ff_biard_icon.gif chess3_icon.gif elliot2_icon.gif eve6_icon.gif ff_nova_icon.gif ff_tay_icon.gif richard5_icon.gif ff_silas2_icon.gif

Scene Title Familial
Synopsis A cross-country journey begins at the intersection of familiar names and faces.
Date June 20, 2021

“Mind your head, the doors are low down here.”

Montgomery Biard was once the first mate of one of the most notorious pirates in the post-flood world, the “Dread Pirate” Sawyer. Since the battle of the Pelago and the defeat of the Sentinel, the balance of power on the east coast has shifted, signaling the end of an age of individualism and piracy of which Sawyer was an icon. Now, her flagship the Tempest serves other purposes than a marauding icon of fear.

The interdimensional travelers at Montgomery Biard’s back are here not for an audience with Sawyer, but for access to the bazaar located in the Tempest’s cargo hold. He leads the ship’s newfound guests past a dozen heavily armed guards bearing the spoils of a victorious war with the Sentinel: military grade body armor and firearms, enough to properly secure the Pelago for years to come.

“Keep your weapons holstered, don’t do anything flashy with your abilities, and please be careful with the street food and we’ll all have a good time.” Biard says with a crooked smile, motioning to a bulkhead door with a nod. The valve handle twists several times, seemingly of its own accord, before the door swings open into a cavernous cargo bay inside of the tanker. Humid heat wafts out through the opening and up the stairwell behind Biard, and he can’t help but smile at the raucous noise of commerce and community rumbling within tinged with the odor of gasoline and sweat.

The Tempest
Bazaar Level

The Pelago

June 20th
12:27 pm

Beyond the bulkhead door is a zig-zagging series of catwalks that descend three stories down to the bottom of the tanker’s cargo hold. The interior walls of thick steel faintly stink of old gasoline, but the smell is largely subsumed by sweat and cooked meat. Three floors of favela-like buildings descend down in a maddening labyrinth of string lights, electric lanterns, and marketplaces lit by salvaged neon signs from pre-flood businesses.

“Used to be fuel held in here, probably before the flood.” Biard explains as he leads the group out onto the catwalk. “The Tempest wasn’t full when we found her, and she sure hasn’t been refueled since the end of the world. We turned this empty hold into residences, and then when we showed the Sentinel the business end of our cannons… the residents had new ideas.”

Slowly walking down the stairs, Biard points across the cargo hold to a building made out of shipping containers welded together, jutting out of the opposite wall a few hundred feet away. “The man you’re looking for is in there,” he explains, “he’s a mainland salvager up from Delphi, and good fortune for you he got stuck here with the rest of us.”

Silas’ intuition all those months ago was right. He and Tay would cross paths again.

Nova’s eyes are wide, and if she minds walking out on the catwalk, she certainly doesn’t show it as she walks with a spring in her step and looks everywhere but at her feet.

“Amazing,” she breathes out softly, and it’s said with an awe-struck sort of respect for the resourcefulness and ingenuity that she hasn’t had to witness to this degree. “Hopefully he will serve well as our oracle,” she says with a smile. Yes, she’s aware it’s not that Delphi that Tay hails from.

Behind her Chess seems more solemn as she looks around, knowing that this isn’t an easy life for those who live it, and especially before they were welcomed into the Pelago.

“How many people live here?” she asks Biard curiously. “I think you passed maximum capacity some time ago.” The smile that punctuates the small quip is one part wry, on part sympathetic, and two parts sad.

“Far, far too many people,” is Biard’s hushed answer.

Elliot keeps his hands in the pockets of his hoodie, hood up to shadow eyes that dart around curiously. He hasn’t found what he needs to enact the message he has planned, so a market is a great opportunity. If only he weren’t here on business. “Try all of the street food,” Wright suggests in opposition to their guide. He shakes his head, even he’s not that adventurous.

The guards put him on edge more than they make him feel secure. Something about slapping a security logo on a pirate. He doesn’t have a gun to keep holstered yet, so he slouches and stays with the group to prevent any misunderstandings. “I’m sure the fire safety inspection certificates are up to date,” he tells Chess as an aside.

Silas follows behind Biard, his expression pensive. He's wearing black again today, set off only by the fish hook charm hanging around his neck.

"Looks like business is good," he observes, sounding impressed; he doesn't seem particularly concerned about the catwalks, or about the security. Privately, though, he wonders about the good fortune that had seen Tay get stuck here. The seas are bad, sure… but they hadn't always been bad. He could've gone back before… but maybe he's not so keen on seeing Delphi again, given what Mines and his crew cost him.

“The death of the Sentinel’s done a lot for morale,” Biard says, leading the small group down the catwalk stairs to a plank-and-pipe bridge that crosses to another section of shacks. “That’s opened up trade, and trade is… good. It’s surprisingly good.” It’s almost as if he dares to hope, but is still afraid to give in to that intoxicating possibility of something better. He’s had the rug tugged out from under him too many times.

One level down and one stack over, Biard reaches a four-stack of cargo containers that have been gutted and expanded to make a two story loft. Inside, it looks like a mixture between a flea market and an antique store. Cement sculptures of angels taken from pre-flood parks flank the entrance, within which rows of metal shelving, book cases, and dilapidated armoires are filled with cups, dishes, plates, folded clothes, shoes, radios, records. It’s a junk store.

There’s a squat and broad man with a thick beard examining a metal drum—a keg—in the middle of the floor. He rolls it around on one edge, looking for dents or damage, and offers an approving nod to the far taller man who is currently trying to sell the empty keg to him.

“Tay?” Biard calls from the entrance of the shop. The taller man, also bearded, turns with an expectant look. When Tay sees a small group behind Biard, he adjusts his camouflage jacket and motions to the salvage proprietor he’s dealing with in a hold on gesture, and steps away to greet Captain Sawyer's first-mate.

“Yeah?” Tay says with a stiffness in his posture and a hint of Texas in his accent. When he sees Silas he relaxes, turning his attention back to Biard. “I’m just offloading some heavy cargo. Won’t be in your hair more than an hour.”

“You’re fine,” Biard replies, then gestures to the group he’s led here. “I’m just here to do introductions. These people are looking to cross into the Mainland, and I’ve heard you know how to navigate those dangers.”

Tay looks at Silas, pointedly, then back to Biard. “Not a tour guide,” Tay says, and starts to turn away.

“Perfect,” Chess says, loud enough for her voice to reach Tay. “Since we’re not here on holiday, that works out for all of us.” She glances at the others with her, Silas especially, since he seems to know the other man, maybe silently asking him to back them up, but she continues to speak.

“If you can’t show us the way, could you at least tell us the best route to take?” The brash wry tone has faded from her voice, “We don’t have a lot to barter but we can try to come to some arrangement. A route, a place to get vehicles, maybe a list of places we want to steer clear from at all costs? Whatever you can afford us.” After a beat, she adds, as if it maybe pains her, after his initial cold shoulder, “Please.”

Elliot can't blame Tay for his disinterest, but he gives Chees's retort an appreciative huff of laughter. Chess stated their needs well enough, so there's nothing for him to add. He pays attention to the man's body language, keeping quiet for now until he has more to work with.

“This place reminds me of how Staten Island used to be, back in the day,” Richard observes under his breath as he walks along with the group, hands tucked in the pockets of his bomber jacket; there’s a wistful note to his voice, the part of him that misses the simplicity of those old days feeling a certain call from the manic sprawl of the Tempest’s interior.

Somewhere down here, he sure, a bunch of criminals are playing poker. Maybe Tucker and Bao-Wei are even at the table. He wouldn’t be surprised.

“You and I remember Staten Island very differently,” Biard quietly notes with a side-eye to Richard.

“Different Staten, maybe,” is the wry response from Richard, a sidelong glance back to Biard.

As they’re introduced to Tay, he remains silent; from behind dark lenses he looks the other man over, sizing him up while Chess takes the lead. His brow furrows slightly. There’s something familiar in the man’s face, in the tone of his voice, but it hasn’t quite come to him yet.

"I know you ain't a tour guide, Tay, and I wouldn't be botherin' you if it wasn't serious," Silas says. "But it is. Captain Van Dalen's come from Alaska, and the rest of 'em are from even further out; they've all come a long way to put this expedition together. Problem is, with the way the Stormfront's goin', they can't exactly sail back; the sea's the worst I've seen it in a long time, and even I'm not crazy enough to try it in these waters. But these people are lookin' for something, Tay, and when it comes to finding, you're the best I know of. And this is life or death."

Silas spreads his hands, palms up, in a gesture of entreaty. "Help us out here, Tay," he says, his voice low. "It's a big job, but we'll make it worth your while."

Tay stops halfway back to the vendor, turns around on a heel and slides his tongue between teeth and lower lip. He looks the group over again, sighing with a heave of his shoulders. If it weren’t for Silas, he probably wouldn’t have turned back around. But Silas’ is a debt he hasn’t repaid yet.

Tay is slow to double back on the group, turning his attention over to Chess. He fixes her with a steady, quiet look for a moment, then looks over at Silas. “How far inland are we talking?” He asks. “One or two day hike, that’s a lot of food and water we’d have to carry. Lot of cities we’ve gotta avoid.” He doesn’t draw the connection between here and Alaska because his brain refuses to recognize that possibility.

Captain Van Dalen is smart enough not to own up to that name just now, keeping her hands in her pockets and standing a little behind the others, letting them speak up. Nova’s very aware she looks younger than even her scant years, and it’s clear Silas has the man’s respect and ear.

When Tay turns back, retort caught on the tip of his tongue, it seems, by Silas’ words, Chess lifts her brows as if to say what? but she too stays quiet, once he answers them with a real reply. She leaves the explanation to Silas, and instead glances at Richard.

“I haven’t been back since they started cleaning it up, but there was nothing good there three years ago. This is a vast improvement,” she says, with a nod to the crowded hustle and bustle of the floating city around them.

Elliot opens his mouth to say he’ll probably be handling the logistics, but decides not to. He feels pretty certain that at some point in this conversation, Tay is going to tell somebody that they have no idea what they’re talking about with regards to an outing like this, and he’d rather not be the one who gets that first dressing down.

“I swear to God I’ve met this guy somewhere,” Richard mutters as an aside to Elliot; maybe because the other man is most likely to understand that he suspects maybe he’s met a different Tay.

The comment from Chess brings a chuckle, and he admits, “It’s always been a den of scum and villainy, the parts I remember anyway. Bustling with crooks and people looking for a fast buck. If you crammed all my old haunts in a ship, well…” He looks around, “This’d be it.”

No one seems particularly eager to answer Tay's question, which means it's on Silas. "All the way," he says sourly. "To Alaska. Which — I know," Silas says, raising his hands to forestall any eruptions or proclamations of batshit insanity. "I know that's a hell of a trip, and if it were any less serious, I'd tell em to wait and take em next year on the sea route when I head back to Japan."

Silas sighs. "But it's not. They've got to get to Alaska, and it's got to be now. And it's important enough that I'm here, askin' you. For whatever help you can give us."

Tay shifts his stance from foot to foot, rubbing a hand over his chin as he looks that group up and down. His brows furrowed and jaw sets at a crooked angle. He sets a look on Biard, considering the bosun’s role in bringing these people here, to him. Then he looks at the the Travelers, a slow and assessing stare. His eyes dip down to the floor. “Alaska?” It comes with a laugh, his smile halfway formed but rueful in its humor.

“You're talking a more than four thousand mile journey across some of the worst parts of the US. Radioactive ruins, hotspots of scav violence, stretches of polluted bullshit for hundreds of miles where there’s no edible game.” Tay closes his eyes, shaking his head. “You can't pack for that. One or two people, with solid survival skills? Maybe. But a group this size?” He gestures at them with two fingers. “You'd need people to carry provisions, scouts, hell— vehicles. It’d…” Tay suddenly trails off, his hand falling away from his mouth.

There's that thoughtful look in his eyes again as he searches the floor for something. He looks back. Suddenly his question had changed. “What’re you offering?” For his services, he means. Because this is a service.

Chess doesn’t address Tay’s questions, except to make another aside comment: “Sounds like home,” with a casual shrug.

The youngest among them steps forward, chin lifting slightly in something like defiance, of being told something’s impossible, maybe.

“Some of us have solid survival skills, Meneer Tay,” Nova says. “We know it will be difficult. We’ll be going whether you come with us or not. As for what you might get out of it? Safety in numbers to get to a place that is more sustainable than the Pelago or Delphi. We’re hoping that others will join us to move to Anchor. This isn’t just a road trip – it’s an emigration.”

She looks over her shoulder at the others, then back to Tay. “I can’t promise much more than that, because I don’t have much more than that to give, but if – when – we make it to Anchor, I can guarantee you will have a place to live, and if you wish to return home, I will find you a boat.”

“We have access to information which could be indispensable under those conditions,” Elliot says. “Chemical and nuclear hazard safety procedure, calculations for distance and wind speed and direction, all on demand. User manuals for broken vehicles and security systems, acquired as needed.” Internet access and the ability to run repair situations through a team of scientists like this world is the entirety of the Apollo 13 mission. He’ll leave that out for now, enough people have abilities that it shouldn’t seem impossible.

“It looks to me like the Pelago’s resources aren’t going to last too much longer, either,” Richard points out then, one eyebrow lifting upwards above his shaded eyes, “People are talking about moving to Anchor anyway. Not going to be much of a port for you to trade at if the people are gone or out of fuel.”

His brow still knit slightly, watching the man’s movements, his tells, the way he reacts and responds. He doesn’t know him. But there’s still something so damnably familiar.

Silas nods as Tay notes what's needed; when he asks what they're offering, though, Silas's gaze turns thoughtful. He considers for a moment. "I suppose the question is… what do you want?"

"Don't be shy Tay-Tay."

Eve had been silent and also not in the room before a few seconds ago having been distracted by the many oddities in this otherworldly bazaar, electric crimson eyes take in the man with a devilish grin. She holds a sack of something she must have traded for, what it is exactly you couldn't be sure. The ends of her dark purple dress caress her pale bare feet as she stands there, the slight breeze from her movement allowing the garment to sway. "Everyone has something they desire,"

"Or need."

Reaching into her bag she pulls out a battered but actual apple, biting into it with a smile. "Someone on that mainland has apples, think of all the other fruits and veggies some person with a supreme green thumb could have hm?" As if that was enough to get a man to upend his whole life to make a dangerous journey for people he didn't know. All the cool kids were doing it in any case.

"Want some?" Smacking on the apple bits in her mouth before extending her hand towards Tay to offer it. With one big bite taken out of it of course.

After a pause, "Are you going to make us beg darling, honestly. Listen to the voice in your head that says just do it."

Tay eyes the apple in Eve’s hand and laughs, then shakes his head and paces away from the group for a moment. He exhales a breathy laugh and waves a hand at the Apple. “Ain't a good look for women named Eve t’be brandishing apples at men.” He takes it as a joke, and one that does in a way help break the ice.

“Alright,” Tay says, turning his attention to Elliot. “Books are a good start. Whatever fuckin’ library you have access to, that’s value especially since the Big One went up in fucking flames. I've got some manuals I'd appreciate getting hard copies of, ain't much that survived the deluge. So provided your actions can cash the checks your mouth is writing, that's a start.”

Tay then motions to Richard. “If you're going to Anchor why not wait till the storm season ends? There's a few good routes north and south that’s way less suicidal. What's so important that you gotta do this now?” He asks, fixing Richard with a steady look. “Because I ain't putting my ass in the fire without knowing how hot the flames are. Fool an Epstein once, shame on us. Fool us twice, somebody's gettin’ shot.”

Richard opens his mouth to explain - either with the truth or some blithe other reason - but then the last words hit him like a monster truck with its lights off coming out of a tunnel, and all his thoughts tumble away from his tongue in that moment.

“Epste– Tay– Taylor? You’re Taylor Epstein?”

Utter shock clear on his expression as he stares at the man like another would a ghost.

Nova glances at the others when Tay asks about the reasons for going sooner rather than later – that part of the mission is neither her circus nor her monkeys. But then Richard’s stammering and she can only be thankful that he hadn’t just had a sip of some hot tea or it’d be all over all of them.

“Epstein Epstein?” is Chess’ contribution – it’s not that uncommon of a name, but in their circle, it usually means a particular family. She shakes her head slightly, looking not particularly surprised to find another correlation to their own world. This trip has been nothing but that. She doesn’t know the details around this particular name or face, though, and looks back to Tay for his reaction.

Elliot seems poised to ask Tay what information it is that he needs in the immediate, though the conversation’s sudden pivot to the familiar stays him. He remembers Avi’s entirely unexpected personal admission from Rue’s Thanksgiving gathering. He pulls Asi’s attention to the memory and the situation.

Asi nearly inhales the drink she's sipping from, erupting into an awful hacking cough. "Are you–?" is as far as she gets before she cuts off access to the awkward situation she's trying to recover from, mid-wave off of Scott as he asks her if she's okay.

"Hmm." Eve shuffles forward and looks into Taylor's face, squinting her red eyes at the man. "I suppose you do, I suppose you do Mr. Epstein." The undead woman takes another thoughtful bite of her apple and leans against a nearby wall. Eyes glittering and red wisps of smoke lifting from her shoulders.

This world was so weird!

"Surely if we are wanting to risk our very lives for this journey it's gotta be worth something important." Trying to steer the conversation away from the fact that they all knew this man's family in another world. If it were up to Eve they would set up a conference call and just let them meet! That wasn't the best idea, no no. Probably not but would her idea be any better?

"I see the future, I'm not sure if you know that." Tilting her head at Taylor. "I have seen something pointing to the end of the world and the solution lays," Pointing her finger behind him, "Right there." If the others are going to stand and gawk she'd try a little half truth to keep the ball rolling.

"That is why we have to leave and soon. There is quite literally, no time until the sands run dry my dear boy!"

Richard's outburst sees Silas turn his head to regard the other man — not with surprise, but with a blank expression. He hadn't expected that Richard would know Emily Epstein… but he isn't entirely surprised, either. Chess's contribution sees Silas's gaze swing to her… then onward, back to Tay. Still, there's precious little he has to add right now that will contribute; better to let the others make their case, and he can step in if need be to keep things rolling.

Tay has all the emotive capacity of a cow chewing grass. He delivers a silent look at Richard with a glance to Chess, then turns his attention Eve-wise. “I know what Mad Eve does, I just always thought you were a weird old biddy, not…” he looks Eve up and down, “a weird hot chick.”

Turning his attention back to Richard, Tay raises one hand in dismissal. “Whatever you heard about me’s half-true at best, and if it's about what happened at the Palisades,” he pauses to smile and lower his voice, “tell Ruskin t’stop running his god-damned mouth.”

Jokes aside, Tay doesn't seem to understand the gravity of his connection to some of the others. Instead, he pushes past the awkward moment with a shrug and then rubs his hand over his scalp and sighs. “Now, however many people you're thinking of moving, we’ll need that many more in support. We’re talking fuel trucks, passenger vehicles, all that. Only place I know to get them is the Delphi, there's some trade in land vehicles for scrap, but I know where to source functional ones. You’ll need to cover material for barter for those too. And the Delphi probably doesn't want soggy Playboys.”

"Oh my god," Asi wheezes, still nearly incoherent while hiding any further cough behind her hand. "I thought, 'no, it can't be' and then he kept talking." She afterward waves at her ear to both lie and explain she's holding a conversation on Bluetooth.

Wright chimes in, “He’s just a cigarette clenched between his teeth and a fist fight away from becoming his old man.” Elliot looks away to afford himself the privacy to stare up at the ceiling and purge the comparison from his mind with a long sigh.

“What are Playboys?” whispers Nova to Silas, but she doesn’t say much more than that, tucking her hands in her pockets and letting the others do the discussing.

Chess lifts a shoulder. “As far as numbers go, we’ll take who wants to come. As far as support goes, we’re packing pretty heavy heat so we should be able to handle most people we come across, let alone the random grizzly bear,” she says, glancing at those standing beside her. Richard, Eve, and herself have powers that are deadly on their own; Silas is definitely someone she’d want on her side in a fight and not across the enemy lines.

“We can get scrap. How much do we need? And what if we find some mint Playboys instead?” she asks, mouth tipping up at one corner at the small joke.

“Are they candy?” Nova adds to Silas – the addition of the word mint to her mental word cloud is further confusing her context clues.

Tae doesn't seem to have caught on to the currents of interdimensional weirdness floating around Richard and the others, which is good — he'd as soon not deal with that particular strain of complication until after negotiations are finished.

Just when he's about to breathe a sigh of relief, though, Nova drops in with her whispered question; Silas's brain freezes for a moment at the prospect of having to explain to Nova what Playboys are. He goes still, eyes slipping to the side as he considers how to phrase his answer. "Pre-Flood magazines," Silas finally murmurs back to Nova. "Not exactly known for intellectual content. Though when Chess is sayin' 'mint', she's meanin' 'good condition' and not waterlogged. Not mint-flavored." Hopefully that'll answer Nova's questions about Playboys.

"I've got a few markers I can pull that'll help cover some of the costs," Silas adds to Chess's comments about scrap, though not without a pang of regret — not that long ago, he'd been intending to put those markers towards financing subsequent trade expeditions. Having the world's only trans-Pacific trade company won't do any good if the seas boil in a few months, he reminds himself. It doesn't do much to allay the pain… but it'll have to do. It's all he's got, after all.

“Christ almighty,” Richard exhales under his breath, one hand pushing up his face to rub against his eyes beneath the darker lenses he’s wearing, “Taylor-fucking-Epstein, it goddamn figures…”

As the others step in with reasons, with offerings, with bribes, he’s given the time he needs to recover from that shock, silently cursing himself for letting it show. It’s a different timeline. Of course things rolled out differently. He just didn’t expect this particular forking path to have taken the turn it did.

Readjusting his glasses, he sweeps a hand to the side and adds, “It might interest you to know that you’ve got family going on this trip already, Epstein. I mean, you share a father at least. If that’s of any interest.”

Eve disperses into a tight coiled red cloud, shaped as a snake she glides along the floor from the wall and spins until her physical form is visible again, red smoke rolling backwards into her eyeballs. "Weird." She smiles and places a pale hand on Tay's shoulder, "Is only the half of it."

As for HOT?

The sea witch cackles and throws her head back, "I can show you things." Later.

Sorry Emily.

“Jesus Christ, Eve,” Richard mutters, slanting a long-suffering glance over at Eve.

Tay was going along with Eve’s mix of weird-but-attractive right up until she turned into a red mist and slithered over like the snake in the Garden of Eden. Recoiling slowly from her, Tay shoots Richard a side-long glance, then offers Eve an awkward smile without showing any teeth. The universal thanks, but no thanks expression.

It’s only once he’s clear of Eve that Tay returns his attention to Richard. There’s a steeliness in his expression, jaw set, distance in dark eyes. Richard knows the look, it’s the Epstein Repression Stare.

Cool,” is all Tay has to say about potential family being on board for the trip. “So, you want my help to get halfway across what’s left of the United States and turn back around?” It’s a grim, rhetorical question. “Fine. But nobody’s making it to the Delphi where all your wheels are at until this storm clears.”

“Actually,” Biard chimes up, having been content to listen until now, “we can get them as far as Delphi. This leaky tug can’t make an oceanic voyage, but with our weather-manipulator at the prow we can at least make it to Delphi and drop you all off.”

Tay’s jaw crooks to the side and he looks at Richard, then all the others. He looks like he’s about to say no, right up until he deflates and says, “Fine,” with a throw of his hands into the air. “It’s all your funerals. I’ll be bunked up here one way or the other, so if this rusty heap makes it to Delphi, I’ll take you all into the wasteland…” He shakes his head, looking back at Richard once more with a nagging inability to fully disregard the things he’d heard. “But don’t say I didn’t warn ya.”

As he lingers there, ready to leave from the group, Tay looks at Silas. “You wanna survive this trip? You make sure the old bird comes with us.”

Silas knows exactly who Tay means with that; he grimaces. "Yeah." Easier said than done… but then, there are a lot of things Silas Mackenzie could say that about. Like this whole expedition, or the one to Japan he'd taken before that. Or the journey to the Ark he'd taken before that. Doing things the easy way's never been a strong point of mine.

So he takes a deep breath and nods to Tay. "Yeah."

"Maybe I came on too hard…" Eve thoughtfully rubs her chin as she wonders aloud for everyone to hear.

This conversation has taken so many uncomfortable turns in such a short time that Elliot attempts to die on the spot without success.

Chess glances at Eve, lips curving into a smirk. “You might want to save the red death mist until after you show him the rest of your assets,” she advises. “Next time.”

She lifts a hand in a farewell sort of wave, and reaches to tug Eve along with her.

“I want a weather manipulator for my boat,” Nova says to nobody in particular once Biard pulls apart Tay’s last excuse. Everything settled, she smiles at Tay. “Thanks, Meneer Epstein,” she says brightly, turning to head back the way she came.

Richard returns that stare from Tay steadily, one eyebrow raised upwards in the fashion of a man who has locked Epsteins in a room before to make them face their emotions and will do it again if he has to. It’s a very nuanced expression, really.

He only breaks it to glance over to Silas, brow furrowing a bit, “Old bird?” Cue regret asking in five, four, three…

“Former Captain of the Starling,” Tay says, “a healer, Natalie Gray.”

Biard nods at the name, recognizing it. “I heard she was here. She’s a bit of a legend, but if you can get her to go with you… that might solve a lot of problems.” Neither Biard nor Tay realize how weighty the surname Gray is for the Travelers.

“I’m gonna go take care of a couple of things.” Tay says with a jerk of a thumb over his shoulder. “You kids decide you don’t wanna die of radiation sickness or get shot in the gut, feel free to let me know you changed your minds. Otherwise, I guess we ship out whenever we’re ready.”

Elliot looks around for some clue as to who Natalie Gray is. Healing is hard to turn down, even if it's just post-apocalyptic hedge witchery.

The name Gray isn’t so uncommon that Chess links it immediately. But she nods at the mention of a healer – that would definitely be a useful resource on such a perilous journey. As to those perils, she lifts a shoulder in an unworried shrug.

“We all probably have some radiation poisoning already, to be honest,” she says. “And trust me, we’ve all been through worse than being shot at. Thanks for your time, though. We’ll see you soon.”

With a glance at the others, she turns to go. Nova lifts a hand to wave at Tay before following.

Silas grimaces when Tay mentions being gutshot; that grimace turns into a sour frown at Chess's expression of confidence.

Being gutshot is its own special brand of misery; a cross-continental land journey through the ruins of the U.S. of A. is, he's pretty sure, another. But there's only so much good talking will do, and even if the Travelers are underestimating how miserable that trip can potentially be… this is still a journey that has to be made. All they can do is prepare the best they can and deal with the trials to come.

"Pretty sure they ain't gonna change their minds," Silas sighs. "See ya soon, Tay," he says, turning to take his own leave. With Natalie Gray in tow. I hope.

“Nata– of course it is,” Richard mutters, rubbing one hand over his face, “Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be? Taylor Epstein and Natalie Gray.”

He turns to head back the way they’re going, his hands lifting skywards as he declares in exasperation, “Next thing you know, we’ll be picking up a Petrelli.”

The kooky woman gasps audibly and holds up a hand to her mouth, "Jazzhand's mother?"

There's a piece of that woman that instantly tries to think of a way to bring her back home to introduce to her friend she hasn't seen in forever. Bird woman. "Oh could he be anymore cliche without even trying?!?" Eve throws up her hands and chuckles loudly while being tugged along by Chess.

Richard's words draws Eve's gaze and she squirts, "We'd be very lucky to run into Peter right now!" Actually…

Eve frowns like she's trying to remember something she can't seem to place. "Nevermind." Squinting again and placing a hand on her hip.

Don’t curse us, Eve,” Richard calls back without looking.

The market is quiet after Tay takes his leave and Biard escorts the Travelers out. Yet, there is still someone lingering from the meeting. A young woman and her guide, existing just to the left of everything, ever so subtly apart from the moment at hand.

Arms crossed over her chest and head bowed, she watches the departure with an intense stare. The man at her side puts a gloved hand on her shoulder and watches Richard’s retreating back.

“Nearly there,” he says, glancing down at the young woman.

“Come, we have to go deeper.”

And then, they’re gone.

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