Deus Ex Machina



Scene Title Deus Ex Machina
Synopsis Apophenia, or revelation?
Date January 4, 2020

Raytech Branch Office: Executive Storage Room

One might wonder why a 'storage room' has keycard security that only the Board of Directors has access to, with no cameras inside that connect to the security system. One would be right to wonder such a thing, because what's stored in this room certainly falls on the side of the unusual.

The center of the large storage room is framed by four plastic latticeworks that stretch from floor to ceiling - with openings at the four corners to allow entrance between. Strings are tied off to the lattice in a variety of colors, attaching here and there amongst each other, twisting together or stretching off to another part of the latticework. Four pairs of goggles hang from the latticework, which when worn reveal AR tags and images attached to various strings, which can be viewed and manipulated.

The grey walls are hung with art prints of unusual paintings, each carefully labelled with dates and artist names like Brill, Mendez, Redhouse and Mas, with additional notes available through the AR goggles of theories about what they predicted and whether they came to pass or were averted - or are unknown. There's an entertainment system including a record player set in another part of the room, with a collection of Else Kjelstrom's music carefully and lovingly archived with it. Elsewhere, file cabinets line the walls loaded with hard-copy records and notes that have never been put into digital form.

A simple table and two chairs are the only furniture in the room.


A pair of scissors snip, and a string hits the ground.

“No, no… no, none of this matters.”

The metal rasp of blade against blade sounds again and again, fingers grasping and pulling in their wake until the plastic latticeworks are free of string completely, the probability map that had been suspended in the middle of the room nothing more than coloured remnants upon the floor.

Richard stands in the midst of this ruin, jaw set, and then steps over towards the edge where he’s set a box of fresh string and yarn. He brings both hands up, drawing the AR goggles down over his face, and gives a single command to the self-contained system..

“Access: Red King. Begin new game. Kriegspiel.”

He reaches down into the box of string, and begins.

The Flood.

A single long blue string stretches from one side to the other.

“Timeline designate ‘Flood’; the closest we have to an original and unaltered timeline,” he speaks, the system obediently labelling the string in augmented reality. “Major deviation was when the Munin explosive in Antarctica detonated, creating worldwide flooding.”

The War.

A long red string branches off from the blue, stretching across the latticeworks.

“Timeline designate ‘War’; the timeline we are currently inhabiting. Major deviation was when the Richard Cardinal of the Wasteland timeline set events into motion that led to a major uprising against the Humanis-controlled government.”

A fingertip touches the point where it branches off.

“June eighteenth, nineteen-eighty-two,” he marks, “Initial Looking Glass activation. Richard Cardinal is brought through the Glass as a baby. Edward Ray receives his ability in this event. The absence of Richard from the Flood timeline ensures that the Munin explosive in Antarctica goes off in that timeline but not this one, splitting off War timeline.”

He hesitates, then adds, “Footnote. Absence of a Richard Cardinal from this timeline creates uncertainty; this timeline may have splintered earlier due to unknown reasons.”

The Virus.

A green string branches off from the War timeline and stretches outwards.

“Timeline designate ‘Virus’. Major deviation was when the Vanguard successfully released the Shanti-Rage virus, leading to a worldwide pandemic that reduced world population by over ninety percent.”

The branch moment is regarded with a frown. He wasn’t there for this one. “January twenty-eighth, two-thousand and nine. A Phoenix operation… guided by the advice of Edward Ray stops the Vanguard’s plan to release the Shanti-Rage virus.”

He stares at it for a moment, thinking in silence, then reaches for the next. Things start to occur more rapidly the further they get in the timelines.


A loop, a string leading from one to another.

“April seventh, two thousand and nineteen,” he notes carefully, “In the ‘Bright’ timeline there is a breakout at Moab Federal Penitentiary, led by Edward Ray. With him is April Silver, Eric Doyle, Tyler Case - amnesiac at the time, Nathan Petrelli, Niles Wight, Allan Rickham, and Taylor Reed. His plan is to create a mass empowerment of SLC-negatives to SLC-positives by overloading Tyler’s ability in an enhancement loop, and thus change the future.”

“Through unknown means - I suspect they captured Hiro Nakamura and somehow forced him to assist - they travel back to this day in two thousand and nine in the ‘War’ timeline.”

Things get complicated for this next part. Strings tangle and stretch in all directions. But only some of them matter for what he’s working out.

The Bright Future

A knot that leads to another long string, this one white.

“Timeline designate ‘Bright’. Major deviation was due to Arthur Petrelli effectively seizing control of the world through use of the Formula and more underhanded means. Dystopia disguised as utopia.”

The knot is considered, memories flashing through his brain that brought aches of pain even now.

“Checkmate,” he murmurs, “July twenty-third, two-thousand and nine. With two Edward Rays manipulating events, Richard Cardinal kills Arthur under their guidance. Bright Edward then attempts to create the power feedback loop between two Tylers that would empower two hundred and forty-five thousand new Evolved. This is stopped by War Edward showing up with Elisabeth Case, causing Tyler to break the loop.”

A pause, “Bright Edward is killed on site. War Edward is struck by the power feedback loop - with unknown results - and thought dead. Later it is discovered that he had survived and was taken by the Institute.”

The Wasteland

A grey string, stretched from the red.

“Timeline designate ‘Wasteland’. Major deviation was Humanis control of the government, leading to America degeneration into a dystopia of prison camps and autonomous death machines.”


The split is marked next.

“November eleventh, two-thousand and eleven.” He draws in a slow breath, steadying himself. That day still has memories that sting like fresh wounds.

“The timeline deviation is ensured when a strike on the Ark, an Institute facility, ends in dozens of children being gunned down on live television by the government,” he says, keeping his voice carefully even, “At the same time, a strike on the Natazhat compound ends in an attempt by the Richard Cardinal of the Wasteland timeline to send a message back through time with a Mallet device. When this message is diverted to the Flood, at the moment of death he activates a machine. I thought at the time that it was a secondary Mallett device, but after speaking with Schwenkman… I suspect it was a rudimentary Looking Glass. It utilized the singularity that Magnes was generating to pull him and Elisabeth into another timeline, and hurled objects into all known timelines, altering some of them significantly.”

There’s more - the wasteland children, other things - but it doesn’t matter. Not to what he’s trying to puzzle out.

“He said at the end… welcome to the new beginning. I thought then that he was expecting to win. I’ve started to suspect the opposite,” he confesses.

The Garden of Forking Paths.

A layer of strings above the previous layer, discernably separated save from the lines stretching from Ouroborous upward.

“Liz and Magnes went through all previously identified timelines, albeit the ones that were altered by Wasteland Cardinal’s machine,” he recites for the system to label, “In Virus, Edward Ray had kept a large group of survivors safe, and they gathered many of them to bring to the next timeline with them, while lessening the threat of Kazimir and his people. In Bright, they ended the threat of Arthur Petrelli and Samson Gray, and ensured that the Moab breakout resulted in positive things rather than negative.”

Fingers move from string to string, his brow knitting as he remembers the things Liz and the other travellers have told him, bits and fragments of information integrating into the web. “In Wasteland, they ended the threat of Director Mayes and left hope that America might know freedom again. In Flood, they incited a contingent to fight the Vanguard while others of them found the Ark… many people were brought out of there into the War timeline for a final escape.”

He frowns, “Every timeline they visited, they changed for the positive, even if there were losses in the long run.”

His heart starting to beat faster. He's getting closer to something. He can feel it.

Closing the Loop

Strings run back down to the red one, then, knotting back into it.

“One of the refugees was Lisa Ray, Edward’s daughter from the ‘Flood’ timeline. Unlike her powerless father, she has the same ability of probability prediction. She sent Zachery Miller to Raytech…” A finger traces a line, “…and made herself known to Richard Ray, so that he would understand there was a reason. This led to the revelation that Miller is working for Adam Monroe on some sort of targeted bioweapon…”

A step back, and he considers the design. Frowns at a thought. Reaches in to unknot a string and reknot it elsewhere. “Wait. Cyrus, one of the Guardians, was found trying to go after Zhao, one of Monroe’s lieutenants. Assuming that he was acting on orders from his organization, under April's orders…”

Silence as he stares at the web that he’s created, as the edges of a grand design begin to make themselves clear. Dark eyes beneath the goggles widening as the truth of how the past decade had gone unfolding in five dimensions before his eyes.

He draws in a slow breath, then exhales it just as slowly. “An iteration of Edward Ray was present at, or was involved in manipulating events towards, all four timeline deviations that were created. Presumably he also was involved in manipulating Wasteland Richard Cardinal to his actions, based on the message The Way Back Is Closed, which led to further alterations of those timelines that would otherwise have been impossible.”

“The travellers then further altered every timeline for the better,” he concludes, “As improbable as it may seem, I cannot deny that this feels like it was all planned.”

His gaze drifts to the strings, “Meanwhile, Lisa Ray is pointing me at Adam Monroe’s people at the same time that April Silver, brought to this timeline by Edward, is also targeting Adam Monroe’s people."

"All of this, start to finish, would not be possible without coordination of all iterations of Edward - and Lisa - with this power. As no known method of communication between them can be identified, the top suspect is the Dragon, the only known entity extant outside of time.”

“Conclusion: We are being manipulated.”

One hand reaches up, trailing along the strings, “…but to what end? If the Dragon truly wanted to unite all the timelines, why would its plan involve splintering them further, and then improving them? Why did it create a paradise in Antarctica?”

“We only have Monroe’s word to go by on many things regarding it… and it clearly has a direct rivalry with him. The Company may have saw it as a threat because it considered them Adam’s allies and pawns, and so saw it as a threat,” he leans his head back, closing his eyes as he tries to digest everything,“Given this new information… we need to reconsider everything. The gameboard is not what we thought it was, and we are not the players.”

“In the end the question I need to answer for myself is - do I still believe in Edward Ray?”

beep beep beep

He swears, pulling off the goggles and glancing down at his watch as it brays its alarm. “Shit, I’ve got that meeting,” he mutters, hanging the goggles and gloves up where they rest and turning, “I’ll have to get the family together, we can all discuss this later and figure out what to do.”

The door pushed open, he closes it behind himself securely, locking it with his personal code before heading out.

Surely his meeting with Rue won't take long.

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