End Of Days


adam_icon.gif alix_icon.gif chess3_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif ivy_icon.gif squeaks4_icon.gif joy_icon.gif

lanhua_icon.gif lene2_icon.gif niki_icon.gif ryans4_icon.gifsabine_icon.gif val_icon.gif vi_icon.gif

Scene Title End of Days
Synopsis Adam Monroe begins to reveal his plan and what is at stake.
Date February 8, 2020

The sun is setting…

Standing silhouette against the sun, Adam Monroe watches the shadows cast by Praxia’s industrial landscape stretch out like grasping fingers over the land. His jaw muscles flex in tense anticipation while his shadow stretches out long and far as his back, stretching over his desk, grasping across the tile floor, and coming to touch the threshold of his office entrance. He built this city, built something to last, but the fear that keeps his feet planted in one spot is the knowledge that all of this is temporary.

The sun is setting…

The sound of the door opening draws Adam’s attention away from the sun, and the sunspots in his eyes from staring unblinking at it clear within seconds, where any other person might go blind. Sabine Hazel shows herself into Adam’s office with a mirrored tension in her posture, dark hair held back in a tight ponytail, her sleek pinstripe suit crisp and pressed. Today, she is prepared for business. “They’ve all gathered…” she says with a motion out the door, and Adam takes a moment to look back one last time at the horizon.

The sun is setting…

…and today, it sets on him.

Praxis Ziggurat, Executive Conference Room
Praxia, California Safe Zone
February 8th
5:16 pm Local Time

Never once has this collection of people been gathered in the same place as they have today.

The executive conference room on the uppermost level of the Praxis Ziggurat is an expression of angled concrete, tall windows spilling with the golden rays of setting sunlight to the west, and stark shadows cast by the partially closed horizontal blast screens on the ziggurat’s exterior. A long, black glass conference table surrounded by chairs fills much of the room, populated by a menagerie of rogues brought together by none other than Adam Monroe.

Chess Lang sits beside her ostensible sister Alix Glass, and down the line the remaining clones, Violet Sharp, Valerie Swift, and Ivy Hollows are gathered side-by-side. Across the table, Jolene Chevalier has her hands folded in her lap and a worried look leveled at her mother sitting beside her. Gillian Childs thought days like this were long gone, where clandestine meetings about the fate of the world ended when the civil war came to a close. But here, now, she’s found not only herself but her entire family wrapped up in these affairs. Her adopted daughter, Jac, sits beside her with Niki Zimmerman on the other side. Next to Niki, Benjamin Ryans is yet another unlikely face added to this meeting, and the addition of Chess’ doppelganger Lanhua Chen rounds out nearly all of the people invited to this conference.

Sabine Hazel had left just moments ago to fetch Adam and, hopefully, he would shed some light on why they’ve all been called here together. She returns to the room some ten minutes later, swiftly walking down the length of the table across the black tiled floor to take up her seat near the head of the table. It’s the arrival of Adam and Joy shortly thereafter that signals this meeting’s true beginning. The look Adam levels across the table at Lanhua is at once challenging as it is disappointed, and he makes no effort to hide the frustration he has with her.

“I apologize for the last-minute nature of this meeting,” Adam says as he shuts the door behind himself, “but I wanted to wait until everything was as close to in place as possible before bringing you all in on… the state of the world.” Moving to the head of the table, Adam settles down into his seat and draws in a deep breath, looking nervously over to Joy.

This all feels so familiar to him. Nearly fifty years ago, Arthur, Bob, Angela, Charles, and the other Company founders would have been in these seats.

Times change.

Niki Zimmerman sits with her arms folded over her chest. Not so much in an effort to appear unapproachable or closed off to whatever the nature of this meeting is, but simply because it’s a comfortable posture for her to adopt. The thumb and forefinger of her right hand feel the fabric of her red v-neck sweater absently as she glances over to Jac at her side. It’s Sabine’s movements she follows, however, trying to read something from the way the other woman carries herself.

The study is cut short when Joy and Adam enter the conference room. There’s a hint of uncertainty that creeps into Niki’s expression as she settles in to listen. This is what she’s here for, after all. What she left her life behind for.

Between Gillian and Niki, Squeaks sits with a quiet anticipation. She's folded herself forward — that happened before Sabine even left — with arms crossed on the table as a place for her chin to rest. Because even though she's playing at adult games, presents herself, usually, with a maturity most her age don't possess, she's still just a kid. And waiting sucks, especially when it's in these kinds of rooms.

Especially when there's other things she could be working on.

Beneath her, hidden from view, the toe of one shoe taps against the base of her chair. The sound is light, easily ignorable, but constant and rhythmic. Her blue eyes have switched between watching the distorted, smoky reflections in the glass to looking at those making them. They're all faces she recognizes from her months in the Ziggurat. Some of them she's even met, and others she's even spent time with. That doesn't explain for why they're all here.

An arm slides out as Sabine returns, along with Adam and Joy. Squeaks jabs a finger against a spot of dust that had escaped cleaning, then redeposits the fine particles in front of Niki. When Adam begins speaking her attention turns to him, and her arm tucks beneath her chin again.

The dark eyes of Chess Lang study the setting sun; the sunset is reflected in her pupils in miniature. Her expression is mostly stoic; unseen to the assembled group of sisters and their extended family members, her hand fiddles with the polished black stone she’s taken to carrying in the pocket of her leather jacket. It’s a little less obvious than her preferred baseball, but the texture is less satisfying against her fretful fingers.

When Adam enters, those dark eyes follow the trajectory of his gaze to settle on Lanhua for a moment. Her brows draw together a little, and she looks back to Adam, one brow lifting slightly. It’s not a question, for she doesn’t expect an answer. At Adam’s words, she glances over at Alix to share a look with her sister, before she leans forward to rest both elbows on the table, arms folding together to await the state of the world address.

Part of her had always known that these meetings would never end. But that doesn’t mean she hadn’t hoped they were over with the end of the Civil War. Gillian flexes her fingers under the table as she quietly practices one of the many coping mechanisms that she had been taught after the war, ways to deal with worry and stress. Each flex follows the movement of her breath and the pulsing awareness of that knot in the back of her head keeping her ability reined in.

She can feel the same spark within so many people in this room, a soft shimmer that distracts her attention from her own problems.

It’s close. Whatever it is they were needing to do. She would do what she could to protect her family.

Her eyes meet Jolene’s for a moment, then shift to the girl next to her— then past that to Niki. With a small nod, she sends a quiet message to the other woman, a fellow Council Member, connected to each other in odd ways. And now, even, kind of an extended family of sorts.

“Well, we’re all here now,” she states as she looks back at Adam, fingers flexing out of sight of anyone except probably the girl beside her.

Just like others, Ben had been brought here for a purpose. The old colleague of Adam’s didn’t know why and for what purpose, but still he followed. Meetings like this have been a part of his life further back then most around the table had been alive.

So while they waited for his old friend’s arrival, Ryans is relaxed back in his chair, quietly keeping himself busy with writing in a journal. It’s something he’s been doing since the memories started coming back. Only when the final two step into the room, does he tuck the pen into the page and close it.

His attention turned to Adam and Joy, both getting a slow nod of greeting.

“So,” Adam says as if he doesn’t have a plan or a speech in mind, vacantly staring down at the table for a moment. Sabine raises one brow and reclines back into her chair, watching his hesitation intently. “This is… I guess this is a long time coming. The handful of you who are in this room represent the people I can either trust, or whose trust is immaterial to your resilience to outside forces. I guess— we’re all here to discuss that force.” Adam smooths the palms of his hands against his slacks. “The thing everyone and no one wants to talk about.”


Mere mention of the name has Joy’s shoulders tensing and her eyes widening. She draws in a slow breath and swallows down what seems like fear as her dark eyes scan those sitting at the table. Adam, however, continues undeterred. “When I was a young man, which— you can imagine how long ago that was— all I wanted was power. I lived in an era where the right person at the right time could just seize it, and make it feel justified. I did that, and in exchange for power I made a deal with a literal devil.”

Unable to sit still, Adam forsakes his chair and stands up. “I met someone — someone like us — someone trapped in the service of the Japanese Emperor in Edo.” He really does mean a long time ago. “In exchange for securing its freedom, it granted me a wish.” He laughs, realizing how ridiculous it all sounds. “Immortality.”

Though silent, Lanhua watches Adam with hawkish vigilance. She forsakes firing dirty looks at Chess in her rapt attention on this story. One that some people here have heard parts and pieces of for almost two years now.

“The price for power was service,” Adam explains. “Service to what turned out to be someone like us, but far, far older. This being called itself Uluru, and everything I’ve learned about it since points to it being… being possibly six thousand years old. It claims to be the first of all of us, and— that might be true.” Adam’s brows rise in a what can you do about it sort of sarcastic cynicism. “Uluru wanted revenge for its imprisonment, wanted to burn the whole bloody world down and remake it in its image. I didn’t have much of a say in the matter,” Adam admits with an incline of his head, “at least not until someone changed my mind.”

It’s clear that Adam is glossing over events, perhaps in the interest of this not being a five hour long tale. “In the end, I and several others managed to trap the thing in… a space beyond space,” he says with a wave of his hand in the air.

“The Phantom Zone,” Val helpfully chimes in, eliciting a flat look from her identical sisters. “From— from Superman.”

Adam, in spite of himself, can’t help but laugh. “That’s— honestly not entirely inaccurate. So, sure, we banished Uluru to the Phantom Zone, and… and it was over. The world kept turning, life moved on, and history turned what happened into myth and legend. In 1982, a scientist by the name of Michelle Cardinal— ” and that name has Sabine’s brows shooting up toward her hairline, “— invented a device capable of traveling between dimensions, called the Looking Glass. The Company had been observing her for a while, and in the wake of her test tried to bag and tag her, and it went awry. Michelle died. The device was taken into custody but…” Adam sighs. “It was too late.”

Joy looks down at her lap, and it’s unclear if she’s still listening. Adam doesn’t seem to notice, beginning to walk a circle around the table as he talks. “Uluru had been able to reach out through that gap between time and space, for the instant the doorway was open, and plant a seed in the mind of a Company agent that would inexorably lead to her freedom. Arthur Petrelli became obsessed with the Looking Glass, following this… subconscious telepathic urge. He rebuilt the device and opened it again, and this time Uluru came through.”

Looking around the table, Ivy seems to not quite believe everything Adam is saying. She looks down to Lanhua, noticing that her sibling is still laser-focused on Adam, and holds back any contrarian comment she was going to make.

“Uluru isn’t a person. Isn’t a body. It’s a consciousness, like a ghost. It moves from host to host, and it has the ability to reconfigure our genetic makeup on a whim. In essence, Uluru has any and all abilities it wants, and can manipulate the genes of everyone it can see. If it wanted to kill all of us, right here, right now, it could.” Which raises a question as to why it hasn’t, but Adam seems disinclined to explain that part. “The Company encountered it after it had chosen a host, made stupid mistakes, and Uluru wound up exercising mental control over me. Forcing me to fight against the Company I helped found. Forcing me to kill my own friends.”

Adam comes to rest behind Gillian’s chair for a moment, his hands on the back of it. “In the end, the Company figured out a way to banish it with a combination of technology and analogous abilities to what we used back in old Japan. The fear of it finding its way out again, coupled with the realization that knowledge of Uluru gave it the ability to influence and become present in this world through some sort of… science I don’t even understand… meant there was only one recourse.”

Adam taps the side of his head with two fingers and starts walking again. “Total redaction. History was rewritten by the Company, and I was made to pay for my betrayal.” He looks down at the floor, not sneering, not bitter, just… shaken. “In 2011 the Institute found records of the Looking Glass and tried to recreate it to see if it could be used for their purposes. It was opened once in the Commonwealth Arcology, and according to their records a man from another world fell through from somewhere else. He died in the Arcology’s collapse, but the door opening for even an instant may have been enough to allow Uluru to sow another seed of its eventual return. Then… Mount Natazhat happened.”

Adam has made it back to his chair, resting one hand on it. “The Institute built a variation of the Looking Glass, intended to send a message back in time for— who the hell knows. It either worked or it didn’t, we’ll never know. But that’s a second instance where the doorway was open for a moment. It all came to a head last year, when a finalized Looking Glass was reconstructed by Richard Ray,” and this time he pointedly looks at Sabine as if to say yes, that Richard.

“This time, the sum of all my fears were totaled,” Adam says with a sweep of his hand through his short hair. “Based on everything I’ve been able to learn of that incident, Uluru returned physically to this world. For the last year it’s been quiet, waiting, watching. Until August 30th of last year, when it appeared outside of the settlement of Providence, New Jersey, and caused the explosion seen on the news. It’s planning on destroying the world, everyone who isn’t like it— like me, like most of you.”

Adam’s revelation is one of apocalyptic measure. He is speaking of nothing short of the end of the world. “I feared this day might come, feared the day when the prison wouldn’t hold. We’re all here because there is no other alternative. Either we work together to kill this thing, or…”

Adam slowly spreads his hands.

He’s said enough for now.

Niki glances around the table at everyone gathered in turn, taking a mental stock of who is who and what they can do. She smirks wryly after she finishes her round. Like most of you. Right, she’s the odd one out here.

“Do we have a shot of sending them back to the—” Niki grimaces before adopting the term Val proposed earlier. “The Phantom Zone? Because from where I’m sitting, they’re looking pretty hard to kill.” Frowning, she can’t help but glance over at Jac, her brows furrowing in concern. She’s just a kid. This is so much to put on her shoulders, and she’s going to want to accept the weight of the world. Want to save it.

Molly Walker did too.

“I’m going to guess negation doesn’t work on this Uluru, or this would be a non-issue right now.” It’s the obvious question, but one which Niki thinks the answer to may at least be helpful.

At the mention of trust and resilience, Chess glances up from where she’s been staring down at the conference table. Her eyes meet Adam’s and she actually gives a half smile that’s almost contrite. Her gaze alights on Lanhua, then back on Adam to listen to the spiel.

It needs some work.

Val’s helpful comment doesn’t help Chess much. Her brows draw together and she tips her head. Superman apparently wasn’t high on her reading list, which might not be a surprise given she carts around philosophy books and once exploded one of her sister’s with a volume of Shakespeare’s plays.


Niki’s question earns the Zimmerman a nod. “Kam,” she murmurs, a little dryly, before glancing back at Adam, perhaps for confirmation. “She was its vessel. We tried to use negation on her, but she recovered in… a few minutes. Maybe half the time. She said she was its vessel. I’m not sure if she still was at the time when we-”

She looks down again, arms unfolding to slip her hands back into her pockets, that perpetual worry-stone once more in her fingers.

“I don’t know. That might have had to do with whatever her normal ability was. But I’d guess if we negated a vessel, Uluru would just pop out and possess someone else, being non-corporeal, yeah?” Her eyes dart from Joy to Adam to Niki before she looks down again, the guilt from what they’d done that day clearly still a burden.

“Most of that wasn’t included in the book,” Gillian murmurs quietly in a voice that probably only Squeaks can make out. She’d read the legends that Jolene had brought home, not only because of how invested Eve had been in the tale. There had been a dream. One she was still concerned. Lips compressing into a thin line, she glances across at her daughter — the older one from a future— remaining silent for a time.

After a time, she spoke up, husky voice soft, “Sounds like the Phantom Zone was just a stop-gap, that failed twice before and probably would again, but you believe have a plan to actually destroy it using those you have gathered.” It’s a statement more than a question. Her fingers flex under the table a few more times, before she glances over at Squeaks, quietly thinking on the abilities that she had been given and wondering how those might factor into it. She had some of the important abilities for fighting. Movement. Defense. Extra-sensory.

But she didn’t see how that could really destroy something as powerful as they were dealing with.

“Plans often don’t go the way people want once the fighting starts.” And there would be fighting. “But whatever you got might help us improvise when the time comes.”

The is an effect on Benjamin as Adam speaks. While his head is tilted like he’s listening, angling his good ear towards his old friend, there is a distant look in his blue eyes. Making it seem like he’s not fully paying attention. He is. What is being said, the story told, invokes memories.

Old. Dusty. Memories.

Of his part in the events and the emotions that came with it. Fingers move to press to the bridge of his nose as Adam finishes a soft sigh escaping from his nose. He doesn’t have much to offer at the moment.

It’s a story the young teenager at the table is familiar with. She’s read it a few times in the books Lene had brought home from the college and through pilfering from Eve’s library. Adam had told her much of it as well during their hours spent training together. Joy too, in her own cryptic way, had alluded to a lot of it.

She listens, though. Instead of tuning out, instead of allowing herself to be lost in the tale with her own imagination. She listens the way she was taught to listen, silent and observant. Her eyes track to the different faces gathered around the table, studying expressions, darting to speakers that interject then flitting away to the next person.

Squeaks’ head comes up from the table when Adam runs out of words, but her arms remain folded and resting on it. Maybe it’s a source of grounding, something solid to support while she weighs the scenario and the others’ thoughts.

“It’s not going to be easy,” is the very obvious thing to say. She doesn’t care and quietly voices the statement.

Sometimes reminding people of what’s most obvious, calling it out with actual words, makes it simpler to digest.

She looks around the table, blue eyes focusing on everyone for a few seconds. Gillian and Niki to her sides, Lene further down. Across the table, all faces she’s seen in some capacity or another, a lot she’s even had the privilege to spend time with and talk to. Finally her focus reaches Joy and then Adam.

“But it never was going to be easy either.” The girl addresses everyone else at the table as she begins speaking again. Her gaze shifts away from Adam to take in everyone gathered again. “This thing is… it doesn’t belong here. It’s…” She pauses, her eyes briefly settling on Val in understanding. Phantom Zone is close enough. “It would be like Thanos getting all the Infinity Stones. It’s that bad.”

Sitting up straight, with hands on the arms of her chair as though planning to stand, Squeaks looks through the room again. “I don’t know why it didn’t work before, or how they managed to break free. Probably people helping, somehow, thinking they’re going to get some kind of reward like ultimate power second only to Uluru.” That’s how it is in the stories, and stories often draw from events that happened in real life. “But I know if we can’t work together, if we can’t trust one another just a little bit, if we doubt this is even the right thing to be doing, then we’re going to fail again.” She snaps her fingers, emphasizing the universal change Thanos had wrought with his gauntlet.

“Chances are there won’t be a next time either.” Squeaks takes a moment to look at each face in turn. “All the kids who come after me will have no chance. We are the three hundred who need to make a stand against Xerxes because we’re not meant to be slaves to some omnipotent pile of botswarf.”

Lanhua rolls her eyes. “Are all your bits of wisdom based off old comics and movies, because if so apparently the bar for being special is pretty low h—” She says, before Adam cuts her off.

Chen, one more word out of you and…” Adam clenches his jaw and angles a frustrated look at her. Lanhua just sighs in response, crossing her arms over her chest. Turning his attention to Squeaks, Adam offers a non-verbal apology and flicks another baleful look in Lanhua’s direction. She'd tested his patience enough lately.

“Gillian is correct in that imprisonment was a stop-gap,” Adam says with a slow incline of his head to the side. “But right now that's the best option we have, because this entity isn't a corporeal being. It's a consciousness, an idea, that moves from host to host. That said, depriving it of a host can be the most efficient way to defeat it, even if temporarily.” The talk of temporary solutions elicits a look from Sabine to Adam, her jaw set and eyes narrowed. She doesn't like the idea of these kinds of battles of attrition.

“The most challenging part about this plan I'm going to undertake is that… none of you can know it in full, not even the people I suspect are immune to Uluru’s memetic knowledge.” Adam explains, looking frustrated as he does. “The less people who know the truth the better, and because of genetic modifications I've made to myself I am highly resilient to any attempt to read my mind. As such, each of you — when the time comes — will only know your portion of the plan. Think of it like the cell structure of any revolutionary movement. It's impossible for the enemy to pre-emptively thwart a plan no one knows.”

Standing behind his chair, Adam wrings his hands against the leather upholstery. “I realize this is a perilous situation, and I also realize some of you here didn't volunteer for this.” He looks to Jolene and Gillian. “But I'm asking for your help, for the sake of the entire world, and for everything in-between and beyond.” Adam then steps back from the chair, taking in a deep breath. “Uluru is responsible for the visions that plagued the entire world last year, visions of not what could be, but what is. Parallel worlds beyond ours, branches off of our own history. The danger I'm trying to protect us all against was once spread out across them like a spider in a metaphorical web, but has now descended down to where a swift hit with a rolled-up newspaper could make all the difference.”

Joy arches one brow as she looks at Adam, then to the others adds, “In this analogy you're all the rolled up newspaper.” To which Adam grimaces and scratches the back of his head.

“She’s a child,” Niki emphasizes in the wake of Lanhua’s comment, for the benefit of all gathered. Perhaps to Squeaks’ chagrin, but she doesn’t care. If Niki had it her way, Jac wouldn’t be part of this meeting at all. She’d be packed up and sent home with her adoptive family to be a child and not some savior of the world.

Niki finds that she so rarely gets her way these days.

Offering no further argument, beyond to fix Adam with a brief and reproachful look, she nods her assent to the plan as presented. She can appreciate the wisdom in keeping things fragmented, corny analogies and all. Was he always this way, she wonders.

Niki isn’t the only one that feels that way about the child, but he also isn’t the girl’s father. Ben is just thankful that Adam has set the girl up with one of the best combinations of abilities. While Lanhua mocks the girl, he can’t help but throw Jac an amused look. Her enthusiasm for what they needed to do, making the rest of them look bad. He could respect that.

“This isn’t simply a bug to be squished.” The analogy was a bad one and didn’t hold enough confidence for Ryans. Too simple. “And swat on the nose with a newspaper doesn’t sound like a permanent solution. Just like the…” Benjamin can’t believe he’s about to says it… “Phantom Zone wasn’t one, despite us trying to use it as such.”

The cell approach was never a popular one, but wasn’t unfamiliar to Benjamin. In situations like this, not knowing the full picture saves lives. He studies the man that he abandoned all to trust. Seeing him like that, worried him. “What is your level of confidence that this plan, whatever the broad scope of it is, will be a better plan than imprisonment?” Which clearly never works, but might give them precious time… if no one wipes their minds again.

For a moment, Gillian remains silent. But it isn’t that she’s not doing anything. Her lips press together until they become pale and she presses her fingers against her forehead as if she has a headache, or perhaps just doesn’t like what she’s hearing so much that she can’t contain it completely. They have a plan. They can’t tell what the plan is. She doesn’t know if the plan is any better than the stopgap that failed twice before. She doesn’t know how dangerous the plan will be for her or her family.

And she knows if she packs Squeaks up right this moment, Squeaks might hate her forever.

And she probably wouldn’t get ten feet with the girl unless she wanted to go somewhere. She knew that part too.

When she raises her head again, hand pressing down against the table in front of her, her hazel eyes find Adam’s once again. “Your plan, whatever it is, better be geared toward being as safe as possible for my girls.”

Sorry, Lene, she still considers you a girl, even if she was only a few years younger than her mother thanks to shenanigans.

Chess leans back in her chair, busying her hands with uncapping a water bottle and taking a long drink. Her eyes wander over to Lanhua and then slide back to Adam again.

Trust is a tall order, when half the table has either tried to kill you or has committed identity theft and made you into an international criminal.

The water is capped again, set back on the table. Gillian’s words draw her attention next, and she glances down, a small scowl furrowing her forehead, but Joy’s comment evokes a small huff of a laugh from her and she glances to the woman with some amusement.

It’s not enough to erase the worry.

Her dark eyes land back on Adam and it’s clear, without a word, that she’s in, whether she likes it or not.

The apology is met with a one-shoulder shrug. Squeaks doesn’t blame Adam for Lanhua’s ignorance or cynicism. She seems subtly amused by it though. Something about the gripe and attempt at belittlement striking her as humorous. She sits back, showing little other reaction to the mockery, offering no contradiction to being called a child since there’s no sense in trying to deny it or argue.

She is a child.

Having said her piece, the girl reflects on the arguments and analogies being made as the plan is laid out. Cell structure, each with their own set of goals but all working to achieve the same end. She looks across the table, watching the faces of those she’s less familiar with, wondering. Does she trust everyone in this room to do their part? Can she rely on the others, keep faith that Adam has a backup plan?

There’s no honest answer that she can give herself to those questions. Being a survivor taught her to rely on herself first, and others only so long as it took her to find a place to hide.

Leaning forward slightly, Squeaks’ mouth shifts with the intent to interject her own views and understanding again. The magnitude of it has never been lost on her, and for an instant the impulse to state as much is strong. Sometimes it’s better to listen than it is to speak. The urge passes after a second and she only huffs softly to make space for patience. Her attention moves off those gathered to Adam, blue eyes intent, imploring.

Jolene’s been quiet for much of this meeting, green eyes darting around the table as she tries to suss out the power dynamics on display. But it’s Gillian who receives a side-long look and a mouthed, “Mom,” when Gillian asserts her maternal protection like an umbrella over she and Squeaks.

In the periphery of the conversation, Lanhua levels a flat look at Niki. “Must be nice,” she says quietly, bitterly. Adam doesn’t catch the side comment, but Sabine does and the dark-haired woman moves to stand behind Lanhua’s chair and claps a hand on her shoulder. Lanhua winces, looking up to Sabine, then scowls and says nothing. Adam only notices the exchange when he catches Sabine’s movement, but he tries not to acknowledge Lanhua’s petty outbursts, distracting as they are.

“Confidence is something I can’t afford,” Adam explains with a slow spread of his hands. “I want this plan to work, I think it will, and I’m doing everything in my power to ensure that. But obviously, the nature of our conflict and the nature of our enemy prevents all of you from seeing its corners. Which… will admittedly make this next part more challenging for all of you, individually. But I ask that you consider that I’ve given this considerable thought.”

Coming to stand behind his chair at the head of the table, Adam rests his hands on the back. “I gathered the lot of you here, specifically, because after careful consideration I need you all to work together for my plan to come together. Sabine, Niki, Ivy, Val, Chess, and Lanhua…” he picks those four out from the group. “I need you to be a support structure for what will amount to a strike team once we corner Uluru. I won’t be able to explain the nature of the assignment until it’s right up on top of us, so I need you to be ready to depart with Val at a moment’s notice.”

When it seems like Adam is handing out orders the atmosphere in the room shifts. Joy, not surprised by this turn, crosses her arms over her chest and watches the reactions of the others. Adam, however, continues to break the table up into groups. “Gillian, Jac, and Jolene… I know only one of you volunteered for this, but given the nature of your abilities I want the three of you to be able to work together. Jac, you already know what your purpose is… and I can’t think of anyone better to support you in that task than your family.”

Jolene’s back straightens and she snaps a look at Jac, then back to Adam. “Hold up,” she says shakily, “the fuck do you get off just— ordering us around?”

“It’s not an order,” Adam is quick to snap back, “it’s a request. You’re welcome to say no and let Jac handle this on her own.” It’s the only time Adam has seemed particularly frustrated by anything so far this meeting. Lene sucks in a sharp breath, looking over at Gillian with wide eyes.

“This isn’t some… heist. I’m not asking you to help me commit a crime,” Adam says with a broad gesture of his hands. “I’m asking you to save the world on your own terms. To save the lives of the people you care about.” He looks over to Ryans. “I’m going to be sending you to Garza, he has a task that will be important for our follow-up to this operation. I know I can count on you, and once you return you’ll be with me when everything comes together.”

“Violet and Alix,” Adam rounds out the group at the table, “you’ll be with Ben and I when the time comes.”

Whenever that is. Whatever that is.

“I know this is confusing,” Joy chimes in, trying to smooth out the rough edges of Adam’s delivery. “I know this might all be hard to trust, but if we don’t cooperate on this there won’t be anything left to fight for. I know what this entity is capable of, I know what it wants, I know what it needs. You few in this room are the only people we trust to stop it.”

At each of the names mentioned with her own, Chess’ dark eyes slide from face to face. Strangers, for the most part. Enemies until recently. Sisters, most of them. One, her identical clone. Her brows draw together again.

She should really never play poker.

Turning from Adam to Joy, she asks, voice soft, like she’s talking out of turn in a library, “Where will you be?”

The continued saltiness coming from where Lanhua sits draws Squeaks’ eyes to her for a minute. She's still listening, evidenced by the nod she gives when her part in the plan is brought up. She knows what she's doing as well as anyone of her few years could know. And it's a relief that she's been paired with her mom and Lene. It makes sense, the three of them will be able to work together on an intuitive level probably.

But after that minute passes, after the assignments are laid out, the teen carefully, slowly, pushes her chair further from the table and stands. She isn't tall, her frame slight and vaguely awkward with adolescence. Her blue eyes are hard, eyebrows drawn together into something almost like a frown.

Normally she'd stay quiet and observant. There are plenty of grownups in the conference room that she doesn't need to speak up. But…


She speaks up this time.

“Are you so scared that you have to be petty?” Squeaks’ question is directed to Lanhua. There's other concerns she'd like to look at more — Gillian and Lene’s worries, the answer to Chess’ question — but this has gone on too long for her liking. She'd never let the older Lighthouse kids get away with it, neither is Lanhua. “Because if you are, the door is over there. We don't need someone who is going to complain and make fun of every little thing. I'm pretty sure Adam would lock you in some underground bunker where you'd be safe until we stop the entity. But if you're in this, then be in this. I don't care if you don't like me, I couldn't care less if you're jealous. I'm the child here, but you’re the one who needs to grow up.”

Leaning back in his chair, Ryans folds his arms, but stays mostly quiet as little disagreements break out. This was Adam’s show, he was just there to help. Though in a room full of strong personalities it was better to not throw in his own weight. However, Ben sympathizes with the man. He didn’t have nearly as many kids as Adam, but he gets it. Like herding cats.

“Wherever you need me,” Ryans responds, with a dip of his head, to his own assignment. Despite the question of Adam’s confidence, the old man still seems to be onboard.

With the potential levels of danger in this unknown plan, Gillian can’t help but tease her lower lip between her teeth, trying her best to think of ways she can keep her daughters safe. The fact she’s going to be with them in this plan helped, but— she can’t help but glance toward Lene as if wondering how much Adam and his people knew about her ability now and then again toward Niki.

She couldn’t help but wish the blonde woman was with them, another woman invested in keeping the youngest of their number safe at least. She trusted Niki. More than most of those present who didn’t also happen to be her daughters.

After a moment she gives a stiff nod. She has things she would like to say, but instead, she just nods toward Squeaks and touches her arm with her hand, just the smallest of soothing gestures. Hopefully enough to let her know that she’s at her side if nothing else.

Niki returns Lanhua’s commentary with a narrowed gaze, but says nothing. Sabine has the young woman well in hand. She has empathy for her - she knows what it’s like to have a broken childhood - but that’s why it’s important to her to protect Jacelyn’s. Gillian receives a knowing look.

The youngest at the table feels a hand on her arm. “Sit down, Jac,” Niki encourages quietly. No minds will be changed by teenaged lectures. Lifting her chin, she frowns toward the head of the table for a moment before nodding her assent. “Just tell me what I need to arm myself with and I’ll go where you need me.” She flashes a look to Chess and gives her a short nod.

“I have a special weapon for you, Niki.” Adam explains with an incline of his head toward her indicating an earlier conversation they'd had in confidence. In that same comment he glances to Jac, indicating with a nod that she's said enough and wordlessly echoing Niki’s sentiments. Lanhua slides her tongue across the inside of her cheek and says nothing, letting her focus slide to Adam, then pointedly to Niki.

“I will be in as many places as I can be at once,” Joy explains. “I possess an ability to create fragile replicas of myself, which will allow me to assist in as much as I can. But I must be careful to not overextend myself, or worse draw too much of Uluru’s attention. If I could defeat it, none of this would be necessary.” Joy then turns to Adam, brows creased and lips downturned to a frown.

Adam breathes in deeply and exhales a sigh through his nose. “Sabine, Niki, Ivy, Val, Chess, and Lanhua you will be designated team Anvil.” He says with a gesture to them. “Gillian, Jac, and Jolene will be Hammer. Violet, Alix, and Ryans you'll be with me on Spear.”

“I've taken the liberty of preparing some training exercises,” Sabine chimes in, sitting forward and folding her hands in front of herself. “We’re going to be in an urban environment with civilians when everything goes down, so we need to practice minimization of collateral damage. There's an industrial park just outside of Praxia in what used to be Oakland we can use for some live-fire exercises.”

Adam then turns to Niki. “It will be a few days at least before I can supply you with the armaments you’ll be needing.”

“For now, try to relax. But know that we’re rapidly approaching the end of things,” Joy says with a slow shake of her head, as if she can feel the moment approaching in her bones. “Know that we are the last line of defense.”

Adam nods, clapping his hands on the back of his chair. “If we fail here, it's the end of the world…” It isn't just some hyperbolic sentiment, either, Adam believes that with every fiber of his being.

“…and quite possibly the end of all worlds.”

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