Coming Home Again


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Scene Title Coming Home Again
Synopsis Richard Ray returns from a trip to the Dead Zone, only to find that things have been eventful in his absence… and the contents of a thumbdrive might be the piece he needs to finally make sense of a puzzle.
Date May 21, 2018

Raytech NYC-SZ Branch Office

It’s a fine, sunny day, the temperature in the mid-seventies and the sun in the sky, a gentle breeze stirring through Richard Ray’s hair as he walks across the parking lot towards the broad glass (ish) doors of the branch office. There’s dust on his boots, a few more worn spots in his jeans, and that jacket of his is definitely a little more beat up than it once was - but he’s looked worse in his time, and beneath those aviator glasses he’s wearing he seems in a fair enough mood.

He’s glad to be home.

His identification card’s pressed up against the sensor as he reaches the doors, and they slide open without needing the receptionist to buzz him past, strolling into the lobby in that outfit that looks absolutely out of place - but with the air to him that he owns the place. Of course, that’s largely because he does.

“Welcome back, Mister Ray,” one of the security guards stationed near the doors greets, one hand lifting in an easy salute, to which he offers a wry smile, “Thanks, Lou.”

The lobby already looks like a bit of a war zone, construction ongoing as the new Chief of Physical Security is upgrading their defenses, which includes inner doors. Things have clearly been busy while he was gone.

Standing by the receptionist desk is his sister, Kaylee Ray-Sumter. As soon as he had pulled into the parking lot, security had alerted her. She had asked them, too. Standing there, she is dressed like she’s been in one of those big meeting; sharp pant suit and heels. However, her eyes look strained and tired; the smile holds none of the brightness it usually does. Heels click as she closes distance between them, something held in her hands. A lanyard that is slipped over his head. “Welcome back, big brother,” she says softly, as she settles it into place.

Normally, there would be a hug, but instead she says, “I’m sorry to do this to you, since you just got back, but… We need to talk.”

“I see Luther’s been busy,” Richard observes in approving tones, glancing around the construction in the lobby before stepping over in the direction of his sister— a smile awakening, and then fading at the expression on her face. The lanyard’s slipped over his head, and he brings one hand up to slip the aviators off his face, regarding her with a serious expression.

“Something’s happened, hasn’t it,” he says quietly, grimly, “Alright. My office, or yours?”

“Better question would be what hasn’t,” Kaylee’s tone is dry, turning to lead him. “But yeah, Luther had been doing an amazing job.” There is no hiding the fondness she has for their new head of security, “Best decision we made, really.” As she walks past the desk, she picks up a folded newspaper. This is held close to her chest, until they step into the elevator. Only then does she unfold it and hand it to him with a grim expression.

The headline covers the whole top of the paper: RAYTECH’S CHIEF BRAND OFFICER KILLED IN TRAGIC LANDMINE ACCIDENT.

“And that…” Kaylee says softly, “Is just the start.” She presses the button that will take them up to the offices. “But also the most recent thing that’s happened.” There is a tick before she adds, “Also, fair warning, your schedule is packed.” Looking as the vague blurred shapes in the metal of the elevator and not him, Kaylee adds blandly, “Seems I have a ways to go before people see me as a substitute for the great Richard Ray.”

Richard steps into the elevator, reaching out to take the newspaper and turn it his way… and then he just stares at the headline, glancing up at her in disbelief and then back down again. “Remi,” he breathes out… and then, before the elevator doors close, those in the lobby can hear his voice raising, “Tragic Landmine Accident? What the everloving fuck, Kaylee— “

The doors close, and he looks at her with his brow darkened, “What the fuck. Landmines? How do you have a landmine accident, it’s not like she ever went into the ruins — Christ Almighty, she didn’t like going anywhere she might break a nail, what the hell happened?”

As far as his schedule’s concerned, he doesn’t seem to care at the moment. One of his is dead.

“That was not my words,” Kaylee points out in an even tones voice. “And we don’t know what happened, but Luther and I agree. It’s.. too much of a coincidence since someone is after my head as well.” Now she looks at him with a small smile, “Seems someone thinks I’m too dangerous to live and tried to have me killed. Happened when I went out to greet one of our overseas shipments personally. Killed that new supplier we found. They asked for you, by the way. Made sure…” she glances at the camera in the elevator. “Made sure that it was only me there,” of course she wasn’t, “And ordered me and everyone with me killed.”

What is a little scary is how calmly she tells it all. Tucking a stray strand of gold hair behind her ear, Kaylee asks, “Have you ever heard of a Natalie Gray?” As soon as she asks, the elevator doors open into the basement.

“I know that wasn’t your words, but…” The newspaper’s shaken sharply, Richard’s gaze dropping to it, “And— wait, someone tried to kill you too?” His eyes lift up, brows sharply raising, “I leave for a few weeks and someone tried to fucking kill all of you?”

He’s not happy. That’s for sure.

“Natalie— no, I haven’t,” his jaw tightens, “That’s Gabriel’s surname, though.”

A hand presses to hold the elevator door so her brother can step out, “Yes. The man we had interrogated said that their target was Thatcher.” A brow arches a little, as if asking if that name is familiar. “That my ability was too dangerous.” Kaylee nods to the paper. “That is why we think this is too much of a coincidence.” Because Remi was a telepath, just like his sister.

“Be careful what you say when we cross in front of windows,” is his sisters warning as their path of travel takes them towards his office, her head turned away from the windows. “We need to talk away from them.”

Her head is turned enough that as they walk and talk, voice very quiet, “And Natalie Gray is who he identified as the person who gave the order.” Fingers move to fidget with her wedding band, a sign of her stress and agitation. “I thought the same thing about her surname. Gabriel and Samson. I figured I’d see if you can shake your contacts see what falls out. I’d try to track down Gabriel, but last I heard he was dead.” Not that looking for someone as dangerous that is a good idea. Desperate times…

“It’s a secret.” Richard’s brow lined deeply as he walks out of the elevator, glancing down at the newspaper again. Remi… “Something so important to keep out of our hands that they’ll kill anyone who could possibly find it.”

“We’ll see about that.”

That same identification card gives access to the office, and he walks inside with a slow shake of his head, “Gabriel’s not dead. I haven’t heard from him in years, but— Sylar died, not Gabriel. There was some— weird thing that happened. Split him in two. Or three? I was never clear on that. Only one of them was still a psychotic murderer.”

He promptly steps over to the large windows in his office, hand lifting to a haptic touch-screen on the side and sliding downwards - the glass darkening swiftly to opaque black, and the room’s lights brightening accordingly.

Turning from locking his door against intrusion, her brows lift and then she gives him a flat look. “No fair.” It wasn’t an option she had in her office. “Clearly, when we do some upgrading, my office needs that.” But now that they were in private she relaxes some, letting more of the stress and anxiety show. “It’s been a complete cluster fuck since you left,” she says finally letting that emotion seep into her voice.

“Mateo Ruiz was attacked and almost killed on Raytech property. We were able to keep that underwraps. Thank god. This Natalie Gray has eyes on Raytech, my home, and my family.” Kaylee’s head shakes a little and she swallows back some of the emotions, trying not to break down in relief that he’s back. “I haven’t hardly slept since I got that warning from Alister Black’s ward, Sibyl Black.”

His desk has a manilla envelope sitting on it with the hospital’s name up in the corner. It’s not hard to figure out what that is. “I told Sibyl that Alister would get his meeting with you. And speaking of Alister, they showed up in time to save me, Des and Barney from….” She stops pressing fingers to her temples, when she realizes she babbling. “I’m sorry… it’s just… you left and so much happened. I feel completely incompetent. I’ve been waiting for you to return… and time just drug on.”

“Whoa, whoa…” Richard steps over, worry on his face as he reaches a hand out to her shoulder, “Okay. Let’s just take this one step at a time, alright, sis? Okay. Someone attacked Ruiz, you said — is it the same person as tried to have you assassinated, or are we talking about someone else?”

A warm squeeze of his fingers to her shoulder, “Just one step at a time and we’ll get this untangled.”

Kaylee gives him a small smile, hand moving to rest on his for a moment. A silent thank you. “We don’t know if it is the same person. Whatever happened sucked all the power, which means the camera’s and everything were down. That. Was fun for security. I wasn’t around cause it was late at night and they couldn’t get ahold of me.”

She gives a small shrug of her shoulders, “Des might have more about that, since she managed to save him from bleeding out. But yeah, again… seems a big coincidence that again, someone in relation to Raytech is almost killed. Luther is going to put some of our guys on a detail to help protect him.” After a moment she adds, “At my request.”

Richard nods slowly. “Okay. That’s a good call, definitely… nhn, something killed the power? We’ll have to figure out what. I’ll talk to Des, and to Mateo…” He draws in a breath, “Okay. So that’s Ruiz. Next. Who the fuck is Alister Black? Or Sibyl Black? And what did they save you from?”

“You haven’t heard…” Kaylee trails off and then shakes her head and, instead, launches into an explanation. “Alister Black is one of the big names on Staten. I believe he wants to make it his empire. Calls himself the Ferrymen’s savior or something like that. Sibyl is a young girl in his care, from what I understand… or at least what Luther told me, not related, she’s kinda his protege.”

Taking a deep breath, Kaylee continues. “They managed to be in the area when the mutiny happened on the supply boat.” When they tried to kill Kaylee. “Timely arrival really, though not before I had to kill one.” Of course, for Kaylee, killing one tends to not involve guns. “I would have thought it was staged, if Alister hadn’t gotten shot three times in the chest.” She sighs softly, “They were enough of a distraction I was able to capture the leader, of course, that is who gave me the information about Natalie.”

Brows furrow a little at the memory. “Alister’s guy had to torture the leader, my ability was literally ineffective. He was trained against my ability,” telepathy. And a powerful telepath at that. “I didn’t get much from him. Mostly, that she was married and has one nasty ability.”

“Interesting.” Richard’s brow furrows a little, “I did see someone at the gala… someone said they were from Staten, but— well. I suppose I’ll see when I meet him.” He rests back against the edge of his desk, hands resting to either side of him as he looks back at her with a frown, “Training against telepathy’s… rare, and not easy. Not everyone has the brain for it. What sort of ability are we talking here?”

If she were following his thoughts, he’s partitioning away Remi’s death, putting every new piece of data in its place, sorting and organizing. The pieces of a puzzle, or multiple puzzles, to be solved. And dealt with.

“Something nasty. Possibly, an illusion.” Kaylee moves to settle herself into a chair as she talks. Folding hands and resting them on her knees. Hazard of diving too deeply into someone's memories, you pretty much experience and it felt like my whole body was on fire, my lungs, my chest felt so heavy. The pain was intense. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

There is a small humorless smile that tugs at one corner of her mouth, “I’d show you, but I would never inflict something like that on anyone.” She has however, filed that memory away. It could be useful, since it laid her out.

“There is more. Des has a radio they were using to communicate. She talked to someone on the other end. Someone who could speak German and French.” Kaylee gives him a worried look, “They knew who she was, without saying who she was, and told her that our captive needed to have an accident.” She gives him a pointed look, which is quickly followed by a guilty one, “I told her if she felt it was the right move to do it. We can’t risk them exposing who she is.”

“Okay.” Richard nods ever so slightly, “I’ll talk to Des about that, too, she might have some… insights of her own..” A hand comes up, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose as he takes in a breath, exhales it slowly, “Alright. Next?”

There is a small sad laugh, “You… are going to love this.” Those words drip with such heavy sarcasm, as Kaylee rises to her feet again, stepping around his desk. One of the upper drawers is opened and yet another newspaper is extracted. “Speaking of Odessa.” This paper is offered over, reluctantly and with a moment of hesitation, her expression somewhat pitying and apologetic.

Her voice softens, eyes falling to the headlines, expression sad. “She hasn’t been totally honest with us. Luther brought this to my attention after the boat incident. I managed to keep him from calling people. He wanted to be here when I told you, I told him no.”

The title is huge. War Criminals: Where Were They Now. Of course, right there was a picture of Odessa from before. “This really complicates things, Richard,” The fact that her friend had worked willingly with Humanis First has been weighing on her.

The paper’s taken, unfolded and shaken out as Richard glances through the article. “Arrowood, Irons, Mayes… there’s one I’d love to hear Hana had in custody… Varlane? Couldn’t be— nnh, here we are, Odessa. Knew that, knew that, kn… wait. Valentin? Humanis?”

He looks up, brow furrowed, “This can’t be right.”

“I didn’t want to confront her about it without you. She’s extremely dangerous, even without knowing about that.” Kaylee brows furrows as well and shakes her head, “But… if it is right, she willingly negated herself to stay near this guy. Killed a lot of people on our side of the war.”

A hand reaches out to grip his arm, her eyes trying to catch his. “Richard… if we get caught with her…. If anyone realizes I willing brought in and protected a member of Humanis First.” Her head shakes, “We thought it was bad before… This to me is worse.”

“I…” Richard looks down to the paper, then back up to her, “It isn’t necessarily true. It isn’t. If it is…” He looks down. “She’s not dangerous to us personally. But.. indirectly…”

He closes his eyes. “Yes. I’ll— talk to her. And we’ll figure out what we need to do about this. I care about her, Kay, but— I can’t let her destroy everything we’ve worked for just by being here.” His tone strained as he makes the admission. Remi. Danger to his sister, to Mateo, to others. Now this.

“I know.” Kaylee says softly, moving to take the paper from him again. “I really care for her, Richard. She and I… “ she sighs “I owe her everything. I wouldn’t be here, if she hadn’t risked her own life to get me away from Adam.” The paper is folded slowly and neatly. “But, having her here… It risks so many people. If Joseph caught wind that we had her….” Paper crinkles a bit.

“And all of this… is nothing compared to some footage I think you need to see.” A hand dips into the pocket of her coat and extracts a thumbdrive. She doesn’t hand it to him, only holds it up. “There was an old camcorder discovered in the sewers by a group of kids. This is just a copy of the footage.”

Kaylee nods to his computer. “May I?”

There’s more. Of course there’s more. Richard rubs a hand at the nape of his neck, head lifting to regard her with a ‘god, really?’ sort of expression as she says there’s something else he needs to see.

“Alright,” he allows resignedly, stepping around the other side of his desk and dropping heavily into the leather seat, metal creaking softly. He should oil it. He probably never will. He reaches out to press a hand against the black glass of the desk, the display beneath the surface coming to life, and flips open the cover for the USB slots to his left. “Toss ‘er in and let’s see what you’ve got.”

Folding the drive into her hand, she step around, but doesn’t plug it in yet. “You know, for as bad as you are at technology… you have a lot of it.” Turning she rest a hip on his desk. “Because I know you, let me set you up with some of what happened that you won’t see. I need you to know a few things before… “ Kaylee presses her lips together, but she doesn’t complete that thought.

“You remember that fun little trip into Odessa’s mind?” A brow arches, though she doesn’t wait for an answer, she knows. “This footage for the kids spawned some crazy stuff. Golden eyes, strange voices from a radio. The same ones that I heard in Odessa’s mind. The same ones that sent me to your father.” Her hand motions to the envelope. “I might have peeked.”

She doesn’t linger on that though, “For us the radio will only be static, but realize. Something major happened. I mean… what you are going to see.” Kaylee huffs out a breath and plugs the USB in. Turning, she rests her hand on her brother’s shoulder, where it will stay for support during the whole video. “Brace yourself, big brother,” Kaylee reaches over his shoulder and brings up the file.

“You’re about to see Liz.”

“I remember,” Richard’s brow knits slightly, “That was in a mindscape, though, do you mean to tell me that those— effects carried through into the real world for these kids?” A look to her, then back to the USB. “How would that even work? A mental imprint of some sort, like some kind of— telepathic bomb stored in physical form?”

The envelope’s ignored. He knew what it would say already. He just doesn’t think it matters.

The drive’s plugged in, and he reaches out to tap the touchscreen of his desk to make the file play. The video starts just as those last words sink in, and he shoots her a sharp, startled look— and then looks back to the screen.

The reaction at first is an indrawn breath at the sight of Magnes, slowly exhaled as he listens, as he watches, shutting everything down hard so that he can catch any details. The first experiment completes. The second begins, and there’s Liz.

The facade cracks just a bit, his fingers sliding against the desk to brush against her face as it shows on the screen - tired, dirtier, but still her. Another breath, a hard swallow, and he pulls his hand back to watch the results, disastrous as they turn out to be.

Then the end, and the tape cuts out.

And he’s left staring at the blank screen.

Kaylee sits there quietly, watching with him and listening to him. She’s worried how he’ll react, but she also knows she can’t protect him from it. Even after it ends, she lets the silence consume them both, so that he has time to process what he saw, before she speaks again.

“She survived,” Kaylee offers the obvious in a soft whisper, fingers squeezing his shoulder gently. “Her and Magnes, both.” Though she’s less concerned about the gravity manipulator. “And I think, they landed in a place where the Vanguard won and released the virus, just like we saw in Odessa’s head.” Keying it up, Kaylee fast forward to what they were all wearing, so that maybe he will catch the details that gave her that conclusion. “And, they were trying to get out of there.”

Leaning forward to tap the portal, Kaylee adds, “This is also why I asked for security detail for Benchmark. I don’t know who those kids will tell.”

“They’re…” Richard’s voice is thick with emotion, and he cuts himself off to clear his throat, leaning forward, staring at the shot that she pauses the screen on. “They’re on the other side of the Looking Glass. Another string, down one of the branches that we didn’t take. Washed up…”

He stops dead, head lifting as he breathes out barely-audibly as if in sudden epiphany, “Washed up on the shores of the never-was.”

Then he’s on his feet in a shot, the chair rolling back to hit the wall as he bolts over to the secured door off to one side that’s labeled simple EXECUTIVE STORAGE ROOM, his hand pressing against the hand-print scanner. The door unlocks with a solid thunk as the bolts release, and he throws the door open to stride inside the room beyond.

Shit.” She whispers. “Richard!” Kaylee calls after him, suddenly nervous about his change in behavior. However, she is not surprised by it either. If it had been Joseph… She plucks the flash drive from the USB before following after him into the room. “Richard…wait.

“Paintings.” Richard’s fingers snap sharply and point to the side of the room where a number of metal-framed paintings are hung on a hinge so they can be sorted through easily without having them all hung on the wall. “Find the one labeled Eve-318.” An order, not a request.

He’s stepping around the framework in the middle of the room where the strings criss-cross one another, moving with purpose over to a shelf of folders and books, fingers sliding over the spines, pushing them one after the other out of his way, muttering, “No, no, not that, no, wrong one, no…”

There is a hesitation on his sisters part, Kaylee watches him for a long moment from the doorway, considering… then finally, probably slower then he expected her to, Kaylee slips the thumb drive into her pocket and moves across to the paintings and starts to search through them, one by one.

Finally, a finger falls on the lettering Eve-318, pushing all the other paintings aside, Kaylee turns a little to look over her shoulder at Richard. “Found it.”

This painting is a six and a half foot tall, four foot wide portrait-oriented piece in oil on canvas. It depicts an iconic piece of Manhattan architecture, the rooftop of the Deveaux Building. Residence of the late philanthropist Charles Deveaux. The painting shows the masonry oval flanked by twin cherubs beyond which is depicted the ruins of the Manhattan Exclusion Zone. The entire scene is decked in snow and falling flakes drift from the night sky. Curiously, the artist has depicted an inverted triangle of bright blue-white light hovering in the air over the rooftop. The triangle has a cold, lambert glow about it and is flecked with static like an old cathode ray tube television screen. The painting is signed MAS '14 in the bottom right corner.

“It’s the painting that I won at the auction in March,” Richard says, his words coming rapidly as his tongue tries to keep pace with his thoughts, hands shaking as he works, “Look closely, along the sides of the triangle— hah! Here it is— “ A plastic folder jerked from the shelf, fanned open in his grasp.

At a much closer examination, there’s a fine series of numbers painted around each face of the glowing triangle. On one: 40.766970,-73.979834. On another: 2018.12.25-22:17:37. On the third: 126.22Hz.

“It looks like —” Kaylee trails off, fingers lifting to trace along the edge of the triangle, but not touching it, noticing the numbers that he wants her to see. “Richard, this looks like what we saw in Odessa’s head,” she exclaims, looking back at him again.

The shakes a finger at the painting, “This goes along with an idea I had. I wanted to try and use Gillian to look in Odessa’s head again, see… see if I could wrestle control from whatever had us and use that to see if we can find some sort of hint where they might be now.” Staring at the painting, Kaylee shrugs that away, “It was going to be a risk, but… maybe we don’t need too.”

The answer was right there.

“It’s the effect field created by my mother’s invention,” Richard rattles off unsteadily as he flips through the folder, fingers catching the pages together at times and making him have to go back in increasing frustration. “The Looking Glass. Those are coordinates. Spatial, temporal, and vibrational. 126 point 22 hertz is the vibrational frequency of the sun. I’d lay odds that if this was a different timeline, that number would be different as well. That may be the vibrational frequency for our dimensional stri— here it is!”

“So up on the wind, we’ve soared far and wide, on wings of our memories. Up high above, we fell so far below, washed up on shores of the never-was,” he recites, reading from a page in the folder although his voice is hardly that of a singer to justice to Else's song, “So we go to the end of one road, fresh on our memories we say - no turning back this time. Because we’ve got miles to go before we’re back to our lives…”

Crossing her arms, eyes on the painting, Kaylee listens to her brother recite those words. “Damn… “ she whispers softly, in appreciation for the words, eyes unfocusing a little.

“Who knows about this machine and how do we get it?” She can’t believe that she is saying those words out loud. Then again, she’d rather use something like this, then what they saw in the video.

“It goes on, it’s— this is one of Kjelstrom’s songs,” Richard rambles on, not answering her question, “This is… ash all and dust, fade to the endings… deep down below, this is the virus string.” His finger skims down the page, “Paint can’t hide cracks in the wall… two paces behind our own footsteps. That’s Arthur, that’s— the one that Des saw in her dreams, that string. Two paces behind. Before the previous trip there. All is not lost, we’ve seen this before— the wasteland— and then the last, rowing down the boulevard. The flood. When we failed in Antarctica. This…”

He stares down at the page, “This is about them, Kaylee. About— about Liz, and Magnes. It’s mapping everything out, showing— and the painting. I had instructions. The last thing on the list, the last thing he told me to do. To be on the roof of the Deveraux Building this December. This Christmas.“

Just the edge of a smile tugs tremulously up at the corner of his mouth, eyes wet with unshed tears lifting to the painting, a painting that shows that roof, that shows the lambent door of his mother’s work at that same day, at that same time.

“Edward. You knew. You knew this would happen, you beautiful sonuvabitch. You knew she’d be coming home again.”

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