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Scene Title Phoenix
Synopsis As Isabelle's artificial brain continues to break down, repressed memories from her childhood bubble to the surface.
Date June 29, 2021

Hurricane-force winds buffet the Cresting Wave Apartments, rain streaks sideways across reinforced glass.

The dim glow of a heads-up display on the glass shows the forecast for the area, with torrential rain and high winds brought about by atmokinetic interference on the Ohio River Fire. In spite of the rain, the air quality index is still dragged into the red. Isabelle Wesley-Khan can see her own reflection in the glass, superimposed over news alerts of evacuations on Roosevelt Island.

Shaw and Namiko are out there in that storm, but she doesn’t know exactly where. Cell phone communication is down across the Safe Zone, if not further, because of the solar storm happening. It leaves Isabelle feeling isolated, even if she knows that feeling is coming from nowhere other than her own mind. Shaw and Namiko will be back any minute now.

There’s nothing to worry about.

Cresting Wave Apartments
Wesley-Khan Residence

Yamagato Park

June 29th
6:36 pm

Fire is triggering for the woman.

Missing the searing heat she could withstand, there's often an echo of guilt at being mixed up in all of this Pharo business when the world was quite literally on fire and that was her skill set. Isabelle was a doer but she was doing a whole lot of don'ts right now and it left her sick to her stomach.

The glass of WNK moonshine in her hand trembles as she places another hand on the window.

Her family would be safe and return, they would laugh and have moonshine and dinner.

This prayer or mantra gains rhythm in her mind. She's so used to hearing a voice in her head it brings a comfort like a warm flame settling around her shoulders. Isa leans into it.

"They will be fine." Said aloud to ground her expectations and wishes in the physical.

But the voice in the back of Isa’s mind always whispers back, what if they won’t? It’s been there ever since Kaylee unlocked her memories of her past, been there every time she looked in the mirror and saw herself looking back. It’s guilt, shame, and regret spun like spider-silk around the throbbing bundle of trauma that was her journey to this world. Even that, the weight of that truth that she is in another world is crushing.

Maybe the alcohol helps, maybe it exacerbates things. Isa hasn’t had the time to decide which of those two things is true. Because whenever she tries to look inward, she just sees her mother, catching aflame, screaming, and then…

Somewhere Ashen

Somewhen Else


Threads of smoke rise up off of the skeletal remains of Isabelle’s birth-mother. Her scream is a keening wail that pierces the night. All that remains of the woman who brought her into this world is a charcoal skeleton of molten flesh and screams seared into the back of a child’s mind. A few feet away, another skeleton twisted in agony with smoke wafting from its open jaws. Her mother and father.

Isabelle lays in the crook of a skeleton’s embrace for a while. Cradled in the dead arms of a woman who only wanted to love her. When the blackened door to the apartment finally is pushed off its hinges, it’s not the fire department that comes in, but men in dark suits with horrified expressions on their faces.

“My God,” the first man through the door says. He doesn’t look particularly old, but his hair has already started going white. Daniel Linderman quickly withdraws a handkerchief from inside his jacket and covers his mouth and nose with it.

Stepping around Daniel, Charles Deveaux and Faruq Mansoor stare in wide-eyed wonder at the grim tableau they’re presented with. Charles lurches for a moment at the smell of cooked flesh, then steels himself and focuses on the surviving child.

Easy, Charles’ voice echoes in young Isabelle’s mind. You’re going to be okay. Just stay calm. It isn’t just his voice, but psychic directives, placating the young girl lest whatever nightmare happened here happen again. Charles takes a knee beside Isabelle, not yet moving the skeletal arm from around her as he looks back at Linderman in wordless question.

Linderman slowly finds strength in his stomach and approaches with the cloth over his face. “My God, the heat. I’ve never seen remains from a house fire like this, the heat must have been…” He stops and looks around at the house, only scorched and not fully burned, “Very intense and short-lived.”

“The victims.” Charles reminds Linderman.

“Ah, no there’s… nothing to be done there, I’m afraid.” Linderman says with an aversion of his eyes from the bodies. “A tragedy, all.”

Faruq approaches the two, motioning to Isabelle with his chin. “Is she hurt?” Charles shakes his head no in response.

“She’s warm to the touch,” Charles says with a hand on her shoulder. “This had to have been… a manifestation.” He looks down to Isabelle with a frown. “So young.” He whispers.

Linderman steps away from the bodies, trying to put as much distance between them and himself as possible. “Arthur will be pleased, after a fashion.” Faruq gives him a withering stare as a response. “This is further proof of the Formula’s strength.”

“Now is not the time.” Charles says through his teeth without looking at Linderman.

Come on, baby girl. Come to me, you’re safe. There’s nothing scary around you. Charles invades Isabelle’s mind, gingerly lifting her mother’s skeletal arm up with a crack of the brittle bone. He hides the trauma from Isabelle, blinds her memory and eyes to the truth. He calls for her to climb out from the cadaverous shelter, then lifts her up in one arm and stands, cradling the tiny girl to his chest.

“Faruq, we need a full coverage team here.” Charles says, dismissing Faruq who quickly slips back out the apartment door.

“We should bring her to the Hartsdale lab for—” Linderman starts to say, but is cut off.

“No labs.” Charles says with a broken heart. “The girl’s suffered enough for now.”

“We can’t leave an uncontrolled manifestation unchecked.” Linderman retorts with exasperation. Charles, begrudgingly, agrees.

“We’ll take her to the Bronx facility, test out just how fireproof those new Level-5 cells are.” Though as Charles says that, he already hates the idea. “Faruq can help clean this up. I want to know why this family was in our protected registry but didn’t have an assigned agent.”

Linderman looks at the corpses, then frowns. “We do seem to have some holes in our bookkeeping. It’s not like us to be this sloppy…” he says with a furrow of his brows. Charles nods in agreement and starts to walk out with Isabelle seated over his shoulder. The little girl watches Linderman as Charles walks out, and Linderman watches the corpses in the apartment.

Then, both Linderman and the child see something.

In an ashen ribcage,

a glowing ember.

Present Day

Isabelle wakes up on the floor. There is a bloody smear on the glass wall above her, two red finger streaks downward to where she lays. Her head throbs, vision blurs, and she feels dizzy. Her upper lip is wet, two fingers on one hand slick with her own blood.

She blacked out. But that memory…

Gasping as her hand slams onto the ground and she dry heaves, sweat rolling down between her shoulder blades. Moaning slightly as she drags her body to a seated position and cradles her head, blood from her hand streaking across her hair.


You never forgot a horrible thing you did, not even close. The life she lived was a thin veil covering a field of rotting decay. This memory slams into her psyche, reverberating throughout her body. I'm a monster. It's her own voice echoing back at her like when she looks into the mirror. The smell, the smell lingers the most of all. Isa had never become used to the smell of burning flesh.

After she finishes gagging the woman clings to the counter and comes to a stand. "What the fuck," Was this another symptom of their condition?

The face of Faruq fills her mind's eye and she remembers they never got to see him after his escape, she hopes he's okay for Shahid's sake. There's budding guilt in not looking harder for her husband's uncle.

The floor is cold, but warmth from the summer night radiates through the glass wall beside Isabelle. She can see herself, visible as a muted reflection streaked with red, lit only by the glowing UI of the weather report in the upper reaches of the wall. Her stomach twists into knots, hands shake. What was it she had seen in that last moment? Fire, when all other heat had gone out.


Somewhere Ashen

Somewhen Else

“What’s her name?”

Isabelle, six years old, sits cross-legged on the floor of a concrete cell. A single glass wall partitions the cell off from the remainder of the cell block and the hallways winding between. On the other side of the glass is a woman with dark hair and a kind smile, palm pressed to her side of the glass.

Her mother. Miss Wesley.

“What’s her name?” Miss Wesley asks again, turning to look over her shoulder at someone just out of view.

“She can hear you.” Daniel Linderman says as he slowly steps into view from the darkened hall, approaching the window with Miss Wesley. “Ask her.”

Miss Wesley turns back to Isabelle, who has stood up and approached the window. She watches as tiny Isabelle raises one small hand and presses it to the glass as well. Miss Wesley takes a knee and puts her hand over Isabelle’s tiny one with an inch of thick glass separating them.

“Hey baby, what’s your name?” Miss Wesley asks.

Mom?” Isabelle asks with confusion in her bright eyes, as if waking from a nightmare into a more comfortable dream.

Miss Wesley withdraws her hand and curls her fingers against her palm, looking up at Mr. Linderman. She’s taken aback for a second, then looks back to Isabelle. “Am I your mommy?” She asks with a hitch in her voice, looking to Mr. Linderman for confirmation. But all Linderman does is stare disaffected into the glass.

Mom!” Isabelle shouts, hammering her little hands on the glass. “Mom! Mom! Mom!”

Miss Wesley stands sharply, taking a step back with wide eyes. She looks at Linderman again. “Why does—why does she think I’m her mother?” She asks with a tremor in her voice, looking back to Isabelle again.

“Mom! Mom, I’m sorry! Mommy!” Isabelle screams as smoke rises off of her clothes, her hair, her—entire body is engulfed in roaring flames. Miss Wesley yelps in fright, stumbling backwards so hard she trips over her own two feet and falls on her backside.

Oh my god! Oh my god help her!” Miss Wesley screams, watching Isabelle burn.

Linderman reaches out and depresses a stopper on the wall and the cell is flooded with fire-suppressing foam that throws little Isabelle to the ground. Sopping wet and dripping with foam, Isabelle gets to her knees and cries, slamming her hands on the glass. “Mom!”

“I’d—I’d like to go back to my hospital room.” Miss Wesley whispers, tears welling up in her eyes. Linderman slowly turns from Isabelle’s cell and deactivates the external speaker. Linderman says something to Miss Wesley, but Isabelle can’t hear it. All she hears are her own screams as she slams her foam-covered hands against the glass…

…and cries for her mother.

Present Day

This time Isabelle chokes out a gasp when she comes back from that moment of reverie. Herheart skips a beat, arms tremble and her tongue feels heavy in her mouth. She’s on her side, laying on the floor again, spots in her eyes blooming with phantasmal light. The rain outside hammers hard on the glass wall.

Isabelle sees herself reflected in the glass, as she had as a young child. Detained. Prisoner. Her thoughts go to that of her mother. The look of emptiness in her eyes. It breaks her heart anew.

Did anyone love her?

A silly question when she wears the wedding ring given to her by one of the most righteous, good men she had ever seen and has a daughter from another world that trusts her but still the mind of a human can be a terrifying thing.

Was that not her mother?

This time Isabelle doesn't try to stand or sit up, she just lays there staring into the glass. Watching as tears roll down her cheeks and drip to the cold marble floor. "I'm a monster." Why else would her mother look at her like that? Logic begins to butt it's head into her thoughts and Isabelle massages temples and squints. This world's version of her mother? Of course she wouldn't know her.

Of course she would be afraid of the little girl engulfed in flames.

Isabelle curls into a ball and sobs softly to herself, angry at the world but most of all angry at herself. Never angry enough at the Company.

By the time the next repressed memory hits her, Isabelle is ready for it. Her eyelids flutter, eyes roll back in her head, and it feels like falling asleep. An errant thought crosses her mind: Is this what dying feels like?

Somewhere Ashen

Somewhen Else

Charles Deveaux casts a long shadow. It stretches out across the floor to tiny Isabelle, enveloping her. Charles’ head is eclipsed by one of the overhead lights in her cell, making him appear as little more than a blocky silhouette. But then he does what no one else will around her: he approaches.

Yes, Isabelle is still swallowed by Charles’ shadow, but she can make out his features. His bright smile, his kind eyes, and the deep sadness set in them. Sadness born of a loss he cannot remember, for a family he will never know. Charles takes a knee and offers a hand out to Isabelle, and she lays her small hand in his far larger one.

“I’m sorry,” Charles apologizes, squeezing Isabelle’s hand. “I did everything I could, but there’s some things you can’t make right again.” Tears well up in Isabelle’s eyes, and she lurches forward against Charles’ chest. Resting a hand on the back of her head, Charles closes his eyes and shakes his head, sighing deeply.

“The best I can do by you…” Charles says into her hair.

…is help you forget.

Isabelle’s arms go slack. She slumps against Charles, and he sweeps her up off of her feet as if she weighed no more than a stuffed animal. Isabelle isn’t asleep, but a part of her mind is. Her eyes see, but her mind forgets what she sees as fast as the memories are made. Charles cradles her in his arms on the way out of the cell, where Daniel Linderman waits in the hall.

Linderman looks at the now empty cell, then Charles. There is an expectance in his stare, but also a certainty. “Where are you going to place her? We have some families that have already volunteered to take her in. Elle might like a sister…” he remarks, looking into Isabelle’s vacant eyes.

Charles shakes his head, mouth pressed into a thin line. “Ms. Wesley didn’t want to be a part of the Company, and I am going to extend that courtesy to her daughter. Maybe when she’s older, maybe if situations are different. But I have…” he looks away from her, “somewhere I can put her.”

Linderman nods, looking at Isabelle. “What are we going to do with her?” He asks, looking past Charles to a cell adjacent to Isabelle’s. There, standing up against the cell window, Ms. Wesley watches the two talking, unable to hear them.

“What was Arthur’s final assessment of her ability?” Charles asks.

“We don’t have a good title for it yet,” Linderman says with a furrow of his brows, “it’s the first of its kind we’ve encountered. We’re going to keep her for observation for the foreseeable future. You were right, though, no long or short term memory retention every time. It’s a veritable tabula rasa.”

Charles exhales a sigh through his nose, then shakes his head. “It’s a goddamn horror show sometimes,” he says in disbelief, turning his attention to Linderman. “A goddamn horror show.”

“Will we be keeping mother and daughter together?” Linderman wonders, and Charles shakes his head.

“No.” Charles says with a heavy heart. “We don’t know what caused the initial fire, and we can’t risk some combination of their personalities or abilities starting another one. Maybe eventually, but…” Charles strokes a hand over the back of Isabelle’s head. “Not right now. For both their sakes.”

Linderman nods, his expression a strained smile. He looks down at the floor, then over to Ms. Wesley. Charles turns away, starting to carry little Isabelle off, and Linderman calls after him. “It’s like a phoenix,” he says, thoughtfully. Charles stops in place, turning to look back over his shoulder at Linderman. “Ms. Wesley's ability,” Linderman says with brows raised. “Like a phoenix, reborn from the ashes.”

Charles glances at Ms. Wesley over Linderman’s shoulder, then back. “Then put rebirth on her file.”

Linderman nods, turning away to walk toward Ms. Wesley's cell. Charles lingers, watching Linderman depress the call button to the intercom outside.

“Ms. Wesley, I’d like to come in and talk…” Linderman says, and Charles lingers only a moment more before turning away again. Ms. Wesley says something in return, but little Isabelle and Charles can’t hear it, only what Mr. Linderman says in response.

“Of course, Elia. Whatever makes you comfortable.”


Present Day

Fresh tears have tracked down Isabelle’s cheeks. The fear is gone, now, replaced by a lonely pit in the middle of her chest. The repressed memories feel fleeting now, like a dream upon waking. The more Isabelle tries to hold on to them, the more they slip through her fingers like smoke. But perhaps more horrifying are the repercussions of this knowledge, that Elia Wesley had an ability, a power to cheat death itself at the cost of her self—her identity.

Isabelle is left with those thoughts, sitting on her apartment floor with her back up against the windows, waiting for her family to come home and find her like this. For as much as she doesn’t want them to see her in this state, the only thing she wants is to see Shahid and Namiko.

To fill that emptiness in her chest.

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