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Scene Title お帰り
Synopsis 1. noun (honorific) return
2. noun (abbreviation) welcome home
Date May 1, 2020

The Archipelago of Manhattan

The crest of the Empire State Building no longer rises above the sealine the way it used to. It and several other buildings that belonged to the people of the Pelago are mere spindles of their former selves, husks blackened by what could be nothing but signs of the Sentinel's attack over a year ago.

To both the people who still live here, and the man coming home after so long, it also feels like a lifetime longer than that.

Signs of hope regarding how that fight had ended emerge on drawing closer. Inexplicably, there seems to be more traffic on the horizon than there was even prior to leaving. Those who fled the Pelago must have returned… and thensome. Some of the boats patrolling slowly the Pelago's furthest borders draw Silas' eye, though, and on getting a closer look, draw tightness into his throat.

They weren't like any craft that had existed in the Pelago's fleet before. They were pirate vessels. The one on the northern horizon even looked to be Navy, which was primarily the Sentinel's bag. And yet, the ship he's on passes freely between them, the captain on the pirate vessel lifting a hand to wave to Silas' craft as it passes.

Things in the Pelago have changed indeed.

Closer, it's easier to see now that while buildings like the Empire State have been damaged, there is an ongoing effort to stabilize and reclaim them anew. Lowe's in particular when they pass it appears to be as bustling as ever, a hub of reconstruction and revitalization activity. Again, Silas can see ships he swore had passed through as part of Veronica Sawyer's fleet before— previously keeping more to the neutral ground of the Palisade Sills rather than having ventured this deep into the skyscrapers. But they seem to be taking advantage of their hardy craft to do what everyone else appears to be doing:

Living. If not in harmony, or damn well enough near it, then to defiantly stand together against anything that would threaten the peace that's made its way back here.

For all the liveliness around him, though, the buildings which remain abandoned on the Pelago's edge haunt him. One appeared to be The Library At The End of The World. Pockmarked with torpedoes and exposure to the elements making it questionable to inhabit, the refuge stood abandoned. Or perhaps, moved.

He can hope for the latter, the same way he hopes to see familiar faces and ships emerge from between buildings and on construction ledges. The weather is warming, which draws more people out, but the few familiar sights— boats and people— he's been able to spot so far are not the ones nearest to his heart.

Did the Forthright make it home? Did it survive the fight against the Sentinel if it did?

Alone as he yet is, he isn't sure, but the people who live here have got to know.

The Pelago has changed.

It's to be expected, of course; they say you can't go home again for a reason. Silas Mackenzie has returned to find that the world has moved on.

That doesn't seem to be entirely for the worse. It's obvious that the conflict had been terrible, but despite the scars left behind — despite the crown of slag and ruin that's replaced the top floors of Empire State, despite the desolation of the Library — the energetic bustle of activity that seems to be everywhere speaks of a battle that's been conclusively won.

In all of the conversations Silas has overheard as he skulks the half-familiar bridges and hallways of the Pelago, there seems to be a sense that tomorrow might actually come — that there might finally be a way forward instead of just endless circles around the drain.

Well and good. But for all of his efforts to strain answers out of gossip, Silas still hasn't found the answers he's really looking for. Answers about the Forthright, or about any of the other ships that had gone to find the Ark — how many had made it home? How many had survived the Sentinel? And what of the Cerberus? What of Old Man Adam?

What of Aces?

Though familiar ships are hard-found on a search that's scant begun, certain static locales haven't moved at all.

Silas Mackenzie's favorite bar is all but completely deserted. Part of it, no doubt, has to do with the hour of the day. The sun still shines high. The Pelago was still bursting with the kinds of activity that didn't lend to settling in to places like this. The faded spider-lily patterns on the wallpaper are seasoned away entirely now, leaving behind reddened imprints where the faint flowers used to make their home. To make up for it, someone's stuck a false iris in a tube pinned to the wall near the bar.

When the familiar bartender looks up from tinkering with something behind the bar, the look Silas gets is a stunned double-take. "Is that—? holy shit, I thought you were dead." It's followed quickly by an incredulous laugh. "Welcome back, Mackenzie. Shit. Is there something I can get you?" The radio being worked on is abandoned, half-torn apart. "First round's on me."

"Rumors of my death were… exaggerated," Silas remarks dryly. Though not greatly, he thinks, but does not say. Saying I died really isn't that far off the mark…

"Glad this place is still open," Silas adds with a grin; even if it hasn't entirely escaped the ravages of time, that this old place is still here counts as a win in his book. The offer of the first round on the house only sees his grin widen. "Hm. Since you're buyin'… how about a shot of bourbon?" Early in the day for it, but one shot's not going to hurt too much, right? He takes a seat at the far end of the bar — his usual seat, a year and a lifetime ago.

"I've been out and about for… god, over a year; I was doing some work for Mad Eve that went a little sideways," he offers, by way of explanation of his absence. "A lot sideways," he adds quietly; for a moment, something pensive shows through his jovial facade as he thinks back on all he's gained and all he's lost.

Then the moment passes and he's back to that roguish grin. "So, if you'd care to serve a couple answers with that drink… what'd I miss? Forthright still sailin' around? What about the Cerberus?"

Realizing there's an opportunity to be had here, the bartender's brows raise. "Oh-ho. You really haven't been back since the great battle, have you." While the urge to spin a tall tale is there, it's beaten down. Mostly. "The Cerberus went down. One of the first casualties, before the Sentinel even breached our front line of defenses. Sabotage kept it from seeing battle."

"I never saw the Cerberus II, myself, but the Cerberus III? Pulled it right out of the clutches of those Sentinel sons of bitches, they did. Claimed their flag after fighting their way aboard, the way I heard it." With signs of a grin, the bartender looks past Silas. "Ain't that right, Asi?"

The bartender took Asi's pause in the doorway for something different than what it was. Her eyes are wide as she looks at the familiar profile seated at the bar, telling herself surely she's seeing things. But when Silas turns, the rolled-up toolkit she brought back with her to fix the radio slips from her hand and lands on the floorboard in a muted clatter.

"Oh my god," she breathes out, stunned. She doesn't doubt for a second what she sees, though. "Oh my god."

Quick, heavy strides close the distance between her and Silas, and Asi throws her arms around his shoulders to draw him into a tight, if bewildered, embrace. Her hands scrabble for better purchase on what clothing she can grasp, as though he's like to vanish again should somehow she lose her grip on him. An incredulous note comes from her, one hand finding the back of his head and burying it in his hair while she rests the side of her head against his.

If he can't see the tears that are welling in her eyes, are they even there, after all?

Her voice might give her away anyway, trembling as she tells him, "お帰りなさい."

Welcome home.

The Cerberus went down is not something Silas had wanted to hear, for a whole host of reasons; the carefully blank, attentive look he's keeping prevents the worst of his fears from showing through, but it takes an effort to hold onto it. Still, the rest of the story paints a brighter story; at least some of the crew had made it through — enough to seize another boat from the Sentinel, at that.

Then the bartender calls out to Asi. Silas turns —

— and she's there, alive and well, and a whole pile of weight and worry Silas had managed to forget he was carrying spontaneously evaporates. She's there, and then suddenly Aces is clinging to him like she's drowning, and after a half second his arms wrap around her, too, holding her tight. He hears the quaver in her voice when she gives him that greeting — one of a handful of Japanese phrases he recognizes — and be damned if there doesn't seem to be something in his throat, too, when he replies.

"Thanks. Missed you." No explanations, no questions, no stories, no theatre — just a handful of words spoken quietly, just for her.

A sound like a laugh comes from Asi, one that sounds dangerously close to highlighting the tears she's definitely not shedding, so she closes her eyes to steel her voice. "I'd have watered your plants, but they went after most of the old residential towers first. Made up for it with the other half of my promise. Stabbed— several Sentinel on your behalf. Killed plenty more."

When she drops back to the flat of her feet, she ignores how the bartender casts them both a look back and forth, discreetly wiping her face before she takes a step back to get a proper look at Silas. Around her neck is a thin, worn piece of twine bearing a familiar keyring and an unfamiliar, weathered gold-star sticker on the base of the attached key. The salt-stiff shirt she wears is the same as always, a tee that once was and would love nothing more than to be white again, and her coveralls are worn with the torso flapped down like an apron of sorts. The gap between where the waist of the coveralls start and the shirt ends shows hints of a jagged, nasty-looking scar across her side.

That's new.

"Missed you, too." So's an admission like that.

Asi spends a moment looking up at him and what he's wearing before she has to ask, "Tell me you're not just passing through? On your way to…" Who even knew where. She didn't. Her brow starts to furrow as she starts to wonder how he's even here, realizing it shouldn't be possible.

"I thought they all made it out? Back to where they were going?" Her brow starts to furrow, like the longer she thinks about it, this is strange. Is she sure she's not dreaming after all? No matter how real he felt?

She hopes to not wake up, and lets out a careful sigh. Her head wavers back and forth in the slightest of shakes. "Hell of a return trip," Asi ventures, eyes back up to Silas' again. No matter what happened, she's sure there's a story to tell.

Silas studies Aces as she steps back to study him. The first thing he sees is that she's still got his keyring, and damned if that doesn't make that lump in his throat get a couple of sizes bigger. That scar on her side is new, and it elicits a reflexive twitch of concern… but then, she fought a war. Ain't like you don't have a few gnarly scars of your own, a voice chuckles at the back of his mind, and that's certainly true.

That admission is more surprising, though. It seems Aces has changed, too, and that discovery draws a warm smile to Silas face; he finds he's looking forward to hearing her story even more than he's looking forward to telling his own.

But god knows she's waited long enough, so he nods and starts to speak. "They did. To the other side," Silas says soberly. "By the time the way was finally clear for them, though, everything was going pear-shaped and there wasn't any way back."

He pauses for a moment, a troubled expression touching his face. "And it most definitely was a hell of a return trip," Silas agrees, worry showing on his face for a moment before he looks back to Aces. "How much time you got? I don't plan on going on anywhere right away, but if you want the unabridged version it's going to take me awhile." The grin on his face, though, shows that he wouldn't mind giving her the uncut and unabridged version at all. Not one bit.

Asi gives a look to the bartender, whose sole response is to lift the bottle of bourbon produced for Silas' sake. She thinks about it, then turns back for the kit she'd dropped on the ground. "I can drink, tinker, and listen at the same time," she supposes. "Especially if the good swill is on the line."

Folding the sturdy weave of the kit over itself once, she heads back for the bar and slips onto a seat. It feels so strange— bearing echoes of the last time they saw each other. When they'd worried— for what were then entirely different reasons— they'd never see each other again.

The radio pulled apart is reviewed, and Asi waves a hand across the bar for the pieces to begin putting it back together; at least as much as possible save for a replacement part that the bartender had bartered for that wasn't yet here. "Gonna take awhile, huh?" she asks, eyes on her work. "Well, better get started, Snickers. The sun's only getting higher."

Bootfalls announce the arrival of someone light on their feet with a spring in their step well before anyone comes into view. The bar is suddenly even less deserted. “Gooood~ …Mmmmooooorning?” The feminine voice starts out in a sing-song, then, after a pause, finishes on a note of uncertainty. “Morning! Yes! Good morning!”

The Featherweight’s captain has been burning the candle at both ends, it seems. That’s not much of a shock to anyone who’s gotten to know her in the time since she’s taken on her larger role in the day-to-day operations of the Pelago.

A small cylindrical device is tossed into the air as she walks, then caught in one gloved hand. “Got that thing you were lookin’ for!” Parking herself at a seat next to Asi, the petite blonde sets her bounty on the bar and turns to give her greeting to the establishment’s other occupants. “Good mornin—guh?” The young captain has her breath stolen away, because just past Asi, surely she’s come face to face with a ghost. “Smiles?

Taking ahold of the needed component, Asi doesn't turn from Silas until she hears the newly-approached blonde address him with familiarity. Her eyes flicker in confusion from one to the next, and the bartender arches an eyebrow midpour.

Silas's grin grows even wider as he recognizes just who it is that's coming; the fact that Aces had heard how things had gone had given him hope that the ones not aboard Lis and Magnes's Wild Ride had gotten clear of the Ark before the end, but it still feels like a win to get confirmation. "Heya Des. Good to see you," he says, giving a casual wave; only the width of his beaming grin spoils his affected nonchalance.

She doesn't look a day older, he thinks, but does not say. But she wouldn't, would she? He doesn't say that, either, but his grin fades a bit as he considers the circumstances — in particular, how things had looked when he'd left the Ark. "I'm glad you made it out," he says somberly. "Who else did make it out, anyway?" he asks, looking concerned. And who else didn't goes unsaid; he has no desire to spoil the happy mood with a list of the dead. That can come later, when they're a little further into that bourbon.

Des flickers an uncertain look between Asi and Silas. She’s not surprised they know each other, of course. Before he came to the Ark, he’d been a sailor out of the Pelago, same as she had. He had to have friends here. Although she wonders how much those numbers have dwindled since the attack by the Sentinel.

The victorious dead are still dead.

The little blonde almost forgets she’s supposed to be all grown-up and stalwart these days. After all, she’s a Captain. “Eddie’s with me on the Featherweight,” is where the list begins. “Lance, Nat, Liza and Rue, Finn, Robyn… Mrs. Gerken.” As she lists names, more and more concern — fear — creeps into her voice.

“If you’re here, what happened to—” Odessa had died to ensure everyone could have the chance to escape, and Destiny has always worried it hadn’t been enough. But if he’s here, that means the ones who sought the other world didn’t die in the Commonwealth’s Arcology. “Where are the others?”

"What?" Another voice rings out, this time from just outside the door to the bar. The doors push slightly open, just enough for a woman to poke her head half way in. Dyed blonde hair accented with brown roots frames a familiar face, at least to Des and Silas. "Um. Did I… hear my name?"

Robyn Roux's eyes lock on Silas as she spots him, lingering for a long moment before widening. A bright smile forms across her face. "Fried cake guy!" Maybe she doesn't remember Silas' name, maybe that's just what stuck out to her. Who knows. Stepping fully into the establishment, Robyn practically bounds across the room to SIlas, stopping just short of Destiny. Excited energy radiates from her as she clasps her hands behind her back, rocking back and forth on her heels as she waits for her turn to…

What's going on again?

In response to Des's worry, Silas grins, bright and fierce. "They made it," he says. "Not all of us made it through, but most of us — we made it. The stories that lot told were true. They opened the way to another world, and made it through to the other side," he begins.

He's winding up to start his story, another familiar voice speaks up, and Silas grins. "Ha! 'Fried cake guy', she says," he snickers. "I'd almost forgotten about the rice cakes. Those weren't half bad, honestly. Maybe I'll make 'em again sometime."

Silas mulls that over for a moment, then snickers again. "And hello to you too, Siren of the Empire Sea," he says, still grinning… then, abruptly, he sits up, snapping his fingers. "Oh, right! You asked me once about Else. You might want to know up front — she's around somewhere. Not sure where, exactly, but somewhere — she came into the Pelago with me."

Silas's gaze slips back to the others, his expression sobering. "If you want, I'll pass a message to her next time I see her. But first… I've got a story to tell, I think." His gaze moves to the bartender. "Right after I have that shot," Silas adds, a ghost of a grin on his face. A shot of bourbon might not hurt after all, if he's to tell this tale from the top.

Asi turns from one to the next as she tinkers, slipping pieces of the radio back together with slow care. "Made all kinds of friends…" she murmurs between herself and Silas while she works. Robyn receives a deadpan glance up and a nod, more of her usual work-minded self than before.

When Silas brings up the bourbon, she reaches for the shot that's been poured for her, too, downing that quickly. Leave it to her to never leave a drink untouched for long. "All right," she sighs.

The other shot of bourbon sits, waiting for him.

Des’ eyes get wide as she hears the others made it. She wants to ask about specific people, of course, but she presses her lips together, buttoning up. She busies herself with smoothing her blonde hair — grown out a fair bit since Silas last saw her — down into something a little less windswept. If the people she cared about didn’t make it, he’d have said something, right?

Or… if they didn’t make it, maybe she’s better off not knowing?

Robyn’s entrance throws her. Blue eyes shift to her position and blink rapidly. She takes a deep breath, brows knitting and ready to settle in to listen to the story when Silas mentions Else. Destiny gasps loudly, eyes immediately filling with tears. “You found Else?” One of her few friends to survive that whole ordeal, the precognitive is exceptionally important to her.

Especially after what Don did to her and how it seemed to leave her so fractured.

Quickly blinking away the moisture, Des lifts her hand to make sure she’s got the bartender’s attention. “Double vodka, please. I’m gonna heckin’ need it.” Sure, she may be a little on the young side for drinking, but the world went to shit and who’s going to enforce legal drinking age? She’s faced down enough that she feels she’s more than earned the right.

The mention of Else makes Robyn's eyes light up, smile wide as she runs up to Silas and grabs his arm. "She's okay?!" Her mouth opens and she appears ready to ask for details, but the laid out shot and Asi's reaction zip her lips real quick. There's something going on here and she doesn't understand what, so she quietly slips back away from Silas.

A glances over to Des and blinks, looking down at the floor for a moment. "Not much of a Siren lately," she laments in a low voice. "But I wanna hear story time!" There's a child like enthusiasm to those words, slipping herself up to a seat at the bar. "Water, please!" She beams at that, for some reason.

Asi's murmur doesn't get a verbal response, but the way the corner of his mouth twitches up and the gleam in his eye is an answer in itself: just wait, there's more!

Robyn and Des's questions draw a slightly sheepish expression. "She's doing fine, but as much as I'd like to say I found her, it's more like she found me, if we're being honest about it," Silas admits. "I'd have drowned if she hadn't found me — and what a sorry end that would've been, after everything." A pensive look settles over his face for a moment as he considers that… but ultimately, he lets it go. He'd died, as far as everyone in that other world had been concerned, and then nearly died again, but hadn't; now he has a story to tell.

He grabs his shot and takes a drink, taking a moment to savor the familiar warmth, then clears his throat. "So. Some of you know parts of this, but I'm gonna take it from the top; that way everyone gets everything. It starts like this: a year and some change ago, on a dark morning in the dead of winter, Aces and I met in this very bar. Both of us had work to do, but on this particular occasion, our jobs took us in two very different directions. Aces here went out to fight the Sentinel, to defend the Pelago; I went with Mad Eve, to try to get the Travelers to their destination." He takes a sip of his bourbon, remembering — paying Eve back hadn't been the only reason he'd gone. In a way, it'd been just another game of rigged Russian roulette…

…except it'd turned out to be a great deal more than that, hadn't it? Sure as hell did, he thinks, a smile brightening his face.

"We said our goodbyes, and then we set out: we were headed to the Tower, through Sawyer's territory. Now, we'd hoped to sneak through without getting spotted, but Sawyer had different ideas; we ran across her just shy of the Tower, and she didn't take kindly to our incursion. It turned into a full-scale naval engagement for a bit, but in the middle of all of this Miles had managed to teleport onboard her ship and negotiate a ceasefire, thus saving our collective asses."

"I got thrown overboard in the fracas, but thankfully the ceasefire happened pretty quick after that and La Zorra managed to fish me out of the sea before I froze to death; I had some good luck there," he says, his eyes flickering over to Asi for a moment. "We had enough time to catch our breath at the Tower — Meredith was able to warm me up before I got hypothermia, God rest her soul — and then we went our separate ways. Mad Eve was hoping to make it back to the Pelago in time to help in the fight against the Sentinel… but as for me? My job wasn't done yet.

"So we moved on. There, docked at the Tower, was a submarine — tiny old thing, cramped, but it had room enough for all of us. Down we went, to the bottom of the sea… to the Commonwealth."

Silas speaks and Asi tinkers, a quiet thing she takes her time with. She's not forgotten how he can spin a yarn as good as any movie, but it's definitely been a while since she's heard him tell a story like this. It worries her to hear he almost didn't make it to their first stop, but she's glad he came out well. Glad for Meredith, too, who never returned home again either. After the Commonwealth is mentioned, her eyes flit up.

"Where you met these two, right?" Asi asks, gesturing between Robyn and Destiny both with a tiny screwdriver. See, she follows. "And… then the 'Ark' fell in on itself," she relates this bit of known knowledge less confidently, more quietly.

When Asi motions to Des and Robyn, the latter raises her hand and waves, a cheerful smile on her face. Yes, that's her, that's where they met. The talk of the Ark falling in on itself, though, that dulls her delight noticeably. "I don't really know what happened," she admits quietly, looking down at the table. "But there were alarms, and countdowns, and—"

The way she mimics an explosion with sound effects and her hands expanding outward might be endearing in a different conversation. Here, there's no real mirth to it.

Des shakes her head quickly to Asi in a negative. “No. I mean, sort of. I was here, one of those hoping to convince people to come to the Arcology. But I lived there for three years. It’s… how I knew the situation.” Her brows furrow. The vodka is set next to her on the bar. Her eyes silently beg Silas not to tell the story of their arrival at the Ark. But it is, after all, his story. Who is she to censor it?

The double shot is downed in a smooth motion that leaves the petite blonde pulling a face and coughing the barest bit. She may be good at knocking them back, but she’s still not quite used to the burn. Sullen now, she folds her arms together on the bartop, huddling up smaller, and listens to see where the tale goes next.

Silas frowns at Robyn's explanation. "So, you don't know what happened either, huh?" he murmurs, then shakes his head. "We never did figure it out…" he murmurs, shaking his head. Des's pained look draws a grimace; what's coming up isn't going to be anything she enjoys, but if he's going to tell this story, he has to tell it true.

He finishes his shot, and when he looks back to his listeners, his expression is grim. "The Commonwealth — the Ark — wasn't quite what its reputation made it out as," he says grimly. "They opened the doors to us, but the moment we stepped inside we were met by a wall of security guys. Stripped of our powers and surrounded. The guy in charge, Kenner… he tried to play it off as an escort."

"It seemed like he was willing to play nice at first, at least; had a banquet for us, introduced us to the Who's Who of the Commonwealth, gave us some polished speeches about history and how we were their hope for the future," Silas says, but the grim look on Silas's face makes it clear that sunshine and rainbows are not forthcoming.

"It was at the banquet that things went bad. Magnes started running his mouth in the stupidest goddamn way possible," Silas growls, but his ire is short-lived, fading almost immediately to melancholy, "and for a long while, I blamed what happened on him. But… no. I found out later that Kenner had planned it from the start. I heard secondhand from West Rosen, the security chaplain, that Kenner had given them their orders before we ever arrived."

"The banquet turned into a bloodbath. Magnes started raving, Don started talking about getting phone calls from God and how She was gonna come down and put right what the Flood put wrong, and how we were the key to that. Then… then he gave a signal and the security guys just… opened up," Silas says, his voice quiet and pained. "Meredith Gordon. Geneva Stevenson. Silent Jasper. James Woods. They died there, far from home and beneath the sea, but they're remembered. So long as I draw breath, they have that," he says, his gaze finding Des's for a moment.

He takes a breath. "And then… after a rant about order and examples… he sent the rest of us to our rooms. To sleep and be ready to work on the morrow." Silas looks faintly bewildered at all of this; at the time he'd been basking in his own murderous fury, but now, looking back, Kenner's actions are utterly bizarre. What had he been thinking?

He shakes his head. "Next round's on me. Fill 'em up, if you would," he says to the barkeep; he knows he could use another, and he's pretty sure he's not the only one.

The last pieces of the radio click into place, and from there, Asi decides there's no room for silence here. This might be a solemn tale, but she'd be damned if it'd become a solemn day. The radio is flipped around and the switch thumbed on.

<*static*> …the Voice of the Tower, coming to you through the magic of radio. I'm not seeing any nasty weather heading down towards the Pelago right now, but I do see some stormclouds going— where's that compass— northeast? So if you're out there for some reason, keep that in mind. Next up we've got the old Director Cardinal's favorite singer, Charles Trenet, 'La Mer'. My mother sends her best, director, wherever you are.

She lifts her next glass after the bartender pours a line for them all— the liquid gold that is potable water for Robyn included— sipping from it in recognition of the lives lost rather than downing it all in one go. It's still early in the day yet.

Asi spends a moment of side-eye for Robyn in particular, knowing that the Ark is where she came from. But she lets go, resentment not given the chance to take root. Instead, she asks, "How did you end up escaping out of there? What was it like? I'd talked with a few of them— the travelers," she explains quietly. "But we never really touched on that."

Robyn's gaze angles downwards when Silas begins to tell the story of the banquet. Uncomfortable barely scratches the surface of how she feels about reliving that day, and like Silas her eyes drift to look over at Des as he begins to list the names of the dead. She almost reaches over to place a hand on the other woman's shoulder, but stops short.

Instead, she just continues looking down at the bartop, even once her water is placed in front of her.

Des’ eyes stay fixed ahead of her, as if she could bore a hole through the barback with the intensity of it. She’d told herself she wouldn’t get worked up over it anymore. It had happened, it had hurt, it would always hurt, but she couldn’t change it. Still, there’s a swell of anger there that can be seen in the way her fingers curl into fists and the knit of her brow. Maybe she hasn’t entirely forgiven Magnes. She certainly doesn’t think she could ever have forgiven Don. He’d been her friend, and he’d killed her only remaining family right in front of her.

Her head lifts enough to turn and meet Silas’ gaze, as if she could tell he was seeking her out. The depth of her sorrow is unfathomable as the sea they sail. “Don went banana balls,” she says sullenly. “He used to be… different.” When the next round arrives, she plants her palms and pushes herself to sit upright again. At least this time she didn’t start crying.

Nope, just kidding. “Can we dedicate this round to my dad?” Destiny asks, voice surprisingly not meek for what Silas had come to expect of her. She smiles through the pair of tears she sheds. The threat of rain doesn’t appear to be more than a sprinkle on the horizon. “I think he’d like that. After he lectured me about responsibility. And then he’d have poured one for me anyway.”

Silas studies Des for a moment, then nods once. "To James Woods," he says simply, taking a small drink.

It's then that his attention turns to the radio; he's heard that voice before. A crooked smirk crosses his lips. "Voice of the Tower, huh? Sounds like he made out alright. Good to hear…" Silas says, trailing off as he thinks back.

"How we made it out was… a trip," Silas says grimly. "A lot of work, from a lot of people. Including a number of Ark-dwellers, to whom Director Don's growing instability was apparent."

"Anyway. There were two ways off the Ark — either onboard the submarine we'd descended on, or the way the Travelers were taking. For the submarine escape, you'd probably be better off talking to these two," he says, offering a momentary grin to Roux and Des. "For my part… I signed up to aid the Travelers. Figured that there'd still be time to make for the sub and head back."

Now it's his turn to look down. "It didn't quite work out that way. Either the sub left earlier than expected, or our part took longer than I'd planned, but…"

He takes another drink, then takes a breath and continues. "Anyway. It was Michelle Cardinal who was the key. One of the original architects of the Ark, and, to hear Magnes tell it, the smartest woman who ever lived. Her and her machine…"

"The machine, now. That was the crux of it, really. Don had co-opted it — he'd apparently been using it as some kind of radio, to… tune in to something." Silas looks distinctly uneasy as he recounts it. "The same thing that told him we were coming, I guess." There's more he could recount, but it suddenly occurs to him that it might be the best to let Don's screwball religion stay buried. Some ideas could be… infectious, and he doesn't want to take any more chances.

"Our job was simple. One team went to find Don's negator and get us uncursed; another team went to free Michelle Cardinal, and that's the one I was on. It got dicey — us without powers, armed with nothing but knives, cleaning supplies, and our wits, up against a squad of riot-armored goons with machine guns. I won't say it didn't get dicey a couple of times, but we managed to get Chel free; better yet, the B-Team had apparently succeeded at their goal, because at the most opportune possible time our abilities turned back on and the riot squad stopped being a problem."

"Unfortunately, that was the end of the good news. The Ark was powered by a nuclear reactor. I'm not sure whether it just finally decided to give out, or whether Don decided that if he couldn't be King of the Ark he'd take us all to Kingdom Come… but either way, we suddenly had an impending nuclear meltdown to worry about."

"So we ran like hell, down to the very bowels of the Ark. We spent a very tense couple of minutes trying to fix Michelle's machine, and then tore a hole in the universe, trying to open a portal to where the Travelers were going. They succeeded. The way forward was open… and then, with no way back, and the Ark falling apart around us…"

Silas lets it hang for a moment, his gaze seeking the eyes of everyone else. "We went through." He finishes his drink and sets the glass back down. "I don't know that I have the words to describe it and do it justice, but I'll try. I stepped forward into absolute blackness, and…"

"It was like steppin' into the backstage of reality, finding out that everything is just… an illusion." He grimaces. "No, not quite that. More like… a projection, I guess. Shadows dancing on the walls of a cave. Like Plato. Change the walls, though, change the angle of the sunlight, and everything changes. Going through that portal, it was like… everything was just possibilities. Makes sense, right? That's where we were going, after all — to a different world. Not another planet, no… something both much closer and much further away than that. To a different possibility — a world where things had played out differently. Where the same set of dice had been rolled, but on a different table, and the roll had come up an eight instead of a twelve."

"A world where the Flood never happened."

To the memory of James Woods, Asi lifts her glass for the former Captain of the Featherweight. The radio, for her, provides the moment of levity she needs to face all this very serious talk and not succumb to it in some way.

Silas' description of the escape they had to make, the one they very nearly did not make, is enough to make some part of her wish he hadn't had to face that alone. It's a foolish thought— they had everything they needed to make it in the end, and if she hadn't //been here, the fight against the Sentinel might've gone differently—

The submarine might have still been out there, even if Crowley was no longer alive to send orders to it. Asi frowns to herself for a moment but finds herself captivated by the seeming climax of Silas' tale.

"Wow," escapes her when hearing they found a place the Flood had not come to pass. She knew it was very possible, she'd just never known if she won or lost the bet she made that wherever the Travelers landed would be worse yet than here. Suddenly, she's unsure how much she wants to know. What if it was better? Would that create envy? For something impossible to obtain?

Asi shifts aside the radio back to the bartender and finishes off her round. "Was it home, like they wanted?" she wonders as she relinquishes her glass over, too. "And… how did you end up back here?"

“We barely made it,” Des says of the sub after Silas finishes his tale and Asi begins to ask her own questions. She’s sipped more than a couple of times in memory of the man who looked after her for years and kept her secrets. “It was… They did it by lottery. Everyone got a number. Those of us under eighteen were guaranteed a seat.” The little blonde exhales heavily, the guilt in her eyes is unmistakable.

“When Eddie’s number was called, people—” Cutting herself off, she just shakes her head. It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to guess what people devolved to when their lives were on the line and someone they deemed less worthy of saving made the luck of the draw. Her lip rolls under, captured between the rows of her teeth briefly as she tries to determine how to phrase the next portion of her side of this story.

“Odessa bought us time. Maybe— Maybe you knew that,” she looks to Silas for confirmation, but carries on regardless of it. “She went to the reactor and she… I don’t know what she did. I could feel it and it was…” Destiny’s voice lowers to a whisper. “It was wrong. And then, nothing.” In spite of how emotional all of this is, she’s still managed not to cry more than those two tears shed earlier for Jimmy. “The explosion happened shortly after. Our sub got tossed pretty hard. I thought we might take damage, but maybe someone was looking out for us.”

Taking in a deep breath to steady herself, to remind herself she’s a Captain and she needs to continue to act the part, Des sits up straighter, shoulder square as she takes another sip. “I wasn’t sure if any of you made it.”

But Asi’s question is the one that burns at Destiny’s mind, too. “How did you end up back here? Did my bro— Did Mateo manage to open a new portal?”

Everyone under eighteen, huh? Silas thinks, expression impassive. He doesn't miss that flicker of guilt in Des's eyes, either. But he says nothing. Everyone here has made hard choices to survive — the ones who hadn't made those choices aren't here. Instead, he only nods. "Well. Glad you made it, Des. And you Robyn, and Edward too; he looked like he had a bad time of things down there," he says, taking another drink.

The question of how he'd gotten back… that's a harder question. A more painful one, too.

"No," is his answer to Des, followed by a long, pensive stare at his glass. "No, it wasn't Mateo's doing. How I got back… to be honest, I'm not a hundred percent sure on all the specifics. Something cast me back, is the short version." Silas falls silent after that, frowning as he considers the questions asked of him, and how to make the story he has fit with them.

After a few moments' thought, he looks to Asi. "The world on the other side of the portal was the one Lis and Magnes had been hoping for, at least; Lis had someone waiting on the other side for her, someone who was holding the door for us there. She married him not long after we got outta quarantine," he grins, though that good humor is short-lived; it's already fading back to that pensive expression he'd had before. "It was… different. Better, in some respects… though it had its own troubles," Silas sighs.

"But the longer version of how I got back here starts there, too — in that other world, in a place called Sunspot. Because we weren't the only ones to come through. Something else followed us. It came through that portal like lightning, actual lightning. Not everyone who came through that portal made it out the other side, and that thing killed still more, killed a bunch of the people who'd been waiting for us, too," Silas scowls. "Eve — there was an Eve on that side, too — called it an evil spirit."

"She was one of its first victims… though unlike a lot of the rest of the people who got caught on the wrong end of that thing, she ended up coming back." Then, for a moment, his expression shifts, fading into something thoughtful. Troubled. "I wonder, now, if it might have been the thing Kenner had been talking to, through the Looking Glass…" he murmurs. Then he shakes his head. "Anyway. It seemed like the thing had been vanquished there, but Eve was adamant that it was still out there."

"Apparently, she was right," he sighs.

"She gathered a crew, and off we went. She was convinced that Adam Monroe was the key to fighting it, so we went off to find him…" he trails off, pausing, looking to Asi. "How is the old man these days, anyway? I'm going to track him down; I've got some questions for him."

At first, Asi can only raise an eyebrow. After that, her eyes narrow in a kind of cringeless wince. That old man being the key to anything was…

She takes a moment to mull over the information while she rolls up her toolkit— the sub's escape, Eve in another universe, an evil spirit, him not even being sure how he came back. Whatever this thing Eve went to fight really was powerful, wasn't it.

"He went to parlay with the Sentinel," she finally answers, rather than brush him off with a brusque skip to the end-result. "Him and Eileen Ruskin. They went to go talk them down from the assault. The old man wasn't doing too well even before then… was having trouble keeping up with it all."

Deadpan as ever, she admits, "I think he knew he wasn't coming back. But I think he wanted to make the last thing he ever tried doing count, and fighting… fighting wasn't it anymore." Only then does she look back to Silas, toolkit in hand, brow beginning to furrow in thought. "He didn't even have any family out here. None apart from the Cerberus crew. I don't know if there's anyone who could answer what questions you'd have had for him."

She hesitates, eyes refocusing after considering an errant thought. "Well, depending what they are."

For all that Des might have been more able to follow along with Silas’ tale than most others, even she starts to look bewildered once he starts talking about what came through the portal with them, and beyond that.

There are about a million questions she wants to ask him about the other world. Was it nice there? Were the people good to him? Do they have birthday cake ice cream? Every one of this dies in her mouth for the story of his return. Asi’s explanation of what happened to Adam Monroe.

Heck.” Destiny drains what’s left of her glass and taps the bar to indicate she wants another without tearing her attention away from Silas.

Silas's eyes widen as Asi recounts the end of Adam Monroe — somehow, it hadn't seemed possible that the Old Man would be dead here, too. He raises a hand to his face, rubbing at his mouth as he thinks… it's Destiny's comment that catches his attention, though. He glances over to her, a hint of wry amusement on his lips. "Heck," he echoes, more heavily but still with a faint hint of amusement.

That amusement is gone when he continues. "I know, it's a lot to buy into. I mean… I don't even know what to make of this, and I was there!"

Silas takes a deep breath. "Adam's dead there too. He was hiding on a skiff, way out in the middle of nowhere, but Eve tracked him down… and she was watching Eve. Not five minutes after we arrived, she… showed up. Teleported in."

"Looked for all the world like a little girl… except the glowing eyes, anyway. I made for the lower decks. Monroe… wasn't doing so hot there, either. He was stuffed in a life-support pod, looked like Emperor Palpatine but in worse shape. Eve, of course, started pulling wires and tubes and eventually woke him up…"

"Then the girl showed up. Literally disassembled the upper decks; I think the only thing that saved me was that she was laser focused on Monroe and I was playing quiet as a mouse in the corner, trying to figure out how to get our greenhorn out of this alive."

He falls silent for a moment. "Say what you will about Adam Monroe — he was kind of a jerk and," he glances over to the barkeep, "by all accounts he was a lousy tipper. In that other world, I heard he did some truly horrible things… but when push came to shove, when Death came to look him in the eye, he didn't go down without a fight. Not that it did him any good — she unravelled him like a ball of yarn, took him apart just like she disassembled the boat — but he died with his hands around her neck."

"I'd told our greenhorn to try and get out, make it back to the boat; she did. She started the boat up… but now that our yōkai was done with Adam, now she had time to pay attention to the rest of us. Eve was having a meltdown of her own in the corner, but the greenhorn…"

"I saw the girl raise her hand. I saw her smiling… and I knew, sure as little bird eggs, that if I didn't do something, she was gonna take Kimberly and our whole boat apart right there. Leave us stranded in the middle of the Pacific, or leave us dead, whichever struck her fancy, unless I did something."

He raises his glass and drains the dregs of it. "So I did. She still wasn't paying me any mind… so I stood up and I shot her twice. Point blank. I remember the sky split open, and she glowed, and…"

"Then the world split apart, turned inside out, and the next thing I know, I'm underwater. I made the surface — barely — and Else's waiting for me in an old lifeboat." He is silent for a moment. "How I got here from there is another story — the short of it is that I hitched a ride and then stole a boat from some pirates — but what I keep coming back to is this."

"She spoke to Adam, before she killed him, and this is what she said: I am not your friend. I am not your enemy. I am your creator… Kensei." He falls silent, his gaze resting on Asi.

Of all the things Silas has said, that's what takes the cake for strangeness.

The hair on the back of Asi's neck rises to hear it, her usually unflappable demeanor shifting to something more disturbed, if not confused. "Kensei?" she echoes back. "Like the old legend?" Her head begins to shake involuntarily at that, a faint, incredulous laugh escaping her. The bartender spins a look between Asi and Silas both, and she meets the look she's given with an incredulous one of her own. "No…" She laughs again, this time a bit more confidently.

"That's crazy. Kensei was Japanese," she says with a dip of her head, knowingly. Not that it matters? Or maybe it does? If the thing that a madman under the sea listened to was dumped out the same portal that Silas was, then he killed it…. Who knew, does it matter at all, beyond being a point of curiosity?

"不思議1," Asi murmurs almost derisively.

“でしょ2!” Destiny replies to Asi with wide eyes, the pitch of her voice up while the volume of it lowers. Her face immediately clouds with confusion. “一体何3?” The small blonde takes in a deep breath and lets it out in an audible whoosh. “Oh, boy.”

Her blue eyes lift to Silas again. “Did you… meet the other Odessa?” Des asks uncertainly, darting a quick nervous glance in Asi’s direction before settling back on the interdimensional sailor.

Silas sighs at Asi's rebuttal; he doesn't get the words, but her tone makes the intent clear. "Maybe. But then we've got Adam. Older than dirt and swings a mean sword…" He mulls it over, then sighs. "I dunno. I'd hoped to ask him about it, here, but… well. Maybe Ryans can answer a few questions, if he's so inclined. It's just… if this thing is real… then what the hell is it, really? Because much as I might like to… I can't quite convince myself that it's gone."

That might have been the end of his story, there, if Destiny hadn't asked her question. Silas looks to her, and gives a small chuckle. "I did," he says. "You know, it's funny. She had… a whole lotta bad to say about herself, but she was never anything but kind to me." Then he grimaces. "Well. Except that one time. She tried to stab me. Ended up murdering the shit out of an end table. Can't really blame her for that, though," he says, shrugging. "At the time she thought I was—"

“Is this murder?” The man in the shadows asks as he steps into the light of the monitoring room, brows raised and lips pulled back into the rictus of a corpse-like grin, “or suicide?

"—someone else," he finishes, his voice suddenly an octave lower, his eyes slipping off into the middle distance for a moment before he fights off that ghost of a bad memory. Even his inner monologue fails to come up with something witty for that one.

Even with the blink of surprise she gives Destiny— what the heck indeed— Asi hones in immediately to the shift in Silas' voice with a near-supernatural sense. Keying into the dip in his voice is a learned habit, drawing her gaze back partly to him without looking at him.

She frowns thoughtfully to herself at the implications of what he's said. It's a brief twist of her mouth, and then she slaps the flat of her hand on the bartop, looking to its tender. "I'll owe you for the other two rounds," she declares, and casts a glance to the quiet figure of Robyn with her water. She only knows how to manage one of the bouts of maudlin, presently, so she sticks to Silas'.

"There's time enough to worry about whether or where that thing's gone to," Asi opines to him, placing a hand on his shoulder to tug him from the bar. "Come on. Let's get you settled in, let all the familiar faces know you've come back." Sorrow shared is sorrow halved, joy shared is joy doubled. It was time to make good on the latter.

"Give you a proper welcome home."

For a moment, Silas is silent. "You're right," he says, and though his voice is still quiet, this time it's a different kind of quiet. "Yeah. Yeah, you're right. Thanks, Aces," he says, a smile growing on his face.

Kenseis and dragons and his evil twin are all, quite literally, a world away… and as far as everyone in that world is concerned, he's dead. This is twice he's died and lived to tell about it; time to follow his own advice. Live.

"Yeah. Let's go see everyone," he says, standing up. He looks to the barkeep and grins. "Thanks for the bourbon and the welcome back; glad to see you're still here," he says, before turning to Roux and Des. "Roux, Des — good to see you again. Take care of yourselves, yeah? I'm sure we'll cross paths again."

Finally he turns back to Aces, and that grin brightens again. "Lead on, Aces."

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