for company,” she teases, and angles her attention to the delightful creature. “You keep an eye on my Little Bird. Ya dig?”

Seren doesn't question for a moment what might be running through Devi's mind as she takes the time to compose her response. The intensity her kneejerk reaction nearly held. They only let out a breath of relief when she tells them the plan is sound. Their head dips, glad to hear they're on the right path with something for once. Without looking up, they nod gratefully, and let out a tone of acknowledgement.

They look up with a small smile when Devi covers their hand with her other, at ease where they weren't before. They've got this. Devi believes in them, and everyone's counting on them, so they've got this.

Baird rolls his head to the side on Seren's shoulder before crawling off the side of it and down their arm to take roost in his summoner's lap instead. The noises of reassurance he makes can't be ascribed to any one animal, though they're animal-like in the end. The sentiment is clear enough: He promises to do his best.

"I'll come up with someone to keep you company, don't worry," Seren promises with a widening of their smile to match the energy in Devi's.

Devi’s grin doesn’t diminish, perse, but it does crack a bit with effort around the edges. “Oh, goodie.”

Squeezing Devi's hand once more, Seren takes that as their last bolstering of strength and comes up to their feet again quickly enough. Baird does what Bairds do and adapts, clinging to Seren's shirt and then scooting his way up and over their shoulder again. "I should, um– I should let you get back to what you were doing, though," they remark with sudden apology. "You look like you were in the middle of something." They look for a moment that way and then back to Devi, their smile tinging with a bit of guilt now for their interruption.

"I mean we all are, but…" Okay, so their nerves aren't entirely gone yet.

Devi doesn’t stand, but her gaze follows Seren’s to the cluster-fuck of paperwork and… Is that a model made out of fucking popsicle sticks and transparent tape? It looks reminiscent of a broken children’s geometric climbing dome playscape, poking out of the shadow cast by her large desk.

She takes a deep, steadying breath and rises. “I got my hands in a lot of the different boiling pots that go into the cooking for all you hero-complex-ridden, big-hearted fools,” she explains, endearment undercutting her best efforts of sarcasm.

“I got this shit here. You go slay in Detroit, Little Bird.”

Seren looks back for only a moment to the work before they flash another, smaller smile.

"I trust you," they promise Devi, not a trace of doubt in their voice. They pull the door shut behind them much more calmly than when they entered.

The door gets a long look before broad boots carry the tattooed Director back to her original nest. Coiled on the floor, her dark eyes scan the paperwork before she plucks up a map of the west coast and pulls it into her lap. Her pale lips sneak up on one side.

“Alright. Let’s sink this bitch.”

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