Not All Endings


lucille4_icon.gif nathalie_icon.gif

Scene Title Not All Endings
Synopsis Lucille and Nathalie travel to Texas searching for answers and find something unexpected…
Date June 19, 2019 — June 21, 2019

Taking the ruins of Interstate 78 out of New York City, Nathalie and Lucille's journey cuts through the worst-targeted parts of New York and New Jersey and the urban parts of Pennsylvania. Bridgewater, Easton, Allentown, all lay in ruins. Nature has reclaimed much of these cities, grass growing up between fissures in split asphalt, saplings rising up in small stands of juvenile forests in bombed out cellar holes. But there's also the human tragedy, the tent cities, the detritus of society who refuse to move into the Safe Zone, the stubborn and the struggling. They give the settlement of Providence a wide berth, there's no reason to pass through right now, it would only be a distraction.

By the time they reach rural Pennsylvania the juxtaposition is staggering. It looks like nothing has changed, this far away from New York. Farmlands spread out as far as they eye can see in either direction along the roadside. Silos, red barns, hedgerows, and sparse forests give everything a pastoral feeling. The sun beats hard down on the lush greenery that rambles across verdant pastures and farms still occupied after all this time, after all this death. Beyond the urban centers, the world moved on; nothing lays in ruins out here.

But not everywhere is like this in Pennsylvania.

Lucille and Nathalie's trip takes them precariously close to the tall chain link fencing surrounding the Raven Rock Mountain Complex, where US military are still encamped years after the war ended. The entire complex was cordoned off, razorwire erected, warnings against trespassing posted. During the daytime the flood lights around the complex aren't on, so from a distance it just looks like a construction site. The necks of tall cranes rising up over hills, the echoing sounds of heavy machinery working.

The landscape around Raven Rock is craters, trees flattened by fuel-air bombs, rusting hulks of tanks and missile batteries overgrown with vines and tall grass. Dead cars parked along both sides of the road. It reminds Lucille of Utah, of what came afterward when they came down over the mountains into Boulder, to the carnage at the war's end.


June 19th

Interstate 81 winds through Appalachia, cutting northeast to southwest through Virginia's rolling hills and forested mountains. There are ghost towns everywhere out here, empty remnants of big box stores, derelict gas stations gutted by fires long since gone out. At one point. Lucille and Nathalie are forced to drive off road for a quarter mile to avoid the wreckage of a 747 strewn across the highway amid the rusted wreckage of old cars that were in the crashing jet liner's path. Judging from the ruts in the earth, they aren't the first ones to make this trek. The broken shards of fighter jets dot the nearby mountainside, and scrub vegetation grows up in the craters once made by air-dropped bombs.

A handful of the towns along the way are populated; Staunton, Lexington, and ironically Roanoke. Enough places to stop and fuel up, places where gasoline prices reach $22 per gallon thanks to scarcity and inflation working hand-in-hand. The people who live out here are different than the folks of the Safe Zone; they're salt of the earth types, living off the land and making do with what society has left to offer them. There's no Yamagato Industries out here to quickly refabricate fire stations or repair hospitals, no easy way back until the country finds its own footing again.

Someone could disappear out here, and maybe never be found again. Maybe that's what Caspar Abraham thought.

It didn't work for him.


June 19th

Much like Pennsylvania, rural Tennessee hasn't seen much from the war. Even better is the fact that many of the states cities are still intact. The people at trading outposts that used to be truck stops are friendly, if suspicious folks. There's an unsettling undercurrent of anti-evolved sentiment out here, casually laid out. They don't blame Expressives for the war, but they blame them for how bad it was. But not everyone is like that, not everyone is so inhospitable.

Most towns and cities are struggling to make ends meet. Buildings lay vacant, businesses closed, and homelessness is rampant. Squatters are everywhere among the unrestored outskirts of these still-living communities. But the novelties of power, traffic lights, and the resemblance of the pre-war world are hard to ignore.

Kingsport, Knoxville, Chattanooga, it's all intact in as much as it can be. Evidence of fighting is still present in the demolished remains of some large buildings, places where riots turned into fires and whole city blocks fell to ruin. There's remnants of tanks here too, stripped for parts and metal with the slag left behind to rust and become unconventional flower pots. The cities they're a part of keep on living, and the people here are nothing like the hard working and hard living settlers up north in the NYC Safe Zone.


June 20th

So much of the journey is through the rural, backwoods corners of the United States. Northern Alabama, when off of the main roads and into the winding backstreets feels as though humanity has simply left the Earth behind. Wild stretches of forest and overgrown trailer parks, suburbs that look more like farmland, all interspersed with sudden blooms of civilization that would look more at place in a third world country, of which America may now classify.

From Huntsville to Decatur, though the Bankhead National Forest and its towering evergreens, down dirt and muddy roads around stalled lines of long-destroyed automobiles, all the way to Hamilton and into Mississippi. It's a long and winding road, and one that has come with fewer and fewer stops for gasoline along the way. One of the more harrowing pit-stops is in the town of Grand Bay near Mississippi, where the streets are just lined with bodies — fresh ones. A mass shooting of some sort appeared to have just happened, a skirmish perhaps. A nearby gas station is on fire, cars are burning, shouts echo in the distance. An argument turned into hostilities, and it's a stark reminder that some parts of the country never recovered at all.


June 20th

Northern Mississippi is a breath of fresh air, a return to the semblance of civilization that never really felt the brunt of the civil war. Here, Nathalie and Lucille are able to stop in the town of Winona and get gas, rent a motel room, and sleep for the night. The town has a population of 8,000, swollen from the roughly 5,400 before the war as refugees flooded in from more affected settlements to the north and south. The Red Roof Inn winds up being a surprising reprieve from the long journey, where hot coffee and a good breakfast make the town feel far more civilized than the food rationing and urban decay of the Safe Zone.

The more they spends out there, away from New York, the more they're both left to wonder what the allure of living in the shadow of Manhattan's corpse really is. Is it something as simple as nostalgia? Is the pull of the past so strong as to be distracting to the human tragedy that are the desperate people who are trying to rebuild those ruins?

A colorful man in the diner has the opinion that the country should just "pour concrete over the whole place." Maybe it's not the first time he's said that.

Maybe he's not wrong.

Crossing the Mississippi river turns out to be a larger endeavor than either first imagined. Every bridge from New Orleans to St. Louis was destroyed during the war to act as a roadblock to advancing ground forces. It takes a full day for Nathalie and Lucille to secure passage on a personal ferry with a handful of others looking for westernly travel. But it's the Mississippi where they're forced to leave the truck Avi loaned them behind, the ferry can't move vehicles. It means a longer road on the other side of the river.

Aboard the Ferry, Nathalie and Lucille meet other veterans, share stories as much as their comfortable to. Listen, more so than anything else. News isn't quick to reach Mississippi, radio broadcasts aren't what they used to be, the internet is effectively gone, and telecommunication satellites destroyed during the war mean even satellite communication is kept at a premium. News spreads by word of mouth.

Good and bad.


June 21st

On the other side of the Mississippi, finding another vehicle becomes job number one. The town of Tallulah offers an opportunity, with Nathalie and Lucille bartering for a beat-up, bubblegum pink Nissan Versa someone ditched on the other side of the river last year. The owner had spent a decent amount of money getting it to this side, hoping to find a buyer. He's eager to offload it.

Back on the road, much of the Louisiana wilderness Lucille and Nathalie drive through is uninhabited, save by wildlife. Deer are everywhere, bounding across the road in many instances. Between Tallulah and Alexandria there's dozens of small, rural communities living off the land. Alexanderia is a smoldering ruin, a demolished city of eviscerated skyscrapers surrounded by ever-encroaching woodland from the Kisatchie National Forest. Thousands of cars sit abandoned in the middle of the road, tanks and crashed airliners, sometimes attempts of settlements lay in smoldering ruin on the roads within close proximity of the ruined city.

Past Alexandria, Louisiana hopscotches between war-torn and bombed out towns surrounding air force bases and National Guard posts, to rural scenes of untouched pastoral beauty. Only the presence of derelict checkpoints, concertina wire topped barricades, and abandoned military vehicles serves as a reminder of what happened here, though the locals from town to town talk of the war as though it never ended. Whispers of the name Pure Earth are on most folks' lips here, and graffiti depicting a noose painted in the colors of the American flag are a reminder that bigotry and hatred are a hydra:

Cut off one head, and two take its place.


June 21st

6:17 pm

Texas might as well be a tomb.

What isn't consumed by vegetation is swallowed by sand. Nearly every settlement they travel through since passing the dilapidated sign welcoming them to the Lone Star State has been a ghost town. Lake Charles, Mossville, Vinton, Beaumont, Winnie… all either empty or home to scattered refugee camps and makeshift tent cities. The regions closest to military bases look like scenes out of the second World War, with buildings pulverized flat to the ground, like a tornado had come through and decided to park for a few hours.

Feral dogs wander the highways, lines of fire-blackened cars can be found on stretches of freeway that cut through the ruins of places like Hankamer and Cove, places where blue canvas tarps and corrugated metal siding patch up houses and residents living far from the cities sit on stockpiles of scavenged provisions and likely enough ammunition to last another civil war. Settlements directly east of Burnett Bay and Bear Lake are surprisingly lively, electric lights burn in darkened windows at dusk, street lights still function and the National Guard holds roost where law and order has otherwise not quite returned to the status quo.

But across the water, Houston…

Houston is gone.

What little remains of the city, visible across the water, are steel and concrete skeletons grasping at the night sky, littered with uncontrolled fires burning from god knows what source that belch toxic black smoke into the air. Molten vehicles are fused to the bombed streets, twisted wrecks of tanks, missile batteries, and crashed aircraft litter the sandblasted remains of a once populous city.

Standing on the I-10 bridge that crosses the San Jacinto river, Nathalie and Lucille see old signs on the otherwise silent highway denoting DOEA CHECKPOINT, stacks of sandbags and fire-blackened vehicles. The bridge is still intact, but the question remains if there's anything at all left to find in Houston.

Anything other than ghosts.

Honestly, Nathalie wasn't sure what to expect of Houston. She had hoped it might have fared better than New York when they started this trip, but crossing the corpse of metropolis after metropolis eroded that hope a little more with each one. She looks across at yet another husk, resigned to the idea that this trip might have been for nothing after all.

But they came all this way. She's going to be sure there's nothing before she gives up and goes home.

"Let's go," she says, hoisting a backpack over her shoulder and starting toward Houson. An old map rests in a side pocket of her pack. She's just not sure how much help it will be when the streets are craters.

Their country was more of a shithole than she remembered, those days of traversing the nation to get to Texas only hammered the memories of her time on the road with Colette and the other soldiers during the war. Restless nights, unexpected battles, the loss of countless people… It was enough to have Lucille in a somber mood most of the way, Nathalie understood why because the two had shared what their time during the war was.

At Nathalie's side the tall woman tilts her head as she looks across the landscape.

Dead and more dead. A finger goes to push up the sunglasses sitting on the bridge of her nose, "We'll find something." She gives a promise that she knows she might not be able to keep but keeping Nathalie in high spirits was the goal and duty right now as her best friend. Lucille readjusts her own pack on her back and strides forward. A bitter wasteland, she idly wonders if this is how the world looked for Kincaid. She didn't see much of that place.

Crossing the I-10 bridge is a long walk and when Nathalie and Lucille do finally get on the other side of the water, the highway cuts past an old shipping port, full of toppled metal shipping containers. The sight of them reminds Lucille of what they found at Caspar Abraham’s house, that thing bound behind a chained door, a thin that called for Huruma by name. Flesh and blood nightmares. The freeway continues well past the harbor, heading mostly west. The two pass by rows and rows of rusted out cars with flat tires, many of which are packed to the roof with personal belongings long since picked through by scavengers. The pair notes that every car’s gas tank cover is popped open, and whoever came through here likely made off with a handy amount of gasoline.

It’s a mile before they reach the outskirts of the city proper, walking past the burned out husks of car dealerships robbed of vehicles that would still run. Dozens of roadside stores just off the interstate, all of which have blown out windows and had their shelves cleared five or more years ago. Houston is a burning wreck beyond, and as the sun gradually goes down the fires light up the city in the dark of night. After two hours of walking they’re still only halfway — or less — to their destination. There’s no way they could drive in here, though, not with the derelict vehicles filling the road.

Just after dark the pair comes across a roadblock, old olive-drab military vehicles parked on both sides of the road. Tattered remnants of tents here are marked with Department of Evolved Affairs in block print and the angry red and black logo of the defunct agency. There’s triage tents, empty cots, and spent shell-casings on the ground. Not far away the street is demolished by a massive crater, debris flung thousands of feet away from it in every direction. At the rate they’re going, they might reach their destination just before midnight.

Walking is a series of checklists for Nathalie. Did you eat something. Are you drinking water. How are your legs feeling. The process of setting a mark at the edge of her line of site, then reaching it and starting again. When night falls, her steps become more careful, but she doesn't look like she wants to stop.

Particularly at the checkpoint with the organization that turned on them all still lingering, as much a scar as the looted buildings and craters. She speeds up to get passed it.

Her attention periodically shifts to Lucille. To check on her, mostly. There's not really the urge to make conversation, not in this setting, but there's a comfort to know her friend is here with her. The only topics that come to mind are about painful memories of a worse time.

"How're your feet?" is what she asks, instead of making Lucille relive her wartime memories anymore than she already is.

Luce looks up towards the sky as the memory hits and shakes her head a little to herself. With a practiced eye, she surveys the place around them. Keeping herself at ready at all times. Blue gray eyes flare golden as Luce allows her ability to tell her if anything gets too close while the night comes.

"I can go without feeling any physical sensation remember?" It's a soft tease, of course Nathalie hadn't forgotten.

"How do you feel?" Turning the question back around on her younger sister.

Nathalie doesn't answer, though. Can't.

Because he's here.

That next point down in Nathalie’s line of sight, her next visual way-marker, is a fire-blackened 2006 Ford Taurus. In the dark she barely noticed that there was a person standing there beside the car, dressed all in black with gray hair. She feels her chest tighten, Lucille can feel her heart-rate spike.

But the longer she looks at this phantom of a man in a black suit the more she's certain of one thing. It isn't Kazimir Volken.

It's the old man from that day in the Bunker. The one who told her to find Providence.


Lucille can see him too.

When Nathalie tunes out of the conversation, it's not subtle. For Lucille especially. But her eyes fix on the figure and she hardly even seems to breathe in the moments before she recognizes him. She lets out a long sigh when she does, and she give Lucille an apologetic look. Because she's about to talk to a ghost. And since it doesn't occur to her that there's a possibility that Luce might see him, too, she's prepared to seem very strange.

"Hello," she says, once she's closer. "Been a while." She summons a smile, although it's not exactly a happy one. It's a weird situation. "I followed your advice," she adds, which might stand in for a thank you if her tone is anything to judge by. "It was a productive visit."

Her eyes narrow and she shifts her weight, looking into the reflection. As they draw nearer though her eyes widen, she can't sense him at all but he is clearly here and also Nat knows him.

"Projection of some kind…" It's said thoughtfully and the tall woman tilts her head, gaze angled towards the other woman as she speaks of going on a visit. God her best friend had so many strange connections. Lucille takes a moment before folding her arms loosely, weight on one hip. She's not afraid of a projection, she hadn't met one that wasn't just talk so, not totally off guard but she's listening. That Nathalie isn't freaking out means he must be a friendly face.

"Who is h-" stopping herself and turning her head towards the man. "Who are you?" An uptick on her eyebrows.

The old man tilts his head to the side, surveying the two young women in a thoughtful manner. Then he flickers, like a poorly-spliced scene from a film reel, jumping large gaps in distance until he's closed in on them both. A conversational distance. “I'm sorry,” he says with a furrow of his brows, “I'm not… entirely sure that we've had that encounter yet.”

The old man’s tired blue eyes track from Berlin to Lucille and back again. “My name is Walter Renautas,” he says with a gesture to his chest. The surname alone is familiar to both the Wolfhound operatives, having just taken Kyle and Kyla Renautas from the Institute’s custody. “You must be Lucille Ryans,” he says with a motion to the correct woman, “you have your mother’s presence about you.” Then, with a furrow of his brows to Nathalie, “But, you… you're less familiar.”

"You can see him?" Nathalie looks over at Lucille, her surprise showing in a slow blink. "Then he's not— " She turns back to Walter, her head tilted. "You aren't one of the Conduit holders, then. I hope." Because that would be a new and worrying trick, if they could manifest to other people as well. "You told me to find Gabriel, you— "

It takes her a moment, her brow furrowed before she registers his words. "You're not experiencing time the same way we are." She's caught up now. "You're not totally here, though." She looks to Lucille when Walter clocks her spot on, curious and questioning. Although it isn't likely that Luce will be able to answer, so she turns back to the man again. "I'm Nathalie LeRoux. I'm pretty sure I don't have my mother's presence." Who does, though? "If you don't mind me asking, what brings you here, Mr. Renautas?"

"Yea, he's right there." Pointing a finger in his direction while looking over to Nathalie. The comment about her mother makes Lucille snap her attention fully on the old man and then it clicks, an assumption but when its weird… has to do with abilities… and surrounds her family and given this man's apparent age. "Did you work for the Company?" Her tone is low but her gaze is level and steady. Anyone and Lucille means anyone at this point that was working with her father's old bosses is under intense scrutiny. Could he have known about all the times her father's memories were ripped from his brain. All that made him… him at times.

Before she gets herself too riled up the short haired woman's breath is regulated slowly inhaled and slowly out, it finds it's own rhythm almost instantly. She's been hard at work on herself since the days before the war and after. Luce sends a silent thank you to Hana for the meditation techniques she introduced her too that the Wolfhound operative leaned on so much. Lucille still has her feelings on Nathalie meeting up with Gabriel Gray but if anyone would have a chance at helping her, she supposes it would be him. But Walter Renataus, Lucille tucks that name away for a later date. Possibly a date with Lucille, Nathalie and the twins.

"You've talked to her before she's saying and you have no recollection… but you're here as a projection now…" Those gears in her head are turning, running rampant with the knowledge she's absorbed over the years. What does this sound like? "Are you experiencing things out of time somehow?" But the real question in this moment was why he was here.

Walter’s brow rises ever so subtly as he’s asked a half dozen questions, the smile on his lips the one a grandparent might have when a curious child asks them numerous things about the color of the sky. “I did, once, work for the Company… but I retired and then…” he shrugs, clearly having more to say there, but choosing not to. “You’re right, though, it appears I may have yet come to you about this… Gabriel?” He purses his lips in thought, tucking the name away for another day. “I suppose that is where I am destined to end, then. I do experience the course of events out of order, because…” he makes a noise in the back of his throat, “it’s challenging to explain. But what I do isn’t precise, and requires…” he seems unhappy with any possible explanation.

“Imagine if you would,” Walter starts again, raising one hand to hold the two women’s attention, “that your life from start to finish was a series of photographs, but instead of being in any discernible order, they are strewn face-down across the floor of your home. Pick one up, and there’s no telling what moment it would be.” Walter’s brows rise, hopeful that they’re following the analogy. “Now, take photographs of every moment in history… and find one specific date and time.” He spreads his hands. “That I am as good as I am at hitting close to the mark is a testament to how much…” he smiles, “time I have spent learning.”

But with that explanation given, Walter breathes in and exhales a sigh through his nose. All these apparent bodily functions and yet neither Lucille nor Berlin can so much as feel his presence before them. “I do, however, require your help…” he says of Lucille. “As I said, much of what I do is imprecise, but I’ve been asked to find something in the past that your father Benjamin may have been witness to. I’ve… since learned that ambushing people with what I do is, perhaps, rude.” The Cambria family would likely agree. “So, with your permission, I would like to use you as something of a tuning fork to find a moment in the past. Both of you would bear witness to it, as I would, but you cannot affect anyone or anything therein. Much as you cannot affect me.”

Nathalie tilts her head at the explanation of Walter's ability. There are few abilities she's heard of that sound more difficult than her own to manage, and he gets a sympathetic look. For a moment. Sympathy gives way to suspicion as he goes on to explain his purpose here, and she looks over at Lucille. She'll let her decide on whether or not to go through with it— Luce knows that Nat is with her either way— but there is something nagging at her.

She looks back to Walter, a hand moving to her hip.

"Asked by whom?"

There are good and bad answers to this question. But she seems willing to wait and see what sort of answer they get before lumping this in with the sort of thing that the Company got up to. Ben Ryans may not be her father, but there's obviously a protective streak there all the same.

Luce as well squints her eyes at Walter's ability, knowing what it is not to be able to totally control your ability or… well yourself. This common thread connects all three people standing here in this space, she grimaces and nods along with Nathalie before he gets to his why. The older woman folds her arms and looks down, contemplating. "Our organization, Wolfhound happened upon Casper Abrams' stash of stolen memories in the form of pennies."

She looks now with gray blue eyes at the apparition in front of them. "My father was there, memories of Adam. It only led to more questions." Lucille rubs the back of her neck and looks over to Nathalie nodding along with her, "Yea who exactly is doing the asking here?"

In any event, Lucille wants to know. These things her father couldn't even remember. Inheriting his legacy wasn't going to be like this in her mind but she had begun to acclimate to the idea.

"…I'll do it."

At least he had asked this time.

“A new friend,” Walter says with a raise of his brows.

“Richard Ray.”

Petrelli Manor

Upper West Side, Manhattan

April 2


A door slams further down the hall, though it is nothing compared to the sound of thunder rumbling in the sky overhead. A pair of hard-soled shoes echo in their report down the tiled corridor, approaching the double doors into the dimly lit lounge. Lucille and Nathalie have found themselves abandoned here, whisked into a moment trapped in time far apart from either of their own personal experiences. Though for Lucille there is something subtly familiar about this place, its tall glass doors leading out onto a balcony, the mantle over the fireplace with photographs of the Petrelli family set across it. A young Arthur and Angela surely in love judging from their embrace, photographs of Nathan and Peter as children…

Ghosts of another era.


“We can’t just sit here and do nothing,” is more familiar than even a thunderbolt to Lucille. Her father’s voice is instantly recognizable as the doors to the lounge open. Nathalie recognizes his voice as well, smoother and younger but still possessed of that growl. As Benjamin Ryans bursts into the lounge, his eyes sweep over Lucille and Nathalie as if they aren’t there. No, his attention is quick to angle over his shoulder to—

Ben, we need to plan.”


Wheeling around, Ryans throws his hand in the direction of the door behind Arthur and sends it flying shut. “We tried planning, Arthur, and look what it got us! Seventeen dead agents and nowhere near any closer to stopping that thing!” Arthur is slow to respond, raking his hand through his hair and angling a look to the photographs on the mantle.

“Angela thinks its headed to India,” is Arthur’s eventual response. “We narrowed it down to the city of Bhopal, we think it may have teleported there after the last encounter.” Ryans throws his hands in the air in response after that.

“Then we go to India. There’s no telling— ”

Ben,” Arthur takes a step forward and rests a firm hand on Ryans’ shoulder. “Ben, I know you’re sore about losing Agent Phillips, he was a friend to all of us. But we can’t keep throwing people at that thing. We need to find Adam, find out what it is he knows, and… figure out a way to contain this thing.”

Richard's name makes Nathalie relax— she expected worse, obviously. But there's little time to follow up, since they find themselves in the past. She turns around in place, taking in the scenery and trying to orient herself. She ends up settled on a picture of a young Peter Petrelli, a figure she's never met, but that part of her knows. The picture brings up a feeling of displaced nostalgia for a time long past. A time she never actually experienced.

The voice brings her back to the moment, though. Ben Ryans is unmistakable, whatever time period he's in. She opens her mouth to speak, but stops when he looks right through them. She was warned, but it's still a strange experience. To be here and not be here. Stranger still, the display of both anger and power.

"Whoa," she says, looking from the men to Lucille, to check on her. It's all odd enough that it takes her a moment to realize what they're talking about. But once it sinks in, she steps closer to them, peering over Arthur as he tries to handle a Ryans.

That name only allows for a nod in reply, Nathalie trusts him as did her employers. Lucille had… feelings. It was still so strange, Alaska. He did help her once, with that parkour ninja Monica, there was that.

This felt more immersive than Cassandra's projection somehow but it was still weird. Very strange even. "We use to be here… sometimes. Delia and I. Other Company Kids…" Not often and the memories weren't all the way there but she… could have sworn. Her eyes take in the picture of Peter and she quickly looks away. Lucille seems to be cool, calm, at least her mother hasn't popped up in any of these memories she's stumbled upon. "Dinners… those kind of things."

She always had a tiny crush on him. Nathan was attractive but Peter was sweet, it was strange to have all these connections to them through her father and the Company, Hiro.. none of the people she kept up with in adult life though. Slowly Lucille walks forward when her father and Arthur are talking and her father is being very… well Ryans, "One of Adam's memories was of he, Arthur and Robyn's mom confronting this thing with golden eyes." Her father wanted to get it, it had taken someone from him. Luce's eyes narrow and she tilts her head. "If this is after that memory I'm willing to bet it's the same thing. That's the only way I could describe it."

A thing.

For as real as this shadow play feels, with its sights and sounds and smells, Lucille and Nathalie are uniquely equipped to sense the unreality of it all. Neither Arthur nor Ben have a sense of weight about them, no sense of life in the way a television broadcast lacks three full dimensions, just the illusion of such. But for all that perceived unreality, these two men still cast long and powerful shadows.

“We can’t contain it, Arthur. Do you really think that's possible, after what happened in Ontario? Arthur, if there's another incident that size we will never be able to keep it from the public eye.” Ryans is emphatic and, perhaps more unsettling, he's afraid. “We opened Pandora’s Box trying to understand what Michelle Cardinal did and there's no closing it. We have to deal with the repercussions of our actions. All of us.”

Arthur exhales a slow and thoughtful sigh, stepping away from Ryans and passing right through Lucille like a ghost. She doesn't feel so much as a chill or a tingle. He's nothing, just a memory of the past. “And what would you have me do, Ben? Rally the troops and call for some heroic last stand? You said it yourself, look what happened in Ontario. We’re down some of our best agents, the rest are trying to keep this quiet. This isn't like anything we've faced before. We need to understand what we’re dealing with.”

“And how exactly do you suggest we do that while it's still out there?” Ryans quickly retorts. “We tried letting Victoria and Colin devise something and it didn't work. Maybe…” Ryans looks down to the floor, sweeping a hand over his head and taking fingers through his hair. “Maybe it's time we come clean to the government. Maybe the only way we survive this is with more resources?”

That has Arthur shaking his head adamantly. “No, absolutely not. Our anonymity is our strength, the minute we cede our existence to the governments of the world is the minute they turn against us. I will not trade fear for my freedom. Not now, not ever.” Walking over to the mantle, Arthur rests his hand against the old wood grain and hangs his head. “We have to trust Agent Roux and Mr. Drucker to come up with a solution and… in the meanwhile, we,” he looks up at Ryans, “need to find Adam. He's the only one who might be able to shed some light on this.”

Slowly stepping out from behind Lucille and Nathalie, Walter Renautas watches the scene play out with furrowed brows and parted lips. He tilts his head to the side, thoughtfully considering what Arthur and Ryans have said. “Aha, Mr. Drucker… interesting. That's…” he reaches into the air, as if looking for something sight unseen. “The missing thread.”

Walter then turns his attention to Nathalie and Lucille. “As you can see, my research is… of dire nature.”

"The Dragon," Nathalie supplies for Lucille, "your dad went up against it." She follows the two men closely, waving her hand through Ryans' arm once she sees Arthur pass through Luce. "This is so weird on so many levels." She turns to look back to Luce, "Did we know Ben had an ability?"

Hearing Walter's voice makes her turn back around, her eyebrows lifting. "You're trying to find out how to trap it. Kill it. If it's possible. Is it true that Adam would know?" Adam isn't an uncommon name, but as far as she's concerned, there is only one they could possibly be talking about. "There's… I don't know if it would work, but I know I'm connected to people who knew him in the past. If he knows, maybe we can use me to find the answer in another time."

Lucille is taken aback by just how much her father knows but not by his will. All of her family echoes that strength of mind, of presence. She swells with pride. "Of course he did because he's him. The Dragon…" Shaking her head while folding her arms and shifting her weight. The thing that murdered Robyn's mother. "I knew he was involved… somehow but not to this extent. Whatever happened with Victoria…" Was a big clue. "That bit… about his ability is a tough thing to bring up." Lucille admits to both of the people with her while she looks down to the ground.

"Arthur took it from him after this, not sure how long after but it explains a lot. About him, our upbringing. Lots of memory wiping." She looks uncomfortable talking about it, it's still hard. Life could have been so different for the Ryanses.

She shifts her focus, the name Drucker feels familiar but only because she's met a piece of him. "I kind of.. remember that name. He's.. well he's not around. He was apart of this techonpathy thing." Still unsure on all of that, "But he helped me get out of France when the Institute came for me. Hana would know more." That much she remembers, there was the thing with Liette as well. Those years were the years that formed her.

But before Lucille can go further Nathalie offers an alternative to Renataus' search for quest for information. "Wait.. you think he can use his ability to filter through the conduit's memories…" the older woman looks up at her best friend and studies her face and slowly nodding, it could work. "Maybe if both this Dragon and the Conduits are so old they've crossed paths or something." Adam and the Dragon seemed to be entangled, and Joy, and Kazimir. It seemed to be a running theme that immortal forces hung around each other.

"Could it work?" Lucille asks Renataus.

“Then I’m going to make sure they stay on schedule,” Ryans says with a shake of his head, looking at Arthur with a pointed expression. Their exchange goes on in spite of Lucille’s desire to draw Renautas’ attention away, and he raises one hand and a single index finger to her as he studies this moment of history carefully. “Either get me a teleporter or get me a plane.”

Ben,” Arthur says disapprovingly with a shake of his head, “what do you think you’re going to be able to do in Antarctica? You’re not a scientist. Putting you on the bottom of the world won’t do anyone any good, and it won’t help you protect anyone.” The rebuke has Ryans’ shoulders tensing up, and he looks down to the floor, angry but also understanding of what Arthur’s getting at. Lucille sees so much of herself in her younger father, so much of her intensity and so much of her recklessness.

“Then I’m going to Fort Hero,” Ryans says with a wave of one hand in the air as if to dismiss any of Arthur’s rebuttal. “I’m going to organize the agents we have there and make sure that everything is ready for when Drucker and Roux are finished with their work.” Arthur relents to Ryans’ request, exhaling a weary sigh and a slow shrug.

Stepping over to Ryans, Arthur claps a hand on his shoulder and gives him a stern look. “Okay,” he says reluctantly. “Okay, take charge of things at Fort Hero, I know Bob could use the relief. It’ll let him focus on things with Ellie.” Arthur lets his hand slip away from Ryans’ shoulder, and Ben nods once in silent agreement.

As the two start to part ways, the moment in time pauses like a frozen frame in a recording, and Renautas slowly turns back toward Nathalie and Lucille. His old eyes drift from Lucille to square on Nathalie, brows knitting together. “I might be able to, but yours is a long and confusing beach with many grains of sand to turn over. But if nothing else I have time on my side,” Renautas admits with a wry smile, “so it isn’t an impossibility. Just up or down the road a little… depending on which way you look.”

“Adam’s connection to all of this is… worrisome. What I remember of him is not good, and yet…” Renautas’ brows furrow, eyes dipping down to look at the floor, “who am I to say what the accuracy of memory is, now? Perhaps the man I believe I know is not the man who truly lived.” Looking back up to Lucille and Nathalie, Renautas smiles approvingly. “You two have given me much to think on, and I’ve found one…” he dithers, looking back to Arthur for a moment, then the two young women, “no, two threads to follow. Thank you for this…”


Present Day

“…you’ve been most helpful.”

The world around them changed back to the ruined Texas cityscape in an instant, with their placement all the same. It feels as though they never left, and in all likelihood hadn’t. Renautas is still there, his attention settled on Lucille and Nathalie. “Until we meet again, then?”

"I don't think you have to worry about finding out that Adam is a nice man, Walter. He's ruthless and determined to have his way no matter who it hurts. Maybe there was a time he wasn't like that, but all his time hasn't done him any favors." Nathalie glances over at the two men in the memory, blinking as they're replaced with a modern husk of a city. She shakes her head and looks over at Lucille. There's a lot the two of them are going to have to talk about— just not right this second.

So she looks back to Renautas, her expression softer, if a little wry when she notes, "See you soon."


"That's where…" Lucille falls silent and looks over the scene as it vanishes and her father with it. They were so alike it was startling at times, especially to see it in his younger years.

Straightening up Luce tilts her head towards Renatuas, their joint request of how his ability works with Nathalie's unique situation seemed to have him at a pause. "We both thank you. See you soon."

They had a lot to think about. The vision still in her mind. "He was so determined…" she says softly.

Like a spliced in film reel, Walter is suddenly edited from the scene. His patient old smile lingers in the back of Nathalie and Lucille’s minds, as does the implications of the visions he’d shown to them. Visions of events in a forgotten past, lost to those who experienced them. They had come out to Texas to find information on Claudius Kellar, and all they found instead were shadows of a past much farther removed than the one they were expecting to dig into.

There is no building left of Claudis’ company. Nathalie and Lucille at least confirm that much, and though the rubble of his consulting company proves to be a dead end…

…not all endings are final.

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