I Know What Time Is


chess5_icon.gif elliot2_icon.gif ff_glory_icon.gif richard5_icon.gif

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Scene Title I Know What Time Is
Synopsis Time is a thief.
Date July 2, 2021

Delphi is nothing but noise. A riotous choir of creaking buildings, high-tension power cables, rocking boats, and a few thousand people crammed together amid an island of sinking skyscrapers.

On the way back from the mostly disastrous showcase of the convoy a few hours ago, Richard Ray, Elliot Hitchens, and Francesca Lang are divided from the majority of the group that have split off into the Ratmarket in search of last-minute supplies. The smell of street food clings to the air, from hydroponic-grown vegetables roasting over an open fire, to fish kebabs and steamed crabs hanging in netting.

But it isn’t breakfast that’s on the menu this morning. It’s a warning.

The "Ratmarket
Delphi Flotilla
Ruins of Pennsylvania

July 2nd

Levi Walker cuts a recognizable silhouette through the bustling Ratmarket, trying to negotiate his way through the crowd. He hadn’t been at the walk-through with the convoy earlier. When he makes eye contact with Chess he raises one hand in the air, trying to get her attention, then begins making his way over through the small group.

The three are at a stall with various salvaged items that don’t amount to much on their own but could be something in either Chess’ explosive hands or possibly serve as a repair part for various vehicles. Chess is trying to figure out what some auto part or another is, holding it up from one end, then turning it around and squinting at it from the other – she’s pretty handy, but car mechanics are one thing that she never learned.

When she sees Levi’s approach, she lifts a hand in greeting, then nods in his direction as she looks to Richard and Elliot.

“He’s one of our party, yeah?” Chess asks – there are a lot of faces, and she’s seen most of them. Levi’s stands out a bit more against some of the others. “Hope this isn’t bad news.”

“Hm?” Richard looks up from sniffing an air freshener from a box full of them, maybe anticipating that they might make the convoy more bearable if they didn’t smell like sweat and other unpleasant people-scents the entire time.

An eyebrow lifts as he lets Chess direct his attention - recognizing this iteration of him only vaguely but remembering another from his dealings with the Guardians, “Yeah. Walker– didn’t see him at the guided tour so maybe he just wants to check in?”

Elliot picks Walker out of the crowd quickly, nodding up in acknowledgement of his hail. He knows little about the man other than that he knows how to handle a knife. He’s the only other person who has ever touched the knife that is currently in Elliot’s pocket, on the way into Lowes to be ambushed by the Mafia Queen. No hard feelings to Levi.

“Hey,” Levi says, hands jammed into the pockets of his jacket and shoulders hunched. He glances over his shoulder, a tinge of nervousness in his expression. “Glad I ran into you three,” he says with a glance around the market. “I uh, feel kinda’ shitty saying this but I think someone in our group might be a pickpocket. Wanted you to know I saw somebody going through your shit.”

Chess glances down at decade-plus-old air fresheners and lifts a brow, looking up at Richard and shaking her head. “Don’t think those are going to cut it, friend,” she says, before looking back to Levi as he arrives close enough to talk. Her brows draw together at the nervous look on his face, then lift with curiosity as he begins to talk.

Our stuff?” she asks, glancing to Elliot and Richard; they don’t have a lot of personal stuff between them. There’s only one item really of any importance-

Her brows lift and she looks in the direction of the vehicles. “Shit. Who?”

Elliot doesn’t reach for his pockets first, he feels for something under his shirt (Merlyn’s locket) and in a jacket pocket (Rue’s spicy polaroids), then double checks for his knife and drugs. Satisfied, he waits for an answer.

"Doesn't hurt to check," Richard mutters to Chess as he drops the freshener back into the box, and then straightens and turns as Levi approaches with a smile that doesn't last when the man talks.

He glances to Chess, then back to Walker, "— what she asked. Who?"

“Glory,” Levi says under his breath. “The salvager you picked up back north.” He steps in closer to the others. “I don’t know if she took anything, but she was poking around all your shit. Pockets, bags, those big trunks you brought with you.” He glances around at the three, then shakes his head. “Only reason I caught her was I had come back from doing a supply run for Lowe. I don’t think she noticed me.”

Levi looks over his shoulder, then motions that way up the street. “I think she’s at her bunk. Like I said, I don’t like to snitch. But we can’t have this kinda’ shit going on when we hit the road, y’know?” He seems uncomfortable saying anything at all, but the situation demands attention.

“Shit,” Elliot says without further explanation. He turns his back on Walker to make sure he can catch Richard’s eye. He has something to say with fewer ears to hear it.

Chess’ expression is grim, but she nods, and reaches out to pat Levi’s shoulder. “Thanks for telling us. We don’t need anyone who’s working against us on the trip, so better to know now than later, yeah?”

She looks back at Richard and Elliot and sighs – if it’s not one thing, it’s another. “So who’s good cop, who’s bad cop, and who’s the one that cop that glowers menacingly in the background?” she wonders.

It’s very obvious she hasn’t watched a whole lot of cop movies or television dramas if she thinks they work in groups of three. One can’t really blame her when her college years were hijacked by a civil war and persecution of her kind, really.

"I don't think I've met her," Richard frowns, brow knitting.

“Me neither,” Chess murmurs, unaware of whatever Elliot had murmured to Richard.

"You're right, though,” Richard says. “That is an issue. Thanks for letting us know, Chess is right– better now than later."

He glances to Elliot and nods slightly, "Well, let's go talk to her."

A Short Time Later

Delver’s Common House
Delphi Floatilla

Delver’s is, functionally, a flop-house. A cheap place to sleep with only a sliver of privacy. The sole differentiating factor is that Delver’s is also a underwater salvage business, selling room and board to those who are willing to perform a set number of hours of labor below the waves. It’s based out of the lower levels of one of Delphi’s smallest pelago, a converted Industrial Revolution era mill.

It’s easy for Richard, Elliot, and Chess to get into Delver’s. The business operates nearly round-the-clock and the common house floor is largely open to the public. The smell in the business is both noteworthy and repelling; a damp mix of body odor, low tide, and oxidizing metal. It’s a cloying, acrid smell that sticks to the back of the throat and lingers with you for days.

The bunks afforded by Delver’s are at best a rusty metal cot with a cloth batting mattress, or at worst a section of concrete floor. Some of the living spaces are situated in arched alcoves that may have at one point held machinery when this place was a factory, though only telltale scarring in brick and concrete hints to that past now.

It only takes a casual scan of the common house floor to pick up Glory from the dozens of others currently resting or sleeping. She is propped up in one of the alcoves, partially covered by a thin blanket, knees pulled up to her chest and expression distant. There’s a patched up duffel bag next to her, one that she’s been lugging around for as long as she’s been with the crew that left New York.

Glory doesn’t seem to notice the trio as they arrive, giving them time to plan their approach.

Elliot has been cautious around Glory ever since they landed at the Salty B.

Glory pauses on moving past Robyn, looking back over her shoulder to look at Elliot. There’s a moment of brow-furrowed inspection, then she looks away and shakes her head to dismiss whatever notion was there. Instead, Glory quietly makes her way to the exit.

Elliot's eyes continue their lazy stroll around the periphery. He catches the leaving woman’s curiosity, but doesn’t react to it, he’ll need to keep an eye out for her going forward.

What if she had known a local Elliot and divulged his terrible secret? In the meanwhile, he's been keeping his distance from her, but he's certain she's also keeping her distance from him. With Richard having been entrusted with the truth about his ability, it was important to divulge this suspicion. "How do you want to handle this?"

“She’s in pretty good health for someone around here,” Richard muses before answering the question, regarding her surreptitiously from beneath the edge of his poncho’s hood– drawn up at the moment to shadow his features as well as keep anything weird from dripping on his head. Mostly the latter, to be honest. “Most people around here are suffering from malnutrition; she’s not. Makes sense if she’s been stealing food; also means she’s probably pretty good at it.”

He looks back to the others, “I normally take the direct route with something like this. We could just go over and talk to her? I mean, shit, I was a thief myself for half my life, not like I’m going to judge…” He trails off, “Mm. Maybe just one or two of us, though, someone should be ready in case she pulls a runner.”

Chess leans against the door frame, arms crossed loosely as she regards Glory, once Elliot’s pointed her out. Her brows draw together as she studies her; that distant look is one she feels must be similar to how she looks often, when she gets pulled into her own thoughts.

“Either way, let’s not interrogate her in the middle of this place. We don’t need everyone else to know her business,” Chess points out. “Or ours.”

With that, she lifts a shoulder and heads in Glory’s direction, stepping into her sight line and tipping her head to make eye contact. “Hey. Got a sec?” she asks, with a nod of her head toward the door. Her hands stay in her pockets, her posture and expression as casual as she can make it, so as not to scare the other woman if she’s the skittish type.

When Glory spots Chess there’s a two-stage reaction: the first is a wide-eyed jolt, it goes through her whole body and hunches in her shoulders. She sucks in a sharp breath, realizes she’s having that reaction, and flattens it down to a too-obvious neutral expression.

“What’s—what’s up?” Glory asks, glancing at Elliot and Richard. She’s not her usual cool and composed self, and is quick to gather up the straps of her duffelbag in one hand while watching Chess. “We need to roll?”

Elliot makes his way back into the hall, hoping to relieve some tension while also preparing to intercept Glory should she run. Chess seems like the best option to coax her out of this terrible place, and he leaves her to it.

“Just some logistical stuff,” Richard replies with a dismissive wave of a hand, as if this wasn’t a huge deal, moving to step with Chess and canting his head back towards the hall, “Don’t want to talk convoy business in front of all these people, though.”

He glances over to one of the still-awake people in the hostel, adding easily, “No offense.”

Glory’s wide-eyed look is noted, and Chess raises a brow – it either screams guilty, or it has something to do with the fact the other woman seems to recognize their crew.

“Yeah, let’s just step outside a second, yeah?” she says. The duffel bag reminds her of her nomadic days between the war and finally settling in at the safe zone. Until she had to go into hiding, she never stayed more than two nights in the same place, and her bag had gone everywhere with her, carrying her worldly possessions.

She gestures for Glory to head toward that hallway; she’ll follow in case the thief decides to make a break for the opposite direction, letting Richard walk beside her.

Glory regards the others for a moment in silence, then exhales a sharp snort and rises up to her feet. Slinging the duffelbag over her shoulder, she steps past the three and says assertively, “There’s a quiet spot nearby, dead-end stairwell that just goes down to water.” She explains. Based on what they know of Delphi’s architecture, it sounds accurate.

It only takes a few minutes for Glory to lead them there. It’s also one of the few places in this building without someone crammed in a corner or rats running information for the city’s eyes and ears. The stairwell is accessible through a chain link fence that’s supposed to block off the area, except some of the screws affixing it to the brick have come loose. She lets Elliot hold it open, so that she’s neither first down the stairs nor behind them all.

The stairs are old and crumbling, moss and other vegetation grows in through cracks in the stone, though patch jobs and abandoned buckets of old cement show that there’s been efforts to keep it from completely collapsing. Glory only goes down one flight of stairs. It’s far enough.

“I think I know what this is about.” Glory says, fidgeting nervously. She reaches into a small, zippered pocket on the outside of her vest and pulls out a little orange plastic pill bottle. The label has been peeled off and the bottle is repurposed, it no longer contains pills. “I got about an eighth. There’s a grower who has a little private stash up on Heights.” She jerks her head, indicating wherever the hell she’s talking about.

“Thought one of you might’ve seen me getting it.” Glory admits, wiggling the bottle around. “I can split it if you keep quiet.”

She thinks they’re here about weed.

Chess stares at the orange bottle, perplexed for a long moment as she tries to figure out what it is that Glory is talking about – it’s so far afield from what they’ve come to discuss that she can’t connect the dots until Glory says she can split it.

“I’m pretty sure Mad Eve probably foresaw the need and left us with a few pounds. Even if that was it, we don’t care if you get high, so long as you’re not driving or shooting,” she says with a small smirk. Chess has done her share of weed, and worse – that she’s done Refrain on a few occasions is something she keeps close to her vest. It’s in the past, now.

She glances to Richard and Elliot, then back to Glory, and decides to cut to the chase. She’s not good in social interactions with strangers, so she’s not going to pretend to be.

“Did you take anything, when you were looking through our stuff? What were you looking for?” she asks – there’s no real anger in her tone, no judgment, only a little worry.

Elliot places his face into his hand to keep himself from laughing. He wants to focus on how it's odd that she would think this was about scoring drugs after having just stolen from them. He tries to get a better read on her, taking in all the little details. Is she being naive, or clever? He'd respect the latter.

Richard can’t stop himself from letting out a bark of laughter– one hand coming up to rub at the back of his head as he looks down, grinning a bit, head shaking.

Then Chess is getting to the bottom of the issue and he looks back up, an eyebrow arched, that rogue’s smile lingering after the moment of humor. “What she said,” he observes with a motion towards Chess, “You got caught going through our bags, lady.”

Glory breathes in through her nose, looking at the three for a long moment before glancing away. She curls the pill bottle into the palm of her hand. Watching her, Elliot sees the posture of someone who’s pretending to be upset about getting caught to use that time to fabricate a story.

Look,” is the first word out of someone’s mouth who is stalling to connect dots of a lie in their head, when it’s not followed by anything else other than a pause. He knows, he’s used and discarded the tactic.

“I was looking to see if you had anything harder.” Glory says quietly, not looking anyone in the eye. Shoulders slack in shame, brows furrow. “I got a sliver of shrapnel in my left shoulder, normally it doesn’t bother me but sometimes it really fucking does. I was hoping you had something—I don’t fucking know. Most painkillers are expired, just make you sick.” She glances up at Elliot and the others. “If—if you’re really from somewhere else, I was hoping maybe…” She closes her eyes and shakes her head.

Elliot sighs when Glory looks to him, going for disappointed even though he appreciates the craft. "That isn't true," he says. "Let's take it from the top. Why were you going through our belongings? What were you looking for, and what did you take?"

Chess is 50-50 on whether the story’s true; she herself is such a bad liar that she’s given up trying a long time ago. She trusts Elliot’s intuition on it, and maybe seeking to play ‘good cop,’ she looks to Glory with some sympathy. Even if that’s not the reason for looking in their belongings, she guesses there’s an element of truth to the story.

“If that was true, it’s better to ask than steal, yeah? Someone might need it more than you. If we’re going to be going three thousand miles together, we need to be able to trust each other at least a little bit. You’re not stealing from someone who you’re never going to have to see again, you know?”

But that little lecture she sets aside, not really expecting an answer to her questions, and Chess tips her head back to Elliot. “So, yeah. What were you looking for, and did you take anything?”

A slight tilt of Richard’s head answers her words, brow lining slightly as if he’s trying to focus on something that’s just out of his ability to focus on. “She’s not lying about the injury, at least,” he observes, “Always good to put at least a kernel of truth in a lie, though.”

He should know. He used to be a crook himself.

“Also– you’d think that if you were believing crazy stories about us being from another timeline, you’d check out the whole ‘mysterious old woman can heal people’ crazy stories first,” he adds, a little dryly.

“I don’t like owing anyone.” Glory says flatly. That rings pretty true to Elliot. What comes next is harder to suss out. “I didn’t take anything, you can check your shit. I was poking around to see what you had, saw that weird fucking armor in the trunk and got spooked.”

Glory raises her hands as if in mock surrender. “That’s it. I’m not trying to rob you I’m just curious. I didn’t believe you were from somewhere else, but nobody around here has anything like that armor you’re carrying. Nobody.”

“I get that,” Chess says, with a shrug regarding owing other people, glancing at Richard. “I never asked the healer in my war squad for help. Figured there was someone who needed it more than me. Didn’t want to impose.”

Her gaze swings back to Glory and she regards her for a long moment. “That, I can believe. So now you have proof, what does that change for you? What are you willing to do now that you weren’t before, when you thought we were, what, liars? Con artists? The trouble is now you’ve lied to us, so it’s hard to know how much we trust you going forward.’

She tips her head, thoughtful for a moment. “Where are you from? You don’t seem close to anyone in the Pelago. Is there anyone who can vouch for you? You know. Going forward.”

Something about it doesn't sit well with Elliot regardless. It's entirely possible that Glory's double take in the Salty B was just a momentary misremembering, a face only familiar at an angle and in passing. He's grown suspicious of coincidence since arriving here.

"You didn't believe we were from elsewhere?" he asks, leaning back against the stairwell wall to seem less imposing. His face lost in the shadow of his hood, he taps out "DAYDREAM␄" to Wright and, as she cedes cognition to him, looks for every possible tell in Glory's behavior with more mental acuity than he possesses on his own. "You seemed to recognize me when we arrived. That would seem like an easy affirmation of our story; you having met me before and being presented with a version that doesn't remember meeting you." It's terrifying to think about somebody having known this whole time, but with the lock they made by lying gone, he's less reticent to mention the possibility.

“Which armor,” Richard asks ever-so-casually, an eyebrow lifting, “Are you referring to… exactly?”

Just adding one more question to the stack, even as he leans a shoulder against the wall, arms folded over his chest. He lets the others lead up this interrogation in preference for watching her for reactions in general.

Glory’s brow furrows and she glances between the three, raising her hands and taking a half step back. “Jesus, with the inquisition,” she huffs, then lowers her hands. “Look it was armor, ok? Had a helmet, gloves? I didn’t get a good look but it didn’t look like it was from around here.” She must mean the shear suits.

“I spend most of my time here in Delphi.” Glory explains. “There’s folks down at the Salvager’s union that know me, I’ve only been here a few months. I came up from the south, coast of Georgia or what’s left of it. Been traveling a long time. I don’t have any living family, no—no real friends.” That looks like it hurts Glory to say, like it reopened a wound she’d bound with denial.

“I thought you looked familiar,” Glory says to Elliot, and it’s clear the question—all the questions—make her uneasy. “I’ve never met you before, m’sure of it now. You just have one of those faces,” she says while swirling her hand around her own face. And I’m not a con artist,” she says with a sharp look to Chess, as if that really hurt her to hear.

“No, he really doesn’t,” Chess says a little flatly, glancing at Elliot and back to Glory. “But maybe they grow ‘em special in Georgia.”

Hopefully that’s a compliment for Elliot.

But the defensive comment thrown her way draws a short huff of a laugh. “I asked if you thought we were con artists. I know you’re not one. You can’t lie your way out of a mattress store.” She lifts a shoulder. “It’s all right. Neither can I. It actually makes me more likely to trust you than not. It’s the smooth ones you have to worry about.”

Elliot chuckles appreciatively from the shadow of the stairwell wall. He feels compelled to compliment Chess's similar uniqueness but manages to remind himself she's literally a clone before making an ass of himself.

There's still a bit of a giggle in his sigh as he stands. "Easy solution to the trust issue here," he says, pulling down his hood and fixing Glory with a kind but serious expression. "Turn out your duffel bag." The kindness doesn't include a molecule of fucking around.

Richard remains leaning casually there against the wall, head canted to one side, watching the girl’s reactions and behaviors. He lifts one hand from the other arm, vaguely gesturing before it falls back down into place.

“You’re in pretty good shape for a scavenger,” he notes, apropos of nothing much obvious, “Must be good at your job.”

“I don’t need to eat.” Glory says flatly. “Or, I don’t need to eat much. It helps to be weird sometimes.” But then, fingers curled around the grip of her duffel bag, Glory furrows her brows and downturns her lips into a frown.

“There’s personal shit in here.” Glory says without a whit of self-awareness. “Hard pass.”

Looking around at Elliot, Richard, and Chess, she breathes in deep through her nose. “Far as I know I’m the only one on this trip that can tell when the air isn’t safe to breathe, or when the food is poisoned.” She looks around between them. “I’m good at survival because I cheat. I’m coming along to help stack the deck against the world, so to speak. So you can either take my bag from me and look through it,” she says, hefting it up, “or we can agree I made some bad choices and—call it a mulligan.”

Chess scoffs and shakes her head when Glory balks at letting her bag be searched. “You didn’t give a shit about our ‘personal stuff’ when you went through ours, so that’s a little ironic, don’t ya think?”

Still, she glances at Elliot and Richard. “We could check our shit and see if anything’s missing. I can go, and loop you in,” she looks to Elliot, indicating the network. She apparently doesn’t want to force the issue, but…

Her gaze falls back in on Glory. “Trust me that we can take it, if we choose to go that route,” she says, eyes narrowing a little with the warning. She doesn’t know exactly what exactly the scavenger can do, but she’s sure that between Richard and herself, they would have the upper hand. “I’d rather you just show us.”

"No need to take it from you," Elliot assures Glory with a shrug, "but the alternative is you're going to be hitchhiking to Alaska." He's aware he doesn't call the shots on this op, but nobody has instructed him to drop it and he's not of a mind to back down. Guess he settled on bad cop for this interrogation.

“Alright, alright…” Richard finally pushes off the wall, one hand coming up and his head shaking, “Let’s take a step back from the edge here, guys. Look– “

He fixes a look on Glory, one eyebrow lifting, “You didn’t trust us. And you went through our shit. You say you didn’t take anything, and given that we’re going to be on the road alone with you for awhile… I’m going to say let’s go with that.”

Back to the other two, eyebrows raising, “So let’s show her some trust here, in the hopes that she learns to trust us, eh?”

Glory exhales a slow sigh, tension ratcheting down as she looks between the three. “It won’t happen again,” she promises, for whatever that’s worth. “But it’s—it’s really true. You all’re from… someplace else? Somewhere this shit never happened?” Her attention darts around the three, wary and curious.

“Why come here?” Glory asks, brows raised and desperate for that crumb of context. “What—what’s so important that you’d do something so insane, so dangerous, just to be—just to land somewhere like this?” The Pelago had a run in with Travelers once before, and their impact changed things forever. Storied, wondrous changes. Glory’s eyes show a glint of child-like wonder and hope.

“How do you know it was insanely dangerous?” Elliot asks with a smile, relenting from his earlier insistence and leaning against the wall once more. He can always have a peek in her duffel bag later. “Could have been an open hole made by a Subtle Knife.”

Chess’ arms fold against herself when Richard pulls the equivalent of threatening to turn this car back around right now, and she watches Glory as she shifts gears from being on the defensive to questioning them.

Elliot’s words draw a huff of a laugh, and she shakes her head, amused at the ambiguous allusion. “All right, Will Parry. Not everyone’s read everything you have,” she murmurs. “Wanna field this one, Ray?” She isn’t quite sure on who’s supposed to be in the know, and who isn’t, so mostly she keeps her mouth shut when it comes to the team’s real purpose.

“I think I missed a reference there,” Richard confesses in a wry murmur to Chess, glancing to Elliot and then back to her before letting out a snort of his own laughter.

“Well, we’re sure as hell not here on vacation,” he quips, looking at Glory for a long moment as if judging how much he should say before he shrugs one shoulder, “Desperation. Obviously. Our world’s in danger, we need something that doesn’t exist there, that might exist here. It’s nothing valuable to you at all, but chances are there’s plenty of shit where we’re going that would be, and we don’t need that.” Heading off thoughts of thievery by dangling the carrot of profit.

Glory exhales a sharp sigh through her nose. She looks at Chess, then Elliot, and finally Richard. “Then we’re of a like mind on that. Maybe get a fresh start at the Anchor. Maybe die along the way.” She shrugs. “Life’s unpredictable.”

Looking between the trio, Glory holds up her hands briefly. “So’m I under arrest, officers? Or can we call this a bad first impression, and I work to make number two better?”

“Kid’s book,” is the simple answer for Richard with a grin over at Elliot for the shared quasi-esoteric knowledge. “Let’s just say Subtle Knife could be Mattheo Ruiz’s code name.”

Her hands find her pockets, shoulders relaxing a little as she looks from Richard to Glory, watching the other womans’ reaction to the explanation of why they’re here

“For the record, it was incredibly dangerous, so you should be very impressed,” she says with a small smirk, no longer playing –bad– explosive cop in the this interaction. “But it wasn’t insane. When you’re on the edge of the cliff, sometimes all you can do is jump, yeah? So we jumped.” Too literally, for her taste, especially when everything around them was exploding.

She offers her hand over to Glory to shake. “I’ve made and had worse first impressions. You should hear how I met some of my sisters. And my father, come to think of it.” She makes a face. “ I’m Chess. Nice to meet you.”

Elliot keeps a smile on his face, but remains mostly in shadow. "Not just a kid's book," he laments in good spirits. "The sequel to my favorite kid's book." Wright happily drums her fingers over what's left of his copy.

“Normally I’d ask about a copy for Aurora, but if it’s anything like Matteo’s deal I think she’s been traumatized enough,” Richard quips wryly, and then he tips his head back towards Glory, “Richard Cardinal. Hopefully try number two will work better, yes.”

“Given the hazard level of this trip? There’s not gonna be a three.”

“Gloria, but most people call me Glory. It’s preferred.” Glory says with a quick glance to Elliot, noticing he didn’t introduce himself. But she stays quiet, she’s pushed them enough for one day. Exhaling a soft sigh, Glory affords a nervous smile to the others, shifting her weight and adjusting her grip on her duffel bag.

“We’ll say second time’s the charm, then.” Glory offers with a hesitant smile.

It has more meaning than they realize.

Some Time Later

Curiosity may have killed a cat, but satisfaction brought it back. Richard Ray is intimately familiar with the second half of that saying, and it is curiosity that brings the shadow of a cat slithering across the floor of Delphi’s common house, navigating beneath beds and between bedrolls.

Glory is asleep, sitting up and against her standing duffel bag, head resting against one end. She’s protective of it, and while Richard didn’t demand to see into her bag when they had her cornered, this cat would rather be safe than sorry.

It’s easy for him to infiltrate the duffel bag, slithering in through a gap where one zipper is not quite pulled all the way shut. But what he finds in there is both alarming and exactly what he was afraid of.

A shear suit, like the ones they have but not stolen. It’s newer looking, different piping, different attached hardware, including a vest that looks identical to the portable Looking Glass worn by the late Confessor Crowley. But there’s also a necklace, one bearing two old wedding bangs and a copper hei-matau. The crowning discovery, however, is the most harrowing.

A helmet. Chess’ helmet from her shear suit. It has the same notch in the brow from their tumble through the Looking Glass. He should know, he just checked to make sure nothing was missing. And yet… here it is.

Older. Weathered.


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