Hello Mother, Hello Father


eve_icon.gif corbin_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif renautas_icon.gif

Scene Title Hello Mother, Hello Father
Synopsis On a routine welfare check, Corbyn Ayers discovers a deep and dark rabbit hole in time.
Date February 5, 2020

Welfare checks are an important part of some SESA Agents’ jobs.

Often times this means keeping tabs on anywhere from up to 8 to 10 different at-risk SLC-Expressive people within the agent’s area of operation. Most field agents aren’t required to do welfare checks, but Corbin Ayers volunteers for as many as his schedule allows him to. Most of his welfare checks are teenagers just entering the system, orphans from the civil war with standing Linderman Act records needing reintegration and care. Corbin sees them from the time they’re brought into the system on manifestation all the way through their placement with a host family. Orphans like this are an instance of compulsory entry into the Chesterfield Act registry, but their registry info is cleared once they hit 18 years of age unless they volunteer to remain within the system.

It’s a new process, less than a year old, designed in the hopes of catching more SLC-Expressive minors that fall through the cracks and don’t get to find the help they need. Very rarely wellfare checks for a SESA agent include an adult, and oftentimes they are special needs cases such as people with disabilities or the elderly.

“You know she’s an adult…” Hokuto Ichihara finds some aspects of this work a waste of Corbin’s time, which — in many ways — is also her time. Seated as she is as passenger in both his car and his consciousness, Hokuto presents herself in the silhouette of a Company-era agent, except that the suits they wore were never carnation red. Hers is, because there’s no one around to tell her otherwise. “You really don’t need to do this,” she adds, gently, while watching a run-down building come into view.

Hokuto is right. Corbin doesn’t need to do this welfare check. But this is for a friend…

…and friends take care of one-another.

Cat’s Cradle
Phoenix Heights, NYC Safe Zone
February 5th
11:18 am//

Eve Mas is a special case in a lot of ways. As Corbin pulls up to a curbside space out front of the Cat’s Cradle, there’s no one else parked on the street. Before noon on a wednesday there is no business, no one to interrupt his work, and no one to eavesdrop on what is usually an unnecessarily loud conversation. Corbin Ayers volunteers for welfare checks on Eve Mas because they’re friends, because he cares…

…and because if he didn’t, Secretary Lazzaro would find someone else to.

“If I don’t do it, who are they going to send?” Corbin states outloud, trying to think of all the other agents that could get wrangled into it. Cooper was probably the most harmless, but if some of the others came… Eve was difficult at the best of times, even before her supposed death. He trusted that she wouldn’t just turn into a ball of glowing red energy and disappear out a door as soon as he stepped inside.

Cause they were friends. In a manner of speaking.

It won’t be that bad, he tells himself.

The bell on the top of the door frame clings softly as the door strikes it, then again as it closes behind Corbin. The sound was something he had been fond of once. It reminded him of Hokuto. The bookstore had had a similar bell.

“It’s just me, Eve,” he calls out. “You home?”

As the pair enter the space, music greets them. It almost sounds like there is in fact a crowd inside but Corbin and Hokuto are met with a empty Cat's Cradle. It must be a live rendition of whatever song. Softly playing from the overhead speakers, the lights are dim. Sassy AKA Daniel isn't even in to wave hello and add a greeting. The drums echo through the place as an easy groove settles over the place and a clear voice pierces through it all.

Raven hair and ruby lips

Sparks fly from her fingertips

Echoed voices in the night

She's a restless spirit on an endless flight

There's a lone spotlight that's centered on the stage. There, swaying with arms in the air and eyes closed is Eve. Lips parted as she sings along with the lyrics in her own rasp. Head thrown back allowing her midnight black hair to swing freely when the pale woman swings her hips and shimmies across the stage. She did this often, when nobody was here. Or just when Larry the resident Drunk was snoring in the corner. This day though, she was dancing with no constraints. Barefeet kick up as she thrusts herself forward and spins in a circle on the stage.

Woo hoo, witchy woman

See how high she flies

The spins become more frantic, more zany, her facial expression a mix of pure freedom, ecstasy and pain. Corbin and his spiritual partner are witnessing something. An Expression.

Bloodred sparks fire from her hands and wrists, mist of the same shade wafting off of her. Beneath her skin the veins burn brightly and illuminate her body further. Her form flickers, lightning streaks outward with an audible pop and fizzle. A pale woman with dark hair, a crimson shade with a crackling nimbus of hair, a pale trickster with a devilish grin, a phantom with arms thrown out wide as her momentum carries through her transformation.

Her form stabilizes as the crimson shade for a few moments, hovering in the air as she whips around. It takes a little bit of time but she begins to slow, her vision already diminished and cloudy in this state so she cannot yet discern who has stumbled into one of her rituals. It was said that witches danced naked under the moonlight to celebrate and channel their power but Eve Mas didn't need the night to set her spirits free and move as the world around her dictated.

Woo hoo, witchy woman

She got the moon in her eye

Something catches her eye, the delayed memory of the ding of the bell when someone walks in hits her and Eve settles on the stage floor while snapping back together, wrapping the chains of reality around herself to revert to her human form. Pain, that's what she feels here. Squinting and leaning forward, her satin burnt gold dress shimmers in the glow, various singe holes ruining the dress but that was fine. This was a special day.

She held me spellbound in the night

Dancing shadows and firelight

"Baby Blue?"

Eve hops down from the stage feet slapping on the floor. As she moves nearer Corbin can see there's some sort of paper tapped to Eve's chest. It's almost completely burnt up and the tape warped and infused to the dress now.

-irthday! Is all that's left.

There by at the end of the bar, a lone large white ballon is tied to a stool.


Crazy laughter in another room

And she drove herself to madness with a silver spoon

"Oh! It is you! Halloo," Eve smiles warmly continuing her path forward with crimson eyes beaming in excitement. She did love to hang with the SESA agent, he was a friend. She trusted him.

“Today’s her birthday,” Hokuto whispers in Corbin’s ear, as if she’d be overheard by anyone else. “You should probably have gotten her a present,” she adds in a faux chiding tone, angling a look from Corbin to Eve and back again. “Did you?” She wonders, a Cheshire smile crossing her lips in playful amusement.

“… you know I didn’t,” Corbin mutters under his breath as he tries to remember the last time he looked at her fire. Right. It was in February. He wanted very badly to rub his hands over his face, cause this was not the meeting he had intended, instead he tried to wrack his brain to remember if he had anything in his car that could count as a gift. He didn’t think so.

Unless she wanted a new pair of sunglasses.

“Happy birthday! I hope I am not interrupting a private celebration.” There had been a sign at one point, hopefully the party had been the night before? He doesn’t wait for an answer, though, as he looks at her dress for a moment. “I hope you’re getting a handle on your new ability.”

He wasn’t sure if he had preferred when she had the prophetic ability or this.

"Oh thank you Baby Blue!" His nickname is drawn out in a singsong manner and she comes to stop not too far in front of him. Head tilted the the side as she looks down at her body that periodically sparks. Blood red mist wafts out from her ankles and wraps itself back around her legs and fades beneath her skin.

"It's… painful fun." A bright grin that could maybe be mistaken for a bright grimace. Eve had freedom and that was at a cost.

Sacrifice is the only way.

A mantra that had imbedded itself in Eve's soul. "I haven't registered! Do I have to?" What would they even classify her as? "Maybe for just a little longer? I can still be a seer." It's as good a birthday gift as any and asking that last bit is far more personal but Eve goes there because she is often an open book.

Also Corbin has seen her naked so they've passed the notion of passing personal.

Slinking out from behind Corbin, Hokuto takes stock of the bar with one brow raised and a hand at her chin. At first it's Eve that has her full attention, but soon she is focusing those cat’s eyes past the former seer and over to the bar littered with cans and bottles. Corbin can see Hokuto’s red-clad silhouette drift in his peripheral vision, and he hears her call out, “be mindful of what you say, there's at least one more reveler here nursing a hangover.”

Corbin hadn't noticed who Hokuto was talking about at first. But now that she's drawn his attention, he's surprised that he missed the old man in a black suit seated at one end of the bar. An old man who… isn't casting a reflection in the mirror.


“Ah, actually, I just got here…” Eve recognizes Renautas’ voice the moment he speaks. But what she isn't accustomed to is the old man staring off into space and addressing no one in particular.

But, that isn't what it looks like from Corbin’s perspective.

“You must be Akado and Li’s daughter,” Renautas says, looking directly at where Hokuto is standing. A flush of color comes over her, momentarily matching the carnation red of her dress. She takes a step back, one hand over her mouth as Renautas slowly slides off the barstool. “Ms. Mas, Mr. Ayers, Ms. Ichihara…” he looks at all three in turn, even if Eve can’t see one, “you're just the people I was hoping to run into.”

With his mouth open, Corbin was just about to tell her that he won’t report her for not updating her registry, but that she would need to do it soon before someone else inevitably found out about her updated ability. He didn’t expect her to stay out of trouble forever. This was Eve Mas they were talking to, after all. The words never make it past his mouth as the ghost draws his eyes over to the bar, which he had been sure he looked at earlier and there had been no one there, and he continues to stare at the proceeding circumstances.

There’s only a few times in the last many years that Corbin’s been able to see Hokuto at the same time someone else was able to— and that was almost always around Kaylee. A telepath. That’s his first assumption when he quickly steps forward and puts himself half in front of the ghost that only him and whoever this man is, can see. For a moment, Eve might recall how Baby Blue would appear to talk to himself, or stare off into blank space as if listening to something. It would happen every so often, and maybe now she might understand why. Possibly.

“Who are you?” he questions, looking past the man to the mirror, the lack of reflection, then back at him. Blue eyes shift toward Hokuto once again, looking half behind him, before over at Eve. He’ll have some explaining to do when this was over, he thought, but— right now he was more concerned about someone who could see the ghost he’d carried for almost ten years and who had been wanting to run into.


Eve scurries over to where the ghost is but she doesn't try to hug him well she just hugs the air around him but that's intentional.

"We really both need to learn how to knock! Heh," But he's said something strange and Eve takes a moment to blink and look between Corbin and the man. That last name…

A memory of a bookstore, a place everyone once gathered, a woman who was lost to her dreams, a nightmare. "Oh! Hokuto! Are you here?? Hello!" She steals a glance at Corbin, "Is that your imaginary friend?" Well Hokuto was hardly not real. The pale woman leans in where Walter originally addressed the supposed woman. But Grandpa Walter doesn't just show up he always has a reason. Always.

"Have you found more of what you seek? Do you have more memories for us to peek?" A tilt of her head as her gaze averts to the SESA agent.

"This is Grandpa Walter! He's Dee's grandpa!" Dee. Eve has mentioned Delilah Tafford by this nickname more than a few times. "He's a ghost though," a frown, "Like me." They both were ghosts. "Except he wanders time, aimlessly."

“Not all who wander are lost,” Walter says with a smug smile. He’s been saving that one up for far too long. Hokuto fixes a shocked look at Corbin, and though Eve cannot see her, Walter’s reaction is more bemusement than worry.

“I do indeed have something I wish to discuss,” Walter explains with a slow motion of his hand around the bar, “but in order for us to have a conversation on an equal footing, perhaps we should


New York City

August 22nd


change the scenery.”

With a snap of his fingers, the Cat’s cradle disappears entirely. It is replaced by the sweltering heat and alley funk of a New York City summer. Neon signage in Cantonese and Mandarin stare out from busy bodegas and restaurant fronts. The streets are choked with cars and pedestrians, the noise of traffic all abound. The skyline, hidden by tall buildings, is for a moment unfamiliar save for the sliver of the Twin Towers visible toward the end of the street.

It’s Manhattan. In the past.

Here, Eve can see the specter of Hokuto Ichihara for who she is. She hasn’t aged a day since her death in the back lot of her bookstore over a decade ago. She is as porcelain pale and ink-haired as always. Although her eyes reflect her dreamscape self, a cat’s yellow eyes. She is not dressed as Eve recalls her, though, rather in a backless red dress more suited for a ball or gala.

“A memory of the past,” Walter says with a spread of his hands. “Somewhere we can all talk, together.”

From the way Corbin gives an apologetic look toward Eve, he wants to explain but doesn’t think they have the time. Maybe when all this is over they can sit down at the bar for a long conversation— preferably over some Irish Coffee, cause he thinks regular coffee won’t do the trick for this particular conversation. But his assumption seems to have been correct when they are suddenly— somewhere else completely. There’s a glance toward Hokuto, who he doesn’t know right away is visible to everyone, as if to make sure she wasn’t the one responsible for the sudden shift.

They didn’t all fall asleep, did they? He could just imagine someone coming into Cat’s Cradle and seeing all of them sprawled on the floor, a birthday party that went completely out of control.

But no— Walter seems to be the one behind it. He knew of Delilah, after all, she was a member of the Council, but he didn’t remember her from personal experiences. He didn’t know she was one of the Ferrymen he’d tried to get out of Roosevelt. He didn’t know she was the owner of the dog that he’d kept at the bookstore for a short time.

“Okay— so— we’re in the past. Hopefully not physically. I don’t want to explain how we’ve gone time traveling to my bosses…” He sounds like he’s joking, or at least rambling to keep from being worried. Cause jokes made everything easier.

He moves to follow, wondering just how much he’s going to need to redact from this entire conversation.

"Wow look at those threads! Groovy man whoaaaaa!" Snortsnort. Taking in the sight of the memory they've been placed in with wide eyes, no matter how many times Walter Sr visited, it would always be a marvel. Bare feet touch the ground but she can't touch the cars she passes, or the people. She still tries of course. Peering at the fashion all around her.

Eve was gonna have so many ideas for her wardrobe that she would continue to utterly destroy thanks to her ability but still- that train of thought is negated by the actual sight of Hokuto. "Ohhh m'lady, look at you! Preserved in time. Wake up? Flawless!" Though Hokuto might not be the waking sort anymore. The woman who could control dreams' story was a tragic one and it hurt Eve's heart to hear how it ended but to see her now. Even if she was in a… limited form. Or was it limitless?

Eve felt like they could relate on this though they had barely known each other.

"Come on! Let's follow Grandpa Wally! Careful careful though, that family is as sly and cunning as foxes! Best if we keep up mmm?"

Hokuto and Walter share a raised brow at Eve’s antics, though the more impish of the two smiles in entertainment at them while the older and surlier of the pair pinches the bridge of his nose and exhales a slow, patient sigh. He turns his attention to Corbin, expression smoothing out from frustration to placid once more. “Mr. Ayers, your mother was… Rebecca, yes?” His brows lift slowly. “We are in an echo of the past, a vision or… a memory. Your presence — all of your — are helping draw me toward a specific point in time I’m searching for. Liken it to… trying to find a song without knowing the name. You’re all humming a few bars and, well, eventually I’ll get it.”

Walter steps through a pedestrian, then stops. “Please be mindful where you walk, we’re still in Ms. Mas’ establishment, but you can’t see what’s around you.”

“It’s telepathic,” Hokuto says with a flash of a smile, “projected postcognition?” Walter stops to look at her over his shoulder.

“Something like that,” he replies in a way which means it’s far more complicated. “Ms. Mas is already aware of my work, but I am helping a mutual friend of ours… a mister Richard Ray… untangle a gap in history erased from the memories of your parents by the Company. If I recall correctly, you began to uncover its existence at Fort Hero, with Cindy’s…” he dithers, shaking his head. “Your parents aren’t far from here.”

Suddenly, Hokuto’s expression changes. Gone is the feline amusement, replaced by something more tenuous. Walter sees the look and nods solemnly. “Akado as well. This is a moment time forgot, and it will lead us to another… and another. If we play carefully with the threads of time’s tapestry.”

“Lovely,” Corbin responds with a sarcastic tone to his voice as he continues to move, even if he’s pretty sure they’re now stupidly moving in circles. “If you have cameras in your bar, Mas, I hope you will do me a personal favor by deleting today’s footage.” As soon as he mentions that, though, he has a strong feeling she won’t. And he wouldn’t blame her. It would be a funny thing to play back, them all walking in circles in the bar, looking like fools. He would have shared it at the next company meeting had it been anyone else involved.

“So you’re saying my parents were in the Company?” he murmurs quietly, not quite sure if he believes that. He would have known, right? His father had never said anything, nor had his mother as far as he’d known. His father hadn’t even known he’d been in the Company until long after the Bomb when the Company half became public. He had still assumed he worked with HomeSec most the time. It hadn’t been until the Company fell that he’d told his father the truth, when he’d tried to get him to go into hiding in case the Institute attempted to use his family against him. “Sounds like the Company kept more secrets that even we knew…”

They’d had pretty good clearance, but even Archives didn’t know everything. He had known Hokuto’s parents had a connection, but his?

And how was Mas involved in all this? He looks from one ghost to another. Even if Eve didn’t seem to qualify for being a ghost, even if he’d seen her die.

"Heh mind ya toes!"

Eve loves a game of "can you manage to not break your neck while walking through an apparition." As for when they are, Eve blinks. "My momma is here?" The pale woman squints and gets a little nervous looking over her shoulder halfway expecting her mother to blaze through the scene with Adam Monroe or something, the last time she saw a memory involving Valerie Mas she learned some troubling things, things that led to questions and questions that had led nowhere.

"He's talking about The Ritual, that's the heh wrinkle in time he's trying to help us figure out. The one that banished the Dragon, the thing that came through at The Crossing, the thing that turned me into-" looking down at her hands, "Well, that's up for debate but! Didn't you get my package of notes on all of this?!" Long fingers curl into fists as Eve plants them on her hips.

"I hope you've been doing your homework Baby Blue, what with having a study buddy in your brain pan!" Haha! She cracks herself up.

Hokuto raises her brows high and shakes her head in a I know nothing sort of expression, followed by angling a side-eye in Walter’s direction. She begins to say something, when a series out shouts ring out further up the street followed by cries of bystanders and the flow of foot traffic surging back against Corbin and Eve. Were any of these people real, tangible things Eve and Corbin would be swept up in a panic of people moving away from what sounded like a pair of gunshots. But they’re not real, none of this is, and the crowd of people flooding down the busy street pass harmlessly through the group, even the psychic projection of Hokuto.

As the crowd passes and starts to thin, it begins to become clearer where everyone in this presumed family reunion is. Up ahead the busy Chinatown markets are disrupted by a scene of violence. A dark-haired, tanned man lays in the middle of the street, bleeding from an arm that looks to have been twisted like a balloon animal. Bone and sinew pop out from torn flesh and a pool of blood gathers around his arm on the asphalt.

I said put your hands up!” The shouted voice is familiar to Eve, makes her reflexively flinch because she’s accustomed to that voice being raised at her. Not far from the man with the mangled arm stands a young, puffy-haired Eric Mas with a revolver held in both hands, trained on a young, barefoot woman standing in the middle of the street holding an apple in one hand, the other covered in blood up to her forearm.


Hokuto quickly sidles up to Corbin and laces her fingers with his, briefly flashing him a look of worry before her focus angles up the street. “Hands where I can see them!” Eric shouts, taking a few steps toward the dark-haired woman with the apple. She either doesn’t understand or refuses to comply, angling her head to the side. From behind it’s impossible to make out her expression, but her posture is relaxed and fearless in the face of the firearm. Quickly, Eric releases one grip from the pistol and snatches a walkie-talkie off of his belt. “Where the fuck are you I have an active Special here!

The woman with the apple lifts it to her mouth, takes a noisy bite, and then turns her back to Eric and starts to walk away carelessly as blood drips off of her fingertips. She looks down to the man with the mangled arm, brows furrowed and eyes downcast, and takes a knee at his side, placing her bloody hand on his shoulder. He’s still conscious enough to flinch and scream and try and scramble away. Flesh and bone begin to knit back together, and the man with the broken arm screams in horror as his mangled arm starts to return back to its proper alignment. But Eric can’t see what’s happening —

The dark-haired woman looks up, almost directly at Eve with gold eyes burning bright.

Eve Mas knows her face.


Eric Mas shoots her in the back.

The apple falls to the street, bounces twice and wobbles in an asymmetrical roll. Young Kam Nisatta falls forward, over the man she was healing, yelping frightfully as she paws at a growing spot of dark red near the middle of her chest where blood bleeds dark through the fabric of a cream colored shirt. She chokes, sobs, and looks terrified.

Valerie get your ass down here!” Eric shouts into the walkie.

Walter Renautas states in surprise at all of this.

This— was not what Corbin would have expected. It wasn’t a scene that belonged in the 1980s. The Company must have done a very good job covering this whole incident up, cause this sort of incident would have made the news. Possibly did, under another headline. Gas leaks. Car crash. Accident. It had been his job, once. He wondered who had had that job back in this time period. But he doubted that would be what they would see. An active Special. An old name for what would later become the SLC-Es, the Expressives. And before that, the Evolved.

With a shake of his head, he doesn’t really want to watch, but he’s too curious not to. Like a car wreck, really. He imagines there’s a lot of people stunned into watching that can’t help it. Those that weren’t running away. With a side glance, he realizes from the expression on the old man, he was surprised as well. “Not what you were expecting either?”

He doesn’t anticipate an answer to his question. It had mostly been rhetorical. Golden eyes. That tickled on his memories, for more reasons than most. He can’t help but glance toward Hokuto for a moment, before grimacing at the scene once again.

Eve, on the other hand looks around in bewilderment at the scene they are witnessing. "D-dad!!" She knows he can't hear her but she still strains to reach him, touch his hand or embrace him. Ask him questions but this is a memory and the face of the woman with the apple makes Eve go very very still.

She backs up a step and eyebrows shoot up towards her hairline. "Kam… The Host." Her tone is venomous, if only Kam had told the whole truth of her past. Before she died, before Eve could make her see reason.

"Possessed, controlled by the spirit. By her god." Eve crouches as she gets to eye level of where Kam is on the ground. The yelling of her mother's name makes her look up and look for if "V" has entered the projection. "They fought it…. together?"

Though fought may seem like an overstatement here, as all Kam Nisatta is doing is sobbing while she clutches her gunshot wound.

An instant later there is a clap beside Eric and two women materialize in a flash of light at his side. One of whom Eve immediately recognizes as Valerie Mas — her messy, green-dyed hair an immediate give-away — while the other is a tall, blonde woman with a short perm. Both are dressed in black suits, though Valerie has forsaken her suit jacket for a leather one. Corbin recognizes the blonde after a moment, as does Hokuto, who claps a hand over her mouth.

past-becca_icon.gif past-valerie_icon.gif

“//Corbin that’s— ”

His mother.

“What the fuck, Mas?” Rebecca Ayers is quick to spit out as she sees the scene around them. “V, call this in to headquarters.” Valerie nods, looking to Eric who keeps his gun trained on the young woman he shot. “Eric, talk to me, what happened?”

“I was buying groceries and this chick just broke this guy’s arm like it was a stick!” Eric shouts over the wailing cries of Kam. “I didn’t shoot her for fucking fun, Becca.” All Becca does is shoot a look over at Eric, then creep towards Kam with her hands out and palms up.

Valerie watches for a moment, then steps over beside Eric. “I was all the way up town, Becca was already with me so I just— ” she flicks a look at the man on the ground, pulling himself out from under Kam. She sees the blood, but there’s no wound visible on his arm. Becca notices the inconsistency too.

“I thought you said she broke his arm,” Becca says calmly so as to not further frighten Kam, while glancing to Eric over her shoulder. “Sir— ” she looks back to the victim, “I’m gonna need you to stay here. We’re federal agents.” They aren’t, but he won’t remember any of this, eventually. The rest of the crowd will get a cover story.

Valerie, looking from Eric to Kam and back again, seems confused. “Where’s your car, I’ll radio this in?” Eric motions over his shoulder to a rust-colored Pontiac parked on the side of the street. Valeris nods quickly, then jogs off in the direction of the car.

Shinitakunai,” Kam pleads to Becca, who looks over her shoulder to Eric who offers her a helpless shrug. Becca takes a knee, then looks down to Kam’s chest and back up to her glowing eyes. It’s then that Becca notices a shift in Kam’s posture, the way she paws at her loose tunic to finger the bullethole. It is gone.

Becca’s breath hitches in the back of her throat, eyes wide. She freezes in place, then in a low and quiet tone tries not to sound terrified when she calls back, “Mas. Lower. Your. Gun.” Eric doesn’t seem to understand at first, but when Becca snaps a dagger-eyed look to him he reluctantly complies. Kam, still confused, looks up at Becca with bright gold eyes wet with tears.

Fuck,” Becca whispers, realizing just what they have on their hands. Someone like Arthur. Something so unique they don’t even have a word for it yet.

The flash draws Corbin’s eyes, but what came with that light holds his attention, a sharp inhale at the same time that Hokuto speaks, him finishing the sentence in a soft whisper under his breath. “My mother.” She looked younger than his last memory, but still her, that same smile, that same spark. He didn’t forget how she’d looked— that had stayed with him. He’d dreamed about her for years after she’d died—

But her voice. That tightened his chest with a nostalgia he had forgotten. Even if any of the family videos had survived the last twenty years, recorded voice was different than hearing it. He had forgotten exactly what she’d sounded like— until he heard it all over again. How had he ever forgotten that?

He takes one step forward before he catches himself, wanting to help her, ask her questions, touch her, do more than just see, but he stops before taking another. It was just a projection. A memory of a time long gone, brought back. He wasn’t even sure how much they could trust anything they saw. Could it all be an illusion, created to deceive, to gain something… He didn’t know the man, even if Eve did.

But one of his questions was answered, if this had been real. His mother had been in the Company. Had his father known? Had she known when he got recruited? He knew retiring from the Company was difficult, but… and was she actually in charge? Cause she sure gave orders like she was. To Mas. Eve’s father?

He recognizes enough Japanese to know what the woman said was Japanese, but he glances at Hokuto, as if asking her to translate for him.

"Your momma! My momma! They were friends!!" A supreme overstatement knowing how V got on with other people but Eve still seems wildly enthused at the prospect but Corbin's facial expression, she knows that look. The look of staring at a dead loved one and she frowns before inching closer to him and Hokuto.

"At least we can see them in this moment hm? In their full glory Baby Blue, they were warriors, goddesses." That makes Eve sad to think she would never see this in the flesh and it would always only be a memory she observed nonetheless her gratuity towards Walter for these moments while they try to find the answer to the world's doom. More of Kam's capabilities are shown and it makes Eve weary to think about how a woman like Kimiko could have just killed someone of such great power.

"I think the Host… Kam was fighting with the Dragon… not wanting to give up her will. What happened between here and the present dear Kam? When did you come to worship your goddess?" It's an empty musing because surely Kam cannot answer but still the older woman tilts her head and sniffs at the air almost as if she was confirming something.

“Please don’t kill me,” Hokuto whispers, squeezing Corbin’s hand. “That’s what she said. She’s begging for her life. She’s terrified. Confused.” Her yellow cat’s-eyes track over to Renautas, who does not return the look but instead walks closer toward the gathering with a pensive, thoughtful expression.

“I think you’re putting your own ideas where the truth belongs, Eve.” Renautas doesn’t look back at her after that mild rebuke. Instead, he lifts a hand to his chin and narrows his eyes. Not far up the street that has now cleared of many pedestrians in the panic, Valerie can be seen half in and half out of Eric’s car, waving and then giving a thumbs-up in the direction of the team. She was able to radio ahead.

“Eric, get in the car.” Becca says smoothly and quietly, behaving as one might around a wild animal. No sudden movements. Her eyes flick to Kam every so often, making sure she hasn’t moved. “Tell Arthur to meet us in Level-5.” Eric’s eyes widen and he looks past Becca to Kam and back again.

“Wait, what?” Is all Eric says before Becca reaches out and tentatively lays a hand on the trembling Kam’s shoulder, and both vanish in a snap-pop of light. “Fuck!” He pivots, looking back to the man who just a moment ago had his arm nearly torn off, who is now sitting cross-legged in the street flexing his hand open and closed. “Fucking— fucking fuck.” Eric continues, running one hand through his hair.

Renautas makes a leftward motion with his hand and the scene freezes like a frame of an old VHS, a little jittering and stuttering in places. Slowly, he turns to looks back to Eve, Corbin, and Hokuto. “Would you like to continue?” He asks. Not do you have any questions, but do you want to get off this carnival ride.

Hokuto is speechless, her grip on Corbin’s hand firm and fast.

The translation is met with a slow nod, as Corbin looks back at his mother. He was certainly seeing a side of her he’d never seen before, one he’d never imagined. The part of him that was still a child deep down, that remembered his mommy growing up, would have loved this superhero warrior goddess part. The man that had seen what the Company did to people and families, though, felt a tremor in the pit of his stomach. It was only the hand that pulled him out of dark thoughts. He wished he could just revel in seeing what had been hidden behind the secrets. But he knows all too well what those secrets cost.

Had they recruited him because his mother? The Company had had a habit of keeping things in the family. Would they have recruited Chris if it had still been running as it had 30 years ago? If he’d had children, would they have been pulled into it? Squeezing Hokuto’s hand, he takes some small comfort in the fact he can feel her as well as see her, and while part of him very much would like to get off this crazy ride—

He doesn’t want to stop seeing her yet, even if the curtain has been pulled back.

“Keep going.”

The part of him that valued truth and knowledge still wanted to see where this went, too.

As Corbin questions whether his mother had anything to do with his being hired by the Company, Eve for not the first time wonders if her parents are the reason she was never scouted our for the Company herself. "Yea yea connecting the blooddots can be hard, then let's quit lollygagging grampy. Truth lies ahead and I think you and I both- hm.. all four of us are ready for it,"

She looks back at Eric Mas with a sad expression, "We aren't connected by blood, but you're still my dad. Love you." It's said loud enough for the others to hear and for all her talk of lollygagging she doesn't want to stop seeing her parents either. Eve Mas frowns and turns back to the others. "Off we go,"

Grampy?” Renautas mouths with a momentary look to Corbin, catching an apologetic smile from Hokuto in the process. When his eyes settle back on Eve, Renautas snaps his fingers and

Primatech Paper
The Bronx

Two Hours Later

This is a place Eve Mas never thought she’d see again. The moment the world changes to a brutalist-styled corridor of concrete she can hear klaxons blaring in her mind. A black stripe follows the right wall, a number 5 stenciled in block-print above it. This is where everything began for her, where Adam was released, where her journey started. For Corbin and Hokuto, it is another visceral window into a familiar past.

Renautas has taken them to a vantage point outside of a Level-5 cell, wherein Kam Nisatta sits in the middle of the floor under fluorescent lights, sobbing to herself. Rebecca Ayers is there, shoulders squared and jaw set, and so is someone that causes Hokuto’s ephemeral heart to skip a beat.


Her father.

“Two abilities?” Akado says to his muted reflection in the glass, an incredulous look angled at Becca. She nods, sliding her tongue against the back of her teeth. “Healing and… let’s say superhuman strength. That alone is alarming. When will Arthur be here?”

“Within the hour,” Becca says with a slow sigh and a side-long glance at Akado. “She hasn’t said or done anything since I teleported her in here. I was hoping you might be able to translate, she doesn’t seem to speak English.” Akado nods in response, stepping up to the glass and depressing the call button on a speaker box bolted to the wall nearby.

Kon'nichiwa,” Akado says hesitantly, watching her for reaction. Gold eyes square on Akado through the glass, and Kam slowly moves onto her knees, pressing her palms against the glass, then rises up to her feet, smoothing her hands over the inch-thick barrier between them. “Nihongo wa hanasemasu ka?” Kam nods in response, worriedly looking at Becca, then back to Akado.

Quietly, Hokuto says, “He said hello and asked if she understood” as if worried she’ll be overheard. Renautas briefly regards Hokuto, then returns his attention to the cell.

Hanashite.” Kam says, which Hokuto translates as let me out. Akado takes his thumb off of the button and turns to Becca.

“I don’t think she wants to be in there,” he explains with a hint of sarcasm. “She wants out.” Becca brushes a curled lock of hair from her face and shakes her head. She doesn’t seem convinced that’s a good idea.

“You get used to the nicknames,” Corbin says to ‘Grampy’. But as time shifts forward, a new shock jars him. Seeing his mom was difficult, seeing Hokuto’s father… that was something different. Hokuto knows him well enough to see that flash of guilt on his face. Now was not the time, though, so he pushed it down. They had to watch. Who knew what they would learn.

He tilted his head to watch, grateful with the translation, even if he at least knew the part her father had said, just not what the response had been.

With a slow inhale, he glances between his mother and Akado. Had his parents ever met Hokuto’s with him? He didn’t think so. It hadn’t been like they were actually dating— his mom had known he wanted to ask her out, though. It had been one of the last things they’d talked about before…

Eve sinks to her knees when they "land" in Level 5. "This is where it all started, where my sin and hubris blinded me to the truth." There's a sad look towards the others,

"I didn't mean to, I just wanted to help. We wanted to start a revolution, we wanted to… free our kind." She doesn't cry, she doesn't pout. Eve just stares ahead at the scene unfolding before them. "Adam, we freed him here. 10 years ago, led by my visions." To clarify her ramblings, if they hadn't stormed the Company would the sequence of events roll out the same? Would they be in this mess now?

The Fates had a way of getting what they wanted in the end. Adam would have been free, the Dragon would have forced Eve's hand, one way or another. The former seer has flashes of what could have been. Her going herself, with another friend. She would have found a way. She was persistent then and even more so now.

Eve falls silent.

It’s only then that Hokuto unwinds her hand from Corbin’s, moving over to kneel down beside Eve and lay a hand on her shoulder. “We all make mistakes,” she says in an understatement of massive magnitude between their shared experiences, “that we only understand with hindsight.” Renautas seems disinterested in assuaging Eve’s self-inflicted wound and instead keeps his focus on the temporal tableau Corbin and Hokuto’s presence has brought into focus.

“Well, she isn’t getting out until we know who she is and why she was twisting somebody’s arm off,” Becca says with a motion to the glass, implying ask her. Akado closes his eyes and exhales a slow sigh, then looks through the glass and presses the call button again.

Naze kare o kizutsuketa nodesu ka?” Akado asks, and Kam’s brows furrow in momentary confusion. She keeps her palms pressed to the glass and moves to get parallel with Akaso, gold eyes reflecting light off of the glass back onto her face.

Kare wa watashi o odorokaseta,” Kam replies. “Kare wa genki desu.

“My father asked her why she hurt the merchant,” Hokuto says with a squint, yellow eyes tracking back and forth. “She said she was surprised, but that he’s fine now. I don’t— ” Hokuto looks up to Corbin, “I don’t think she intended to hurt anyone.”

Akado says as much to Becca, who closes her eyes and shakes her head, massaging her right temple with forefingers and thumb. “Unbelievable,” she says softly. “Alright, we can find out family and other information once— ”

Hanase yo.” Kam says forcefully, slapping her palms against the glass. Becca and Akado both startle slightly, looking at the glass and one-another.

“It’ll hold,” Becca says confidently before the slap turns into an angry slam and both step back sharply from the cell.

Hanashite!” Kam shouts, her voice reverberating off the glass. Akado shakes his head to her, then flicks a look at Becca uncertain of what to do next. Through the glass, they can see the gold eyes glowing brighter. It’s only now that Renautas leans forward ever so subtly, as if getting to the part in the film he was waiting for.

“We should— ” Akado starts to say before he’s interrupted by the flats of Kam’s fists slamming against the glass.

Hanase!” Kam screams. “Hanashite kure!” On the third slam a seething aura of red energy wisps off of her shoulders and both Becca and Akado back up all the way to the opposite wall, passing through Hokuto, Eve, and Corbin like ghosts. Their yelps of profanity turn to full-throated screams when Kam turns into a crackling mass of red energy and burns her way through the glass.

It’s the exact same state of being Eve exists in.

Kam emerges on the other side, rematerializing into a solid form and raises one hand toward the two, fingers curling and gold eyes surging. “Hanas— ” and suddenly she is struck by a bolt of lightning from down the hall. Kam is thrown off of her feet, smashes into the floor and skids to a stop some ten feet away, smoke rising off of her chest.

At the other end of the hall, a familiar old face stands with one hand outstretched.


“Why don’t we move this one into a maximum security cell,” Arthur states flatly, slowly lowering his hand. “You two alright?” Becca and Akado briefly glance at one-another, then back to Arthur and nod in terrified unison.

Renautas stops the vision. “I see…” he mumbles to himself, eyes tracking from side to side, piecing something together.

“You didn’t only let out Adam. You let out people who were good, too,” Corbin murmurs absently. He should not support such an act, really, it had let out some very bad people. But there had been people held who hadn’t needed to be. Niki Sanders, as she had been known back then, had been one of them. He’s sure others who had been let out had deserved freedom. Maybe that made it a little better? Or perhaps not.

As the story unfolds, he shakes his head a little, and whispers, “That’s not going to hold,” just before—

Well. That was unexpected. He glances toward Eve in surprise, remembering what he had seen earlier in the day, even though it felt like ages ago. But the vision goes no further. “What do you see?” Cause all he got is that Arthur Petrelli was able to take down someone who had at least three abilities.

"No no no no," Eve looks up as Kam grows more and more angry and when the red energy wafts off of her shoulders the woman's own crimson eyes widened in shock. "How-" It didn't make sense. She looks down at her own hands that crackle at times with that hellish red lightning, mist, energy.

This was before she had it, before it slipped to her on accident. "I died that day, when the Crossing occurred." She whispers as the vision ends, "But when I did my… everything became this but… before that death there was another. She brought me back… the Dragon but that," pointing into the empty space where Kam once stood and then was thrown across the hall by Arthur. "Went inside me. She didn't expect me to live, she didn't expect me to have this…" Eve does all she can to get a grip on her mania but it spirals out of control.

What was this gift? Really?

"Grampy.. we have to see more." Eve is almost pleading with the man. "What have you-" she's too stunned to speak further.

“I see that this goes no further,” Walter says with a disappointed shake of his head. “Ms. Ayers and Mr. Ichihara go their separate ways and return to work. They do not come down here again until after the incident.” Walter’s lips press into a thin line. “I believe I’ll need Ms. Trafford for that…” he muses, “everyone else is…” and ends that thought with a shake of his head.

“There is one more moment your parents were present for,” Walter says, “but I need a third focusing frequency to find it.” He angles his head to the side, as if listening to something. “If you wouldn’t be so kind as to enter Robyn Quinn’s proximity… the three of you may unlock the answer to all of this.” Slowly, Renautas looks back to the molten silhouette cut through the glass wall.

“For now,” Walter says distractedly, and sensing what may happen next, Hokuto snaps a sharp look up to Corbin before he says, “I have somewhere else to be.”

Present Day

Cat’s Cradle

Corbin and Eve stand alone in the otherwise empty confines of the Cat’s Cradle. Or, perhaps, they never left at all. Though Eve cannot see her, Hokuto stands beside Corbin and leans her head against his shoulder.

For Corbin, there is a wound is in his heart. Questions surrounding his mother and her involvement with the Company. Not even Sabra had talked of it. No one mentioned Rebecca Ayers. Not Crowley, not Goodman. No one. Yet there she was.

For Eve, the pain is confusion. What had she witnessed there in history’s recollection of Level-5? What did it mean to be what she is now? Had she truly died, or did whatever transformation she underwent simply convert her from one state of matter to another? For what purpose, if any at all?

For Hokuto it is more personal. In the visions of history she was more than just a ghost. She was real, whole, and could interact with others outside of dreamscapes. In that, there was a subtle cruelty. A fleeting glimpse once more at life. A fleeting glimpse of love lost.

…of mothers and fathers all.

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