Different Circles


ff_asi_icon.gif castle4_icon.gif chess7_icon.gif ff_des2_icon.gif elliot2_icon.gif eve6_icon.gif hf_glory_icon.gif nathalie4_icon.gif ff_nova_icon.gif richard5_icon.gif robyn7_icon.gif ff_robyn2_icon.gif ff_silas2_icon.gif wf_squeaks_icon4.gif

Scene Title Different Circles
Synopsis Different people from many times converge in a muddy field to discuss a tangled web of events.
Date July 6, 2021

A light rain fell for most of the night, leaving the small, grassy field across from the power transfer station sodden come dawn. A thick fog has rolled in off the water to the northeast, blanketing the ruins of Toledo and adding a sense of enclosure to the dewy, humid atmosphere. Footprints in the mud slowly filling with water show the passage of nearly a dozen people that made their way out here just before sunrise, when the sky is a haze of pale blue-gray and shadows are still deep.

There are no walls, no cover to hide behind, no space for an eavesdropper to negotiate into. The presence of Squeaks is part of the reason why this meeting is happening the way it is. Shoulders hunched forward and eyes upturned at the adults around her, she has become the unexpected participant in a conversation planned to span a constellation of topics.

Ruins of Toledo

July 6th
5:57 am

Glory looks at Squeaks with furrowed brows and downturned lips, eyes narrowed and visible uncertainty in her expression. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other, crosses her arms over her chest, and overall struggles to take her eyes off the young redhead. Eventually she just fixes her eyes down at her feet, better that way than being so distracted.

Then, slowly, she pulls out a piece of jerky from her backpack and just starts chewing on it. Glancing from one face to the other, waiting for whatever this is to begin.

Robyn Quinn looks tired. It probably has something to do with her being up well after midnight the night before working in preparation for this meeting. Despite that, it's bigger than she had expected, suddenly the sets of papers she has in hand seem inadequate for everyone present. Sucking in a deep breath, she takes a sip of water from a crappy but safe thermos she has picked up in Delphi, rings under her eyes as starts to move across the group.

"No chairs?" she says jokingly, but also wearily, taking a sip of her water. She adjusts her satchel on her shoulder, pulling out sets of papers to hand out as first to each of the travelers, then to Glory, then to Destiny and Zee, and… that's all she has. "I cannibalised one of my notebooks to make some materials for everyone," she offers blearily. "Y'all might have to share." She looks up to Richard. "There's a new one in there, by the by."

Zee looks tired as well, having been up helping her ersatz sister with her copying work. She certainly looks more perky than Quinn does, at least, rocking back and forth on her heels as she takes papers that are handed to her. "What're you drinking?"

"I'm pretending it's coffee," Quinn offers back with a sigh, shaking her head.

"How's that working out?" Zee's smile is mischievous, and when Quinn doesn't respond, she starts her way over towards Richard. "Hey, thanks for letting me come. I would've understood if you all said no, but…" She looks down at the collected papers in hand. "I mean, we've already been over these, so why not?"

Asi lingers on the edge of the group, feeling as though she's certainly not supposed to be here. But whatever's being discussed is to deal with the truth she's been made aware of, the honest spark behind this trip, and she was nodded this way— and thus, woke Silas up on her way quietly out Frizzle's front door, relying on his ability to get them off the bus without rousing anyone else.

The sheet she's handed is one she immediately passes off to Silas instead, lingering by him with bleary eyes that glance over what they're being shown regardless. She just knows it's better off in his hands than hers.

Silas stands silently beside Asi, stone-faced. The bags under his eyes betray how tired he is, but whatever's got this crew up so early probably isn't about breakfast orders — it's almost entirely Travelers and former Travelers (Squeaks and, technically, himself filling out that category).

The outliers are the interesting part. Asi makes sense, since she knows what's up, Zee isn't that surprising and nor is Nova… but why Glory? Silas's brow furrows a bit as he spots her amongst the assembly… but he doesn't ask any questions. Not yet.

He nods to Robyn as she passes by, accepting the papers as Asi hands them off to him, and waits.

“If everyone has arrived— “ Castle says with the perfect Received Pronouciation British they fall into when they’re going full Agent and trying to take the job seriously, “Does anyone mind if I secure the location?” This question is honestly directed at two people, specifically— Robyn, who seems in charge of this particular meeting— and Elliot, who has the most to lose by closing it off. They were all too tired to have a repeat of the day before, and— well—

They couldn’t help but notice the inclusion of Squeaks, specifically.

Taking one of the offered pages, they move over to be near Eve and Chess, potentially to share with them both.

Nathalie LeRoux is another odd addition to the meeting and she's quite aware of it. She hangs back, rather than inserting herself into the heart of this meeting. She doesn't even reach for the papers being shared around, but she's sure she can pick up the gist of the conversation all the same. She's spoken to some of the people here since her recovery, but there are others that she hasn't even had the chance to see yet, let alone talk to. But catching up will have to wait for another moment. Since this all seems quite serious.

Freshly healed, some color has come back into Chess’ cheeks and she no longer looks like she’s about to pass out from pain. She stands with her arms crossed, a hood up in an attempt to keep her hair mostly dry – but the mist is that sort that permeates everything. Nothing’s dry, but at least her clothes are clean and no longer stained with blood.

When Castle moves closer to her, she glances at the paper curiously. “Couldn’t find a Kinko’s?” is a quick and outdated quip, given that no one can find a Kinko’s these days, but it’s an opportunity to use a little of that nervous energy she feels. Her brows draw together as she skims the page she can see, trying to make sense of the lyrics.

Nova’s got a thermos of something steaming, likely tea made on the campfire, as she moves in to stand beside Nathalie as one of the ‘special guests’ that have been added to the meeting’s invitation list. She pours a little of the tea into the small cup that also serves as a lid, and offers it to Nat. “A pick-me-up,” she says quietly. “Or an oppepper.”

Elliot nods to Castle, he's as prepared as he's going to be. The last time the castle went up, Elliot was caught by surprise in a stressful situation with a broken arm. It had been torture, feeling his link to Wright stomped shut, the first time in a decade that they had been separated. Their link survived the event, the first evidence that it would survive a trip to an alternate timeline. The links to his Wolfhound team mates remained intact within the structure, so likely those he currently maintains will as well.

The only talk hazard, he imagines, will be the stress of the event, which he's prepared for. The first step is obvious: drugs. The second is mindfulness, and agreement that neither he nor Wright will try to stream the other until the event is over. Mostly it's the drugs; his breathing is steady. It will probably be fine.

"Just the tip, it sticks and shifts up around the river."

Eve mutters to herself as she sits in the dew, scribbling in a sketchbook that becomes damp with every passing second in the fog. She hasn't slept, but her black dress is new and unstained, blood red eyes stay fixated on the pages before her, but as Robyn passes by and hands papers off, Eve stops her scribbling and looks up as she takes them. Eyebrows raise as Castle also joins and she placess a hand on their knee to squeeze, leaning against Chess' leg at the same time. The passing of the paper was enough to break the spell of Eve's trance and reground her in this moment.

A long look goes to Nathalie and she smiles sadly and nods her head. They are ready.

Squeaks’ eyes shine with curiosity, and also the vaguest hint of defiance whenever she catches someone looking at her. It’s hard to not feel a little defensive, even though she’s the uninvited guest. But she has her reasons for trying to learn what is going on. Not that believing she’s justified necessarily matters to anyone except her, and that’s why she’s keeping herself small and contained, quiet but very observant. She’s the smallest mouse in the grass.

Her head comes up when Robyn and her papers come close, but then she shrugs when she’s passed by without being offered anything. She can share, maybe, and she makes a quick look around before slinking toward Elliot. Everyone gets an inquisitive side eye in passing, and only two times does she almost stop to ask a question. The first is aimed at Castle, interest piqued about them securing the location. Then Eve and her drawings.

But while the urge is very plain, Squeaks keeps her mouth closed.

“Exactly, you already know about these, so…” Richard flashes a wry smile to Zee, one that fades swiftly as he looks over the gathering; so many people, so much to go over and so many subjects to dodge. He sighs, a hand coming up to try and finger-comb his hair back into place, which is of arguable value it turns out.

“So, for those who didn’t know, Else was– is?” He squints at Robyn, then shakes his head, “A precognitive, she did her prophecies in song form. We’ve got a pile of them that may apply to what’s ahead of us, so we need to go over them. There’s also some– other things to go over, and for all I know some of you might have some shit to bring up too. Seemed as good a time as any to make sure mission’s oriented properly. And yeah, Castle, go for it.”

Destiny is dressed in her captain’s hat — wide brim, complete with feather — and a long wool coat that looks like she could have stolen it from Nick Ruskin, save for the fact that this one actually fits her small frame. She is perhaps infuriatingly bright-eyed and alert in the face of Robyn’s exhaustion, but isn’t exactly brimming with enthusiasm or good cheer, simply a determination to be present and to help if and where she can.

The short blonde moves to Squeaks’ other side once she’s received her stack of notes. They’re both the small mice in the grass here, so poring over them together isn’t going to require one of them to slouch. Some of the words on the pages she’s heard before, read before. Others not.

Is,” Des confirms, straightening her spine, her shoulders back and chin up. She glances briefly to Asi and Silas. “I saw her using her gift while we were sailing to Japan.” Now she scans the rest of the group. “And I saw her do it again the night before last.”

Quinn offers a look over towards Richard, and then to Destiny, offering them both nods. "Is," she confirms. She looks carefully around the gathered group, lingering only on Asi and Silas for a moment each. "I'm assuming everyone here knows the truth of where we all come from, so… that's something I don't have to dance around. That's nice."

Taking a deep breath, she looks over to Castle, offering a small smile. "Is," she repeats. "Which is part of why this is a very selective meeting, because I also witnessed Else having a precognitive episode last night after our meeting." She makes a point of not looking towards Glory at that note. "And she has been telling people she no longer possess her ability, despite… clearly knowing otherwise."

There's a sadness in her voice at that, looking down at the ground with a frown. "But I've been in my line of work long enough to know what I saw. I've even brought the new song she was singing with me. It's imperative she not know about the contents of this meeting, as loathe as I am to keep things from her."

Clearing her throat, she offers a strained smile. "Anyway, this is why I've invited Destiny, as you may have gathered," she notes as she reaches into the satchel slung over her shoulder and produces Else's original journal. "Richard and I have already been over these songs once ourselves, before we left the Pelago. Zee was there for this as well, hence…" She motions over to her doppleganger, who waves to the gathered group with a beaming smile.

"I'm guessing the rest of you are here because you have your own things to discuss, but congratulations, you're helping now." A tired smirk at that, and she holds up the notebook. "I spent last night making hand copies of the relevant songs in here. I'm sorry I don't have enough, I wasn't expecting this many people." Shoulders slouch, and she looks ahead thoughtfully.

"The goal of this meeting is to look over these songs and see what we can discern as a group, particularly when combined with the notions of our own seer," she says with a motion towards Eve, "and other important information," she continues with a motion to Destiny and to Glory, though she doesn't elaborate on why Glory is here like she did the others.

That's her secret to tell.

"If anyone has anything they'd like to discuss before we dive in, though, I'd rather do that first."

“That’s quite a few more people with knowledge of what’s going on than there should be,” Castle murmurs quietly, but, well, there is no helping what had already happened. If they knew, they knew, and they might as well be part of those who were working to stop it—

Even if most of their plans did not involve actually helping this world at all. Rather than add anything else to the conversation beyond that note, though, they close their eyes for a moment, and after a few seconds everyone feels a slight— breeze? A familiar woosh for those who have felt the castle rise over them before. And the outside world goes silent and still.

Some feel it more deeply than others, the sounds and sensations of the outside world — worlds — being cut off, the flow of time shifting.

“I'm here because I'm hot and confident and sometimes a place just needs that vibe.” Glory says flatly, arms crossed.

Elliot is used to restricting network traffic by closing the doors between minds. It's the only way anybody can get privacy while still remaining linked to the network. Despite his preparation there's still something alarming about his link to Wright, normally impossible for even him to close, being crimped shut by the presence of the castle. He sucks in a breath, snaps his fingers once, twice, three times as he winces at the temporary loss of his partner. But blessedly, unlike the occurrence at Eve's misbegotten rave, he doesn't perceive the Aquifer even for a moment.

He immediately tests his links to Squeaks and Asi to assure himself he's not alone, then remembers to breathe. He isn't, and when the castle goes down Wright will return and everything will be as it should. He looks uncomfortable, but nods again to agent Castle to let them know he's fine. He relaxes the fist that's crumpling the documents Robyn prepared, and carefully smooths them back out.

Eve's mouth drops open into a mad grin at the news of Else having retained her foresight, a sister seer always kept her best cards close to the vest. Though something nags at her, words from The Entity echo throughout her mind. No, couldn't be that. "Right you are, dearie!" As Glory offers her bit and the castle is raised, Eve feels a twitch in her side and she tilts her head at the odd sensation she was becoming better acquainted with. Briefly marveling at Castle and the display of their gift. It's all that Mad Eve dreamed of.

"It's been a while since we've gotten the chance to put our noggins together like this." Crimson eyes flick to the faces around her. "I need to come squeaky clean about the nature of the echoes we have been encountering the last decade, before then even… All is not well in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Seer Socks." She looks down at the sketchbook before closing it softly and rubbing a pale finger along its spine. "Every dream that I've received before my first real date with the Reaper, every prophecy uttered from Else's lips, every precise prediction from the brain of Edward Ray… was a direct message from our one ancestor the Entity, whose true name we might now know."

She picks at her nails thinking back to that evening, "The… second to last time I kicked the bucket, she came to see me and told me. In a space that was surrounded by stars, everything was bleeding together, breaking down to its core energy and returning to where it originally came from. This is the design. Her Great Plan. She sent us visions and songs and predictions that would bring us together, have us working on common goals. All while having us destabilize the balance of the worlds, adding fractures and cracks along the veil."

She rips a page from the sketchbook and lifts it, a large black sphere hovering over farmland and forests. "More of these, more anomalies, more fractures."

The notion that they have been helping The Entity all along is a tough pill to swallow but one Eve has been hard at work on. "That isn't to say the knowledge to be gained won't be useful, dearies. But it's important to know the source and intentions."

A disclaimer if you will.

Squeaks looks at Destiny, surprised and uncertain first then relaxing after a turn when the papers are turned so she can see too. Her posture straightens, her eyes come up with her open polite nosiness when Robyn starts speaking. Her eyes flick to Glory and then Eve, and she's just about to settle on papers again when the castle thing happens. That instant calls her like a whistle, her head comes up, eyes wide with puzzled excitement.

Wonderment rolls off her as she tilts her head to see everything all at once. Questions in the form of whispers start to form until the sharp edge of Elliot's anxiety cuts against her amazement. Squeaks grabs hold of his sleeve, giving him a side eye but nothing more. Maybe her fascination with the experience will help buffer Elliot's bad feelings.

Not dwelling on that, Squeaks leans over to peek some more at the pages in Destiny's hands. Her eyes lift to look at Eve when the woman starts talking, but she only half listens. That Eve is just like the one from the bad place.

When Castle puts their power into effect, Destiny gasps quietly. Shoulders hunch as she cringes, a hand pressing to her chest, mouth opening in silent shock before teeth clench in a grimace. She draws in a deep breath, quick to lift a hand and wave off concern with a shake of her head. By the second breath, she’s more at ease again, her hand held out in front of her for a moment, fingers moving slowly, like she can feel something in the air.

But her focus point shifts from that ephemeral testing to the shape of her cousin beyond. Des brings herself back to the explanation in progress, arm lowering back to her side. Concern shows plainly on her face at the assertions being made.

Silas's gaze flickers to Glory when she speaks, and one corner of his mouth curls into an amused smirk as he lets out a single snicker; her words are, of course, bullshit, but they're delivered with panache. Silas can respect that. Elliot's snapping, though, draws a sharp look, accompanied by a frown; his gaze lingers on the other man for a moment, studying him.

When Eve steps up, Silas's gaze turns to her. What she has to say sees his frown deepen, a memory floating to the forefront of his mind. He lets out a single grim chuckle. "'Speak, Herald,'" he says dryly. "As we were called to witness."

Then, realizing it's a pretty thin cross-section that's going to get that reference, he grimaces and elaborates. "You remember New Years' Eve, Eve? Before we went out on that damnable boat trip?" He shrugs, but his expression seems suddenly a bit haunted. "Seems possibly relevant to what you're talking about. I know Elisabeth and I had a talk about timelines converging after that…"

Which is, in a way, exactly what's happening. "Many worlds, one sky. One sun," he murmurs. The temptation to go for his flask is strong, but that's probably the last thing he needs if he's gonna be driving again today.

Thanks to the link between them through Elliot, both he and Squeaks can feel Asi's own discomfort rising and worsening as things rise. A seagreen flicker of her ability manifests in her eyes for just a moment, and she sidles a step closer to Silas as she regards the bubble that rises around them.

This shit will wake you up much better than coffee.

"Every seer?" Asi asks in sharp defensiveness. "Even our Eve?" The question is hardly out before she demands to know, "How far does it go? Just seers? Who else?"

"—Fractures? Between worlds?" Each thought seems to be spoken aloud as they come to her, followed by a more angry, "Wait, you knew coming here would make things worse, and you did it anyway?" Her eyes are fixed on Eve in betrayal, but she doesn't move from her spot. The anger flares bright under her skin and in her eyes, though. "信じられねい."

When Eve speaks, Chess stops trying to read the lyrics or make sense of them, and her brows draw together as she tries to make sense of Eve’s words, instead.

“Always a pawn,” she murmurs, turning to walk a few steps away in frustration but she stops before she hits the edge of the castle. Her arms unfold so she can find the stone she keeps in her leather jacket’s pocket, tucking it into her palm to worry at, feeling it warm and cool as she charges it with energy.

虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ず1.” Chess says softly for Asi’s ears as she comes back. “We had to. Or thought we did.” Glory’s information last night changes a few of her feelings on that account.

Nova, a bright beacon in her yellow fisherman’s coat, glances at the sheets of lyrics, then back to Eve, then over to Robyn. “So you think Else’s visions are from the Entity – but also that she’s aware of it? If she’s acting cagey?”

“Nnh.” Richard’s fingers push up his shades as he rubs against the bridge of his nose, eyes closing behind it, “I’m pretty sure that’s… one hundred percent untrue, actually, or else every use of our abilities against it would have been turned on us in the past. This is a level of paranoia that logically leads to us sitting down and waiting to die, so maybe we can back up a step here?”

“Also probably bullshit.” Glory speaks up, glancing at Eve. “Because I’m pretty sure it's dead where I’m from, and people still get visions of shit. Don't know how, don't know why, but I'm pretty sure it's dead. And I know if I was an insane psychic parasite from another dimension I'd sure want to make people not trust the one thing that levels the playing field.” She glances down at her feet, mumbling. “And I guess maybe that is the how. Huh.”

"I think it's fair to say that the Entity has been, in general, trying to manipulate a lot of people." Nat turns to look over at Eve, her head tilting. "She spoke to you, that's pretty huge. Not many of us have managed that, especially not… you know, in her current state. Can you tell us exactly what she said? Before we go discounting anything as a possibility, it might be good to know what her exact words were."

With a cough, Quinn takes a deep breath and sighs, rubbing fingers against her temples. She's been quiet through the other comments, waiting until a good break came to speak up. Her first look is up to Nova. "No. I do not." Spoken flatly, she shakes her head and sighs. "Or rather, I don't know. I do believe something is up with Else, that there's some cause for her to lie to me about her ability. The exact nature of it is… something we'll have to find out."

Her shoulders slouch a bit. She has to believe that.

"But no. I do not believe the… Entity, which we truly need a better name for, is behind all prophecy, behind all of our abilities. That puts them on the level of a God, and beyond my personal unwillingness to believe that… it makes things seem rather hopeless, doesn't it?" She huffs out a breath, speaking very intentionally, very measuredly. "I'll let Destiny speak more on Else and where she's been and what she's been up to. She knows better than I do, anyway."

Next, her attention turns to Eve, frowning. "I'm not going to stand here and say it's impossible, but maybe let's circle back to that sort of conjecture at the end, after we've looked at the songs and gleaned what we can from them." Then, to Asi: "And furthermore, no. We - at least, as far as I'm aware - had no indication that coming here would make anything worse. My goal is to help both home and here. Not to make things worse. I wouldn't be here otherwise."

Eyes narrow as she watches Eve for a moment. "That said, Eve may know something she hasn't shared before, and that is part of the goal for today, to lay our cards on the table. But we'll get there, because she's not the only one with things to share."

With all that said, her gaze falls to Silas. "Witness," she repeats, eyes further narrowing. "New Year's Eve, almost two years ago. I had almost forgotten about that." It's hard for speak herald to not drum up that memory. "I had that vision as well. And from what I understand, aspects of it are coming true, almost like… it was a warning." Her tone takes a thoughtful turn; clearly this is another thing to add to the discussion list.

"That said." She stands straighter, vacantly ahead for a moment. "I'm going to ask for a bit of decorum. We'll get to everything. There's an order and purpose to all of this. I'd prefer not to deviate if something can be coupled into later discussion."

Zee looks over at Richard and frowns, her eyes scanning around the crowd for a moment before she begins rustling through the papers. "Do you know what song we're starting with? Did you write down the same primer you did for me, or…?"

When Zee speaks, Robyn holds up a finger, and shakes her head, causing Zee to shirk back a bit against Richard.

“Sometimes though, prophecy isn’t always what anyone thinks,” Squeaks says softly, not really intending to be heard, mostly just thinking out loud. At some point in the back and forth she gave up trying to read the pages that Destiny is holding, probably when the captain squicked over the castle closed in around the gathering place. It could also have been when others started talking about an entity thing — she needs to ask about that later — that she started for reals listening to what everyone else is saying. “Sometimes it’s already happened, but it’s too small to see or just not as important as anyone thought…” The teen pauses to glance at Eve, shoulders hitching with a shrug. “Or… Or it ends up being exactly what was said but the other meaning of the words.”

“True,” Chess agrees with Squeaks, with a smile for the younger woman, as she turns back around to face Robyn, her arms folding across her chest again. “And I can tell you, she – it – they?” They seems a decent fit, given who she believes it still possesses.

“They don’t know everything that’s going to happen before it happens. They once made me an offer, one that they likely thought I couldn’t refuse. But I did.”

She lifts a shoulder. “My point is, they don’t know everything that’ll happen before it happens, even if they can tap into some precogs or the Seerhood of the Traveling Blunts or whatever. So it’s not pointless. It can’t be.”

Chess’ blue eyes fall on Glory, wanting to ask more of what her niece from the future knows of the entity and its fate in that future, but she tables it for now, nodding at the call for protocol. “So the songs. Let’s get to work.”

As usual when Eve opens her mouth, chaos ensues. She had become apt at fading away when the world got to be too much (thanks Eric and Valerie). One of those times was now. Some of it happens in slow motion for the mad woman, strands of Asi's hair hang in the air and her mouth moves slowly and words that are angry but distorted fly out. Ahh, she's fried. Eve's eyebrows rise and she makes a surprised expression, the others begin to speak and red eyes flick from lip to lip reading them with her mouth hanging open. She doesn't laugh but the look on her face isn't one of anger or shame either.

Everything is muffled until she focuses on Glory's face as the younger woman speaks, making out bullshit and trying not to laugh at how it sounds but whatever could have been funny is shattered into a million pieces that jab her insides eliciting a gasp from Eve, "She's what?" Stunned Eve's mind reels and she blinks a few times, looking to Glory. "And you all are confused as to why your gifts are drying up like they're lying in the Sahara!?" Eve hisses but stops herself from speaking further, biting her lips and bows her head. Lost fucking lambs.

"She has a name. It is Ninbanda, she was a person once like many of us in this room." Looking at Nathalie she nods, "I will tell you all what I saw and learned from speaking with her, she's… withdrawn but wide open all at the same time."

Nodding at Chess, "You are more right than you know, Boomer… but after the songs." Robyn was right, everything discussed here was of the utmost importance, but the pieces of the puzzle begin to click inside of Eve's mind and she flips open her sketchbook to a page of a man with an eyepatch. She glares, balling her fists up.

Robyn gives a weary nod and a smile towards Eve. "Thank you, Eve," she remarks, actually looking a little perked up after that.

There’s a moment when Castle’s standing very still, as if waiting to reach out and physically stop something from happening— but Eve calms down and their shoulders relax. They nod and reach out, squeezing the woman’s arm in support. She handled that very well.

“Most would believe that moving mountains is a hopeless task,” they add after a moment, specifically to Richard and Robyn. “The whole reason we're here is to prove that what others would see as hopeless is not, so no— no matter how powerful our foe, we’re not going to sit down and wait to die.” There’s a hint of something else in the way that they say that, but they hope the point has been made.

With a glance down at the pages, their brow furrows. “How does Else’s prophecy work, if you know? Does she have a vision and then write lyrics to match or are the lyrics themselves the vision?” After a moment of reading a few lines, they muse softly, “I’m not sure whose prophecies are worse with their metaphors, mum.”

Elliot dislikes prophecy at a fundamental level, but he has little interaction with it outside of Eve's uselessly timed painting of him in his ACTS. His understanding of it aligns with Squeaks's contributions: it's next to impossible to divine meaning from it until after the relevant events have passed to illuminate clues with context. He remembers then to look to Squeaks and smile in thanks for her support and wonderment keeping him from digging too deep into his separation anxiety for Wright.

Eve's proclamations are worrisome, but he's quick to agree with the others. It doesn't add up, but he doesn't yet have the footing to contribute anything himself.

Destiny shakes her head to Castle’s question. “She doesn’t really… see anything, if I get how it works. The words come to her, and she writes them down. The interpretation happens after that.” Her shoulders come up in a little shrug, but they don’t really go down much after that. Her eyes cast down and she thinks, mouth barely moving around silent the murmuration of words.

Those blue eyes lift again, but she doesn’t settle her gaze on anyone, her focus distant as though she could see into a past moment instead of the now. “She told me about the ambush.” Destiny blinks a few times, slowly. “I don’t care for birds, so I’ll stay inside.” Her words are similarly slow, recalling the gist if not the exact wording. “She was talking about what Ms Gray was going to do.”

The corners of her mouth turn downward. “Else doesn’t remember the things she says, so that’s why she always wrote it down before. The things she said there only made sense after it happened, though.” Misery flows into her expression. She heard what Else said, but didn’t interpret it. Des hands off her notes to Jac as she takes a deep breath and starts to wander to the edges of their circle, her arms wrapped around herself. It isn’t just misery, it’s guilt.

Silas raises an eyebrow, studying Robyn a bit more closely — that's right, she had been there for the New Years' Nightmare, hadn't she? But when she advocates saving that for the end of the discussion, he inclines his head; his point has been taken, he's fine with it being a rider for the end of the day's business.

He follows along with the discussion, but Destiny's proclamation sees Silas's head turn to her, a sharp frown on his face. His mouth draws tight with disappointment, but he waits a moment to speak; he's seen that brand of guilt and misery on Destiny's face. Lived it for a long time, and he'd not see Des stew in it. "Natalie told me something, at the end," he says, looking at Des. "Bad things happen. Sometimes the world is cruel. Don’t focus on failures and past mistakes. Focus on kindness. Because when the world’s at its darkest… kindness is the one thing only we can make. That includes bein' kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up over it," he says, giving Des a nod with a hint of a smile at the end. Is he paraphrasing a bit? Yes. But he's pretty sure no one's gonna call him on it, and should the ghost of Natalie be watching, he's pretty sure she wouldn't mind.

With that said, he looks back to the others. "I will say that Else's apparently gotten very good at interpretation. She told me about a song she wrote, once — one which is not mentioned here, thankfully, but has probably served its purpose. It was about a man falling from the sky." He takes a deep breath.

"She was waiting off the coast of Virginia in the middle of nowhere when I got booted from your timeline," he says, gesturing vaguely to the Travelers. "With a rowboat. And for added context — she was waiting with a change of my clothes she'd gotten from my own closet before the Sentinel sent the entire residential tower to Davy Jones' Locker, which was… Christ, the end of 2018. And had them with her when she met me in said rowboat, a year and some change later." He looks faintly troubled as he recounts this, because it maybe doesn't paint Else in the best light. "…also fifty cents for a boat ticket to keep from bein' eaten by seagulls," he murmurs.

Destiny lets Silas capture her attention, listens to his insistences about not beating herself up for being unable to interpret a prophecy she couldn’t have hoped to understand, but still doesn’t let her absolve her. Even if she does nod several times, returning a faint smile.

With how much happens, how many points and counterpoints are spoken, Asi quiets. Her eyes tear finally from Eve to Glory with a look that plainly reads just who the fuck is she, but she keeps it to herself. She reaches for the leafs of songs after all to take two sheets for herself to begin to read.

"Else pulled me away from Stef," she offers up. "Told me, not my time yet, for whatever that's worth." Her disgruntlement with this whole topic remains plain, but no animosity spills from her. "But what happened in Japan, what we found there, she didn't expect. And it troubled her, from what Snickers was saying. So– I don't know."

"I don't fucking know," she mutters down at the pages, trying to parse them.

“She may be a provider, but I don’t believe she’s the source, Eve. She was once a person, yes; she still is, as far as I’m concerned,” says Richard with a tight shake of his head, “Despite all her power, she’s still that. That’s what gives us a chance.”

He looks to the others as they discuss Else, lips pursing briefly, “I… question how much Else’s told us about what she knows, honestly, and if you look at Open the Door you’ll see why. I’d give up my left big toe if that’s not a song about herself. I think she’s a lot more… powerful than she once was, but I don’t know if she has much control. Or maybe she does and she’s keeping her mouth shut for a reason– I don’t know.”

A slight grimace, “I don’t know if anyone will have any great insights as to these glimpses forward, but I figured it was worth it. The Robyns and I looked over them already– I’ve got a few important observations we made but mostly we’re groping in the dark here.”

Open the Door, clearly about Else. For Out of the Garden – a poetic name for the place between timelines is the Garden of Forking Paths, and that may relate. Circle–” His gaze flickers to Glory, “— feels like the result of this mission’s failure to complete its task, and the future resulting from that.”

Neverwere/Everwas we couldn’t make heads or tails out of, aside from some metaphorical analysis that we don’t have enough context to know if we’re right.Sun, Moon, and Stars reads like it’s from Ninbanda’s point of view, but– Eve, Nat, maybe one of you might have some insight.”

He hesitates before moving on. “Ezekiel 11:8 is… personal. I can’t imagine it’s about anything other than me, or another me. That’s my middle name, and it’s– what we called the me from the Wasteland when he came through to our timeline. The verse in question is ‘Ye have feared the sword, and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord God’.”

Nathalie looks over at Asi when she offers her experience. She spreads her hands a little and gives her interpretation of that moment. "Not your time, because you were about to get sucked dry. And she didn't want you to die. Or knew that you didn't in that moment." She wasn't there, as LeRoux was on the other side of the bridge. Busy dying herself. But she sounds sure of that, anyway.

For her part, Asi only quirks her head to the side before shaking it and looking off. This is all clearly a lot for her.

Nathalie looks over at Richard, her arms folding. "So do we believe in prophecy or don't we? We got some people saying they're basically impossible to interpret until after the fact, and some people sure they're useful intelligence worth trying to interpret. But even if Eve is wrong about Ninbanda influencing some of their prophecy, us making a guess at way they mean has every likelihood of being just as misleading without anyone having to manipulate anything. So how much are we expecting to get out of this? Actionable intel? General guidance? Vibes?"

Robyn smiles at Nat, sucking in a deep breath at her question. "I believe in prophecy as a tool. What I don't believe in is fate. I have seen and heard of too many futures being changed to, for one moment, believe in it on a conceptual level." She's quick to look at Richard. "Patterns and consistency in the chaos though? Perhaps. But the fact of the matter is that universe is malleable. That we're standing here right now is evidence to that."

She clicks her tongue, closing the journal and folding her arms across her chest as she thinks for a moment. "And that's a great question. That's the thing about prophecy, is that it's all up to interpretation. I'd like to think I have a pretty good grip on this, and Richard and Eve have been at it even longer than I have. So, to answer your question - actionable data would be nice, but is unrealistic. But picking out patterns, consensuses, and yes, consistent vibes? You'd be amazed how far that can go."

Rolling her shoulders, she looks down at the ground. "Many precognitives don't truly know what comes to them. I've read reports of precognitives who would paint while in a haze and have no idea what they had made was prophecy. I once had a case with a young man who was seeing the future in dreams. Else… I'd never seen her ability in action until last night. I found her with her eyes glazed over milky white, singing a rather portentous song to the open air. She didn't even know I was there until she came out of it. Claimed she'd been sleepwalking." Again, Robyn shakes her head and frowns, a troubled look on her face.

"She used to have to write it down. Now, it seems she may have moved beyond that. She claims she can't write, can't see anymore. That she burned out her ability in the Ark… Unfortunately, that's clearly not entirely true." With another sigh, wrinkles her nose and looks back ahead.

"Anyway. I had planned for us to go through these songs one by one, but honestly, there's far more people here than I had originally intended. As such, I'd say, let's take a moment and just go through and see what we can pick out from them and talk about it. Like Richard did." She looks over at him and offers a small smile - thanks for the idea, it says without her having to speak it. "Needless to say, anything we discuss here stays here. I lack the ability to hold anyone to an NDA, but consider it true regardless. Particularly since…"

She trails off, looking over at Castle. "At some point, we're going to have to discuss the state of things back in our world. With OEI."

As Robyn opens the journal and begins looking through it again, Zee perks up, pressing a finger at her nose like she's pushing up imaginary glasses as she clears her throat. "So… yeah, like Richard said, he, Quinn, and I went through most of these already. And some of them are definitely going to need other eyes, particularly Eve's, from what I understand. But some of them are… a bit clearer, and it's not great.

Looking over at Richard, she raises an eyebrow as she regards him with curiosity. "I think Circle was one of the ones we had the most to say on. It paints a… bleak picture. But the real question at hand was if it's painting a scene of what happens if we fail… or if we succeed." She looks down at the ground sheepishly for a moment, scratching at the back of her head. "I'll let the others go into why, but it sounds like a reason's been found to question the nature of what you all were sent here to do to begin with." She offers an apologetic smile around the ground, before moving to another page and pointing at some of the lyrics.

"Neverwhere/Everwas was another one that caught my attention," she notes, frowning. "Because it's just so darn… sad. Regretful. Mournful. But rereading it, I think it may be from this Enti-" She pauses, looking over at Eve and smiling. "Ninbanda's perspective. It's either an ending, or an inciting event of… some sort?"

"Mirrorball," Asi notes flatly and loudly, still uncomfortable with all of this but willing at least to engage in it, "Looks like someone maybe regretting the path they've set out. Don't feel like they can change it, but maybe somebody else can. If all of these are supposed to be messages, that stands out to me. Everything's going wrong, but since they set in motion, they feel powerless to stop it."

A moment later, she voices out loud, because if she doesn't say it here she won't say it all, "Circles creeps me the fuck out." It sounds bizarre coming from Asi at all, for those who know her from another world. "It feels like exactly where we're standing right now. The— 'second reckoning of swords', though, is the bit that feels important. Who or what needs fought to change the end of the world?" As soon as she's done wondering, she hands those sheets immediately back to Silas so he can draw his own conclusions as he likes.

"Many sibling seers find it easier to tell everyone they don't understand much of their visions." Eve doesn't sound bitter over it, just sad for seers in general. In the end it matters little if anyone actually believes Eve or any seer. The River flows regardless.

The bit of the song "Circle" has Eve on edge and her eyelids flutter while her head tilts, "The man in the long coat lies dead in a pool of blood. That cane, always that cane. Eyes are open dear. Staring back at you." Tapping her fingertips on her sketchbook, "It's a circle, look from above. It's a serpent. Ouroboros." Richard is right on who that song is about, "We sure are watching them collapse." That sounds bitter.

The lyrics concerning Ninbanda in Neverwere/Everwas only make Eve more sad for her. "She is spilt," flashes of her eyes shine in her mind, "One for our plane, one for out there. Two ends of a loop." She practically sings it while staring at the page. "Neverwere and Everwas, a paradox in the deepest forms." Crimson eyes snap to look upwards at everyone else, "They do not know the same things."

Zee perks up, looking over at Eve with a beaming smile. "Yes! A paradox, that's what I said! Lots of conflicting imagery in it, it's wild. Light and dark, dreams and liminal spaces… it's fascinating."


Eve lights a joint that was hiding in her bra, "Brain needs a jolt of inspiration," smoke blown out from her nostrils, curling around her head. Eve looks as if she's listening to something only she can hear. "Hmm. My Sun and Moon… my Stars." She rocks from side to side, "The one in our world only knows fragments of why she rages, she doesn't know her name. Erase me. It's the other, she's as trapped as she is boundless. A paradox, again."

"Eve, I'm not sure it's the best time for that," Robyn notes with a quirk of an eyebrow. "I'm not going to stop you, but make sure you either avoid others in the crossbreeze… or share it."

Silas looks through his own papers, squinting a bit. "Most of this is beyond me. Translating prophecy is like tryin' to look inside someone's head and make sense of the reflection of the world in a mirror there. I've never really had a head for it," he admits apologetically.

"I think Aces is on the right track with Mirrorball, though. One detail that jumps out to me, though — why four o' clock? That's oddly specific."

"The other thing is that… um…" he frowns, shuffling his papers and trying to find a correlation that caught his eye earlier; the other bit is in one of the pages Asi handed him, he knows. "Right, swords. Aces pointed out that Circle mentions swords; they're also mentioned in Ezekiel. Which… makes sense, I guess, if it's a Bible reference, but then it comes back around in Circle."

Silas realizes what he did there immediately after it leaves his mouth. "Pun… not intended," he says with a grimace. He takes a breath, then looks to Cardinal. "So… maybe Ezekiel 11:8 would be the first reckoning of swords, while Circle alludes to a second?"

There's more there that worries him — Open the Door and the last song, particularly — but this creeps me out probably isn't particularly useful information, so he shakes his head and falls silent.

There’s a lot going on, but Castle will hold judgment on this whole ‘we need to talk about the OEI’ thing until later and focus on the topic at hand. The pieces of paper in front of them. There’s a soft, “Huh.” that escapes them, and they look over at their mom. “Is this why you let me go to Catholic school even though you, in general, mocked religion?” They, or specifically in this case, he doesn’t wait for an answer before they look back up and continue. “Okay, so,” their accent is decidedly more Irish suddenly. “The sword thing. Since one song uses a Bible verse for the title, we can draw on traditional Bible stuff to look at it from, and if we’re going to compare the swords there to the swords in Circle— swords in the bible, specifically in Ezekiel, meant the power of God. And, well— in our case, we can guess that it perhaps means–” They wave a hand around.

“Our powers. The abilities we have. I don’t know all of what the other you had done, of course, but I assume he used abilities to do it, and considering the fact that these abilities seem to cause both great harm and great wonder— one could consider them an equivalent to something someone would view as a power of God. So the reckoning of swords could also mean…” The hand shifts to point at Glory.

But then onward, since not everyone there knows that story. “Sometimes when swords clash they can break, is what I’m saying.”

Chess has been quiet, her pale eyes cast down on her hands where she chips away the remnants of nail polish on a thumbnail, but her gaze comes up at the talk of swords.

“There’s also the Kensei sword,” she says quietly. “I don’t even begin to understand all of its history and I’m going to admit I’ve blocked a lot of what happened in 2019 and 2020 out, and history was already a shitty subject for me. I may have zoned out sometimes when Adam explained things to us.” Her smile is wry.

“But it was one thing that could hurt the entity – Ninbanda?” The name is spoken with uncertainty. “The one Ja-” Nope. “…that we used in Detroit got, um, blown up.” Chess’ expression tilts, a bit chagrined at that, since she was the one who had shoved a knife-bomb into the wound caused by the blade. “But multiple timelines… there would be others?”

Robyn is quick to hold up seven fingers. "Seven that I know of, infinite in theory," she notes with a weak smile. "Timelines, that is. Assumedly a sword for each?"

Chess’ hands find her pockets, and she lifts a shoulder. “I’m not saying we should find or use them. It didn’t work last time and hurt us more than it helped us, so.” She lifts a shoulder. “Probably not useful.”

"What if…" Squeaks pauses to take a breath. She'd been very quiet after speaking her thoughts a minute ago, instead listening and watching, eyes flicking over all the faces while others talked, sometimes taking a peek at the words to follow along. But now she's been struck by a thought. "What if… if these songs aren't about a big world thing but just about you? Individual or… maybe pairs? From everyone who isn't from here, for when… um…" For when they go back, but she doesn't say it, she's not supposed to know about that. The teen taps a finger against her lips instead, like she's thinking.

Glory sighs a deep, haggard sigh and shuffles through the pages as they're passed around. “Lots of on the ceiling stuff,” she says, frowning. She already feels dumb for saying that. “It uh, I mean. This one here about dreams and fucking… ego death?” She holds up the page for open the door. “Literally references this other song that we apparently aren't going over… Shores of the Empire State? Because I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that's literally about this place.”

It's a truth only Destiny knows here. That Edward and Michelle studied that song to try and prevent the flood. Why the Ark was ever built in the first place. A secret she could reveal if she so desired. A key only she possesses.

“So I mean if Else wrote Shores,” Glory goes on to say, “then Open the Door is definitely about her. And like, it sounds like she saw her own fucking death.”

Shuffling pages, Glory holds up another one. “And I'm sorry I'm getting hung up on some of these other ones but this shit is all new to me. But this one, Always Into Forever? Our past and our present forever intertwined sounds a lot like the stuff in Circle. But half of these songs seem to be about shit repeating itself. I mean hell, the… uh, Anima/Animus has like quotes from historic figures mixed into it. And then passing memories down?” She shuffled through the pages again. “Okay and then Dragon? It literally says I breed memories trapped inside, alone in this world that you destroyed.” She looks around at everyone. “Have we like, is it possible these songs are all like, directly connected to each other? Like you can't read them independently because they need to be like… all the ideas need to be read together?”

Finally, Glory holds up Once and Forever. “Because this, We're the union of a new beginning. All that they say can't be done. We're the fresh start. Not the sum of all fears. It's the you and me. Become I.” Glory looks around at everyone. “That's a circle, again. And then in the Ezekiel song it even says You are me, I am you. I dunno, man. These songs have a lot in common.”

Frustrated, Glory passes the pages around. “Shit’s fucked.”

"I'm beginning to think that's your catchphrase, Glory," is offered in absent amusement by Robyn, trying to shuffle pages enough to keep with her thoughts, a toothy grin on her face.

It’s what Glory says that causes Destiny to not let go of her remorse entirely. She doesn’t turn back to face the rest of the group right away, just hugging herself tighter while she decides what to say.

Or if she should say anything at all.

“Time is weird,” the small blonde says quietly at first, the hold on herself shifted to one where her left arm straightens out, her opposite hand wraps around it. Her thumb brushes over her forearm, like she’s trying to reassure herself while also letting the tactile sensation of the wool provide some kind of anchor to herself. “What I’m trying to say is the circular junk feels… possible. Probable.” She looks to Glory next. “I noticed the ceiling stuff too.” A shake of her head indicates she has no idea what that could mean.

Her eyes shift back to some space between where people stand and the ground, unfocused and full of guilt again. “Shores of the Empire State is about us, our world. She wrote it a year, maybe two before it happened? The DoEA had her and her songbook.” Destiny breathes out a long, slow breath. “They used the foreknowledge to build the Ark.” She looks up briefly, eyes darting around. “They tried to stop what happened, too. But there was a double agent or something? Jimmy explained it to me once, but… I was really young.”

"Shores of the Empire State existed in our world too," Robyn notes with a glance up to Destiny. "Everything before Mirrorball did, many of them recovered when…" she trails off there, frowning. "The, uh. The Way Back Is Closed is about the previous travellers getting back to our world."

Destiny nods her head, looking somewhat relieved that someone had been able to use Else’s prophecy to stop what happened to her world. “So then there’s… what she said the other night.” There’s a strong reluctance in her. It shows in every angle of her posture, every line in her expression. Scrunching her eyes closed, she goes for it.

The tick of the clock, tick-tock, that’s the way of the walk, tick-tock, to the corner of the block, tick-tock, to find auntie’s bones.” Destiny recites from memory. “Tick-tock got my attention at the time for…” Her hand waves vaguely through the air. Those that know, know. “It was enough to get me rattled.” What she doesn’t explain is that Else was having a conversation before she began to sing.

One way off, two roads pass.” The next set of lyrics are spoken more slowly, it takes more effort to recall them. Destiny attempts to infuse them with the same whispery, lilting quality Else spoke them with. “We could take the off-ramp back to the cities and streets we call home or go down that winding road.” Gently, she sways back and forth to a tempo set by an unheard melody. “Drive us out to the desert, drive us out to never. Soak up the sun in the tomorrows yet to come.” She can’t remember the lyrics exactly, but she does her best to let the rhyming scheme fill in the blanks.

Destiny stills, opening her eyes to look around anxiously. “Maybe that part is about what we’ll do next?” Turn back or keep going west. “What do you guys think?” The rest of her cards are still held to her vest.

"Ninbanda believes all life is cyclical," Nathalie says, almost to herself. As if she assumes no one is really paying attention to her. And she hasn't grabbed onto any of the lyric pages thus far, just listening to what the others are pointing out. Linking together. "Seems like Else writes a lot about Ninbanda. Maybe that's the thing we should be digging into here. She's tuned into Dragon Radio, at the very least. At the worst?" She doesn't say what she thinks the worst is, she just looks over at Eve. Her hands spread, her shoulders lift.

"Has anyone here tried to talk to Else about that connection? Establish what she knows and doesn't know? How much she's hiding?" Nathalie tilts her head, a quizzical expression. "Her own insights into her lyrics?"

Richard’s been quiet since Glory spoke, looking over the two songs, his expression hard to read but there’s a clear tension in his stance. He doesn’t comment on her observation, just shuffles the papers back together and clears his throat.

“I… haven’t, no,” he admits, looking to Nathalie, “And I’m going to be honest, that song? Doesn’t refer to Else’s death. It says ego death and I’m– honestly worried that isn’t Else anymore.”

"I brought extra of course!" Suddenly, it's raining joints hallelujah. And a couple extra lighters. Eve's own joint remains lit but she does make sure anyone who wants the three joints can have them. A stoner is also prepared… to smoke.

Everyone has good ideas and valid points but Eve squints towards Glory as she speaks and her eyebrows raise, hmm. "Yes, they do connect dear like a dark symphony." Her cousin soon has the floor and what she has to say makes Eve's eyebrows raise further. "There were people back home holding bones that I thought were Ninbanda's. I tried so hard to find them. Adrienne was a bust." An aside about auntie's bones.

Nathalie and Eve share a look. They both know exactly what that could mean. "Did she say anything, Des?" Head tilts to the side and Eve puffs on the joint while staring across at her cousin. "Not in way of song dearie," The former seer flicks a strand of dark hair out of her eyes. "Think of… buzzzz words," dragging out the z with teeth clenched together, "Arrival, reckoning, the world being sick?"

The older woman thinks about all she knows of Ninbanda and the ones who follow or have been enthralled by her. Eve included. "Her influence can be… enticing."

Elliot's only thoughts as he reviews the lyrics are that there are several things that make him think of himself and the Palace; those thoughts aren't for public consumption. The rest is, as with all prophecy that he's aware of, useless without context.

"You say the Entity is both a person named Ninbanda and simultaneously exists somewhere else that, if I understand your meaning, is not physical reality," he says to Eve, trying to work something out. "The abyss between timelines. But a loop, by definition, does not have two ends, it's one unbroken line. So by your reasoning I don't think the loop has to do with two parallel versions of itself. That sounds more like 'when the hatchet fell I was divided in two' from Else's latest song.

"There are other references to leaving paradise for somewhere worse," He says, flipping between songs to try to find the reference again. "Neverwere/Everwas feels like the idyllic garden of Eden, simple and carefree. Out of the Garden has big 'let me in' and 'I've made a huge mistake' gif energy." He shares memories of the two animated image files to Asi and Squeaks, just in case. "Which doesn't strike me as here, as our worlds are far from idyllic paradises and, y'know, it's trying to destroy them all."

When Elliot says let me in, Destiny shivers involuntarily.

Robyn looks up at Nathalie with a sadness writ large on her face. "You're more apt than you know," she notes to the other woman, sighing. "She spent some time in the Ark exposed to… something. Got all weird about it before and after she left the ark." She looks over to Zee, and then to Destiny, sighing. "Any input from the rest of our folks who lived down there with her would be greatly appreciated."

"Oh, um." Zee looks over to Robyn, and then to Destiny. "So, ah. First off, Des, from everything else we've read I think-" she rolls her shoulders, looking sheepish for a moment. "I don't think it's as simple as go back home or keep going forward. I think it maybe… flagposts a divergence point?"

She scratches the side of her head, uncertain if that's right term. "Either we turn back, head back to what we know, let things play out - you know, this… weird loop thing!" She talks vehemently, constantly making motions with her hands as does. "Or we turn left, so to speak. The winding road, the way into the unknown. The harder path?" Her finger rises and snaps back and forth like a metronome. "Tick-tick-tok. Time's wasting. Auntie's bones, though… I have no idea about that."

Clearing her throat, she looks back out at the group. "But, ah, Else! She was my best friend in the Ark once she got there," Sorry, Destiny, "but something got… I don't know, found, or fixed, or something at one point? And then she was always… gone. That was around the time she started getting weird, with whatever…" She strains for a moment, thinking of Donald Kenner. "With whatever Don was getting into at the same time."

Looking up at the Castle around them, Robyn takes a deep breath before flipping to another page in Else's journal. "She's evasive about anything related to it to me. She's never really been much of one to interpret her own lyrics either, always leaving that to other people unless the meaning is plain as day or someone else is pushing her to read into them." Rolling her shoulders uncomfortably, she looks back to Nat. "At least in my experience, limited and fractured across timelines as it is. But if you ask her about it now… she's going to insist she doesn't write anymore, that's she's out of rhythm with the universe and move on."

Wagging a finger in front of herself, she thinks for a moment. "That she burned out her ability. So the question becomes a matter of, what's more plausible? That she's lying to us - which I am…" She pauses, swallowing down a tough pull in that moment. "Inclined to believe is the case, or rather that she truly thinks her ability is gone, and there's more going on here that either she doesn't understand, realise, or whatever."

Shaking her head, she scowls over at Richard the same way she did the first time they did this. "I don't think 'ego death' is literal. I think very little is literal here. But it is still concerning. If it isn't her, who is it? Why bother playing at prophecy? If Ninbanda is everything she's made up to be, she doesn't need to evasively tap into prophecy in this way, and more over… I think we'd all be dead by now anyway."

Taking in all the other comments and notes, Robyn flips to a back page in the journal and begins scribbling down notes and thoughts. As she does, she shifts her gaze briefly to Elliot. "Then we break it. Wouldn't be the first time someone has broken time." Said like that's no big thing.

“We’re breaking it right now,” Castle murmurs, as they reach over to take one of those joints that their mom was offering around to everyone. Not to light it up, but to sneak it away for later perhaps, cause they give it a whiff as if to make sure it’s not laced with anything, and then slip it into their pocket. “I don’t think the entity is all powerful. These prophecies, even if she had a hand in them, can still be used to our advantage. But Glory’s right, maybe we need to look at it as an album, rather than individual songs.”

"Think bigger," Robyn notes with an amused grin and a glance over at Castle, winking.

When Eve pulls out extra joints, it strikes Chess as funny, and she huffs a short laugh that’s a little louder than she means – it’s been a very long, very hard day and her nerves are a little frayed.

She reaches for one, smirking as Castle does the same, and she heads over to Glory. She doesn’t need a lighter, so she doesn’t take one, but instead uses the gentlest application of her ability to ignite the end.

“Told you so,” she murmurs to her niece, as she hands her the joint.

“So while we mull over all that, on the subject if we’re going to follow the original plan or not…” Richard folds the papers he’s holding for the moment, his head turning to regard Castle for a steady moment before he sweeps his regard over the others, “I had some… questions, so I reached out to the Remote Office through unofficial channels, and I found out some things that have my contact there - and myself - a little concerned about a few things.”

He’s watching Castle from under his shades as he explains, “In that timeline, Petrelli had full intel on Mazdak’s operation, and when he took over, he wiped them off the face of the Earth in one fell swoop. In theory, that intel should have been mostly good in our timeline. Only it turns out that every time they send intel regarding Mazdak over… it disappears. No follow-ups. No questions. As if they never sent it.”

“Given the fact that they knew exactly when and where to hit the Looking Glass on the way out? I’d say that there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.”

Okay, maybe he carried Kazimir around in his head a little too long.

At the very sudden change of topic, though one hinted at earlier by the one who called the meeting, Castle focuses on Richard and tilts their head to the side, almost birdlike, but also something that mimicked a gesture that Eve might have done at the same time. A learned posture. “This seems like the wrong environment for that kind of discussion, Mr. Ray,” they say in that British accent once again, eyebrow raising.

“Perhaps this can wait until we have finished talking about the prophecies and convene with a slightly different group of people. Most of the people present do not have the breadth of knowledge necessary to participate in this, nor have they signed the same agreements that you have.”

It’s called an NDA for a reason, after all, and this is definitely pushing the bounds of what’s allowed, as far as Castle seems to be concerned. It was one thing to talk about their present mission, but it’s another thing to talk about the Remote office and Mazdak and potential misuse of information.

The discourse around Else is slowly beginning to agitate Destiny, if subtly. Richard knows the tells well, even if he’s not well acquainted with her. The notion that they should break time, that they’re doing it right now, similarly makes her squint uncomfortably. She appears to disagree with that, but holds her tongue on that subject, too.

Instead, the short young woman turns her attention to Richard, eyes wide and at first inquisitive. Then confusion and worry. Throwing another timeline into the mix doesn’t faze her, but the name attached does.

Glory glances around at the others, brows furrowed in thought. She looks over at Chess with deep discomfort as she gets closer, tensing up a little. She glances down at the joint, jaw set, then blinks a look up to her and back down. It’s only after a moment that she snatches up the joint like it was going to burn her and holds it pinched between two fingers with an inscrutable expression on her face.

Time isn’t someone’s favorite fucking coffee mug.” Glory mutters, holding the joint but not smoking it, eyes squared at her feet. “You don’t break it. You can’t. It’s…” She shakes her head, glancing at the joint in her hand. “It’s like gravity. You can push against it, but it’s still there. You don’t break gravity. People—Ones with abilities bend shit around them, they change states of matter, they interact with shit on a fundamental level. But when they’re not around shit goes right back to its previous state.”

Mouth pressed into a thin line, Destiny spreads her hands out in front of her in a quick snap in Glory’s direction, a wordless thank you that would probably be prepended by a Jesus fucking Christ, if this were any other version of herself.

Glory finally shakes her head and just holds the joint out blindly to whoever is next to her. “Start thinking about time more like water or sand. Currents, diversions, dams. Diverted forks of a river might rejoin somewhere down the line. Water always finds a way.”

Visibly frustrated, Glory realizes how antsy she’s being and glances over at Chess, offering her a nervous but also apologetic smile, then looks away. “Let’s just ask this chick what’s going on. If we’re worried she’s some fucking human hand-grenade spying on us, we leave her with some food on the side of the road. Pretty sure the last thing we need on this trip is more bad surprises. Because—is this it? This is all we’re in this—fucking bubble for? We got a handful of some weirdass songs. Nobody has anything else to share?”

Certainly Glory doesn’t.

"Pretty sure we're a little out of the reach of any legal agreements anyone signed," Nathalie says at Castle's words, her head shaking. "They can come brave the waters if they want to drag anyone off for breaking their word. Plus, you all pulled a bunch of other people into your situation here. And those people have bled and died for you and your secrets now."

But then, she points over at Glory, "I'm with her. We need to establish what the hell is up with Else and how aware of it she is. We can be as subtle or as blunt as you like, but I think it's best we figure out just how many human hand-grenades we have with us."

Having let the conversation wend its way here and there, Asi lingers on the fringe of it, one hand going to the twine- and leather-corded necklaces she wears, rubbing her thumb along a strange key hanging from the twine. The question of if there's anything else leads her to lift her head, pondering aloud, "So there was a stunt pulled to get encoded information to survive and be recovered after the world ended." A brief pause. "Here, that is." Because apparently that needs clarified.

"The name Kaito Nakamura may mean something to more of you than I'm willing to admit, so I'm wondering– once that message he left for Silas and me to find is decoded– was he ever a person that was affiliated with your… whatever she is?" Entity, Ninbanda, what have you. Asi looks between the faces among the Travelers she's most familiar with first. "If what he left is what we think it is, some kind of instruction set, is there a gut check I can get on whether it's a 'Follow this to save the world', or 'follow this to end it' situation?"

"I trust what Kaito left," she clarifies. "He was a friend, and one who trusted me in return with helping find that message in the first place. But…"

Well, this conversation was causing a lot of people to question a lot of things.

With a glance back to Glory, her gaze settles back on Richard again. "… And if nobody has any opinions either way, I think Richard pointing out that the people calling your shots might be setting you up to fail is worth–I don't know– acknowledgement? Now?" She looks to Castle and lifts both arms out from her sides in a shrug. "We're burning daylight at this point. Even if we've got a weird green privacy bubble here, sun's still rising out there."

The former seer is noticeably quiet now on the matter of Else, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible.

Blood red eyes take Glory in, "Puff the joint love, you look like you're about to fall over." Eve grins lightly but nods along, "She's right as some of us here know. The River is always going to move." Everyone has opinions, theories, worries and cares. Eve listens to them all with a tilt of her head. At Asi's words on the Founders the wild woman spits over her shoulder, "Kaito and his friends. The Founders. Inflated egos running around left unchecked, destroying lives and even the worlds. He had better left a message to help. They only challenged Ninbanda because she challenged their own sense of godhood." Would Eve say that if Angela were in the room?

Asi blinks once at the intensity of the reaction.

As for Elliot's view Eve glances his way, "The loop I believe Walkie, is when Ninbanda gifted herself with power. My first vision was of her as a child receiving the blessing of the Eclipse, her eyes shone gold as she lifted her arms to the sky… I've seen it again. That moment is important, I know it." Is that why Eve is viewing past events? Because they are someone's future?

Placing a hand on Castle's arm, "Dear." Taking a moment to inhale and exhale more smoke, "I saw a man in my visions, a man with an eyepatch and boy was he up to no good." The energy Marcus Raith gives Eve in visions is the same that Doc and the other science fairies gave all those years ago. Harbingers. "He keeps to the shadows. But that smile… he pulls strings," A look over at Richard, "Our strings." Tapping her fingertips on her thigh in a rhythmic fashion. "Cherry Rue was dead and left open on the table. He watches. Samson tied up and One Eyed Jack kills him over and over. He loves it. He's testing." It would seem Samson was going to get exactly what he always wanted but not at all in the fashion he originally perceived. "You," Continuing to look at Richard, "Locked in a fight with Ninbanda in the body of Adam. You hold the sword, you strike to the bone. You never notice the blonde man with red sunglasses, sniping from afar. He works for One Eyed Jack, that's his main man."

"They go to a forge, Blood Eyes and One Eyed. One single bullet to start, it's biggg. It's like it glows… it gleams so pretty. Just like the sword, just like the knife." Something is creeping up on her, a realization she couldn't piece together until now. "I told Walkie there about some of this, he named One Eyed Jack as Marcus Raith."

“Hey Asi,” Richard calls over completely deadpan, “I think I’m going to take you up on those sword fighting lessons after all. It sounds like I’ve got a duel scheduled with someone that’s got three thousand years of experience on me.” Less deadpan, he exhales a breath, “Christ.”

It wasn't as if Eve meant to fall into a retelling of one of her latest visions but the way it unfolds makes it so. Her eyes are lidded and she sways as she remembers back. "Seattttttlee Seahawks. We land in the ol Evergreen State. There's only ash, you, the green lockers and the flash drive. Of course we succeed, it's us silly friends. You hand it to One Eyed Jack, he smiles. It's all going according to plan. The sky is full of star-"

It hits her and she gasps, leaning forward. "No. That's it. That is the plan, oh no…." Looking to the others, "If what Glory says is true and Ninbanda is dead… that bullet… that forge… that gun. Blood Eyes." Eve rocks back and forth bouncing her left leg up and down with increased fever but she's still there, hanging onto reality with a firm fist. "Who called for me to join you all on this trip, to avoid a jail cell and potentially save all that is. HMM." She's getting more angry, "Who gathered us together and sent us away, HM?" All of what she has seen flashes before her eyes, overwhelming but Eve has grown apt at shifting through the chaos that is her mind. "He melts the sword, the knife. A case of gleaming bullets. It's how he kills her. We lead her to him." The only way Ninbanda would be dead is if Eve or any of the people in this room weren't there to stop it, of this she is sure. "We've been had!"

Eve leaps to her feet and she's pacing in a tight line, back and forth. Tick tock tick tock. "We have to kill him! That blasphemous traitorous son of a goat's left nut, THE NERVE." Her whole body shakes and red mists begins to seep out from her pores. "We need Monica!!"

Eyeing Castle as she realizes what she looks like in this moment she poofs into the cloud and hovers in the air. "Don't you touch me! I'm fine!"

Eve's so mad she's starting to actually smoke, and that's new and strange enough to make even Silas concerned. Still, there's one point he has to speak on.

"I don't know what the Kaito in your timeline is like," Silas speaks, his gaze stern. "But people can be different in different timelines. The version of me that exists in your timeline is bad enough that they wanted to try him for war crimes at Albany." He lowers his head for a moment. "If I'da been in his shoes… I'da been him. I know that. But I wasn't." He gives a faint, sad grin. "I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

The grin fades almost immediately. "Now, I've never met Kaito Nakamura. But if he'd never existed, I'd probably be dead," he states. "He left information hidden in Japan — a trip I never would've thought to make before I went to your timeline and came back. He had someone waiting on the docks for us the very day we arrived, years after his own death, to point us to that information, hidden in a box that could only be unlocked by a key that would only be there if Asi had come back with me. I have never met the man, but the trick shot he set up bespeaks one hell of a lot of effort. Even Else was surprised, and I think, at this point, we're all in agreement that she sees a hell of a lot more than one might think."

"If he had wanted to destroy the world, with the degree of foresight he had, he wouldn't have had to go to nearly as much effort; we're already in that soup. When you're making a plan, you want the lowest number of moving parts necessary to accomplish your goal. From what I've seen of Eve — sorry, Mad Eve — and her paintings, by my figuring, all it would've taken would've been Captain van Dalen being a little late and you'd all be completely out of the picture. If the man can set events in motion before the Flood to make things happen after his own death… speaks of a pretty high degree of prescience to me."

Silas pauses, then shrugs. "Now… I don't know who One Eye is, or any of that, but if there's someone on your side who might be of a mind to snipe us, might be better to get that out in the open, yeah? We all know what the stakes are here, and if the left hand doesn't know what the right's doing, it lowers the chances of us pulling this off. And I think we can all agree that that's not a gamble we want to make, right? I'd as soon not find out halfway through that some madman has set the reactor to blow up out of spite," he says, looking to Saffron evenly for a moment.

"As to Else…" he trails off, then nods to Nathalie and Glory. "I think they've got the right of it. I can have a chat with her. We go a ways back, and talking about this has… given me some things to think about, anyway," he says.

Squeaks pulls in a breath, like she's preparing to say something right on the heels of Silas' offer to talk to Else, but she doesn't. Not at first anyway. Her lips fold in over her teeth and she looks at him in a side eye kind of way and shifts one shoulder up as a shrug. "I could take notes for you." It's a cautious card to play, and one she lays down after careful consideration. "So you can focus on what you want to talk about." And have something to relate back to later.

Destiny raises her hand, but with her elbow tucked against her body so her fingers are barely above the height of her shoulder, which means it isn’t held high at all. “I’d like to be there. She… I just think more friendly faces can only help, right?” She grimaces faintly, chin dipping a little as she lifts her hand to her head. Fingers massage at her temple, trying to work away a headache that’s settling in the more they talk about something just at the edges of her memory. “We can hash it out later.” She’s too busy trying to grasp on to the context that comes with the incredibly vivid memory of Marcus Raith in her mind.

At the end of Eve’s rant, with no move to touch her at all, Castle takes the joint they had intended to save out of their pocket and lights it up— puffs a few times to get it going before looking at the rest of the group, and the additional commentary that is made. Some interesting thoughts are stirring behind those blue-green eyes that shift depending on the way the light hits them. After a moment, they settle on green. As they start to speak, it’s with a more Irish accent again. It’s Basil at the helm. First, they look at Asi and comment, “You seem to think the worst of me in every universe.” But the way he says it, it sounds like a compliment. There’s a fondness to it.

“First of all— the NDA only matters to those of us who work for the OEI, and or wish to work for the OEI in the future. This is pretty much me, cause I was intending to still have my job after we save the world. So the NDAs may mean nothing to you, but they did mean something to me. So I hope you’ll be willing to write me a glowing recommendation for a new job that I will be needing when I get fired cause they will most definitely find out about this.” That might be directed at Mr. Ray, considering he actually owns a company and could write a glowing reference.

With that, they take a very long drag on the joint and then continue. “Secondly, there seems to be some conflicting information about the Remote Office that we’ll need to clear up, cause I’ve been at some of these exchanges and I recall the Remote office agents saying specifically that they still had issues with Mazdak. So somebody’s sources were wrong or the very Exchanges were corrupted, which opens up a whole different can of worms that we’ll need to worry about. So we’ll need to dive into that in more detail later on to get some answers, which some of us can work on while the others are talking to Else.”

There’s a glance at Elliot as if they would very much like to look into this in a more private setting, but they don’t ask directly about it.

“As for Marcus Raith— honestly, I barely dealt with him, even in the build-up to this mission, but— he tended to keep to himself. And while the mission that we are on is— was— vetted by multiple agents in both worlds— I do believe that it was Marcus Raith who brought the information that this mission was built on to the table.” So that confirms he may have laid all the groundwork that brought them there in the end.

“But if we’re not here to find something to save the world, what exactly were we sent here to find?”

Elliot meets Castle’s eyes and nods, there’s not much else to say. He’s been aware of some of this, unaware of other facets. Either way, he’s the only one with immediate access to information from Home Branch.

"I can think of a few reasons," Robyn remarks in a low, reluctant voice as she closes the song book with a heavy sigh. "Wouldn't you want connected, powerful people like Richard and Eve, people with the experience Chess and I have, and people with the abilities you and Elliot have out of the way?" She looks up at Castle, frowning. "Not to mention the effort made to make sure this was a one way trip."

She sucks in a deep breath, shaking her head. "Like I said, there was consternation on if Circles was about what happens if we fail, or if it's what happens when we succeed. Do we actually know the details of what we've been sent to find, or just a general idea? Last I checked, it was more the latter, and well… I mean, sometimes people just lie."

Her fingers curl around her chin, and she thinks for a moment. "I'm not saying any of that is concretely the case, because that's a road of paranoia, but… it's certainly looking more and more likely the more I learn." She rolls her shoulders, looking up and out into the distance. "As for NDAs, I sometimes feel like I'm one of the only ones trying to stick to mine, but…"

She looks over at Castle, shrugging. "If we thought we were going to get through all of this without some people figuring things out, we were kidding ourselves. We know the variants of many of these folks in our world, we know how smart they are. Sometimes operational procedure means knowing when it's better to read people in than shut them out, NDAs be damned."

Her gaze turns down at the ground, lips quirking side to side. "As for Else," she says quietly, "I can promise you confronting her won't yield any results, and getting rough about it is not something I'm going to allow. If someone else wants to talk to her… you're welcome to try. But I don't think you'll get much of use." She closes her eyes. "I've already tried. I don't think I can bring myself to try again."

Zee is quiet as the talk moves to the topic of possible problems with the people that sent the Away Team, looking down at the ground a bit uncomfortably, staying silent through the discussion for the moment.

At Asi’s question about who and what the name Kaito Nakamura means to the rest of them, whether he was affiliated with the entity, Chess presses her lips together. Her brows crease as she tries to figure out how to begin to answer that question. The world keeps turning, though, and more comments are made, more questions are asked.

Her blue gaze flits from person to person as they speak. She has nothing to add on the subjects of Mazdak or Raith, so when she speaks, it’s to answer Asi. “Yes,” is the short version. “He was aware of it, took DNA from people without their knowledge, and bred people, clones, to try to fight it.”

Her glance darts to Glory, then almost makes it to Squeaks before Chess stops short, redirecting it to Asi. “We failed.” She takes a breath. “I don’t know who he was in your world, except that you say he was your friend. His goals may have been noble,” she remembers vaguely that was the word Adam used, back in California. “When literally dozens of your sisters are created only to die in experiments like guinea pigs, it’s hard to see it as noble.”

Chess shrugs. “People here are different. I don’t exist here. He never did that here.”

Glory, looking remarkably lost, just slowly shakes her head and leans over to Chess. “I dunno who the fuck any of these people you’re talking about are.” She shrugs an apology, but it’s clear she’s using dry humor to mask discomfort in the talk about clones. She sees the situation markedly different. After all, she wouldn’t be alive without them.

Silas frowns at Robyn, though that frown grows deeper as Chess speaks. "No one's gonna get rough with Else if I have anything to say about it, either," he says, nodding once. He looks to Chess for a moment, but… there's nothing he can say in the face of that, so his gaze shifts to Glory instead — it's not hard to make out how lost she's looking. "Kaito Nakamura was a businessman over in Japan. Founded Yamagato Industries, as I understand, which… has a pretty big stateside presence in their timeline. Notsomuch here. Apparently a lot of things notsomuch here…" he says, glancing to Chess again at the last.

He pauses, frowning, his gaze going back to Glory as it occurs to him that he might have misread the source of her confusion. "You're, uh, up on all the timeline business, right?" he asks, concerned; she probably is judging from the fact that she's here, but if she's not, he's probably not the best to try to untangle that particular snarl.

Asi asked and she got her answer. Her expression recedes into a mask of deadpan, marred only by the slightest furrow of brow. She listens to that and the other musings before eventually looking back to Richard, since he was the one who started all of this. "Information is power, and there's something to be said for holding onto it if it gives you an edge, but that doesn't sound the case here." Her gaze swivels back to Castle to suppose to their question, "Maybe you were sent to find something to save the world— and just not be there to reap the benefits of it, because you'd all… do shit like this."

She waves one hand through the air. "Figure out he was up to something. Maybe he did it to become king when all of this is done? Or…"

Well, here's a thing she's not wanted to ask about.

"What exactly is what you're meant to find out here, anyway?" Asi wonders. "Did they tell you 'you know it when you'll see it', or…?"

“Don’t look at me, I’m the one they’re always yelling at because I’ve said so much. I tried to publicly reveal the existence of alternate timelines before, we even had immigration law proposals written up,” Richard mutters at Asi’s look, one hand coming up to rub against his forehead for a moment. There’s a lot being said here, a lot to digest.

He draws in a breath, judging how much he can say safely as he looks around before answering Asi’s question, “Our world’s about to be wiped out by a solar flare. Supposedly there’s some kind of solar shield technology being stored at the old HAARP facility– something to do with the magnetosphere. That’s what we’re after. We’re a hail mary to save everybody on our world. We’re building an ark in case we fail, and… current projections do suggest we fail, although humanity on our world lives on through that ark.”

“If Marcus just sent us here to get us out of the way– but you said you saw us handing something over, Eve?” His brow furrows, “What the hell are we handing over if we don’t have the solar shield tech? Or does it just not work?”

"By the time we're through with him you'll be running that goddess forsaken agency sweet pea." If her children are going to be sorta rule followers they should at least be making the rules no? Eve is over her outbursts and she looks to the sky for a moment as she materializes back into her physical form.

The others are speaking and Eve feels deep remorse for Chess, reaching out a hand and squeezing her leg, "There there Boomer, there there." She wants to promise to her friend that one day they will make those wrongs right but how could Eve promise such a foolish thing?

Best to use her mind for other things for right now but a sneaky idea begins to blossom in Eve's mind for later.

As for Richard's inquiry Eve turns her head and lifts an eyebrow. "Whatever we are giving him, I feel it isn't to help anyone but himself." This she doesn't know for sure but it feels likely. Eve is silent for a moment and then the pieces click together the way they do whenever the murder imp has a scheme in the works in her mind. "I propose a scheme!" It's said in her singsong rasp and she wiggles her fingers in the air. "If Gatesy is a good bean, we go to him. I think he may be a good bean… not too soft not too rigid. Just right. We give One Eyed Jack a fake and Gatesy the real one." And the bigger issue at hand, "We need to get a message to Monica and Hot Hands! She has the money to pursue, he has the hands, she has the know how. They will pursue! I know it."

As if she needs to repeat herself, "We need to kill Marcus Raith." Another puff of her joint. "Oh and, find those blades!" That's a lot to do, all from here…

"I didn't suggest being rough with Else," Nathalie points out from behind a crease of confusion on her face. "Just to talk to her. You guys are jumpy." Which she does understand, to a degree.

She goes quiet, though, because like Glory, there are a few names being thrown around that she was too dead to know about and Eve's nicknames aren't helping clear anything up for her. Her head tilts in consideration, though, because she is paying attention, even if she doesn't have all the details.

“I don't know most of those people either,” Squeaks asides to no one really. Maybe it's to Glory and Nathalie, since she flickers a look at each of them for echoing their thoughts. Her shoulders bounce with a shrug before she continues with, “but I do sometimes a person isn't comfortable with someone but is with someone else. Maybe it's how questions were asked before that Else didn't want to answer?” She's speculating, since she's only spent a little time around the seer and none of it was really recent.

Squeaks taps a finger against her chin as she circles back through what's been said. There's definitely a lot to wonder about — and plenty she's definitely curious on — but she holds onto those questions in favor of trying to absorb everything that's been said.

The talk of what’s meant to be found at the HAARP facility has Destiny glancing around, seeking a kind of consensus or confirmation in the faces of the others that this is what they’re after. That they believe it’s there, and that they haven’t just been sent on some kind of wild goose chase. She fidgets restlessly, looking on at Chess with sympathy and Eve with confusion. She also sometimes has trouble keeping her cousin’s nicknames for everyone and everything straight.

“Circles within circles, when you keep the pen to page,” Destiny sings, pulling the attention to herself and back to the reason they came out here. “Start to look like scribbles. None of us know how to act our age, but if…” Her voice falters, she remembers the melody more or less, hums it out to try and get herself back to where she was. “But if we try enough, maybe we can see our potential and stop the scribbling.”

Destiny scans the horizon she’s not actually focused on. “Maybe then we’ll make art out of nothing.” Her eyes close, humming again and mouthing the words she’s already sung until, “—r age. But if we look down from up high at all that we have done… Maybe we can one day see…”

The little blonde comes back to the group with her attention. “Maybe we can see where the scribbles have all begun.” She swallows, anxious now that she’s put the eyes on her. “That’s what she sang to me. Well, not to me, but when I was walking with her. That’s what she was singing.” None of that is written down in Robyn’s notes. Her arms wrap around herself, fingers curling into the fabric of her coat.

Anything to distract them from what’s waiting for them in Alaska.

It may not have been in Robyn's notes before but it is now, putting pencil to paper as she copies down as best she can what she's just heard Destiny sing. A look of frustration forms on her face, before she sighs and glances over in Nat's direction. "I know you didn't, I didn't mean to imply you did. I'm just… concerned. Else, she's, uh…" She trails off, shoulders tensing before she shakes her head and carries on. "Things are tense right now, and I'm worried about someone, anyone getting carried away."

Glancing over at Asi and Silas, her expression thins a bit. "We're supposed to be going to Mount Natazhat, just over the border in Alaska," so before they even get to Anchor, "to meet with my-" She pauses, closing her eyes and sighing before she looks over at Zee and instead motions to her. "To meet with Zee's parents, Charlotte Roux and Richard Drucker."

Zee perks up at the mention of her parents, giving a glance over to Nova at that. "Nova lives with the two of them!" she notes with an apologetic smile and a bright enthusiasm. "She, um. She may have more insight into my parents if anyone has questions or concerns though. I haven't seen mum since the flood, and dad since long before." That enthusiasm fades quickly, a sadness in her words as she continues.

"Together, they've supposedly managed to devise the technology Richard mentioned - Drucker is a technopath, and mum- Charlotte manipulates solar energy." Something about the way she has to phrase that sits bitter in her mouth, and it shows on her face. "It's something they couldn't do in our world for…" Eyes close half way, and she shakes her head. "For reasons."

Fingers curl around her chin as she looks over at Eve, and then at Richard. "The thing is, we were never supposed to bring back a physical object back with us. We're supposed to use a miniaturized version of the tech that got us here - not big enough to get us back, but enough to send data across."

"Anything beyond sending that data, though… that's outside our operational parameters. What Eve saw may be a metaphor - what we've been sent to get may not be what it seems, or it's put to uses not intended by its creators." Mostly because Robyn can't fathom her parents creating something that makes things worse, much less be willing to give it up.

"But for once, Eve and I agree on something. I can tell you - fairly definitively - that Agent Gates is one of the good guys, and I am beginning to believe Marcus Raith is a problem that likely needs eliminating."

A moment passes, and she tilts her head as she looks up and off to the side. "Speaking of Kaito, where the hell is Hiro?"

An idle thought, if anything.

“Circles within circles within circles— sounds like something my mom would say,” Castle says in a whispered breath, as they consider another puff on the joint they now hold in their hand. They refrain from it, though they are amused based on the smile tugging at the corner of their mouth. “Whatever it is in Alaska is something real. Sending us here took far too much effort for it to be anything else. Eve was already removed from the board all on her own. You other three, there are a dozen ways they could have distracted or removed you from play for a year without literally sending you to another world…”

And then they laugh, without much amusement. “And I volunteered. No one sent me anywhere. They would have had to order me to stay once the ground work was laid out.”

Now for the real problem.

As they answer the next idle thought and question, they start to move over to Elliot, “Hiro Nakamura is the reason we exist. Mad Eve’s kids. And why Mad Eve some of you all knew was so old. No need to lie about that anymore. I don’t know exactly why he took her back in time, or why he allowed her to stay behind, but we wouldn’t be here without that. Where he is now, we also couldn’t tell you that, unfortunately. I’m sure he’ll show up if he wants to.”

Then they stop and look at Elliot, seriously, and say something to him softly that only he — and Squeaks probably — can hear.

It takes more effort than Elliot would like to admit to keep from backing away from Agent Castle as they enter his space. It wouldn't do to inch away in a crowd of people, better to freeze than flee. The whisper only brings a thoughtful look to his face, but he doesn't press for reasoning.

"I am inclined to trust Gates," Elliot says after a moment. He doesn't address what he's been told, unsure how he even would. He's not sure if he's trying to convince Castle or the others. "He's been truthful with me when it would have better served the agency to uphold Raith's lie that got me to agree to this mission." The agent also went to lengths to preserve Elliot's secrets, meeting discreetly with Wright to discuss the connection of the agent's mindscape and the Palace; the Containment to the Palace's Switchboard. Elliot also has a direct line to the agent's psychic telephone, though he's not ready to play the 'car's extended warranty' card quite yet.

“I trust Gates, too,” Chess echoes, with a nod in Elliot’s direction. Her eyes seek Eve, her expression worried and conflicted at the mention of ‘Hot Hands’ and Monica, but she sets aside those apprehensions and anxieties for the moment.

“And all I got for that circles lyric is that it could be describing this meeting.” She reaches for the joint from whoever’s taken it for another hit.

Nova’s been quiet, letting those ‘hired’ from the outside world do the talking. When Asi asks what it is they’re supposed to find, she looks like she might speak, but the conversation moves swiftly and each time she’s about to, someone else speaks up. Giving up, she sips from her thermos, the scent of tea and honey wafting from the steaming vessel. She nods in confirmation of what’s said to be in Alaska, but offers no further insight as the conversation veers onto another track again.

Squeaks' head tilts to the side when Destiny begins singing. She scrapes her lower lip with her teeth while the words roll around in her head, matching them up against the words Robyn provided. She doesn't notice Castle coming over until she recognizes a bumper of discomfort coming from Elliot. A look is angled upward at Castle, warily curious and suspicious in turns as she watches them the whole time he's nearby. But she doesn't show any outward sign that she heard anything.

Squeaks turns back to the group as a whole unit once Elliot speaks up again. Her shoulders shift up and down with a small shrug. Whoever Gates is, she doesn't know enough to voice an opinion. "Circles could mean a lot of things," she offers without commitment to it in any sense.

Asi begins to frown slowly when the specifics behind what's in Alaska become better explained, or at least re-explained in current context. She starts to air an answer to Robyn's question when Castle approaches Elliot and she falls silent. A glow enters her eyes for just a moment, and when Castle steps back, they track their presence.

She blinks once, slow, and the color fades from her eyes. She seems unnerved for a moment, but Elliot goes on speaking, and she settles, glancing to Silas at her side before drawing her arms in a fold before her to close herself off.

"That unwritten song is interesting," she points out quietly. "'Stop going in circles' works only when we know what's a circle and what's not, here, if that's meant to be… this, us." Her head shakes just slightly. "I dunno if any of us are able to look up from 'up high', either."

Silas has mostly just nodded along for awhile now, seeming unsurprised at most of what's been said — about Mad Eve and Hiro. About Roux and Drucker.

Most of his attention is on the details. Elliot freezing as Saffron draws near and… whispers something to him, looks like. Nova starting to speak, then deciding against it. Asi seeming momentarily unnerved. He glances to her as she glances to him, sees her cross her arms — later then, perhaps. Mt. Natazhat is new information, though; he files that one away.

"Up high… top of a mountain, maybe," Silas observes. "And as for acting our age…" he pauses, grinning. "Never been much good at that," he admits with a chuckle. The moment of levity is brief, though. "Could that be talking about, uh, 'Ninbanda' or whoever it is?"

Glory frets at a loose thread coming out of her sweater, brows furrowed and attention mostly downcast during this part of the conversation. Mention of Hiro Nakamura has Glory shifting her footing from side to side, musing something over in her head. Finally, she figures out a way to speak up about it.

“Nakamura. The one from here?” Glory says, pointing at the ground. “He’s back where you all are from.” She says rather pointedly to Robyn. She doesn't explain how she knows. Not here. “But as far as anyone knows he's dead. There's a couple people back home who say they met him. Learned some stuff before things got bad. Only thing I know for sure is, he caused the first known deviation in timelines.”

Glory glances at Castle, then back to Richard. “Branch one. Hiro Nakamura travels to Coyote Sands and discreetly saves the lives of Angela Petrelli, Charles Deveaux, Daniel Linderman, and Bob Bishop. Those four people not being dead changed everything.” She rolls her shoulders. “Single raindrops and floods and all that shit.”

Looking at Asi, Glory nods once. “Kaito Nakamura and his son stopped the flood. I don't know if that makes either of them trustworthy. But there’s that.” She looks back down to the ground, tense. “And that's all I'm gonna say about that.”

“Funny,” Richard mutters under his breath, “I didn’t see either of them there in Antarctica.”

The younger version of Mad Eve looks from side to side and smokes her joint discreetly, nothing to see here.

More of them are commenting on circles and Eve's eyes bulge and she grins nervously, absolutely nothing to see here. Castle is unveiling their secret though and for a moment the woman can focus on something else. "Time fairies. I think they had a deal. Not sure how." Eve squints and rubs her head, "The memories of my hosts remain when I'm in here, they are just scattered, I have no ownership. Specks of time I cannot fathom totally. But these are different, maybe they feel me as being alien but familiar." A pause, "I've seen his face briefly, nothing more yet. Maybe I can dig." Anything information could maybe help them find him, contact him, anything.

The topic of circles still hangs in the air and Eve sighs, "Warren face was right." She throws up her hands and points at Richard, "Don't you tell him I told you that!" Their relationship hinges on Eve keeping the upper hand against Warren's rather large and crazy brain. "He would always say, we're in a loop! I've figured it out Eve!" She leans forward looking at everyone as smoke curls around her features. "I used to humor him, it's what any good lover does." Eve she shrugs lightly with a raised eyebrow and snort, "But I started to see these things, I started to remember a circle."

The sense of foreboding in her tone has been present since she first began to speak. "It was an ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail. I'm also not sure how but I fear he was right. This is a loop."

Flicking the ash onto the ground and taking another hit she exhaled deeply and tilts her head up to the sky, "Have you noticed? Hm. We're seeing the same things, Else and I. I'm sure young Tam would say similar things. Our tapestries are connected by frayed threads."

That scares Eve more than anything. It was easy to discount one seer's prophecies but when they begin to repeat in others…

Destiny wrinkles her nose a little bit. The smell of weed, the notion of certain people, the thought she had about views from upon high and Mt. Natazhat that she wouldn’t speak out loud, lest it draw attention back to the place. The little blonde’s eyes land on Nova and the things she doesn’t say.

Castle’s ability in use is starting to make her bones ache. “Is there anything else we can actually do with what we know now?” Destiny asks without guile or condescension. “Or is this just information we can arm ourselves with to… I don’t know, keep a weather eye on the horizon?” She glances to Silas and Asi in turn before making an offer to the group. “I can keep close to Else, if we want. See if she says anything else?”

“I know there’s been a lot of scoffing at NDAs and the like already today…” Castle says as they move away from Elliot, perhaps sensing the discomfort or wishing to return to where they had been standing originally. “But we should try to keep what we’ve talked about to those here. What happens in the Castle, and everything.” It’s almost a joke, but— not. “If you come up with anything that pertains to the prophecies, bring it up to Robyn.” They look at the singer/SESA agent. Since she had brought this to their attention, they assume they should be in charge of collecting the interpretations if anyone thinks of anything new.

“And yes, keeping an ear out for anything that Else may say, even in passing, is probably a good idea. She may not realize she’s still predicting the future, but she definitely is.”

Even if they won’t know what any of it means until the future arrives. “I hate prophecy,” she mutters, before taking a drag from the joint as the green shelter around them begins to pull inward, drawn back into their keystone and dissipating. The state shifts and reverses, and everyone, except Castle, ends up back where they had been when it went up. No joints in hand. Back to as tired as they had felt a few moments ago.

But at least Eve still has her joints?

"Eve," Nat says, letting out a sigh, "you need higher standards." Which has nothing to do with why they're here, and is also the last thing she says before Castle gives them a reset. She shakes it off, stepping over to Chess to address her in a low voice. "You'll have to explain to me who Gates is sometime."

She missed the briefing. Of course, she was dead at the time.

Glory's bombshell sees Silas's eyes widen in shock; even the collapse of Saffron's bubble and the subsequent reversion of their states is only a momentary distraction. "Daniel Linderman?" he murmurs, bewildered; everything he'd heard about the man indicates that his existence had made the world worse, not better — to hear Glory say that his existence had been one of the prime factors in preventing the Flood has thrown him for a loop.

Silas's gaze finds Glory again, regarding her with confusion. He can't help but wonder: How does she even know that?

There's a pressure change that rolls through Elliot as the non-space collapses and his door to Wright reopens. Her nervousness is felt powerfully but briefly before being replaced with a wave of relief. She steps into his perspective and he sighs to have the sensation return to him. His fingers drum anxiously on his legs for a moment before stilling. "Maintain black box for now," he says to the side, not offering up his memories of the conversation.

Richard just looks mildly pained at the reminder that Eve’d slept with his brother, but otherwise does his best to immediately forget that she’d just said it. He’s been quiet for a bit, listening to others talk, his expression grim at best.

His lips part– but then Castle’s speaking, and time resets. It’s mildly discomfiting, and he blinks a few times as he readjusts his position, a little shiver shaking through his shoulders. “Man, I hope I never get used to that,” he murmurs, hands coming up to adjust the collar of his jacket. Then he turns to walk away from the gathering, hands tucking into pockets, brow furrowed in thought.

Squeaks’ head lifts and she looks skyward when she feels the change in pressure around her. Her mouth opens in a wide yawn and she gives her head a small shake, trying to fix her ears. “Too weird,” she murmurs to herself, casting a curious side eye up at Elliot when he speaks. But of what he says, the tapping, and even the little sensations over the network she doesn't draw attention to.

Destiny looks slightly worse for wear when the Castle recedes. She’s exactly where she was, not where she started. Her shoulders roll, first one and then the other, and her lip curls faintly in a grimace. While the meeting is over, she’s not quick to break away just yet, lingering even as she watches Richard’s retreating form with a faint look of concern.

"Well, hopefully this helped," Asi surmises in an aside to Silas. Her eyes don't leave Castle, finding him after his bubble of time around them has dropped and shifted them all back where they began. Her eyes narrow for a moment, and without waiting for someone to and one other thing the conversation, turns to head back to the bus. "Until then, I'm gonna get a few more minutes of sleep." Even as she heads that way, though, she thumbs the metal hei matau hanging from a leather cord on her neck, like that might make any more of this make sense.

Give them any more a chance they had than before they huddled under that dome of green.

"He is very attentive!!" Is the reply Eve gives to Nathalie with a cackle.

Eve is already lighting one of her now unlit joints as the castle comes down, she looks up at the sky and tilts her head. "We watch, we prepare and act when the moment comes. Keeping an eye on sister seer Else is best," agreeing with Destiny and then she falls silent. Cradling her sketchbook to her chest she simply stands up and walks away. Humming softly to herself, smoke trailing behind her mingling with the wisps of crimson mist that waft from her shoulders. She has work to do.

As the group breaks apart, Glory lingers on its periphery with arms crossed and head down, brows furrowed. She sucks in a breath through her teeth, watches Silas from across the unfolding circle of bodies, and once she finds a gap wedges herself between the disassembling group, cutting across the wet earth.

“Hey,” Glory calls, soft but firm as she hustles up to Silas’ side. “Let’s reorient, prime?” She pumps her brows, then catches herself in the moment and laughs off the odd phrasing. “But seriously, we should talk.”

As the group disbands, they leave numerous tracks out across the wet field that eventually fade into the grass.

But the gouges in the ground where they all stood together, those are indelible.

In that moment they were one circle with many points of origin.

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