Hail Mary Pass


ff_leroux2_icon.gif richard5_icon.gif

Scene Title Hail Mary Pass
Synopsis Richard meets a copy of a copy of a copy…
Date June 13, 2021


Nathalie LeRoux seems to be on a low rung of Marlowe's ladder, as her job on the security team is a boring one. She guards store rooms full of food, supplies and equipment that needs to be rationed and kept track of. And it might sound important, but the truth of it is that around here… well, it's rare indeed that someone would think to try to steal anything from the Queen. So LeRoux sits on a stool, leaning against a wall and staring at a door across the hall. There's a sign in/sign out clipboard hanging on the wall next to it, but no one's even been by today to break up the tedium with some monotonous paperwork. All she has done is spend her time counting bricks in the wall, pacing, folding and unfolding her arms, and thinking about how long until her shift is over.

A typical workday, all things considered.

The sound of footsteps coming down the hallway means that at least she’ll be getting a moment’s deviation from the monotonous routine of her day. After a few moments, Richard comes into view, hands tucked into the pockets of that old bomber jacket of his.

He was just exploring his environs - since the storm is still raging outside - but when he catches sight of her, his steps slow and then pause. The fact, the mannerisms, so familiar. But not, at the same time.

“…Nathalie,” he greets quietly, regarding her with an unreadable expression through dark lenses.

Proving she is at least competent at her crap assignment, Nathalie straightens up at the sound of footsteps. She doesn't completely relax even when she recognizes the man approaching— although she knows of him, she doesn't know him. However, he is welcome here, so she gives him a quick wave at his greeting. That wariness, the guarded expression, it's familiar. Something perhaps all the Nathalies have in common, however different their circumstances.

"That's what they call me," she says, sounding like she means it to be humor, but spoken by someone who has perhaps never heard a joke in her life. Or not in a while, anyway. "It's Richard, right? You lost or just exploring?" She gestures to a stool across the hall from her, in case he feels like sitting.

“A little of both, to tell the truth…” Richard follows the gesture and moves to accept, stepping over and dropping himself down to sit - settling forward, forearms on his thighs, hands clasping together loosely. One of them stained dark - tattooing, maybe, of another hand wrapped around his own, although it’s hard to make out the abstract lines of it from most angles.

He looks at her for a moment, then a slight smile curves to his lips. “Yeah. Richard Cardinal.” A pause, before he adds while watching her for a reaction, “I’m Michelle’s son.”

She might have intended to help him get un-lost, or direct him to more interesting parts of Lowes worthy of exploration, but Nathalie doesn't offer either once he's explained who he is, exactly. She stares for a long moment, her expression stony. Then she lets out a quiet swear and pulls a skinny flask out of her back pocket. She takes a long drink, shaking her head before she looks back over at Richard.

"Did she find you, at least? Or was it all for nothing." Nat can't keep the bitterness out of her words, it's hard to say if she even tries. She's a girl who's watched the world end— and then watched her world end. It would not surprise her if it was, in the end, all for nothing. "Why are you here?"

“She did.” Richard closes his eyes, his chin dipping in a nod as the smile fades in the face of her reaction. Fingers separate, the tips of them tapping together as he tries to sort out his own feelings, and how to respond to hers.

“She did. She’s still there.” He draws in a breath, then opens his eyes again, looking back at her, “We’re here because if we can’t find what we’re looking for, our world’s going to burn. And that’s not a metaphor.”

"Well. At least there's that. Not for nothing." By Nathalie's tone, it's not much of a comfort. But, for someone mourning their home, perhaps it's understandable.

When he explains the reason for their appearance here, she lets out a heavy sigh and offers him her flask. "I can't say I recommend an apocalypse. Especially one no one lives through. Although, actually, living through one isn't all it's cracked up to be, either. So, best to avoid it all together." Her arms rest against her leg as she leans forward. "What do we have here that you don't have where you're from? What are you looking for?" Her head tilts, curious— like she can't imagine her flooded world having any sort of advantage over any other. What is left here not eaten by rust and eroded by salt water.

“An old…” Richard shakes his head, “…Evolved Affairs project, up in Alaska. At HAARP. An old technology project they had that might stop our apocalypse.”

He brings both shoulders up in a bit of a shrug, admitting, “It’s a Hail Mary pass, but we don’t have a lot of choice, really.” She’s regarded for a moment, before he adds quietly, “It’s weird. Seeing you here.”

"Sounds very much like a hail mary pass. But when that's all you have, that's what you do." Sitting around and waiting for the world to end doesn't seem to be an option that comes to mind. "You landed pretty far from Alaska, though." Nat spreads her hands in a helpless gesture. As if crossing timelines wasn't hard enough, they also have thousands of miles between them and their objective.

"Do you know her? The other me. I gathered from the… visions that she didn't have her family there." Whatever happened here, at least Nat seems aware of who her family is. Another reason Michelle's crossing might seem a little bittersweet to her. "I can imagine it's strange. I don't know that I'm much like her."

“As I’m sure you’re aware, getting between timelines isn’t exactly a finely-tuned and practiced art,” is Richard’s wry response, a hand coming up in a vague gesture, “Normally we’d have needed to wait until a solar conjunction but the next one was going to kill us, so we needed to— improvise.”

He draws in a breath, then, and glances aside. “I did. We— she found her family. Her father, at least, her mother was dead. I knew her— Sarisa, I mean. We realized she was my cousin— well, roughly. Not like you are.”

Dark eyes look back to her, guilt hidden by dark sunglasses, “If anything, she had an embarrassment of family.”

Past tense.

"I'm glad," she says, but her voice catches in her throat and she has to stop again and clear it. "It's not good to feel alone in the world."

“Yeah.” Richard replies, and a silence hangs between the two for a moment, “We're uh," he scrubs the back of his neck, brows furrowed like he forgot something. "We're gonna be leaving, once the storm clears. Probably taking boats to the mainland, after that…” he brings one shoulder up in a shrug, “…kinda playing it by ear. I’m told that some of the people here were already talking about moving up towards Anchorage, so—" He grins a bit, “Maybe we’ll have help.”

The grin doesn’t last long, though, and he shakes his head, “Can’t be worse than the Dead Zones out there. Or Antarctica.”

"I guess you'll find out if it's worse," Nathalie says, perhaps a little distracted. "You'll need protection." It's an offer— perhaps a silly one, given that this version of her is without abilities and him and his group aren't helpless at all, but she still makes the offer.

“You should take ‘er,” lilts an unfamiliar voice over Richard’s shoulder. Nathalie doesn’t seem to hear it, a thick gaelic accent. But then the woman speaking to Richard steps to stand at his side, red hair wild and tossed over her shoulders, blue eyes familiar in a way that all the old ghosts’ are. Her clothes look centuries out of place, feet bare and dirty. She turns and looks at Richard, putting a hand on his shoulder.


“It’ll all come back around,” the red-haired phantom says. But then she’s gone and the moment of reverie passed.

The edge of Richard’s mouth tugs up a little in a smile at the offer, and he’s about to say something before he jumps and twists to look back - at the wall from Nathalie’s viewpoint - and then looks back with a shake of his head, trying to cover up his startlement by not explaining it.

“You should,” he encourages, speaking quickly before she can ask what made him start, “I mean, we can use more people to make it. And I wouldn’t mind to get a chance to know my cousin.”

Nathalie raises an eyebrow at the jump and watches him over the edge of her flask as she takes a drink. She leans a little to the side to look at the wall behind him, then straightens to look at him again.

"Hmm," she says when he just pushes past all that. Her eyebrow stays ticked up, but she doesn't voice the question he is trying not to have to answer. "Yeah," she says with a nod, agreeing with his words— and the sentiment— but also adds dryly, "Seems to me like you need some looking after."

“Probably could use it,” Richard admits with a chuckle, “Liz always says it, after all. If I’m left on my own for too long I start to get creative with things.” He flashes her a grin, “It’s worked out so far, but she worries.”

Nathalie takes in a long breath, leaning back in her chair and taking a drink from her flask. The name Liz shifts her mood as quickly as flicking a light switch. It reminds her of another reason to watch visitors. She looks him over, her silence drawing out.

"Yeah well," she eventually says, "she shouldn't point fingers." She can't keep the bitterness out of her voice. For her, Liz and her group showed up and then Nathalie lived through her second apocalypse. The end of the world, then the end of her world.

The shift in mood is one Richard catches, the grin fading a bit. He leans back a bit, one hand coming to rub against the side of his neck. “She is a bit blunt sometimes,” he admits quietly, “But everything she does is what she thinks is right. Even if it means going against my plans sometimes.”

“And from what everyone says… things down there weren’t exactly heading in a great direction already.”

Quiet and ephemeral, the figment of Eilean Ni Chuilleanain re-appears in Richard’s periphery again, looking across the divide to Nathalie. “She understands best intentions,” the phantom offers in a hushed tone of voice, slowly slipping away from Richard’s side. She crosses the divide to Nathalie sight-unseen by the young woman, but it is as if Eilean is challenging that liminal blindness.

“She has the best intentions,” Eilean adds, and reaches out to touch Nathalie on the shoulder. It looks physical, seems like she’s touching her, but Richard knows it isn’t real. Yet, for Nathalie, a chill rolls down her spine. A fleeting sensation of being watched, or that someone was nearby. An experience like being, ever so briefly, haunted. Just as easily dismissed.

Nathalie arches an eyebrow. It's possible that blunt is not the word she would use. But she nods after a moment. "It was a delicate situation. Some of us were working on plans to get people out. The innocent people that were trapped there. Get everyone out or die trying. Instead, we watched it all collapse around us and I didn't even manage to— " She pauses, shuddering and glancing down the corridor. One way, then the other. But the chill passes and she doesn't see anyone spying, so she looks back to Richard. " —save anyone. They all died. Just died." It wasn't a pretty way to go, crushed under endless water, just as they'd all been afraid of for so long.

"It was unfortunate," she says, pushing regret and guilt down under vague language. "But I'm glad Michelle made it. I thought all that was left of my family was dead down there."

There are moments that it’s good to wear dark glasses. At least Richard’s cousin can’t see him glancing at the spectre lingering beside her– although when she seems to react to its touch, he straightens a bit. Well, that’s new. And worrisome.

“I’m sorry,” he says, genuinely, grimacing, “They got out– as many as they could. Two dozen or so people I think came through from the Ark, I don’t know all their names. I know your, uh– your parents weren’t with them, I don’t think either of them were in the Ark, though? Liz would have mentioned them if they were.”

"No, my parents weren't there," Nathalie says with a shrug of her shoulder. "Dead, probably." It's an old wound, one she knows she shares with most of the world— anyone left lost someone, after all. But as much as she tries to be cold about it, she still reaches for her flask and a drink at the mention. It's the probably that nags at her. And that with the world as it is, if anyone survived, it would be impossible to find one another. May as well be dead isn't a comfort.

"When do we leave?" The question is abrupt, a forceful shift of topic rather than a graceful one. "For the mainland. We'll need supplies. Food. Water. I can talk to Marlowe if you guys haven't worked that all out already."

“We’ve got to wait for the worst of– “ Richard waves a hand vaguely at the ceiling, no doubt indicating the storm, “— this to be over so we can leave. We’re working on getting supplies with Marlowe– I think some of the people here were considering heading for Anchor too, so we probably won’t be leaving alone.”

He drops his hand back down to a knee, leaning back in the chair, “So probably– a week or two? Time to wrap up any affairs you need to.”

"Plenty of time," Nat says, and it's easy to imagine that she doesn't have a lot of affairs to worry about as it stands. "I'll be ready to leave when you guys are." She settles back into her seat, more relaxed now. Perhaps due to having something more to do than guard doors and count inventory. And even if it's danger on the horizon, who could blame her.

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