Oar Place Or Mine


ff_cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon3.gif vf_isabelle_icon.gif wf_lance_icon.gif bf_lynette_icon4.gif bf_odessa_icon3.gif vf_shaw_icon3.gif wf_walter_icon.gif

Scene Title Oar Place or Mine?
Synopsis The Travelers meet with their rescuers and discover just how strange their new world is.
Date October 22, 2018

Down below decks, the sea sounds like a whisper through a keyhole.

The gentle rock and toss of the ship is accented by the sway of oil lamps hanging from the ceiling. Shadows dance along the walls, and booted feet scuff across the floor. A peal of thunder sounds less threatening now, less urgent. The patter of rain, too, less hammering and more hospitable.

Oar Place or Mine isn't a big ship, barely able to hold the full capacity of all the travelers it rescued. Below the deck there is just a single modest cabin, a bedroom with a worn carpeted floor, a king size bed that takes up nearly all the space to sit. The travelers who have come out of the elements are seated on the bed, on the bench seats fixed to the walls, and some on the floor.

Catherine Chesterfield, the Captain’s accomplice, ducks through the group offering a tin cup from a stack and some hot water for very mild herbal tea that is mostly loose leaves of mint and teaberry. It's not great, but it's warm.

Oar Place or Mine

Somewhere on the Sea

October 22


“So… it was different.” Walter Trafford sits on the bottom steps with his back to the cabin door. “The Wasteland you were in. Everything…” he scrambles his hands in the air. “Everything changed?” Looking at Lance, looking at Lene, Walter slouches his shoulders and takes his fingers through his hair. He's having a hard time with this all.

“I'm really sorry,” Walter says to the floor, then looks up to the others and drags his hands down his face. “I wish I had more answers for you. I… I left your time,” he addresses Magnes and Elisabeth, “during the civil war. Kincaid wanted to go home and… I mean I just assumed I could. Go back.” To a future they prevented.

“I did,” isn't what most folks expected Walter to say. “It was there, right as we’d left it. Kincaid wanted to fight, and I… I can't blame him. We left that world behind thinking if we changed the past it’d just… you know…” He makes a shooing motion with his hands. “Finding out that everyone you fought and died for were still out there, in peril, without you was hard.”

Walter looks back down to the floor. “I… guess you've all learned that lesson too.” He grimaces, one had holding the Polynesian hei matau he wears in one hand. “Christ, I can't even imagine.”

“No, Pippi Longstockings, you probably can't.” Kain says with a furrow of his brows from the floor, the backpack of supplies Magnes retrieved secured between his feet. “It's been one horror show after another. And now you're tellin’ us this is some kinda' Kevin Costner Waterworld shit-show?”

Walter shakes his head and rubs one hand at the back of his neck. “I've only been here a few months. Eve can explain it better but she's…” He makes a dismissive wave, as if that isn't possible right now. “She told me when you'd be coming. She's told me a lot, but I don't think she knows the context of it all. Hell, I barely do.”

Having finished dispensing tea, Cat comes to lean up against the wall beside Walter and offers the last cup to him. “Thanks, Kitty,” He says appreciatively, and she just offers a smile and a slow nod.

“I'll admit,” Cat says with a hand to her chest as she looks out over the travelers, “I'm a bit mystified by all of this. Fascinated, but mystified. Walter wants to get back to his mother, back to your time. If I'm interpreting it all correctly.” She briefly motions to Walter, then back to the others. “I'd love to help however I can. You all sound like you've been through so much, and…” she smiles at Magnes. “It's the least I could do for my sensei.”

That's still weird.

“So,” Walter interjects, staring into his tea. “Here's the problem…” He looks back up to the group. “When I tried to travel back downstream to get back to your time from mine… I think I pulled a muscle, for lack of a better term. Took a wrong turn in Albuquerque. My ability hasn't worked right since. Can't teleport, sure as hell can't time travel. I don't know what happened, how I ended up here or…” Walter sighs. “How to help you all.”

Putting a reassuring hand on Walter’s shoulder, Cat gives him a brief look, the turns to the group. “I'm sure you all have a million questions. Let's start there.”

Considering the tight space and the number of people they've got crammed into it, Elisabeth's mainly just been listening and tucking into one side of the room seated on the floor with Aurora curled up into a small ball in her lap. The little girl has heard more about things she can't even begin to comprehend than any child her age should really have to be privy to by the age of six, and her hazel eyes are somewhat glazed over in both exhaustion and just plain being overwhelmed. The audiokinetic's expression has altered between relief that they're all sitting here, incredulity at Walter's tale, and thoughtfulness as she parses what she does know, what she's managed to guess over the years, and what still needs to be answered. When she speaks up, her voice is a little roughened by the seawater she inhaled on landing and having to pull her daughter from under the waves, but despite her own exhaustion there's wariness here.

"You left there in… the civil war," Elisabeth says slowly. "So it's still going on back home? I had the impression that the civil war was already over well before 2017…" She slants a look at Odessa, her brow furrowed. The time differential was in play when Des visited Elisabeth in Bright for a year. "Maybe that should get revisited in more depth in a bit," she offers hesitantly. "But just for the short-short version… I know there's a slip differential of some kind. Something that we did in November 2011 when we hit the Institute in our world… you were still there for that, yeah?" She watches Walter's head movement for a reply on that and then just says, "something we did then with Zeke's godda—- dang machine when we broke it… seems to have effected multiple timelines. You said you can't teleport, but… has Eve given you any of her cryptic clues that make more sense in hindsight now?"

Her brain is running a million light years a second right now despite the roller coaster of hope and despair she's been riding for the past year and half again.

“Time is definitely not a line,” Odessa murmurs. She’s seated on the floor as well, clutching her tin cup in hand and shivering. Her blonde hair clings wetly to the sides of her face and neck still, slowly curling more as it dries. “Something happened in 2011 and it’s been…” She waves one hand through the air in a vague gesture. Blue eyes rimmed red and dark purple with exhaustion glance up to Walter. “Do you feel it?” She’s curious if others feel it as keenly as she does.

"Civil war?" Ling's wispy, ethereal voice drifts through the cabin as smoke curls up and around Kain. She wants to fire off some kind of barb. Is there a timeline that isn't irrevocably fucked? dances on the tip of her tongue. Are we going to going to get somewhere that is any reasonable amount of safe? waits in the wings after it.

Neither question reaches the air. Instead, she stares at Walter through a haze of uneven smoke, choosing not to take a fully solid form for fear of freezing from the cold water. It's an option, better than the alternative even if she doesn't like it.

"With any luck, it's over by the time we get there," is all she settles on ultimately, and even then she lacks her usual confidence.

Looking at Odessa, Walter just shakes his head. “If there's something to feel, I can't feel a thing.” He seems worried about that.

Walter grimaces and offers a brief look to Cat, then looks back to Elisabeth. “Yeah, uh, I bailed right around the time the war was wrapping up. So that was twenty-thirteen or so. Kincaid wanted to go home and… I couldn't blame him. So pow, bam, I kinda’ overshot home by a couple years but whatever it's not a science.” People let this man travel time. “On my attempt to circle back from the 2040’s I… I dunno, tripped? Wound up here. It's October 22nd, 2018. Wherever the heck here is.”

New York,” Cat adds helpfully.

“I know New York oh my god why are you like that?” Walter bleats.

Cat just smirks, teasingly.

“I've known Eve a while.” Cat notes, “Crewed with her for a bit too on her ship. The only things she's said that make sense in hindsight is that I'd meet some familiar faces that are unfamiliar. Then she started talking to her cats, so…” Cat looks at Walter who nods in agreement. Eve talks to her cats.

“Eve found me when I crash landed here. I fell out of the same point in the sky you did. She said there used to be a building there before the flood…” Walter spreads his hands. “Oh, uh, yeah. Apparently there was a flood? Back in early twenty-ten, killed a few million people and the Vanguard did the rest. Then apparently they fucked off too and just left us with thirty stories of water.”

“Something like three hundred meters of sea level rise,” Cat adds, one brow raised at Walter in challenge. “Maybe. It's something like that,” she says with a grin.

“Eve said you'd be strangers to this place but familiar to me. I don't think she really knows who you are, all truth be told. Her dreams were always more metaphor than factual. Symbols and the like…” Walter makes a series of tangled gestures with his hands as if trying to depict Eve in pantomime.

From the flood, Elaine lets out a small sigh and rests her forehead tiredly against her forearms. Red hair spills over her arms, and she's thankful for the warmth that Isabelle is throwing off to heat the room and bring the chill out. She's quiet, though. Sullen. Addie’s absence and the constant shifting of locations may finally be taking its toll on her.

“I'm not a scientist,” Walter explains for anyone who might be confused otherwise, which seems like a stretch. “I couldn't tell you how any of this works. I just want to get home and if you've done this before then it sounds like we’re in the same— ” he hesitates, wincing.

“Boat.” Cat adds helpfully to Walter’s dismay.

"I can help explain. Maybe not the science, but… what we're doing." Lynette hasn't rested much, but anyone who has been paying attention since she and Mateo swapped powers knows she hasn't been sleeping much at all. Nightmares. Drifting off mid-conversation. It's bone deep now, her weariness. "But either way, it may comfort you to know that it doesn't seem to have a limit on how many people can go through the portal. El Umbral. Not yet, anyway. I don't think adding another on the next jump would be a problem. Plotting the next jump is the problem."

Instead of finding a seat, she leans against a wall, blonde hair in a messy halo around her face. "Hi," she says, belatedly, waving to both Cat and Walter, "I'm Lynette Ruiz. I don't know if any of us know each other, but it's good to meet you. We appreciate the rescue." She ends up glancing over to Odessa. Her answer is in the worry in her gaze— she may not feel the same thing her sister-in-law does, but she feels it in her own way. "Something was different this time, the jump, it— felt strange."

“You do look familiar, but I'm not sure from where,” Cat admits, but seems to dismiss the notion off hand. “It might have something to do with the aurora. It started up a few hours before you all arrived. Hard to see because of the storm but… it’s just one big electromagnetic blanket draped over us. Compasses are acting weird too.”

Right. Introductions. “Odessa Woods,” the blonde adds in the wake of her sister-in-law’s words. She takes it for granted that her reputation precedes her. Maybe there’s a world where it doesn’t. That’d be novel.

“You too?” Odessa meets Lynette’s gaze and nods her head solemnly after a moment. Maybe they don’t share the same sense precisely, but there’s something synchronistic about her ability and the one that originally belonged to Mateo. “Something like this happened in 2011. Over Cambridge.” Over Natazhat.

Cat arches a brow at Odessa, she seemed to recognize the name, of not any familiarity about the events of 2011. “Cambridge is about three hundred feet underwater these days,” she says with an incline of her head, “I don't imagine much of Alaska is. In either case, I've never seen anything like this before.” She looks at Walter for a moment, then down to the floor and then back over to Odessa, troubled by something unsaid.

“There's a Jim Woods out in the Pelago. That’s, uh, sort of where we are. It's what's left of Manhattan, I guess. Bunch of skyscrapers that are cities of their own. Once the storm settles we’ll dock and get you all onto dry land.” Walter says, playing with his necklace idly. “There's food and better shelter than this.”

“You should know,” Cat interjects, “if you've done this before there may be… duplicates of you here. I hope that won't cause any undue stress. But, it's worth noting. Have… have you run into that before?” There's an insatiable curiosity, she's face to face with people who have been traveling through realities. If Eve had told her that she'd never have believed a word of it. But now? It's impossible to disbelieve.

Odessa's question gets a nod, but it takes a long moment before Lynette decides to explain anything. "Since Tyler swapped our powers. It's been getting steadily… I can't help but worry that I broke something important. I shouldn't have let us travel until I figured out what was happening." A deeper explanation will have to come later, when she can have her sister more alone than this. The bottom line, though, is that she didn't want to spend another moment in that reality.

Lynette looks over at Cat, her question providing enough of a distraction. A welcome distraction. "Yes. The last version of me was very grouchy." An understated way to put it. "And my husband and I both knew our own versions of each other before we met." It's complicated goes without explanation.

Elisabeth finally pulls in a slow breath, resting her chin atop Aurora's head for a long moment, thinking about the differences that the temporally sensitive are discussing while caressing the girl's hair. When she breathes out, it's with a soft sigh. "I'm assuming the spot we all fell out of the sky is the Deveaux Building's original placement… but I could be wrong. Still would mean we need make sure here is where we attempt to leave again, though. That's been a constant in all timelines."

She glances at Cat and smiles faintly, assuaging at least some of the curiosity. She hasn't seen her friend in years. And apparently they don't know one another here, but… it's still Cat. And perhaps the details will be useful somehow. "Okay. So… yes, we know there may be duplicates. It's happened in each of the other three timelines that Magnes and I have landed in." She pauses quietly, glancing at Walter. "From your perspective, we were killed or otherwise vanished from our world into a singularity over Natazhat in 2011. We landed… in a world where the virus was never stopped. Picked up some company. Managed to get from there to a variation of the world where Pinehearst was never taken down. Picked up a bit more company. And then landed in the variation of your world and grabbed a few more companions before landing here. As I understand what happened, based on what we found out in those worlds, the aurora borealis happened in each place at the same time in 2011, which makes sense astronomically speaking but also makes me think that the electromagnetics there are part of what went wrong when we got sucked out. And maybe they're going to be necessary if we try again."

She pauses and considers. "I know the machine that Zeke was building in our world created an aurora of some kind, and the original template of it did that as well. The first time they used it, in 1982, the same kind of aurora appeared. But that's damn near all I know about the machine, really. Magnes was studying it. Cambridge… might be where we need to go," she murmurs. Or maybe Kansas City? the thought occurs to her. "But even if the Institute's Ark is still there, it'd be completely inaccessible under that much water. Right? And given the givens, I doubt even attempting to get that blasted machine working, if it existed here, is a good plan At. All." She looks at Walter. "What do we need to know to be able to survive here?" she asks bluntly. "We don't have a lot to bargain with, and even if Lynette's willing to try ripping open yet another hole," she looks at the other woman with a small, grateful smile, "I think we're going to need recovery time. So… what will it cost us? And how can you help us?" Since Eve sent them and Walter wants to go back too, it seems a reasonable query.

"That's not… exactly true," Lynette says, "The building gives us a point to focus on. It makes the Point A and the Point B easy to find. We know that building exists in your timeline, so we are less likely to land in a time that never had it and more likely to hit yours. And it lets me be reasonably certain I'm not portalling us into a wall or bedrock miles under where we want to be. But there's no reason that any other point wouldn't do just as well."

But what her words do imply, at least, is that she is willing to do this again. Even if it seems to keep going wrong. "My son is in your world, Liz. I'll rip open whatever I have to to get there." She glances at Cat and Walter, some apology in her expression. "I'll do my best not to ruin anything on my way out."

Walter releases a slow whistle and leans back, running one hand down his mouth. “Wow, okay that's— a hell of a thing. You're the first people to really help me make heads or tails of how I wound up here, and truth be told I don't really know how here became here. Because there's some steps missing between left for home and returned to Noah’s Ark two-point-oh, that I'm still unclear on but… we can put that aside.”

Looking around the room, Walter rubs his hands together. “Cat this is, uh, I mean you're a local.” He looks up to her with brows furrowed, deferring to her expertise rather than going off of his own limited perspective. Cat in turn leans off of the wall and threads a lock of long, dark hair behind one ear.

“Barter is life. Whether it's material goods or expertise. Trade skills are in demand, people who can fix things, do manual labor. There's electricity in some buildings through generators but a shortage of actual electricians to do the work so wiring is janky at best.” Cat meticulously recites things, but as she does it's clear she's stopping and thinking about it. For a moment she looks off into the distance, working to remember something. For those who knew her, it's an unusual moment.

“There's businesses as always, life continues. But the dollar is effectively as valuable as toilet paper. Which— admittedly is very valuable so keep your uh,” Cat eyes Walter.

“Shit tickets.” Walter adds, helpfully.

Shit tickets,” Cat reiterates as though it were a technical term. “The Pelago, the island-towers of Manhattan, are mostly peaceful. You get some violent crimes, but it's New York— so.” She shrugs, helplessly. “Most people are just willing to work together to survive. There's a library, too, just the one. Run by a woman named Stephanie Winters, and that might be of the most help to you. There aren't many other books elsewhere.”

Walter drums his hands on his knees, listening to the sounds of the rain dying down. “Just… if you leave the Pelago? Don't go north. Pirates everywhere out there, just awful. And if you have an ability? Try to be discreet with it. It's been a long time since the Sentinel rolled through, but… Not everyone is cautious, but I say better safe than sorry.”

The snort that comes from Elisabeth at the technical term shit ticket is the precursor to a huff of soft laughter that's actually sort of welcome. Stroking Aurora's hair absently, she leans back on the wall where she's sitting to let the little girl cuddle in under her chin while she tips her head back. Stephanie Winters is an interesting stop. "The Sentinel?" she asks, because that seems like the more important bit of information here. With her blue eyes on Cat, Elisabeth is remembering so many times she's seen Cat get lost in a memory… but she's never had to search for one. Glancing at her companions, she grimaces faintly. "We're definitely used to the barter and trade after the last few months… just don't have a lot to trade with." And although she doesn't say it, she also at this moment has no idea where the hell to start trying to find their way home from here. That's perhaps better left unspoken for now, until they can regroup.

The barrage of questions is expected, given their situation. Walter defers to Cat for the first of them, as the resident native. He doesn’t even need to so much as motion to her for her to step in and take charge of that topic. “Nazis,” Cat says of the Sentinel, “effectively. They’re what remains of a group called the Vanguard that exterminated people with supernatural abilities. Evolved, as they’re called here.” Cat crosses her arms over her chest. “When the Vanguard finished their work, the Evolved among them took their own lives or had them taken for them… and then all that was left was a quasi-religious order called the Sentinel to carry out their leaders’ work in the future.”

Walter shakes his head slowly, “I’ve never seen them, personally. But all the people you’d imagine who flipped them the middle finger did here too, far as I’ve heard. Eileen.” He says for Elisabeth’s benefit. “They’re out a ways past the Pelago in another settlement, locals in the area can probably tell you better.” Rubbing his hands together, Walter looks over at Magnes briefly, then down to the floor.

Izzy has been silent since they descended below the deck of their savior ship, keeping the air warm and comfortable as thanks to the two people there in the room with them and for the sake of her traveling companions, she sits with a hand on her knee watching what transpires before her. "Someone liked X-Men growing up," she mutters and scuffs her barefoot on the wooden floor, her boots drying in the corner.

"Pirates?" A thought to the band of marauders she encountered with Shaw in the previous timeline and she narrows her eyes, "A band of fucked up, twisted individuals. Doesn't matter what timeline we're in." Fuckkkkk themmmmm. Isa takes a moment to consider, "So we need to find that data, the kind of shit that tells us when we can make the next jump. Where are your brainiacs at?" She doesn't sound like she went to college for chemical engineering and has a brain for science now, still sounds like rough around the edges woman, some things don't change.

The sooner they can get out of world overrun by a flood the better in her eyes. She's also way less inclined to go the route of.. "I'd rather concrete evidence then the ramblings of that fucking hoot owl." Rolling her eyes the pyro looks over at Lynette with sympathy, she knew having lost Addie that they had a bigger mission now. Saving the kids.

Discreet. Neither of the powers that Lynette has spent time will could be described as discreet. And it's a little disheartening, really, coming from her world into another world where abilities had to be downplayed. And she's just tired enough for her disappointment to show in her features.

"Libraries are always a good place to start," she says, to Izzy, "we might find something there. And librarians always seem to know a little bit about everything. As far as barter— we have skills we can trade in. Mateo and I have some experience with wiring, for example." Granted, hers was learned from him, but still, they can trade in service, if that's what it comes to. "We research, we survive, then we go. Just like last time. Without the robot army this time, maybe?" Although sentinel doesn't sound promising.

Lance, who’s been listening quietly with ‘Lene wrapped in a blanket being fed from a bottle, blinks up as he recognizes something said by their ‘hosts’ on this particular ship. “Stephanie… Winters?” Books, Winters… his brow knits a little. “Is she related to Brian and Gillian at all?”

The baby makes a happy little gurgle, spitting up a bit of milk in the process, and with a little grumble he cleans up the spill with the edge of the same blanket she’s wrapped in.

To Lance, Walter squints, trying to remember what his question was. Then, with a helpless shrug he looks to Cat. “Stef has a brother named Brian, yes. But I don’t know anyone named Gillian.” She says with a helpless shrug of one shoulder. “I’m sorry.” He can’t quite look at Lene, not without his mind reeling from the implications.

Leaning against Isabelle, Shaw has been quiet ever since finding out the entirety of Eggos in existence has likely… well. It's a tragedy that has kept the man silent and tucked against his fiancée, almost dozing due to the warmth. Dark eyes travel among each speaker, and the man perks at the mention of electricians and trade skills. "Can I drive the boat? I learned how, back in Before," he asks of Walter and Cat. But when there's mention of pirates he sits up even straighter. "Is there Dread Pirate Roberts?" he utters suddenly, worriedly. "But… he was good in the end."

Shaw’s question is a far easier one to answer for Walter. “Honestly? You might be better at it than I am. Cat’s, uh— ”

“The one with the sailing skills.” Cat interjects, helpfully. Walter grimaces and scrubs one hand at the back of his neck, then motions to Shaw with a you see? gesture. “As for Dread Pirates,” Cat continues, “the only one I know who fits that bill would be Captain Sawyer, who marshalls most of the pirates north of this region. Conjecture says she’s a cannibal.”

“That’s ridiculous.” Walter says with a wave of his hand, but doesn’t elaborate.

Having settled herself down to be as small as possible, arms hugging legs and knees tucked under her chin, Squeaks has been content to observe. Sometimes her eyes follow the conversation, resting on whoever is talking for a few seconds and then moving on when someone else starts. But she’s also let her attention wander, interrupted by a yawn or whatever that strange thing is on the ceiling — probably it’s just a shadow — and the small fidgets. Like Odessa and her cup and Liz cuddling Aurora. And, “What’s that?” The teenager’s question is joined by a finger that points at Walter. “Around your neck?” It’s maybe not as important as all the other questions being asked — definitely pirates and toilet paper are more important — but Walter’s worrying that necklace caught her attention a bunch.

“This?” Walter plucks at the symbol around his neck and looks at it, then looks over to Squeaks. “It’s a… somebody told me it was a hei matau? Something, uh, Polynesian? I’m honestly not sure. It’s…” He stops, squinting at it. “It— represents… strength and luck and…” Slowly, a look of dawning frustration crosses Walter’s face. “Safe travel across water.”

Cat slides a look over at Walter, then down to the necklace. “Who gave that to you?”

Walter just shrugs, disinclined to explain. “It sounds like the storm’s passed…” is his way of slipping out from further explanation. “I’m going to go above decks and, uh, Shaine?”

“Shaw.” Cat corrects, helpfully.

Shaw.” Walter snaps his fingers, “If you wanna’ spin the wheel and hoist the uh, main sails or whatever… be my guest. We’re going to dock at what used to be… 400 Fifth Ave, I think?” He looks over to Cat, who nods in affirmation. “Cat’s got a place down near the water line. It’s a little damp, but she’s agreed to let you all crash there until you get on your feet.” Briefly, Walter looks at Lene in Lance’s arms, then over to the door to the stairs.

“Let’s get you off this fucking boat.”

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