ǝsdᴉlɔƎ ʇɥƃᴉupᴉW


bf_edward_icon.gif bf_sarisa_icon.gif

Scene Title ǝsdᴉlɔƎ ʇɥƃᴉupᴉW
Synopsis Edward Ray tumbles down the rabbit hole.
Date July 11, 2021

Under the glow of pale fluorescent lights, Edward Ray is an innocuous silhouette. He moves with brisk, purposeful steps down the tiled hallway, passing numbered doors on his left while the East River is visible against the city lights out the wall of windows to his right. He stops at one of the furthest doors in the hall, fiddling with a key to open a padlock which is surreptitiously tucked into his pocket. Crouching, Edward opens the storage locker and steps inside, the number 26 on the wall beside the entrance.

The back wall of the storage locker has a pegboard that is currently pinned with two dozen or more newspaper clippings, each connected by lines of red string to colored pushpins. There is a work bench below the pegboard where a spool of red yarn sits partly unwound along with old magazines, scraps of newspapers, printed articles from the internet, scissors, paper clips. It’s like a scrapbooking nook, except tuned to high-paranoia projects. Cardboard boxes are stacked up on either side of the storage unit and are flush to the door, allowing for single-file entrance only into the space. The boxes are full of newspapers, stacks of them are slouched against one wall.

Edward navigates to the pegboard at the back of the room, surveilling the string map that contains a mashup of clippings from newspapers half a century old. At the center of it all, though, is a clipping from the Philadelphia Inquirer from March of 1999. It shows an old man holding a photograph of a younger man, and a headline that reads:

Ship’s Myth Keeps Reappearing For Crew of USS Eldridge

The article is about a reunion of octogenarian former US Navy officers who served aboard a ship called the USS Eldridge during World War II and a conspiracy theory that suggests the ship may have been a part of a government experiment that displaced it in time. The article doesn’t take that science fiction seriously, but instead focuses on the old crew members' lives and how the media around their service on the ship focuses on the supernatural.

Fanned out from that page are clippings about the USS Eldridge, how it was decommissioned and allegedly sold to the nation of Greece in 1951. Other articles fan out from that one, showing photographs of two different US Navy ships, comparing the exhaust stacks. Handwritten notes suggest that it isn’t the same ship as older photos.

There's blurry black and white photos of someone in a dark suit with their back to the camera. Additional clippings show military service records and a War Department identification card for a Marcus L. Raith issued September 25, 1936. String from that connects to a series of newspaper articles without datelines or publication headers with a series of alarming titles:

RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch In Roswell Region
Strange Lights Seen Over Skowhegan
5 Missing After Late Night Gas Explosion
Area Woman Claims Room In House Disappeared
US Airforce Douglas C-54 Skymaster Disappeared En Route Alaska to Montana
Farmer Claims “Men In Black” Stole UFO Wreckage

There’s dozens of articles like these, some are decades old and others of the oldest articles look like photocopies or computer print-outs. Down near the bottom of the board, though, is an empty space. Edward withdraws a photograph from his jacket, laying it down on the workbench and adds a few Post-It notes to it, scribbling names on most and a question mark on the other. He frowns at the image, then adds it to the empty space on his string map.


"How did you do it?" Edward asks in a whisper, stepping back to review his project.

Manhattan Mini-Storage
New York City

July 11th
7:17 pm

Edward is unsurprised when Sarisa Kershner arrives shortly after him, running a gloved hand over the dust collected on the boxes funneling her to the pegboard at the back of the storage locker. "You dragged me out here for…" Sarisa says without a greeting, "arts & crafts?" She plucks at one of the strings, only for Edward to gently touch her gloved hand and nudge it away.

"Don't." He requests softly.

Sarisa shakes her head and steps closer to the group photo of the Project Icarus team, motioning to the question mark. "I've seen him before," she says thoughtfully, eliciting a side-long look from Edward. "Or, someone who looked very similar."

"When?" Edward asks with an incredulous squint.

"2007," Sarisa answers without needing to think about it. "Epstein, Lancaster, and I were at a funeral for Jensen Raith's father, Roy. Roy was from the previous generation of Royals, Jensen had taken his place when he retired. He was… basically a surrogate father to Epstein. There was a man at the funeral, outside, looked just like this." She crosses her arms and shifts her weight to one foot. "He didn't say anything, but he was watching us. Game recognized game, as my daughter says, and I picked him out of the crowd for a spook. Not terribly surprising, all things considered. But something about him stuck with me. I think it was the eye patch."

"And he looked just like this?" Edward asks, motioning to the photo from decades prior.

Sarisa nods. "Exactly like that. I don't even think he wore his hair differently. So, what is it. Time travel?"

"I don't know," Edward admits, crossing his arms and then absently chewing on his thumbnail. "He could be, but there's so few temporal manipulators capable of traversing time. Nakamura's the most likely culprit. But it's not like we can ask him."

"You don't think he can do it himself?" Sarisa wonders.

"No. Arthur or… maybe it was Samson? Killed him at some point during Pinehearst's reign. If either of them had gotten their hands on the power to travel time we'd never have stopped them. I found records confirming the kill, addresses for safehouses. Marcus was apparently still in the shadow government business, manipulating elections, maneuvering political pieces. Whichever of the two got to him cut him down at the root quickly."

Sarisa tilts her head to the side. "And he made it out unscathed in the Home Office's turf." She opines, one brow raised. "Why are we investigating the OEI's director?"

"Bad gut feeling," Edward lies, and Sarisa doesn't buy it for a moment. But she also doesn't push it. "I can't know for certain if Raith is a temporal manipulator, he might have some kind of age-manipulating ability."

"Like Albert Winslow," Sarisa agrees. "How close to the vest are you keeping this?"

"You and Agent Van Dalen are the only two I trust inside the agency."

"And outside?" Sarisa presses.

Edward just gives her a little shrug and a smug little smile he gets when he can hold a piece of information over her head. "I need your help," he explains, motioning to the articles about the USS Eldridge. "Tracking these down. I imagine you still have some pull at the Center?"

Sarisa nods, inspecting the article clippings. "I do," she says absently, "but a lot of this will be classified under the Office of Naval Intelligence. They're less likely to play ball, but I have some thumbs I can bend." She glances at Edward. "But first you're going to tell me why, or I walk."

Sighing, Edward leans against a stack of boxes. "Some trusted sources fed me intelligence that has me suspecting that we're falling into old patterns." He raises his brows.

"Like Petrelli?" Sarisa asks, briefly meeting Edward's eyes before looking back at the photograph. "So, what, we're helping another megalomaniac? He doesn't even exist here."

"Let's say, for the sake of hypotheticals," Edward begins, pacing away from the wall, "that we were working for a person capable of playing both sides against the middle. Of supporting an extremist terror campaign with one hand, and propping up the US Government with the other. You left the CIA to get away from that, and found yourself right back where you started. We can't let our world be tainted by that kind of legacy. We have to know who we're dealing with."

Sarisa looks long and intently at the photograph of Marcus Raith and scowls. "I'll pull some strings," she says softly, then glances to Edward. "Why aren't you pulling yours?"

Edward looks away, guilty. "Because if I involve Kaylee, and something happens to her, I'll never forgive myself." He looks up at Sarisa. "No offense, but we're not as attached."

Sarisa smirks, appreciating the pragmatism. "I don't see the harm in getting some files. I'll find everything I can on him. I might be able to pull collected copies under the Lonestar Act. But I expect much of it will be redacted." She steps around Edward, heading for the narrow path between the boxes again.

"Any bit of information counts." Edward says with a hopeful smile. "And, Sarisa?"

"Don't thank me." She interrupts. "Because if you get one hair on my daughter's head hurt," she glances back over her shoulder at him, then just smiles threateningly. Edward nods in humble understanding, and Sarisa slips out of the storage locker, quietly making her way back down the hall.

Edward lets out a sigh it feels like he's been holding in forever and deflates ever so much, fixated on the photo of Marcus from the 1940s.

"What are we not seeing?" He wonders, and hopes that by the time they do

it won't be too late.

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