Dividing Line


elisabeth_icon.gif ff_chel_icon.gif

Scene Title Dividing Line
Synopsis With Richard missing, Elisabeth turns to his genius mother in the hopes of deciphering one of his pet projects.
Date January 6, 2020

Although she'd intended to bring Michelle here a couple of days ago, Elisabeth got pulled out for a job. And then yesterday afternoon, Richard Cardinal — she still in her head refuses to use Ray — was kidnapped. It has been a madhouse of activity around RayTech, and the arrest of Rue Lancaster for it is going to keep law enforcement circles in a tizzy as well. Michelle clearly needs something to do to keep her occupied, and Elisabeth has to believe that figuring out what the hell the damages of the Entity are can only help matters when — NOT IF — her husband makes it home. And now is as good a time as any, while the arrest is ongoing and she's removed from duty.

RayTech Branch Office
Executive Storage Room

Jackson Heights, NYCSZ
January 6th
8:08 am

One might wonder why a 'storage room' has keycard security that only the Board of Directors has access to, with no cameras inside that connect to the security system. One would be right to wonder such a thing, because what's stored in this room certainly falls on the side of the unusual.
The center of the large storage room is framed by four plastic latticeworks that stretch from floor to ceiling - with openings at the four corners to allow entrance between. Strings are tied off to the lattice in a variety of colors, attaching here and there amongst each other, twisting together or stretching off to another part of the latticework. A whole host of them have been cut loose and no longer connect where they used to. Four pairs of goggles hang from the latticework, which when worn reveal AR tags and images attached to various strings, which can be viewed and manipulated.
The grey walls are hung with art prints of unusual paintings, each carefully labelled with dates and artist names like Brill, Mendez, Redhouse and Mas, with additional notes available through the AR goggles of theories about what they predicted and whether they came to pass or were averted - or are unknown. There's an entertainment system including a record player set in another part of the room, with a collection of Else Kjelstrom's music carefully and lovingly archived with it. Elsewhere, file cabinets line the walls loaded with hard-copy records and notes that have never been put into digital form.

"Welcome to Richard's playroom," Elisabeth sighs as she lets the two of them inside. It looks a little different than it did a week ago and it takes the blonde a few moments to realize that somewhere in the past several days, Richard came in here and started cutting shit down, replacing things and changing it all around. After she told him about the dream, perhaps? There are strings that used to connect places that no longer do.

She closes the door carefully behind them and makes her way cautiously into the maze of remaining strings.

Chel enters her son’s archive with the trepidation of an old-world explorer entering the tomb of King Tut for the first time; carrying a mixture of awe and worry. Her eyes wander the collections of paintings, song lyrics pressed behind glass, networks of pinned strings and ephemera from a decade of conspiracy solving, conspiracy building, and conspiracy destroying. Elisabeth can feel the sigh that Chel gives on seeing some of the paintings, her fingers brushing a hair’s breadth away from them, mindful not to actually touch their delicate ecosystems of canvas, oil, and acrylic.

“This is… comprehensive,” Chel says in a breathy voice. Her eyes continue to wander the displays, curiosity taking her focus to the headsets, trying to divine their purpose in all of this as tool or museum piece. She looks back to her ostensible tour guide, one brow raised, waiting for a direction so as to not simply wade into the deep end and never return.

Picking up one of the headsets with a faint frown, Elisabeth hands it off to Michelle. And then the slips one set on her head, checking to see if she's imagining things. She's not. "He changed it all," she murmurs. "This isn't the same map that was here last week." Though why the hell she knows these strings well enough to tell that just by looking is probably not a conversation she wants to have.

Initializing the AR goggles, Elisabeth sighs. "All right. Fuck. He's revamped all the timelines — we're going to both be … well, you'll be starting from scratch, which is good. Fresh eyes. I'll have to reorient." She grins a little wearily at her mother-in-law. "Just on a side note, I've been half-convinced for about a decade that your son inherited at least some of your brains. Because seriously, how he keeps this shit straight in his head is beyond me."

Once the goggles are engaged, the room is overlaid with little blinking tags - a touch brings them to life and expands them, revealing the details noted on them. It’s a very friendly UI, more than likely due to Richard’s lack of skill with software.

The paintings have artist names and dates of acquisition - and date of creation when known - and notes on possible interpretations or fulfillment of the included prophecies. The lyric sheets are the same, along with an option to play the music itself over the headsets. Some of the songs lack this, because the sheets Robyn acquired were never actually recorded.

The most complicated tags are, of course, with the strings stretched and connected in the middle of the room, using the latticework as a frame to hold them up and taut. Those have both audio and transcription of Richard’s thoughts when making them, as well as minor tags saying what each string represents.

With the headset on, Chel sees the world in a whole other light. “This is a lot, but it’s… there’s a logic behind it. Somewhere.” She steps past the paintings, focusing on the strings, but finding herself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data. She reaches out to touch virtual Post-It notes with names and dates, clips of news footage from before and after the civil war. She shakes her head, turning to look at Elisabeth.

“What… am I looking for here?” Chel has to ask, because there’s so much information here she could spend weeks, if not months, absorbing it all before coming to even a rudimentary understanding of some sort of bigger picture. And that’s without even considering the false positive of confirmation bias that worries in the back of her head. “I wouldn’t even know where to start looking, or— or what I’m looking for…”

Still, Chel reaches out toward the string representing her timeline, touching a finger on the date marked June 18, 1982.

Timeline designate ‘Flood’; the closest we have to an original and unaltered timeline. Major deviation was when the Munin explosive in Antarctica detonated, creating worldwide flooding.

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

Footnote. Absence of a Richard Cardinal from this timeline creates uncertainty; this timeline may have splintered earlier due to unknown reasons.

It's a good question. Pulling in a slow breath, Elisabeth herself has to study the strings and the related commentary. And something catches her attention. Her fingertips touch the blue string representing Michelle's timeline and she says, "I'm … not sure he's actually right about some assumptions." Glancing at Chel, she says quietly, "Something Captain Ryans said to me — There's wasn't enough information in your world about powered people. The major deviation isn't at the Flood Point. It has to be earlier because your world didn't have the Midtown blast in 2006. So, is it back in '82? Here… they knew about them as far back as the 1960s. The Company had records. And I'm pretty sure a good bit of information came from even before that, in the '40s. But … your world didn't have a lot of it. Maybe it was just destroyed or something, but… the blast from Looking Glass only went one direction, as far as I understand it. Something like 15 or 20 people from your world shunted sideways into the next timeline. And those two carried on in parallel until the next major split."

Her words are slow, and Elisabeth clearly still struggles with a lot of this. "But why would the 1982 Looking Glass explosion only go one direction? Is it because there was no other timeline? And if, as has been suggested, the Entity that came through has a deliberate agenda… does it mean the particular people who shunted through were not in fact random?" This is the kind of shit that keeps Elisabeth awake at night sometimes — //too much/ information that has no apparent context. "We have to find a way to stop it from whatever it's up to. It intends a lot more death, Michelle."

“You’re ascribing motivation to something that might not have one,” Chel says as she continues looking over the data. “Whatever that thing was that came through the Looking Glass after us… it was a presence more than a person. It couldn’t even do anything until it took over that woman.” Eve. “So, that doesn’t sound like something that makes long-term plans… without at least having other concrete evidence to the contrary, anyway.”

Chel ducks under a string, following the flood timeline back. “The major difference I’ve noticed in my world versus yours is that we found out about Evolved— Expressives— differently than you. The Department of Evolved Affairs in my time was dramatically different than the one that formed here. But it went all the way back to the original post World War II research at— ”

Chel makes a soft aha sound and plucks something on the Prime timeline string. “Coyote Sands. I never knew about it until I joined the DoEA. Apparently back in the early sixties there was a… it was a concentration camp, for people like us. Every single man, woman, and child there died in a riot, and the government instilled major reforms on their handling of people like you and I. Coyote Sands was swept under the rug, but the tragedy there informed the governmental arms that secretly monitored our kind for years after the fact.”

Stepping under another string, Chel looks around at the data points. “But here, that was different. Richard’s mentioned the Company a lot, and I’ve done my homework. It sounds like on this side of things, there were survivors who went on to form the Company. In my world, as far as I know only one person lived.” She looks back to Elisabeth. “The former Head of the DoEA’s wife. Angela Petrelli.”

That brings Elisabeth's eyes around to Michelle, narrowed. Of all fucking people. "Arthur Petrelli was the head of your DoEA?" Was Coyote Sands the split, then, between the Flood and here? Elisabeth's gaze behind the AR goggles takes in the line and then she reaches out and adds a data point to the lines — the information that Angela was the only survivor, that Arthur Petrelli headed the flooded world's DoEA.

"Here," the blonde says quietly, "Petrelli and his wife Angela were among the original Founders of the Company and split off to create Pinehearst. The theory seemed to be that Pinehearst would balance out the Company and its methods." Which isn't really what was going on there, but… Her words are slow, and Elisabeth is thinking hard. "There were others who split off from there — Charles Deveaux and Kaito Nakamura are the primary names among those." She waits to see if those are in any way familiar to Michelle.

There's also a long moment of pause while she lets her mother-in-law think on those bits of information before she says quietly, "It's far more than just a presence now — it's a being. It's … some think it may have been the first of us or the source of our abilities. There are other theories. But I can tell you for a fact it's sentient. And it has a purpose. And it is desperate to be resurrected physically. It's exactly what Don was raving out, calling it his God. It's not a God. It's a being that the Founders of the Company trapped between superstrings."

Much of Michelle’s expression is hidden behind her goggles, but the way in which she has laser-focused on the information contained in each augmented reality clipping is visible in her body language. In the stillness Elisabeth has come to associate with her mind working on overdrive, as if the rest of her body can't keep up so it just… stops.

“Nakamura,” Michelle says under her breath, reaching up to touch a news article about Kaito’s death over a decade ago. “He was the CEO of a major corporation in my world,” she explains, focusing into the data point she has any frame of reference for. “Yamagato Industries provided the DoEA with technology as a subcontractor. I don't know much about his son, Hiro, he wasn't in the family business…” Michelle traces that string and stops abruptly on a news article about Kimiko not attending the Yamagato gala in New York a couple years ago.

Shifting a look to Elisabeth, Chel asks, “Who is this?” She points to Kimiko’s photo, but the question seems somewhat rhetorical. The data contained in the augmented reality section shows what little Richard has been able to dig up on her, primarily public information including her birthdate:


“Kaito Nakamura didn't have a daughter,” Chel says with a look back to Elisabeth, and from her tone it's clear that Michelle isn't sure how that changes the relationships between these two timelines, but it is a divergence so far back in time as to be noteworthy. Kaito was never at Coyote Sands, nor was his wife Ishi. So what was the difference? Would either of them even know if it they saw it?

"Wait… Kaito didn't have a daughter, but he still had a son?" Elisabeth adds a notation that Kimiko wasn't born in Flood. "That's…" She pauses.

"Okay." With a long pause, the audiokinetic lays out slowly, double checking Richard's notes and pinning a couple of additional ones in the Coyote Sands spot she's looking at. "Honestly, I have to admit I wondered if that was a point of divergence for us once I'd talked to Ryans in your world. In this world, Coyote Sands in 1961 experienced a breakout. Alice Shaw, Angela Shaw Petrelli's sister, created a storm to try to get them out of the concentration camp. Charles Deveaux, Daniel Linderman, Robert Bishop, and Alice and Angela Shaw all survived. We know… that Adam Monroe was a guard there," Elisabeth says slowly. "In a really huge clusterfuck of circumstances…. A 2040 version of Richard here traveled back in time to that camp and killed most of the guards, helping to allow the kids to escape. They, in turn, created the Company and spun off into three separate camps of people: The Company, Pinehearst, and the Deveaux Society."

Christ. Elisabeth remembers wondering how many different timelines Hiro Nakamura had seen and how many times he'd tried to change things. She had seen the same insanity in Ezekiel. But… in this world, Ezekiel was at least part of the reason the founders all escaped. But… what the fuck does that even mean? "This might be a stupid question, but … please look at the facts Richard has compiled of the Kensei story and fucking tell me that Ezekiel… isn't the whole fucking reason the Entity even exists or something crazy like that?" she demands desperately. Worst. Case. Scenario. Please, dear fucking God, let that be CRAZY TALK.

Michelle glances over at the collection of books, VHS cassettes, old DVDs, and museum tour pamphlets with a crease of her brows. “I’m not your Edward,” she says with a slow shake of her head, “I can’t make mountains of molehills or…” she waves her hands vaguely at the information, “connect those dots. I’ll be honest, Elisabeth, I don’t truly know what to make of all of this except that it’s a tremendous amount of information.”

Taking her goggles off, Michelle looks at the room with fresh eyes again, then sets the goggles back down where she’d picked them up from. “I don’t know if anyone could have made heads or tails of all of this, not without their own personal biases getting in the way. The only person who could see all of this is someone who knows the past and the future, and I have a feeling there isn’t anyone alive out there who can honestly admit to that feat.”

“I’m sorry,” Michelle says with a look down to the goggles, then back up to Elisabeth. “This is all… interesting. Fascinating, honestly. But there’s a fine line between genius and madness, and following threads like these?” She looks around the room and shakes her head. “It’s the latter’s work.”

"Now all you have to do is convince your son of that… or I need to find Edward's daughter," Elisabeth retorts quietly. She drags her own goggles off with a sigh. "Maybe we're all fucking crazy, I don't even know. This?" She waves a hand at the room, looking over Richard's brainchild. "I don't know if it's insanity in and of itself. I just know this is how he makes sense of it all. I never understood half of it, but… it always seems to lead somewhere." Even if that somewhere is not the best place. She pauses though. "The trick with Richard is never letting him get too tangled up. I've seen what happens when he does that." There is sorrow in those words, regret.

"Thanks for looking it over, Michelle," she stays finally. "I appreciate it. I'm sure he will too."

And that much, right there, means more to Michelle than any world in need of saving or any mystery to be solved. The only thing that matters to her, the only thing that has mattered for so many years, is her family. The son she lost, the daughter she lost finding her son again, and the husband who died so long ago she can barely remember his face.

The thought of that has Michelle pausing in mid-stride, catching a clipping out of her peripheral vision of a news report printed off of the internet. Prison Break at Liberty Island Detention Center, the headline reads. Her shoulders tense, back straightens, and jaw flexes. She looks away, down to the floor, then to the door out of the room.

“I'm glad,” Michelle belatedly says. She is, though. Glad Elisabeth showed her this. Glad she reminded her of what was missing…

…and what could be found again.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License