Hands Washed In Dreams And Lightning


richard5_icon.gif robyn7_icon.gif ff_robyn2_icon.gif

Scene Title Hands Washed In Dreams and Lightning
Synopsis Two Robyns and a Richard gather to analyse and copy the poems of this reality's Else Kjelstrom
Date June 30, 2021

The Pelago

A sharp clap of thunder shakes the building, though there are no windows in the room that Richard acquired for his use to show the following flash; it’s a little room down a hallway in disrepair, with few neighbors due to the generally poor state of this part of the building.

It may have been a surprise to Robyn and Zee that he bothered to trade something for the room’s use instead of keeping to the boat, but neither of them know the biggest issue he’s still dealing with. The room’s private, yes, but more importantly the lack of others nearby makes it easier for him to deal with the swirling sense of life that makes up the Pelago.

It’s even worse closer to the water. All those fish.

“Alright, so…” He takes a deep breath, sitting cross-legged in front of a coffee table that’s held together with duct tape and a prayer, producing a pen and waggling it, “Let’s copy Else’s new songs one by one, and we’ll try and analyze what we can as we go. Sound good, you two?”

"Sounds good to me," Quinn remarks as she flattens the pages in the notebook she has in front of her. "There's thirteen total, a nice number for an album, but… we already have six of them…" Quickly, her pen begins to put ink to paper, listing the six they already have:

Shores of the Empire State
The Way Back is Closed
Always into the Future
Once and Forever

With each name written out, she taps her pen against the paper. "But just those six, which you can't begin to tell me doesn't mean something. Empire State is obvious, The Way Back is obvious now, but the others being in this book is curious to me." She huffs out a sigh, looking over at Zee, and then over to a guitar sitting over next to the other woman. "I brought a guitar if hearing any of it sung might help something click."

It's unlikely, but you never know.

"'The Way Back Is Closed'!" Zee leans over, excitedly pointing at that particular title. "Is that where you both get that from?" With that question, she shrinks back a bit, but not enough to look like she's trying to hide. "Um, okay." She reaches over to Robyn's bag and pulls out Else's song book, laying on the table in front of her - she sits between Richard and Quinn, tapping a finger against her cheek as she opens it.

"Quinn told me a bit more about Else's gift," she remarks very matter of factly, looking down at the words on the page. "But I've heard her sing before. Isn't it kinda… vague? Not metaphor, but like a, uh. Um. A mostly finished painting, I guess?" She flips past two pages, before stopping on the first that isn't one of the ones Robyn has already written down. The word Mirrorball is scrawled at the top of the page, a series of lyrics following after:

Inside out and upside down
Running outside the picture frame
I've laid the path I run myself
And now it's four o'clock
Though I've held on
Can't keep running it much longer
Or on the ceiling screaming
Are the things all come and gone
And there's nothing I can do
Not much I can change
So, I give it up to you
I hope that's okay
There's nothing I can do
Not much I can change
I give it up to you, I surrender
Inside out and upside down
Watch it from my doorstep
Sleeping eyelid of the sky
Flutters in a dream
Well, I've held on
But feel a storm approaching
Mountains swaying in the wind like sea anemones
And there's nothing I can do
Not much I can change
Can I give it up to you?
Would that be okay?
There's nothing I can do
Not much I can change
I give it up to you, I surrender
There's nothing I can do
Not much I can change
I give it up to you
I surrender

“I got it from Edward, actually,” Richard admits, glancing over the songs that they’ve already gathered with a slight and thoughtful frown, “Some of those we know the meaning of, others… not so much. And yeah– her songs are a lot like interpreting a painting, it doesn’t say things explicitly, or literally. Usually, anyway.”

He starts copying it down, pausing after a moment, “This first part– the first thing that comes to mind is the space between the strings, where time and space are just something to walk across. While it was– is– imprisoned there, though, it couldn’t do anything. Thoughts?”

"A few," Quinn says quietly, scooting herself a bit closer to the table, putting pen to paper again under a new heading for the song. "It's… a little self centered, but bare with me. There's something that sticks out to me rereading it now."

Reaching over, she taps the back of her pen against the closing lyrics of the song. "There's nothing I can do. I give it up to you, I surrender, there's nothing I can do." Reflexively the way she wears it carries a melodic cadence to it. "I think this- already happened. I don't know where this song starts, but I think I know where it ends."

She draws back, placing a finger in the spine of the lyric book, before closing it on top of her finger to mark the place. "I give it up to you, I surrender," she remarks, tapping the cover of the notebook. "Let's see if that thought connects to what you're thinking."

Zee is quiet as Quinn reopens the book back to the song in question. "Um." Zee clears her throat, looking over at Richard. "I hope you don't mind, but… Quinn told me a bit about the thing you're dealing with on the way here." She doesn't call it an Entity at least. "Which I'm guessing is good context to have for this."

She points to the lyrics at the top of the page, and runs her finger down. "It almost sounds mournful. Regretful. Why would they want to give up?"

“The last song in here is inarguably about me, I”m not going to call you self-centered if one of them’s about you,” Richard admits with a chuckle… and then he looks back to the page, pen tapping against the table briefly. “Hm. That does fit. It’s a strong possibility, you’re not wrong… and I don’t know, Zee. You could be right. Although– well.”

His brow furrows, “I don’t know this Else well. Ours was never a crusader really.”

"Oh. Else - ah, my Else…" Zee fidgets for a long moment, collecting her thoughts. "She's quiet? But determined. Or at least she used to be. Gregarious, but always out on thread once you got her going. Talking to her was like meandering to the finish line, but loving every minute of it." She exhales sharply. "I think Quinn would have better insight on how she is now. We haven't spoken much since I came back to the Pelago."

Quinn frowns at the thought, fingers curled around her chin. "If she hasn't found her way to you soon, I'll make sure she does. I'm sorry, I didn't realise, otherwise I would've told her to track you down too." Shifting, she leans down to look closer at the book. "I would kill to have my reading glasses," she murmurs, shaking her head.

"My encounters with Else sound a lot like what you're describing at least. Gregarious, meandering. She talked in heavy metaphor, though. It was all linear, so it wasn't Tamara levels of incomprehensible, but I had to pay attention to stay on the same thread she was on." Chewing on her lip for a moment, before pointing at the middle of the lyrics. "Both of these choruses carry a strong theme of the passage of time, and not being able to change anything during it, I think. The idea of storms and breezes is recurring imagery in at least a few of these songs, too."

“A storm’s a common metaphor for change, usually sudden, often violent,” is Richard’s observation there, both eyebrows raising a little, “It sounds like whoever’s represented in this has been trying to make changes, to prevent or cause something– but they’re hoping that someone else can, that they can pass on something to help with that.”

“Which– only tracks for Else if Else’s been trying to do something this whole time without anyone realizing it. Hrn.”

He frowns, “Silas said that Else’d said some unusual things in Japan, but– that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”

Quinn lets out a heavy breath as she leans back, looking up at the ceiling. "It's not impossible she has been. I mean, she saw the flood coming before anyone else. I wouldn't be surprised if she was trying and just…" She raises a hand, shrugging as she does. "But it's highly unlikely, I agree." Sitting back up, she looks past Zee and over to Richard.

"No. If Else said something noteworthy, we should keep that in mind. When I talked to her it was…" She raises both her hands in front of her fingers dancing back and forth as she tries to collect her thoughts together. "Thick with metaphor, but there was meaning behind everything, She talked about burning her ability out, and that time was short," she admits, "among other things."

Zee wrinkles her nose, still looking at the page in front of her. "Silas told me when he came to the Ark he'd seen Else, but she was.. .weird. Different from how I remembered her. I…" She stops dead, staring ahead for a moment. "Sorry, I lost my thought," she admits sheepishly, before abruptly perking back up. "Oh! I couldn't figure out more, but it sounded really weird for her! Maybe that might have something to do with it."

There's a moment of awkward silence, before Zee frowns, and again points to the page. "There might be a transition. From whatever is at the start, to Else at the end." She pulls her hand back, folding it into her lap for a moment. "She got… really caught up in whatever Don was all about back then. She had changed a lot right before she left."

“That’s… concerning, given that Don was under its influence,” Richard observes, brow knitting slightly in response to Zee’s words, “It’s been known to get into peoples’ heads, to… make them do things, or persuade them to do things… for awhile we thought it was memetic, but I’m pretty sure that was an attempt to cover things up. To cover it up…”

The last few lines are scribbled down, and he suggests with a tilt of his head, “Shall we check the next one? We can circle back around if anything comes to mind. And maybe we should try and find Else later…”

"Before or after we leave? How easy it is to get her alone may depend on that," Quinn notes as she scribbles down the last of her notes in her notebook and flips over to the next page. "I don't want her to feel cornered, but I do like there's some piece we're missing she may have."

"I would, um. I would prefer not to… ambush her?" Zee's words are quieter before, like she thinks she's voicing an unpopular opinion. "I get it, but…" Once again, she just stops suddenly, blinking as she stares on ahead. A moment passes, and she shakes her head and sighs.

"Right. The next one…" Flipping the page to the next one in the book, they find a new set of lyrics, headered Out of the Garden.

Out of the Garden

Build me a way home
I'm on my way, so build me a way home

Build me a way home
I lost my faith, so build me a way home

Build me a way home
Thought you'd live, but you never know

Build me a way home
I thought I'd always be gone, so

Build me a way home
And what's a little wait?

Only time will tell us who really fail, yeah

Build me a way home
I'm on my way, so build me a way home

I lost my faith, so build me a way home

I'm on my way, so build me a way home (build me, build me, build me)

Build me a way home

I'm on my way, so build me a way home

"'Build me a way home'." Slowly, Quinn begins writing down the name of the song and scribbling notes down already. "I'm going to guess you're thinking what I am there, Richard. I know I'd like someone to build me a way home right now," she notes without looking up in his direction. "I swear I've heard something about a garden of some sort before too…"

“You have,” Richard reaches out, tapping the title with the pen, “The Garden of Forking Paths. It’s been used as a metaphor for the– well, the multiverse. What I’m getting out of that is… this is someone who’s left their home universe and never expected to get home, but is working their way now.”

He frowns, “It could be us, but… that doesn’t seem right. This seems more personal, more individual. It could be about Liz or Magnes, maybe, but– no, that was covered in the other songs, there wouldn’t be more than one about it…”

"That's what The Way Back Is Closed is about," Quinn clarifies as she looks over at Zee. "Magnes and Liz getting home." Turning back to her notes, she sighs. "Which just makes this seem redundant, and I've never seen that before in Else's music." Lips pressed thin, she scribbles something in her notebook and shakes her head.

Zee's head tilts to the side a bit, a thoughtful look on her face. "Silas?" she questions out loud, shoulders tensing for a moment when she does. "I met him on the Ark. It was really weird when he just… came back somehow." Mirroring Quinn's frustrated, lips pressed thin expression, she slouches and sighs. "I mean, not every song is about somebody, right? But Silas says Else was the one to fish him out of the water when he came back."

She says a bit in her seat, expression a bit bland as she stares ahead. "But you're right, Richard, it seems too personal for that! Wild. I don't… I don't think it's about Else, though." Her shoulders hunch, and she looks down at the table. "At least I hope it's not. I'd be sad if she left."

That earns a look over at Zee from Quinn, and a distinctly sad expression, before she looks at Richard. It's only for a moment that she lingers before looking back down at her notes, though for a moment she seems a bit more distracted.

“It… oh. Oh.”

Richard’s pen-tapping pauses, midnight-black eyes zipping back and forth across the lines. “It’s… it could be about it. The Entity. It was trapped there, in the Garden. The space between decisions until… until…”

He breathes out a sigh, his eyes closing and shoulders sinking as he says more softly, “Until I built it a way back home.”

There's a light touch at Richard's shoulder, and then a squeeze. "I wasn't there, I was too busy trying to get on the sub. But you got Elizabeth, Magnes, Director Cardinal, Silas… a whole bunch of people out, right?" Both Zee and Quinn look over at him, though it's Zee who speaks. She offers a reassuring smile, while Quinn offers a sadder, more worried expression.

"So hey, maybe that's not your fault?" Zee scoffs, turning her attention back to the book in front. "You did what you needed to." Her tone is even, thoughtful in a way she doesn't normally portray. "And that's all that matters."

Quinn glances over to her counterpart, and then gives a slow nod of agreement. "I suspect that it would've made it out one way or another. The sad thing is, you probably gave it the least destructive path forward." Another note is scribbled, and she leans back a bit. "It being about the Entity seems like a sure shot, but that just makes it another song that's not super helpful to us."

She hums to herself, clearly having a cadence for the lyrics in mind as she scribbles something down. "Could be directed at… the people that'll bring us home? Hopefully?" She pauses, furrowing her brow. "I wonder if we could send a recording of it through when we get to Natazhat."

“Yeah,” says Richard, offering a faint smile back to Zee and bringing a hand up to briefly pat against hers on his shoulder, “Yeah, I suppose it did. Still, it just means all that was just… one more move on the board, one more thing I was being used as a pawn for.”

Eileen called him a chessmaster once. He never called himself that. Even a king is still just a piece on the board.

“I suppose it could be. Maybe,” he says, looking at the page, “And depending, not impossible, especially if HAARP is active. If we get the right auroral activity we could potentially contact the Kansas Quantum Radio Array… anyway.”

He seems quick to want to move on, scribbling down the last few words with a grimace and motioning to Quinn, “Next.”

Quinn's brow stitches together at one of the things Richard mentions. "HAARP? Richard, I get enough alphabet soup in my day job, please spell that out for me."

Zee can't help but snicker at that reaction, but she has something else to focus on. "Quantum Radio Array?" She sits there for a moment, focused ahead as she mouths words silently and her eyes jump about like she's trying to connect invisible dots. "I think- I heard someone talk about something like that in the Ark while I was climbing around in the vents once. What is it?" As she asks her question, she turns the page and tries to focus down on the next one, headered Circles.


All the way from where we came
We walked a circle and became
Distant lightning, thunder claps
Watched our neighbors' world collapse
Looked the other way
And then the storm was overhead
All the ocean's boil and river's bled
We auctioned off our memories in the absence of a breeze
Scatter what remains, scatter what remains

Pushed away and I'm pulled to war
A come down of revolving doors
Every warning we ignored
Drifting in from distant shores
The wind presents a change of course, a second reckoning of swords
Time we wasted waiting for a come down of revolving doors

Fate don't fail me now

And when the days that followed past
In another world that's built to last
From our window we could see
Only possibilities down the road and back

But, then the storm returned for more
In a come down of revolving doors
Auction off our memories in the absence of a breeze
Scatter what remains, scatter what remains

Pushed away and I'm pulled to war
A come down of revolving doors
Every warning we ignored
Drifting in from distant shores
The wind presents a change of course, a second reckoning of swords
We were wasted waiting for a come down of revolving doors

Fate don't fail me now
Fate don't fail me now
Fate don't fail me now
Fate don't fail me now

"Ominous," is whispered out by Zee as she finishes reading, shoulders settling stiff. "Storms again too! I think you were right, Richard." She looks up at him and smiles wide.

“High-frequency Active Auroral, uh, Research Program,” Richard motions a bit with a hand, “Old government installation. Although I think they were doing some other research up there, we might be able to use it to– stir up the magnetosphere. Ezekiel burned it to the fucking ground in our timeline for some fucking reason.”

He leans forward to read, answering Zee’s question absently, “It was a radio tuned to pick up broadcasts from other timelines. It’s how we got in touch with the Ark. Doesn’t work real well though except during periods of high solar… solar activity…”

Trailing off, he just stares at the page, wheels moving behind his eyes.

"'Fate don't fail me now' is a hell of a hook," Quinn remarks quietly, staring at the page of lyrics for a long moment. "The surface level intent seems pretty clearly conveyed here, and given that this is prophecy, that's… just so exceptionally worrying." She crosses her arms, setting down her pen for a moment as she thinks.

"You think that represents what happens if we don't get what we need back home?" Her eyes flick over to Zee; clearly she's trying to be as vague as she can manage. "It certainly has that sort of disaster vibe. Which…" She rests her chin against the back of her fist for a moment, thinking. "We should be experiencing high solar activity, right?" She looks over at Richard. "Where is this thing located?"

It's a tangent, but maybe one worth getting on.

"What warning do you think it's referring to?" is Zee's quiet contribution. "You haven't been treating anyone like a Cassandra, have you?" She leans back, looking first over Quinn. "Well, I know you have, but-" She doesn't hesitate before turning and pointing at Richard. "What about you?"

Quinn's expression sours for a moment, but Zee doesn't miss a beat. "Funny that it talks about 'distant shores', too. That could be you all, if you look at it the right way."

“No,” Richard says, and his voice is soft, as if he doesn’t trust what he’d say if he raised his tone, “No, Robyn, I don’t– I don’t think this is what happens if we fail.”

He draws in a slow breath, and then leans back from the page, head canting back to stare at the ceiling.

“I think this is what happens when we succeed.”

When their name is spoken, both Robyns turn to look in his direction reflexively. This time, there is no mirth to be found in the moment, no sigh of frustration from Quinn or stifled snicker from Zee.

"That's…" Of the two of them, Quinn speaks up first. "Why would we be here then? What would we even do next?" She swallows audibly, looking down at the lyric sheet in front of her. "Walk me through it, Richard. Help me understand. I'm not going to say it's impossible-"

"I am." Zee interjects without a second thought, causing Quinn to fall silent. She looks between the two of them crossing her arms and frowning. "Listen, as much as I like you all - mostly - you're here for a reason, and that reason isn't to mess up the world unless someone was really, really mean and wasn't telling you everything. It's not like they'd send you here just to post up at Anchor!"


Clearing her throat, Quinn gives a slow nod to Zee, and then looks back to Richard. "Walk us through it," she states, this time bringing Zee into the explanation. Not that she had much of a choice.

“Ray Bradbury.” is the unexpected beginning of Richard’s explanation.

His chin drops back down towards his chest, and he sets it before leaning forward, reaching out to tap the third line. "He wrote a story once, it’s where the phrase Butterfly Effect comes from. It was called A Sound of Thunder. On multiple occasions thunder and lightning have been present in precognitive material to represent time travel.”

“When Liz was here, the Sentinel came for the Pelago. Why then? Why did it wait so long? Why did it decide to strike then? Liz and her crew left just in time,” he says, his voice tight, “Just in time to avoid the Sentinel’s attack. As we know, Confessor Crowley – the man who made that call – was a synthetic android. Technology they don’t have in this timeline. And he was wearing a miniaturized Looking Glass. Technology they don’t have in this time.”

He sweeps the page back, tapping a finger on Out Of The Garden. “I believe he was trying to stop this. I already had this theory.”

“‘All the way from where we came, we walked a circle and became distant lightning, thunderclaps’. This reads like it’s from the point of view of a bunch of time travelers. Like Ingrid, Walter, and the others in their time,” he says, voice tightening but he’s maintaining his composure. The explanation, the thoughts, flooding out of him now. Trying to keep up with racing thoughts trained by trying to understand the machinations of Edward Ray.

“This tells the story of people who saw the other timelines burn, but survived themselves. Presumably due to whatever we sent back. But it was just one storm it protected them from. Then another came… to scatter what remained.”

“We didn’t see the warnings. They’re trying to change the course of the future but they don’t have Edward. They don’t know which mountain to move. Fate don’t fail me now.”

Both Robyns stare at Richard as he begins his explanation behind his reasoning, disjointed and rambling as it may seem at times. The moment other time travelers and androids are mentioned, though, Quinn immediately turns to a fresh page in her notebook and begins hastily writing notes in it.

After a long moment of silence, Zee raises her hand, looking a bit lost as she stares at Richard. "I didn't know." Her voice is a bit distant as she speaks, swallowing before she continues. "About this Crowley guy. I won't tell anyone, though."

Quinn continues writing furiously as Zee lowers her hand. "So… what. You think there's, ah. People here to stop you then? Or at least… keep you from getting whatever it is you're here for?" Zee scratches at the side of her head, glancing over at her counterpart for a moment before turning back to Richard.

"I… think I get it. I mean, a lot of that - I didn't recognise a lot of the names and whatever, but I get the gist. But Edward? Like, Mr.-"

Quinn abruptly rips the page she's been hastily writing on out of the notebook, turning it and offering it to Zee. "History homework," she states simply.

"What?" Zee blinks and looks down at the sheet as she takes it, eyes widening. "Holy shit." A rare curse from her, something that's not lost on Quinn. "This is so much!"

"Better get reading, then. Quiz later," Quinn states flatly, looking past her at Richard. "I wrote her the cliffiest Cliff Notes on some of the things you mentioned. Context is important." Sitting up a bit straight, she keeps her attention on Richard. "So, bigger question. Who sent Crowley, then? Why haven't they showed up to talk to us again?"

A beat, and she shakes her head. "And why do these never people just think to inform us about what's going on and see if we can hash it out without the worry and fighting that usually happens?"

“If nobody comes back from this,” says Richard with a shake of his head, “They wouldn’t– have any way of knowing who was trustworthy, who wasn’t. I don’t even– “

He hesitates, glances to Zee, then looks back at Quinn and says quietly, “I think the OEI was compromised. They knew where and when to hit the rig– exactly. And every time the Edward in the ‘Bright Future’ timeline has sent any intel regarding Mazdak up to Raith, it’s disappeared into a black hole, he said. No follow-up questions, no results.”

“And now this…” A glance to the page for ‘Circle’, “I don’t like the picture I’m seeing here.”

At first Quinn nods along quietly, right up until Richard asserts that OEI was compromised. Almost immediately, her eyes widen and her face blanches, staring in silence at Richard.

Zee continues to read over the piece of paper she's been given, mouthing words to herself before she suddenly sits up straight and looks over at Quinn. "You have two daughters too?!" Those words hang in the air for a moment, Quinn barely even reacting to Zee's outburst. Zee lingers on her for a moment, before looking over at Richard.

"O-oh. There's- something happening." She shrinks down, focusing back on the piece of paper. "I'll just… keep reading." After a moment, though, she pauses, pointing at each of them in turn. "Whatever this is? Um. You can trust me. I'm good at not telling people things. I'm glad you both are trusting me this much as it is, but, ah. I won't say anything."

"You better make real fucking sure you want to stick with that one before we go on, Richard." There's the return of the brusque, borderline angry tone most have become familiar with from Quinn, her eyes narrowing at Richard and practically bowling over anything else Zee has to say. "Because they're the ones looking for my son right this fucking minute, and I swear to fucking God himself I will murder everyone in that building if I have to." There's a bit of a rising light around her, a soft glow to her features as she clenches her teeth.

The mention of Matthew earns a look from Zee, but it's the insistence on murder that makes her eyes widen and her attention turn back to her history lesson. "Oh good," she grumbles. "We're back to this."

“I don’t know how deep the infiltration goes, Quinn, but…” Richard grimaces, looking over to her, “…I’m sorry, at some level we’ve been outmaneuvered. Hopefully not to the point that has anything to do with Matthew, but…”

“Someone in there, somewhere, betrayed us. And I don’t think they’re done.”

Quinn stares silently at Richard, pen gently tapping against the table as her hand begins to shake. Slowly, she turns back forward, looking down at her collection of notes. "Do you remember the first time we met with OEI about this? The time I gave you $50 and walked out?" Fingers drum on the ramshackle table, pen in her other hand still tapping against the table. "When I got home, Agent Gates was waiting for me." Swallowing, she looks over at Zee, offering the other woman a small smile. "Our handler for the people that sent us here, effectively. You'd like him, I bet."

Looking back to Richard, she takes a deep breath. "He told me there was an accident, a bus got hit by another vehicle. Elaine was on the bus, so was Deliliah, and the two of them had been switching off on watching Matthew. Walter was there, Elaine's… sort of daughter, too, and…" Her lips quirk side to side. "It was an awful wreck. A bunch of people on board died."

This earns a horrified look from Zee, eyes wide, before she turns to look back at Richard as Quinn continues. "But apparently Walter's ability manifested, and saved them!" There's a bit of a laugh, an almost uneasy one tinged with a touch of hysteria to it afterwards. "And they ended up in the 40s! And, it sounds like, didn't stay there. OEI's been tracking them, trying to figure out when they popped up, where they might end up so they can find them."

"Wow…" There's a sad look in Zee's eyes as she focuses back on her counterpart, before looking down at the song book in front of her. She swallows audibly. "Time travel really does suck, you weren't joking." Probably not the best time for a joke, but Zee follows it up by turning to fully face Quinn. "I don't… know Matthew, but I believe he'll be fine."

Quinn lets out a shuddering sigh, elbows propped against the table as she leans forward and buries her hand into her hair. "I need him to be," she says quietly. "So I really hope you're wrong, or it's not as bad as it could be, Richard."

Staring at the other woman for a moment, Zee seems unsure of what to do. Rubbing at her hand with another - usually a sign of pain from her, she shakes her head. "Um. Uh. The, uh. The matter at hand!" A valiant attempt to bring the conversation back around. "How does this possibly change what you all are going to do?"

Richard listens to the explanation, his brow furrowing a little in concern. Then he tries a smile, reaching a hand out to touch Quinn’s arm as he points out, “If I was putting odds down – I’d put them on Elaine and Delilah against the whole damn OEI any day, especially with kids on the line. I’m sure Matthew’ll be fine with those two watching over him.”

The question, though, is a good one.

“I… don’t know,” he admits, looking back at the page, “We need to keep our eyes open. Now that we know we’re not on the right path, we have to find the right mountain to move, and we need to find whoever else might have been sent. If there was anyone else. But– “

He shakes his head, gesturing, “Let’s move on for the moment. Maybe there’ll be more insights.”

"I wonder if we're supposed to make it home at all," Quinn murmurs, still lost in her thoughts on the subject. She stares vacantly down at the page in front of her, the tap tap tap of her pen still echoing in the room. The intent had always been a potential one way trip, but this puts a whole new spin on it

Zee looks at her, frowning, and then down to her still shaking hand. Slowly, she reaches down, placing her own hand on top of Quinn's in an attempt to steady it - and so she can slip the pen out from between her fingers. As she sets it down on the notebook in front of the other woman, she looks back to Richard.

"Sorry, what did you say? I was-" She had already lost the thread of what Richard had said, worry clear on her face for a moment, before she has a sudden flash of realisation. "Oh! R-right. The next one." She hesitates for a moment, though, not immediately turning the page.

"You're really convinced of your, um. Of what you think it means," she notes quietly after a moment. "What if you're wrong?" Not that she has any contradicting thoughts of evidence, but it's a question worth asking. It's only once that question's posed that she turns the page, revealing a titled header of Neverwere/Everwas.


Don't wake me up, I am this dream
Forever walking through trees
Far from the fear, life is so sweet
The light's callin' me, hmm-mm
And she said
Give a little, give a little love
Oh, give a little, give a little more
I am the queen, come share this dream
I'm not in light in dark
They come for me, under her limnal robes
They feel some reality (uh-uh)
The taste of new
Blinded by the light, I can't forget it
The taste of new
Neverwere, Everwas
Neverwere, Everwas
Neverwere, Everwas
Neverwere, Everwas
Oh, give a little, give a little love
Oh, give a little, give a little more
Neverwere, Everwas
Give a little, give a little love
Oh, give a little, give a little love
A little love, a little love, a little more
Neverwere, Everwas

A few lines of copying in, Richard shakes his head in defeat. “I– I honestly haven’t the faintest idea on this one,” he confesses, nose wrinkling up as he peers down at it, “Neverwere, everwas– something that never was, but always was? There’s a lot of metaphorical imagery here, but it’s too dense for me.”

He taps his pen a few more times, “Do either of you have any insight?”

Quinn is quiet, still vacantly staring at the page in front of her, prompting Zee to respond first. "Merde," she breathes out, before looking over at Richard. "I, um. I think she's going to need…" A lot would normally be a joking snipe she might make, but she thinks better of it here. "A moment. I think she's going to need a moment." Instead, she turns to the paper in front of her, trying her best to focus on it.

"It's… metaphorical, yeah, but, ya know. Built on a tangible foun- foun-" She struggles with the word for a moment, before sighing and shaking her head. "It's built on a base we can work with, I think." Leaning forward, she runs her ringer down the page as she attempts to avoid smudging pencil and pen.

"It starts out describing something that sounds pretty nice? Living in a dream, walking among the trees, a life so sweet. Love." Her finger slides down a bit further, though she pulls it back and shakes her hand, wincing after a moment. "This makes it sound like someone took, or is going to take, it away," she says, this pointing with her pen held loosely between her fingers.

The pen is tapped against a few other lines. "Lots of imagery of what is and isn't real. Light and dark, dreams, liminal spaces. It's- tough to see how it all fits together, but it's sad either way. Whatever this song's subject had, it neverwere, but everwas. A.. what's the word. Not a contradiction… ooooh, they use it all the time for time stuff!"

She huffs, annoyed at her inability to drum up what she wants.

“Paradox,” Richard provides.

He frowns down at the page, “It feels like– maybe the speaker’s hiding from //reality?? The mentions of living in a dream, of being far from the fear. There’s something out there but they don’t want to face it? I don’t know…”

Zee nods enthusiastically, perking up a bit when Richard her with the word she wants. "Right! That!" Just as quickly, though, she returns her attention to the lyrics. "So… hiding from reality. Something imaginary?" She frowns. "Something that neverwere, but everwas," she repeats thoughtfully. "Makes me think of that old Amy Lee song, the one about the paper flowers." Imaginary, the word she'd just said.

She shakes her head, taking a deep breath. "I don't… I don't think I have enough context beyond that," she mutters in a low voice. "Sorry." Still, she furrows her brow for a moment, before setting up and flipping back to a few previous pages. "Could this be- a story? Something to be put in order? Because, um. A lot of these are from perspectives, right? Maybe that Entity thing?"

“It’s possible? It doesn’t sound like them, though…” Richard taps the pen a few times, “It could be, though. Prophecy doesn’t always go in the correct order– hell, this could be from one of the conduit’s viewpoints for all we know. I don’t think either of us have enough context.”

“The whole ‘neverwere’ ‘everwas’ thing matches the Garden, too, I suppose. The space between everything, so– maybe it is them. I don’t get the ‘give a little love’ lines though, and they’re repeated, so they’re important.”

Zee stares at the page for a long moment. "Give me a little love," she speak-sings, giving it a distinctly melodic cadence. After a moment, she looks over at Quinn, and then slowly back to Richard. "Who doesn't want love? Who doesn't want someone… or want someone back?" Mouth scrunches a bit at those words, leaning back slightly as she looks upwards. "I want my mom, and her love. She," she motions back to Quinn, "wants her son, and his love."

After a moment, she looks back down. "I'm still stuck on that Amy Lee song I guess. Vibe feels, uh, really similar, if nothing else. But if you're hiding from reality, or somewhere imaginary, and you want love… I mean, I can come up with a few guesses why. None of them are good."

“As much as the words are bright ones,” Richard muses as he looks back over it, “This seems like a pretty sad song, honestly. A lament for something that isn’t lost yet, a plea for a little while longer…”

A hand comes up, then drops helplessly, “I don’t think we have enough context on this one.”

"So we move on." Zee states this very matter of factly, nodding at Richard as she offers him a small smile. "We keep it in mind. Or… I guess you guys do." There's a bit of distance in those words, but it's not something she lets linger, instead quickly turning back to the song they were on, and then to the next one, which reads Sun, Moon, and Stars at the top.

//Sun, Moon, and Stars

I'm not awake
My memories on the floor
And soot on my tongue
I don't know my name
But I still taste the blood

Nothing there but skin
Shadows crawl on the ceiling
They know
They know who we were (who were we?)

Don't answer me
I'm calling just to hear you scream
And you're fading
But it feels like you in between
I've said too much
In and out of the dream
Now we're fading
And I wonder who will erase me
Who will erase me?

See you to the end
My spirit waits like it desperately knows
That it'll all burn if I don't let you go (go)

Don't answer me
I'm calling just to hear you scream
And you're fading
But it feels like you in between
I've said too much
In and out of the dream
Now you're fading (fading)
And I wonder who will erase me

Erase me
Erase me
And I wonder who will erase me

Don't answer me
I'm calling just to hear you scream
And you're fading
But it feels like dying in between
I've said too much
In and out of wanting out
Now you're fading
And I wonder who will erase

Don't answer me
I'm calling just to hear you scream
And you're fading (fading)
But he feels like too much in between
I've said too much
In and out of wanting hope (who are we to hope?)
Now you're fading (fading)
And I wonder who will erase me
Oh, who will erase

"I don't like this one." Zee is only about halfway through reading it when she makes her declaration. "But I also can't… get a read on it's vibe? Mournful? Angry? Mourngry?"

Shifting next to Zee, Quinn finally looks back up from her paper, down at the new set of lyrics, and then over at Richard and Zee. "Resentful," she remarks in a low voice. "It's resentful. I've read over this one a few times, and it always feels… well, that." PIcking up her pen, she sighs and begins scribbling again - thoughts, notes, just what she was doing before.

“This one.. This does read like the Entity,” Richard admits, tapping his pen on the page as he pauses in transcribing, “Maybe reaching out to the conduits? I don’t know. I feel like if I understood them better I might have an answer here, but– we don’t know its motivations well enough.”

“I could be wrong, though,” he adds, “Just my first instinct here.”

"Conduits?" Predictably, Zee looks a bit confused by this new bit of information. She looks askance to Quinn, raising an eyebrow.

"Nope." Quinn shakes her head, leaning forward across the table. "I'm not touching that one, I couldn't begin to write that history lesson. Besides, you have finish your first one." Despite the joking vibe of her comment, her voice is flat, still distant. "If you want that one it'll have to be later."

And done by someone else

"It brings up that idea of dreams, of an uncertain… reality?" Quinn frowns, looking over at Richard. "But it's a lot darker. Could this be the last song, perspective shifted?" She pauses for a moment, sliding back into her seat. "No, I don't think so, actually…"

“That’s a… long story,” Richard shakes his head, glancing down at his hands, “Suffice it to say they’re… semi-sentient abilities that can move from host to host. One of them - the Black Conduit - was in Kazimir Volken.”

“It wasn’t evil, though,” he deadpans, glancing over to Zee, “That was all the old man.”

He pauses, as if expecting the old man himself to chime in. When he doesn’t, he looks back at the song, pen tapping a few more times. “Resentful, but– it’s the resentment that’s left behind after desperation fails.”

Zee looks a little lost for a moment, blinking before simply looking back at the song in front of them. "Wild," she remarks quietly. "That name's familiar though. Volken…" She thinks for a moment, before booking over at Richard. "The Sentinel? I think?" Which means the enemy, and even she thinks so from the rough tone in her voice.

"The 'erase me' part is what really catches my attention," Quinn notes as she crosses her arms, nostrils flaring as she takes a deep breath. "Is it bitter? Wishful? Either way it's sad." She shakes her head. "I'm trying to view this as prophecy, not lyrics that need analysis, but… it's very evocative, and I have to feel like that's on purpose.

“The group before the Sentinel. The ones that drowned the world,” says Richard with a shake of his head, “And… I think it’s resigned, Quinn. They’ve lost, somehow, and are wondering how it all ends. Erase me could mean– from history and memory, like the Company did, or it could be more literal… I don’t know.”

Quinn snaps a finger a points at Richard, a sound a motion that actually catches Zee off guard enough to make her jump. "That's a much better word for it." She settles back down into her seat, fingers curling around her chin. "But if it's what the Company did, it's not a prophecy. This is something still coming… but you're right. It feels resigned. Defeated."

"The Company. That's who you said mom worked for where you come from, right?" Zee's lips quirk side to side a bit, arms wrapping around her.

Nodding, Quinn glances up at Zee. "Yeah. But the Company's been gone years now, and they dealt with the Entity in the 80s. Right after we were born, actually." That thought lingers for a moment, before she looks over at Richard. "So, what. A mournful prophecy of defeat? But isn't that the goal, if this is about the Entity? How would a conduit figure into this?"

“Myths,” Richard shrugs slightly, “Legends. You know the– symbol?” He shifts the hand on the paper over to one side, writing the symbol so often connected with Adam in the corner of the page. “It represents an entity in several mythologies. The Zuni called it Kolowis*. The guardian of the waters. All rivers, all oceans, they all connect underground according to their legends…”

He pauses, brow furrowing, “…huh.” A quick scribble in the corner: Why ‘Aquifer’? Elliot. before continuing on.

“Then the sun god - often represented as an eclipse in art I’ve seen - Awonawilona, and their children, the warrior twins, the Ahayu’da. One white, one black. Now, interestingly, the Zuni were influenced by Japanese visitors long before the States were here. I think this myth is actually about Uluru and the conduits. They’re her children in a way. She created them. Hell, if she was originally a person they may have literally been her children, maybe they were the first people she empowered. We know she can do that.”

"That… complicates matters." Shoulders sag as Quinn closes her eyes and tries to center her thoughts a bit. "There's some history I'd like to talk about there, but… later, maybe." She stares ahead for a moment, head tilting as she considers for a moment. "Did I… did I ever tell you that the Entity possessed my mom once? Back before I was born?"

"Wait, what?" Zee's eyes widen, suddenly looking a bit panicked, at least until Quinn puts a hand on her shoulder.

"Later. I… have my doubts it would've happened to your mom, anyway, with how different things are here." When she says your mom, her face scrunches a bit. She doesn't like that one bit, but rather than dwell on it, she leans forward, pulling at the corner of the page. "Let's come back to this one at this point, I think. Are you fine with moving on, Richard?"

“At Sunspot,” Richard affirms with a slight nod over to Quinn, “When Arthur decided to try and play with what my mother’d left behind, and let the damn thing out – and yeah, it didn’t happen here, Zee, don’t worry about that. Since mom – Michelle – lived, her work didn’t fall into anyone else’s hands…”

He gestures to the book, “Yeah, let’s move on.”

Zee nods slowly, though she doesn't look entirely convinced. Like her counterpart, she decides not to dwell on it too much, quickly turning the page to the next page, a song called Open the Door.

Open the Door

I think I lost something in the water
I tried to swim to it
I could not swim to it
Drowned in a dream that should've made me stronger
I tried to swim through it
I could not swim through it

Leave my body and the concert early
Cry on the train, playin' Shores of the Empire State
Such a long walk back to 34th street

I have the dream again, I have the dream again
My ego dies at the end, it's ego death
I live the dream like I still don't know what it meant
Who am I? I've lost the thread
My ego dies at the end
Mm, mm, mm, mm
Mm, mm, ah, ah, ah

I lost the tune over a winter
I tried to cry for it
I could not cry for it
Sank down to search the bottom of the river
I tried to dive for it
I could not dive for it

Leave my body in the water early
Tried baptism but it felt like burning
If I don't write about it, was it really real?

I have the dream again, I have the dream again
My ego dies at the end, it's ego death
I live the dream like I still don't know what it meant
Who am I? I've lost the thread
My ego dies at the end

Leave my body and my ego early
Kill it kind with a certain mercy
Claim I put it out of its misery

I have the dream again, I have the dream again
My ego dies at the end, it's ego death
I live the dream like I still don't know what it meant
Who am I? I've lost the thread
My ego dies at the end
Mm, mm, mm, mm
Mm, mm, ah, ah, ah

"Merde," Zee whispers as she reads over the lyrics on this page. "I want to change my answer, I dislike this one more."

Quinn frowns and looks away, letting out an uneven sigh. "You maybe should."

Furrowing her brow, Zee turns and looks over at Quinn, clearly curious as to what she means. "What, uh. What does that mean?"

"I'm pretty sure this is Else," Quinn says quietly, sill looking from the other two. "More so than the first one we looked at. Which makes sense, reading the lyrics, but… it worries me."

As the two talk, Richard’s reading… and he leans back a bit, his expression troubled. “This is definitely Else,” he says quietly, the tip of his tongue briefly moistening his lips, “And.. I mean…”

He glances between the two, hesitating before he asks the question that he’s hoping is heading down the wrong road– “How sure are we that the Else with us is– still Else?”

"What?" Both Robyns react with the same exclamation and similar near gasp. Quinn's gaze settles on Richard quickly, a bit of a light in her eyes as her expression flattens. "I don't like what you're implying," she practically hisses, causing Zee to wheel around and look at her with surprise. "Who else could she be? You're nor suggesting she's possessed, are you?"

Zee shakes her head, before also looking back at Richard. "I mean, uh. She's been a bit… um. Weird? For a while even, but she's still… Else." Zee is quick to look over at Quinn. "Right?"

Richard holds up a hand defensively to that response. “I don’t like what I’m implying,” he admits, “But– “

His posture slouches forward to look back over the song, “Just– the bottom of the river. The water. This reads like it’s talking about when she went to the Ark. Drowning, dying– but not body death. Ego death. The death of self.”

"Because she's lost who she used to be. Because she's… lost." Spoken with quiet insistence, Quinn chews on her lip for a moment. "That was how I read it. Talking about being down in the Ark, losing the tune - that was how she phrased burning out her ability to me, like she was out of tune with the universe."

A finger taps up a bit. "'I've lost myself' makes me think of it less as literal ego death, as literal as that can get. And then-" Again she taps down a few verses. "Dream imagery again. I… think these all connect on some level.

Quinn falls silent, lowering her head a light bit as she trembles. "B-but I think this is how the story ends. She told me… how did she phrase it." Quinn thinks for a long moment, before nodding. "Now that you're here, we need to make the most of the episodes we have left. She knows some sort of ending is coming."

Teeth rake across her lip, to the point that she even draws just the slightest hint of luminescent blood. "And I haven't been thinking about it because I can't handle that again," she whispers, voice wavering a bit. "I can't lose Else again."

“Okay.” Richard’s voice is softer as he looks at Quinn, drawing in a breath and then nodding once, “Either way, we– she should have someone close to her. Someone who knows her well, and cares about her, so…”

“Let’s just make sure we don’t lose her again.”

Richard's response brings a small smile to Quinn's face despite herself, leaning over a bit as she reaches across Zee to Richard, putting her hand on his. "You know how I feel about fate," she asserts. "The nice thing about prophecy is that it isn't set in stone. Nothing is." Giving his hand a squeeze, she leans back and glances over at Zee.

"I can't keep an eye on her by myself, though. I care about her, but I don't- know her. I mean, I do, but not-" She huffs out a breath and laughs. "I'll need your help, Zee, is what I'm getting at. You know her better than I do, particularly here. The truth is, as much as I care about Else… I only knew her for a short time before…"

The ending of that sentence, while not spoken, is clear enough that Zee simply nods, an uncertain look on her face as she rereads the page. She's shown a keen capability for reading between the lines when her clouded mind will let her, and this is no different.

"Um. But, like with the last song… what do we do if it isn't her?" She winces as she asks the question, frowning. While it may be for different reasons, she also doesn't seem to want to consider the possibility.

“We just need to find the right mountain to move,” Richard agrees with a dip of his chin, returning that squeeze of his hand to hers before drawing it back - turning his gaze to the page, scribbling down notes. “It doesn’t seem likely for this one,” he muses, “Although that’s the trouble with prophecy too - it’s sometimes deceptive. We’ll need to keep an eye out there, too.”

"What about the rest of your… team?" Zee's term for the travelers comes with an upward inflection, like she's not actually sure they're a team. "I meant it when I said I'd keep things between us! But what about them?"

Quinn, meanwhile, has her attention back on the song. "The problem is I can't take anything away from these lyrics is… it gives an idea what might happen, but not how. Or why. It's… incredibly frustrating, particularly knowing we can't keep an eye on everyone at any one time." Realising there's a little blood on her lip, finally, she wipes it away, leaving a bright smear of light on her hand.

“We should let them know what we’ve figured out, some of them anyway,” Richard grimaces slightly, “I want to tell Eve, but– she’s more of the ‘help prophecy happen’ sort than ‘foil prophecy’ really, even if the prophecy’s bad for us.”

"That's the problem," Quinn replies quickly, looking rather dismayed. "I would like to tell them as well. Thing is, if you're not going to tell Eve… I'm not sure we can tell Castle or Chess either. That just leaves Elliot." With a sigh she leans back, knuckles pressed against her chin as she thinks for a long moment. "I refuse to tell Eve if we can help it. That's a recipe for disaster, and I don't trust her to shout it from the rooftops too. I don't imagine many people know what Else's ability is, or was I guess."

“She is good at interpreting these things, though. This is her wheelhouse,” Richard brings a hand up, fingers rubbing between his eyes, “We– someone needs to talk to her and make sure we know what side she’s on and how she’s going to cooperate. She’s with us here, we can’t just ignore her.”

A frustrating situation. He wants to trust her. Once, he did. But she’s broken that trust since.

“Maybe Elliot can. He’s patient and he has less– history.”

"He seems nice," Zee remarks idly. "Kinda- level headed but not. I dunno. He's cute, she might listen to that?" Shrugging a bit, she looks between them with growing uncertainty. "I haven't talked to your Eve much, and I never knew our Mad Eve. Kendall used to do work for her, apparently? Though… let's maybe not talk to Kendall either."

"That's not… a bad idea, actually. Having Elliot broach the subject to her. I think she's taking a shine to her, but I'm not sure he's terribly fond of her either." But at the very least, less likely to dislike her as much as she, or apparently Richard, does. Letting out a heavy sigh, Robyn nods. "Okay. I agree that it's her wheelhouse, and we don't have anyone else. We'll see how it goes."

“She was our friend, once,” says Richard, clearly unhappy that it isn’t the case anymore, “I… maybe she’s going to turn over a new leaf and she can be again. I don’t know.”

He looks down at the book, and grimaces, “…just one left, isn’t there.” It’s not a question.

As Zee grimaces and goes to turn the page, Quinn places a hand on hers to stop her. "We don't have to go over this one if you don't want to, Richard. I think we both have an idea of where it's going. We can copy it, Zee can look it over, and we can move on. If you want."

With that, Quinn pulls back her hand and nods, Zee's grimace turning downward into a full frown as she turns the page. "You both make this sound so… ominous," she says quietly as she flattens the page and looks up at the page heading. It reads Ezekiel 11:8.

Zee stares at it for a long moment, before her eyes widen and she looks over at Richard.


Ezekiel 11:8
See it come down, through the clouds
I feel like a fool
I ain't got nothing left to give
Nothing to lose

So come on now, draw your swords
Bring me to the ground
You are me, I am you
Lets not fuck around
Cause you are, the only one
Cause you are, the only one

I see your plans, come through the sound
They chill me to the bone
They strip me bare, flesh and blood
Here on my throne

So come on now, draw your swords
Bring me to the ground
You are me, I am you
Lets not fuck around

Cause you are, the only one
Cause you are, the only one

The only

Cause you are, the only one
Cause you are, the only one

The only one
The only one
The only one
The only one

So come on now, draw your swords
Bring me to the ground
You are me, I am you
Lets not fuck around

The only

“‘Ye have feared the sword, and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord God’,” Richard quotes softly, the tip of his pen resting on the name of the song. Ezekiel 11:8.

He draws in a slow breath, leaning back, “This may not be about me, but it seems… unlikely. The reference, the Bible quote, the repeated ‘You are me, I am you’. I… but he’s dead, so… I don’t, I don’t know what this means. Not unless it’s about plans he put in motion earlier that are still in motion…”

A grimace, “‘I see your plans, come through the sound’ – he sent a signal to the past, when he blew open time itself at Natazhat. We intercepted it with the quantum radio array, it– most of it was corrupted, but there were schematics in there, ones we never really figured out. To this day I don’t know what he was trying to do, or how he even thought it’d work – the signal wasn’t even capable of being picked up by the people he sent it to..”

There's a deep frown as Quinn looks over the lyrics to this loaded weight of a song. "It may not be, but… Unless someone was feeling particularly biblical, it's too loaded a name to use otherwise." An eyebrow quirks up, and she looks over at Richard with amusement. "Bravo, by the way. I certainly can't recall scripture that well, and I was raised Irish Catholic." It doesn't hurt that her time at church was reduced dramatically after she moved to the US.

Zee's brow scrunches, curiosity clear as she look over at Quinn, but she doesn't question her apparently religious background. Instead, she questions something else. "Natazhat? Isn't there where mom and dad are?" She turns and looks over to Richard in turn, her head tilting a bit to the side. "Do you… know how far back his message went?"

"It is," Quinn replies in a low voice. "That place is cursed, and I hope they… choose to come to Anchor once we get everything settled there. I've been trying to not think about how everything that's happened there across the timelines might have… affected it."

“Nuns,” Richard smiles faintly at the comment, “Plus, Ezekiel was my Christian name. I basically had to memorize the damn thing at ruler-point.”

The smile doesn’t last long as he looks back to the page, exhaling a sigh, fingers brushing over the page and the words that seem to his eyes suggesting an old nightmare isn’t over.. “…a long way. Weirdly enough it was a message to Adam? It had evidence it was from the future… it didn’t make a lot of sense. It was trying to convince him to stop Project Icarus– the Nazi program where they were experimenting on the Evolved. He was involved with it, so was Kazimir I believe. A lot of the message was corrupted, especially the files he was trying to send.”

“But there was no way in hell that anyone back in the forties or earlier could have even received it in the format he sent it.”

“He…” He breaks off with a sigh, “He found something, I think. He was digging down some of the same paths I ended up exploring looking for the Looking Glass– he didn’t seem to understand it in the notes I found, but… near the end, all his behavior changed. I’d met him, earlier, and he was calm, steady, methodica. But then all his plans changed. It was like he’d realized he’d made a mistake and was desperate to change it. It broke him, I think. But he never explained what, never made any notes, just– just this fucking signal that he sent out through time, using our friends as the power…”

Anger tightens his tone in the last, jaw tensing up, heart rate rising, eyes unwavering from the page. “What– Robyn– Quinn, what– what would have made me that desperate? To commit the same sort of atrocities I’ve fought against all my life?”

Quinn is quiet for a long moment, staring down first at the song, and leaning back and looking down at her lap. A tightly restrained sigh escapes her lips. "I feel like asking that is about as useful as asking what turned me into one of Arthur Petrelli's serial killers." That's something she hasn't told Zee, who gives her a disturbed look at that particular comment. "The multiverse is a strange place," she continues, giving Zee a sheepish smile. "Unless you think figuring it out would actually help, I think it's better not to dwell on it."

With another sharp exhale, she looks back to the lyrics. "That said, I didn't know Ezekial, but I do know you Richard. This song's talk of having nothing to give and nothing to lose, thrones, a lot of it just… it doesn't ring true. Not for you at least." She pauses looking back up at him sternly. "Remember your own advice to me. You aren't him. That line is bullshit."

“I think it would. I think it really would, I think he realized something at the end that explains everything…” Richard’s lips twist in a grimace, then, and he glances over to Quinn, “…and I’m not him. But I am. The divergence wasn’t– it wasn’t that far back, not from my point of view. I’m just his shadow. Everything I’ve ever done, everything I ever will do is just… just a shadow of what he accomplished.”

The confession of his feelings there is quiet, the apple of his throat rising and falling in a hard swallow as he closes his eyes for a moment, “Every tool he took he knew I was going to reach for before he took it. Because he did first. Every person I would have gotten working on my team, he found before I could. I went to his time, do you know that? My– Ezekiel’s son tried to kill me, but Walter pushed me there before he could. All I found were the faces of enemies looking at me like I was their savior, there. People who believed in me. He took that from me and turned them into people I had to fight against. And now everyone looks at me knowing that I could turn out as bad as him, so they never let me get too far. I’m just…”

“I’m just riding the temporal inertia of his successes.”

He’s silent for a moment as he gathers himself, then clears his throat, “But you’re wrong. If we are trapped here? If all we can do is reach your father and do what we came to do? I would be out of anything to give, or lose. And if there’s a throne for any Richard Cardinal in any time…”

“It’d be Natazhat, wouldn’t it?”

LIstening quietly, the only motion or sound Quinn makes is at the mention of Ezekiel's son, moving to tap a list of names near the top of Zee's "homework" to tell her who Richard is talking about. Richard's intense dismantling of her insistence that it's better not to dwell initially seems to leave her more than a little bit at a loss otherwise, simply letting her hands curl into fists in her lap.

"That sounds like other people's failings to me. Not yours." Zee speaks very matter of factly as she looks over at him, shrugging slightly. "'Least as far as, um, the whole… way people judge you. And don't let you get too far." She wrinkles her nose, looking back to the song. "I know it's not the same, but I'm used to being unfairly judged myself." Richard can see eyes shift to look over at Quinn for just the briefest of moments when she says that.

"From where I sit, you're…" She stops for a moment, suddenly looking a bit embarrassed. "You're smart, charismatic. Attentive, fun. It's not your fault people followed the wrong you, I think." She exhales sharply, mustering a somewhat fake looking smile. "That's not the point. Uh."

Zee squirms a bit in her seat. "Maybe he knew about all of this. Had time and experience to see a, uh. Un motif, a pattern you-um- we haven't. Maybe that Entity thing?"

Quinn, look off to the distance, still rather nonplussed. "I don't know that we can know what he saw without asking him. Do we have his entire message back home?"

“‘My failures are circles. I’ll get it right next time.I had to think bigger. Welcome to the new beginning…’” Richard murmurs words that only mean anything to himself, and then he shakes his head, “I– yeah, maybe. Maybe the Entity. I don’t know. And– yeah, most of it anyway. We recorded it from the quantum array.”

He draws in a slow, deep breath, and then sets down his pen.

“But– this one’s me. I’m the one who has to worry about what it means. I guess we’re done for now.” An abrupt turn, certainly.

Well, that certainly brings a deeper frown to Quinn's face. Deciding not to fight it, she nods slowly. "Alright, if you're certain," she remarks in a hushed tone. "We'll have time yet to look over it more, I'm sure. Particularly once we bring Elliot and others in on it." Which is her way of saying think on it, particularly now that they have copies of the lyrics. "You too, Zee. You're in on this now. There's no out once you're part of the conspiracy." The word choice is punctuated with a surprisingly wry grin, chosen with humour as the clear intention.

"Um. Can I borrow Else's journal then?" Zee's tone is uncertain, even as she looks back to Richard. "You got… all of them down, right? I don't mind helping. I'm thrilled to! Just… It's been a while since I've done anything like this." She doesn't address that it implies she's done something like this before.

"No. I'll make you some copies, or Richard can. Before we head back, though. You won't have to wait." Quinn gives a firm that's that nod.

With a withering sigh, Zee rolls her head. "I hope you understand how unhelpful that is," she notes in an even tone. "But I get, um. I get it." There's a moment's pause before she abruptly turns over to Richard, and leans over to hug him, of all things.

It’s an unexpected embrace, and she can feel Richard tense up– and then lean a bit against her, one hand briefly coming up to clasp one of her arms, eyes closing for a moment. Then he’s pulling away before he can get too emotional.

“You can borrow my copy until then,” he says, voice a little rough as he pushes himself up to his feet, “I’ll– have those lyrics running around in my head for weeks after copying them just once. Reading them over and over isn’t going to help me any, I’ll just– eat myself alive. Need to let my brain digest all this. We’re leaving soon anyway, gotta finish preparations.”

The dark glasses are pulled from his pocket, slid back over his face, and he offers the pair a faint smile, “Let’s move a mountain, then. One last time. For the world.”

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