I Against I


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Scene Title I Against I
Synopsis I against I/Flesh of my flesh/And mind of my mind/Two of a kind but one won't survive/My images reflect in the enemies eye/And his images reflect in in mine the same time
Date May 13, 2009

Textile Factory 17, Red Hook, Brooklyn

Black dress shoes carry a clicking report with a swift and even cadence across a concrete floor. The air displaced around the quickly moving man stirs loose threads of white linen spilled out like angel-hair pasta from old and broken looms that rest in dust-laden ruin about the mill floor. Huge spools of white cloth have been yellowed by time, his shadow cast on them as he passes, a ring of keys jingling in one hand.

This movement carries the black-clad form of Doctor Edward Ray towards an old iron door resting on rusted runners set into a crumbling brick wall at the far end of the factory floor. Dressed in a sleek, black suit with a dark blue undershirt and a ink black necktie, Edward looks as though he came from an important meeting, only the blood and scrapes on his knuckles indicating that something else may have just happened.

Stopping at the door, Edward lifts the key ring and moves to unlock the door, brows furrowing for a moment as he hesitates, as if waiting for something. But whatever it is, it doesn't come. Wrinkling his nose, Edward slides the key into the lock and turns it, the sound clunking and grinding inside of the old door, echoing so much more loudly on the other side, where pitch blackness is greeted by that industrial noise.

The darkness is divided by a shaft of pale light cast by the moon, it filters in through the opening door as the iron entrance slides along those creaking and worn runners. Edward Ray's dark silhouette remains in the doorway, clutching a ring of keys in one hand, backlit by tall and dirty windows that are alight with the glow of the moon, "Good evening."

His voice cuts across the silence after the door has stopped moving, and from the back of the storage room, a shuffling sound moves into the light. There, a man dressed in a thin blue outfit resembling medical scrubs walks barefoot across the floor. Blue eyes peer at the dark figure with disbelief, as Edward Ray finds himself confronted with his own countenance. Squinting, he takes shuffling steps forward, and then something steely — something hardened comes over him.

"That explains why I can't predict your actions." The younger Ray states, looking his older counterpart up and down, "why I didn't foresee the letter from myself being delivered, why I didn't see a lot of things happening." The young Edward's brows rise, and his blue eyes fix on his older self. "So, go ahead— explain. It's what I'd do."

That cocksure posturing causes his older self to bristle, taking a few steps into the room. "There really isn't that much to explain." His eyes fall on his younger self, watching him through the round lenses of his glasses. "I've come back here from a future where— where we— are imprisoned for outliving our usefulness. I refuse to allow myself to spend ten years of my life locked up in a prison because of the machinations of one man."

"So you're, what, going to try and change the future?" The younger Edward takes a tone like he's talking down to a child. "You do realize that nothing you do here — no matter how monumental — will ever change what you have experienced? And I figure from the lovely accommodations I've been given that you don't much care about protecting me from that future, do you?"

The biting words cause Edward's older self to stare down at the floor, "It's more personal than that," he murmurs, settling his eyes back on his younger self again. "But really, when I said there isn't much to tell," his hand slides into his jacket, removing a snub-nosed revolver that he clicks the hammer back on, leveling it out towards his younger counterpart. "I mostly meant because you're going to be too dead for the words to matter."

Staring down the barrel of a gun, Edward tenses, eyes going wide as he hears the click of the hammer go back. "Wait!" His hands fly up defensively, as if they could shield him from the bullet, "Wait! You— put the gun down you don't need to— " frantic confusion sets in, the inability to actively predict the motions and thoughts of his older self, unable to see the ripples he makes in probability, cause and effect.

It's harder to pull the trigger than he thought it would be. Edward watches his younger self gesticulate wildly, pleading for the trigger not to be pulled. It wouldn't be the first life he's had to take today, but on the same token it would be the first life he'd take that he couldn't foresee the repercussions of taking. It's enough to cause him to hesitate, finger twitching on the trigger. "You— have exactly ten seconds to compel me."

"You're causing a rift." The younger Edward words that emphatically, "You're creating a divide between the time you're native to and this one." Edging closer to himself, Edward's hands remain raised, eyes wide and shoulders trembling beneath the thin fabric of his detainment uniform he's been wearing since his rescue from Primatech. "If— if you kill me, you'll be putting a nail in the coffin. You'll never be able to find your way upstream back to where you came from. You'll be stranded here and— "

"Did you actually think I didn't consider that?" The bitterness and rawness in his voice is only compounded by the sense of frustration at being talked down to by the him that makes this problem possible in the first place. Being spoken down to by the weak past version of himself that was imprisoned. The self that he hates. "I don't intend on going back at all." The gun stays level at Edward's chest, "That's why you have to go. You're the one who's responsible for me even— you're the one who's at fault here, and now I'm correcting my mistake."

The flash of the muzzle and the loud bang of the gunshot comes suddenly. The shot floods the dark storeroom with a brief light and the hint of smoke. Only the sound of a bullet ricocheting off of stone replaces what should be the heavy and wet slap of a bullet penetrating a human sternum. Grabbing his older counterpart's wrist, Edward jerks his arm up into the air, plaster crumbling away from the ceiling where the bullet penetrated.

Edward's older self jerks to the side in disbelief, trying to keep the gun from being wrest from his grasp. The younger Edward squeezes his older counterpart's hand, causing him to fire off another round into the ceiling. The two stagger to the side, colliding with the wall, and the younger Edward reaches down towards his older self, hand fishing through a pocket of his jacket before retrieving a long black cylinder about the size of a pocket flashlight from within. Four more gunshots are squeezed off in the interim, deafening cracks of gunfire as plaster continues to fall down from overhead.


It's the sound of a telescoping baton being extended to full length. Edward's younger self swings it up, clubbing his older counterpart across the face, sending him immediately collapsing to the ground. The pistol falls to the floor and then is kicked aside as the young Edward Ray moves in to straddle his older self's chest, bringing the baton down again, slamming it into his brow, then turns it around to jam the handle at the bottom of his throat, pressing firmly to put blindingly painful pressure on his windpipe.

"That's about exactly what I expected," the young Edward spits out, grinding the baton's handle down again with a twist of his wrist. Nothing but choking gags come from his older self, blood flowing freely from a cut on his forehead and from split skin at his cheek. "Do you really have that low of an opinion of me, to think that I'd let you just kill me?"

Any response Edward was hoping to elicit is just another gurgling choke. "It makes me wonder,' which is why he just keeps talking, "if your people would notice the differences between us." Edward's free hand snakes out to pull the glasses off of his older counterpart's face, unfolding them before sliding them on with an arch of one brow. "Isolating yourself off from them, I imagine? Like we did with Phoenix?"

He shifts his weight, driving a knee into his older self's stomach, the handle of his baton still driving down on his throat. "They probably wouldn't notice a thing." But there's a twinge at Edward's brows, and he turns to look towards the door to the storage room as heavy footsteps come winding into the factory. That moment of distraction is all the other Edward needs to pick up the pistol with one stretch of his arm and bring it up to crack against his younger self's jaw.

The younger Edward reels from the blow, falling to the cold, concrete floor as blood flows out from a split in the flesh of his jaw. "Allen!" Comes a shout from his older self, knowing just what the heavy footfalls signify. "Allen I need your h— " The baton swings back, hitting the future Edward across his mouth, splitting his lip and spraying blood against the floor. Struggling up to his feet, the younger Edward hears the heavy footfalls getting closer, like the rythmic noise a freight-train building up speed makes.

He runs, runs as fast as bare feet can take him. Edward dashes out of the storage room, feet skidding across the floor as he comes jerking to a stop, looking up with wide eyes at the man made of solid iron dressed in a brown trenchcoat running full-speed from the factory entrance. Edward tenses up, looking over his shoulder as he sees his older self moving up to hands and knees, fingers padding at his bleeding lip.

Young Edward jerks his head back, watching Rickham come running at him, and instead of trying to divert himself from the oncoming juggernaut's path, he pushes himself into a sprint at Rickham. Struggling to get to his feet, the bludgeoned Edward from 2019 shakily moves to the doorway, watching as his younger self runs head-on at a man made out of thousands of pounds of iron.

Just as Edward closes the distance with Rickham, he throws himself down to the floor onto his back, watching as one several hundred pound foot comes sweeping up past his face, and then up over his head and down to the floor as he slides between the iron man's legs. Rickham tries to come to a stop, but his considerable momentum has him instead crashing into one of the looms, threads tangling around him, tearing as he thrashes in the wooden and metal wreckage.

Running between two of the other looms, Edward makes his break not for a door, but for the tall windows that overlook the alley between the factory and the administrative building. "Rickham!" The older Edward shouts out, holding the side of his face as he watches his younger self dive at the windows and crash through the glass, striking the street with his shoulder as he rolls and bounces across the pavement. "God damnit stop him!"

By the time Rickham untangles himself from the loom debris and gets to the window, Rickham can't perceive Edward anywhere out in the courtyard. His growling, metallic voice fills the air. "He's gone!" Hematite shaded eyes turn back to the older Edward as he watches him stagger out of the storage room holding his bloodied face. "That was you. Why— what's going on?"

"I'll…" It hurts to talk, and Edward's hand working over his jaw is more feeling for broken bone than anything else. "I'll explain on the way." Rickham's head turns slowly, metal grinding against metal as he watches Edward start heading for the factory entrance. "First, we need to clean up something I left outside — then," he halts in mid-stride, turning to look over his shoulder to Rickham, "I have a date with Daniel Linderman."

Allen Rickham's stance stiffens, and the man of iron watches Edward with a distrusting stare. He works his lips around, metallic skin scraping over steely teeth, before finally returning to his usual scowling countenance. "Who is that dead outside anyway? I noticed him on the sidewalk when I was coming in. John said you'd explain it. What about the other you, shouldn't we be going after him?"

Edward closes his eyes and shakes his head, rubbing his temple with his palm. "The man outside is nobody," he emphasizes with a roll of his eyes. "Just someone in the wrong place at a very wrong time. As for my counterpart," he looks to the shattered windows, "There's only so many places he can go. Right now— I don't actually know what to do about that."

Edward's eyes narrow, settling back on Rickham's metallic countenance, "But I think Daniel will."

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