If This Is A Plan


ff_chel_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif robyn7_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Scene Title If This Is A Plan
Synopsis Communication across the divide, about crossing the divide. How does one punch a hole in the multiverse? Robyn Quinn wants to know.
Date June 24, 2021

Yeah, Buoy!

The Pelago

It's only been a week since the last time Robyn Quinn was at the Yeah , Buoy!, and yet being back here again already felt like something foreign. It's an odd and disconcerting feeling, having grown so comfortable being someplace so far away from home already. Yet somehow, she's managed to settle in even more comfortably to her room at Lowes ever since she'd accomplished her first big goal for her time in this world.

Now, it was time to focus on the next big goal. One she's not even sure she can accomplish on her own.

Situated near the middle of the deck and far away from the rails, Robyn sits on her knees with her eyes closed. Hands folded into her lap, she takes long, deep breaths as she tries to stay as still as she can, focused on the air around her.

She can only hope Elliot actually got the note she left him. She'll know for sure soon enough. Maybe she should've written more than "I need a favour", but it was too late to do much about that now.

Elliot is nothing if not punctual, generally arriving precisely five minutes before he’s supposed to be somewhere. He considers loitering around the docks for a moment, but with Robyn in view on the deck of Yeah, Buoy!—and armageddon rendindering universal time keeping pointless—there’s really no reason to. He nods in passing as he makes his way to the gangplank.

He arrives in clothing he certainly didn’t have on him for the passing, most notably a black hoodie in surprisingly good condition. “You rang?” he says, boarding and making his way along the railing toward the bow.

When Robyn hears footsteps on the gangplank, she inclines her head over towards in that direction. When Elliot speaks, she smirks. "I did," she offers in an even tone, "I was hoping you could help me out with something."

That much was obvious from the note she left, though, so slowly opening her eyes, she angles her gaze up at Elliot. "Not just from you, but from Wright, too." She feels bad asking, not knowing either of them terribly well despite the situation they find themselves in now. "I need to make a long distance phone call." There's a distinct smirk with that, hoping Elliot finds it as amusing as she does.

Elliot finds something about it amusing if his smirk is any indication. “That’s literally the only reason they invited me to this place,” he says with a chuckle. “Fairly certain it wasn’t because I can cook.”

He leans against the railing with his hands in his pockets. “Who do you need to reach?” he asks. “Wright’s in K.C. now, so there may need to be some finagling.”

"You're good company too, near as I can tell." Robyn says this with no hint of sarcasm, taking another moment before she pulls herself up to her feet. "And we kinda need that right now." Her grin fades to a weak smile.

"KC might… that might be the best, actually," she notes, looking thoughtful as she taps the side of her chin. "I…" A heavy sigh, and she shakes her head. "I need to speak to Michelle Cardinal. About the Looking Glass and how it works."

Elliot nods for a moment, then looks away as his eyes lose focus for a moment as he reaches out to Wright. He feels her review what was just said as he remembers it for her. “I’ll see what I can do,” she says, standing from her seat on the building’s stone steps. Her mood is warm as the air, which Elliot is happy to borrow for himself.

“She’s going to look for her,” Elliot says, attention now split between here and there. “Is this a conversation you want kept from management, or is it okay if agents catch wind of it? The latter being the easier option as Wright’s going to need to ask where she is.”

Letting out a sigh of relief, Robyn nods. Maybe she hadn't been expecting Elliot to agree, but that's only a part of the puzzle before her. "Everyone's going to find out what I want to do eventually anyway, so…" Her shoulders rise and fall in a shallow shrug. "I guess it doesn't matter who knows." She'd rather keep it on the down low, but that's not something that can last.

"Thank you, Elliot," she offers as she crosses the distance over to him, a hand placed on his shoulder.

Elliot lets out a strange, strangled noise as soon as he’s touched, flinching hard away from Robyn. He doesn’t flee, but holds himself away, taking a moment to work his jaw to say something, though words don’t immediately form.

Robyn is just as quick to pull back her hand, frowning and shaking her head. "S-Sorry." There's uncertainty in her voice, not entirely sure what she did wrong, but it's noted that Elliot doesn't seem to like touch. Good to know.

She's quiet for a moment, trying to recollect her thoughts for a moment. Fingers curl back in as she lowers her hand back down to her side and looks down at the deck. "Sorry," she repeats quietly, before clearing her throat.

"Well. So you know what you're going to be party to… I need to know more about the Looking Glass, because if push comes to shove, I want to know if I can take us home." She glances back up at him, and then back down to the ground. "I figure it's fair you know what's up before we go through with it."

Elliot shakes his head after the second apology. He removes a hand from his pocket to snap his fingers, crisp as a gunshot. “Not your fault,” he says, voice jagged at first. “The jump brought back some…” he sighs and shakes his head. “I don’t like to be touched right now. Not without preparation.” He shrugs, not sure what else to do in this situation.

He’s quiet for a moment as he finally processes what she’d said in the space between. “You think you can get us home?” he asks, unable to hide entirely a tired hope that’s still been flickering since he dove here right before the bomb went off, destroying the Looking Glass. Since he landed in this timeline right after the debris of the bomb did. He tries not to think of what held him in the void so long.

Robyn looks over Elliot appraisingly, more to make sure he's okay than anything else. "I feel like the jump left us all with a bit more trauma," she mutters, a hand scratching at the back of her neck. "I'll give a bit more warning next time, though. Hell of a habit to break, but I'll try." She certainly has a habit of being a bit more touchy than she often realizes.

Huffing out a breath, Robyn moves back to where she was sitting earlier, and lowers herself back down to her knees. "I think I can try," is what she offers in return, unwilling to give as much help as a "yes" might. "We'll see, ultimately. But I have to try."

But first she needs to know more.

Yeah, Elliot thinks, it’s not even my trauma. It’s not a lot of things.

“I appreciate that,” he says regarding Robyn’s pledge to try to not touch him. How do you bring this up beforehand? he wonders. Hi, my name is Elliot, don’t touch me without asking first.

“I was led to believe that it was a moot point without A,” he counts off one finger, “Mateo Ruiz’s ability, or B, a working Looking Glass on both this and that side.” he ticks off a second finger. He frowns as he says it, not wanting to dwell on the likelihood of never going home, but not wanting to live in a nihilist blur until they all die here.

"We do have a Looking Glass, though," Robyn counters with a raised finger and a growing grin. "We have the Aperture. Once we get what we need to sent over, well." Lowering her finger, her grin wavers. "I saw a lot of lasers at work. A lot of light. I think it's possible I could replicate the effect, rip it wide open." A beat. "By myself, it'll probably kill me, but…" Huffing out a breath, a hand moves to her hip as she regards Elliot. "We have two of me now."

Elliot laughs incredulously at the idea of two Robyns getting the task done, though it’s only in order to hide his suppressed revulsion at the thought of there being another Elliot here. That somebody may know. “Well that’s convenient,” he says with a laugh. “The two-of-you thing, not the dying trying thing. I really wish I could help, but by my best estimates I can only overclock mental abilities.”

He shrugs with his hands, still smiling though looking into the middle distance. His gaze returns to hers, he looks as at ease as he did before his sudden reaction to her touch, as though it never happened. “Which reminds me,” he says, “not to digress from going home being awesome, but I could use your help overclocking a task I’ve been given. I need to borrow some cognitive capacity for a limited time in order to crack a mysterious Japanese cipher. You’d have to link into the network, but I’d keep it basic, no need to worry about people sharing personal stuff unintentionally.”

"It's really not," convenient that it, "I'm still… wrapping my head around the idea that she's alive, much less that I've met her." Clenching her teeth to hold back a scoff, Robyn again closes her eyes and takes a deep, steadying breath. "She wasn't supposed to be. The whole reason I'm here is because we thought she was dead." Which is a bit of a kick in the knackers, but little to be done about it now.

"But I'm glad she is." Despite all that, or maybe because of it? Folding her arms back into her lap, she nods. "I can do that. I was going to ask to be in the network for this little game of telephone, too. How'd you get ahold of a Japanese cipher?"

Elliot nods in sympathy for Robyn’s situation. He wouldn’t want to have made the trip if somebody else could have more easily provided this service. At the same time… Best not to think about it. “Somebody asked Richard for help, Richard asked me to pass it on, I suggested keeping the effort local,” Elliot explains. He steps away from the railing to reposition himself against the wheelhouse.

“Setting you up for this conversation will be good practice for the overclock anyway,” he says. “You’ll be able to experience everything as Wright does, though obviously she’ll need to repeat anything you say here in order to relay it to Michelle. Though, if you’re feeling homesick you can stay linked in after to watch a movie with us.” He smiles at the absurdity of the situation more so than at the idea of the offer being unserious.

A small laugh is what Robyn offers in response, opening one eye to look up at Elliot. "Depends on the movie. But honestly, that sounds like a better use of an afternoon than anything I have planned."

A nod follows, smile fading. "My hope is that if I'm in the network, there's less to get lost in translation." A pause. "When we get back, I should introduce you to Elaine Darrow. She's an omniliguistic, very helpful for things like ciphers." Her shoulders rise in a small shrug. "And she's just a delight to have around."

“Wow, that sounds…” Elliot says, eyebrows raised, “incredibly fucking helpful. I’m trying to keep my ability quiet as much as possible due to being the single point of failure for communications, but if you can vouch for her I would be willing to interview her before making a decision. Because, obviously, holy shit that would be helpful. Overclocking her ability could… wow, yeah. Holy shit.”

After a moment he trains his eyes back on Robyn, as though just remembering where he is. “Assume we have access to every single movie in the Library of Congress.”

"Well, she's my ex-fiance and one of the smartest women I know," Robyn notes with a fond smile on her face, "so yes, you could say I'd vouch for her. She's taking care of my son right now." That causes her smile to waver, before falling into a frown as her eyes open. "Shame there's not an Elaine here, but… we have the Elaine from here, from what I've been told."

Which unfortunately means there's no way to get her help on something like this cipher.

That thought lingers for a moment before she closes her eyes again and sighs. "Well, I guess I'll join you for whatever, then."

“Should have known it was too good to be true,” Elliot says with a laugh. He scratches at his head to hide a wince of embarrassment. Changing the subject, he asks, “Would you like Wright to reach out to her?”

"To Elaine? She can't." There's a definitiveness to that statement, lacking in emotion in a way that likely tells Elliot that Robyn knows something he doesn't. "But I appreciate the offer. It would've been nice to have her help on this. I hope I didn't get your hopes up, that wasn't my intention." But at least he has that recommendation for the future.

"Speaking of Wright," she notes with a tilt of her head to the side, "any word back on if she can talk to Michelle?"

“Don’t worry about it,” Elliot says. “I still think I have enough volunteers to calculate pi to the quadrillionth decimal. Wright’s just gotten into the DOE building. There’s a whole lot of headache around who she can talk to because nobody who works for the DOE understands that their entire organization is a cardboard lemonade stand built around the OEI, so it might take a minute.”

"With our luck, pi down to that point comes out to be… I don't know. Spiders?" Robyn's frown deepens a bit at that thought. "Please forget I said that, I know I would like to." Shoulders sag, and she opens her eyes and looks back up at Elliot. "Might as well get used to the network while we wait for Wright."

Her resistance to the idea was always founded on a certain sort of prejudice, but she knew there was no way she was getting through this without having to put that aside.

“Anything you want to know about it before we begin?” Elliot asks. “You’re the first person from the team I’d be linking. I realize I haven’t ever gone into depth about how it works or what can be done. Most people shy away based on the ‘telepathy’ part, which is not what most people assume. Nobody can read your thoughts, which would make discrete communication a hell of a lot easier, honestly.”

Robyn exhales sharply, shaking her head. "I've never been fond of mental abilities, I've been trained by multiple people on how to discern, distrust, and defy them. The idea of just… giving myself over to one I'm unfamiliar with makes me extremely uncomfortable." She gives a small shrug. "There's a few people I trust, like Kaylee Ray, but by and large…"

Well, it's pretty self explanatory at that point.

"But I know when I need to acquiesce to that particular prejudice, I just… I guess I wanted to put it off as long as I could." Closing he eyes again, she turns her attention away from Elliot. "I think I understand the core of it, that it's more physical stimuli transmission than it is thoughts and emotions. But I'm don't really know the nuances of it, to be honest."

“I totally understand the hesitation,” he says with his hands up. “It is a hurdle for most people. It’s not constant sharing, it takes effort to sustain it, more effort the more you’re sharing.”

“Sensation sharing is certainly a major aspect of it, but emotions do share, and I haven’t figured out how to stop that. In some situations you could experience someone else’s emotions without realizing, and that can be annoying. But with familiarity it gets easier to associate the emotional information with the emoting co-host. And if you’ve had psychic defense training, it’s probably easier for you to do that than most people.”

He shivers against a gust of wind and zips up his jacket. “Memories can also be shared,” he continues, “event memories or more general knowledge such as languages or other learned skills. But with sensation and memory you are always aware if somebody is streaming them.”

Robyn remains quiet for a long moment, hands tightening around her knees. "Maybe it's for the best I don't spend much time in the network," she offers quietly. "Both for my sanity and that of others. I'm not the most… emotionally stable person, and…"

Her face scrunches up, clearly bothered by something that occurs to her. "I assume the memory sharing has to be… it doesn't just happen, but. I have a lot of memories banging around, and more than a few of them aren't even mine, nor are they pleasant. Though I suppose it'd be useful if you ever want to study a serial killer."

"There are several things which should help there," Elliot says, trying not to appear baffled about the serial killer memories which he does not in fact want to share, "I can close access to memories or sensation for anybody. So I could restrict anybody from streaming from you. In fact, I intend to do that for the overclock, because there's just no time to teach everybody all the one and outs."

"Even with the links open, people can't just sift through your memories," he assures her. "If you're remembering something you can draw somebody's attention to it and they can choose to stream it. But they can't go down a memory rabbit hole unless you lead them down it. And absolute worst case scenario, you can just decide to no longer be linked, and that's that."


Prime Timeline

Department of the Exterior Headquarters
13th Floor

Washington KC

“…but you’re not taking into account the possibility of gravity affecting the passage of time. Or rather, that it hasn’t. Isn’t that strange?”

Wright Tracy walks into the middle of an ongoing conversation between Michelle Cardinal and some unfortunate soul on the other end of a conference call. Wright’s handler, an unremarkable DOE page named Kenneth, holds the door to Michelle’s office open with one hand and a half-hearted smile.

Michelle, pacing around the office and working on a white board filled with scribbled notes, sees Wright in the doorway and waves her in. Kenneth dips his head in a wordless nod and closes the door behind them both.

«What do you mean?» The voice coming through the conference hub belongs to Erica Kravid. «What’s strange?»

Michelle puts the cap on her marker, ignoring Wright, and turns to face the hub. “That we’re not accidentally running into the Flintstones or the Jetsons,” she says with a wryness. “Gravity impacts spacetime. Mass affects gravity. I mean just— the time dilation that long-range space travelers would experience on achieving relativistic speeds? Time isn’t just a thing— it isn’t a line.”

Kravid is silent on the other end of the line.

“What I’m saying is that we have untold number of possible parallel realities in their own individual universes. Whole series of planets and stars and black holes all whirling out there, impacting the fabric of spacetime. Yet the realities we’ve seen all line up to the minute on the clock.” Michelle explains, a bit breathlessly. “That has to be a part of what determines a timeline’s availability. Its position on a…” She returns to the whiteboard, pulling out blue, red, and green markets to make a three-dimensional axis. Then a black marker to make a hypothetical fourth-dimensional axis. “On a temporal scale.”

«So how does time travel figure into all of this? Because we //know it happens.//» Kravid posits.

“I’m still figuring that out, because we know so few people capable of it and all of their experiences are anecdotal and their abilities aren’t studied to…” It’s only now that Michelle remembers Wright is in the room and turns to her. “Sorry, did— you need something?”

Wright nods in thanks for the unnecessary escort from Chauncey before stepping to the side of the door and leaning against the wall. The conversation ongoing piques Elliot's interest more than her own, but it is interesting. She tries to blend into the wall until she's remembered.

"Collect call from Waterworld," she says. "Special Agent Roux."

“It’s the away team,” Chel says into the air, “I need to call you back.”

«What time do—»

Michelle taps the end call button on the conference hub before Kravid can even finish her sentence. “Richard? How is he?” Is the first thing out of Chel’s mouth.

"Oh, you know," Wright says from her slouch against the wall, "Stoic, tortured. Reminiscent of Atlas. Worried about you but glad we all didn't die on the rig." Well, Chel didn't die at least.

"I can pass on anything you'd like to tell him," she offers. "Discretion included."

Chel breathes in deeply through her nose, distance taking over her expression as she holds that breath. Then, with a resigned and prolonged sigh she just shakes her head. “Anything not mission-critical would just distract him. I’m— glad he’s okay.”

Circling Wright, Chel makes a beeline to her desk and checks something on her laptop. “Agent Roux,” she says over the top of the screen, looking up to Wright. “What does she need?” Then she closes her laptop gently. No more distractions.

“Jesus Christ,” Elliot says, “I can see where he gets it from.”

Wright closes the distance to Chel’s desk, but doesn’t immediately answer her question. “With respect,” she says, “Families aren’t distractions. Richard could use encouragement.”

Chel stares at Wright, then slowly her eyes drift away and around the room, as if hoping something within it might help give her something to say. She swallows, audibly, then looks back to Wright with a nervous, awkward smile. “I’m sure he could, and—and I’m sure it’ll mean more coming from his team than me.” She deflects, pacing back to her whiteboard as if trying to pretend she’s busier in the moment than she really is.

“What was it Special Agent Roux wanted?” Chel asks again, this time with a little more tension in her voice.

“Yeah,” Elliot says, “hold on I’ll run on over and give him the fucking teamwork speech.”

Wright stares at Chel in mild astonishment, but doesn’t feel like going for round two. She shakes the bewilderment from her head and remembers what she came here for. “Agent Roux’s on the other end of the line right now,” she says. “I’ll repeat what she tells you and Elliot will repeat what you tell me.” She grabs a chair at the conference table and sits.

Chel shifts her weight to one foot and crosses her arms over her chest. “Tell him I took his cat.” She abruptly says. “Richard’s—Richleau. I don’t trust that secretary to take care of him. So. Tell him not to worry about his cat.” She squints, then looks down at her feet.


Flood Timeline
Yeah, Buoy!
The Pelago

Robyn has sunk down a bit into her chair, miming throwing a ball at the wall across from her. "Are we ready for prime time?" she asks, her eyes literally lighting up a bit as she sits up straight, leaning forward to look over at Elliot. There's an uncertain, almost plaintive look as she regards him for a moment, and then looks down at the floor.

"I can join the network, if that'd be easier," she remarks quietly. "I want to make this easiest for you and Wright. You're doing me a favour, after all." Sucking in a deep breath, she closes her eyes, giving a small shake of her head before speaking up again. "Tell her that I'm curious to know more about Looking Glass. The basic, most necessary components that go into it on a- a, um. On a primal level. Not the math, really. The… well basic components."

She raises a finger. "I expect she's probably going to dismiss the question, for whatever reason. Probably a good one. Tell her I have a hunch, and it's important."

“A hunch.” Chel says with a flat expression. She briefly closes her eyes and sighs, then threads a lock of hair behind one ear. “The Looking Glass isn’t…” She stops herself, pursing her lips and thinking, looking up at the ceiling. “Explaining everything that goes into its function could take weeks at the simplest, but I don’t think she’s looking for particle physics so…”

As she trails off, Chel starts to pace the floor. She cleans off a section of her whiteboard and takes out a marker, hoping visuals aids help. “The Looking Glass is physically made of several equally-critical components.” First, she draws a triangle. “The lens is a micro particle accelerator. It’s not actually a triangle, that’s just the shape of the outer cooling frame. Inside, it’s actually three loops connected by straight pathways.” She draws this symbol out on the board. “Those are surrounded by gold piping that is filled with liquid nitrogen to keep the apparatus cool.”

Inside the triangle, Michelle draws a little star. “Behind the particle accelerator is the laser aperture. It’s a spinning wheel of high-powered lasers that move at a precise speed. The physics of this is hard to explain, but trust me when I say that lasers can dimple spacetime and if moving at a high enough speed can cause it to twist. This, coupled with the process going on inside the particle accelerator, is a primary component in the formation of an incision through space.”

Michelle looks back at Wright, then draws a big circle around all of it. “All of these components, and smaller items like superconductors, require a tremendous amount of power. The three inch Looking Glass I constructed in Kansas City in the 1980s was, ah, patched into the city power grid. Which—blew—when we ran it.” She flashes a proud but guilty smile. “The one in Virginia was powered by a geothermal generator running through the pylons of the oil rig. The anomaly,” she adds, scribbling a black ball, “was part of how the destination was focused. Because that anomaly matched the subatomic frequency of the correct timeline destination.” Michelle caps the marker and walks up to Wright.

“Which is why the portable aperture the away team was given came with…” Chel tries to think of the best way to describe it. “Let’s call it a quantum tuning fork. It’s a device that creates a pulse in the atoms of adjacent matter that is resonant with the frequency for my world. One we thankfully have due to the operation performed at Sunspot those years ago.”

Chel purses her lips. “Does… that help, or?”

"A hunch," Robyn repeats, raising an eyebrow. "I know, it's silly. Asking about concepts that I'll be the first to admit are largely beyond my exact understanding. I've been trying to change that though, learn more about how… all of this works, from a technical perspective. I would've asked before now, but… it never seemed pressingly relevant before now."

BUt taking a moment, she collects her thoughts and nods. "It…does. Help, that is," she starts, sounding hesitant as she mulls over these thoughts, this- science that she has no real knowledge and a tenuous understanding of. "But it begets another question. I promise, I'm going somewhere with this." Michelle can't see how Robyn takes a deep sigh, making motions and shapes with her hands in front of her, but Elliot and presumably Wright certainly can.

"Tell me about the aperture. The portable one. I'm going to guess you had a hand in designing that as well, in which case I'd just like to add that that's insanely impressive." She means it, but she's also offering small bits of ego to hopefully keep them both engaged. "I understand the idea of a universal tuning fork probably better than most would, given my background, but the rest of it - how is it powered? What's the strength of it's laser focus, how big is the passage it opens."

A moments beat, and she looks over at Elliot and smirks. "And what happens if you introduce more light to the laser fixture? More power to the device?"

Chel sighs softly, blowing that same persistently unruly lock of hair from her face. “That opens an aperture roughly one millimeter in diameter. Enough to pass a laser beam through or a radio wave. Either would allow for data transfer.” She explains. “The portable device is a portable SMR; small modular reactor. It’s actually a miniaturized Thorium reactor, runs a single time once powered on, enough to transmit the data, before the water in the tank is exhausted and the thorium rod is automatically sealed in quick-foam concrete.”

Pacing back and forth as she talks, Chel tucks her hands into the pockets of her lab coat. “We’re looking at several hundred megawatts of power, but only for about five minutes. If you had a reliable and stable external power source greater than the SMR…” she wobbles her head from side to side, “you might be able to widen the aperture. The power is there to fuel the particle acceleration and the laser array.” She explains.

“Now, let’s say your SMR was damaged, destroyed, or lost.” Chel paces more, going over the hypothetical. “You’re not screwed but things become significantly harder. You’d need to hook up the lens to an appropriate power source with the necessary breaks to prevent it from overloading. Without an electrical engineer you’d be just as likely to burn the device out. Assuming technology is off the table and we’re in the realm of super-science… the door widens a little.”

Chel stops, looking back at her whiteboard. “Your restriction is the particle accelerator size. The aperture is at a maximum six inches wide. That’s the largest opening you’d be able to contain. Now, if you had someone with an ability to create a ring of charged particles… we’re talking someone like Mateo Ruiz or… Stephen Canfield?” She raises her brows. “You’re back in business. Then you’d still need a gravitic force needed to fold space in on itself. Which is what Elisbaeth had: Magnes Varlane. Technologically we use the high-powered lasers for that, so a photokinetic could do the same. Ria, for instance, helped on our side to keep the portal stable after Magnes went through.”

Moving to pace again, Chel taps the capped marker on her chin. “So, hypothetically speaking, with the assistance of the quantum tuner, you could do this without the portable device. But it would require some very specific abilities utilized in sequence.”

Nodding slowly, Robyn crosses her arms and leads back in her chair. "What about two photokinetics, one of whom has been a laser array before?" Array is a strong word, and the idea of trying anything even remotely like what she did in the Ark again fills her with anxiety and a low grade sense of dread, but it doesn't change how relatively true her statement is. "Because Robyn Roux here is alive, too. She's going by Zee at the moment."

As far as she knows, that's the first time that information's made it to the other side of the divide, though Nova could've beat her to it. "I think I read a file on a Stephen Canfield once. Never knew him myself, but…" She trails off - that's irrelevant, she needs to keep focused on this. "Six inches," she whispers, frowning. "Well, that… answers the bulk of my concerns," she adds, frowning deeply as she looks up at Elliot.

"My hope," she starts after a moment of thought, "was that I could build on what I've observed about the Looking Glass, what Magnes and Richard have told me about how everything went down back in 2019, and perhaps… adhoc us a way home using my - our ability, if I can convince my variant self to help. Spitballing ideas for lack of anything concrete, I guess." Lips pressed thin. "Using whatever power or resources we have at Natazhat. That's why the power question was important. Blowing a generator likely means people risk freezing to death if it doesn't work."

Closing her eyes, she shakes her head. "Walk me through what abilities, on the off chance. Something with an intense gravitational pull, my photokinesis, and I assume someone who can provide power, at the very least if I'm understanding this right?" It's clear that even with disappointing news, Robyn is determined to figure something out.

“Really you’re looking for two universal forces,” Chel explains as she pulls a pen out of her lab coat’s front pocket, clicking the end with her thumb as she paces. “Mass and power. Mass meaning gravity or forces that exert mass on a quantum scale like high-powered lasers. Power being, well, energy. Nuclear, electrical, the like. You have the sonic component on hand with the quantum tuner—and if you lost that I mean, Richard used that kid, ah, Jace—Jac Childs to help fine-tune the Looking Glass on his side to connect to mine.”

Chel pauses, twirling the pen between her fingers. “So keep an eye out for abilities that can generate mass or gravity, or anyone who can fold space or make portals. Portals themselves are mass driver abilities already focused down to the purpose we need. Mateo Ruiz’s were unstable and dangerous, but could also be boosted with energy consumption. Failing that, you’d need an augmentor or something like amphodynamine to create the kind of mass necessary to open a space between superstrings.”

Chel glances at Wright, then looks back to the whiteboard she’d been writing on earlier. “Is Edward with you? He’s a physicist, could help with any necessary calculations. He helped me build the first Looking Glass, after all.”

Mass and power. Robyn gives a small nod out of habit, immediately beginning to comb through her brain in search for abilities that would qualify for the sorts of things that Michelle is telling her to look for for. Of all of them… "Power may be the hardest to come across," she says through a thin breath, shaking her head. "I think if I looked hard enough I could find someone who manipulates mass, here in the Pelago, or perhaps in Delphi. Sound manipulation is… common enough, and I think I recall Magnes mentioning a Jac here in the Pelago, but I'm not sure."

Crossing her arms, she fixes her eyes on Elliot for a moment, before looking off to the side. "But power… I haven't heard anything about, at least not in any form I would recognise. Nothing that can directly produce it, at least. There's a hydrokinetic I'm sure could be used to create hydropower in a pinch, but I highly doubt on the level necessary." It feels off thinking of people like Nadira as tools, but that is ultimately what's needed for this endeavour.

The subject of Edward, though, that brings a small frown to Robyn's face. "He's here. Not… with me right now, but in the Pelago. He's been working with Destiny since leaving the Arcology, from what I understand, on her ship with Else and some others." A small chuckle escapes her lips, and she shakes her head. "I haven't had the chance to meet him yet, but the Robyn here seems rather fond of him." She could tell her that Edward can walk again, but that's news better delivered by Richard, or Edward himself. "I believe he's going to be coming with us to Alaska. I'll have to try and see if he's willing to talk about this soon."

Chel nods, shifting her weight from toe to heel, rocking back and forth as she thinks. “If you start thinking about power, remember the scales you’re working on are city sized, not individual. So solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric are probably out unless you’re talking a hydroelectric dam or a massive geothermal plant and the like. The shortcut of course are electrokinetics or—god forbid—a fissile power source. Someone like—” Chel closes her eyes and shakes her head. “Someone who can control nuclear material. Rare, though.”

Tapping the end of a pen to her chin, Chel shakes her head again. “There is a chance, though. Temporal inertia may be working in your favor.” She glances back at the whiteboard. “You’re heading to Natazhat, which I’ve heard in this timeline not only had a nuclear reactor but a particle accelerator in it. Now I don’t know how divergent the Natazhat of my native timeline will be, but there’s a chance if it’s self-sufficient its drawing power from something substantial.”

Robyn is quiet for a long moment as Chel's remarks are relayed to her, frowning as she looks off to the side. Richard would potentially know the level of divergence, but he's not here, and they aren't there. Not yet.

Not does she want to ask him and drum up those memories.

Teeth clench for a moment, and lets out a long, withering sigh. "I'd rather not rely on temporal inertia. I'm not a fan of the concept and what it means for me," she says in an uncertain tone. "Nor do I want to risk damaging the facility's power supply if we don't have to, for the sake of anyone we leave behind. But based on everything I've learned so far, I imagine that's going to be the only way to put this all together."

With a groan, she leans back in her seat, looking up at the ceiling. "Que sera, sera," she laments with a distant frown. "Chances are you're right, given what I've gleaned from Nova. It sounds like she, Charlotte, and Drucker have lived there for some time now. If it's not self-sufficient, then it has a hell of a long term battery. So I suppose there's that in our favor for once."

She unfurls three fingers, looking down at them for a moment. "So that's light, sound, and potentially power. Just have to find that last element. Seems like I have some detective work ahead of me." She glances up at Elliot, quirking an eyebrow.

"Have you heard of anything or anyone who might fit that bill?"

“Unfortunately haven’t run into any nuclear men, or portal creators,” Elliot laments. “I’ve been putting out feelers but there’s not much of a registry here. Portals sound awesome though. I feel like that one would be a hard secret to keep if somebody had it, seems like it’d be on the flashier end of the manifestation spectrum.”

“Power too, for that matter,” he adds. “Anybody who could keep lights on at the scale we need would sleep in a money tub.”

“Flashy is one way of looking at it. Manifestations tend to be catastrophic. As far as options go, the Mateo Ruiz of that timeline is dead, unfortunately.” Michelle says like she’s discussing the weather. “From what I learned he died here.” Then, with a small click of her tongue. “It’s confusing. At any rate, there’s only ever been a handful of known portal manipulators and gravity manipulators, and all of the living ones I know of are on this side of our divide.”

Sighing softly, Chel threads a lock of hair behind one ear absently, and looks over at Robyn’s proxy. “With enough power, though, light can bend space and time. That’s how the Mallett Device worked. A latticework of lasers moving in a ring to create a whirlpool effect on a quantum scale. To scale it up requires more energy. But, like I said, Edward would be able to provide that end of the scientific spectrum for you easier than I could.”

The only immediate response when Chel's words are relayed to Robyn is a huff and a crossing of her arms. "What I wouldn't give for an augmentor," she mutters to herself despite knowing exactly where that leads her to. "Clearly I need to read more on the supposedly theoretical application of light if we get home."


She's known ever since Colette first dropped a stack of text books at her feet that light could do a lot more than it seemed. Academically, she's known it can bend space and time as long as she's been waist deep in the whole saving the world gig. Actually being told it by quite possibly the literal smartest woman in the world is another thing.

But she's also heard mention of latticeworks of lasers before, even outside the Looking Glass.

"I guess that solidifies Edward as my next stop, then. Richard as well." She nods reflexively, looking up to Elliot with a hint of a smile. "Guess I should start working with Zee too." If she's receptive to the idea, at least. Questions about Mateo, how he got from one place to another, and other incidental matters are swept aside in favor of trying to stay focused, for once in her life.

"I think… this is something we can do. It's just going to take a lot of work in a very short period of time."

“I wish I could overclock non-mental abilities,” Elliot says regretfully. “But that appears to be a limitation. Otherwise I could link a bunch of people and we could all upgrade your lasers from Pink Floyd tribute show to Death Star and we’d be home sweet.”

“Though,” Wright conveys his clarification to Chel, “realistically the number of networked hosts required to produce the level of power you’re suggesting would outmatch the local population even if I could.”

“There’s apparently drugs for that,” Chel notes like she’s mentioning a cell phone app. “In this timeline it was developed by the Institute and from what I’ve pieced together it’s origins lie with a doctor named Bella Sheridan. I knew a Bella Sheridan when I worked for the Department of Evolved Affairs back on that side of our divide. I don’t know precisely what research she was doing, but if events play out as similarly as they sometimes seem to, amphodynamine might exist, or have existed, where you are too.”

Chel glances back at the whiteboard, then shakes her head. “But beyond that, your best bet would be to find a living ability augmentor, though they might be even rarer than the drug. I’d never even heard of meta-classification abilities until I came here.” She says with a hint of disappointment. She’d hoped to be of more use.

"Maybe it's better that way." There's resignation in Robyn's voice as she speaks, lips pressed thin as she considers weighing how much is oversharing. "Over augmentation almost killed me once, and I've been told doing it again might finish the job. That said, I feel the risk of that, or burning out my ability again, doesn't outweigh the net gain of… all of this."

The hand motion is only seen by Elliot and Wright, something she still hasn't learned to adjust for.

"The only augmentor I knew personally in my world isn't, here, though she is traveling with us. I'll keep an ear out about Bella Sheriden or any of her… work here. I knew her, briefly. She is… an interesting person." An understatement to be certain, given Robyn still remembers having to stop Colette from killing the former Institute researcher.

She huffs out another breath, fingers curling around her chin. "This has been good. I don't know how possible this is, but I think it is possible, and I have some routes forward on what to investigate. I appreciate you answering my questions, Michelle. These are all things I'm still learning about, and it's a great help."

After a moment of pause, her eyes slide to look at Elliot, and she tilts her head. "Does overclocking work just for mental abilities, or can you put the whole mind into overdrive? Because I think that could lead to biological augmentation, in some cases."

"My recent experience with overclocking abilities is limited," Elliot admits. "But cognitive capacity, recall speed, and use of the facets of the network can all be made easier by the effort of cohosts. I'm pretty sure it's just mental abilities though. Guess I could test that with a couple volunteers just in case. It's not a one to one reduction in effort either way, it takes more concentration to contribute to the overclock than the recipient gets out of it."

"Could a biological manipulator manufacture the drug on our end?" Wright asks, adding for Chel, "Their end, not ours ours. Like if we had a blueprint of the chemical composition or something."

“That depends entirely on the sophistication level of the ability. I’m certain that there are some people who could do it. Or combinations thereof.” Chel muses. Once the immediacy of the question is handled, Chel shifts her posture and in turn shifts her focus, addressing Robyn on the other end of the divide rather than Wright.

“It’s been good to work with you, too. If another situation like this comes up where I can be helpful, just let me know.” She says, crossing her arms. “I’ll be here the entire time you’re gone. While there’s other things the OEI wants me to look at, you all…” She steadies herself. “You’re my priority.”

Robyn's shoulders slack and her expression softens as as she takes in Michelle's words, sighing and sinking in her chair a bit. "To be honest, it helps. It helps knowing you're out there if we need you, Michelle." She lets out a small chuckle, pulling herself back up into a more proper posture. "I'm sure I've made it plenty clear that I don't really know the more scientific aspects of any of this particularly well."

Fingers pinch the bridge of her nose and she shakes her head gently. "Not like my mom did. Hell, probably not like Zee might. So it makes me feel better to have someone to turn to about any of that." She shrugs shallowly, again not really caring that Michelle can't see the motion. "So again, thank you."

One hand reaches up to loosen collar, and she nods to Elliot, and by extension, to Wright. "And thank you both for facilitating. This has been informative and… what I want to do, it's a daunting, but I think I see a way forward."

She gives a weak smile and closes her eyes. "Now to figure out what that means."

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