Middletown Press



Scene Title Middletown Press
Synopsis Uncertain of when or where she is, Kara Prince wakes up alone.

She doesn't remember dreaming, just recalls what seems like an eternal ebb and flow of light and dark. The world, cold and dark, gave way to the world, soft and warm and dim, gave way to the world— blindingly bright and uncomfortable— gave way to the world…

A shift in the ambient light draws her attention in her own personal dark, eyes moving beneath lids. The shadow pauses then. Try as she might to wake, it doesn't come easily. Muscles fight her, jaw tightening with the effort to push through and properly come to.

The shadow moves away entirely.

And Kara Prince falls back to sleep.

Some time between an eternity and only moments later, the shadow's lack is something she belatedly notes and her eyes snap open.


The breath she takes in is almost overwhelming, engaging senses that haven't been in use for … as long as she was out for. The dust and must of the place she finds herself in carries a distinct scent, as does the cooling cup of tea that rests on the nightstand. Kara is aware of the light that slants in through the windows— late afternoon sun instead of morning, judging by the intensity and angle— and all the long shadows it casts around the space.

A space empty of other living beings, save for her.

She slowly pushes herself to her elbows, looking long across the quaint cabin. When she comes to her feet against the will of muscles that protest from disuse, she takes off from the bed with enough force that she displaces the last of the steam from the abandoned tea.

This place used to belong to someone. Used to, she imagines, because of how dated and sparse the rustic interior is. It likely was someone's summer home (or winter home) before the war, now left to whoever it was that had brought her here. A look out the windows indicate forest, which isn't overly helpful on its own. After passing a hand over the still-warm range on the stove, Kara moves quickly to the front door, twisting the knob and pulling it open. Bare feet carry her out over a porch, and she descends the steps, looking up toward the sky.

Her mouth tightens into a line. The leaves here had begun to change.

… Just how much time had passed?

Abandoned Cabin


September 12?, 2019

The immediate concern aside from figuring out when she was was definitely determining where she was. Not just in geographical terms, but…

Kara lets out an explosive breath, shaking her head as she makes her way back into the house, wet leaves clinging to the palms of her feet. Instead of looking for more signs of recent life, she searches for indications of what reality she finds herself in. Titles of books on the shelf near the fireplace don't particularly stand out as odd, but neither do they help. Nature books, a novel, a cookbook. Those could be the same anywhere. She rifles through them and runs a hand back through uncombed, unkempt hair as she turns on her heel. There hadn't been a car parked out in the little dirt lot by the cabin, and she saw a shed, but had little hope of finding a licensed vehicle within.

A set of charming blocks and decoration set on the mantle dictate the current date as Sep. 12. So there was that.

Right at the point of giving up and looking instead for a change of clothes, she notes a thin newspaper on the table in the kitchen of the three-room cabin, dated for 2019— dated for September 15th. Close enough. Kara snatches it up, looking over every headline, skimming for any clues in the writing, geographic and otherwise. Middletown Press is the first rung she lands on, placing her in New Jersey, still. Good. That's a starting point. She starts to skim initial pages of national news before realizing she wouldn't know what names of leaders and politicians would be indicators of having slipped another step to the left. With agitation, she continues on through the broadsheets from national to regional pages … which she pauses on reaching, eyes catching on a black and white image from before the war as much as the headline that accompanies it.

Black Forest Explosion Quarantine Lifted

Kara's aware she needs to keep her arms held in order to read the paper properly, but it doesn't stop her shoulders from slumping and the paper from sinking. The front facade of the Jungle Habitat Amusement sits plainly on the page, undamaged, but becomes overlaid with the image of it she remembers. Her gaze unfocuses, ears filling with the sound of her heartbeat and distant rain. Her chest tightens from the armor that should be covering it.

She remembers looking up at Sharrow as he stood at the perimeter, watching the rainfall. Byron, rising from his crouch and turning at something unexpected. Eileen, observing the exhibit remains.

Then, Adam Monroe.

Fingers around crumple the edges of the paper before Kara remembers to breathe, the memory coming back in bits and pieces, each less pleasant than the last. Her arms sag lower.

Determination sees she lays the paper down on the table again, leaning over it as she leafs through the remaining pages. Her hand hovers over them as she reaches strictly local news, blinking several times. Hartford? That wasn't exactly local… Her fingers trail down to other place names that stand out. Portland?? New Haven. Kara's brow ticks as she smooths out the page.

"What the fuck?" she whispers to herself, eyes fixed on a headline about the reconstruction work on a state agency in town. It turns out she's not in New Jersey at all.

She's in Connecticut.

Middletown, CT

October 11, 2019

The cabin's occupant never returned, leaving her alone in the forest, uncertain of her actual physical location and where she was in relation to Middletown. Kara relied on what there was to be found in the house while she ranged further and further from it, finding, not unexpectedly, no one.

Not until she'd hit a main road, at least, and was able to flag down a driver for directions.

"Kara!" calls the driver of the pick-up truck, lifting a hand off the door to hail her as he slows to a stop on the other side of the road. "Good to see you again. You finding your way all right, now?"

That had been a few weeks ago, and she's seen the driver almost every time she's ventured to town. She does what she has every time she's seen him since, lifting a hand in return, passing along a polite smile with it because that's the small-town way. "Doing all right," she confirms.

"Let me know if you need a ride back out your way," he calls. "You know I'll be heading that way eventually."

Kara lets out a short huff of laughter. "I'll find you at the watering hole here in a bit."

The driver keeps his hand lifted in farewell as he heads on into town, and Kara keeps the smile only for as long as her features remain clear in his rearview. Then it fades, her expression slipping to something solemn and hardened.

What was she still doing here? Becoming a local? It's a rhetorical she contemplates in silence as she continues walking down the side of the road to head to the town's center, to the grocery. The answer was no, but where would she go after here? She didn't know what there was to head back to in Providence. Had anyone else survived what had happened?

Iago Ramirez was like to be the only one of the Remnant leaders that had, on account of him being the one that had stayed behind in case of something like exactly what had happened.

Unless, of course, the others had maybe had the luck she did in someone dragging her out of … whatever had actually happened. What she does remember doesn't fill in all the blanks, doesn't explain the reported explosion, and what she can recall…

It felt unreal. Like it could have just been a dream from the weeks she'd spent unconscious.

And if it were real, lowered her confidence level that anything else walked away from there at all.

In the meantime, surviving alone in the woods wasn't a necessity. There was a surprisingly stable populace in nearby Middletown, nothing like she'd seen during her time out West. It felt little like the Safe Zone, and little like Providence. A (former) college town with a decimated river skyline, its populace had hollowed out the shell the war left behind and was hard at work renovating it into something usable again. In some ways, it reminded her of a prewar mining town— filled with ghosts of greater industry that had long since moved on to stabler, easier sites while its residents somehow carried on as best able in their absence.

The town had working utilities all around, if only in a certain radius. It still remained the headquarters for the state's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, a role it wouldn't fill very well without consistent power and communications. Thanks to that boon, the town had a leg up on places in the country that had to eke out their own existence the hard way.

Kara is standing just down the street from the local grocery, a deer in the light cast by the sign hanging from it. She'd stopped walking, not entirely sure when she did.

Not for the first time, or for the last, she finds herself unable to move forward because it feels like she's moving away from the only thing that had grounded her for so long. It takes reminding herself that returning there would also require rewinding time for things to go back to the way they were before, and reluctantly she resumes course. Maybe, she resolves, if nothing else she should head back west to Sedro-Woolley. Before the Remnant had arrived, that was where she thought she would stay. It was the closest thing she could call home here.

It's a trip she's not prepared for, though, not yet. Kara needed money, she needed sundries and other supplies, not to mention a gun…

And, she reminds herself while she walks past a Main Street bar. Her head turns, glancing at a parked, rusting blue pickup that sits cooling from its drive into town.

I'll need a vehicle to get there.

November 11, 2019

"Hey, did you see this yet?" A mechanic sitting next to Kara asks her on their break for lunch, catching her with a bite half-taken from her sandwich. All she can do is pop her eyebrows at him, rather than try to speak around her food. See what?

"You weren't here on Friday. You listen to the launch at home?" he asks. She swallows and still doesn't answer, instead motioning for the paper he has in his hand. He's used to Kara being taciturn, so he relents with a shrug, not pressing the matter. Other people had called out November 8th for various personal reasons, so she wasn't alone in having told the garage she'd not be showing up for work. "It was a shitshow."

She accepts the paper with her offhand, shaking it out as she looks over the front page headline featured today: Itinerant Dawn Rocket Launch Turns Tragedy; Hundreds Dead. Kara's expression tightens at reading it, even without the context of knowing what that was, or what else happened with it. "Tell me about it?" she asks, and her work partner blinks. He'd not been expecting actual interest.

"Well, yeah, so there was this space ship they built that was gonna go explore like past Pluto or something ridiculously far, right?" he starts, ignoring his own meal entirely. Kara turns the top half of the paper over to the bottom to keep reading. "It was going to take a whole colony of people with them. Well, it turns out that the project was Evo-propelled — which, I mean come on, are we really surprised? — and there was this whole…"

Remembered fondly are American crewmembers Alexandra Jiminez, 28, and…

Kara has stopped listening, her world inverting in that moment. An unexpected gravity weighs on her as she looks down at the two grainy profile shots of the astronauts believed lost on the Itinerant Dawn proper.

… Kara Prince, 36.

She sets aside the sandwich back into the tupperware it came from, her hand bracing the bottom of the paper. With a slight frown, she runs her thumb over the images near the bottom of the page… and then tears wide at the edge, removing the photos and a swath of text surrounding them before the other mechanic has time to protest.

"Hey! The hell, I wasn't done reading that." Balking, he snatches the paper back and receives a hard side-eye for it.

"You're not missing much at all," Kara tells him, rocking to her feet after folding and tucking the paper away on her person. She grabs her sandwich, taking one last bite while still bent over, and wipes her hands clean as she stands upright and heads back to the car they'd been working on.

He balks at that too, the matter of the paper forgotten. "I'm still eating, you know. Taking my full break."

"'Course you are," she sighs out, already fishing her gloves from her pockets to pull them back on. "I'm keeping moving, staying warm. Suit yourself." She pats the side of her jacket to make sure the scrap of newspaper remains within.

"Maybe if you stopped to eat your whole lunch, you'd not be warmer and not skin'n bones, Kara," he advises her, head tilted back so he doesn't accidentally launch food everywhere by talking with a full mouth. She lets out a huff in reply, amused without actually laughing. With certain women, that was dangerous territory to venture into, after all. It passes without argument from her ultimately. Kara shakes her head, pulling the car door open to palm the keys from the front seat.

She should be turning it on so she can confirm if it's starting any smoother than it was before, but instead she lets the keys sit in her palm a moment longer— studying them while she tries to weigh the news of one Kara Prince's death with her readiness to move West.

Just a little longer, she tells herself.

But she also makes plans to prepare her go bag that night, in case anyone somehow put it all together.

The Abandoned Cabin

November 12

Who knows what time it is. Dawn might threaten to come soon, but Kara isn't sure she cares anyway. She's been up all night, drinking with her ghosts while she packed — at least until she'd finished packing. And that had been hours ago.

Vivitsch, she tells herself, and she obeys the rules by taking another swing directly from the bottle. It'd be good to play this game with Byron again, or even Chris, but neither of them are here. To the best of her knowledge, they're as ghostly in reality as they are to her here now, imagining what they might say to her. Hell!— maybe they were actually here, with that being the case. The ghostliness. The…


The alcohol burns as it goes down, and Kara lies to herself that it's the drink rather than heartache that causes her chest to throb. For all she's tried to avoid ever coming into knowledge about the version of herself that belonged to this timeline… now she knows more than she ever wanted to. It was such a short blurb, but it said so much. Prince here was an astronaut, of all things. Was being the operative word in that statement, but nonetheless.

A fucking astronaut.

It was jarring for some reason, that difference. Where she'd come from, Kara had felt rudderless — joined with a private security firm purely to get back into something familiar. That was nothing spectacular. But that was before the assignment at Pinehearst; before Petrelli. That was before Rianna Pri—

"Vivitsch," Kara loudly tells herself to drown out the warbling white noise that fills her head as she tries to remember anything that came after. Her next drink doesn't cut through the dissonance, but it rounds it out at the edges, making it easier to bear while she tries to remember what happened after Petrelli and Price… trying to recall if it was nearly as worthy. If it had been impactful.

Had it been astronaut levels of achievement? (Arguably, yes, if judging by distance traveled.)

Should she even care about this other self? After all, she had sworn off looking into herself, determined to live beyond society's border. Kara had always insisted to herself it was because she had no desire to integrate with this world she found herself in, no interest in learning more about its workings and the ways the alternate reality varied from her own.

She'd had enough of that with living through and fighting her way through its fucking civil war.

So Kara had never looked herself up. She'd never checked to see if her family survived the war. She'd never gone back to Kansas, period.

It wasn't her world.

But with this world's Kara Prince dead now, was it hers? She was no longer a second Kara, she was the only one. …How long would it take before she accepted she wasn't getting back to where she came from?

Kara drops her head into the side of her palm, massaging her forehead in the dark. The candle she'd bought recently in town was burning poorly, giving off almost no light. She considers her question to herself for a long time, capping it off with a Vivitschless drink before screwing the top back on the bottle. She abandons it on the table to head back to bed to try and get warm.

This world might be where she was stuck, she thinks, but it would forever be a stretch to call it home. Providence had been promising, with how the Remnant was filled with others like her, and most of all with how Yi-Min had…

Kara about turns, snatching the bottle violently off of the table again to take it into the bedroom with her.

Sedro it was, then.

Staying here wasn't an option, after all. She was lucky the mechanic's job accepted her lack of identification, but that luck would run out. It'd only be a matter of time before people started asking questions, even if it was doing something as innocent as suggesting she get her papers in order. Kara deposits the bottle on the nightstand as she crawls into the bed, pulling the covers over her with a scowl and mutter. For now, she was left hoping maybe no one else she works with at the shop looked at the paper too closely. But maybe they did. Maybe she shouldn't have given her name as Kara. It made it all the easier to put two and two together and come up with something not quite four. She pulls the blanket down around her shoulders and squints her eyes shut tightly.

Providence remains a sour thought, lingering on her mind and against her will as she drifts off. For a moment, the sound of early morning rain pattering against the leaves makes it easy to imagine herself back in her quarters at the factory. Her stomach knots.

She'd ended up here alone, no answer as to how or who rescued her, or if anyone else had also made it out. Having hope anyone else survived hurt just as badly as believing they were all dead. It felt safer to assume the worst — and that there was no place for her there anymore — rather than presume she'd still be welcome in a Remnant lead by Ramirez.

Backlit by dawn, Kara dreams of Yi-Min. She dreams of many twilights— of the ones spent together reading, by the water, on horseback, or visiting her lab… but her melancholy is unkind to her even in her dreams and her thoughts inevitably shift to that last twilight as well.

She jolts at the sound of Charity Thornton firing; wakes before she sees the blood. Even so, the small smile on Yi-Min's face as she falls is an image seared into her mind. She stares at the ceiling, aware of the morning light inching up the wall. Kara only moves after she feels the sun touch her hand, resigning herself to awakeness again despite a lack of proper sleep.

… It would just be better if she went West.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License