Consensus Ad Idem


kotch_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif

Scene Title Consensus Ad Idem
Synopsis Latin: "A meeting of the minds."
Date May 15, 2020

Rikers Island
NYC Safe Zone

May 15th
8:08 am

When Odessa Price arrives for her scheduled meeting with her lawyer, it’s with a healing bruise on her jaw. Not the first time. Not likely to be the last, either. It’s made all the more stark by the way her shoulder-length hair has been pulled up into a messy ponytail on top of her head. The blonde and copper lengths don’t cover the purple and green blossoms fading away on her left side.

Once the cuffs around her hands are removed, she murmurs a thank you to the guards who escorted her — Odessa’s been sure to be nothing but exceedingly polite to the staff here, regardless of position (or general level of apparent contempt held for her) — she takes her seat at the table in the middle of the windowless room. She sets in front of her a book of notes she’s been keeping for herself on her case.

Fixing her gaze on Bryant Kotch, Odessa engages her ability. It’s something she rarely does in this place. It’s overwhelming to her extra senses when she’s among the common areas, with the general population. This place has a history that makes her skin crawl. But today, the benefit of being able to evaluate her lawyer’s emotional state outweighs the headache she’ll likely develop and endure the rest of the day. What’s one more trip to the infirmary?

Odessa rubs absently at her jaw, wincing at the tenderness. “The other guy doesn’t even have a scratch on ‘em,” she promises.

“I’m not going to tell you again,” Kotch says without looking up from paperwork in front of him. He’s a tumult of emotions, mostly stress and a considerable heap of disappointment and impatience. Everything is going faster internally than externally.

When Kotch looks up to Odessa over the slouched frames of his reading glasses it is with an ever-suffering sigh. “It makes you look guilty and irresponsible.” Licking his thumb, Kotch slides a document out from his stack of papers and slides it across to Odessa, along with a pen. It’s a summary form, intent to cooperate, they file one of these each time the government opens another investigation and subpoenas Odessa from prison. It’s a show of good faith, on paper. It’s also known as a ‘Snitch’s Shield.’

“Sign, please.” Kotch notes, distractedly, flipping through a few more documents until he finds a powder blue piece of paper marked with additional notes.

“What do you want me to do?” Odessa’s voice pitches high in her defensiveness. “You want me to get thrown in solitary again? I hate that place.” Still, she picks up her pen and scans over the document. It isn’t that she doesn’t trust her lawyer — he’s absolutely done right by her thus far — but that she doesn’t trust much of anything.

But, it all appears to look exactly the same as every other version of this document that she’s signed before, so she puts her looping signature to paper and pushes it back across the table. “I’m trying not to escalate. Trying to practice a new mantra of violence not solving everything.

Did she just mimic Mohinder Suresh when she said that?

Just. Shut up.

“I’ll be quite honest with you, Ms. Price, I don’t care what you do.” Kotch says with deadpan delivery, not even looking up from his paperwork. “But the more outbursts you have and the less cooperative you are, the more your options narrow down…” he looks up and makes a ring with his index finger and thumb, “to what looks arguably like a noose.”

Kotch kicks his brows up. “It’s not my neck on the line,” he adds, taking the signed document from Odessa and adding his own signature on another line. “It’s yours.”

“That understood, I’m telling you that there is a greater than zero chance that we will be able to get you out of here on parole, possibly before the year is out, possibly sooner.” Kotch takes in a deep breath, then sighs through his nose. His frustration with Odessa is a palpable thing, the same kind of frustration Odessa has felt from parents of unruly children in public who just wish their child would behave for five minutes.

“Because I’m trying to do everything to help you earn that,” Kotch explains, “I’m just hoping that it’s still your goal too. Otherwise you’re paying me for nothing.”

“I’m behaving! I’m not picking fights! I’m being good!” Odessa feels like everything she does is just not good enough. She feels like a little girl again, desperately seeking approval from someone.


“I’m giving them everything they want, aren’t I?” She gestures to the paper she just signed. “I’m polite, I’m patient, I- I- I clean up after myself, and even others! I don’t want to stay here.” And she definitely doesn’t want to hang. “I am cooperating,” Odessa reiterates in a quiet voice, letting some of her panic drain away.

If only by virtue of the fact that she’s starting to siphon some of Kotch’s disdain for her. It brings her a calm she doesn’t deserve. “What do they want this time?”

“I’m honestly not sure,” Kotch says with a subtle frustration in his voice. He hesitates, looking down at some paperwork and narrowing his eyes. “Well, that’s partly untrue.” When he looks back up to Odessa, she can feel a twist in his emotions. Caution and fear replacing frustration and certainty.

“I overheard some of the agents mentioning the Vanguard.” Kotch says quietly. “But I don’t think you know the people they were talking about. Freyr, Freyja? Something like that. And Njord.” Kotch’s brows rise swiftly, then slowly fall. “I don’t recall reading about them in Wolves of Valhalla.”

Looking back up to Odessa he asks. “Or, did you know them?” Now she senses it, an oily emotion. Guilt. Shame. It’s a pit-of-the-stomach sick feeling that Odessa’s felt before at times, even if only just. That guilty twist in her guts when she has to internally rationalize doing something terrible. Not just wrong or illegal, but reprehensible, like murder.

Odessa lifts her chin a fraction in an up-nod of understanding that Kotch isn’t privy to what information the government is looking to ply from her this time. There is nothing new under the sun, and that goes for what she has to offer. After this many years, and with so many fugitives ahead of her rounded up, her chances at providing anything actionable have long since been snatched up by others looking to cut deals. Much of the testimony she’s been able to give, she knows, is corroborative at best. Confirming what is already known, but very rarely offering any new insight.

So mention of the Vanguard has her pausing the motion, her chin up and her eyes having to angle down the bridge of her nose to cast a look at her lawyer across the table. Calculating.

To this question, there isn’t truth or lie. There is, however, right and wrong. To answer incorrectly will almost certainly end with a hempen necklace or the kiss of a blade between her ribs. The right answer may not result in her freedom, but it has the best chance of allowing her to keep breathing.

“You know, memory is a pesky thing,” Odessa begins, heedless of the frustration she knows she’ll cause. She continues to hold perfectly still, keeping her gaze on him and feeling every nuance of the emotion that radiates from him. Her thumb meets her middle finger, rubbing together in a slow circle, like she can feel the texture of his guilt like a tapestry of fine silk.

It’s then that it dawns on her that the knife might well be in his own hands.

Is he rationalizing right now how he’ll sleep at night if he kills her? That when his head hits the pillow, he’ll soothe his soul with the knowledge that she’d done terrible things in her past, and that was enough to condemn her? That it doesn’t matter how hard she fought to do the right thing and to be the better person he’d argued in court that she’s made the effort to be?

She wonders how he’d do it. Or maybe he just needs to report back to someone else, who’ll give the order to someone else, and then she’ll have an unfortunate accident. Maybe in her cell. Maybe in the yard.

Slowly, a light sparks in her eye. Her own delight is enough to overtake the sensation of his shame. This is a language she understands. No more legalese and politesse, but threats and blood. Odessa suspects she’s quite a bit better versed in it than he is, if the strength of his revulsion is anything to go by.

The corner of her mouth ticks up in a grin that exposes a flash of fang, as though she might be one of the eponymous Wolves herself even now. “I know better than to bite the hand that feeds, Mr. Kotch.” Odessa tips her head to one side. In spite of her even tone, her eyes are widening a fraction, too keenly interested in him now to maintain the illusion of the cowed woman pleading for her life that she’s maintained for months. Now… she’s fighting for it.

“Because what I do remember…” Her brows lift briefly as she leans in just the barest bit closer, “is meeting a man who promised to protect me and allow me to live my life free.” Odessa lifts her right hand from the table, fingers gently curved in toward her palm, but her index slightly raised, though still crooked, to indicate one second, though.If I provided to him something he wanted.”

Now, hands together in front of her with her palms facing toward the table, she turns them upward with a flourish of her wrists before spreading her hands out to either side of herself. “Now, let's suppose for a moment that I kept up my end of the bargain. I’ve escaped the noose so far, but I have yet to have that freedom, and I never saw him again. I wouldn’t know if he ever did make good on that promise he made. Maybe this is all just a happy coincidence for me. Certainly it’s a testament to your hard work on my behalf.”

Odessa leans in further to aside in a soft voice. “You’re a very good lawyer.” Then her head tilts in the other direction as though she’s just had some kind of realization, gaze shifting toward some unfixed point near the ceiling. “I wonder if he’s playing golf in the Sierras. He seemed the type.”

“I wouldn’t know,” is Kotch’s smooth and seemingly carefree answer, “also,” he adds with a look up from paperwork, “that didn’t answer my question.” To an outside observer, to anyone without skills like Odessa’s, Kotch would seem to be playing dumb. A codgerly old man playing a frustrated foil to Odessa’s scenery chewing. But she can feel the tumult inside. The fact that it isn’t painted on his face is likely part of why he’s a good trial attorney. But it also means she has to re-evaluate every other interaction they’d had together.

“But I’ll take that as a no, that you don’t know them.” Kotch pulls out another document, then hears a knock on the door to the room and looks genuinely surprised. Odessa feels a pang of something disrupt his emotional process. At first alarm, then calm.

We’re in session!” Kotch shouts at the door.

Heedlessly, the door opens to reveal a DHS administrative officer that Odessa has seen before. “I’m sorry, Mr. Kotch, but we’re going to have to cut this short. We have a cross-departmental examination that needs to happen with Ms. Price.”

Cross-departmental?” Kotch asks, straightening up his papers. “I wasn’t briefed on this. My client— ”

“DHS reserves the right to impose unannounced cross-departmental interrogations for clients charged or convicted of terrorism under the Patriot Act.” She reminds him.

Kotch’s expression sours and Odessa can feel his frustration levels rise. He’s quiet for a moment, shares a wordless look to Odessa, then starts packing up the papers on his side of the table, then takes the document Odessa signed and adds it to the stack.

“Now?” Kotch asks the DHS agent.

“Now.” She confirms.

Odessa reaches out swift as a viper to capture Kotch’s wrist while he starts to straighten the paperwork. “I’m cooperating,” she reminds him, voice whisper quiet. She doesn’t mean with this, this interruption. She means with the people presumably paying his fee. “Tell them that.” Then she’s giving his hand a squeeze, for all the world appearing exceptionally grateful for his work thus far — which she is, honestly, regardless of his motivation — and offers a smile. “Same time next week then?” As though she doesn’t feel the vice grip of fear in her chest.

As her hand snakes back to her side of the table, there’s also the barest glimmer of hope that emanates from embers in her heart that she thought had cooled. Maybe this is another visit from—

Absently, Odessa crosses her left arm over her torso, reaching to scratch nails over the right side of her ribcage. Nails catch on the lump that exists between skin and uniform. Still there. Her hand slides lower to her hip, remaining there while the other hand braces around opposite elbow. Almost like giving herself a hug.

The intent is to look smaller, softer. Guarded, but stemming from caution and uncertainty rather than defiance and spite. By the time Kotch is ready to walk out the door, all traces of the woman who absolutely deserves to be locked away here are gone.

Kotch takes his time exiting the room, lingering in the doorway with the considerably younger DHS administrator hovering at his shoulder. He looks back at Odessa, worry evident in his features, then is escorted out of the room. But no one shuts the door.

A shadow is cast on the wall of the hall opposite the meeting room, the hard-soled click of shoes on tile accompanying its languid movements. Slowly, a man in a black suit steps into the doorway with the posture and cadence of a Company agent. His crisp white undershirt is pressed to perfection, tie with a diagonal patterned print on it pinned in place just so. Everything being so immaculate makes the fact that he has a subtly lazy eye all the more noticeable.

This agent doesn’t have any outward identification. No visitor’s badge, no bureau ID, not even a service pin on his lapel.

“Odessa Gale Price,” the agent says in the doorway, then slowly steps into the room and shuts the door behind himself as he does. “I’ve heard a great deal about you over the years,” he says with a genial tone and a small smile, making unblinking eye contact. It’s then that she realizes something is… off.

It doesn’t feel like he has any emotions. She doesn’t feel negated. But at the same time something feels incredibly wrong. He’s there, she can feel his consciousness, but it’s empty.


“My name is Agent Gates,” he says, maintaining that unblinking stare. His movements are rather slow, deliberate, and purposeful as he moves to Kotch’s empty chair. “Would you mind, terribly, if I asked you some questions?”

“I’m sure you have,” Odessa replies demurely, fighting against re-engaging her instincts to slip on a sliver of a grin and drop her voice into a low purr. Instead, she remains with that mask on of cautious curiosity. Her voice soft, tone uncertain.

Odessa shifts uncomfortably in her seat, looking the agent up and down without any hint of calculation or scheming, just the open interest of someone taking in a person on first meeting.

Something is crawling beneath her skin and screaming inside of her brain. This is wrong, it whispers to her in a voice so very familiar to her, but not her own. This is wrong, this is wrong. Flat affect is a state she understands. Careful guarding, even when no one knows it’s her they should be guarded against. This isn’t it.

This is wrong, this is wrong, thisiswrongthisiswrongthisiswrongthisis—

She doesn’t realize she’s been holding her breath until it comes time to answer his question. “No, sir.” Odessa forces herself to meet his gaze, unclasping her hand from beneath her elbow and holding it out across the table to him tentatively. An olive branch. A display of cooperation. Good faith. “It’s nice to meet you, Agent Gates. How can I help today?”

Gates settles into Kotch’s seat and folds his hands in front of himself on the table. “I’d like to talk about your mother.” His head tilts to the side, a subtle gesture of assessment. “Juliette.”

“I never knew my mother by that name. My mother’s name was Rianna.” Odessa retracts her hand slowly, even though she’s just experienced the emotional equivalent of touching a hot stove and she wants to yank the limb back accordingly. “Why would you want to know about a woman who’s been dead for…” She makes a show of checking a watch on her wrist that isn’t there. “Thirty-six years, one month, and two days?”

But who’s counting?

“Please,” Gates says like he’s reading the word off a page. He looks down to his folded hands in front of him, then back up to Odessa. “As of SESA’s last record, a woman by the name of Mara Angier was present at Sunspot. Evidence we compiled from the field reports and on-site agent testimony indicates that she was someone else.”

Gates makes a small motion with his thumbs, like he’s shrugging with them. “That someone else was Juliette Luis, daughter of the late scientist Jean Martin Luis. Your mother.” Gates tilts his head to the side. “What happened to her after she entered the anomaly?”

The prisoner nods her head slowly, not refuting the information she’s presented with. What they already know? They know. Denying it won’t cast doubt, only bolster conviction. “I never knew her as Juliette,” she reiterates. She hasn’t lied since he stepped through the door. “Juliette Luis died a full ten years before I was ever born.” They have record of that as well, surely.

“I don’t know what happened to her.” The emotion that Odessa feels and puts on display in the aftermath of that answer is genuine. Her eyes close for a moment as she gathers her thoughts, chin dipping in toward her chest. It hurts to think about. “I don’t know,” she repeats, lifting her head again and looking across the table to the questioning agent. “If she survived somehow? I’d want to believe she’d have come to find me by now. She… She always found me.”

Gates unfolds and refolds his hands. “Your cooperation would be appreciated here, Ms. Price.” As he says that, Gates reaches into his blazer and pulls out a wristwatch, strap and all, that has only a second hand on it. He checks the watch, then puts it back in his pocket.

“What do you recall about your childhood relationship with Mateo Javier Ruiz?” Gates asks, blinking his attention back up to Odessa.

“I am cooperating,” Odessa insists in a soft voice. Her eyes flit to the wristwatch, watching the second hand make its circuit around the face. There’s a familiar ache in her bones, surely psychosomatic at this point, and a desire to make it simply stop. One corner of her mouth twitches upward in the flicker of a humorless smirk. That would be something, wouldn’t it?

“I have—” She hesitates, eyes back up to his face and expression filled with uncertainty. “I don’t have any recollection. I understand that we shared a mother, but… I don’t know what’s real and what’s fiction, sir.” What’s her history? What was repressed? What does Destiny remember? How does any of it intersect, and what is the importance of it to someone like him?

Gates’ eyes narrow, a subtle squint at something. “Shared mother?” Is all he offers as a prompt, to see where she goes with it.


Odessa made a terrible assumption that the mention of Mateo was because he was connected to Juliette, not to her. This is a mistake she realizes now she’s going to have to take pains not to repeat. “An adoptive mother,” she says quietly. “Guardian? I’m not certain. I have… I don’t know if it’s real or something my brain made up to make sense of the trauma and the… rewriting my memories have been subjected to.” It’s a preface. A disclaimer. True to the best of my knowledge.

“I remember sitting in a kitchen. I was just a little girl. Mateo was there, and a woman on the phone. I don’t know who she was, but she felt like someone I trusted. Someone who would keep me safe?” So much of what Odessa can remember is emotion. Maybe that’s normal. Maybe it’s a side effect of this ability she’s been cursed with. She’ll probably never know. “She was speaking in Spanish, and I didn’t understand at the time.”

Fingers reach up to grab the two-toned ponytail atop her head, dividing it in two uneven sections and gently drawing them apart from one another to tighten the position of the band. It gives her something to do with her hands. “And I remember him saying he didn’t want me to go.”

Odessa meets and holds Gates’ gaze, eyes a reflecting pool of her internalized disquiet. Part of her knows what followed after that moment. “But I don’t remember those things. I remember the Odessa facility.

Gates metaphorically steps around mention of the Odessa facility and to a point behind it. “Where didn’t he want you to go? Where was this house? And you said you didn’t understand the Spanish at the time… did you later come to understand it?”

He’s like a fucking shark that smells blood in the water.

So the deflection there didn’t work, and that’s important to note. Odessa keeps her gaze level, increasingly frustrated by the lack of any sort of emotional resonance from the man across from her. Even Renautas had a signature.

“I don’t know. Away, I suppose?” Odessa shakes her head. “I don’t know where the house was. I didn’t recognize it. It was probably built in the fifties? Or… maybe the seventies?” She shrugs a little. “I speak Spanish now, but the words meant nothing to me then, so I can’t recall them to know what she was saying. Short of—”

The suggestion she was about to make is bit off behind her teeth, abandoned with another shake of her head. “Whatever it was, Mateo understood it and I can remember him saying he didn’t want me to go. Or… maybe he wanted to stay?” Odessa’s hands spread out in front of her, palms up and empty of concrete answers. “So, I surmise that whatever the conversation was, it involved separating the two of us.”

That she has a fairly good idea why someone would want to keep two children with absolute command over space and time apart stays with her.

“And what happened to your adoptive mother?” Gates asks, angling his head to the other side. One of the fluorescent lights overhead flickers for a moment.

Odessa lets her gaze drift upward toward the light, staring at it for a long handful of seconds before she looks back down to the questioning agent’s face.

“I think I killed her.”

“How?” Gates wonders, steepling his hands in front of his mouth, paired index fingers pointed up toward the tip of his nose, thumbs under his chin. He carefully watches Odessa’s reactions to both the question and the way she delivers the answer.

He’s gripping Mateo’s arm too tightly. The boy protests even as he’s dragged away. No! I wanna stay with her! It’s all she needs to hear.

Odessa leans back in her seat, mouth pressing into a thin line. “This is my life you’re talking about.”

The woman is struck by an invisible force. The impact of it is so hard, so vicious, that it causes her skull to cave in.

“My childhood.”

The man tries to make a dash for the phone, but it isn’t just the actions of the girl’s mother that have her upset. He never knows what hit him when the steak knife embeds itself in his neck, spraying arterial blood across the walls and the floor.

“Someone I probably loved.

Clearcut, he manages to say before every drawer in the kitchen flings itself open at her mental command. He’s struck with every last implement sharp enough, or able to be thrown with force enough to drive them into his body.

She fixes Gates with a look that’s part incredulous and part offended. “You could stand to look a little less delighted.”

Agents pour into the home now. Mateo has fled, and it’s just the small form of Odessa left to face the opposition they represent. The table flips up and away from her, crashing off to one side of the room. She doesn’t even have to gesture.

The imprisoned woman lets out a shaky breath. “I don’t know how I did it.”

The first of them is armed with a tranquilizer gun. Non-lethal, but bad enough. With a cant of her head, the agent is tossed away from her like a ragdoll. Impaled on the spindle of the balister.

Blue eyes close against memory faded with time, repression, regression, and distortion. “I don’t know how I killed them.”

Them?” Gates asks with a single rise of one brow. “How many agents were there?” The question flows like icewater through Odessa’s veins, raising hairs on the back of her neck and her arms. She wonders if those memories — those flashbacks — were her own recollection or someone sifting through her mind.

She remembers Gates coming up as a void on her empathy, considers the possibility that he has some sort of telepathic power that interfaces with hers in an unusual way. She’s seen enough abilities to know it’s possible. But she didn’t say agents. She thought agents.

“Get out of my fucking head, you son of a bitch.” Odessa shuts her eyes tighter and starts trying to clear her mind. Hé, sale fripon, prends garde à ta langue. Je suis le chat qui te la mangera…1 She focuses on the lyrics of a song she knows in French.

No more memory. No more information. Nothing for free.

As the panic starts to well up in her, she feels a familiar nudge against her mind. Like a hand wrapping around hers, telling her it’s okay.

Odessa’s eyes snap open, wide with alarm and unseeing. Their connection. She can’t let that be exploited. She sags forward, clutching the edge of the table with one hand as she severs her link to her ability — to that second consciousness on the edge of her own — and catches her breath, slowly tracking her gaze across the table and back to the agent there. There was nothing her ability could tell her about him anyway. This is no disadvantage, she reminds herself.

“Answer the question truthfully,” Gates says in a bargaining tone, “and I won’t have to push. Company-era tactics might have worked against unseasoned telepaths twenty, or even ten years ago, but the world has moved on.”

Gates breathes in slowly through his nose, angling his head to the side. “How many agents were there?”

The fear writes itself plainly onto Odessa’s face now. Dread and awe. “Does it really matter?” she asks. Even still, she’s trying to remember. She’d rather recall on her own than find him picking through her memory.

Odessa shuts her eyes and seems to relax for a moment as she lets it flow back to her. One finger taps on the surface of the table as if in time to a song only she can hear. The other hand comes up in a loosely closed fist. The rhythm will help her keep count of the bodies.

Thumb. “Bashed.” One.

Index. “Skewered.” Two.

Middle. “Banister.” Three.

Ring. Pinky. “Wrung. Out.” Four and five.

Back to thumb. “Engulfed.” Six.

Index once more. “Cracked.” Seven.

Middle. “Effaced.” Eight.

Her eyes open again and she stares back at that pitiless face. “I think there were eight of them, including our parents.”

Gates leans back in his chair. Everything about his posture becomes less predatory. Odessa hadn’t noticed how close he was until he suddenly wasn’t anymore. “All dead,” Gates says in confirmation, briefly closing his eyes before he locks on to Odessa again with his skewed stare.

“Uluru.” Gates says with a motion of one hand toward Odessa. “The… entity that came through the Looking Glass. In your own words, tell me everything you know.” He lays his hand flat on the table, subtly tilting his head to the side again.

Odessa gives a small nod. All dead. As far as she knows, all the Company’s horses and all the Company’s men couldn’t put that mess of broken eggs back together again.

The name Uluru draws a blank expression from Odessa until he clarifies. The entity. “Not a damn thing.” Shaking her head, she lowers both hands back to the table, folding them together. “I don’t know what she — they are? Your people picked me up after Uluru — if that’s who or what that was — came through. I know they’re supposed to be memetic? Maybe the first of u— The Expressives.”

The thing you’re most afraid of is real.

Only you can hear me, child.

Let me in.

Odessa swallows hard, watching Gates’ expression closely for what her ability couldn’t tell her even when she had been tapped into it.

Let me in.

“Why do you want to know all of this anyway? Why do you think I know anything?”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss that with you,” Gates admits with a rise of his brows. “So, memetic.” Is where he lands on that topic. “Where did you learn that the Entity was memetic, under what circumstances, and do you have any reason — other than faith in the source — to believe it’s true?”

“Not at liberty,” Odessa repeats flatly. She doesn’t argue, because she’s been a part of that rodeo herself more than twice. This is not the sympathetic character who’s going to divulge sensitive information to her in order to gain her trust. He doesn’t need her trust, does he?

Her eyes lift toward the ceiling and that light that had flickered earlier. “I honestly can’t remember. I’ve known my whole life that names contain power. I always assumed that’s why no one would ever properly name me.” Until the self-fulfilling prophecy of her mother knowing her name, and thus giving it to her. But no one at the Company had any way of knowing that, did they? Paradoxical self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I take it with a grain of salt, to be honest — the memetic thing. It probably came from Eve Mas.” There can’t be much harm in admitting to that much. People already expect the strange from Eve. Especially, perhaps, after what little she’s been able to glean about what happened in Detroit. “Maybe they’re buried in our collective unconscious for all I know.” Something in the back of her mind screams for that name, after all. Uluru.

Odessa cants her head to one side, wishing she had some way to siphon the cool affect from Gates to infuse herself. But she’s been faking calm her entire life, hasn’t she? Why does it seem so difficult to do now? “Will you answer some of my questions, to the best of your ability, to help me better understand those you have for me? So maybe I can provide more relevant answers to the best of mine?

“Unlikely,” Gates says with a small gesture of one hand, as if to indicate the absence of care he has as if it existed in non-existence to his right. “Let’s talk about Eve Mas, actually.” Gates leans forward and folds his hands in front of himself again.

“Two years ago, Eve Mas submitted a report to DHS Secretary Vincent Lazzaro regarding a…” Gates’ brows slowly rise, “drug-fueled trip through time, wherein she and a woman she called Dorothy, encountered not only a past incarnation of Adam Monroe, but a being she — at the time — called mother.” Gates’ right eyebrow rises to its fullest height of incredulity. “What knowledge do you have of this event?”

“She did what?

Maker, grant her strength, because Odessa is going to land her ass right back here after she gets out, because she’s going to murder her cousin.

Odessa works her jaw to one side, then the other, tapping her fingers restlessly. “Look. Eve gets high and she… spins these really fucked up tales.” She leans forward slightly with a furrow of her brow. “Have you met Eve Mas?” Like if he had, he wouldn’t be bothering with this line of questioning. It’s rhetorical on her part.

And he said unlikely, not no. So her gaze flickers to his jacket, then back to him. “What’s your watch tell you?”

“It tells me you’re running out of time.” Gates says flatly. “So Mas’ story is a fabrication, then? She didn’t encounter the Entity in the ancient past through a temporal anomaly?”

Odessa stills suddenly, the spiteful sarcasm that was sparking light in her eyes is snuffed out in an instant. Spine straight, shoulders dropping in tandem with her heart, which feels as though it falls into her stomach. “I don’t know. Eve’s story is… probably what she says it is. I can’t say for certain without having heard her account for myself.” For all that she’s been evasive during this interview, Odessa has been very careful not to tell any outright lies.

Odessa reaches up to the top of the pile, pulling herself out, gasping for air. Her eyes are wide as she watches Eve’s severed head roll. She looks at the samurai - she knows his symbol. “辞めて!” she screams. “辞めてください! 私 は 剣聖 の 友達 です!” Oh, God. “Adam!

“Was that the Entity?” Odessa shakes her head. “I don’t know. It’s not like this mother held out their hand like…”


Odessa pitches her voice down as she does when she slips into Japanese, rather than a mimicry of the person she’s hypothetically paraphrasing. “あたくし達 は ウルル です.” Then, back to her usual conversational timbre, she continues, “I’ve never knowingly encountered this being you call Uluru.”

The way Gates looks at Odessa is the way a number of Company therapists have looked at her in the past while writing in their little ledgers about her. That Gates lacks a notepad to be taking details down on it the only difference. He closes his eyes and nods after a prolonged silence, then sits back in his chair.

“Ms. Price.” Not Doctor. “During the Sunspot Crossing you experienced a genetic alteration that led to the loss of your spatio-temporal manipulation ability. SESA agents on scene say that you were in close proximity to the spatial anomaly created by Mateo Ruiz, and that it appeared to have an effect on you, pulling a…” he looks like he’s reading something, but he’s just looking straight at Odessa, “quote, haze of green light out of your body, end quote.”

Gates tilts his head to the side expectantly. “Is this accurate?”

Odessa’s jaw sets tight. Gates is a frustratingly difficult read. That he doesn’t offer commentary or follow-up in a way she expects just puts her even more on edge. That he calls her Miss and not Doctor makes her lips purse for the briefest of moments. She’d like to launch into an argument about how her credentials were good enough for the government just a couple of months ago, so show some goddamn respect, but.


The next question sees her eyes half-lidding, her gaze lowering to the table. All of that is a matter of record, so there’s little point in lying about it, is there? “Yes, Agent Gates, that aligns with my hazy memory of the experience.” She looks up at him again then. “The ability I once possessed,” one of them, anyway, “would produce a green light when in use. So… that’s what it looked like when it left me, I suppose.” Odessa swallows back a lump of uneasy bitterness. “I had been reaching out to it. Trying to stabilize it. Our abilities used to…”

Drawing in a breath, Odessa searches for the right word. Nothing fits the bill, but she settles for close enough with a shake of her head. “Sing together. Mateo’s and mine. We were the only ones who could calm each other.” It hardly matters anymore, does it? Now neither of them hear that harmony. Odessa feels alone. Unimportant. Disconnected.

“Where did Mateo Ruiz and Lynette Rowan go when they disappeared from the Sunspot Observatory?” Gates asks like he’d been waiting to load that question up next. The way he sits forward, slowly and casually, feels subconsciously aggressive even if nothing about the movement itself does. It’s like it trigger some primitive lizard-brain response in Odessa.

Flight is trying its damnedest to win out here. But there's nowhere to go. Odessa lets her right arm drop to her side, curling her fingers around the edge of her seat as though she needs to root herself there to keep from bolting.

"I don't know. They were just gone. I thought they were dead." It might have given her hope for her mother that they weren't. That they had managed to return. But something was different about that. About them.

“And then when they weren’t?” Gates pushes. “Surely you talked with them since. What did they tell you about their experience?”

Again, Odessa feels her blood run cold. “A few times. Mostly to ask about the kids.” She glances away, feels the pace of her breathing start to pick up. Closes her eyes briefly against a sense of panic trying to push its way through the cage of her ribs. “As far as I know, they experienced some kind of… temporal displacement? Probably as a result of my ability. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve inadvertently shot someone or something through time and space.”

She shrugs, knowing she’s already said too much in her nervous babbling. She forces herself to look across the table to Gates again, as if she might be able to discern just how much. “They were at Sunspot in January. Then it was February. Maybe only minutes passed for them.” Every time her thoughts begin to drift toward her brother and his wife, to her mother, she digs her nails into her palm until it hurts and draws her back to the moment.

Gates lifts his chin in a subtle recognition of something, then looks down at the table and dips his head after the downturn of his eyes. “And what about Adam Monroe?” Gates suddenly asks, looking up to Odessa.

“You two were very familiar with each other during your time in the Company,” Gates says in a vaguely threatening manner. “Did you have any contact with him leading up to the events in Detroit?”

Odessa’s cheeks flush pink at the use of the word familiar. She angles a hard stare away from Gates, to the wall visible over his right shoulder. Again, she curls her fingers in tight until she feels the bite against her palm. “No,” is a simple answer. An honest enough one. “No, Adam cut me loose years ago.”

Adam’s eyes narrow for a moment, and then Odessa feels something churn inside of him that is even more terrible than fear.


“I was here anyway.” Well, not here, but locked up at any rate. “Why do you think he’d try to contact me? I did nothing but cause him pain.” That isn’t true. Or it’s an oversimplification of the truth. Odessa believes Adam gave as good as he got, regardless.

“It isn’t my job to understand his motives.” Gates says with an incline of his chin up. His eyes narrow, scrutiny given to Odessa that feels piercing, but the memory called up isn’t one that gives him the answers he was hoping for. He reclines in his chair, folding his hands in his lap.

“If you had to tell me anything about the Entity, what would you tell me that you have not already?” Gates asks plainly.

For a moment, Odessa’s stomach churns and she feels like she might be sick. When Gates sits back again, she feels as though she has a chance to catch her breath, uncertain of why she feels breathless at all. The mental exertion of trying to keep him from intruding on her thoughts, she supposes. Even if she can’t specifically tell when he’s doing it, how, or what he’s managing to sift through.

Her stare softens at the next question. What does she even know? So very little, by design.

“But, the whole fate and destiny thing?” Don clicks his tongue. “Not a big fan of that. I like to imagine that we’re all guided by a higher power. Someone bigger than all of us, who… eventually… is going to come back and clean up the mess we’ve made of their world.” She watches Don continue to twirl his fork as he talks. “You asked what I want? Well, you've met my acolyte, Else.”

“I know more about what she does to people than anything about her specifically,” she admits.

Mention of Else’s name causes color to bleach out of Carina’s face, Edward’s jaw to set, Wood’s brows to furrow, and her to dare to hope that her friend is alright.

“She believes the world is sick,” Odessa murmurs, gaze a thousand miles away as terrible memory threatens to consume her. The pain in her palm can’t pull her out of the tailspin this time.

“I suppose the easiest way to explain what I need is to lean back on my Catholic upbringing,” Don says with a flick of the fork against his knuckles, “because I need the three of you,” he motions to Magnes, Elisabeth, and Mateo, “to help bring about the second coming. Because, like I've told my followers here… this world isn't going to fix itself. But there's someone who can.”

Memory that isn’t even hers.

Don slowly overturns the fork in his hand, and she suddenly feels far too close to him near the head of the table. From the far end of the table, she’s glad to have so much distance between herself and him. “The first of our kind. An entity so powerful, this flood?” He waves one hand, flippantly, “gone. Our dead loved ones? Back. I've seen the face of god, my friends. She's real.”

But it is her own memory, isn’t it?

But Don’s tone doesn't match his upbeat demeanor. “But you're probably thinking I'm some sort of religious lunatic. And that's fair. That's fair.” Tapping the fork against his knuckles again, Don glances to West, then back down the table. “What'd you call all this? Baby’s first power trip?” Dread coils in her stomach. She knows him too well. Fingers twitch restlessly at her sides. He’s an unknown quotient.

Witnessed at the same moment from two different angles.

Don starts to speak like she's expected him to – though he seems to have ramped it up since her daring escape – and she starts to reach out under the table for Woods' hand. She tugs at it gently, like she wants to urge him to slide under the table with her, but they both sit there, still and listening at the horror of it.

Tension visibly winds its way through Odessa’s body as she continues. “She has more power than anyone can possibly imagine.”

“Don, please.” Edward says with a quaver to his voice. She slinks down in her seat slowly, ready to slip beneath the surface. The anticipation is terrible. She grasps that hand tighter, edges to the side of her chair toward him.

The curl of her fingers against her hand is gentle now. The trace memory of holding the hand of a loved one, though she’s smearing blood over her palm.

“You were right about one thing,” Don says, snapping the plastic fork in half. “I do know how to rattle you.”

A tear slides down her cheek.

As soon as he says that, gunfire erupts inside the mess hall. She disappears beneath the table, arms up and shielding her head and listening for the deafening sound to stop. Or for a bullet to find its way into her and cause everything to stop.

“Her followers are fanatics.”

She’s throwing her weight on top of James Woods, sending him toppling back in his chair, trying to shield him from the hail of bullets. There’s warmth against her head, like something’s spilled into her hair in the commotion.

“They’ll ruin lives. Do terrible things in her name.”

Crawling from beneath the table, she makes her way to Walter Trafford’s prone form, grabbing napkins from the abandoned dinner spread and shoving them against the wound in his shoulder. The walls are streaked with rust and now also with blood.

“Because they believe it can all be undone by their god. All the lives stolen. The worlds destroyed.”

“Are you okay?” she whispers, lifting her eyes to the face of the man with an unruly head of blonde curls. He’s been struck in the square in the center of the forehead. There’s blood in her hair, she realizes now. Then she starts screaming. "Jimmy!! Jimmy, Jimmy, please wake up." Small hands paw at the man's slack and bloodied face, begging for some sign of life. She'd read crazy stories about people surviving head wounds. It's not impossible.

Odessa lifts her eyes back to Gates finally. “Her power is all consuming, and they believe that she’s going to save us.” Brows slant over her eyes, fearful, sad, and awed all at once. “She’s power made manifest. Unimaginable, un-fucking-fathomable power.”

Everything is completely motionless. Even the clock on the wall has stopped its incessant ticking. Panic settles in and she begins to gasp in quick lungfuls of air.

Now, she’s disgusted. At the Donald Kenner of the Flooded world. At herself. “And if you let her, she will worm her way into your mind — into your goddamn soul — and she will whisper to you in that language of power, and you will be consumed by it.”

There's a sensation that begins to seep into her body. It starts in the bones of her feet and crawls upward so slowly. Excruciatingly. There's a dull ache – worse than the fresh wounds in her side from being shoved through her coffee table the evening before – and an agonizing promise whispered through her with no voice. But still, she hears it. Feels it. Feels this horror creeping up, climbing the cage of her ribs like icy fingers wrapped around the rungs of a ladder. Finally, it grips her by the throat and positively thrums in her skull.

Blue eyes close tightly. How much of this is unconscious on her part? Does she fall into memory by its own power, or is it him forcing her to focus while he digs? It doesn’t matter if she can’t tell the difference. The end result is the same.

Odessa. It knows her name. Calls to her, though she knows she doesn't hear it spoken, even in her mind. It's something innate. Hooks into the very core of her being and grafts itself to her skeleton. Come, girl. Let me show you what you are. Her eyes shut tight as she breathes through the unnerving discomfort.

A shuddering exhale accompanies a tightness in her chest. Ecstasy and agony in equal measures. “My whole life,” Odessa grinds out through the barred cage of her clenched teeth, “she whispered to me that I was worthy.” There’s sorrow that follows in the wake of that admission, her lips parted around another exhalation of soundless grief.

She screams, involuntarily. “No… No! No!” 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. The power is torn away from her very bones with agonizing slowness. Green light leaps like flames out of her eyes and mouth, explodes like so much pyrotechnic. She screams and understands the fear that Darren must have felt, because she cannot stop what’s happening. Her hand slips free from Mateo’s shoulder. The portal is stabilizing. But the price — the price — comes so fast. The last bit of green light and fire explodes out of her eyes and mouth and is sucked into the event horizon of El Umbral 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. She realizes the horrific truth. And then…

“After Sunspot, she was gone.

Then her mother's arms around her. The pain is gone. She’s been stripped of her ability, but is improbably whole.

Odessa leans forward, terrified and weighed down by the gravity of what she does know about the Entity. “She doesn’t care about anyone. Only the power. She’s going to kill us all.”

Finally, Gates relaxes. But in contrast simply says, “You’re probably right.”

It was the last thing Gates said to her. The first and only time she saw the agent. By the time Odessa Price was returned to her cell, she was left with the bone-deep sense of familiarity of the whole experience. No SESA agent has ever made her feel that way before, no DHS agent has been able to rattle her, no federal paper-pusher has ever gotten under her skin.

Only one group has, one that wore the skin of government like a suit.

Only the Company.

But that can’t be?

Can it?

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