Invasive Maneuvers


asi5_icon.gif brynn_icon.gif daphne_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif gillian2_icon.gif isa_icon.gif

squeaks5_icon.gif kaylee6_icon.gif nicole3_icon.gif nova2_icon.gif vf_shaw2_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif zachery2_icon.gif

Scene Title Invasive Maneuvers
Synopsis The Sundered gather to determine what they know, and what their next steps might be.
Date October 10, 2020

Little Darlings

Each person involved in the plane crash was contacted. By e-mail, by phone, some in person. Each person invited to a gathering to discuss what happened to them. To talk about how they’re doing. To figure out what anyone knows. Which is precious little. SESA hasn’t had answers, and it’s as yet unclear if any one of them have had better luck. But… that’s why they’re coming together.

Here, in the middle of this strip club.

Little Darlings is closed for renovations, which makes it a convenient place to meet. Plenty of space for everyone to gather, and none of the distractions or potential awkwardness of meeting in a public space. The lights are up, white and bright and so antithetical to the previous moody violet and magenta aesthetic of the place.

“The couches are new,” Nicole informs everyone, meant to assure that, no, they don’t need to be concerned about catching anything from the sueded upholstery. “So’re the cabaret tables and the chairs.”

Paper has been peeled off the perimeter walls, which are in the process of being spackled in places and hit with a fresh coat of primer. Everything looks bright and clean. Maybe not welcoming, but there are probably worse places they could be right now.

“Like I said to you all when I invited you here,” Mrs. Miller begins, standing behind the bar where she’s pouring coffee from a cardboard carafe into a travel mug, “I thought it might be good if we all met and talked. See where we’re at. How we’re doing. We’re the only ones who know about this in more than the abstract, you know? We’re all we’ve got.”

Nicole starts to make her way out from the barback and to the rest of the room. “Help yourselves,” she offers with a sweep of her hand toward the coffee. There’s still a small stack of paper cups available to anyone who didn’t bring their own. A container of real cream and a spread of sugar and sweetener packets that have probably been pilfered from various cafés in town over the last several months.

“I’ll start,” their hostess offers, tugging absently at the hem of an old Ramones tee shirt under a black hooded sweatshirt, which bears a yellow smiley face on the back, tongue stuck out and lowercase x’s for eyes. “Physically, things have been fine. I don’t appear to be… any worse for wear for the crash or whatever that was done to me.” She doesn’t elaborate on that. There’s no need. “But emotionally? Nah, fuck this noise.”

In addition to having mentioned that there would be coffee, and to bring their mugs, Nicole also mentioned that participants may wish to wear work clothes. The sort they’d have for home projects. Jeans and old tee shirts. Comfortable shoes with good soles. Things like that.

The reason for that might have to do with the half dozen sledge hammers leaning against the bar where stools would normally sit, which the dark-haired aging 90s punk rock fan gestures to. “If anyone wants to take some frustrations out after the meeting, I’d love the help knocking out some walls and fixtures.”

The noise of drywall bursting open under the force of a seventh sledgehammer being swung at it disrupts the otherwise so nice explanation. "Wait - shit," Zachery peers over toward the bar with a puzzled look on his face, both hands still on the now wall-lodged hammer's handle, "Not during? Oh."

Seventeen seconds of his wife taking her eyes off of him is all that it had taken. He clears his throat, slowly steps away to leave the hammer precisely in the yawning hole created, and stands back in jeans and a simple, black shirt that's already been sprayed with dust out from the crudely opened hole ahead of him. A hand is gestured toward those at the bar, where he should have been, and will be shortly. His wife gestures back at him in a wordless expression of what the fuck? Then, she rolls her eyes when he says, "Carry on, then."

Perched on the bar itself rather than one of the stools is Nova, cradling a cup of coffee in her hands, sweetened up with cream and sugar.

“Oh, sure, I see. Free labor, that’s why we’re all here,” she says with a smirk, crossing her ankles and swinging her feet a little where they dangle. She’s dressed less for work than she is a college student, jeans with a flannel shirt atop a Nirvana smiley-face shirt, looking like she stepped out of 1992. “That’s cool. I’m good for smashing shit.”

Zachery’s antics grinned at, she looks around to the others. “I’m fine, but like I’ve said to a couple of you, I didn’t really lose so much.” Her smile fades, and she glances down a bit apologetically, though she doesn’t say the words. Her expression is contrite enough to speak for her.

Farther away, Daphne Millbrook sits in a wheelchair – it’s not just the generic black one provided for temporary cases, but one in metallic red, which to her and anyone knows her means that she’s accepted that this state of affairs is a permanent one.

Also not something she’s going to say aloud.

“I’ll pass on doing your dirty work for you,” she says a little wryly. If she has anything to say about how she’s doing, she keeps it to herself.

The crash pulls Jac's head up from the depths of some literature that's accompanied her presence. Not the novel kind either, unfortunately. She frowns faintly, curious at the sound, over the top edge of a binder filled with paper, some not even clipped properly and sticking skewed from the others, that's propped in the crook of her criss-crossed legs. She's claimed one of those chairs, dragged it back from a table in the process, and has as such kept herself out of trouble and out of the way.

Her attention successfully removed from whatever readings she's doing, the teen realizes people are gathered and beginning to talk. Seems she'd missed the call to order as much as Zachery had. The binder is closed, fingers curled over the cover. Blue eyes flit to faces, all of them familiar, but some more than others. Jac fusses with the pressed plastic edge of her binder, scraping her thumb against it several times before purposefully tucking her hands against her chin and using the notebook as a tabletop to test her elbows on.

Brynn's gray eyes are watching the entire group as she sits silently next to Jac. She's dressed as she would dress for a day of scaving – beat-up jeans and sneakers, a tank top under a long-sleeved button-up in case she needs to cover skin. It's open and loose at the moment, and her dark hair is in a messy braid. Sitting in one of the chairs with a sneakered foot pulled on onto the chair with her, the petite brunette can't help a small but rueful smile at Nicole's phrasing. She definitely could read that.

Her sense of Nicole is that the woman is brittle, but it's an impression that she isn't sharing. She's realizing that her own ability, subtle and vaguely useless as it might have been for combat purposes (which she was raised learning), still informed how she perceived the world in unexpected ways.

From everyone's texts, it looks like most if not all of us have gotten visits from drones in suits? The question is mostly rhetorical, although the follow-up isn't. Anybody figure out where they came from and what they're up to? They're asking a whole lot of weird questions.

From where she sits near the bar, Gillian looks quieter than usual, not quite as put together, like she didn’t take the time to do up her hair or something. Or perhaps she’s just tired. Or perhaps it’s what day this is. Or something. Either way, when Brynn starts to sign, she watches and then says out loud, “She’s asking about the suits who came to visit us. Who asked a bunch of odd questions, apparently.” While she speaks, she also signs, so that Brynn can follow along, though her signing isn’t quite as fast as she would really like it to be.

Kaylee is probably better at it.

“Ours were from the Department of the Exterior. I’d met a couple of their agents before, after Detroit, but these weren’t the ones that I’d met. The ones that came to talk to Jac and I were called Agent– Bright and Agent Reeves. Bright gave me his card if we came up with any questions, but it’s literally just his name and a number.”

And she hasn’t called it yet, cause, well, nothing weird has really happened, as far as she can tell.

The women's bathroom's door opens and shuts as Isa Khan exits and lets her eyes readjust. She couldn't but snicker a little at the fact that the woman she knew as Steve was a government agent in this reality, a government agent that owned a strip club. Every world was stranger and stranger. The engineer was here to represent the Khans.

A hand goes to her back pocket and she lifts a flask to her lips, coming to stand near Nova and nudging a dangling leg with her hip. "Hey kid," She nearly whispers and tips back the flask once more before screwing the cap back on.

"Did anyone feel like they've met any of these agents before?" Hazel eyes narrow a bit, "Shahid and I both thought one of them.. Agent Castle looked familiar." The sense of deja vu regarding the… interesting agent who Isa hated to admit but, "Castle was fucking weird." Maybe even a little annoying.

Isaac Faulkner is, for once, not wrapped up in that dark grey hoodie of his; he's instead wearing a clean white T-shirt and carpenter pants. The hoodie is still present, but it's knotted around his waist at the moment. "I liked Castle," he says with a glance to Isa and a shrug.

His gaze slips back to Brynn as he answers the question she'd posed. "But yeah. Got a delivery to a 'Castle' – first name not given – from the Department of the Exterior. Started off asking some fairly normal questions – 'how is your appetite, are you sleeping well, have any weird dreams', blah, blah, blah – but then they started asking about deja vu." He glances around the room and shrugs.

“Did y’all say Castle?”

The outburst comes from Kaylee, who managed to find a place to sit where her back is to the wall and no space behind her to walk. She already looked uncomfortable when she got here, being faced with mental silence and so many bodies. And while she knows everyone there, she still felt exposed.

Pulling an earbud out of her ear, she looks between Isa and Issac with concern. “Agent Castle?” There is a flicker of anger across her features and she doesn’t wait for confirmation before she blurts out a “Son of a bitch!” Fingers curl around the earbud and into a whiteknuckled fist.

Realizing that people might need more, Kaylee goes on to explain, “I met a Castle when I took my son to the park to play, I had already talked to an agent last month; who - by the way wouldn’t tell me who they work for, but I thought this one was a random stranger in the park. Nice person… but…. I thought something was off. They said things that made me think they knew more about me then they let on. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but…” She looks between the others, and asks completely flustered, “I have to wonder now. Are they fucking following us? Spying on us?” There is a grimace and a shake of her head, “This is probably because I ran Toussaint’s fingerprints.”

Kaylee huffs out a sigh, “I don’t like any of this. I don’t trust them, even if Agent Toussant and Castle were absolute sweethearts.” She seems so angry about that now. “I feel played,” she growls out, shoving the earbud back in her ear.

"Sweethearts?" Zachery asks, in that specifically crisp manner someone might adopt when they're one iota of annoyance away from raising their voice beyond acceptability. Less subtle is the sledgehammer's head loudly hitting the floor when he lowers it to the ground beside him.

He leans its handle against the wall and starts moving toward the bar in a wide half-circle past occupied tables, his saunter much more casual than his firmly spoken words - a walking contradiction with truth probably somewhere in the middle. "We have been played," he says decisively, casting a glance around with his one functioning eye, "we're getting played still. By whoever's in charge of sending these agents to us and is giving us no information in return. If you ask me, we should give them nothing more than we've given them already – whether they want to help us or not is irrelevant if we can't be sure that they are."

Arriving at the bar, he leans an elbow across it and turns to face everyone with an expectant look on his face. "That's including the recent findings from Jac and I, unless that cat's out of the bag already?"

Reclined atop the countertop like a carefree cat next to Nova is Yi-Min, who has been silent thus far, observing Zachery's antics with the hammer and all the followup banter without so much as a bat of her eyelashes. Occasionally, she sips from a filled wine glass she had procured from somewhere. A plump little bottle of amaretto sits next to her thigh, seemingly unattended, but nevertheless close enough in proximity to her body to denote jealous possession.

"Oh, come. I didn't think Castle was that bad. He was mischievous, but I wouldn't disagree with 'sweetheart.'" she is finally drawn to comment in a tone of some amusement. Never mind how close she had come to shooting him inside her car. That's probably irrelevant.

She certainly doesn't have words of disagreement for the assertion that none of the agents should be trusted.

Then her dark-eyed gaze, mild as ever, travels to Zachery again. Rather than give any kind of answer to his latest query, she just sips again from her glass, this time perhaps a hair more deliberately.

Tilting back the last of a cup of coffee, Asi sets it aside on the bar, deciding she needs something a little stronger to take out her feelings on now that they're all together as a group. An oversized gray sweater with a neck wide enough it reaches her shoulder on one side; worn over a black tank that provides her with modesty should it slink down. Jeans pair with the top, and black combat boots run counter to the aesthetic. She doesn't really do trainers.

"The one that invited herself in to the Bastion was Beatrix Reeves. When she left, she walked through the door and vanished into thin air." Asi looks back at the group to ensure her voice carries, even as she wraps a hand around one of the sledgehammers leaning down at the other end of the bar. "She also asked about deja vu… lost time that could not be accounted for. Feeling as though certain things were not exactly as I remembered them."

With an arid deadpan, she offers up, "I flat-out asked her if she suspected I believed I was out of place in this reality. She clarified, 'I'm not asking if you believe it, I'm asking if you experienced it.' Ever so casually, as one does when asked point-blank about the existence of other realities." Asi lets out a scoff at that, dragging the head of the sledgehammer across the floor closer to herself. "I shared my theory perhaps this was Mazdak's doing and got more of a brush off to that question than the one about alternate realities. They really think something might have happened to superimpose us somewhere we weren't meant to be."

Another scoff that almost passes for a laugh escapes the technopath. "I mean, that's just as plausible as the theory we're clones of ourselves, I suppose."

There is a moment where Brynn looks at Gilly, then at Kaylee, and her hands fly fast and furious. Hailey said Jac and I are not clones – Doodle would know! Mom, tell them! it's the second time in a year she's slipped and used that sign for Gillian, and it and the speed of her signs give away the deep unease the deaf young woman feels. Are they talking about those dream-things from last year?? Like when I dreamed I lived somewhere else? Agent Sommerfield asked the same kind of things – if I saw things that shouldn't be there or things that I knew weren't there. I thought she meant delusions!

Aside from Jac, she and Nova are probably the youngest of the array of people experiencing all this, and her agitation is pretty obvious. Between Jac and Gilly, she's catching most of what's said, but she didn't know Jac was helping Nicole's husband.

Daphne’s brow shoots up at Zach’s last comment. “I could entertain that idea,” she says, “that they jacked my DNA to make a second me, and second me got the short end of the stick, no nifty ability to counteract the other shit, but why? Why make a second me at all, if they’re going to take the better version to do whatever they – whoever they are – plan to do with me? Her? It doesn’t make sense, does it? Just don’t make a second me.”

Her narrowed eyes slide across some of the faces present. “For some of you that might float. SESA whatsit, Raytech whozits, what have you. You’d be missed, I guess.” The implication is she wouldn’t be.

“I didn't tell anyone anything,” Jac says and signs. It's part in reply to Zachery – she had only told Gillian they might have found something that evening, but not much else – and it's also used as a blanket statement for the strange visitors. “The agents that came to the house asked about deja vu and dreams.” One of them even asked about scandalous dreams. Jac gives Brynn a look as she signs that and rolls her eyes at the end. “But,” her attention returns quickly to the group as a whole, "Zachery thinks we found something. Not clones or anything, but something weirder than all the other tests.”

Seems their little group aren't fans of the Department of the Exterior – not that Faulkner can blame them, honestly. Castle might be someone he could be friends with, but trust is something that's hard to extend under the circumstances. Scowling Beauty, however, puts forward something that draws a look to Faulkner's face. Some of the others are more than a little agitated, as well… but not, it seems, over the same things.

"Okay. Okay, hold – hold on a minute," Faulkner says, raising both hands, palms facing the others. "Hold on. Other realities?" he asks, looking to Asi with not one, but both eyebrows raised.

It's Yi-Min's turn to lift up one fine, slender brow at that, and she slants her attention towards Isaac as though for the first time. In fact, it has her pausing with amaretto glass poised in hand in a way that listening to everyone's different suppositions hadn't yet made her do.

For that moment, she chooses to defer encouraging Jac to share the discovery she and Zachery had made in favor of this tiny note of curiosity.

"….They didn't mention anything of other realities to you? Didn't ask you about it whatsoever?"

Oh. Well, Gillian supposes it’s not breaking her NDA if someone else says it first. But she still very much wants to just put her face in her hands for a moment. The fact that her hands are busy trying to keep Brynn up to date on what’s going on (with paraphrasing, sadly) is the only thing that keeps it from happening. She does add in a small: It’s okay, Brynn. No one really knows what’s happening yet. We’re all just trying to figure it out.

They were all grasping at straws, and unfortunately, in the world they lived in, there were a lot of straws. A lot of possibilities. People did get cloned and replaced. People did have doppelgangers from other worlds. These were legitimate possibilities. But so was the possibility they were just stripped of their abilities and made normals somehow. Or turned into something else entirely.

“Brynn’s Agent also asked about delusions and seeing things that weren’t there. And dreams. And while our Agents did not directly ask about other worlds, based on … the situation… I don’t think the Exterior in the Department of the Exterior means outer space.”

The pyrokinetic watches all of this and clears her throat rather loudly as Faulkner begins to freak out about alternate realities. "Quiet the fuck down for one second." Isa looks out of the corner of her eye at Nova and cracks her neck as she eyes Faulkner. "Last year myself, my husband and a slew of other people traveled here from an alternate reality." She holds up a hand before there's another word.

"Before any here decide to question it, think about what you were previously able to do before this shitshow. Dimension travel isn't out of the question." Isabelle shrugs her shoulders as if she just said she had the most delicious waffles for breakfast (she did). "They were interested in that about us, but seeing as," Isabelle squints at each of the people in the room, "I don't recognize any of you as people-" Isa stops and it strikes her that she's seen a different version of almost every person in this room, "- who weren't already here." Another shrug.

"I don't think it was on purpose that Shahid and I were picked. They got lucky and nabbed themselves some Travelers." The engineer rubs her shoulder and reaches for her flask to unscrew the top and sip some of the liquor that warms her body as it slips down to her stomach. "What happened though, we never traveled like that… There weren't planes crashing or the wreckag-" A flash in Isabelle's mind of all the chaotic landings into the different realities and she falls silent. There were a number of times she had almost died upon landing. "That isn't to say that they don't know more than they're saying." And Kaylee knew just how Isabelle usually went about making people speak truth.

A look towards Gillian, "I'll give you a hundred dollars if they are operating in space." Isa also doesn't believe it's likely.

There is a nervous glance offered to Gillian when Isa starts outright talking about who she is, but Kaylee skirts around outright talking about that. “To be honest, who they took doesn’t feel completely random,” Kaylee says with a sigh. “A lot of high profile and law enforcement. We just have to figure out the motivation. For all we know the DoE is suspect.” She’s not putting it past anyone.

“The Agent that came to me didn’t ask about other dimensions, just how I was doing and the questions about missing time and all…. but I wonder if this is less dimension hopping and more….” Kaylee rubs her forehead like she’s getting a headache. She sounds miserable. “We’ve been displaced. We all were teleported out of our homes and showed up in a crash in Canada within a few hours in Institute coffins without our abilities.” She sighs and looks around at the others. “If we’re not clones, then maybe it was a temporal event that plops us in the middle of nowhere Canada.”

Standing, Kaylee feels the need to pace while she pours out our thoughts. “There are no private landing strips big enough to take that type of plane… I looked.” Looking at those who know, she adds, “And no auroras that far down that night, but… doesn’t mean that the jet wasn’t caught up and tossed through some… tear or something.” Which would sound crazy to her, if she hadn't lived through all that shit.

Jac's comment about scandalous dreams brings gray eyes back to her and Brynn visibly colors. What the botswarf??

Blinking then as Gillian's paraphrasing includes alternate realities, she hopes Gilly doesn't translate when she looks between Kaylee and Gilly and asks, They think we're like Lene and Cash? Wait – Isabelle is like Lene and Cash? From 'somewhen else'? Whoa.

At Faulkner's reeling, Asi only looks his way, saying little. Not nothing, because her look speaks for itself. And it looks vaguely like a 'sorry' for rocking his world. Maybe they all were going to need sledgehammers after this, for one reason or another.

She glances to Daphne in silent disagreement of what she's said, but offers no verbal argument. Isabelle's revelation is unexpected, but not world-altering. She finally lifts her chin in Zachery's direction. "What other revelations have you come upon?" A glance slides to Jac next as she was looped in with him.

I don't know what they think, Jac answers while the full adults in the room worry about the weird agents, completely honest with that observation. She can't even be sure of what she thinks herself yet. ”Z” thinks we're asleep and awake at the same time. I don't know what that means though. Something he saw in my brain waves.

With a shrug, then shifts a look back to the majority of the room. And I don't think the agents need to know we're trying things. Her aside with Brynn continues even when she finds Asi looking at her. All the same, she shifts to using spoken words as well as signing. “They probably already know we’re looking for answers on our own, but I don't feel like helping their studies.”

The question wasn't completely missed, but Jac follows her statement with a look to Zachery. “You're better to explain the tests we've done.”

Nova’s brows draw together at the talk of alternate realities, other dimensions. It’s clear this is news to her, too, but she seems to accept it with a more quiet pensiveness than the others around her who’ve just learned about it.

“Just because you didn’t travel that way doesn’t mean we didn’t,” she points out in a soft voice, her words slow, thoughtful. “Maybe that’s what caused the crash. Maybe we were the guinea pigs and it went wrong. Maybe they missed the right… I don’t know… frequency or millisecond or they didn’t get up to the right speed and shit went sideways.”

From her wheelchair Daphne speaks at the same time at Nova, her words louder and less easy to ignore.

“Time travel’s one thing. C’mon, who hasn’t hopped back to 1940 and run around with Nazis in this city?” she says wryly. She knows it’s a bigger deal than that, but she also knows at least a few of the people in the room have gone skipping around in the wrong decades. “I know Kaylee and I have. But another dimension is a little weirder – like, you mean… moving sideways, not back or forth, right?”

She shakes her head. “I believe you’re from another reality. But that doesn’t explain why they’d want me or these kids. Something’s wonky with that theory.”

Also coming from the direction of the bathrooms, Shaw moves slowly to rejoin the gathered survivors. For a man whose life had hung in the balance a mere season's turn ago, he looks like he's made a miracle recovery, not that he'll be lifting anything heavier than the paper cup of coffee for a while yet. Being upright and walking with the assistance of a cane, though, is a win. He's not 100 percent, but his color is looking better than Death's eyeshadow for sure.

Shuffling up beside his wife, Shaw takes in the gathered with a lingering gaze that studies each face a little longer than what might be polite. But to be fair, he hadn't really gotten the chance to do much meeting and greeting the last time. His attention focuses more when the subject of alternate realities comes up. Shaw's poker face is terrible in that he shoots a sudden, worried look at Isa when she sets proverbial fire to their NDA. The man sighs faintly, winces not necessarily from pain of movement and finds a seat to settle into.

There's not very much he can add to it all. "I kind of liked them," says Shaw in wandering thought.

"You like everyone almost, baby." Isa rubs Shaw's shoulder gently.

"Agent Sommerfield and Agent Castle. They were concerned about us… Being who we are. If we changed, after the crash. I don't know. It's hard to tell without the power, now. But if I had my power back, I bet you, you'd smell different from a clone or another you from another dimension." He nods slowly, like this were facts.

It's becoming clear to Isaac that… well, he's not sure what is becoming clear, honestly, save that he could really go for a drink right about now. Oh yes, who hasn't traveled back in time to fight Nazis? That's an every Tuesday sort of thing in these parts, isn't it? And hey, not only are parallel realities apparently also a thing, Isa and Shaw – Shahid 'I Hit a Homicidal Lumberjack with a Goddamn Baguette' Khan, Shaw who got Isaac his job – are apparently from one of them. He nods slowly, slightly exaggeratedly, at Shaw's explanation.

"Today I learned," Isaac says, eyes just a bit too wide, still nodding; here he'd thought getting abducted by evil old people for a round of high stakes bumfighting was exciting, but it seems that nope, there are whole other levels of fuckery out there.

Faulkner takes a deep breath and runs his hands over his face. "Right. Okay," he says, working on composing himself; this is just a piece of information. Just a piece of information like any other. And… maybe this actually is relevant, too. Hmm.

He takes another deep breath. "My apologies; I was a little taken aback. Miss Millbrook raises a salient point about the selection of those present aboard the plane; I believe Jac was bringing up something about her work with Doctor Miller, though?" Isaac inquires, eyes moving back and forth between Jac and Zachery in an invitation for them to detail their discoveries. He's sidetracked this meeting a bit; hopefully he can help move it back into more useful areas of thought than zomg parallel timelines!!!1!1one!.

Standing with his back leaned against the bar, Zachery loudly clears his throat, eye scanning the faces in the room with thinning patience knitting his brow. "I was waiting for the fucking classroom to settle down, thank you."

He throws an arm out toward Faulkner, "I know, I hate all this shit as well, it's awful and it complicates things and believe me, I understand, but stay with us, yes? Apparently all this madness of realities and time travel makes sense to someone, even if it's not us at this moment."

His arm is withdrawn, and joins the other in folding over his chest as he raises his voice, addressing the room at large again. "Speaking of which! What can make sense to us at the moment is slightly more traditional technology Jac and I have been using. Though I've been working with an admittedly small sample size of two to four of us at once, I have strong reason to suspect all of you in this room, while apparently healthy," Shaw is treated to a raise of both eyebrows before he sweeps a look across to others again, "have not only had lethally elevated amounts of white blood cells in you but also chloride, potassium and sodium."

His face lifts, "Our brains are working overtime, which makes sense considering the fact they are effectively doing twice the work. If I had your contact information, I've sent you the numbers on what we have so far, but in short - functionally, we're dreaming when we're awake, and those same processes shut off when we're asleep. On that note, if any of you would like to pursue someone visiting their dreams to see if that gives us any more answers, I'd like a show of hands because I may very well be able to make that happen."

Without waiting, he looks around and continues, "Whether or not you're interesting isn't relevant if we're all just possible variables. On that note, I wasn't asked about realities or different times or dreams, which makes me think the agents are not aware we've been coordinating. If nothing else, we may at least have that."

“You know I’m in for anything, Dr. Miller.” Kaylee says from her place, eyeing the sledgehammers in consideration. “And if I may offer…Raytech has a sensory deprivation tank that isn’t really…. known?” So if he never heard of it, that’s why. “I bought it for use with my….” she sighs and turns her attention back to the group, “my ability among other things. I’ve thought about getting in it again, but at the same time…. Why?”

Then there is the question of why people would take them, Kaylee doesn’t have a good reason for that. “But I also can’t imagine this shadow group taking people at complete random. They had to teleport us out of our homes and replace us, without anyone knowing. So… they knew who they wanted, but… why? I haven’t figured out the connection yet, especially, since there are some who are high profile people.”

Kaylee rubs at her temple like she has a headache, brows lowered in thought. “I think if the plane hadn’t crashed we would have woken up, without our abilities,” she looks at Nicole, “and all… and wouldn’t have been the wiser other then be in a total panic over a sudden mysterious problem that cropped up overnight.”

There is a sudden bitter laugh from Kaylee, “I bet they're in a panic right now.” Whoever they are. “For all we know… the DoE is them. But then again, that might be my paranoia from the past talking.”

"Take a sip, kid," Isa tosses her flask towards Isaac and winks, he's catching up and she had help.

It was a relief that there were others that didn't need convincing and also others who had experienced it as well. Hazel eyes find Daphne and she grins, "We'll have to trade stories." And Nova's point is valid, it could very well be anything. She nods at the younger woman and there's a promise to explain more once this meeting is over, but science is being talked about and Isa is nodding her head. "We have figures from Yamagato that we can also forward." Looking at her husband.

The whole sleeping while awake or whatever has Isabelle nodding her head, though her eyes narrow. "Have you been able to take a look at a brain yet? Whatever they… put there?" It's Isa's next thought ever since Kimiko had delivered preliminary findings on herself and the Khans.

"Yes, actually, or soon–" answers Zachery, casually. "It's still in the planning stages but I'll be looking into that in the next few days, at Raytech. Failing doing that with a sufficient amount of safety, I've got a brain biopsy coming up this next month, at a hospital."

This is a rough way for Nicole to find out about any of that, coincidentally.

“I’m sorry.” Nicole’s head turns sharply to snap a look at her husband. “You have a what?” Her eyes close as heavily as the exhale that leaves her lungs. She holds up her hands and shakes her head, washing them clean of the whole affair.

Kaylee's option makes Isa turn around towards her and arches an eyebrow, "If we're looking for lost memories, there's always Refrain." Isabelle pointedly doesn't look towards Nicole. "You'll just have to look the other way, Steve." The name is such an honest slip that the former pyrokinetic doesn't even notice she's done it. Knowing the Nicole from her timeline's fate didn't really make being around this version of the woman any easier. Familiar kinship, laced with grief and loss even after all of these years.

Isaac sees the incoming flash of metal, glances lazily over, and snaps it out of the air with the grace of a cat. "Not a kid," he corrects lightly, but without any hint of offense. "But thank you," he finishes, with some definite gratitude. He then proceeds to open the flask and take what is considerably more than a sip – enough to justify what he's about to do. He's familiar with how strong Isa's particular witch's brew is at this point, which he leverages to good effect to keep from going into a coughing fit at the generous slug of alcohol.

"Sign me up," he says, raising the hand with the flask. "I might as well do something to make myself useful," he says sardonically. "Just, uh. Keep me posted on potential side effects, if you would." He takes another sip of gin – an actual sip this time – then exhales slowly, capping the flask and tossing it back to Isa.

"I… do have something to share that might be pertinent, though." Isaac turns to regard Yi-Min. "You asked if anyone had mentioned other realities to me. The answer is… not directly. Agent Castle did, however, ask me something that… I suspect might be relevant. They asked… hypothetically speaking, if I was to meet another version of myself, do I think that we would be friends? I told them it depended on what was different between us, so they amended the question: if I was to meet the version of myself from before the crash, would we be friends?" Faulkner rubs at his face for a moment. "I think it might be fruitful to review exactly what questions we were asked."

Following along, Jac’s hands have been doing their damnedest to keep up with the conversation for Brynn’s sake. She's probably missed a bit, likely made up signs for words she doesn't remember or know – she's hoping her Lighthouse sister is still savvy enough with the helter skelter signing to not be left behind. It's left her with little time to process what she wants to input, but that's okay right up until she decides to unfold from her seat.

That binder she brought is abruptly opened to a section. A quick glance offers handwritten notes in a scrawl that definitely isn't her chicken scratch handwriting. Without explaining, it's toted over to Zachery. He can better translate all the notes he took on his findings, but she turns to look at the rest of the room.

“We used an EEG.” If that's been said or not, the teen doesn't remember or seem to care. Repeating it is just fine. “Since all the magnetic scans don't work because of the electromagnetic waves, I got the idea since it doesn't use magnetic resonance. And.” Jac hesitates slightly. With the flurry of conversation already, everyone paranoid and voicing conspiracy, she wonders if adding more ideas will be worse than kicking a wasp nest. She glances up at Zachery, shoots a look to Brynn, then Isaac. “And… I've got a theory about the electromagnetic field,” she finishes more quietly.

Brynn probably has a bit of a better clue than she otherwise would thanks to both Gillian and Jac signing things. She's still not catching everything, but that's pretty normal for her. Her gray eyes skim from Gillian and Jac's hands to also watch who is speaking when it's being translated. And she offers the thought for those who catch it, If those two are already from another world, that's maybe a clue that it's not alternate dimensional people they're specifically looking for? Otherwise they would have grabbed Cash and Lene and the others, right?

The deaf young woman has a decent education but it's high school level plus experience. She may be missing some of the higher-level science stuff. Doesn't high white blood cells mean that we're fighting something off, like a sickness? Maybe this whole experience is a dream, like … they stuck us in the coffins and put our brains in a computer and this is all a simulation. Like that old movie with the guy who woke up in the future? She does look at Jac when the other young woman offers a thought about the EM field.

It’s been a lot to keep up with, and Gillian doesn’t cover all of it very well, so it’s a good thing that Jac is there to supply some blanks. You’re right that they did not take Lene. She was in the house with us that night, and she was the only one not taken. They had the opportunity to take Lene and they didn’t. They took Jac and Gillian, but not Lene? It definitely didn’t make a lot of sense, and she keeps her speculation quiet.

At the new possibilities, Gillian stops signing, because now she definitely needs to rub her face for a moment. Excuse her Brynn, she needs a minute. She definitely wants one of those drinks. Or the sledgehammer. For the moment though, she stays quiet on the possibilities. Because she doesn’t like any of them.

It is all a lot, but Yi-Min has been uncommunicative out of continued reflectiveness (and focus on her amaretto), not difficulty in keeping up. Zachery and Jac's fantastic pronouncements don't pose any news to her; after all, she has been the one indirectly supervising their research at Raytech.

Well. More 'hopeful flailing about' than real research, really, but she'd take it. And she is genuinely grateful for the pair's enthusiasm, if nothing else.

With a small, irenic smile, Dr. Yeh upraises her palm slightly when Zachery asks for a show of hands, something which doubles as a signal to the group that she now has something to say. "Participation in Dr. Miller’s studies from any of you will be deeply welcomed. Please consider it, in these unusual circumstances," she intones with a long, pivoting glance to each of the bystanders in the room in turn, her voice as meaningful as it is mild. "I myself intend to participate in all of it. You never know what might just give us the breakthrough we have been looking for, and every single data point helps."

There is some pity in Yi-Min's glance when she lets it rest on Faulkner anew, too. This really isn't the best possible circumstance to learn the truth about alternate realities for the first time. "Castle asked me to recall my earliest memory in detail. Almost as though there were some reason he thought I might not be able to remember," she notes solemnly, accepting his input with a returned nod of her own. "Collating all the different questions that have been asked of us, and cross-comparing them, may not be a bad idea."

When Zachery begins to speak, suggesting the rest of them have been noisy students, Daphne rolls her eyes, then begins to steer herself toward the exit, apparently having had enough of the theories and science experiments.

“Whoever the DOE agents were, they’re probably just another group of government goons who probably think they’re doing good while someone higher than they are treat us like guinea pigs and/or criminals, she mutters as she makes it to the door, struggling to get it open and her wheelchair through it without bashing her own shins. “You can’t spell DOEA without DOE.”

When Nova looks like she might hop off the counter to go help her, Daphne points her finger at her. “Don’t you dare. I’ve taken down bad guys, I can handle a fucking door.”

The former speedster manages to make it through, the door bouncing off the back of her chair’s wheels before slamming closed behind her. Nova’s wide eyes turn to the rest of the group.

“I haven’t had a visit yet,” she murmurs in a small voice, her eyes darting over to Faulkner, before she speaks again. “Maybe it’s because I didn’t have an ability yet. Or maybe I’m just never where they think I’ll be at the time they try to find me.”

Nicole for her part has been mostly silent - save for her small outbursts in response to her husband’s secrecy. She’s been letting the others talk and share their thoughts and theories. Being the odd government agent out in this situation, she’s felt the others might feel safer speaking if she isn’t interjecting much at all. Daphne’s exit is noted with regret, but she can hardly blame her. But it’s the misaddress from Isabelle that has her rattled. She’s not surprised about the origin of the Khans – she’s been aware of that situation, even though she shouldn’t have been – but being able to pinpoint which of the apparent parallel timelines they hail from with one simple mistaken name is unexpected.

It’s something Kaylee’s said that finally pulls Nicole from her reverie of a life that wasn’t hers. “Okay, but hang on a second and circle back with me here real quick. If they could teleport, though… Why the plane?” She waits until the former telepath meets her gaze. “Why that plane?” Nicole shakes her head slowly, “Raytech needs to get that contract. I… There’s something about that plane that… It’s an unusual fucking plane. I need to look into it more, but it’s going to take time. I have to keep my head down as much as possible. If my superiors figure out I’m poking my nose into this too much, they’ll suspend me. They’ll take my credentials and that’s it. I lose all my leverage and all my access. I’m done.”

If they don’t outright fire her.

Another quick shake of her head banishes that unpleasant thought. “I met Agent Bright, but he wouldn’t identify his agency.” And she hadn’t pressed out of some misguided sense that it wouldn’t have gotten her anywhere. She can see now that was decidedly not the case, judging from the others’ anecdotes. “He didn’t ask me about parallel worlds, but he asked me if I felt like I was missing time, or experiencing unexplained sensations. Tingling and the like.” Nicole shrugs, looking a little helpless. “I told him yes, but I think it’s all just my… PTSD.”

That’s an admission that brings her no shortage of shame, even if it shouldn’t. She’s been through a lot, and it’s no wonder that she’s traumatized by it. “So, I have a… crazy thought.” Nicole laughs quietly, tipping her head toward the ceiling and running her tongue over the front of her teeth, because, honestly, everything about this situation is crazy. Her attention turns back to the others in the room, and she makes sure Brynn has a good view of her face before she speaks again.

“What if this is somehow about a parallel world?” This is where Isabelle calling her Steve has kickstarted a notion. “But what if we weren’t chosen for who we are here?” Nicole glances around at the others, like she’s assessing who’s following along. “What if we were chosen for who we are there?” She throws a hand out toward Isa and Shaw as if to ask for their backup on this. “In another world, I’m the First Lady of the United fucking States. Is it so crazy to think that maybe we’re important in some other life?”

Nova's look is met with a faint grimace; Faulkner's still betting they show up, but the fact that they haven't yet is… odd in itself, perhaps. But then Nicole's speaking, and something she says catches his full attention.

Nicole being the First Lady in another world draws a widening of the eyes at the inevitable comparison; wherever that was, she'd married the President. Here, she'd married Doctor Necromancer. Seems like a definite trade downward, to Isaac. Not that he's about to say that out loud, after having volunteered for Dr. Zachery 'I Inject People with Things that Melt their Skeletons' Miller's Experimental Funtime.

But that is neither here nor there. Nicole has posed a question, and he'd be remiss if he let a perfectly good rhetorical question go unanswered. "Then by the very nature of the selection criteria, we'd have no idea why we'd been selected. There wouldn't be any pattern to find, because it's only visible in another dimension," Faulkner answers, the look on his face expressing clearly enough that he's still not quite got the whole alternate realities bit digested.

"It's as good a hypothesis as any… but it still doesn't really shed a lot of light on the situation," Faulkner is compelled to point out. "If it's true… then the criteria used to select us aren't just unknown but unknowable, unless we find a way to peek into… whatever other reality is they took us based on."

Faulkner rubs at his face; there's something else Nicole had said, though, that catches his attention. "Can you elaborate a bit on unexplained sensations, though?"

Nicole meets Faulkner’s gaze, her arm still stretched out in front of her as though ready to catch affirmation from Isa and/or Shaw. That arm lowers slowly, until she rests her hand over her stomach. The light from getting fired up about her own theory has gone out of her eyes. “I think you can guess.”

Faulkner blanches a bit at the implication "I… " he starts, his eyes starting to slip away… but then his gaze returns, catching Nicole's gaze and holding it.

"I'm sorry," he says quietly. "But if you can recall the wording of the question, it might be important. If half the pieces to this puzzle are in another dimension, we need to scrutinize every last detail we've got, as closely as we can," Isaac says apologetically.

When Zachery is handed the binder by Jac, his attention turns down to it rather than the people around him. He flips it open and furrows his brow while he goes through it, fully absorbed in what still might be worth bringing up - at least until Nicole starts speaking, and his head angles ever so slightly toward her as he reads, focus drawn away.

As she talks, he starts walking again, slowly, until he's stood next to her. Just in time for him to hear about another version of her being married to the fucking president, drawing his attention fully to her with what might well be blinked out morse code for 'you what now.'

Goes around, comes around.

"You've all got phones," he notes, sharply, leaving to-be-discussed-later matters for later, "Record your next visit, if there is one." Returning his attention to the binder, he folds a few pages halfway over to peer at what's behind them, reading aloud and matter-of-factly, "I was asked whether I've had deja vu, songs stuck in my head, about knowing-but-not-knowing people. Whether I've had strange reactions to things. Thoughts of self harm, harm to others. Mostly I answered no–"

He looks up again, continuing quickly and clearly, "If this is about a parallel world - the only way I could fathom that making sense is if it's also why our brains seem to be working overtime in the memory accessing department on top of what I said earlier." He clasps the binder shut, raising it in one hand for emphasis. "Meaning, if we're all tin cans dangling at one end of a string, are we sending as well as receiving?"

He shoots a look over to Jac - either aware he's been prattling on too long already or encouraging her to speak on the matter. Or both.

"To be honest," Asi inputs, unmoved from her previous position, "That would be my concern as well. With the amount of radiation we are putting off being, simply, excessive… chances are we're serving at the very least as beacons of some sort. If whoever did this to us were looking to find us again, the field we are putting off likely makes it easier for us to be found by a compass for Evolved."

She glances askance at the group in general. "That's just an untested theory, however."

Looking back to Nicole over the prospect they were chosen for who they were elsewhere, she begins to frown. "Any glimpses of myself I've gotten through overlays and… otherwise… have either painted myself as dead or worse. I'm not sure I buy that. I still don't buy it explains what happened to you." And by proxy, her twins. "It still feels as though samples of us taken some time in the past were used to create–" Asi gestures at herself with one hand while she leans on the sledgehammer. "I would blame it on some sort of regeneration like they were practicing at Praxis, just… gone slightly wrong, seeing as our abilities are gone, and the other side effects."

How many were intentional was up in the air.

What Nicole says about an alternate world self, gets a small knowing smiling from the telepath who sheepishly adds… “I don't know if it was the same world, but I was Vice President of the United States in one, but I am not convinc–” Kaylee would say more, but Zachery starts going over his finding and she falls silent to listen.

“Wait….” Kaylee burst out, just like when someone mentioned Castle. She stands and holds up her hands, in case he has more. Hold that thought, dude. “If what you are saying is true. We could be linked to ourselves?” Her hand covers her mouth, briefly at that revelation. They can see her thinking. When her hand falls she says almost surprised with her knowledge, “I know someone …actually two who were linked to others, but in different ways.”

Her head shakes almost with regret as Kaylee adds, “We never thought to look at their brains with what was happening… but one was a clone and he was catatonic unless he linked up with other versions of himself. Some of those versions were not even a part of our timeline,” she alway refused to call it a super string, ”Only then could he act like himself using their memories and experiences to be…. a person.” Kaylee trails off considering and then shakes her head.

“The other was more complicated. They were their own person, with cobbled together memories.” She should know. “But they were linked to another elsewhere and if I remember correctly it was a two way connection.” She points at Zachery, since he was the one that mentioned the tincan. “When I was… when I was a telepath I could block the connection. However, if we are linked to someone like that – I don't think they are spying or they are just letting us do all this shit and to think all this.”

There is a small smile that pulls to one side ruefully. “I mean, I guess we’ll find out when Yi-Min and I go to Canada.” She looks at the other one of them going with her.

That said, Kaylee clearly yields the floor, stepping back towards her chair. However, before she sits, she turns back to look at everyone. “You know… One thing we haven't considered in their selection… are they maybe running off some precognitive vision? Maybe all of us…” she motions to the room as a whole, ”…play a part in something either they want us to do, or want to prevent us from doing.”

Kaylee looks at Gillian who would understand the next thing she says, Daphne would too if she hadn’t stormed… wheeled out, “This world was made from the visions, machinations and paintings of Pre-cogs… even post-cogs. My father Edward Ray was one of them. A lot of what we did was on his advice and on the painting of Eve Mas… Hell, Raytech is founded on my father’s visions for his kids.” Her hands spread helplessly. “It is only a thought, but it makes the most sense.”

“That's what–” Jac begins in response to Asi, slowly enough to be distracted when Kaylee speaks up with her ideas. The idea of being a clone had so thoroughly been dismissed. But another them of each of them, not from one of the other timeline… she's going to have to come back to that later. There's a lot of hows that need to be asked and worked out first.

She shakes her head and her eyes find Asi again, apologetic. “Sorry. I thought the same thing, about the electromagnetic field. We even tried to tune into the frequency but…” It didn't work. That calculative look crosses her face, she looks aside in recall of that experiment.

“I know the setup was right,” Jac says, thinking out loud. “If we’re transmitting a signal then we don't necessarily need multiple people in the tank to find out. I think the problem is the transceiver.” Her focus returns to Asi. “A ham radio was too small, but maybe the radio tower at the station can pick it up.”

“I’m not a clone!” Nicole snaps, like she’s so desperate to believe it that she just can’t hold the outburst in any longer. Zachery knows well it’s a subject she’s otherwise completely refused to entertain, let alone discuss. “Look, I can fucking prove it.” Pulling down the zip on her hoodie, she tugs it off her shoulders and down her arms before draping it over the bar. She fusses then with the collar of her shirt, trying to pull it aside to bare her shoulder.

When she realizes there’s not enough give for that, she growls. “Fuck this. Whatever, you’ve all had health class.” She pulls the shirt up over her head, though she holds the garment up against her chest after that’s been done to preserve some notion of modesty. (–Ma’am, this used to be a strip club.–) Nicole slides the strap of her bra out of the way and turns her back to the group, reaching over her shoulder to tap at the relatively fresh scar on her back, where she’d been stabbed. “I got that after I was pregnant. There’s no way. There’s no fucking way!”

A look of accusation is shot toward her husband. Either because he should have noticed this before (it’s almost impossible to believe he didn’t) or because she thinks it should have instantly disproved this theory that she finds insulting. “If they cloned me, there still should be signs of my pregnancy having happened, since I have this scar.” All the same, she doesn’t have any alternative theories. Nicole starts to pull her shirt on over her head again, heading around to the back of the bar rather than turning back to the group.

She needs a drink.

Zachery's intent listening ends the moment Nicole speaks up again. He watches her closely, but does not move, other than the setting of his jaw and straightening of his back with some unspoken discomfort.

If her words are any surprise to him, he does not show it. He also promptly fails to show much of anything else, his attention drifting slowly downward and back to the binder in his hands, focus drifting as he waits.

Kaylee hasn’t set down yet, when Nicole snaps. Listening, her jaw tightens until…. She grabs the hem of her shirt and hoodie and pulls it up to show the network of scars on her stomach and along her side. She isn’t wrong when Kaylee says she’s been through a lot of shit. She doesn’t lift any higher though - sorry guys. “Don’t you think, Nicole, if they can clone a human… they can certainly give us our scars?”

“The one detail they did get was….” Stepping across and pointing a finger at the woman’s midsection. She didn't want to bring it up, but there you have it. “I have to believe there are clones, I have to. And you should too, cause that means there is a real you somewhere and that one detail they missed they are sweating over, just as much as the crash.” Kaylee swallows hard at the thought that someone ripped them out of Nicole, she almost lost her own and just that knowledge was like a knife in her own heart. What Nicole had to endure was worse.

“You might have gotten that scar after you got pregnant, but how long after you got hurt did your pregnancy become public knowledge? Cause, there is no way they would have let you in the field like that. Is there?” It’s a blunt question as she watches Nicole, hoping she sees what Kaylee is getting at. “That means between when you got that scar and you made your condition public… that is where their information ends. Cause all of my scars? Are very public knowledge.” There were trials after all. Kaylee shoves her shirt down again and scrubs at threatening tears.

“I refuse to give up hope.” Kaylee says miserably, “I can’t imagine life like this forever.”

"You sure in the fuck were," Isabelle directs her hazel eyes at Nicole, "That was our world." Gesturing to Shahid and herself. And while the others are working out more theories the woman can't help but stay fixated on these mysterious agents.

"We should record them, yeah," shrugging her shoulders. "Or we follow them after a visit. See where they go. Any new information about them the better." They very well could be majorly involved.

As to why them? Maybe it had to do with their other selves, but Isabelle didn't really care. She wanted to know what happened, but if this was some cosmic destiny type shit, she would rather not. There was practical methods and understanding she could contribute though.

"There is a way we can be sure we are who we think we are," Isabelle's voice is low but she lifts her head higher so that it carries. "Each timeline, reality whatever you want to call it, has a frequency or a smell," Looking at Shaw as she says this. "Liz, Magnes and the others told me. Something about her vibrating in tune with our native reality. So,

"Who wants to volunteer first?"

Looking back and forth between Gillian and Kaylee, Brynn looks uneasy. Her gray eyes flicker to Jac and she signs, Jac, are they saying we're from alternate realities? But… wouldn't we know that? She saw the videotape with the Voice, so it's easier for her to believe than maybe for some others. But she's not sure she's understanding everything that's happening.

Frequency? Like a pup hearing an interesting sound, Jac’s head tilts and she briefly fixes Isa with a questioning look. Those questions end up pinned just the same as the ones she has for Kaylee when Brynn’s signing catches her attention. At first, the teen nods slightly, just to confirm that's what's being said. But after a beat she supplements. It's just theories. I think she, Isa is motioned to, might know how we can see if we belong here-here or in another-here.

Asi sits stoic through the outbursts, one after the other. She lets out a slow breath, letting her gaze wander from one speaker to the next, and then finally back to Jac wearily. "It's an electromagnetic frequency, but that does not necessarily mean it emits on a radio band that could be picked up by a tower, not without some amount of amplification or focus to cause it to be translated," she explains. A brief pause later, she follows it with a clearer line of: "It likely won't hear you. Not without finer tools to guide it."

She leaves behind the sledgehammer standing upright to rustle a small cardboard box placed on the bar, filled with what appear to be flat, narrow USB drives. The center of the thin black case around the one she picks up is carved away, leaving a circle which can be touched directly.

Picking up one of the drives, Asi holds it up and announces, "While we're all on various speculations, it feels as good a time as any to let you know I've put together a secured space where we can put our theories, and what comes of pursuing them. Anything from medical results to conversation… it seems we are the only ones looking out for ourselves, so we may as well do it in a modern way. These keys have unique IDs that will grant you access to that space. Try not to lose it." The key in her hand she lobs to Jac directly before looking back to Yi-Min and then Isa.

The look from Jac is one of thought when her attention returns to Asi. What she'd like is to sit and talk technical with the technopath about those waves. Instead, she has her hands catching and cradling the small device. Her head tips with a nod acknowledging and promising to its safety, once the USB drive is securely in her possession and safely tucked into a pocket.

"As for me,” Asi continues, “I'd prefer to trust the experts among ourselves, first, before going to anyone else with this." To her, Travelers are Others in this situation. "If you need an extra volunteer, Doctors, I'd be willing."

A beat later, she offers up in the same level deadpan as before, "I also have a dose of Refrain." For less-than-clinical trials.

"How excellent." Is Yi-Min's highly succinct summary of Asi's first two pronouncements, approval registering quiet but strong in her voice. "And if you should have further technical advice on the subject of picking up radio waves or what have you, please, feel free to give it to them." That's incredibly dry, all of a sudden. In the meantime, she has swooped up her amaretto bottle from the bartop she's sitting on to begin a refill just for herself. "I do not know enough about any of that myself to be useful. Aside from having certain doubts that cavorting about in a kiddie pool was ever going to do much."

Just saying.

"Not much different from trying Refrain, honestly," Yi-Min adds with the same sort of dubious-sounding smoothness only a moment later, capping off her drink with an impassive flourish.

Having poured herself a double shot of tequila to help her cope with the implication Kaylee has leveled at her, Nicole raises her hand as a follow-up to Asi’s last declaration. The fore and middle fingers are raised, with ring, little, and thumb curled in toward her palm. She waits until Yi-Min has finished speaking before she says what she means to. “I have two more.”

Refrain. She means two more doses of Refrain.

I can’t take any,” Nicole clarifies. “That stuff can be detected in your hair, and we random sample at work.” It would be her luck to be randomly picked. “But I can at least provide doses for…” She shakes her head and sighs heavily, giving a beseeching look to Yi-Min. “If we test this… If we manage to have a reaction to Refrain like we would have done when we had access to our abilities, that would tell us something useful. That there’s more to this than just not showing the markers anymore.”

Now she holds up just the one finger (not the one that denotes an obscene gesture) as she lifts the shot and downs it smoothly. The burn of it down her throat and to her stomach is reassuring in some way. That finger is pointed then to Kaylee. “You get first dibs.” Then to Zachery. “This little piggy gets none.” Before he can argue, she explains. “You’re on I’m a fucking doctor and it’s my job to make sure people don’t fucking die duty.” She starts to turn back to the rest of the group, but sharply turns her head back to Zachery again to hit him with a glare like a mother who’s used to her child reaching for the cookie jar as soon as her back’s turned.

Thank you, Asi,” Nicole offers belatedly with a smile. She’ll be taking one of those little drives thank you. “As for those other agents… Be careful around them.” For this, she glances at Yi-Min momentarily. As far as Nicole’s aware, Yi-Min’s the first one to have had contact with anyone from the Department of the Exterior, and it wasn’t what the SESA agent would classify as a heartening experience.

“Recording them should be safe enough,” she continues, “but I wouldn’t try and follow them. Their questions so far have been innocuous, and they haven’t been hostile.” Again, her eyes dart back to Yi-Min before moving on to the others in turn, finally landing on Isaac. “Davis asked me about inexplicable physical sensations. Tinnitus, tingling in my extremities, smelling burnt fucking toast, I don’t know.” She agitated because everything seemed to make sense at the time, but culminated with the others’ experience, there’s a pattern here that she doesn’t like.

Faulkner sits quietly, taking the time to digest the discussion; the gulp he'd had of Isa's latest adventure in applied chemistry is helping on that front. Nicole's violent rejection of the clone theory draws a sympathetic gaze from Faulkner; he doesn't like the idea, either, and still isn't sure he buys it. Asi's basket of flash drives draws his full attention, though, the faintest hint of a grin coming to his face. There is a certain gratification for Faulkner in knowing that he's inspired someone to action.

"I'll volunteer," Faulkner says, lazily waving a hand at the request for volunteers. After that, he falls silent again… until Nicole comes back to him with the wording of the question.

"Inexplicable physical sensations…" Isaac frowns… then his gaze slips to Brynn. "Things that shouldn't be there. Things you know aren't there." Now his gaze slips to Zachery. "Like figments of a waking dream…"

Finally, his gaze comes back to Nicole. "Something happened to me that might qualify."

"About three months ago… I took a nasty fall. I hit my head, gave myself a concussion. I ran into a healer on the way home; they healed the concussion… except somehow that made me go blind in the process," he recounts.

"I got better, obviously. But! The interesting part in all of this," he says, as if going blind was a footnote, "is that while I was blind, I saw things. Shadows. Outlines. Movement…" he trails off. "Maybe when they tried to heal my brain injury, they healed a bit more than they realized." Now his gaze slips to Zachery; he's the one who's been spending the past few months playing with brains, maybe he'll be able to make sense of this.

Where Zachery was animatedly spewing as many words as he could before, he now stands still, failing to catch the look thrown at him by his wife. Looking slowly up into the room again when his attention is drawn to Yi-Min, he manages neither comeback nor comment before catching Faulkner's gaze as if purely by accident.

"I, ah–" He starts and stops, when he registers the words of the puzzle put forth a little late, staring back without blinking. "We adapt." He tries again. "There may have been an underlying condition that you'd previously functioned around despite– or perhaps– maybe your brain was…" He falls silent again, then gives a shake of his head.

"I don't know." The binder is slid onto the bartop. "Sorry," he mutters the last word through his teeth, as though he regrets saying it the moment it starts leaving his mouth, then starts moving in a brisk pace toward the door out. "I'm going to get some air."

"Great, I'll grab Liz and you for some audio fun times." Isa claps her hand together and walks over to where Asi has USBs, nabbing one, she also nabs her flask back from Faulkner with a small nod.

There's not much else for the woman to say but she does side eye Zachery and almost rolls her eyes. He was a squirrly one it seemed and the former pyrokinetic was known for being as harsh as fire when sniffing out the weak links in a group. Zachery's nerves make Isabelle herself anxious and she takes a deep pull from the flask. "Sounds like you need company." Slapping the flask into Zachery's chest as she catches up to him. It was better to keep the nervous ones close to either encourage them… in her Isa way.

Or throw them off the cliff before they can get everyone killed. Nonetheless, Zachery has a new friend. Shaw is given a wink and a nod, I'll be right back baby, she thinks as she follows after Zachery.

Zachery visibly startles at the impact of the flask, but he reaches to catch it all the same. Three whole seconds of displeased consideration are given to it and Isa both before he walks out the door with both - the flask raised already. Why the fuck not.

Where Kaylee might have volunteered at the mention of Refrain, Nicole makes a pretty sound point. While she wasn’t above taking some risks… Refrain sticks with you. “I do still hope to get my old job back someday,” she finally says with a frown at her own reluctance.

“That being said, whoever takes it should do so in a safe environment. It’s nasty stuff and if it affects you like it would have with an ability, it is highly addictive. I have a lot of experience with what it does to people. We do this, then I recommend Raytech as a safe testing environment.” Richard had once said that if Eve and Odessa had wanted to test with Refrain they should do it there.

Finally, settling back in her chair, Kaylee’s brows furrow listening to the others talk. Issac’s experiences get her full attention. Though she doesn't miss Zachery’s leaving.

“It will have to wait until I am back from Canada, but I have something I want to try.” Kaylee speaks up almost reluctantly. “I have a friend that can take energy and convert it. If we are throwing energy off… what if he siphons it? Could we get the MRI? It is worth the shot.”

It seems like for a moment, she isn't going to say anything more, but then Kaylee looks at Issac. “Hey, think that healer would be willing to see if few more of us need ‘healing’ like that?” She glances at others and in the direction Dr. Miller left. “It would clarify if the blindness was a fluke occurrence.”

“Saltwater amplifies electromagnetic waves.” Jac speaks a quiet defense for the kiddie pool and experiment Yi-Min has walked in on. She isn't ashamed of her less than expert approach to science. “I still think it's plausible that we're transmitting something. If I'm wrong then… I mean the only thing we've lost is some time.” Which, as frustrating as it might be to some, isn't a very big cost in her opinion. She glances around the group as a whole, maybe looking for support from some, guessing at experiences from others. She ends on Gillian, seeking answers to unspoken questions.

“I…” she begins after a second, dragging the vowel sound out as she tries to organize her thoughts. How does one explain the reasoning of their theory without bringing up topics they're not to talk about openly? “I know that… it sounds really bizarre. And I don't expect most of you to take me seriously. But I really think we should give this a try. Weirder things have been transmitted than this. In just the last couple of years, too.”

Jac’s blue eyes flick to those nearest, then finds her binder where Zachery had been standing. She collects it, held in folded arms against her chest, then crosses the short distance to her seat beside Brynn.

Well, there goes Doctor Necromancer. Isaac can't say he's not disappointed, but… it's a lot to take in, he supposes. Well. Whatever.

Kaylee's question draws a frown. "Unfortunately, I would have to find them first. Between my… less than ideal state beforehand and being blind afterwards, I didn't get any contact information. I… was hoping that someone who was a little better networked than I am might be able to find a healer and have them attempt to heal us, under controlled conditions."

Faulkner nods to Jac. "Jac's right. If there is one thing we are not short of at the moment, it is time," Faulkner states. He grimaces and raises a hand. "Which is not to say that sooner isn't better when it comes to solving this. But frankly we have approximately zero in the way of substantive leads at the moment; just about anything that has even a chance of generating something substantive is, as far as I'm concerned, a good investment of our time, given that we don't have anything solid to pursue at the moment."

"And on that subject," he says, frowning as he notices Isa slip out the door; well, so be it. His gaze shifts towards the others. "Has anyone heard anything from Kimiko Nakamura?"

Nicole is silent in the wake of her husband’s departure, looking down at the bartop with a more or less blank expression that doesn’t abate when she breaks away from her staring match to pour herself another tall shot of tequila. This situation hasn’t been easy on either of them, putting it mildly.

“Kaylee’s right,” Nicole finally says, lifting her head again. “Raytech’s the best environment to be testing something as stupidly dangerous as Refrain.” And make no mistake, Nicole knows this is one of the poorer choices a person can make when it comes to drugs to experiment with – she’s made most of the others already. She isn’t about to ask anyone to do anything she wouldn’t do herself, though. And if there weren’t any other takers, she likely would take on that risk herself, but as they’ve previously established, she needs to do what she can to avoid jeopardizing her job.

There’s a little bit of guilt when she clarifies for Kaylee, “It doesn’t stick in your system forever. Piss test’ll get you as much as four days after dosing. Blood test only detects really recent use. The hair’s the bitch. That’s ninety days. So, I mean, if you’re gonna wait a bit before you get your old job back…” Nicole shrugs. “Just saying, you’ve got options if you want to go that route.” Not that she’s pushing, but informed decisions are good ones. Or at least less hastily made bad ones.

"I did say earlier that I intended to participate in all of it. And I meant it." Yi-Min cites insipidly. She slides a look to Nova next to her over the top of her amaretto, as though sharing some rather tiring secret with the younger girl, before eying the main proceedings again. "The things that we do for science, hmm?"

If Gillian didn’t like the direction all of this was going, she liked it even less when Refrain got mentioned. There were even a few soft curses muttered under her breath for a quiet moment, and she eyed the drinks behind the bar in desire. But no– no she would save her drinking for later tonight. She tried to keep up with keeping Brynn up to speed, but she also– well–

“Do we really want to test out an illegal drug just to find out if it affects us the same way it used to?” she asks with a side eye at Nicole and– well– everyone really. “Have any of you even done Refrain before? Do you know what it actually did to you?” She thinks Kaylee might have had some experience with it, possibly, but she’s doubting anyone except maybe the “mad doctor” whom Nicole has already denied access to might have actually had experience with it.

“Cause I have. And I’ve also seen what it does to people who become addicted, and people who think they can do it casually for science. I’ve even seen what happened to people who were forced to take it for science. Is this really a step you want to take just to find out if it even works the same? Especially if none of you have even experienced it before?”


Asi turns to the only partly-familiar face found in Gillian with no outward emotional affect, delivering her take in a blunt deadpan. "The chance to potentially remember what happened to us during our missing time is worth that risk." She steps away from the bar to return to her abandoned sledgehammer, splaying a hand atop the pommel before wrapping her fingers slowly around the handle. "But that is a decision for each of us to make on our own. There will be no peer pressure in either direction, only respect for each others' choices.

"After all, we are fundamentally without leads that are not our own selves, at this moment." After echoing Faulkner's sentiment, she hefts the sledgehammer properly, lifting it off the ground and bracing the head with her second hand.

"Now, which one of these walls isn't load-bearing?" The question might be rhetorical. She's already heading for a fixture regardless.


That's a noticeably cheerier, if no less blunt echo from Yi-Min. "That one said it well. Ganbei." With that, she does a one-person toast to herself, tipping her head back to take a long, extremely decisive drink of amaretto while she watches Asi stalk away with the sledgehammer.

For science.

Nova’s been quiet, wide blue eyes darting from one person to the next, clearly feeling out of place and like she has nothing useful to add. When Yi-Min speaks to her, she chuckles, and shakes her head.

“I thought I wanted to study expressive people, maybe, as a major, before losing mine made me a bit bitter, but now,” she nods to everyone around, “I’m starting to think I’m not insane enough to be a scientist, to be honest.”

Her eyes find Faulkner. “Kinda like parkour, maybe.”

She lifts a shoulder. “I’ll do it. Sign me up. Just, you know. So long as you don’t drill holes in my brain or something, and there’s a good medical team on staff in case we OD. Somehow I feel that might be some of our luck, you know? First time trying it…” Nova shrugs again, then smiles brightly, “At least you’d all have something to report to your wellness checkers next time around.”

A lot of thoughts and theories being put forth go over Shaw's head, even as his dark eyes bounce from speaker to speaker like a multi-court ping pong match. He's quiet throughout. A soft huff exits Shaw's lips and he looks away to the door before turning his focus back, trying to retain things. There was a good suggestion, though… one he realizes as he picks out his phone to fiddle with it. A recording, that's a good idea. And a few taps later, he sits back against his seat. Name recognitions perk interested responses, but the biggest reaction is when Nicole pulls her shirt off and Kaylee pulls her shirt up. OK then, that's happening. Shaw blinks, swallows down a gasp, and settles down when they do.

There is somewhat of a growing pearl of anxiety in the man as Zachery and Isa add to the departures, and the others continue on with discussions of Refrain and experiments. The question of the whereabouts of Kimiko Nakamura earn Isaac a nervous sort of glance and Shaw only answers with, "Kimiko could be better. But she's not, like… better. She's struggling, too. Also wants to know what's going on." A beat passes as he notes in afterthought, "Like a puffy-tailed cat."

"What about, um. What did everybody do, before? Hamim– Kaylee, was a telepath. Ste– Nicole, electricity. Do they want all of us for some kind of test without our powers? Or maybe they just wanted the powers first to see, and they kept us in those containers for… for later? Maybe we're the, the control group." Shaw looks around to the faces again when he offers up his questions, his hands preoccupied with his phone as it records.

Gillian's objection is met with a look of consideration… but Asi's already made his objection before he can. Yi-min's further affirmation draws a nod… as does Nova's point.

Isaac gives Nova a grin in turn. "And yet… you're a fast learner," he says, grin taking on a hint of a smirk. "A quality that, I am sure, is invaluable in either field." His expression sobers as he turns to regard Gillian. "Your concerns are noted, ma'am, but… we need leads. And so far conventional testing has yielded next to nothing. If you're familiar with the aftereffects, though, your expertise might prove valuable in helping to mitigate some of the risks, if you're willing to share it."

Shaw's recording earns him a sour look, but Isaac doesn't comment directly; there are more important matters to address, namely the fact that Shaw apparently has a line to Kimiko Nakamura. "Outstanding. It might be to our mutual benefit to set up a meeting, should Ms. Nakamura have time available, to… apprise her of our findings, and inquire as to anything she might have found. We're all in this together, after all."

Shaw's question has already been posed… but Shaw wasn't here for it, and there are a few other faces he doesn't recall from the rooftop meeting, either, so… why not. "And to answer your question, shadow manipulation." Which is a gross oversimplification, but good enough for now… and hopefully good enough to get the ball rolling. Isaac's gaze slips off to watch Asi as she prepares to begin demolitions; he's starting to want to smash something with a sledgehammer himself.

Returning to her seat also brings a return to more attentive interpreting. Jac turns her attention back, mostly, to listening and keeping Brynn up to speed. “Echolocation,” is all that's offered for her answer to Shaw’s question, unsure about or unwilling to include the Gemini abilities she had.

“Fine, whatever,” Gillian mutters, shaking her head and looking at Brynn and Jac with the you two are definitely not touching that shit look. But she trusts that they probably won’t. There were enough adults willing to throw themselves under the bus already, and at least one of them had experienced it before, so the were at least a more viable test subject than someone who had never experienced it at all.

“I manipulated abilities. Augmentation, making them more powerful, mostly. A meta ability. Anyone who had watched the trials or read any of the histories would have known, cause it had been pretty involved in a lot of things.” Sadly her ability had been– probably the only thing that made her really important in most worlds. Some of them had been vice president, some of them had been married to important people.

And then there was Gillian. As far as she knew her ability had probably been the only thing that made her an important figure in any world.

There’s a sudden chirp of a phone and Nova pulls it out of her pocket, glancing down at it, then hopping down from the bar. There might be a slight sigh of relief, but she covers it up quickly.

“I gotta go, study group. One that hopefully has more answers than questions,” she quips. “And I didn’t do anything. I was unmanifested, so that blows a few theories out. That other lady, Gabby, she claims she’s not even SLC-E but maybe she just never got tested.”

Crouching down, she picks up her skateboard from where she’s stowed it under the bar. “Let me know if you need me for your mad science experiments, I guess,” she says, waving a hand at the wall that Asi’s ready to start bashing as she heads toward the door. “Good luck with the renovations.”

Brynn nods slightly to Gillian – no way is she getting involved with Refrain. She's always kind of been one of the goody-two-shoes of their little group, the opposite of reckless. But she signs for the group, Color manipulation. Nothing useful. except to her for art, really.

Something that was said earlier is sticking with her, and she signs with a faint frown, Did one of them say that we might be wanted for this crap because of who we are in another dimension? she asks her sister. I'm totally with you and that lady about checking to see if we hum in tune with the world. But Jac – if they're asking about stuff we see, maybe we should be asking people what, if anything, they dreamed about other selves last year. I dreamed about a world place where I took pictures instead of drawing… and I could hear. It's a tentative suggestion, since Gillian and Kaylee might be the only 'adults' who can read her query and might listen anyway.

Well, as long as it's sharing circle time. "Toxin generation," Yi-Min lays bare that particular facet of herself with ease, pausing only to nod a farewell to Nova as the young girl slips out beside her. "It is what it sounds like."

Still, even that doesn't carry the same implications as…

Yi-Min's roving gaze finds Gillian, and there it settles for a few shrewd moments. "Quite a dangerous ability to have, in a world that does not love abilities."

The door to outside opens again and Isa and Zachery enter, the engineer has a frown on her face and looks around the room. "There's something else," Isa walks to the center of the room and takes a deep swig of her flask and slips it in her back pocket, exchanging it for her cellphone.

"One of our devices in the apartment picked this up," Swiping up the screen and clicking play on an audio file.

«Was ist mit dem Mädchen?» A woman’s voice speaks in German.

«Sie ist nicht auf der Liste.» A man’s voice replies back.

The audio ends.

"That, was heard just outside of our daughter’s room. A debate on whether to take her as well but she wasn't on the List." Isa's anger that her daughter was almost taken as well mixes well with the utter relief that she was left alone. Her eyes meet Shaw's, "So no, it wasn't random like some of us already believed. We were singled out, targeted."

Kaylee’s been mostly quiet except for shaking her head at Nicole and saying, “I’m not that desperate, yet.” Even if she is curious, too. What would happen? For now, she’ll let others take that leap.

There is a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye as Brynn’s signing catches her eyes, a small smile tugs at the corner of Kaylee’s mouth. I don’t think we are from a different dimension, but at this point, I don’t think anything is off the table, because we showed up in the plane so soon after we went missing. She glances at Gillian and Jac before she continues, I do think something time and space related occurred while transporting us. There are a lot of weird things happening. The plane might have been caught up in some sort of… She pauses as she considers and then shakes her head. Whatever it is… it screwed up their plans, which is good. Cause we know someone was messing with us.

Kaylee gives the girl a reassuring smile, but it quickly falls when Isa bursts back in. The recording is listened to and brows lift. “So they are working off something precog, postcog… or maybe someone just likes what we do. Though that doesn’t explain Nova. Or maybe she was a test as someone who hasn’t manifested yet.” She jerks her chin at the phone, “Can you text me a copy of that, Isa?” No doubt her family would be interested in that.

“Those drives will be useful for things like this. Thank you, Asi,” Kaylee says to the hammer toting former technopath. It’s an afterthought, even though she had planned to grab one on the way out already.

I don't know, Jac begins to answer, pausing when Kaylee speaks up. She's relieved for the telepath’s interjections. Above all else, it – the whole mess they're in – is weird. Too weird. And the overlays were… I was watching myself, not experiencing what I saw. This isn't like that. I definitely don't think we are from anywhere but here.

She turns in her seat when Isa pushes through the door, a quick sign is given to Brynn to let her know the woman is back. She begins to explain something else was found, but her hands stall for words while the recording plays.

It's in German. Jac looks literally worried, for the first time since the meeting began. Even before, expecting pushback for her insertion into the conversation, the teen was nervous, but this leaves her worried. Her blue eyes lift to meet Brynn’s gray ones. We were on a list. That's why Mom and I were taken, but not Lene. And you, but not the boys.

Asi is in the middle of swinging the sledgehammer with all her might at a raised, circular platform that she's 99% sure was one of the fixtures slated to be destroyed when Isa returns. She looks up to note her, but otherwise seems disinclined to stop her current activity.

At least until the recording is produced.

The head of the hammer hits the floor again with a thunk she feels in her teeth. What Isa brings with that short recording is nothing short of a relief– validation that what happened to them all was anything short of random. She shifts a look to Yi-Min for want of a familiar face to bounce her reaction off of, but no emotion jumps to the surface despite that.

"Audio only?" she finally asks, tone driven. "No video?"

"No video, that's what we have to work with," Isa says to Asi.

A look to Kaylee and Isa nods softly. "Yea, I'll shoot it your way." Without being a mind reader she doesn't know that she means to show the other Rays, but the familiarity they have leads her to believe that might be where the blonde is heading with that thought.

Though Zachery keeps his head down and face a forced neutral while he re-enters the building, it isn't difficult to see the tension still in him. He looks up just long enough to find where Nicole is, before the recording playing has him turn in Isa's direction once more.

This time, when his head drops down again, it's with nothing short of malice twisting his expression. "Four months," he mutters to himself as he starts walking past Nicole, with purpose in his voice and his gait. His fingers wrap once more around the grip of the hammer he'd set down before.

"Four months fucking short." He heaves up the hammer, swings it much further back than before, and sends it smashing sideways through a corner bit of drywall and straight out the other end.

"Well," Faulkner says after a moment. "That's quite the bombshell, isn't it?" The gently sardonic tone he takes probably doesn't actually fool anyone, but he's freaked out more than enough for today, thanks. He has to maintain some composure… so rather than cackle, or rub his hands together, or anything like that, he only takes a deep breath. "That sounded like… German?" He considers, then nods. "Like German."

Miller's entrance does not go unnoticed, but the look on his face after the recording is enough to prompt a raise of Faulkner's eyebrow. When the doctor starts going after drywall, though, Isaac lets out a slow breath, then looks to the others. "Alright. Anyone have any further bombshells to drop for the moment, or do we move on to the 'catharsis through aggressive demolitions' phase of this meeting now, and reconvene for drinks and discussion after we've worked off some steam?" His gaze comes to rest on Nicole – she's the hostess, after all.

Through the recording and after, Yi-Min's expression takes on a growing note of pointed intrigue, something that reflects when her glance meets Asi's.

If there was a list involved, any kind of order imposed on this madness, then that meant there it was all the more likely that there was some trail to find.

To Faulkner, Yi-Min smiles a small smile devoid of humor, completely ignoring what people are beginning to do with their hammers. "I do not have anything myself, aside from a note that the search to determine what process may have been used to depower us is still… ongoing. Thank you to those who came in for screening, by the by." Not great news, but there it is. It's a mystery that remains quite troubling to her, since aside from Gemini, there were precious few known methods of stripping one's Expressive ability in the way that theirs had been.

Faulkner sees it, certainly, but so does anyone else with their eyes on the meeting’s facilitator. The way Nicole’s heart breaks in her eyes when her husband walks straight past her without the faintest acknowledgement. Her head turns away, as though disinterested, though her melancholic expression betrays her.

She downs another shot.

Wiping the back of her mouth with her hand, Nicole catches Isaac’s gaze and shakes her head quickly. “I don’t have anything else. Our best bet is to start our various medical…” She waves her hand through the air as she tries to come up with the word she wants. She just looks tired.Endeavors,” is the one decided on. “See where all of that leads us. Those of you participating in the Refrain trial, coordinate with me. But for the love of god, do not call it Refrain in any fashion. Do not allude to it. I don’t want anything in written or vocal communications on our cell phones – mine in particular – that could out what we’re up to. Call it a cocktail party or something. Just… we need to be smart about this.”

Covering half her face with one hand, as though that would hide the way she winces, Nicole sighs. “I’m sure I don’t have to tell you all that.” A glance is sent Asi’s way, then Yi-Min’s. The hand not hiding her face, flutters dismissively toward the walls that need knocking out. “That’s all from me. Feel free to have at whenever you’re ready.” Tipping her head down to look at the bar, she mutters under her breath with barely a movement of her lips.

“I’ll be here. Wishful drinking.

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