Closing The Loop, Part II


corbin_icon.gif dana_icon.gif des2_icon.gif eve4_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif lynette3_icon.gif mara2_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif rasheed_icon.gif rhys_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

past-arthur_icon.gif past-kaito_icon.gif

Scene Title Closing the Loop, Part II
Synopsis …and devours itself.
Date January 12, 2019

My god.

Tendrils of smoke rise from the sparking wreckage of the Looking Glass. Bodies lay scattered in the silhouette of scorch marks angled in a fan away from its triangular aperture. Each body is twisted in a rictus of agony, not scorched by any true source of heat, but cooked from intense radiation. The click of geiger counters confirm as much.

A half dozen men in silvery suits insulated by lead walk around the bodies of men and women in dark suits, flesh pink like chicken cooked in a microwave. The radiation emissions are low level, localized to their bodies. But the man overseeing this disaster isn’t taking any chances, standing back behind the threshold into the Looking Glass’ activation chamber.

“Arthur, what have you done?

Kaito Nakamura turns a sharp eye on his peer, who stands slouched in posture with a hand over his mouth. There’s faint pink marks along the side of Arthur’s face, radiation burns. Kaito’s eyes move to the black marks scored into the white walls, shadows of the agents who died in this room, forever burned into the structure like the blast shadows burned into Hiroshima. He turns dark eyes back from the shadows, and grabs Arthur by the collar.

What did you do!?

Thirty Seven Years Later

Sunspot Solar Observatory

Sunspot, New Mexico

January 12th

3:28 pm

The shadows of the dead, burned into the walls of the observatory’s second floor, have become no easier to look at now then when Richard Ray first set foot in this structure several days prior. Though there is no Looking Glass here anymore, there is evidence of its presence indelibly marked in metal, once hidden behind something as simple as a thin layer of lead paint.

“No, we’re not ready yet…” Agent Rhys Bluther cradles his satellite phone to his ear with one shoulder, carefully checking information on a handheld tablet. “No, I know. I think…” Rhys looks up to where Mateo Ruiz and his wife Lynette are standing by the central column of the observatory’s telescope, beneath the angled array of a dozen optical branches.

“Agent Mustang’s fine, for now,” Rhys says into the phone, glancing over to a SESA agent conversing with a few SESA scientists and medical staff. “No, we can worry about that once we’re done here.” Rhys’ brows furrow together, a wary look around the room. “No I’m… not sure where Richard is at the moment. There’s a lot going on here. But he held to your bargain.” He says with a flick of a look to a brief glimpse of a brunette in the crowd.

“I’ll call you when we’re done,” Rhys says into the phone. “You too, Director Kenner. God knows we’ll all need a bit of luck.”

Pushing past Rhys, the loomingly tall frame of Mara Angier cuts a long-legged stride toward the elevator, stepping over spools of power cables and electrical conduits on the floor. “Hey,” Mara stops, jerking a look over to Rhys, who looks at her with a momentary expression of puzzlement. “If you see Richard?” Mara looks around, then back to the young agent, “tell him I stepped out for a smoke.”

“I’m not his secr— ” Rhys’ words fall on Mara’s back as she turns to leave, “ — tary.”

The lack of Looking Glass had been an immediate relief to Mateo as they approached this new location, looking around curiously as if familiarity might be important. He knew it wasn’t, but the sounds in his head told him that this was a good place for it. They were louder than normal, like they had been on the roof. And they sounded faintly like a heartbeat for the moment. Not a single heartbeat, but many. Maybe as many as three, the thud and whoosh sound of blood flowing through valves, each one steady, even if overlapped.

“I wonder if I could open a portal into space using one of those,” he nods toward the telescope, half joking as he looks in the direction that Mara had left, it’s as if there were something he still wanted to ask her about, but he doesn’t say anything other than his joke. “I often wondered if my ability worked through binoculars.” Telescope was another theory. Not that he intended to test it out anytime soon. They were already planning to use his ability in a potentially dangerous and untrained way.

But at least this time with no Looking Glass to break the world too much. He hoped.

Lynette's gaze trails after Mara, too, although for a different reason than Mateo.

"God, it's been ages since I had a cigarette," she says, not bothering to mask her longing. If there were ever a time to think about falling off several wagons, this is it. And she is definitely thinking about it. Which is why she has to make herself turn away from Mara and her exit. She sighs heavily and reaches for Mateo's hand. As far as her many addictions go, he's the one she's happy to give into. "Rhys," she says with a glance toward the agent; her smile warm like he didn't have to reprimand her last time, "it's going to be fine."

She doesn't really believe it, but she sure sounds like she does.

Rasheed feels how thin the veil between worlds is here. After talking to a few people, he walks over to Mateo and looks at him with some concern. "Are you sure that it's safe to do this?" he asks, motioning around the area. "It doesn't feel as bad as the rooftop, but it feels like the universe is literally paper right now."

"We made it! Wheeewww!" The tiny, chipmunk voice of Beatrix, the sprite echoes over to Eve who seems to be busy fiddling with something, her sketchbook. "We sure did Light Bug," murmuring quietly to "herself" the long, raven mane tucked behind her ears as she looks down at the sketch of a triangle before flipping the page to one of Mateo as the Otter and the swirling darkness behind him.. el umbral, the next of twin golden orbs, haphazardly scratched in with a crayon. "Missing missing, final pieces. Soggy pieces why don't you dry?" The oracle was puzzled, mildly frustrated with herself and Beatrix buzzes around the room, purple hair ruffled by the wind. Buzzing over the Ruizes heads and making a beeline for one of the optical branches leaning in close to touch—

"Stop that right this instance B!" Flailing her hand in the sprites direction as she flips to the next page that holds the sketch of the Zimmerman girls and Chess with her sisters. Golden eyes. "I helped you all the way here! Told you which roads were full of all those scary, haunted men." Insistent that she can do what she wants. "Hurry hurry, you need to study! It's right there in front of you."

It did feel like she was cramming for a midterm she hadn't studied for and it was five minutes until the bell for the start of class. "Yes yes and I love you for it my little bundle of joy but quiet down and lemme look at my notes." Eve's black eyed stare is wide as she speaks with the apparition, they've had a couple weeks to be acquainted on and off as Eve navigated the countryside from Kansas to here. "Suit yourself, don't come crying to me when Mother and Father come knocking on your Door." Vanishing in a puff of purple smoke.

Shaking her head as eyes fade back to their now natural brown Eve blinks and slowly takes a deep breath studying the next page, Sibyl tumbling over a city made of blocks. "Blocks, city blocks. All the blocks fall down to rot." Whispering fast a lock of hair clinging to wine colored lips her scuffed boot nudging the ratty old messenger bag at her feet, black dress splayed around as she sits cross legged near the wall where the corpses were burned. Eve was cramming for a test that she did not feel prepared for. At all.

Standing in front of one of the after images burned into the wall, Kaylee’s expression is void of the brightness it normally has. Eyes are dark and bruised from her lack of sleep. Between nightmares of various flavors and her own anxiety, the telepath wasn’t getting a whole lot of sleep and it was showing. She’s hide it in the fall of blonde curls normally, but today all of it is gathered up in a bun at the back of her head.

The reason for her change in hairstyle… After what happened to Richard last time, Kaylee wasn’t taking chances. Under the brown leather of her jacket, there is a visible AEGIS suit of armor. She had been training up for this, mostly with Bob and Lou. In one hand is loosely holding a helmet, the chin strap curled around her fingers.

Too exhausted to even plaster a false smile on her face, Kaylee stands with her back to everyone and a gloved hand pressed against the cold surface of the wall, where the shadowed remains darkened the concrete. As if she could connect to it somehow. Finally, there is a soft sigh. Turning she observes the rest of the room, but her attention falls mainly on Eve watching and listening. The precognitive was the whole reason Kaylee was there, she’d rather be up top helping Luther and the security team. Anxiety for their safety twists at her gut, especially for the security chief. She does after all remember the visions… not just her’s but Eve’s as well.

“If I’d known you all were going to be here, I would have just called ahead instead of following her almost all the way across the country,” Corbin murmurs to the fellow SESA agents that he’s joined, as he looks over at Eve talking to herself. She had had a tail almost the moment that she left the Safe Zone, because someone high up in the government had asked SESA to keep an eye on her, and he had been tapped as one of those. He hadn’t had a current investigation, so he dropped everything and went. And now stood studying a Banshee as he watched the precog murmur at her sketches. And other things.

But he understood that sometimes you could be talking to something that no one else could see. He sometimes did too. Though he tried to avoid it when people were actually around.

From behind her large red-framed glasses, Des blinks somewhat owlishly at Eve's antics. I did Refrain with her. She didn't have the full picture of the woman before, but she's beginning to understand a little better precisely why Richard was so upset with her for palling around with the precognitive.

When she catches Agent Blüthner looking in her direction, one corner of her mouth twists up into a small smirk as she gives him a wink. It's a front she's putting on – like she's not ruffled to be here, surrounded by agents who should be arresting her – just as much for herself as it is for them.

Besides, there are bigger concerns on Des' mind beyond her own freedom at the moment. Her gaze shifts to where her brother and his wife stand together. The strain of what they're being asked to do is monumental. She can feel the thinness of the veil here. Des hopes she can help mitigate some of that with her presence, by providing another anchor between the worlds. She knows her other self is trying just as hard to get to them as they are trying to bring her companions through.

Especially now that Odessa's seen her mother again.

Des watches Mara's retreating form, then finally turns her attention back to the teen at her side. Looping her arm around Jac's shoulders, she hugs her against her side briefly. The brave face is for her too.

Where is Richard? He was making sure the security precautions were in place, checking on things outside, a thread of paranoia tugging at the back of his mind. The first attempt was a failure. He can’t afford to let the second fail as well.

If that happened, he’d need to break a promise to Elisabeth.

It’s cold in New Mexico this time of year, so there’s the same dark coat he was wearing at the top of the Deveaux building draped over the AEGIS armor he’s wearing beneath; a Banshee at his hip but at the other a rather large-caliber firearm’s holstered, because obviously sonics aren’t good against killer robots. He’s tested that one. It didn’t work.

Dark circles shadow under his eyes, and he’s moving with the sort of grim determination that says he’s either going to succeed here or do something really extreme. Most people are moving out of his way.

“Everything ready in here,” he calls out, glancing across the room to those blasted shadows on the way, lips twisting in a grimace. Part of him suddenly questions his decision to leave Harmony behind, but someone needs to stay with the kids.

Dragging her eyes away from the wall with the burns for the hundredth time, Squeaks fusses with her vest. She’s worn one like it before, and like before it doesn’t fit. She shifts the weight of it from one shoulder to the other, then lifts it and lets it drop again. No good, it still hangs off her at a slightly odd angle. At least she’s mostly covered.

Fingers find Velcro to tug at, and the teenager shifts so one arm presses lightly into one of the woman’s beside her. Her head swivels — and there’s those black smudges again — and her eyes flit to various people. Like the SESA group, some she’s even talked to before, and she has a half second of wondering about going to listen into what they’re talking about before she decides not to.

At the light pressure around her shoulders, the girl’s head tilts upward. Her eyes are wide with wonderings and nervousness, and not quite a brave face like Des has. But she nods to tell the woman that it’s going to be okay. Even though she doesn’t know for sure if it will. She’s been watching the rest of the grown-ups and trying hard to not stare too much at the burned spots that look a lot like bodies. She’s pretty aware of the uneasiness and concern that’s on everyone’s faces.

There’s a scuff of shoes behind Squeaks a moment before Rhys steps into her field of view. “You know,” he tilts his head to the side and looks her up and down, “this isn’t what I meant by internship opportunities.” The corner of the young agent’s mouth creeps up into a smirk. “Exactly what’s Raytech got you doing here? Because… this didn’t go well last time, and I…” There’s a hint of anger in Rhys’ expression. “Not going to lie, I’m worried about your safety.”

Apart from Rhys and Squeaks, there’s another guest to the proceedings. Only Corbin Ayers can feel the hand on his shoulder, but the yellow-eyed stare of Hokuto Ichihara is both wary and anxious when fixed on her anchor. The dreaming phantom looks up to the black marks that were once people, charred into the walls, and then back to Corbin. “I have a bad feeling about this…” Hokuto whispers, squeezing Corbin’s shoulder firmly.

Even though she’s not there.

“We’re good on our end,” a SESA technician calls back to Richard. “Atmospherics are good, we’ve got the neutrino sensors in the observatory working for us now, and we’re at peak saturation. EM radiation is off the charts here, it’s really weird. But it doesn’t seem to be interfering with anything.”

Another SESA scientist picks up what looks like a rifle-sized Banshee connected to a portable power system by a thick cable. The muzzle of this banshee is a flared metallic cone with a megaphone-like protrusion in the middle. “Mr. Ray’s modulator is ready to go. This should be able to generate the sonic frequency we need to tune in like the Looking Glass did last time.”

A third SESA scientist eyes the second, warily.

“Not— exactly like last time,” he clarifies.

There’s nothing between now and go, it would seem.

“Honestly, I’m surprised there’s not more of that group here,” Corbin responds softly, as he watches Rhys talk to the young teenager who had come along when they went to one of the most dangerous places he could think of. But they had gotten permission from her guardian, and he’s sure that this man had gotten it too. From what he’d heard of the investigations the last year, a teenager along seemed to be good luck of some kind. Cause usually no one died on those. His eyes move back to Eve, but he gets immediately distracted by something that really no one else can see. But perhaps at least one person there can hear. If not see as well.

“Saying ‘I have a bad feeling about this’ is like asking for a Death Star to appear, so I’m not going to say that,” he says with a shake of his head. Almost to himself. Only it wasn’t to himself at all. It was to Hokuto, and he looks right at her as he says it. He’s gotten pretty good about trying to address her without looking too crazy. Not Eve levels of crazy, at least. He’d been trying not to look at the burn marks on the wall, but as the he follows her eyes— he looks back quickly. Yeah, he has a bad feeling about this place too.

Even if he says he’s not going to say it, he pretty much did anyway.

The curly haired man looks impatiently at the time. Mateo isn’t worried, in the general use of the term, he’s more anxious. In the way that he wants this over with. He wants time to move more quickly, get to where Point A and Point B finally connect correctly across worlds. That he can help bring them home.

To a home many of them have probably never been to. “I don’t think things will go as badly this time. They had interference on their side too,” he explains, trying not to look at most of the Agents. After all, he hadn’t been completely honest about his ability when he registered, but he didn’t think it mattered much now. Even if he said he hadn’t known how this would work until the sky changed colors. Cause he hadn’t, really.

It had taken a woman meeting up with him in a garden between worlds that had told him for sure that this was possible. And given him reasons to do it.

Des' arm tightens around Squeaks' shoulders momentarily as Rhys approaches and looks the teenager over. She breaks off from the girl with a frown, adopting an aloof affect as she turns to wander away from the SESA agent. The problem is that she agrees with him. What happened on the roof of the Deveaux Building was terrifying enough from her faraway vantage point. To bring a kid here… But Richard doesn't do things without a reason. She simply has to trust that his reason is good. That it's worth the risk.

As the time grows closer, Odessa grows increasingly uncomfortable. The energy in this place is intense. Though it doesn't cause her to want to climb the staircase and shout doom from on high, it still leaves her on edge. It sings in her skull and makes louder the sound in her head. Her meandering steps bring her closer to Mateo and Lynette, though she stands far enough away so as to be awaiting an invitation to join them.

Lynette holds onto Mateo's hand, bringing it up to press her lips against it. "Are you ready, my darling?" Her nerves are shot, it's true, but she's hopeful that they'll get it right this time. She believes in the link between her and Mateo, and that it reaches across time. One version of him found her here, after all. He'll find her again.

When she sees Des approach, she holds her other hand out toward her, gesturing her over. Once all three of them are together, Lynette reaches for her electricity. Emotion makes it spark through her hair, but she pulls it together and centers it in her free hand. She's ready, apparently.

The telepath is pulled from her thoughts by the burst of activity, so many minds in one place filled with anxiety and excitement of what was coming. The sound, coupled with Eve’s own very loud mind, batter against Kaylee’s mental shields forcing her to take a moment to strengthen them. Eyes close as she turn efforts inward… or at least until something catches her attention.

Like a bloodhound catching onto a familiar scent, eyes fly open and Kaylee turns slowly to look in Corbin’s direction. It isn’t him that Kaylee is looking at, however. While others can’t see her, the telepath looks directly at Hokuto. Blue-eyes meet gold without flinching or expression, that gaze seems to bore into her, without word or thought. It’s almost… cold.

Kaylee might have been lost in that moment a lot longer, if something unseen didn’t decide to suddenly hiss something at her in the back of her mind. There is a startled blink and then another as she remembers herself, brows furrowing… she looks away. There is a hissed whisper of, “fuck you, no one asked you,” to herself as Kaylee pulls the helmet on and busies herself with that. For now, Hokuto is brushed aside by the telepath for what is about to happen. Later though, she’ll have questions for the dream manipulator.

Her head swivels to look at the agent when Rhys speaks up. Squeaks first offers a slow shrug, hands up with an offer of nothing and head even tilting toward one shoulder. Her reason for being brought along wasn’t entirely made clear either, and there wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity to ask questions. There was barely enough time to call home and let her mom know that Raytech needed her for a couple of days.

Her eyes follow Des, and her hands drop again to her sides. But Rhys does get an out loud answer once she’s standing by herself. “Maybe it failed last time because I wasn’t with that trip,” she suggests seriously. Very seriously and without any kind of reason for why she’d think so. The teenager tugs her attention away from Des and Mateo and Lynette so she can look up at Rhys again. “It’s a mystery. But it’s maybe also that I should know.”

A hand briefly touches Kaylee’s shoulder, and Richard looks at her through the face of the helmet. “Steady, sis,” he says quietly, encouragingly, and then turns to step on, his voice lifting as he replies to the technician, “Good to hear. The rooftop must’ve seen too much use in multiple timelines… no interference is good news. It’s going to work this time.”

Only there may be nobody to open the door on the other end.

“You ready?” His hands spread as he looks to Mateo and Lynette, offering them a strained smile, dark-shadowed eyes swept between the pair, “Let’s bring them home. They’ve gone enough miles looking to get back to their lives.”

Else, please be right.

Eve's head snaps around to stare in the direction of Mateo and Lynette, she's seeing clearer now. The page her long, pale fingers rest on being of the Horsemen rushing to battle with two other armies. Taking in the room as if she hadn't just been sitting there for however long her eyes fall on Squeaks and she blinks, Gilly would be so pissed. Shaking her head roughly she slowly tilts her head at her adoptive niece and puts on finger up to her lips: our little secret. Which wasn't really a secret at all since.. their guardian would be hearing about this.

Backing up, she moves in a crouch crawl away from the walls and back some, eyebrows pitched upwards, "Tally ho! Goodluck Otter Eyes, Lady! Bring them home!" throwing a hand in the air after she digs into her bag, a tiny bit of red and yellow confetti is thrown into the air and Eve beams up at it as it sprinkles down around her, some falling into her hair. Sacrifice Is The Only Way. There's a twitch to that smile, Eve knows the price. Her Lost Sister knew, they were in agreement. Just in front of Eve, the shadowy hooded figure of a familiar face pops into view. Old, wrinkled hands twist the staff she holds and the old woman raises her head to reveal the gray haired, withered face of Old Egg. "Don't look so nervous chickie chickie. It'll be fine." A crooked, stained smile aimed the way of her younger counterpart.


"Easy for you to say. You get to watch from the kiddie pool and I'm hoping our parents don't decide to come home." Whispering to herself with a firm shake of her head, Eve notices she's talking aloud to herself again and straightens with a practiced 'I'm fine, it's fine' smile.

Rasheed keeps his arms crossed. He's only here to oversee things for SESA, he has no overall stake in this operation. He barely knows the people here, let alone the ones they're trying to get back. "You're risking a lot to get people from another universe." he says, as if not entirely approving, but not outright expressing that disapproval either.

Clearly SESA approves.

"I hope you all know what you're doing. I've heard stories of some of the things that happen when…" He stops himself and shakes his head. "Nevermind."

“Modulator going live in five…” One of the SESA scientists begins a countdown.

Rhys offers a look over to Rasheed from where he stands by Squeaks. “Secretary Zimmerman personally gave the green light for this,” and also waived Rasheed’s suspension for firing a handgun at a civilian. Worry creases Rhys’ brow, and he looks to the shadows burned into the walls with a tightness in his throat.


At Corbin’s side, Hokuto visibly tenses when she feels Kaylee’s eyes on her. So accustomed to being a ghost only he can see, the telepath’s stare feels like an invasion more than anything. “Don't get into trouble,” she whispers into Corbin’s ear, then flickers out of view.


A SESA Agent coming from outside stops in the doorway, listening to the voices and scanning the room. He holds a stack of folders in one arm, blank documentation and medical assessment forms, all stacked atop a digital tablet. If this worked, there'd be a mass immigration the likes of which the world has never knowingly experienced. Everyone had a role, even administrative agents.


Hokuto appears in Kaylee’s periphery, a shadow of black dressed in a flowing red dress. “What's wrong?” The dreamwalker asks, feeling no time like the present to air concerns. Each moment in time is precious, after all.


Rhys jolts when his satellite phone in his pocket vibrates. Distractedly, he fumbles for it as the technicians click a key on a laptop.


A high-pitched whine fills the air from the body machine on the floor, a supersonic and shrill sound that is like daggers in Squeaks’ ears. The sound, too high-pitched for anyone else to hear, is like a constant jabbing pain to the echolocator. The sound blast is fired upward along the length of the observatory, vibrates off of the metal walls, sings with a resonance that turns the observatory into a massive tuning fork vibrating at 126.22 hz.

It is an uncomfortable sound to everyone else, but largely ignorable. Rhys winces or a moment, plugging his free ear as he answers his phone. “This is Bluthner,” he shouts into the receiver, not realizing how loud he's being. “I'm kinda in the middle of something.

As soon as the sonic device is deployed here, Rasheed, Odessa, and Mateo can feel the vibrations of the sound in their bones. It's a tingling tremor, like the sensation this place naturally threw off but so heightened. Moreso, it sings with a resonance echoing from somewhere far, far away. Like something else on another planet calling down to this one. Or perhaps just another world.

In Kaylee’s field of vision, Hokuto winces and clutches her head when the sound begins. “What— is— ” and it's suddenly hard for the telepath to hear the dreamwalker, “ — a — pening?” Then, Hokuto just disappears like a candle blown out in the wind.

What did you say?” Rhys stalks away, trying to get better reception. “There's too much interference!” He's headed for the door. “Who is this?

All Mateo can hear isn't the sonic emitter, isn't the voices, it's the noise in the back of his mind. It's El Umbral, clearer now more so than ever.

Movement just beyond Rhys tugs at Squeaks’ attention and she finds Eve making faces at her. She mimics the signed hushing, though she looks a little confused by it. Why are we shushing at each other? Whatever it’s supposed to mean is lost before it even reaches her and as soon as the seer turns away she drops her hand and shakes her head. There’s more important things happening, silliness and wondering about it can happen later.

More important things are double-underlined when the SESA science person starts counting down.

The young teen’s head swivels first to the guy doing the counting. Her weight shifts from one foot to the other in anticipation. It’s exciting enough that she’s even forgotten to be bothered by the vest. Her eyes flick from the counter to Rhys. For a second she considers poking his arm, just like she does to her adopted siblings when they’re looking worried. Her hand starts to raise to follow through on the thought at the same time her head turns to look at the machine and scientists again.

Her hand doesn’t make it past a slight bend at the elbow as the worst sound ever pierces into her ears.

Whatever her thoughts had been a second ago is gone, any ideas about anything else are replaced with pain. Squeaks stumbles backward a step as her eyes squeeze shut, and her hands clamp down against her ears to stop the noise. And the stabbing. She falls back another step and sinks onto her butt on the floor. Her shoulders hunch against it and she rocks forward, because maybe getting lower will make the sound less terrible.

"I trust her judgement in nearly every situation, but I'm not really seeing the wisdom in—" Rasheed suddenly stops, doubling over and grabbing his stomach when that sensation amplifies. "Fuck… if whatever this is kills all of you, I'm gonna be pissed at your ghost for the extra trauma…" Why he says all of you instead of all of us is unclear to most of the people there, but SESA is well aware that he means time things.

‘Steady’ was an easier thing to be said then to put into practice, Kaylee looks haggard behind the mask. Still there is a small nod of her helmeted head to her brother. She’s trying. Of course, she might have said it, if Hokuto wasn’t suddenly next to her, making the telepath jump a little.

The question that follows the appearance, throws the telepath off. So the dreamwalker gets an owlish look, until what she’s asking click. “This isn’t the time. But we will… “ What she was going to say is interrupted as the machine is fired up. There is a grimace and a gloved hand pressed against the helmet.. Around where her ear is, but the sound isn’t horrible. The effect on the ghost next to her is noticeable. “Hokuto?” There is concern for the other, hand reaching out of instinct, but then the dreamwalker is gone. Turning to look around her, Kaylee looks confused. “Hokuto?” She softly calls for the woman again.

A glance at others brings the realization that Kaylee’s ability was on the fritz, minds flicker in and out of her field having to compete with the constant sound of static. Eyes narrow as she tries to focus on at least one mind, the noise the thing was making wasn’t helping. Unable to get a clear read, she lets go with a frustrated sigh. Again her hand presses against her helmet, this was going to give her a bad headache before long.

Lynette winces uncomfortably at the sound, but she adjusts quickly enough. There's barely a hitch in her power, but pushing more and more into the same spot. Her hand stays in Mateo's, her grip offering support. She can do little else but hold on until this is over.

Des offers a reassuring smile to Lynette as she moves to join her family. If this all goes horribly wrong, at least they're together. She casts a look toward the doors her mother disappeared through and feels her heart sink a little. But maybe it's for the best.

Resting a hand on Mateo's shoulder, Des murmurs, "You can do this." The noise is tremendous, but when she stands at his side like this, she can feel the harmony among the chaos. One hand reaches out in front of her, feeling through the air with gentle movements of her fingers. It's almost like she could reach through the thinning barrier between worlds.

As the sonic resonator is fired up, Richard grimaces but doesn’t wince— he’s heard the tone before— looking to the sky for a moment as if for guidance before looking back towards the others. That’s when he catches sight of the collapse of the teenager, moving with a quick step over to her; the helmet of his armor pulled from where it’s hanging at his side, he reaches out to gently put it over her head and offer at least a little bit of sound resistance.

“Easy there, kiddo,” he murmurs, “Easy. I know that noise must suck a lot worse for you than it does for me…”

His head turns to one side, looks back to Mateo, and he nods once. Pushing up to his feet, he steps over to where a tether’s been attached to the wall, clipping the cable to his belt.They’re all ready when he is.

"Oooooooohhhhhhh," Eve leans back as the noise emits and grits her teeth, kicking her legs out in a move meant to wake them up when falling asleep. "Oooooooooh." Doe brown eyes widen as the energy shifts and she chatters her teeth together, "Ooooooooooooh." In unison with her younger counterpart. Mad Eve's eyes widen as her visage slowly seems to fill in with more color, yellow stained teeth coming more into focus, her ratty and tattered robe billowing in invisible winds. She's clearer to see now… no longer a ghost.

In a state of shock from the changing of Mad Eve to the feeling she has deep in her bones, the echoes and whispers in her head swirl with the added chaos. They sing along with it, gleefully. Moremoremore. Clutching the side of her head as she winces, "Strands together, weaving, weaving," "Weaving." Mad Eve echoes as she glides through the pair of Mateo and Lynette and comes to stand near the younger Eve sitting on the floor. FFD559|"We're paper thin my dear."##

"Whoa. Walls leak, tiny leaks! Smudged windows are wiped away!" Manically Eve snorts and rubs a shaky hand through her tangled maned of hair. ""Hold… your… undies friendssss!"

“Do I ever get into trouble?” Corbin asks the empty air, shaking his head in the moments before as he moves to step toward Eve. One might think she’s starting to wear off of him or something, from the way he’s talking to the air like she is. But at least one person knows better, and it’s one of the few people among this group he knew from before. Before SESA, before the Company fell even. From the bookstore, from the Nightmare Man. Seeing Kaylee, even dressed as she is, made him feel a little better about this whole thing. Even when the sound started and began to nag his ears. His eyes fall on the teenager as she’s far more affected by it than most and starts toward her, luckily not hearing what Kaylee says softly under the resonating noise.

But he doesn’t reach her before even more noise explodes into the area.

The sounds of El Umbral, always present to Mateo in one form or another, comes through clearly, blocking out the sounds of those around him, riding along the sounds of heartbeats in his head, rushing like water flowing down from a waterfall and crashing on the ground below, like the ocean, like the hum of electricity, like an avalanche on a mountain peak, like roaring fire that leaves the air shimmering. It’s only the hand against his and the hand on his shoulder that he really can notice. His wife and his sister. That is enough to cause him to reach out with his free hand, making a gesture, spreading fingers, like flicking something open.

It’s as if the world itself inhaled.

It forms where Lynette had been directing her ability, a point that expands into a spiraling vortex, sheathed in lightning.

The swirling vortex kicks up a howling wind that blows loose papers around the ground floor of the observatory. Flashes of electricity snap brightly around the infinitely black disc of the vortex, from which nothing escapes. A sheaf of paper blown into its orbit is shredded and set on fire, then collapses down into the inky blackness to nothing.

The helmet provides Squeaks with some measure of a buffer against the shrieking sound, but barely enough. There's so much about the noise that is familiar, a hint of oscillation in the tone which makes it sound like one of her echolocation clicks reverberating off of a metal surface, but if the sound was stretched out and slowed down, like how Mr. Pines had shown Squeaks would happen when a record was played at the wrong speed on the turntable.

Rasheed can feel a vibration in his bones, making his teeth tingle. There's a pressure building in the air, like a growing bubble pushing everything away from the center of the room. Rasheed feels at once drawn to and pushed away from the vortex, like he's being pulled in two by the force. This is not something rudimentary being done here, this isn't flashy science. This is the laws of the universe itself being bent in on itself to the breaking point. This is why people fear the Evolved.

Several steps away, a finger plugged into one ear and phone cradled to the other, Rhys looks back at the vortex with wide eyes and a dawning look of horror in his eyes. “That's not possible,” Rhys says into the receiver, his voice nearly swallowed up by the other raging sounds. “That's not possible, how did you get this number!?”

Unable to hear anything beyond the call of El Umbral, Mateo can feel a disturbance in the vortex. The sonic emitter is warping it, making it easy for it to open but harder to keep stable. The portal is not safe, not for anyone or anything to enter. But yet he can feel something on the other side, feel a connection like sympathetic ends of a magnet coming closer to one another, but there's something missing. Something is out of alignment.

Dissonance. Squeaks heard the word once, knows it's attributed to sound. That's what's so grating about the noise, it's off-key. There's another sound behind it, a report back, a second series of sound waves bounced from — maybe another world. But they're out of sync and out of tune with one-another, and the rest of the adults probably can't hear that. Probably can't tell what's wrong.

Maybe, in some way, Squeaks was right. It went wrong last time because she wasn't there.

As Lynette feeds power into El Umbral, she feels something that she's felt the last time on the rooftop of the Deveaux Building. She feels a hunger in the void, a yawning neediness. Not entirely unlike an empty stomach, in spite of all of the power she's flooding into the portal, it hungers for more, needs more fuel to make that last push. It wants everything she has. And perhaps most frighteningly, more.

“I am a federal agent,” Rhys shouts into his phone, “and I demand you tell me how you got this number!” He squints, about to say something and then stops. “Wait— what? But that's— we—” His tone changes, immediately. “Why would I be in the Exclusion Zone? I'm in New Mexico. You sent me here!

Then, more horrified. “What? What do you mean a battle in Midtown?

The vortex swirling before her and it's brilliance has Eve reaching into her messenger bag and pulling out a pair of dark tinted goggles. "Shiny shiny," she comments softly as she snaps the strap at the back of her head, bunches of her hair sticking out in odd angles from the elastic band. This was the moment they were waiting for, "Whoaaaaa." Seeing the vortex fully for the first time is awe inspiring. The Umbrella. The El Umbral. Yes that's it. "Ella Ella aye aye aye." "I feel a shifting in the river! Chicky Chicken! Don't fly away silly girl!" The more colorful Mad Eve shouts at the other Eve who looks over with a nervous smile as she takes a step back continuing until she bumps into Rhys.

Leaping into the air, "Agent Fanc-" barely missing his conversation the words battle in Midtown ring in her head and she snaps her face towards the man before looking to the portal being created. "Home." They're home.

Stepping away from Rhys, the pale woman looks to the sky and then to the swirling vortex eyebrows raise tick by tick. Ticktockticktock. The sounds of the storm inside the Forest echoes from her mind and she winces before throwing her head back with wide brown eyes. "Speak to me!" Eve screams to the nothing around her, "Home is in trouble," speaking rapidly more to herself to the echoes. The older Eve turns her head to the side to stare at the younger and her eyes widen before she sinks to her knees and bows her head, praying. Rocking back and forth, muttering fast to herself to her echoes. "Speak to her, speak to us." Slowly her arms raise.

Eve's whole body shakes and she kicks her leg out and almost falls back onto the floor, her eyes flicker from brown to black and back again. She needed to see. Needed to know. An ornate hourglass glimmering red and gold spins in Eve's face, the black grain rapidly seeping to the bottom.

The hold on her ears is released as the helmet comes down over her head, but they’re quick to cover again, to add that much more protection against the sounds. Discomfort still makes her face go a little cringey, but she lifts her head after a couple of seconds so she can see what’s happening. Without so much piercing pain, she starts to turn her attention to Mateo and the portal thing. Something else grabs her attention and she tilts her head to the side the same way a puppy would hearing an unfamiliar noise.

It’s another second before she’s turning, with one hand now holding the helmet to keep it from sliding around. She gets up on her knees as she looks around, stopping once to tilt her head the other way. She scoots again, twisting until she’s facing Richard. Her eyes go from him to the machine. “The sound.” It’s almost a question. She picks herself up from the floor, eyes swiveling so she can look from the machine to Mateo and his portal, then to Richard.

“The sound!” Squeaks yells it this time, after a long second of staring and trying to understand what she’s hearing. She turns to look at the portal. “It’s not right! It’s… it’s…” Almost like feedback except with an echo. She starts for the machine, that free hand of hers reaching to grab Richard by the arm and make him come with. “The sounds don’t match. You have to change something! Make the sound… make it… make it faster? It’s not the same as the other one!”

"This is dangerous." Rasheed says again, straightening his back to try and think through the noise, stuffing ear plugs into his ears, something he occasionally needs on certain missions when dealing with some people's abilities.

But as he'll be in deep shit if he tries to stop all of this, he instead focuses on Rhys, heading over to him with a deeply concerned frown. "Tell me what's going on. Who is that? What's happening?"

As the swirling void opens up, Kaylee finds herself staring at it. Fingers scramble to unhook the helmet she had just put on moments before. Pulling it off, like it was keeping her from seeing clearly, the telepath continues to stare at El Umbral. In the back of her mind she can hear the snake’s excitement and it’s hissed glee. For her, there was a familiarity to the sight of it. It is that sense of deja vu, that she’s seen this before. In a dream maybe? No. A vision of a rooftop and Tyler Case dying in her arms.

Moving to join Richard, Kaylee says loud enough for him to hear over everything. “This isn’t right. It should look different. Calm and…” she trails off looking down at Squeaks.

There is a flicker of surprise, not at her being there, which Kaylee did not approve of… but… “You can hear both ends?” It’s an unnecessary question, she already knew the answer. Looking up at her brother, brows lifting. “She can help them tune our end.” Her head nods towards the contraption they were using, that sense of excitement briefly fluttering through her.

But then it is followed by the realization that they needed time. Kaylee knew what they were working on now was borrowed. The Raytech exec grabs one of the guards standing nearby. Teeth grab the glove off her hand so that she can make contact with the man’s skin. Contact was always best with her ability. Keying up the com would probably damage the ears of anyone she calls out too, so…Thankfully, her people know what she is.

«Get to Bellamy. Give him a report on what’s happening. Tell him we need //time. As much as he can manage.» If the opposition - she refused to call them her enemy - didn’t know what was happening, they did //now. Kaylee hoped against hope, her security chief could give them what they needed to get her brother’s family home.

«Use discretion when you talk to him… there are birds everywhere and they work for the other side.» No need to tip their hand that things were not quite on track. That added, she motions to the man to go.

As that howling vortex opens again, Richard’s stomach drops even as his heart flutters in hope; all his dreams and nightmares warring again to see which will come out on top. At least until his hand’s grabbed, and then he’s looking down to Squeaks - to his sister at her words - and he nods, releasing the tether (but keeping it in hand in case he needs to latch onto something else) and moving with the teenager over towards the modulator.

“She can hear the resonance with her ability,” he shouts over the cacophony to the technician, indicating Squeaks, “She can help tune it correctly, listen to her so we can get it to sync up!”

Des keeps one hand on Mateo's shoulder, the other held out in front of her, reaching out through space for her counterpart on the other side of the veil. "Something's wrong," she murmurs to herself, not intending to be heard above the horrible noise. She doesn't feel her power echoing back to her and it causes concern to etch itself into her face. As if this entire situation hadn't been enough already.

As El Umbral slides into place, it doesn’t quite stabilize, but even then Mateo can feel the connection. Point A and Point B coming into alignment, only the alignment was off. There’s something wrong with the way it’s moving, or how big it is, or something. Squinting into it as if he’s trying to see through the nothingness to the other side, he keeps his hand raised and tries to… shift it, but it feels like it’s taking most of him just to keep it open. It feels similar to how it was on the roof, volatile and not safe. He imagined if anything tried to go in it would get ripped apart, just as that piece of paper. Mr. Paper’s unfortunate brother.

Over the noise in his mind, he can hear some of what is going on around him, now, but only a little, it drowned under it all, like trying to hear something in the middle of a maelstrom. “They’re there,” he calls out over it, though he’s speaking much louder than he needs to, even over the sound in the room around them. Because that was amplified over what he’s already hearing.

That much he knows. That they’re there. “We need to make it… safer.” And he wasn’t sure he could do that on his own.

Lynette also seems unable to hear what's going on around them, but only because she's focusing. It makes her heart beat a little too fast, the way the void takes and takes and she looks into the portal, beyond it, as if she might be able to make out the teeth. But regardless, she came here for one thing— to help reunite families. One family, specifically, but she'll take them all along with the other set of Ruizes. So she pushes herself, generating more electricity to funnel into the portal. Whatever it needs, she hopes she has it. Because she knows the void will be fed, one way or the other.

Richard’s request has one of the SESA technicians waving Squeaks over to the laptop that controls the sonic emitter. “This dial controls the frequency,” she says, motioning to an analog wheel dial on an enormous mixer hooked up to the laptop, “it's very sensitive, move it slowly!”

At the same time, Mateo can feel something reverberating through him, a second oscillating vibration separate from the first and slightly out of sync. Odessa can feel it too, thrumming in her veins, pounding behind her eyes. Then, she can see it as faint emerald-green sparks start to rise off of her hands and arms like flecks of airborne glitter, drawn languidly toward El Umbral like metal shavings to a magnet.

Rasheed can feel the weight in the room, an equilibrium turning like it did on the rooftop of the Deveaux Building, like a car slowly rolling over on top of him. He tried to fight the weight before and it was too much for him to handle, and so soon after that exertion it feels even more inescapable as it begins to rotate his senses, as if the entire observatory tower was flipping upside down.

But Kaylee feels something else entirely. A tingling sensation of a mind reaching out to her. She feels panic, desperation, and more than anything fear.

Then it starts.

Bong. There's a bang on the outside of the tower. Bong. Then another, higher up. They're not loud, it sounds like someone is pelting the building with rocks. Bong. Another, and then, more rapidly. Bong, Bong, Bong. Soon everyone can feel the sense of desperation, a trembling aura of worry, of panic.

The man Kaylee had told to go outside is stopped by the doors, and draws them shut with a look of horror on his face. “Oh my god— ” He exhales sharply, back to the door.

It's not rocks hitting the tower.

“It's birds!” He shouts. “That sound is birds!

Rhys is barely paying attention to anything happening, though his conversation on the phone is drowned out by all of the noises happening around him, until he shouts into the receiver. “Who!?” Plugging his unoccupied ear with a finger, Rhys huddles away from the sound.

What the hell are you talking about!?” Rhys shouts into the phone to be heard. “That's not possible, Sylar is dead! He— ”

A battle in Midtown.

Rhys’ face goes ashen white. “What year is it!?” He shouts into the phone, but in that moment Rhys’ attention is snapped away when Mateo’s portal suddenly explodes with a surge of electrical energy from the outer ring.

The darkness in the middle of El Umbral starts to clear, like smoke fading from a fire. On the other side of a shimmering, glassy surface, the people in the observatory are presented with a familiar sight for those who were on the Deveaux Rooftop. Another mechanical hangar bay, but this time there's more people gathered. On the other side of the round portal, Mateo Ruiz is visible feeding electricity into a machine with a triangular Looking Glass lens attached to its midsection. Lynette is holding her hands out, commanding the portal. Odessa, blonde and wide-eyed, is standing beside radio equipment similar to what SESA has Squeaks at.

Behind her, Elisabeth Harrison stands not far from a blonde woman in a white labcoat who — to Mateo, Lynette, Odessa, and Richard — looks identical to Mara. She is unremarkable to the others. Another woman, much older than Elisabeth, looks strikingly like her. Richard had seen photographs of Carina Harrison, so to see her alive and in the flesh is startling.

More so is Eric Doyle, a man who died in the Cambridge Massacre, alongside former Lighthouse children Lucy, Mala, and Denisa. Elaine Darrow is there as well, but there's no sign of Magnes.

No sign of Richard's mother.

The young teen’s hand let’s go of her insistent tugging on Richard’s arm when they get close enough to really see all the buttons and things running the equipment. Her eyes are already flit over the laptop screen, the keyboard, then find the giant mixer. She doesn’t wait for the technician to finish speaking before she’s stepping up to the mixer. “Very sensitive,” is a quiet echo, just out loud enough to let the grown-ups know she heard the warnings.

Eyes closing and head tipping slightly toward a shoulder, she touches the dial with just her fingertips. The dial is turned with the teeniest of movements, and as the first adjustments are made she lifts and turns her head to catch the sounds better.

Pausing, she makes a quiet hushing sound, but not to anyone in particular. It’s not even because of all the extra noise, but an out loud mimicry of the sounds she’s trying to match.

Taking a half step to the side, she turns toward the portal but she keeps her eyes closed. Squeaks’ fingers continue to work the dial slowly, turning it in fractions of fractions and not rushing even though there’s a desperate feeling moving through the room. “Little more,” she tells herself, then, “still little more.” The rest of what’s happening, the bong sounds of something against windows and scared words, it’s all filtered out in favor of staying focused on fixing the sound.

Odessa watches the motes of light dance off her skin, fluttering through the air toward the portal, fascinated and horrified in equal measures. She's not tapping into her ability – at least, not that portion of it – so she shouldn't be seeing its manifestation. Then she hears the young SESA agent demanding to know what year it is on the other end of the line. Horror is quickly winning out as the dominant emotion.

It's like time echoing back at them. The moments when everything went horribly wrong. Des half-expects to hear klaxons and a warning that a reactor meltdown is imminent next. She squeezes her eyes shut tight against the throbbing in her head. When it doesn't abate, she opens them again with a shake of her head. Her gaze settles on the portal and her double just out of reach for a moment before shifting to the walls and the sounds of the bombardment, fearful.

Rasheed handles all of this in two stages. First, he doubles over and vomits, only to notice a mysterious lack of gravity for his vomit for a brief few seconds.

Second, he starts to back up, then just falls to his knees and hunches over entirely forehead pressed against the ground, hands wrapped around his stomach. "Why the fuck are we doing this?!" is all he can ask, because he's really not sure.

He could have been home reading a book right now.

As he stood at the threshold, unmoved by his own ability and wrapped in the sounds that were often in his head, Mateo watched as it turned into a window, much as it had before, but he could still feel that it was wrong. Closer, but wrong. He knew the windshear would rip anything that tried to go through apart if they attempted it, much as it blew apart the grappling hook that had been shot into the one on the roof. Though maybe it would happen slower this time. He could tell the frequency was doing something, but he didn’t know what exactly.

The green sparks moving into the edges catches his eye, and he starts to feel strain of it, though not in the way that he might have under different circumstances. It was just a tightening in his chest. And he remembered once— when he lost control. When el umbral appeared before the woman who stands on both sides of the mirror, one behind him, one before. When she attempted to stop the portal, but it hadn’t exactly stopped. Perhaps because he hadn’t wanted it to.

His eyes slid to the woman who looked so much like Mara, to the other Odessa, then meeting Lynette and him. Rasheed might not know why they were doing this, but he did. He did. He was doing it for them. All those separated by worlds, all those trapped worlds away from those they love. He was doing it for her. And he was doing it for himself.

As the birds slammed into the side, his eyes break from the the threshold, but he can still feel it with every fiber of him, still hear it roaring in his head. “Des. Can you slow it down?”

While most of the Agents have a vague idea what is happening there, Corbin really didn’t know much before the brief that he got upon arrival on Eve’s heels. What he did know is that literally everything going on here was dangerous. But he also knew that dangerous was sometimes necessary, and what he could see through the portal that opened told him all he really needed to know. They knew about the visions, about the people blacking out, about the lights in the sky and how they had preceded them.

Allowing Squeaks and Eve to fend for themselves, he moved to the Agent who seemed very much affected by everything going on, and what he knew about Rasheed’s ability he could understand why. “Do you need to get away from here?” he asked as he kneeled, trying to be loud enough to be heard over the everything. The loud thuds, the frequency humming the air… he wished Hokuto were still there, but he could offer a hand to a fellow Agent and try to get him further away from what was obviously making him sick. Sometimes the One of Us side of the partnerships of old was protecting the One of Them from their own abilities.

A worried glance was thrown in Rhys’ direction. What little he could hear of that, he didn’t like either.

Lynette looks up at the sound of the birds hitting the building, then to the door, then to the portal. "Quicker would be better," she says, leaning on humor to push past her fear. Birds mean Eileen. Eileen means ash and bone and little else left if that's where her whims take her.

But her focus settles on the portal when it clears, when she sees them again, their mirror images from other paths in the Garden. She didn't have Mateo's connection to the other side; she knew they had survived, but seeing them there eases a knot of worry she's had in her gut. She steps over to Mateo, her arm sliding around him. It's part support and part pride. He's going to get their people home.

“Liz,” Richard breathes out in a shaky exhalation of relief as he stares up into the portal, at the motley group arrayed on the other side. After what they’d seen on the rooftop, he was afraid they were dead. That they were all dead.

For once, he’s glad that he believed his madman of a brother.

As hope surges to life again within him, his brain catches up to the other shouts and words of the last several seconds. “The Horsemen must be here,” he mutters as at the repeated impacts of the birds against the windows and walls, and then he looks over to Rhys— and his eyes widen. “Shit,” he calls out, “We’re losing temporal synchronization— this whole place might go Moab if we don’t get a hold of it! Ruiz, Squeaks, keep spatial and vibrational sync together as best you can— “

This might be all up to Odessa now, and he looks over to her— flashing her a quick, reassuring smile. You’ve got this, it says, and he believes it. No pressure, Des.

"Otter eyes!!!!!!!"

The shriek from Eve comes from right behind Lynette and Mateo of this world as she is now at their shoulders, hair flying and sticking up in the air from the energy and electricity. The Other Otter… he had made it. Liz. It was happening, what Eve had seen and what her gift had been pointing at for so long now. Tears glitter in Eve's eyes as she sways to the left and right, "Come on home little soldier…." she whisper sings with a half smile.

As the world around them shatters slowly and birds can be heard attacking the tower from the outside Eve's expression shifts slightly to a twisted mask of joy and anger. "Hurry hurry. Otter Eyes, look it's you. Lady.." Eve shudders, "You got the holeeeeeee world. In your hands."

Looking towards Richard, Eve doesn't just look at Odessa but Rasheed as well. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, "Time fairies!" Waving towards Rasheed and Odessa and her eyes grow wide as she thinks… "We have to join together.. all of us.." Leaning forward to scream at the time manipulators while slapping her hands together trying to indicate,"Gutes-asi!!"


Even before the birds start to throw themselves at the tower, Kaylee’s half turning towards the door with unfocused eyes, reacting to the fear being thrown at her. As the mind reaches for her, the telepath’s eyes close and her ability reaches out in return, curling around it like a python. An attempt to sooth it, even though she understands the fear the other one has.

As much as Kaylee would have rathered to not do this, when it comes down to it; her family was her world… even the wayward ones. If it had been Joseph and the kids on the other side, she would have been doing the same thing, All she can do is be there to try and keep things from going south.

As people around her react to the portal’s view clearing, Kaylee opens her eyes only to see… “Eric…” The name said before she can stop herself. A hand covers her mouth in surprise. How many years had it been since she has seen the man. She knew this wasn’t the same Eric, but there was something about seeing the man still alive elsewhere.

As Squeaks works with the SESA scientists to align the frequency of the sonic emitter with the noise reverberating through the tower, Rhys shouts into his phone. “Hello? Hello?!” Pulling it away from his ear he stares at the screen, then curses and slips it back into pocket. Swiftly, he storms over to Richard.

“We can't keep this up!” Rhys shouts with a wave to the churning portal. “Whatever we need to do we need to do it now and shut this down! I just got a phone call from two thousand and eleven!” There's a wild look in his eyes. “Kenner was insane to authorize this! You've got five minutes and then I'm shutting this all down!”

Speaking of Kenner.

His visage appears within the frame of the portal, bearded and barely recognizable, moving into frame with a wild eyed shout and a wave of his hands. An explosion of sea water blasts into view from behind him, parting around his body and crashing into the soundlessly screaming people waiting at the portal. The tides crash against Elisabeth and the older blonde woman with her, nearly sweeping them out of sight. It is chaos through the portal, bodies blocking view as people step in front of the aperture.

“This frequency keeps changing!” One of the SESA scientists calls out. “The sound on the other side of the portal or— or whatever this is? It's oscillating, we don't have the hardware for this! If they can't get it level on their end there's nothing we can do!”

Mateo feels El Umbral fighting against him, pushing, surging. It is a violent and strained sensation, like the portal is both collapsing in on itself and pulling apart at the same time. It's like reaching across a hallway that keeps changing shape and size and nearly touching fingertips with another person at the other end of the hall. He's so close but the distances are so great. He can feel Lynette on the other side, feel her presence of being.

Time and space are bending to unite them, but not enough.

In Corbin’s care, Rasheed can hear things under the squeal. He can hear sounds, echoing, distantly. The sounds of multiple voices that don't belong to people in this room, sounds of whispering that should be too quiet to hear and yet are a chorus. Time and space is bending toward this moment. The portal here isn't just punching a hole in space, it's bending spacetime around it like stretched fabric.

Then, the machine gun fire starts.

The chop of a helicopter rises over the sound of the sonic trill, and outside the rapid chop of a heavy automatic weapon blasts through the air. There's screams, shouting, gunfire. It's like a war zone just suddenly crashed against the outside of the observatory like a rising tide.

Rasheed tries to compose himself, taking a deep breath as he stands up straight. He's never had to concentrate through chaos like this before, but whatever is happening around them, whatever is happening to reality, he has to do something if they're all going to do this for even five more minutes.

"I don't know if I can do this, but I'll try my best to keep time stabilized. I've never… tried this before, I've never been in a situation where it even made sense to try something like this." So, he tries it. Something that, indeed, wouldn't make sense to do with his ability, since usually time is perfectly normal. But he reaches out around them, and instead of pushing time backwards or forwards, he starts trying to keep time focused squarely on now.

When he feels time oscillate one way, he tries to counter that force in the other, closing his eyes, trying to shut everything else out.

Can you slow it down? Des looks to Mateo, eyes big. "I can sure try," she calls back over the noise. Taking a deep breath, she squares her shoulders and focuses on el umbral, her outstretched hand feeling for the distortions in time. She curls her fingers in to her palm one by one before twisting her wrist and pulling toward herself with a grunt of effort.

Everything inside of her is screaming against the effort. Everything except for the power itself that she wields. Something encourages her, promising Des that what she's doing is right, encouraging her to ignore her instincts.

Turning her head as she turns the dial, Squeaks’ face scrunches in concentration. Picking out the right sounds without matching the echo takes a lot of focus and a light touch. Her forehead wrinkles when her eyebrows push toward each other, her eyes squeeze, and her mouth twists like she bit into something sour.

“There,” she decides, then a second later, “no…” The young teen’s fingers on the dial match the words spoken into the helmet, voice too quiet to pass beyond its protective shell.

Head tilting away from the portal and down, her hand pauses in adjusting the frequency. For maybe three seconds she just listens to the sound and then she nods. Squeaks’ head bobbles inside the helmet only just enough to make it slip at a slight angle, but it’s ignored as she sets her feet and squares her shoulders to the machine. With a delicate touch, she works the control and narrows in the frequency.

The telepath is still staring at the scene on the other side when Kaylee happens to hear Rhys. Then everything starts to happen on the other side and her eyes widen. “No..” Kaylee cries out, taking a step towards the portal before turning to look at him with a wide worried look.

“God damn it Rhys no. Don’t you dare do that.” There is no real threat to it, even though the agent damn well knows her ability.

Closing the distance between her and the agent, Kaylee continues to plea with him. “We need time.” Turning enough to look back at the battle on the other side she, shakes her head. “Liz and Magnes helped you back when you and Hiro were fucking with time trying to stop a madman. Are you just going to abandon them this time? When they need us?” She only knows, because she cleaned up all their messes. “What we all did for you was just as crazy, just as dangerous, and it worked out.”

Looking back at Rhys, Kaylee points at the portal with a gloved hand, glaring at him. “There are children.” The sounds of war start to filter into the tower. Time was getting shorter. There is worry that flickers over her features as Kaylee look at the doors. She is too far away from everyone to hear the mental hums of the forces outside. For a moment she is ready to rush out the door to help; but one thing keeps her there is the fact Eve said she needed to be there.

Swallowing back her fear for everyone on the outside, Kaylee turns back to Rhys. “You trusted me once to clean up what happened, trust me now.” She doesn’t even touch him with her ability, even though the snake in her head hisses at her to do it. This needed to be unassisted and from the heart. What she does instead is reach out with a hand to gently touch his arm as she adds, a determined, “Please. This. Will. Work.”

All around there's chaos. The piercing noise, seeing their friends on the other side.. it's all coming. Using the ensuing chaos to her benefit, Rhys feels a hand on his back and a rasp close to his ear, "Make it ten." Something hard and cold presses lightly against his back, a blade. Eve's brown eyes meet Kaylee's blue ones and she shakes her head, Not like that, not like before.

The oracle's eyes shift from Kaylee to the windows and back, "Listen to her. Look deeper Fancypants. It's happened before." She whispers as Mad Eve leans in close at Prime Eve's shoulder eyes widening a fraction as her mouth slips into a wild grin, "A stab first would have got you an hour Chicken." Shaking her head Eve twitches in her face, there's an urge not to kill Rhys but to look towards the windows again where the birds batter and break. A bright light flashes and the birds erupt into ashes falling to the ground outside. Roaring flames lick at the edges of the window before overtaking the skyview outside. Mouth slowly dropping open, "Look deeper Brother Fancy.." Eyes growing dark and expanding until all that is left is an empty ink black and she takes a staggered step back the sensation of heat and burning overtaking her. The knife drops an inch as her foot takes a step back, "Ashes to-"

The smell of burning wafts under Eve's nostrils and it smells like… "Why it's pleasantly pine!" Then she trips backwards.

Machine gun fire changes Lynette's hold on Mateo from supportive to clinging. Last time they tried this, when they were attacked, Lynette acted on instinct and impulses left over from a wartime mentality. And she attacked someone on their side as a result. Someone irritating, but even she knows that's no reason to go that far.

Today when an attack triggers that thinking, the urge to run outside and shout down the enemy and probably die doing it, she squeezes her eyes shut and tightens her hold on her husband. He can hear her whispering to herself, a mantra he's heard plenty of times before, something to steady her when she can't steady herself.

“Just maintain synchronization on all axes,” Richard calls out to those working on the portal, sweeping a gloved hand in their direction even as his attention remains upon the portal, “Give them time to stabilize things on the other side— ”

Then Rhys is storming over, and he turns his head towards the agent, his expression flat and a single brow arching upwards. It is not the look of someone who is submitting to authority but rather one far closer to a look that his lover recently saw in his mother’s eyes. Then Kaylee - and the seeress - are intervening, and he turns away without so much as a response, going back to exactly what he was doing. “Odessa, Agent Mustang, do everything you can to stabilize the temporal ax— “

The sudden appearance of Donald Kenner on the other side has his jaw tensing, a hand dropping to his sidearm— but he knows that no bullet would survive the shearing effect. “Buy them time,” he barks out, “They need to stabilize the portal on their side…”

“…come on, Liz,” he exhales, watching all hell break loose on the other side, “You’re so close.”

He doesn’t even seem to notice machine gun fire.

“Sure you can do it, Agent Mustang,” Corbin responds, sticking close to the man who had faltered just moments ago and offering him what confidence he can. Whether he believes it or not is not the point anyway. It’s what they need to do, even if he glances toward Rhys curiously as he mentions the phone call from out of time. He had witnessed part of the battle in Midtown, after all, having been at the speech before the “President” flew off to participate in a fight in the sky. It had been at a distance, but he saw enough to know that, very likely, there had been panicked calls going out from many phones.

One that apparently reached through time. He didn’t understand it, but there was a lot he often didn’t understand. And all he could offer right now was assurances to the Agent whose powers they might be needing to rely on. The Agent and Odessa. Who he knew, and wouldn’t have turned in if there wasn’t a dozen agents right there who seemed to know who she was. “Guess she’s not a teleporter after all. I would have lost the office pool,” he mutters quietly to himself. The war starting around him doesn’t seem to have unnerved him as much as… well, what’s happening in here.

With so much going on around him, Mateo doesn’t seem like he’s actually seeing any of it as he trusts his sister to do whatever she can. He had a job as much as everyone else, and it was starting to take a noticeable toll on him. A drop of blood falls from one nostril, just the smallest amount, and he leans a little against those who were holding onto him. But almost all of his attention is on the portal in front of him— and the roaring sound in his head. The infinite gardens, the paths that twist and maze and spiral into infinity. Some parallel and never touching, some so close together they apparently could be crossed.

His eyes fall on her, on the girl that she held, shutting out everything else around him, ignoring everything going on around her. Only her, and the wail of the everything between their two points existed.

Scrambling away from Eve, Rhys paws at his back, feeling for blood of an injury adrenaline may have made him not feel. Fingers coming away dry, he stares at her in abject confusion and stunned silence. As he opens his mouth, as if to say something, he catches a flash of light out of the corner of his eye inside El Umbral.

Through the rippling surface of the portal everyone in the observatory sees the bearded Kenner drop to one knee and retch at the floor, losing control of his hydrokinesis. People move in front of the portal, occluding view for just long enough to hide how Kenner escaped. But one moment he's there, another he's gone. It's only now that Richard can see the older blonde woman with Elisabeth is protectively cradling a blonde child to her. That's when it all connects for him. He'd seen the pictures in that cabin in the Adirondacks.

That's Elisabeth's mother.

That child…

…is Richard’s daughter.

And then, as if the universe had opened its hand to Richard, it uses that hand to slap him across the face. For a brief moment he sees two people entering the room, one who looks startlingly like SESA Agent Cassandra Baumann, the other is unmistakably Remi Davignon.

Then, there is an explosion of electricity on the other side of the portal, and it goes dark like a television that lost power. Mateo can still feel Lynette on the other end, but it's like she suddenly fell away from him. He can perceive her, but their connection is slippery, disjointed, and ever-widening. The sound being emitted warbles and distorts as well, even as Odessa works to slow it down on her end. Squeaks can't seem to get the frequencies to align, it's like they keep changing, alternating, bending.

The door to the outside bursts open, followed by a fiery orange glow and the sound of multiple gunshots and the whirring of a helicopter’s rotors. Mara comes in, dirt on her hands and knees, blood — possibly not hers — on her face and chest. “Stop!” She shouts, not to Richard, not to Rhys, not even to Eve. She shouts it to Des.

But it's too late.

As Des exerts herself against the inertia of time itself, a shower of green sparks erupt from her arms. They peel away from her body like flakes of dried skin or a residue peeling away from leather. They crackle-snap with neon lime tinged with yellow, funneling toward Rasheed where they orbit slowly before spiraling into the accretion disk of the night-black El Umbral. Des feels a pounding behind her eyes.

With a primal, agonized scream, Darren throws his head back and tries to disengage from Odessa. But one of her hands grasps up and takes him by the necktie. Her fingers curl in the fabric, time spools backwards and Odessa's cells are restored to a previous state. But there are fish hooks in Darren's ability now, entangled with something that was not extant in Odessa's November 8th, 2011 state, but was existent prior to the genetic manipulation performed by Richard Cardinal with Tyler Case's ability.


Des’ arms ache, fingertips tingle, and she can feel something going dreadfully wrong the moment she began to try and affect the world around the open portal. Everything she gained — stole — from Darren Stevens is being siphoned into the outer ring of El Umbral, tinging the portal’s edges a bright green that fades to electric blue. The surge of power sends a shock through Mateo, and he can feel his ability and Des’ linked like a thread and spindle.

Darren is completely engulfed in green flames, a thrashing silhouette of a man screaming in abject agony and horror. Odessa watches, atomic fire reflecting in her eyes, as Darren rapidly ages before her eyes. His eyes cataract white, hair grows and grays, skin wrinkles, and then decomposes. In a matter of seconds Doctor Stevens collapses into a pile of ashen bones centuries old and Odessa –


Des screams, involuntarily. There is a violent ache in her arms and chest, and it feels as though she's being turned inside-out as the portal begins ripping her ability apart like a spinning wheel disassembling a bolt of cloth. Green light leaps like flames out of her eyes and mouth, explodes like so much pyrotechnics and Rasheed can feel that weight he holds becoming heavier. Mateo can feel something else, he can feel the distance between two points, the distance between he and Lynette steadying. No longer is she falling away, but has stabilized. Still far, but not impossibly so. But the price — the price — comes so fast. The last bit of green light and fire explodes out of Des’ eyes and mouth and is sucked into the event horizon of El Umbral, and she realizes the horrific truth…

Green fire crackles around her hands, flickers in her eyes. Her scars are gone, though she looks subtly older, not younger. There's a crackle-pop of lime green embers that dance around her fingertips as the last of Darren's ability fades from her. She isn't just alive, she isn't just healed.


…Des has been stripped of her ability.

Mara lets out a high-pitched scream and rushes over to Des as her legs give way and she crumples down onto the ground. The tall blonde moves like cut scenes from a poorly-spliced film reel; one moment by the door, then beside Kaylee, then ahead of Richard, then already kneeling and cradling Des’ in her arms. “Nononono,” Mara whines, and for a moment — for the briefest of moments — Odessa looked as though her skull was fractured and her back broken, limbs twisted. But then—

No— that never happened.

Only Rasheed could see that it did. That she was broken, and when Mara grabbed her she was suddenly fine. It's in this moment Rasheed feels something strange about Mara’s presence. But the weight of a cosmic force bearing down on him is so great he hasn't the time to focus on it. But it's like she's out of sync.

Like the sound.

Rasheed stares with a look of horror in those brief moments he sees what he can only interpret as two distinct events happening simultaneously… or maybe in this moment where everything is so unstable, so utterly broken, they truly control the very nature of their own fates.

He doesn't have time to reflect, all he can do is feel, push, pull. It's like trying to steer a car with the worst handling imaginable, if that car also happened to be the very axis of time itself. "Whatever you need to do… this needs to hurry up! Time is breaking, you can't see what I'm seeing, I can't even guess what could happen at this point! We're breaking the goddamned universe and it won't end well if we keep this up much longer!"

Glaring back in Rhys' direction, managing to split his focus for one more brief moment, he says, "Do not stop anything, you could make this worse! Let me handle this!"

Her fingers go still on the dial and the helmet covering her head is pressed on with her free hand. Squeaks’ eyes open to stare at the panel with all its controls, like it’s the one being stubborn and not fixing the sound. It should be fixing things, it should smooth out the sounds, even if it doesn’t make it sound better. “Why… why isn’t…” Her eyes pick up to look at the machine for a long second, and to listen hard to the sounds, her head turning one way then then other to find the differences. “Is… It’s… There’s extra. It’s not balanced and smooth because… because it’s missing a side?”

It’s a strange idea, but the longer she tips her head and listens the more she’s sure just adjusting the frequency isn’t going to work. It could be making it worse, if the variations are any clue.

“I think I can fix it!” The words are yelled, and then get less muffled partway through because she shoves the visor up and exposes her face. “Don’t touch things.” It all should stay the same to start with. The young teen stares at the machine for two seconds longer, probably wondering if there’s time to try something new. There definitely isn’t time to keep trying something that isn’t working, she can tell that without even looking at the portal.

Licking her lips, Squeaks raises her eyes to the ceiling, and her head tilts back enough so she can look all the way to the center of it. She takes a breath, then adds her own sounds to the mix, and then gradually getting louder. It’s not something she’s done ever, she’s not even sure if it will work. Her sounds are focused, instead of being general and unfocused. It’s not making maps or seeing in the dark that she needs to do. Her clicks and squeaks are directed to join the strings that already exist, to fill in the gaps and maybe create a full chord that will balance the reverb.

Eve was right to reassure the telepath mentally, Kaylee’s eyes are wide with the memory of the last time the woman came up like that. Tensed and ready to react for the attack that doesn’t come. Relaxing a little, there is a small nod of thanks for the seeress and a soft, if strained, “you’re fine,” for Rhys. Though she doesn’t tell the young man that Eve would never hurt him, because she knows that is not really true.

Kaylee starts to ask Eve a question, moving to grab and steady the suddenly afflicted woman, but the flash also catches her attention. Helping keep Eve on her feet, the telepath stares at the portal. For that brief moment she sees Remi, brows furrowing, but then the way goes black.

Alarm has her back straightening, a look shot over at her brother…. Then again having her attention pulled again at flashes of alarming memories. Kaylee doesn’t pry however, it’s not how she works. Instead she looks over at the door and the sounds of a battle outside. “I hope you are right about this, Eve.” Looking back at her friend out of the corner of her eye. It felt like they should both be out there.

Just for a moment, time seems to stop as - for the first time - Richard sees his daughter there in the arms of Carina Harrison. His breath catches in his throat, and he brings a hand up almost involuntarily to reach for the portal.

And then it goes black.

No,” he shouts out in a voice agonized, taking a step towards the portal before whirling back to look at those trying to maintain it, “We’ve lost sync! Get them back, someone— “ He doesn’t know who to turn to, who can re-establish that connection of the issue was on the other end. So close, yet kept apart by mere strings.

Even as Squeaks is trying to add further sound to adjust the vibration, though, there’s another shout— and a stream of viridian sparks that peels away from Des, leaving the woman to collapse into her mother’s arms.

Richard’s there a split second later, skidding to a knee, eyes wide with panic at the idea of losing everyone this day. “Odessa!”

No longer with a hand on either side keeping him upright, Mateo has to rely far more heavily on Lynette, staring into the portal that suddenly becomes slick and dark, like it has in the tape that they watched from another world. The color doesn’t scare him as much as what he feels there. It’s the sudden distance, the thinning between them, like the entire world started to fill in in the places in between. She was still there, everything was, just further and further away. He’s so focused on that distance that he doesn’t immediately hear what’s happening on the other side of him.

Not until Des screams. That he hears in his bones, the feeling of someone that makes those who care about them want to drop everything and go to her. But he can’t. Because the portal was changing again, stabilizing. The green tumbling away into the darkness and leaving the slick black shimmering iridescent where the crackling lightning cast flickers across it. His chest tightens again, like he’s losing something important.

“They’re still there,” he says breathlessly, finally peeling his eyes away from what he can’t even see to look to where Odessa was, and where Mara now was. And where Richard joined them. “They’re still there,” he repeats, his hand tightening around Lynette’s.

Corbin watches as something happens to Odessa. He can’t see the oddities that were going on there, but he can tell when something very wrong was happening with an ability. An ability that looked somewhat familiar, but foreign all at once. He can’t do anything about what’s going on inside or out, but he keeps close to Rasheed in case he starts to falter again.

"No… No! No!" Des can feel her very essence being peeled away from her. The power grafted to her skeleton is torn away with agonizing slowness. She screams and understands the fear that Darren must have felt, because she cannot stop what's happening. Her hand slips from Mateo's shoulder as the last of her power is sapped and she starts to topple backward. It feels like she's falling, falling, falling at a speed that shouldn't be possible. There's a flash of bright white in her vision and horrific pain lances through her body and then…

Then her mother's arms around her. The pain is gone. She is improbably whole.

Weakly, Odessa looks up from where she lays, gaze settling first on Mara, then on Richard. A shaky hand reaches out to take one of his. "I'm fine," she lies and promises all at once. "I'm going to save them." She looks again at the blonde supporting her. "I'm sorry, Mom. I tried to make it. I really did."

Green sparks fly in Eve's corner of her eye and the woman's head snaps that way as Squeaks works on completing the tone, Kaylee gets a squeeze of a hand. "Hot Hands is fine! He's got the sun on his back." Looking to the windows with black eyes that spot again another flash of light this one accompanied by one in the waking world. "Prepare yourself Miss, listen to the currents." Tapping her temple before something above Odessa and not just the green light show distracts the pale woman. "Countdownnn!!" Stomping a foot on the ground. The countdown glows and floats, bobbing up and down above Odessa's own lit up form. The oracle tries to connect the pieces the countdown, Odessa's sparkles… a sudden worry as the green light fills the room.



"Wait Doroth- Dorothy! 1! Zero!! Dingdingdingdingding." The countdown now blinking and screaming an alarm arranged by Blood Murder, buzzing like a sign outside of a Midtown nightclub.

Eve drags Kaylee closer to where Odessa, Mara and Richard sit. "It's okay Dorothy! You're alive! Time is out." The pale woman looks down at her former blonde friend and then to Richard and Mara. "Can you keep her from blowing away?!" Black eyes wide giving off an otherworldly and strange vibe, more than usual. Something bags at Eve then, something that makes her slowly turn her head towards the portal, eyeing it from the corner view. A shiver runs through her.

"No, dark is good. They can't travel through it when it's clear, they'd be shredded." Lynette keeps an arm around Mateo, lending as much support as he needs. But also to reassure him— first for the portal, but more so when Odessa screams. She looks over, not letting go of him, but knowing he wouldn't mind if she had to to help Des. Luckily, there's someone here more than ready to save her.

She breathes again when Mara reaches her.

"She's okay," she says to Mateo, "your mother has her. She's okay." Relief is obvious— of all the things they've all done to get here, there are some things they don't need to lose in the process. "And I've got you."

Squeaks’ expulsion of harmonic frequencies into the emitter dish works as well as she’d anticipated. While she isn’t an audiokinetic, it feels like the frequency was only off by a small amount, and though the noises she creates border on ultrasonic, the vibrations they cause in the emitter dish cause the wave patterns on the oscilloscope to line up perfectly. Lynette can feel it, a slip-click like a dislocated joint popping back into place. It’s both relieving and shocking all at the same time and El Umbral begins to clear again. But when it does there is a sudden eruption of light from the edges of the portal, a seething band of radiance that burns white-hot on the other side. The portal struggles, wobbles, bends into an oval and starts to tear apart at the edges like a blown out tire on a speeding truck.

Lashes of crimson light flash around the room from the portal, seething bolts of red energy that leave whatever they touch glowing white-hot and in some cases simply dissolved into sparkling red light. The floor and walls of the observatory are lashed by these energetic tendrils, and one of the SESA scientists holding some sort of cabled gun toward the portal reads energy emissions coming from within. “Power’s at eight point zero six over ten to the thirteenth per second! We’re burning colder than the Looking Glass!” The scientist’s brows furrow, head shaking. “There’s not enough power!”

Cradling Odessa in her arms, Mara looks over to the call from the scientists, then over to the untempered and seething vortex beginning to spiral out of control. Brushing fingers through Odessa’s hair, Mara smiles down at her and gently sits her up. “I am… so proud of you,” she says with tears in her eyes, leaning in to kiss Odessa’s brow. “I’ve got to go help your brother,” she says with a faint smile, one hand cupping Odessa’s cheek.

As Mara rises to stand up straight and approach Lynette and Mateo, Rhys is standing beside Richard with one hand over his mouth and a look of abject horror on his face. Outside the observatory tower, they can hear thunder rumbling, cracks of lightning, screams, gunfire. It sounds like the world is coming to an end. Mara walks past them, coming up beside Mateo and Lynette and clenching her hands together into fists.

Mi príncipe,” Mara says to Mateo, lifting a hand to rest at his shoulder as she turns blue eyes to the portal. “Todo es posible,” she closes her eyes, reaching out with her free hand toward El Umbral, “si tú lo crees.” There is a sudden shockwave that rocks through the portal, turning the ring of erratic light around it into a smooth and radiant halo that straightens the oval distortion into a perfect circle. The darkness in El Umbral fades, replaces by a seething red light as the interior of the portal resembles a tunnel more than a window or door. A tempest rages inside, a cyclone of energized red particles and crackling crimson lightning, as if Tyler Case and Helena Dean were having a bad day at the exact same moment.

Holy shit!” The SESA scientist screams, trying to make sense of the readings he’s getting. “This is— I don’t even know what I’m looking at anymore! This is— ” He’s interrupted when one of the scientists operating the oscillator with Squeaks shouts.

There’s a transmission!” Confusion and horror tinges her tone as she holds one ear piece of a headset to the side of her head. “I’m— jesus christ this is— is this morse code?” She looks to Squeaks, then unplugs an audio cable from the frequency emitter and plugs it into her tablet, bringing up a piece of audio software. “Hold on— I’m— I’m getting something it’s….”

She looks over at Squeaks. “It’s binary.

Right next to the scientist, Squeaks can see sounds transmitted into a string of numbers on the tablet:


Letting her hand slip away from Mateo’s shoulders, Mara squints at the portal and approaches it. “Entiendo ahora,” she says with a furrow of her brows, casting a long and stark shadow on the floor, “porque lo recuerdo y no lo recuerdo.” Mara steps forward to the edge of the portal, and then thrusts her arms into it with a howling scream. Through the pain, Mara exhales a breathless truth, “Esto no es ni el final…” her arms are converted into streamers of light in the same shades as her clothing and skin, “…ni el principio.”

Este momento es,” Mara says as the other end of the tunnel becomes clear, and water begins to spray through the mouth of El Umbral and onto the floor. The stink of seawater fills the air, spraying in a wild spiral out of the portal’s mouth, followed by a sudden shockwave as…

Mara’s eyes widen.

…someone comes through, passing through Mara’s body as though she were wholly insubstantial.


Remi Davignon emerges through the mouth of El Umbral with a primal scream, cartwheeling end over end and colliding with the floor, bouncing and rolling, smoke issuing off of her clothing and skin pinkish red with what look like friction burns. She sits up, hands trembling, and exhales a sudden and rasping hiccup of laughter.

Another moment later, the portal surges and sparks again, and Kain Zarek with short cropped hair and a Hello Kitty backpack marked with dark stains and grime comes barreling through holding a young blonde child to his chest, clutching her face to his shoulder. Kain skids on the water underfoot and exhales a deep and stunned scream as he looks around wide-eyed and bewildered at his surroundings. Rhys screams when the two emerge through the portal, backing up and dropping a hand to his Banshee clipped at his side in sheer disbelief.

Kain levels a wide-eyed look ahead of himself, brows scrunched up and mouth slack.



Rasheed is forced to take a step back when the portal goes wild, but he tries to keep concentrating, tries not to follow the base animal instinct to run.

If he's cut, maimed, if he has time, he can try again… he has to hold his ground.

He starts to repeat to himself, for reasons probably unknown to anyone who isn't a SESA agent. "I was keeping time in balance, trying to keep it stable. I was keeping time in balance, trying to keep it stable…"

This isn't the time to take any risks, he has to be prepared, he has to set a point to continue from…

Just in case.

Brows tick up at Eve’s reassurance, then cheeks colors like she’s been caught being bad.. “I wasn’t — I mean I —” Then the seeress is dragging her and Kaylee lets out a heavy sigh. Okay, maybe she was worried about him. He’ll probably always worry about him and a lot of her people.

The sight of Des’ on the floor pulls Kaylee back to what is happening inside. Alarm flickers over her features, though she doesn’t move to join the others by her side. No reason to crowd in. A look goes to Eve. Listen to the currents.

Kaylee looks back at the portal and brows furrow in thought again. Taking a deep breath, the telepath loosen the hold on her barriers. As she breathes out slowly, her ability unfurls. Tendrils, like hundreds of tiny snakes slither out around her tasting the air for — for something. Searching… for this current?

Kaylee could only hope that Eve is right.

It doesn't last long though as things start to happen. Concentration is partially broken as water sprays out of the portal and the smell of seawater fills her nose.

A few steps are taken back as Remi comes through the portal. There is a lift of brows as Kain comes through. Someone familiar and not, remembered by another her. The telepath can only stare. It takes a moment for her to recover, but then she moves forward to crouch next to her fellow telepath. “Welcome, Remi,” the AEGIS armor clad Kaylee offers the woman, politely, with a small reassuring smile and no real explanation how she knows the other woman.

On one knee beside the fallen time-manipulator, Richard's fingers squeeze tightly against Odessa's as he looks down at her with unhidden concern— his eyes bright and wild, desperation clawing at the back of his mind for them to succeed this time, because it may be the last chance they get. But he doesn't want to lose what he has here already, at the same time.

"Bullshit," he hisses out at her protest that she's fine, the question from Eve just getting her a (less literally) black look when the seeress comes over. Then they're all turning towards the portal as Mara reaches out to stabilize it with her reality-warping ability, as power surges and twists to shape the hungry hole into a tunnel, a path, a road… a river?

He releases his lover's hand as water sprays from the gate and someone hurtles out of it, tumbling and screaming over the floor. Up on his feet in an instant, his heart’s in his throat and feet carrying him towards the person who’s emerged, already calling out, "Medic! We're going to need medics for these people— " Remi? His heart skips a beat, eyes widening at the ghost he sees before him, stopping dead in his tracks.

And then an even older ghost rises from the dead.

The Red King’s mind briefly denies what he’s seeing, but that nickname is undeniable. All the colour bleeds from Richard's face in a heartbeat, staring at the man — with his daughter! — in utter shock.


"Miss Mars! Wait-!!" Eve's eyebrows shoot up as Mara becomes one with the portal and she seems about to scream something out when something flies from the portal, "Sacrifice is the only way!"

"Booyah!!!!!" As the first of the travelers tumbles through the changed portal. Eve's eyes widen and she leaps into the air grabbing at Kaylee's hand. "Miss Mind is that your— " the woman who was murdered, Remi. "Is that your ghost friend?" The Oracle takes a step back and then rushes forward. Her hand shakes and she looks to the side at the ##FFD559 older counterpart who was way more clear and vibrant now. "Contact." She says in a light sing song voice and the old woman lights a pipe, purring away as she chuckles but something moves through her and she stands up erect while staring in horror in the younger Eve's direction.##

Missing Mad Eve's reaction all the way she crouches, hands drag across the floor and she nears Remi, coming forward to stare at her face directly. "You made it lady!" Trying to come off supportive and happy for the wayward traveler.

"You can rest now, you've come a long way." And Eve takes Remi's bright red hand before she snickers and gives the telepath a coy look, the hurricane that rages in her mind on the edges of Remi's perception. "What's so funny!" Eve takes her finger and pokes Remi in the forehead. "Miss Mind she might be broken," a nervous snort at the blonde dancer.

"I love you, Mom." As Mara leaves her side, Odessa shifts her weight to lean against Richard. She smiles at him when he calls her on her shit – she's going to miss that. But she's shaken from her thoughts when she sees what her mother is about to do. She releases her hold on Richard and stares in horror, scrambling back on her hands and heels when the sea water sputters from the portal and the first interdimensional refugees emerge.

Part of him wants to say no, but he can feel so much going on around him. Mateo can feel the portal, feel the distances between them opening up like a hand stretching out across space, reaching and stretching. He listens to his mother’s words, looking at her and beyond for a moment. But he does hear what she’s saying, and thinks he understands. When he looks past her as those those hands stretched across worlds finally brush fingertips, he whispers a soft, “Este momento es ahora.

And that’s when the woman he doesn’t even remember as being his mother but he knows she is has people tumbling through her. People he doesn’t recognize at all, but people. He looks past into that infinite, waiting, praying, hoping. His fingers tighten on the hand he is holding, while something inside of him continues to reach out toward the other side, like those invisible fingers trying to intertwine.

He doesn’t even notice the blood increasing from his nose catching in stubble on his upper lip and chin, or the way his heart-rate is fluctuating.

"Mara!" Lynette shouts when the woman screams, when her arms seem to tangle with the portal. Worry creases her brow and— when she feels Mateo's heart under her hands— fear fills her eyes. She looks between Mara and him, as if keeping her eyes on them will keep them safe. She tightens her hold on his hand as he does hers, trying to be strong for him. Trying not to let tears form in her eyes.

When people start coming through, her attention turns to the portal, leaning a bit like she might be able to get a better view of who is coming next. There are a few faces she's counting on seeing and a pit starts to form in her gut with each face that isn't them.

The noise from the machine shifts and Squeaks’ head swivels to look at it wondering. “It worked?” She tilts her head to listen to the harmony that’s been created. After a full second she pulls the helmet off her head, eyes darting from side to side as she really listens without anything muffling the sounds. “It’s working!” Excitement makes her jump once as she chirps about her success. The sounds aren’t terrible anymore. The thought of it makes her grin, though she shoots another round of barely hearable clicks into the machine, just to make sure the chord remains balanced. It’s a thing she’ll do again too, if the sound machine starts warbling.

The streaks and flashes of right and blinding white bring her back to what’s happening but not for very long. She takes a peek, looking toward the grown-ups that are all gathered around the portal and waiting. She isn’t an expert at portal making, though, and excitement turns to confusion at what’s happening there. Before she has time to ask any questions, there’s yelling at her shoulder.

Blue eyes turn up to look at the scientist who’s looking back at her, vague suspicion shifting into wide open curiosity. “Binary?” A look flickers toward the portal again, then she steps closer to actually read the screen.

As her eyes sweep over the numbers, mouth moving in the first steps of placing letters to batches, she gives her arm a shake and then rubs it absently against her back. It’s almost like she’s trying to scrub off a wetness or something oozy. It happens a second time, less than a second later, but this time the young teen pulls her arm up to give it a look. The strange black marks that she’s used to seeing have shifted and changed, some lines merge together and others break apart until actual letters have formed.

“This is a message from the year 2011 stop,” she reads out loud, following the words that have formed on her arm. Her eyebrows scrunch slightly, and she looks up at the scientist then looks over the words printed on her arm again. “Message intended for Adam Monroe stop.” She hesitates for a second and almost drops her arm instead of continuing. Instead, she holds her arm up and begins reading out loud enough to maybe carry to the agents. And the other grown-ups.

“You must stop Project Icarus at all costs stop. You must destroy all evidence of its research stop. Proof in three days there will be an earthquake in New Zealand stop. Aftershocks ten days after stop. I know about the dragon stop. Destroy Project Icarus stop.” Squeaks looks up from her arm, then lets it curl behind her with the inky marked side pressed against her back.

“Huh,” Corbin says, suddenly behind Squeaks, his own shoes squeaking against the floor because, well, they got wet. Along with his pants. But he’s not really paying attention to that or the uncomfortableness as he’s looking down at the letters on her arm. The type-spaced letters in a too perfect typeface font rather than handwriting stay as they are until the girl finishes reading, then they shift back to their original position and dry in place again as the incomplete Japanese characters they had been before. He glances over toward Rhys with raised eyebrows, before looking back at the— he didn’t even know what to call it.

This was going to be a long night, though, he could tell. The paperwork alone.

The chaos of their arrival does not stop. Even as SESA agents are scrambling to move human beings from the exit of a swirling vortex, Mara is exhaling a howling cry of pain as her arms begin to dissolve into streamers of rainbow-hued light. She is fully intangible now, little more than a ghost of possibilities within the mouth of the vortex.

There’s that sound of charcoal on concrete not too far away and Eve catches a glimpse in the corner of her eye. Of herself. In dark rags, kneeling on the ground unaffected by the water that seems to slip right through her. She’s flickering, like lights and shadows were dancing over her in a wild array. She looks up, her face covered in charcoal. A young face. The youngest of the Eves. The one she’d only seen once, at the moment of her death. “No straight lines, Chicken,” she murmurs softly. “Some things are both cause and effect. That’s how it works. See you soon.” The image disappears, like a photograph burnt off of a page, a hint of a smile on her face.


El Umbral surges with a shimmering light, and one by one begins to dispense staggering and fast-moving figures from within. Cassandra Baumann is the first to come cartwheeling through the portal, tumbling end over end and skidding to a stop as sparks of red electricity dance off of her body. SESA agents rush over to her to help her to the side, not realizing at first who she is. But the scientist by Squeaks lets out a yelp and claps a hand over her mouth.


Cassie!?” Dana runs from the sonic emitter, circling behind the main group. “Oh my god, Cassie!? It’s— it’s me— Dana!” She crowds Cassandra, hunched over by the other SESA agents, not realizing what’s going on. “I thought you were in New York?” Cassandra does not recognize this bespectacled brunette woman, nor does she have time to respond immediately as the portal flares to life again.

An unfamiliar young woman to everyone in the room falls backwards out of the portal. Namiko, who up until a moment ago had been right behind Cassandra, came out nearly twenty seconds later. Rhys hurries from Richard’s side and takes Namiko by the arm, getting her out of the way of the explosive arrival of the others. Kain interposes himself, still holding Aurora, and gets between Rhys and Namiko. “Ya’ll don’t put one grubby hand on her, whoever th’ fuck y’are.”


An explosion of light and sound interrupts Rhys’ rejoinder as a man comes stumbling through the portal, arms windmilling. As Silas makes his way through to the other side, there’s a sense of vertigo and confusion that buckles his knees and has him collapsing. It’s only then that Kain sees what’s really happening, as the SESA agents move him away from the portal. He turns a look over to Richard, confused.

Three women arrive in rapid succession following Silas, and the presence of Mala, Denisa, and Lucy are like rapid-fire gunshots. Mala arrives first, followed by Denisa slamming into her and knocking her over, and Lucy spilling out of the portal next and landing atop both of them. Agents now burdened with arrivals are struggling to help them out of the way. Not long after there are nine more people, each unfamiliar to those gathered in the room and each appearing one after another in rapid-fire emergence, some colliding with one-another as they fall out of the portal and are dragged to safety by SESA agents. It’s here that Kain notices something is wrong.

ff_denisa_icon.gif ff_mala_icon.gif wf_lucy_icon.gif

Wait.” Kain looks to Mala, “where’s the ginger?”

The sudden arrival of a woman carrying a child causes Kain to cut off his words. Elisabeth Harrison arrives with too much forward momentum, thrown to her knees and skidding across the tile floor of the cylindrical observatory tower. A dozen or more agents crowd around her, trying to help her up and ease her away from the portal. Kain fires a quick look to Richard, then back to Elisabeth with tension in his jaw. “C’mon Smoky…” he murmurs to himself.

But it is Magnes that comes next, crashing out of the portal and causing it to ripple and shudder when he does. The entire tower-like building vibrates when he arrives and the edges of the portal begins to come undone. Mateo can feel something breaking down on their end, and Mara lets out another pained scream. “I’ll hold it! For as long as I can!” She looks back to Mateo, to Odessa, to Lynette. The fear in her eyes is unspoken. As is the certainty in them.


I love you is swallowed by El Umbral, but they can see the words form on her lips before she steps inside the breach to try and stabilize it. El Umbral writhes against the strain, tethers of red lightning snap and lash around the room, cutting glowing hot scars in the walls. Just as Elisabeth and Richard were reunited, one lashes out and strikes Richard across the chest, launching him back across the room to where he slides to a stop by the wall. Another strikes Remi, sending her staggering back as she clutches her head and screams. One strikes a SESA agent, causing him to crumble to dust as if thousands of years passed in but a second.

El Umbral is going out of control.

When Elaine comes through next, she wobbles and drops to her knees, exhaling a ragged and choking cry and gasp. Carina Harrison lands behind her, rolls onto her side and stares up at the ceiling, breathing heavily. She doesn’t fight when agents try to move her back from the portal, nor does Elaine.

ff_carina_icon.gif vf_elaine_icon.gif

The portal begins to crumble, crack, and shudder, Mateo and Lynette can feel something separating on the other side, they can feel what’s happening to them on the other side. When a graying blonde woman in a white lab coat emerges through the portal, dropping to her knees and vomiting onto the floor, it comes with a horrific cry of, “Shut it!


But it’s too late.

There is a sound from every single electronic device in the room at once, a high-pitched scream of digital noise that reverberates through the tower and shakes the ground. El Umbral explodes like a blown tire, sending shards of red lightning spinning off in every direction, slashing through floor and ceiling, cutting through power conduits and computer equipment. Mateo and Lynette are both struck by this untethered force, blown apart into shimmering clouds of rainbow hued light that forks like tiny, opalescent bolts of lightning in every single direction from where they once stood, leaving shadows burned into the ground where they stood.

As screams fill the room, the red lightning that tore apart from El Umbral begins to take on a coalesced shape, vaguely humanoid but at the same time indistinct. It is like lightning given form, it is like dust, given shape, and it leaps into Eve Mas with a single stroke of electrical impulse and a reverberating howl.

Eve’s eyes flare with a golden light, a red glow suffuses her body, and a moment later she dissolves into a shimmering cloud of red energized particles with glowing gold eyes. What was once Eve Mas looks down at its hand, an ethereal shape like fine particles of metallic dust in the air with veins of light flashing through it.

This being, this shape, this Entity erupts with a corona of concussive force that snakes and winds its way through the room. Two SESA scientists struck by the blast explode into ashen cinders and scatter across the floor, another hit by the blast simply explodes in a shower of gore and bones, spraying down along the wall. The Entity staggers forward, struggling, like a car gone out of control down a freeway.

Elaine turns to look up at it, mouth opening to say something to Magnes, and a shockwave of energy hits her like a wall and she explodes in a shower of green-blue light leaving no trace that she was ever there. SESA agents immediately open fire with handguns, bullets passing through this intangible form and ricocheting off of the walls. Rhys is screaming, running for the door to try and clear a path for everyone to do something — escape — anything.

On the floor, sound muffled from a head injury, vision blurred, Richard Ray sees the horrific consequences of interdimensional travel playing out around him. He sees bullets passing harmlessly through a ghostly creature that was once Eve Mas. He sees Elisabeth, he sees his daughter, his friends… his mother?

The smoking marks where Mateo and Lynette once were.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

It isn't the first time that Richard's been struck by red lightning. It never really gets easier, though.

As he shakes his head blearily, pushing himself up on one hand from where he'd struck the wall, he looks around at the chaos that's erupting— and as his gaze falls upon Elisabeth, Elisabeth after so long, a single thought passes through his fuzzy head. All that and I was the one not wearing my helmet today. It strikes him as incongruously funny to him, lips twitching in a smile that passes a moment later as the ringing in his ears begins to subside and he can focus on what's around him, on what's going on…

Oh, look, it's Uluru the Invincible. Because of course it is.

"Eve, what'd you do," he mutters under his breath, reaching up to fumble for the edge of a plastic case to lever himself to his feet, leaning on it for support, the old Institute insignia on it remembering the last time one of him was here in this particular room. His jaw sets, teeth gritting as he forces his eyes to focus despite the pain of the head injury, blood trickling down the back of his scalp. Liz is in danger. His daughter's in danger. Des is in danger, Kaylee, Kain, Remi, everyone here. "Focus, Richard." They're depending on you. This is your fault.

"It's not physical… might not be fully in synch with our string yet," he breathes out, fumbling for the Banshee at his hip and bringing it up. Bullets aren't working. Maybe a vibrational weapon will. Shaky fingers tune it to a tight beam, and he brings it up towards the sparking entity, the shriek of its sonic assault joining the cacophony that's erupted within the old observatory.

Rasheed can no longer hold it together. He tried his best, put his all into it, but by the time the portal buckles, he falls back to his knees.

It's only as that red lightning comes careening that he musters what bit of power he has left, and his body rewinds, avoiding the lightning, until he's standing again, staring cluelessly. "What the fuck just happened?" he asks, before falling right back to his knees.

When Magnes exits the portal, he stumbles, doesn't have time to even really think, to process. Things just start happening once he's ushered away from the portal.

He just had an experience, one he can barely put much thought into before something jumps into Eve. And then people start getting hit, dying, and Elaine bursts into light.

"Elaine!!!" he shouts, rushing over to where she was standing, frantically grasping at the ground. Nothing else matters in this moment, nothing but the sudden void in the pit of his stomach, in the very core of his being. "What did you do?!" he looks over at the thing that was once Eve, pushing his already exhausted ability as his eyes begin to glow a bright purple, both nostrils absolutely running over with blood as he reaches a hand out for her, trying to grasp at something, anything with his ability, and just destroy it.

And the stacks of paperwork just keep growing. As each person comes through, Corbin can’t help but stare, especially when he recognizes one of them. That piece of paperwork was going to be harder than most the rest, he could tell already. And if any of the others had doubles… now he remembers how hard it was in the Company archives, covering up things but still trying to keep detailed records so people knew what was covered up.

Definitely a long day. And long day getting longer. And longer.

Things take a turn for the disastrous and he moves to get in front of Squeaks as if he fully intends to be hit by one of those disintegrating beams before her if they come that way. And he too joins the other agents in firing weapons, though he sticks to his Banshee, on non-lethal setting. He’s only killed once in his life and he didn’t intend to repeat that with someone who he had drinks with.

The small girl in Elisabeth’s arms wrenches herself free with a wail. The travellers have moved with Evie for a while now— and they have never seen her cry, not even when her brother was kidnapped, not even with all the horrors of the robots in Midtown, not even with the nuclear bomb going off in the background. Her steadfast emotional strength has shattered, the same as her parents. She rips away from Liz and runs across the room to land on Odessa. She knows it’s not Tia Dessa, but it was still Tia Dessa. The girl still clutches the Kensei sword in her hand by the hilt as she collapses on her, making almost incoherent sobs that might be in English or Spanish, it was hard to say.

“Where’s Doyle?” Mala asked from where she landed, pushing herself up as chaos erupts around her. She has enough strength to push herself up, but that’s pretty much it. Any reserves of positive emotions were long gone. Lucy doesn’t even wait to look. She takes a break for the exit, tears streaking down her face, her arms up to defend herself. Denisa stays where she landed against the wall, either too stunned to move, unconscious, or…

Sliding out of the portal like that scrapes her legs all to hell, but Elisabeth's arms are protecting Evie from being hurt and she hardly notices the damage. As the agents help her to her feet, chaos reigns around her. Frantically seeking out a headcount, people are missing, but before she can ask about it all hell is breaking loose. People are being blasted left and right, and there's a fucking monster!

Split seconds, that's all it takes for her see what's happening. But when the sound of the Banshee pierces the air and has a visible effect … sometimes she's very grateful to be as combat-trained as she is. Releasing Evie as the little girl wrenches herself away and scrambles toward Odessa frees her up too, and she fights back toward the portal. "MOM! Just like the mines! Match me if you can!"

She knows what frequency it's trying to sync to and slams scrambling wavelengths matching up to the Banshee's wail back toward the monster in a battle to keep it from becoming corporeal and synced to this universe.

Tumbling through the portal as she did and cartwheeling through Ling…feeling the other woman disintegrate into nothingness has scrambled Cassie’s sense of which way is up thanks to G forces and vertigo combining., Her head is still spinning enough to make it difficult to do much more than push herself off whatever surface she ends up on to try and clear her head. Being recognized at by a bespectacled woman that she doesn’t recognize does register, and the realization that this woman must know the Cassandra of this world does float through her brain after a second or two of contemplation.. At least she’s still thinking okay, but there’s far, far too much going on in the foreground to even consider responding to it just now. And when she does respond, it’s a single word.

“R…run!” blinks when she's finally able to yell, scrambling, her bare foot scraping against the floor, seeking a foothold so she can push off properly, grabbing any arms once she’s upright to pull them along with her towards the nearest solid obstruction to put between them and the lightning. Her six shot pistol was lost in the transition somewhere and the warmth of the smoking thumb drive against her chest means that it was probably destroyed too. Hopefully they survive this encounter long enough to see if anything else she brought with her survived.

Namiko clings onto Kain's arm. From the moment he stepped between her and Rhys, she hasn't let go of him. He can feel her start to shake when so many don't follow them. When Miles doesn't follow. When Shaw and Isa don't follow.

She doesn't bother trying to stop the tears that slip down her cheeks.

The lightning starts her moving, pulling Kain and Aurora back toward a wall and down as she forces a line of thick, small trees to grow in front of them. It might help with the lightning— although as she watches it and the creature that grows out of Eve Mas, she begins to doubt. Still, she will hope for out of sight, out of mind.

As Remi is struck by red lightning, Kaylee falls back away from the woman, scrambling back with boots slipping on the floor. This new thing, has her turning her attention to the vortex as it destabilizes, just in time to watch the fireworks. When it explodes, the telepath can only helplessly watch as everything happens. “No!” She shrieks as not only her friends Lynette and Mateo blast apart, but something hits Eve right next to her and seems to takes the seeress over.

The moment whatever it is hits Eve, Kaylee feels something. Eyes squeeze shut tight as she grips at her head. If feels like a part of her is letting loose, the the stitches tearing loose. It’s an odd sensation, she can feel it sliding out of her, like losing a part of herself. Blue eyes snap open and widen as she watches as her constant companion, that black snake that’s been in her head… slowly slides and drops from its place around her shoulders. No matter how Kaylee tries to hold on to, reaching to grab at it, the thing slides through her fingers like smoke.

Even, as she feels a lightening of a burden, there is a deep sense of loss that replaces it, as the telepath can only watch it turn into red light itself as it winds up the Entity’s leg.

Watching it dissolve into the figure, Kaylee slowly climbs back to her feet. She should be scared, should be terrified, and running from it. Mostly, Kaylee is just numb. Tears sliding down her cheeks as she stares at that thing Eve had become. She felt completely helpless, what was even her purpose there? She had failed her friends before she even was able to tr—

Then she feels it.

Eyes quickly flit around her, the scary being ignored for the moment as she hears the familiar just ever so faintly the humming of…

With a gasp, Kaylee’s ability flares out, tendrils shifting through the information and panicked minds, slamming against her mental walls. Everything else around her falls away as the telepath concentrates on one singular purpose. “Where are you,” she whispers desperately, moving away from the Entity. There was no idea of how much time there was to find them. Letting her eyes close, the telepath’s senses flare out further, straining… reaching… seeking… until….


The word is crowed out triumphantly to no one in particular. As soon as Kaylee’s ability touches them, it moves to try and curl around the source of mental hums. Clinging to them desperately in the only way she knows how.

The huh and look that comes with it is met with the kind of innocence that belongs to kids when they’re caught sneaking cookies. Squeaks watches Corbin for all of two seconds — two whole seconds where she might have even started forming an explanation — before excitement and people being thrown out of the portal demand greater attention. Her head whips that direction and her body twists to follow, eyes wide with excitement and fear at the spectacle.

“Woah.” She manages a breath, following with her eyes each person that comes out until they’re taken and the next one appears. The lightning and wobbling of the portal pulls her from watching the last of the travels stagger through, and as Corbin steps in front of her, she scuttles backward.

There’s barely time for her to comprehend what’s happening next when sound pierces her ears again. Even though it lasts barely a second, the helmet in her hand is dropped to the floor so that both hands can clamp down over her ears until the last echo of electrical screeching and terrible sounds has faded. Wide eyes turn to the grown-ups, searching for direction in all the chaos. There isn’t a lot of help there until that one blonde, the one she recognizes from the picture on Richard’s desk, starts yelling instructions.

Except for pausing just long enough to pick up the helmet and return it to her head, Squeaks runs to Elisabeth and Carina. Her eyes flick from them to the …whatever it is that’s taken over where Eve was standing. She pulls in a breath as her feet skid to a stop beside the two women, then in the next second starts noising. Just like with the sound machine but with a lot more urgency, she chirps and clicks. The sounds fluctuate, probably in and out of hearing for everyone else, but she blasts at the ghost-thing with her own brand of verbal assaulting.

"No! Mom, no!" Odessa scrambles to her knees and tries to get to her feet. She has to get to her and stop what's about to happen. Her booted feet slip in the water and she hits the floor again with a muted splash. She starts screaming when her mother simply fades away.

It only stops when Evie crashes into her. Tears are running down Odessa's face as she embraces her niece tightly. "My little hero," she murmurs into her hair. "Tia has you. You're home, my love." But not yet safe. Odessa curls protectively around the little girl – one of the only family she has left now – rising to her feet and scrambling to get behind one of the heavier pieces of equipment, hoping to protect them – protect Evie– from the horrible backlash of power. That entity that used to be her friend.

Just a second ago, Remi was staring as Lynette and Mateo built the portal with amazement, her mind literally wandering through a field of other minds as if it were a field of tall grass, with her hands touching each blade softly. A brief glimpse, a window into their inner thoughts and fears during such a tense moment. And then, there was a window that didn’t lead to a mind, but to something…outside.

And then, suddenly, everything changes, and she’s in this new place, with strange people all around her, and red lightning and a woman turning into some kind of monster right in front of her.

Needless to say, it’s all rather shocking.

Blue eyes widen at the scene before her — then, the telepath, ignoring the fact that her ability seems to have been negated again, scrambles away from the monster, diving behind the first solid thing she can find and covering her head with her arms. This is probably the worst possible moment to have come to from whatever it was that happened to her, and her screams of terror support that.

Silas's eyes are wide, staring blankly at nothing as he staggers and falls; even as he's helped to his feet and half-carried away from the portal, even as he's set down again in a presumably safer place, his mind's eye is still on that… vision he'd seen. Thoughts of dying are nothing new to Silas, but that… shot like a dog in an alley behind a Chinese restaurant? What the hell was that? What the bloody hell was that?

He finds he is a little upset by this.

Gradually, though, he starts to become cognizant of his surroundings. Of the fact that he's not in the Ark anymore. Of the fact that he's arrived. Wherever it is on the other side of that crazy portal, wherever it is that these travellers had gone through hell (probably) and high water (definitely) to make it to… he's there now.

Still breathing heavily, he starts to look around, seeing who's made it - far too few - and who's there to greet them. He spots one face in the crowd, at least, that looks terribly familiar, if less timeworn —

— in the instant before Hell breaks loose.

He hears the godawful screech as the portal explodes, and narrowly misses being struck by one of the blasts of energy that erupts from it; he sees some sciency types get turned into what looks like charcoal, sees two of his fellow travellers get disintegrated, sees that awful crimson lightning pull itself together and dissolve the woman who'd looked like a younger Mad Eve. Oh shit. Oh shit ohshitohshit

Silas scrambles for cover, eyes settling on the doors… but something makes him hesitate. Maybe it's the thought of all the deaths he'd seen on the way to the portal, or maybe it's blood he's seen spilled farther back than that; maybe it's a little both. Maybe even that vision of himself dying a pitiful death in a back alley has a little to do with it… but whatever his reason is, it stops him from bolting for the doors.

It's not that he's not afraid. He is definitely afraid; in fact, it's probably closer to the mark to say that he's terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought. But at the same time… he's had enough. Lost enough. No more. No more running. No more running while others die.

Silas's lips curl up into a rictus of terror, eyes flickering about as he tries to figure out something, anything to do. He can only think of one thing. He doesn't know if it'll work, doesn't know if this… thing… even has a mind he can affect, or what even the act of trying to affect it will do to his own brain… but after what it's done so far, he's not about to stand by. If I live through this… the score is even. I'm already dead and gone as far as the world I came from is concerned; if I make it through this, I'm going to live.

Silas gathers his will, readying his ability as he peeks out from behind his cover. He doesn't know if he'll be able to do any damage to whatever passes for this thing's mind, but he might be able to distract it. It's being attacked now; pick your moment. Wait for your opportunity, wait for it to try and counterattack… then hit it. Block everything you can, as long as you can, until you lose consciousness or it disintegrates you. Make it lose track of itself.

Wait, and hope.

Thankfully, the wait isn’t that long.

As Richard turns and pivots with his Banshee, the electronic device clicks into a high-pitched whine and fires a focused beam of sound toward the incorporeal entity. When Elisabeth turns her harmonic power toward that same source, pushing out with all of her might, their combined sounds alone create a cascading resonance that seems to be vibrating in a discordant manner to the being. Carina doesn’t have the strength to join in, but watches in wide-eyed amazement as this phantom is beset upon by everyone in the room.

It occurs to Richard, as he’s firing the banshee, that he’d received a memo about this a few years back…

Dear Raytech,
If used against a phaser in phase the banshee splatters them. Just so you know. It was primal, but very gross.
Your Old Buddy, Adel

Bright gold eyes stare at Richard with a mixture of confusion and dread a moment before crushing gravity waves compress vibrating molecules down in on themselves. As they are compressed further and further, as the waves of energy are narrowed down until the entity is but a shimmering line of red light, the compressed energy has nowhere to go but—

FUCK!” Dana screams as she leaps at Squeaks, tackling the teenager to the ground an instant before the entity violently explodes in a cacophonous shockwave of light and heat. Dana skids across the flood, shielding Squeaks with her back, but the two are low enough not to be struck by the shockwave. It is an explosion Richard has only seen once before, funneled upwards in a conical eruption of near-atomic energy with a red silhouette of a human being contained within. The blast passes through those left standing in the room with a seemingly harmless warmth, scattering electromagnetic particles that feel like knives to Odessa and Rasheed, but otherwise leave them unharmed.

It is with a howling cry from beyond time that the entity dissipates in a seething spiral of light up through the observatory, leaving crackling waves of red electricity through the walls as it is wholly and utterly annihilated.

Burning pieces of paper fall from the sky, small cinders and embers. Kain slowly rises up from behind a piece of equipment he’d been hiding behind with Aurora. Carina lowers her hands and looks down at herself. Kaylee, standing nearby to where Lynette and Mateo were looks like she’s still reaching for something, a thread. Kain sees her, finally sees her, and exhales a short gasp.

Hustling through the crowd of stunned agents, Kain makes his way over to Kaylee with Aurora held to his chest. He starts to say something, but stops when Kaylee’s eyes roll back in her head. “Wait!” Kain yelps, and Kaylee’s legs buckle and she collapses to the floor in a heap. “Shit! Shit! Ah’ need help here! Somebody!”

But then Elisabeth notices… Michelle notices as she steps out from behind the central pillar of the observatory, tears in her eyes.

Richard Ray is gone.

There is just a blackened shadow on the floor where he once stood, a sooty mark like the others burned into the walls of the Sunspot observatory decades ago.

No!” Chel rasps, “no, no, no, no, no!” As she scrambles across the floor, heedless of the scientists and agents trembling and looking around trying to wrap their minds around what they just saw, Michelle Cardinal skids to a stop through the charcoal shadow of her son.

And the shadow moves.

Brows furrowed, lips parted, Michelle Cardinal stares down as the seething mass of darkness where her son was undulates and writhes, like a cat having woken from a long-slumbering nap. As embers fall from the ceiling, as smoke rises from the ground,

Richard wasn’t gone at all. If anything… he was back.

Rasheed never even got a chance to react to that thing, and by the time he feels the overwhelming sensation of it passing through him, it's enough to send a shock to his system and just finally cause him to collapse for some other SESA agent to catch or pick up.

Magnes is just on his knees, it doesn't even register with him that they stopped the Entity, that they're home, or really much of anything. He just stays on his knees, staring at the spot he last saw Elaine. He grasps at space, holding it, leaving the bit of space where he hand grasps looking perpetually bent, like he were tugging on the curtain of reality.

He just stays like that, no longer having the strength, emotionally or physically, to move or truly use his ability in any significant way.

All he can do is grasp onto the literal space that was previously occupied by Elaine, too shocked and stunned for tears, too defeated for words.

Throwing her hands up instinctively to ward off the shockwave, like most in the room Elisabeth is bewildered when it passes harmlessly enough by. Lowering her hands slowly to look around, she finally has the moment to really see the room they've landed in and all the people in it. As well as all the people not in it.

Everything has a price.

Stunned, she sinks to the floor. The murmuring of agents, the slowly rising tide of sound as people rise and realize they're still alive, Michelle's scream, Kain's cry for medics, they are all heard as if through a tunnel.

Aurora clings tightly to Kain, still wide-eyed with shock as she stares around. But she scrambles to be put down when Aunt Kaylee falls down, patting tiny hands worriedly over the telepath's face. Then she searches anxiously for Elisabeth and runs to throw her arms around her mother. "Mummy! Mummy!" The tiny body trembles in Liz's arms and as she enfolds the little girl tightly and comes somewhat back to herself, her blue eyes seek out the last place she saw Richard standing… from here, it appears there is nothing left of him either.

Her head drops, her cheek rests on top Aurora's head, and her eyes close, a scream caught in a throat that is too constricted to voice it.

At first there's stillness, then a ripple of tenebrous undulation as the shadow left behind by Richard Ray begins to haltingly, uncertainly move once more. The blind gropings of someone unused to movement, after many years apart from this peculiar ability of his, whispering up the wall in a caliginous tide to join the Hiroshima shadows.

Then darkness pushes outward, a blackened hand and arm emerging first that slowly fades into color and light and solidity as the man steps slowly back into material shape, eyes squinting near-closed as the onrush of light in the room stings at them. Hazel unseen once more, eclipsed by midnight pupils that push color into the merest sliver.

"Forgot how bright the world is," he mutters, rubbing a hand against his eyes, disoriented and trying to reorient himself again. His hand drops, and he focuses on the nearest person, brow furrowing a little as he tries to determine who they are. Greying blonde hair. A lab coat. One of the SESA scientists…?


A faint, tired, but genuine smile tugs up at the corner of his lips. "Oh," he says to Michelle Cardinal, "Hi, Mom."

From behind the equipment where she fled with the two SESA scientists, Cassandra’s stayed completely down through the explosions, the screaming, and the chaos. Only when it’s relatively quiet, the remnants of the Banshee still echoing off the walls of the chamber they’re in, her disheveled head pokes up above the edge of the crates, saucer-wide eyes peering around.

There’s a moment of silence as she determines the likelihood of something else bad happening and, when she’s determined - in her not-so expert opinion - that stuff isn’t going to go pear shaped in the next thirty seconds, she dares to speak. “Is…is it over?” She glances to the women next to her as she pulls herself to her feet, finding one of the fallen agents’ weapons nearby, propped on the crate she is having to lean on in order to maintain a vertical position. She’s surprised to find herself fairly unharmed aside from a few abrasions on her palms and foot from diving on the concrete floor. With a wince, she takes up the handgun and slowly limps out from her hiding place towards the only people in the room she knows well - Elisabeth and Aurora.

As the shadow that is Richard emerges from the wall, Cassandra freezes and crouches down. “Liz…Liz!” She’s close enough to whisper to the blonde woman and her daughter, waving frantically to get her attention. “Is he…” she gestures to Richard with her hand - the one without her gun, while he’s rubbing his eyes. “Is that the man Ygraine sketched?” with the implication ‘and should we worry’ and ‘should I shoot him’ tacked on there, too.

For a time after the sounds and the chaos happen, Soleil Davignon sits behind her large equipment hiding place, hands clapped over her head as she tries to make sense of everything that has just happened. She has no clue how she got from the Ark to this place — everything else is a blur. The world is silent again, as if she was being negated — but it’s not the same, it’s more like she can’t use that muscle.

Finally, when she realizes that there’s no more red demon monster and everyone else is recovering, the former starlet raises her eyes to the ceiling, lowering her hands. “Où est cet endroit?” She shakes her head slowly, rubbing at her face for a moment before she ventures to peek out.

She finds the nearest friendly face — Silas — and slinks quietly over to his side, rather suddenly wrapping her arms around one of his arms and placing her head against his shoulder, taking comfort in one of the few good friends she can find. “Are we here? Is this…” She shakes her head, taking another look around with wide blue eyes. “I don’t remember going through,” she adds, French accent thicker than normal.

It’s working! Somehow she can tell. Maybe it’s the way the thing moves, like it’s prodded backward, but there’s no whoop of victory while it’s still making angry eyes. Squeaks leans forward, squares her feet, and narrows her focus…

…Then finds herself pressed to the floor some few feet from where she was standing, helmet slanted at a weird angle and a SESA person wrapped over her like a shield.

The shockwave goes almost unnoticed. The bright flash and heat are memories not quite connected to the ghost-thing they were just sound blasting. She stays hidden, half beneath Dana and curled in on herself in case anything else decides to explode, until voices start needling through the static noises left over in her own ears. With small movements first, she wiggles free and turns her head to peek over the scientist’s shoulders. A second later, her hands find the collar of the helmet and push it off her head, and then she sits up to look around.

As she starts picking out faces she knows, Squeaks gets to her feet. She also notices the faces missing, which adds an anxious light to the confusion that already has her eyebrows scrunching. Fingers press against Dana’s arm as a way of thanks, then she shuffles a few steps away. First wanders a little ways toward Richard, but stops for a second and changes course, this time angled toward Des and Evie. Without saying anything, she joins them, scuttling close to the two while keeping eyeballs turned to all the aftermath.

Namiko peeks out from behind her cover, making sure it's safe before she stands up and comes out toward the others. She looks around, dazed and not quite processing what just happened. "Okay," she says eventually, "good game, everybody. Hot showers all around." Her tone isn't jovial, but more like she's mimicking something she would have said in a less crazy moment.

When the chaos subsides, Odessa is left trembling where she's huddled up around Evie. When Squeaks comes to join them, she reaches out and wraps an arm around the teen's shoulders, drawing her in to the hug.

Her skin feels like it's on fire in the wake of the energy blast, but she's too numb from overwhelming grief to scream. Odessa presses a kiss to the top of Evie's head, then to Squeaks' temple, as if that will help protect them from whatever comes next. Or maybe to make sure they're still real.

No one answers where Doyle is, and the shockwave knocks Mala back on the floor with a grunt. It takes her a few moments, but soon she’s standing, looking around at the devastation, before she goes over to the wall where Denisa landed to check on her. The young woman with curly hair that’s even more frizzy than ever shifts under her hand. Everything ached. But they were here.

Was here any better, though? Considering what they fell into, she’s really not sure. Especially from the looks on all the faces of those around her. And the many faces that were absent. Elaine. Doyle. The parents of the little girl with another Odessa. The man who she had been carrying. “I couldn’t hold onto him,” she says with a sad voice. “I couldn’t hold on.” She hadn’t expected the trip going how it did, but then again… who would have?

Corbin had been knocked onto his back by the shockwave, and he stayed looking at the ceiling for a long moment, replaying what he’d seen. Whatever that thing had been, it was gone. Had it killed Eve? Had it been Eve?

That was going to be the longest report he has ever had to file.

And what were they going to do about the rest of this? His blue eyes look over all of them, all the faces that came through, all the missing agents and… something else was missing too. He looked around, hoping to see something in the corner of his eyes.

Evie continues to sob quietly on Odessa, gripping the sword as if it were the only thing she had left.

Silas is still waiting to throw his punch when the lightning thing destabilizes and explodes; he flinches at the explosion, but he feels only a faint sense of warmth as the shockwave passes. And then… it's finally over. The vortex is gone. The lightning monster is gone. All that's left are the survivors, and the empty spaces where those who were lost should be standing. He lets out a long breath, coming up from his crouch and slumping against the piece of machinery he was hiding behind as he relaxes, winding down from the mental attack he was waiting to unleash.

He's pulled out of his reverie by someone wrapping themselves around his arm; Remi, looking… about like he feels, honestly. "Yeah," he answers her, mustering a grin. "Yeah, Sunshine; it's over. We're here."

It's worrying that she doesn't remember anything about the trip; Silas doesn't think he'll ever forget it. He closes his eyes; in the darkness behind his eyelids he sees that eerie red vortex again, feels a faint echo of that sense of flying and falling all over again, feels again the shock of understanding, the realization that everything, everything, is just possibility.

He shudders slightly and opens his eyes; there'll be plenty of time to ponder revelations of the true nature of reality later. He lays a hand lightly on Remi's shoulder. "You were the first one through. You missed…" he trails off. "Well. We made it over the rainbow. We're alive," he says, again offering that tight grin. I'm alive! he thinks… and for the first time in a long time, there's some joy in it.

But as he stands there, his gaze chances on Kain Zarek, kneeling by the side of someone he doesn't recognize… and for a moment something flickers in his eyes, cool and contemplative. Like Ah said, it'll all come back around, he hears that drawl again. He can't help but wonder about the vision he'd seen; had that sorry fate been the end of the Silas that had lived in this world?

It's strange to think about. Who knows? Perhaps he'll have a chat with Kain later… but for now, there are more pressing concerns. "Not everyone made it… but some of us did, at least. We made it, and we're alive," he repeats gently, giving Remi's shoulder a light squeeze before he lets his hand fall away.

As sparks shower down from blown power conduits in the ceiling, as the reverberating hum echoes up through the Sunspot observatory’s walls, the doors to the outside are held open by limping and bloodied Redbird Security officers, slowly moving in to check on what happened inside. Beyond the open doors, the forest around the observatory looks like so much blackened kindling.

All the lives always tempted to trade

Shimmering motes of rainbow hued light snake and slither through the air, like fractures in a three-dimensional cube of glass catching light like a prism. As the light moves, a sound accompanies them, the way a hum accompanies a finger moving across the rim of a water-filled crystal goblet. But it’s not a hum, it’s music. It’s Else Kjelstrom’s voice, echoing from a moment in the Bright Future, from a moment of escape. A prescient moment.

Will they hate me for all the choices I made?

Magnes, overwrought with grief and horror, down on his knees, stares at the point in space where Elaine was before she disappeared. He can hear Else’s voice echoing through the firmament, through the fractures in space and time, much as La Mer once had. In that moment, flitting sparks of green light begin to rise from Magnes’ hands, and Odessa can feel the unbidden power of Darren Stevens unraveling like a spool of thread from the very fiber of Magnes’ being.

Will they stop when they see me again?

Agent Dana Carrington slowly gets up to her feet, straightening her glasses and looking around the scene as she stays by Squeaks’ side. The green lights coming off of Magnes reflect in the lenses of her glasses. Then she turns to look at Kain, down on one knee, cradling the unconscious form of Kaylee Sumter over his lap, brushing hair from her brow. Quickly, Dana moves over to a toppled pile of machinery, looking for something.

I can't stop now I know who I am

But Kain isn’t alone beside Kaylee. Only Corbin Ayers can see that much. A woman in red, with long black hair and yellow eyes stays hunched over Kaylee’s prone form as well, a porcelain hand on her cheek and worry in her eyes. Hokuto turns her attention up to Corbin, brows tense and jaw set with worry, and then levels her yellow eyes back down to the telepath.

Now I'm all yours, I'm not afraid

Richie,” is the strangled name that Michelle Cardinal manages to spit out before throwing herself at Richard, nearly knocking him over as her arms wind tightly around his neck. She presses her face into his shoulder, and three decades of guilt come flooding back from walls she’d erected long ago. Legs weak and shoulders trembling, Michelle Cardinal allows herself to finally let go of everything she’s been holding on to. She sobs, and shows no sign of stopping. Not now, not for a long while to come.

And you're all mine, say what they may

As sparks rise from Magnes, as he feels his skin heating up as though the temperature of the room were rapidly increasing, the sparks are drawn toward those fissures in the sky, toward the snaking cracks that are splitting with shimmering light. Much as those same lime green embers were drawn from Odessa, they are drawn from Magnes. Each one slowly seals shut a portion of the fissures, each one hitting that thread with a resonant chime like a music note. The sound, to Aurora, draws her attention in a way no other sound ever has. She sees a color in those notes that other people have never seen before. A color that does not exist in nature.

And all your love I'll take to the grave

Cassandra can feel something in the air here, a prickling sensation like static electricity. Beside Elisabeth and Aurora, she watches as one of the snaking fissures in spacetime crawls toward her, then is stopped by a mote of light risen off of Magnes, and begins to seal backwards down the split. Carina moves over to the three, placing a steady but weary hand on Elisabeth’s shoulder, watching as the cracks stop their forward progress and seem to hang in the air like a spider’s web.

And all my life starts now

Magnes’ skin cools, the feeling of electricity in the air begins to fade, and as he takes an involuntary spasm of a breath he exhales a cloud of iridescent green particles that glitter in the air like metal filings. They are drawn toward the fissures, as though they were magnetized. Once teetering on the verge of death, in the moment that Pinehearst Tower and the Looking Glass exploded, Magnes now feels momentarily connected to the fractures, feels as though for a moment he can see a glimpse of something greater, something larger.

They can't tear me down

With Evie at her side and Squeaks joining them, Des recognizes that she sits not only in the aftermath of this moment, but the aftermath of the life she’s been living since November 8th, 2011. She can feel the eyes of the surviving SESA agents on her, but she also feels someone else’s eyes on her. Sitting crooked in its scabbard, with just a sliver of the blade showing, Odessa can see herself looking back in the reflective metal surface of the Kensei Sword, except that her hair is blonde.

They can't take you out of my thoughts

Reaching up to take a lock of hair between her fingers, Des realizes it isn’t another person staring back at her. Blonde hair is pinched between her fingers and she feels awkward in her own skin, as though her clothes don’t fit right, or as if her skin doesn’t fit right. There is a strange sense of otherness to that moment, before — as the fissures running through the air around her begin to close — she feels as though it has always been this way, and the memory of anything else is just that. A memory.

Under every scar there's a battle I've lost

Silas hears footsteps coming around him, black and red armored security bearing a bright red bird on the chestplate of their armor, holding weird science-fiction looking firearms attached to battery packs at their belt. They look like they’ve been through hell, some of them have ashes and soot on their armor. One heads toward Richard, taking off his helmet as he does. “Sir, Bellamy’s not responsive,” is his awkward report, recognizing that something happened here, given the sheer number of unrecognizable faces.

Will they stop when they see us again?

The security officer is about to say something else, when he looks past Richard and spots something in the crowd. As his eyes meet Remi’s, there’s a look of shock that comes across him as blood drains out of his face. Lips part in a wordless exhalation of breath, a strangled sound like someone seeing a ghost. He takes one step back, head shaking, looking around at everyone else in the room before noticing Kaylee laying on the ground next to… “What the— ”

Shikotan Island


“ — fuck.”


It’s the first words out of Miles Dylan’s mouth as he rolls onto his back. There is no welcoming party waiting for him on the other side of El Umbral, there’s just the dark and damp interior of a cave. Stalactites loom down at him from the ceiling, walls slick with moisture glisten in the dim illumination created by threaded forks of crystalline light slowly sealing shut like cracks in self-healing glass.

I can't stop now I know who I am

Miles’ world is spinning, or perhaps it’s just his head. As he sits up, there is pottery scattered around him, partitioned off by a velvet rope linked to an iron pole riveted to the cave floor. He squints, recognizing that there are lights on the ceiling of the cave. Even more confusingly, to his right, through a wood-framed doorway are a group of tourists with cameras and cell phones, and a bewildered looking tour guide standing ahead of them.

University of Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas

Fluorescent lights spark and sputter in a basement storage room. Metal shelves are toppled over, forming an A-frame shape where they’ve collided together. Cardboard boxes filled with manilla folders, old VHS cassette tapes, and hardback books are heaped into a pile in the middle of the floor. A few loose sheets of paper drift through the air, between a thin spider’s web of luminescent cracks slowly sealing shut in the air.

Now I'm all yours, I'm not afraid

The pile of books and papers slides as an arm rises up from beneath them. The mound parts, books and papers sliding over one another as Shahid Khan rises up from the heap of books, a bruise on his forehead and hair disheveled. As he sits up, Isabelle Ashford rises up next to him from beneath the heaping pile of books, blood smeared across her face from the massive cut from jaw to brow. There’s no one here to greet them.

vf_isa2_icon2.gif vf_shaw_icon4.gif

Geopoint Scientific Enclosure

Outside Boulder, Colorado

A blurry view of a tiled wall comes into slow focus, but the muffled voices are still drowned out by ringing in his ears. As Eric Doyle’s vision comes back into clear focus, he can see threads of light that resemble fissures and cracks in the air gradually sealing shut one after the other, and a faint humming sound like music over the ringing. There’s a mark on the wall, a black triangle burned into the tile, scorch marks all around it. There’s… people, too.


And all your love I'll take to the grave

Five people, some dressed in suits and others in winter jackets, all bearing a red and gold patch that reads SLC-Expressive Services Agency slowly turn toward where Eric Doyle lays on the floor. One of them drops his coffee mug, causing it to shatter on the floor. Another backs up into the wall, a hand over his mouth. Some are watching the cracks in space and time slowly sealing shut. But one of them, a matriarchal blonde woman — Claudia Zimmerman — looks down at Eric with both recognition and surprise.

The Deveaux Building

Manhattan Exclusion Zone

A cold winter wind whips across a familiar rooftop under an afternoon sun. As Ling Chao pushes herself to her hands and knees, she realizes she is alone. All around her, the island of Manhattan is an eviscerated ruin surrounded by a concrete perimeter wall. For a moment, one horrifying moment, there is a very real fear that she wound up back in the wasteland. She can see the stone sculpture on the railing, two figures flanking a stone ring, and there’s a horrible hyena laugh that escapes her.


And all my life starts

Slowly, Ling turns around to view the panorama of desolation and ruin, while overhead she can see a shimmering aurora slowly fading away. But past the ruin, past the concrete wall, past the East River there is something that did not — could not — exist in the wasteland. There is a city, thriving and full of life. There are lights and cars, there are new constructions and unfamiliar coast lines. That’s when it hits her. It’s over.


With a sudden gasp of breath, Walter Trafford wakes up in a bed. There’s a tightness and dryness in his throat, an ache as though he’d been asleep for a thousand years. Hands trembling, Walter swallows down the lump in his throat as his head swims and vision runs blurry. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, Walter touches socked feet down to a hardwood floor. Disorientation and confusion floods him for a moment, and he has a hard time recalling how he got to where he is, reaching back to the threads of a dream he’s having difficulty remembering.

I'm all yours, I'm not afraid

Slowly standing, Walter wobbles and presses a hand to his head, staggering forward and coming to stop with one hand on the corner of a small writing desk. He knocks a pencil off the edge of the table, clattering to the floor. Then, as his eyes focus, he sees a colorful pencil drawing of a man with fiery orange hair and a yellow hook-like necklace. A noise escapes the back of Walter’s throat, and he takes a step backwards. He remembers drawing that. The dream slips away further.

And you're all mine, say what they may

As he looks up into the mirror, there is a boy staring back at him. He recognizes himself, his bedroom, and his face. Of course, he’d taken a nap, that’s all. But what he doesn’t recognize is the white-haired old man in the mirror standing behind him. With a jolt of fright, Walter turns around and sees… nothing. No one. When he snaps a look back to the mirror there is no one there. “Mom!


Odessa, Texas


“So,” Colin smiles and looks at the candles burning on the cake. “You and Michelle going to blow those out or what?” Rianna raises her brows at that, slowly shaking her head.

And all your love…

“Her name,” Rianna raises one finger, “is Kara, and that's final.” The smile that flits across her lips is a challenging one. “I'm giving birth to Supergirl and there's nothing you can say about that otherwise.”

…I’ll take…

Laughing, Colin reaches out into the air with one hand and draws a chef’s knife from across the room to his waiting hand. “I'm going to have competition?” He asks with a broad grin.

…to the grave.

Rianna rolls her eyes, pressing a finger to his nose. “Superman doesn't have telekinesis. You're like…” her nose wrinkles, “Not Superman?” Both laugh together, and with flushed cheeks and a bright smile Rianna leans down and blows out her candles.

And all my life starts…

Rianna pauses as the candles go out, a light dancing across her eyes, a rainbow hue of colors and possibilities. Colin doesn’t notice the change, can’t, and as she looks down to the cake she slowly turns her attention back to him. Reaching up and pressing a hand to his cheek. “Or maybe… Odessa?”


…starts now.


There’s sparks dancing from where the lap exploded. Shards of frosted white glass from the bulb are scattered across the floor. The window, too, blew apart though most of the glass landed outside. Scorch marks in the shape of fine bolts of lightning are traced through the unpainted drywall in the room, the floor too has the same marks charred into them. The blankets on the bed are blackened and burned as though a fire had ravaged the room, but the person laying on the bed is unharmed by whatever just happened.

Outside the window, birds are singing loudly. The aurora, fading away in the sky, will soon go forgotten as an unusual atmospheric anomaly. There were no riots, no apocalypse, just a few unexplained visions. The world will keep turning. For the child laying in the bed, the world stopped turning several minutes ago. Her caretakers won’t be back right away, and by the time they do return, she’ll be gone.

Sibyl Black died tonight. The being in her mind tore free from its bonds, like a bird in flight, and found itself back in a more suitable shell. But as Eileen Ruskin had said time and time again… there was no Sibyl Black anymore. There was just an empty vessel.

Sibyl’s eyes flutter open…

…and gold eyes see the world anew.


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