puᴉw ǝɥʇ ɟo sǝssǝɔǝɹ ʞɹɐp ǝɥʇ uI


tc_des_icon.gif tc_kaylee_icon.gif tc_ray_icon.gif

Scene Title puᴉw ǝɥʇ ɟo sǝssǝɔǝɹ ʞɹɐp ǝɥʇ uI
Synopsis ǝʞɐʇsᴉɯ ɐ sɐʍ sᴉɥʇ
Date March 7, 2018

Des’ brows jump up when Kaylee mentions Mateo’s resume. Then she immediately winces. How can such little movements be so painful? This is bullshit. “Yeah, sure. I’ll do that…” She shrugs to Ray. Hell if she knows what that’s about.

“Don’t worry, Rich. I’ll be here.” She waves the two off and quips, “I might be making you carry me home.”

Eyes roll skyward and Kaylee sighs, though her tone is amused, “Damn you and your reasoning, Richard.”

Reason be damned, though. The doorway doesn't lead into the hall, it leads into a living room. There's corpses everywhere, black-suited men with crisp white shirts stained with blood. One lays in a doorway to stairs, horrifically burned down to the bone. He's still crackling. Some of the men are twisted like they were made of putty filled with bones that now show themselves in broken disarray.

The floor has a brown shag carpeting that is blotched with blood. Furniture is broken and in disarray. The doorway behind them no longer leads to Raytech, it goes outside of a suburban home in a flat, dry, evening landscape.

The walls in the house are wood paneling.

Des is screaming.

They never left.



"Wh…" Richard trails off as he steps out the door, and the first thing he sees are the bodies. Instinct takes over, one arm sweeping up to shove Kaylee behind him protectively. Of course, there’s no Raytech behind him to push her protectively into, only more of the same. It's only then that he realizes that they're not in…


Where are they?

"What the fuck is going on?!"

Fingers manage to snag, Richard’s shoulder, when Kaylee is shoved back… It keeps her on her feet when the world swims around her. When it comes back into focus, there is a sudden sense of panic. “How…” she whispers, as she looks around her brother, eyes widening slightly at the sight of the bodies on the floor. She doesn’t cringe away from them, but… she pales a little. Turning to look behind her to where Odessa sits. “What… what the hell?” There is a slight tremble to her words, fingers tightening their grip. It’s been so long since she’s dealt with things like this. It makes no sense to the telepath’s mind… she felt the disconnect… didn’t… she…?

Kaylee tries to access her ability, but only hisses in pain, shoulders hunching against the spike in her head. “Not good…” She repeats it, “Not good…” They would be helpless… anxiety settles into her stomach.

Head shaking, even if it hurts, Kaylee sounds a little panicked, “I don’t know what’s going on… this… “ She reaches up, fingers clawing at her neck, half expecting to feel the coils of black scales.

Odessa collapses to her knees on the floor — the ground. Her throat burns from a scream she didn’t realize was her own until the sound had stopped. She looks up at the others, eyes wide and filled with terror. “Kaylee? Richard?”

It takes two false starts before she manages to stagger back to her feet and stumble her way to the siblings. Sorry, Richard, but you’re supporting both the blondes now. She grips his shoulder and takes in their surroundings. “I don’t know what’s happening!” She’s shaking like a leaf in a windstorm. “I don’t know where I am. This isn’t— I don’t know what this is!”

Not only does Des not know what this is, it gets so much worse. As the reeling from the sudden revelation begins to ebb, they can fully appreciate the level of carnage they have found themselves thrust into. The couch in the middle of the living room is overturned. Behind the overturned couch, that first dead agent they spotted still lays in the doorway of basement stairs. Smoke still rises off of his body, tiny embers lifting up with flakes of ash carried on hot air rising from blackened flesh. Golden firelight crackles inside an empty ribcage, and there is no way to tell you who he was.

Another agent is impaled on a broken banister railing, two pieces of wood sticking out of his chest. His dark suit is, too, stained red with blood that is more visible at the crisp white of his dress shirt. Someone is screaming in his ear piece, a tinny howl of a voice crying up from the depths to a mind that has been emptied of thought. He stares vacantly at the ceiling, one final look of horror spread across his face. The tranquilizer gun at his side lays in a pool of his blood.

There's two more in the doorway across the living room that leads into the kitchen, their dark suits ripped where bone protrudes from cloth. One is twisted around at the torso so as to be able to look at his own backside. Their faces are crushed down to the back-side of their skulls, the carpet in the living room is black with their life. Some still twitch, the last vestiges of a dying nervous system. Their guns were useless, bullet holes around the door frame and some in their own bodies where the blood is darkest. This happened recently.

All the way in the kitchen they can see more blood, hear the noise of a dialtone from an old land-line phone. Four choices present themselves: back, out of the house. Forward, into the kitchen. Down, into the basement. Or up, into the attic. It's a little like the old DOS game Zork, in that regard.

“Oh.. okay, steady,” Richard draws in a slow breath as he looks around the scene of carnage, turning pale even in this mindscape, the contents of his stomach churning at the sight of what happened to the men here. “Just breathe, and let’s… let’s figure this out. This definitely isn’t one of my memories… Kaylee? Des?”

Just has to check. Who knows, after all?

“This is— this is the sort of scene I’d expect to see from one of Gabriel’s rampages… maybe Samson…” A hard swallow, and he motions a little with one hand, “That’s a Company tranq over there, so we know where these guys came from. Guessing he didn’t get a shot off. Or it wasn’t enough.”

Focus. It’s not real it’s just a memory. Right?

Fingers loosen from the deathgrip they have on Cardinal’s shoulder, “No.” Is Kaylee’s soft spoken answer. “Not my memory.” Though her memories of Pollepel are a lot like this… just more birds. Swallowing against the bile at the back of her throat, the telepath steps around her brother.

“You hear that?” She whispers, her head moving this way and that, catching the faint sound of a voice.

Maybe it says a lot about her past, but Kaylee moves towards that tinny sound. Stepping over bodies and not seeming to care (Oh she cares!) that she is stepping through pools of blood to get to the source. They can see her, looking over the body of the man impaled, before she reaches to extract the ear piece from his ear; her expression is one of disgust when she looks for the radio it is attached to, as well.

“I…” Odessa swallows hard and really looks around now. The spike of adrenaline is bringing her slowly back to her senses, giving her more strength than she probably deserves right now. “We’re - We were inside my mind, right? I- Maybe?” She has no idea if this is something she’s repressed or not. They found that door she’d never seen before - a memory she had lost, forgotten, or blocked somehow. Maybe this is another of those?

God. She’d remember something this awful, wouldn’t she?

Odessa closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry.” Not for the fact that they’re here - this isn’t her fault (probably) - but because she’s about to dig deep and summon the parts of herself she buried years ago. It’s what’s going to get her through this horror.

Now she doesn’t survey the scene as a frightened captive, but as the detached physician. She’s seen men dissolve into cherry cobbler. She’s hunted with Sylar. This? She can handle this. “Take the tranquilizer gun,” Odessa tells Richard. They’ve seen that bullets aren’t helpful. At least if the tranq is turned against them, it shouldn’t be lethal. Kaylee’s already got the right idea going for the radio.

But she’s struck with indecision for where to start and recalls her brief time as a Company agent. What would Veronica tell her to do? “Kitchen first?”

As Kaylee creeps over to the dead agent and his ear-piece, the house quietly creaks and groans as though it were settling. From her new vantage point near the kitchen, Kaylee can see the horror show inside and past the two bodies twisted like ragdolls. Inside the kitchen the green formica table is flipped over on its side, metal legs bent. Broken ceramic litters the floor, shards of plates scattered everywhere with silverware making a constellation of violence. There is the corpse of a man slouched up against the countertop nearby, broken cups laying at either of his side, every knife in the house perforating his body at different angles like a rendition of the Wound Man from Johannes de Ketham's Fasciculus Medicinae. He sits in a several foot wide circle of dark blood that contrasts the black and white tile floor. There’s more blood, coming from somewhere else in there, but Kaylee can’t see it at her angle.

As she reaches down and plucks the earpiece from the agent’s ear, she can hear someone screaming on the other end. It sounds like a man asking for a status report. But when Kaylee beings it near her ear, there’s a crackle of static and she hears someone else instead.

You have never fought for yourself. Only for the needs of other. Find your own desires. Find your true self. It’s a static-masked voice with an indiscernible accent. Immediately after, a different voice equally distorted by static chimes in. David Cardinal is alive.

“Could this be what they’d wiped from those early years…? Maybe we fell into… those memories, somehow,” Richard ventures, a hand lifting to briefly and reassuringly squeeze Des’s shoulder. It’s going to be okay he tries to express in the look he gives her. He’s only a little bit convincing.

He steps carefully through the wreckage, grimacing at the creaking and groaning of the floor, crouching down to pick up the tranq gun. “Not sure what good this’ll do if none of this is real,” he says, “Assuming it’s… not. I try not to assume too much these days.” Dreams aren’t real either, but he remembers the Nightmare Man’s work as very real indeed.

A glance into the kitchen has him blanching further, and he holds out a hand palm-out for the others to delay them there in the living room before carefully stepping to the entranceway - craning his neck in to see what else is in there, the gun held up in both hands close to his chest. There may be a survivor.

Or the killer.

Whatever Kaylee hears, as she views the kitchen carnage, her faces pales a little; but then her brows furrow. What? Did she hear that right? It is enough that it has her pushing away any other idea she has and hurry to detach the rest of the radio from the dead man. Any blood is wipe off on his suit, face neutral as she does it. It was almost as if that voice had been talking to her… but how…

Careful around the minefield of bodies she brings the radio over to Odessa, the radio is clutched tight in her hand, but she offers the ear piece over, “Listen… tell me I’m not crazy and you hear that, too?” Her eyes slide over to her brother, worry… maybe something else, flickers there… curiosity… uncertainty.

Ray warning her off from the kitchen is enough to make Odessa want to go there badly. But she can let someone else go and be sacrificial lamb. “Maybe?” She shakes her head. “I don’t take it as a given that this isn’t real,” she admits. For all she knows, they’ve been teleported somewhere. Although…

She reaches a hand out in front of her and slowly waves it through the air.

No strings.

“My ability’s gone.” Earlier, she could still feel her connection to it. Now? Nothing. “Real or not, we need to be cautious.” Which she doesn’t need to tell him. He’s all but creeping into that kitchen. When Kaylee makes her approach with the radio, Odessa takes the earpiece and brings it up to tuck it into the shell of her ear and listens.

The thing you're most afraid of is real. The crackling whisper emanates from the earpiece with a jabbing ferocity, part warning and part promise. Des does not recognize the distorted voice on the other end of the earpiece, but it isn’t the only voice. Only you can hear me, child. There’s a faint throb behind Odessa’s eyes. Let me in. Again. Let. Me. In.

The scream of a child emanates from the basement.

If there’s one thing that will get Richard Ray’s attention quickly, it’s the sound of a child in pain, or in fear, or generally in need. It’s an instinct that’s only sharpened since he became a father himself.

He doesn’t finish entering the kitchen, whirling instead towards the basement stairs, gun coming forward but held down - not wanting to shoot anyone accidentally. “The basement,” he hisses out, moving with a quick step towards that darksome entrance, waiting just a moment to glance back to the others and wordlessly jerk his head in that direction.

Then he’s taking his careful, slow first steps downwards.

The voice in her ear whispers to her like the voice inside of her head. It’s not the same voice, but the promise is there. Face screwing up with her confusion, she stares at Kaylee for a moment. “What? What is th—” The blood drains from Des’ face as she continues to listen. Her eyes slide shut and her fingers curl into fists at her side. There’s something familiar about this, and she can’t explain it.

Who are you?

Odessa is properly terrified now.

The mention of ability has Kaylee suddenly paying attention to her own… something was off. Blue eyes unfocus… this was all wrong. Reaching out she tries to grasp her ability, but… nothing. She feels it, but… “I… have no control,” she whispers softly.

The scream makes her jump, turning towards the stairs. oh god. As a mother, a sound like that brings about another level of fear.

That fear clenches her stomach, twists with the thought of her lack of control, and she reacts quickly… eyes wide with panic, Kaylee pulls the ear piece out of Odessa’s ear. “No…. d-d-don’t try to interact with it.” The piece is clutched in her fist and the box in her other hand. She takes a step back from the other woman, towards her brother… “I don’t have control of my ability.” She looks around them, “If this is me still….” Meaning she doesn’t know what will happen.

She gives Odessa an apologetic look and hurries after Richard, determined not to have the man go down there alone.

As Kaylee is turning toward the stairs, blood is trickling out of the tiny holes in the earpiece, dribbling down in small droplets onto the shag carpet. Odessa gets no answer. Or, perhaps, that is the answer.

But Richard is ahead of her, Richard is the one who witnesses the continuing carnage as he makes his way downstairs. There is the remains of a handgun is a few steps down the stairs, drooping and molten. Another agent lies is a heap of gore at the bottom of the stairs, most of her insides sprayed out her back when she was cracked open like a lobster. The wall behind her is painted with her blood, and blonde hair rests in a curly tangle down the side of what is left of her face. Her gun is a few feet away, and there are shell casings lining the floor around her. Not a single bullet hole in any wall, though.

When Richard reaches the bottom of the stairs and rounds the corner to enter through a small doorway, a gigantic human head crashes through the door frame. Blind eyes stare back at him, blonde hair whipping around, mouth open and a howling scream comes from the seven foot tall face of Odessa Price. From inside the mouth there’s another panicked cry, as Desdemona Desjardins reaches out from inside of the open mouth, blood covering her arms and hands, glasses shattered, dark hair in tangles, sobbing and crying for help as the gigantic head clamps teeth down, chopping off her arms at the elbows and swallows her whole.

The gigantic head then explodes in a static haze like an old cathode ray tube television being unplugged. Now all Richard can see is blood on the floor, and beyond a basement where room shelves are thrown over, metal frames knocked into each other making a slanted "A" shape. Their contents are spilled onto the floor; crushed boxes of macaroni, cans of beef raviolis and spare snacks in roll-topped bags with hair-clips holding them shut. A dollhouse, plastic and cheap, is broken here too. Someone stepped on the dream car, crushed it, and the wheels came off. Blood fills part of the dollhouse, and three severed fingers lay in front of it with their stumps cauterized.

During his time on this Earth, Richard’s seen a lot of carnage. A lot of horrible scenes. This, though, is possibly the worst; there’s almost the feel in his gut of a child playing rough with their toys as he adds more bodies killed in more interesting ways to the count adding up in the back of his head.

He slowly steps down the stairs, tranq gun at the ready, and then—

That happens.

At first he can’t even react, eyes widening with sudden terror at a sight that only madness can comprehend, and as Desdemona reaches out and cries for help he reacts with equal madness — starting to reach out for a hand - but it's too late. It’s gone, like a bad 80s special effect scattering into nothingness.

He’s still standing there, hand half-reaching out towards nothing, staring at nothing, when they catch up to him.

It is probably a good thing that Kaylee did not get to see that head, it would probably cause some serious nightmares later on… Not that, the whole situation would not. Right now, as she starts down the stairs, she busy noticing the blood oozing from the ear piece. A thumb is brushed across it, there is a hint of confusion, her steps slowing a little.

“I feel like I am back in Eve’s head,” Kaylee huffs out in flustered frustration, as she catches back up to Richard. “Hey, Richard… This radi—” She trails off as she reaches the bodies, those are skirted easily, but it is her brother who as her attention… Turning to look where he is; brows lift up. Instinct is always to go for her ability, but here… it doesn’t respond, it’s there mocking her.

Instead, she moves a little past Richard, to look through the door, unaware of what he had just seen.

Odessa notices the droplets of blood that leave a trail in Kaylee’s wake and hesitates a moment, wondering if her friend is hurt. There’s no complaint, however, and there’s a child downstairs who very likely needs help. For a moment, she’s frozen at the top of the stairs, dreading the descent into the dark. There’s some fear deep in her core that begs her not to go there.

It’s pushed past, but it’s that fear that spares her the sight that Richard sees. She can see he’s rattled by the time she steps over and past the mess on the stairs and reaches the two of them.

“Something’s inside of me,” Odessa whispers without realizing. She doesn’t acknowledge or elaborate on it. Instead, she steps out ahead of them, hands trembling at her sides as she moves forward, following the path of destruction. Her instincts are at war with each other. The sane part is screaming for her to run back up the stairs and out the fucking door, but the part of her that was ruled by her abilities needs for so long still remains trained to seek out the unknown and the dangerous.

The basement isn’t particularly big, though it is cluttered by the debris cast around from the whirlwind of death that clearly swept through. At the far end of the basement space there’s a door that causes the hair on the back of Odessa’s neck to stand on end. The door to the laundry room lays on its side, screws and hinges lay scattered on the concrete. A hemispherical dent in the metal door makes it bow, it will never fit in the frame again. Inside, the washer and dryer have been pushed aside, facing away from one-another like arguing parents. The dryer's door is open, children's clothes spill out onto the floor. A t-shirt with Wolverine on it, a gray dress, a pair of socks with holes in them, forest green overalls, a puffy teal and purple windbreaker. He is crouched between the washer and dryer, fingers knit into his dark hair, crying.

In a jitter of displacement, like a frame being spliced into an old reel film, there is suddenly a tiny blonde girl standing in the doorway, facing the crying boy. The second Odessa sets eyes on the pair, there’s an ice-pick stabbing sensation behind her right eye, blood trickling from her nose, ear, and tear duct on the same side of her face. Faint green sparks flutter away from her eye. She recognizes the child, because she has faint memories of being her.

The girl is Odessa.

Worse, she realizes who the boy is that’s wedged between the washer and dryer. Because she knew him — has always known him.

It’s Mateo.

“I…” Richard draws in a slow breath, exhales it with a shudder, and his hand drops before he tries again, “…I’m pretty sure we’re… still in your hea— mind, Des.” He’s pretty sure someone else’s mind wouldn’t call up an image like that. And suddenly he’s not comfortable using the word head for it, either.

Pale as death, he steps up along with Kaylee, with Des following, moving carefully into the basement. Seeing the child between the machines, he starts to step forward — only to have that tiny blonde appearing there like a jump-scare from a bad Youtube video. “Whoa, wha— alright, what the fuck is going on here!” Just an edge of panic starting to bleed into his tone.

Language, Richard! There are children!

Something inside her… Kaylee looks down at the radio in her hands again, breath catching in her throat. The ear piece is rolled between her fingers, as she considers it. “She… might be right. Des had this….” Kaylee starts and holds the bleeding ear piece up for Richard to see, blood slowly sliding over her fingertips, while she watches Odessa ahead of them, but then…

“What the fuck?” Is yelped at almost the same time as Richard, the telepath jumping as the little girl appears suddenly… just beyond Odessa’s form. It has her stepping closer to her brother as if the contact of their arms, will calm frayed nerves. “I-I don’t know,” She answers him.

“Des… Odessa…” Kaylee says slowly. “Be.. be careful.”

The clothes are what she recognizes first, improbably. The grey dress, that boy’s tee shirt… Then, it’s herself standing in the doorway, and the stabbing pain in her head. Odessa’s knees buckle and she nearly drops to the floor. She wipes first under her nose with her first two fingers, looking at the blood. Tucking them against her palm, she rubs under her eye with her ring and pinky and stares at the red slickness that covers them as well.

“I killed them.” Odessa knows this now, even if she doesn’t exactly remember it. “I killed them all. Every last one of them.” Her spine is rigid, shoulders stiff as fight and flight go to war with one another to see which instinct wins out. Feet stay rooted to the spot. It’s a stalemate.

“For him. I did it all for him.” The first time she laid eyes on him as an adult, she knew there was something about him. When they played the piano together, she knew they were connected. Instantly, she realized there was nothing she wouldn’t do for that man. For the little boy huddled between the laundry machines.


They aren’t moving, the boy and the girl, frozen in time with a static jitter like a paused VHS tape. A moment later they’re gone. Then the washer and dryer are gone. Then all of the furniture in the basement, edited out. The blood too. Then the blood on Odessa’s face, Ray’s gun that he’d taken from upstairs, Kaylee’s earpiece. Redacted, like so many lines from a CIA dossier.

But they were never in a basement to begin with. They were never in the house down the lane. It’s always been a ten by ten concrete cell with a mirrored observation window, a single white cot, and a metal toilet in the corner. They’d always been wearing gray jumpsuits without serial numbers and little cloth slippers with rubber soles.

They’d always been in Level 5.

That’s just the way it was.

“You— “ Richard can’t complete his question to Des, because he was never asking the question. Because now they’re somewhere else, and they always have been. Right? He stares at the mirrored window for a long moment, and then he turns, a bit relieved when he sees that his sister and friend are still there. That he’s not alone in here.

“Where are we?” But even as he asks that, he knows the answer, his brow furrowing as he looks around, “Is this— some Company— Moab? Level Five?” He never saw either, but he’s heard descriptions.

Her mouth opens to say something and suddenly the world changes around them. The weight of the radio gone, she looks down at her hands, free of blood… wait… Arms spread a little as she looks at their clothing. “What… is going on?”

Looking up, she catches sight of herself in the mirror, almost surprised to see herself looking back. Her head turns a little to meet her brother’s eyes in the mirror briefly. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never…” been anywhere. “I’ve heard of them.” From Doyle… from Adam.


Spotting the other woman, Kaylee briefly touches Richard’s arm, before she moves to crouch next to the other woman. A hand moves to rest on her back, a light pressure, a gesture of comfort. “Dessa?” She whispers softly, asking without asking if her friend was okay.

Odessa sits on the floor cross-legged, staring up at the mirrored window, watching it reflect back grey wall. Maybe the occasional shadow of movement from outside - or maybe that’s just an overactive imagination helping her feel less alone in here.

Except she isn’t alone in here. The window reflects two faces. Then Kaylee is next to her, touching her and speaking to her. But Odessa just stares ahead at the wall. Where are they?


The Odessa in the mirror isn’t sitting. She’s standing, watching the others. Kaylee notices the discrepancy first, but Richard notices it a moment later. Then, gun in hand, she raises it to the side of her head and pulls the trigger. The mirror shatters into thousands of large pieces, though they get just enough of a glimpse of the horror that it was depicting before the glass falls apart. On the other side isn’t Moab.

It’s Edward Ray.

Beyond the opening of that large, now broken mirror, Edward Ray stands in a room laden with strings and newspaper clippings. The windows are plastered with newspapers to block out view, and everything is concrete. Odessa is with him, dark hair and reaching up for one of the clippings with lips parted. "You're back." Edward ray casts a dark silhouette in the door frame, his drab jacket spotted with rain on the shoulders, collar upturned. There's beads of water in his short hair too, some trickling down the side of his face. Intense blue eyes lock with Odessa's, and she feels a flutter of anger building up in her chest. Jaw unsettled, she stomps back across the office and ducks under Edward's strings. Edward stays still, though his brows twitch ever so subtly, pupils dilate as if his focus is changing.

"There wasn't anything there!" Odessa shouts with a wild wave of one hand. "No lab! No samples! It was full of those things!" Her voice cracks, eyes reddened around the edges. "You— You almost got me fucking killed!" The shrill sound of her scream is raw with emotion and a sense of betrayal. Edward looks down to the floor, away from Odessa, then to the side and back up as he takes one measured step toward her. Odessa steps back and away from him, and her elbow catches on the stack of newspapers she'd avoided earlier. The entire stack falls to the floor in a crash, and she wheels around to see newspapers sprawled out on the concrete all around her. She snaps back to look at Edward—

— and he plants a fixed-blade knife into the middle of her throat up to the hilt. Odessa lets out a gurgling noise, and Edward steps in and places an arm around the small of her back, gently lowering her to the floor as her legs kick and buckle from shock. "Shhh," he whispers, "shhh, the pain's almost gone. It's almost gone. It's going to get cold very quickly." He presses the knife up, blood is pooling out from the wound and spilling onto the newspapers. Not a drop has landed on his skin or clothes. Odessa's legs kick, knees bend, fingers grasp up and paw at Edward's jacket, at his face, but there's no strength to fight him. Tears well up in her eyes and trickle down the sides of her face.

“Des— “ Richard reaches out towards the mirror on instinct — again, at the sight of Odessa about to die, and again too late — and then it explodes and he’s stumbling back a step, an arm swept up to shield himself from the mirror-glass. Slowly his arm drops, only to let him look upon a man he hasn’t seen in the flesh for many years, but who’s been a figure in his life (know it or not) since the very day he was born.

“Edward,” he breathes out, glancing to the other two, and then that other Odessa starts to shout, and he knows what’s coming. He knows this scene, suffered more than one angry strike from the woman for it, knows what’s happening… and he has no desire to watch his friend die yet again.

“Don’t look, Des,” he says quietly even as he steps closer to the shattered ‘window’ of the mirror, not to watch the struggle between the pair but to look at the strings - hoping for a glimpse of something that might give insight into what the purpose of this web-map might be.

Some sanity amidst this madness.

Des! No!” It’s shouted without thought to the fact… she was right there beside Kaylee… sitting.

When the glass shatters, Kaylee finds herself on rump, arms behind her to keep her from being on her back. She never realized she had moved. Now, however, she is staring at the face of her father. A face she had not seen since…. With only that old photograph left to her. A faded memory. Now here he was again. “Daddy.” The word is breathed out in surprise.

Scrambling to her feet, she moves to grab Richard’s arm, as if making sure he was seeing that. Her eyes are wide, confused… not understanding. “Oh god… what is going on?” She sounds almost on the edge of tears. Cracks finally starting to form in her barely controlled composure.

Horror is all she feels as she watches the scene play out. She can’t look away, a part of her won’t do it. A daughter, should not have to watch her father murder someone…. “No” she chokes out, a hand flying up to cover her mouth. Tears start sliding down the telepath’s cheeks as she watches Odessa fight for her life. This… this was wrong!

It felt so real, but….. She looks at the woman who had been sitting on the floor - almost surprised to see her still there — and then the one dying. Then to her father… “What? Richard.” Feeling like she is in a dream, Kaylee moves to stand with him at the shattered window. “What are we looking at?” For some reason she feels like she has to whisper… like she’s worried Edward would hear them. Like… somehow they were forbidden watchers on something important.

The sight of her reflection that isn’t her causes Odessa to tilt her head to one side slowly and stare in curiosity. When the gun is raised, she isn’t concerned at all. She can understand what would lead her to do that to herself. The other her? Wait, is that her? Curiosity becomes confusion.

The trigger is pulled, the glass shatters and Odessa merely closes her eyes. When she can tell the scene has changed, she finally pulls herself to her feet again and stands off to the side of the siblings. Her heart feels like it leaps into her throat and stops all at once.

“This is how I die,” she says numbly. Richard tells her not to look, but it’s nothing she hasn’t seen in her nightmares a thousand times. It’s as burned into her memories as one of those romcoms she used to love so well. It’s the anger that finally snaps her out of it. Anger at this soft-spoken man calming her in her final moments as though it was a mercy.

Fuck this.” While her other self bleeds life from the wound in her throat, Odessa braces her palms against the frame of the broken window, heedless of the damage it could do to her hands, and makes to haul her way through. She’s going to get a better look at the events those strings tie together.

Or try to, at least.

The glass in the window frame is sharp, cuts into Odessa’s palms as she climbs through the large opening. She steps through the looking glass, into the room on the other side with its desks pushed to the wall, a small ham radio, a record player, strings everywhere and her own bloody corpse laying in a neat pile of newspaper that fell just right so her blood wouldn’t stain the concrete underfoot.

All of the newspaper clippings she sees are from 2008 and 2009, some from earlier, but not many. Most of which are dealing with the repercussions of a Killer Virus according to the headlines. Front-page photos of bodies stacked up in plastic bags with biohazard tags on them. Her handiwork, she feels, intuitively.

"You weren't supposed to make it back," Edward exhales breathlessly, brows raised as if in apology for the situation. "You're putting us all at risk, because I know you're not taking your adynomine. I tried to tell you, it's important." She gurgles blood out of her mouth, trying to say something, but all he does is quietly shush her and push the knife to the side to widen the opening. Richly flowing streams of blood drizzle down onto the newspaper. The color is fading from her face.

"For what it's worth," Edward leans in and whispers against her brow, "I really did like you. You just— you don't follow orders. You've probably already seen too much, and…" Edward's lips twitch, "well, I can't have you fucking this up for me." He slowly slides the knife out of the wound, wipes it off on her cheek and shoulder, and then slips it back inside the right front pocket of his jacket. Odessa's body goes limp in Edward's arms, still bleeding out. She isn't dead, yet, but consciousness is fading as fast as life is. Wiping a clean hand at his neck, Edward looks down at Odessa and draws in a slow breath, then exhales a weary sigh and looks around the room. Sliding his tongue over his lips, he circles her body and picks up a walkie-talkie from his desk.

Edward does not seem to notice Odessa, walks around her and ignores her position in the room. But he looks real, sounds real.

“Des! Des, no— “ Too late! Richard watches as she climbs over the edge, into the room - the memory - and he tenses up for a long moment only to be startled when she’s able to get into the ‘scene’ without difficulty. He almost reaches up to climb in as well, but there is jagged glass there…

A deep breath, and he calls after her, “See where it’s leading, what’s at the center. And see if you can find the point of origin.” The two most important parts; where you’re trying to go, and where you can do the most damage.

Kaylee steps aside to let Odessa go over, brows furrowing. “Last time I saw a string web was when I talked to him.” Him being Edward. The glass is considered, bringing her sleeve up to knock and brush at bits. “It’s just all in her mind right?” She asks softly. “I guess we will find out.” With that, the telepath hauls herself after Odessa, giving a hiss of pain as the glass cuts into her hands, cut at her clothing.

“Come’on Richard,” Kaylee teases a little, turning to look back at him, while she pulls a sliver of glass out of her palm. “I know you want a better look at this.”

Skirting around the image of her father, trying not to look at him, Kaylee moves to help find what her brother is wanting Odessa to find. Fingers snag this clipping and that, moving along the strings. “This is… wow.” It was impressive in the dream, but she had not really had time to look close.

Before, Odessa wouldn’t have known the first place to begin to try and find the point of origin in this mess of tangles. Thankfully, Richard showed her how it works. Odessa follows the strings with her eyes at first, holding in place as she tugs a shard of glass out of the heel of her palm without looking.

Then, she looks down at her other self on the floor and follows her gaze to the picture of her family. She feels like there’s a fist around her heart, and while it’s important to her, it’s not the reason she climbed through the glass. As she skirts around the fallen newspaper and her… Well, her body, she pauses and tilts her head, examining the radio.

With bloody fingers, she reaches out to switch it on. Then, she starts to double back to where Richard stands in the cell. She reaches down to grasp the hem of her shirt and pulls it up and over her head in a fluid motion, leaving her in her bra and without a single fuck to give about it.

Odessa tosses Richard her shirt. “Wrap your hands.” She wishes she’d thought of it earlier.

That settled, back to the task at hand.

The radio clicks, off and on, but nothing happens. But that’s the least of Odessa’s concerns. The string web, much as Kaylee discovers, is laden with news about the death of humanity, the collapse of civilization, and the virus spreading across the world. The most current date headline is from June 4th, 2010 which reads The End is Nigh and cites a death toll of half a billion people. Curiously, the photograph Odessa finds, the case file of her family that she remembers from her dream is blurry. The faces vibrate and distort, unable to be looked upon without giving Odessa and intense sense of vertigo.

But she’s on the move, bypassing the photographs, shirt out to Richard. But the room around them isn’t staying still. Clicking the receiver of his walkie, Edward exhales a deep sigh. "K-Mart," he calls into the device. "Could you come up to my office, alone? I've got a favor I need to call in." Edward's lips twitch downward, a rueful frown. His blue eyes flick back to Odessa's body laying on the newspaper, her eyes still squared on him. He walks away from her, to a green string, and takes the knife out of his pocket again. This time he cuts the green string free, balls it up, and shoves it into another pocket on his coat along with a photograph from Company files of a family.

One hand at his mouth, Edward breathes in deeply and then exhales a shuddering sigh. Quickly, he moves back to the door to his office and swings it slowly shut just as a pair of footfalls sweep past. He turns the knife around, holding it in a stabbing grip and waits. There's a flicker, a brief guttering of the image like frames were removed, and the door opens to —

"Blue, you got a bad sense a'tim— " Kain Zarek. Kain Zarek stands in the doorway, shaggy haired and unshaven, staring down at Odessa with wide blue eyes and mouth agape. When the door shuts behind him, he turns around and finds Edward right up in his face with a knife-point touching the underside of his chin.

Edward is hauntingly silent, one hand moving inside of Kain's jacket to withdraw his handgun. "K-Mart," Edward says with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "I'm sorry it has to be like this, but… I need you to take this topside and dump her in the river." Kain's expression is one Richard has seen before, the moment before he died. Real fear.

"Th' fuck… happened?" Kain asks in a shaky voice. Edward's brows pinch together. A sly expression that says I'm not telling without any words. Kain swallows, takes a slow step back from Edward with his hands raised. "Ah'm not gonna' get mah ass shot off by th' fuckin Vanguard t'hide whatever th'fuck it is you've done, Ed."

If circumstances were different, Richard might blink twice at the unashamed stripping off of Des’s shirt. They aren’t, and he knows better than to gawk in the middle of a… well, this can’t really be called a mission. Whatever it is.

The shirt’s used to protect his hands from the glass as he pulls himself up and over the edge, his jaw tensing briefly as he steps around Odessa Price’s corpse without looking at it to get over to the others, to examine the strings. (Don’t look, don’t look…)

He doesn’t quite make it before someone else walks into the room, and he stops dead, paling even further as he stares at the face on the man that’s just walked in.


That name is familiar, it has Kaylee pausing, to look past the tangled threads to the tall blonde man. Freezes as she waits to see if Edward Ray was going to repeat his performance. The way her father treats the other man is curious. Clearly, zero trust. Blue eyes narrow, the memory is faint, but she recognizes him; but not like Richard does. So it is easy for her to dismiss him for the web again.

“Half a billion dead…” She reads out loud from the news clipping about the death toll.“But… None of this happened….” Kaylee states softly, shaking her head. Moving to another one with pictures of dead bodies. She slides down the string trying to find whatever was motivating her father here. She looks over the top of the strings at Odessa. “This is your memory… yet not.” She looks down at the dead body. What really strikes her is…. “How.. are we seeing what came after?” She motions at the body. “You are….” she corrects herself, “She has clearly been dead for a time.”

Having manipulated enough memories, she had noticed the skip.

No surprise that the photo is blurry. In her dreams, she can’t make it come into focus either. There is disappointment, however. She would have thought that perhaps she could see it here. Now. That whatever the hell this is might allow it. The disappointment can’t be dwelled on.

There’s a glance of quiet interest given when the door opens, and Edward’s handling of the moment. Hm. So the man he called to cover it up didn’t do so enthusiastically. That gives her some sense of comfort. It’s a cold comfort, but one nonetheless.

None of this happened. “Not to us, no,” Odessa agrees, voice flat. As though explaining some -bit of historical trivia in a lecture hall. “I rebelled. I sabotaged the project.” She doesn’t look over her shoulder. Not to Kaylee, not to Richard, not to her corpse. “She didn’t.

But the next part of Kaylee’s question she doesn’t have an answer to. “There’s clearly an outside influence at play here,” Odessa speculates with a shake of her head, coming across the newspaper clipping about the bombing at Washington-Irving. “Maybe that’s allowing us to see past what she saw.” Switching gears abruptly, she calls over, “Hey, Rich. This one’s of interest to you.” She remembers now where she knows the face of Elisabeth Harrison.

36 Killed in Rocket Attack is a headline that Richard Ray never needed to see, given that 33 of them were children. The remainder were school faculty at the Washington Irving High School. The photo of Elisabeth Harrison sits among the deceased. The timeline diverged somewhere before Odessa ever rebelled.

“You're going to, Kain.” Edward's voice cuts like a knife and in place of one. “You're going to do exactly what I ask of you, or everyone going to find out exactly how Miss Damaris died.” Blue eyes grow wider, Kain’s and Edward’s both. Kain flinches, jaw unsteady as he walks away from Edward and scrubs a hand at the side of his neck.

There's more strings that Richard finds. Strings detailing the spread of the virus, strings detailing some sort of team makeup comprised of Rickham, Niles, Reed, Tyler, and April asked on Company dossiers and personal notes. But it looks like all their strings except for Rickham’s are dead ends. There's a photo here of Rickham and Nicole at a press conference about the virus sometime in early 2010. President-Elect it says. He never stepped down.

“Yer’ a fuckin’ piece if work.” Kain snaps back at Edward after a pacing circle. Edward, though, is rummaging through a box of craft supplies. “How th’ fuck’m Ah’ supposed t’get her body past everyone and out the front door? Rolled up in a ruh?

Edward looks at Kain like he's an idiot for just a moment. “Kain, please, you're not going to use the front door,” Edward pulls something out of his box and throws it to land at Odessa’s side. “And we don't have any rugs.” It's a hacksaw.

"There are four major parallel timelines to ours," explains Richard once he recovers from the shock of seeing the friend that he killed, tearing his gaze away and moving over to Odessa, careful not to step in any of the blood or the mirror-shards, "This is one of them. Where the Vanguard Virus was re… released."

The newspaper clipping is stared at for a long moment. "She told me about this," he murmurs a bit numbly, "They stopped it, though. This was… November, oh-eight." The numbness fades as he starts thinking analytically, the gears in his mind turning as he moves through the web, "The timeline deviated before you turned on the Vanguard, I think, Des. Where's the deviation origin?"

Fingertips dance over strings, over newspaper clippings and photos and files. "These five… why is it always these five? Kaylee, remind me to send April a job application, I feel like we need her around." He stares at the team roster, then shakes his head. "Rickham. President-Elect… no, this is further ahead in the timeline. Where's the— "

Thump, goes the hacksaw, and he recoils as he snaps out of his focus, "Jesus Christ, Edward!"

While Kaylee had been searching the lengths of string, something about what is playing out beyond it… it draws her. The search is abandoned as she watches. She knows next to nothing about the man, so… it’s fascinating to watch him. Even if this Edward was different then the one in her timeline.

The mention of her name, draws her attention, “What?” Then it sinks in and Kaylee can’t help, but give a short, sharp laugh. “If we get out of here.” It comes out bland as she goes back to watching her father. The hacksaw’s appearance has her eyes widening. “What the hell….” she whispers, staring down at the saw.

“Was he like this in our… timeline?” Kaylee looks to Richard for this answer. It’s a legitimate question coming from someone who’d only ever seen or interacted with the ghosts of her father.

“Further back?” Odessa sighs heavily. She recognizes the team of people now from Richard’s own map of strings. So, that’s significant. How, she isn’t sure, but it is or will be. “I don’t… I don’t know enough about what was going on in the world that far back,” she has to admit, regarding the deviations in events between their time and this one. “I was still… I mean, I think I was underground until ‘08. God, I don’t even know what’s real anymore.”

Pressing her lips together and moving on to something more familiar, comforting in its own way, she goes to the place where Sylar’s picture should be, but isn’t. The other Odessa has it tucked into the pocket of her coat.

She turns to head back toward where her own body lays and nearly reaches it just as the hacksaw hits.

There are some things a person is not meant to imagine. And definitely not meant to see.

Odessa’s eyes shut tightly, and after two panicked breaths, her hands slap to the sides of her head as if to block out the memories that she shouldn’t have, and shrieks at the top of her lungs.

The film reel splices.

ʎpɹodɐǝɾ sᴉ sᴉɥʇ


“…And now we move on to round two.” A brunette and younger Alex Trebek stands at his podium at the fore of the iconic Jeopardy stage. A screen of blue CRT monitors behind him have numerical dollar figures on them, and today's three contestants are gathered in a line behind their own box, gray podiums.

Contestant number one is Richard Ray, as the blue screen in the front of his podium denotes. And he's sitting pretty at $2,500 according to his score plate.

Contestant number two is Kaylee Ann Ray-Sumter, who is in a close second place with $2,100.

Contestant number three is ???? according to her name plate, but Odessa Price ostensibly is standing there. She's at an unfortunately dismal -$1,984 dollars in a dead last place.

“This round, our topics are…” Alex turns to look at the screens, “Civil War, Science, US Govt, Poetry, and Odessa.” Alex turns around and taps his cards atop his podium. “Richard, you're in the lead. Why don't you start us off.”

Richard Ray just stares at Alex Trebek for a long moment, then glances to the ‘board’ of screens, and then the other two. They’re in Jeopardy. What. The. Fuck. He draws in a deep breath, one hand coming up to scrub at his face for a moment.

“…ucking David Lynch movie okay sure why not,” he clears his throat, “Odessa for $1000, Alex.”

It took all his willpower not to say your mother, Trebek.


This…..this is different. Kaylee really does not know how to take this shift in reality. She glances to each side of her, at her companions in this acid trip of an existence. She mouths the words What the fuck? at Odessa, eyes widening a little for emphasis. Her hands move to grip the edges of the podium, trying to ground herself maybe… or just… to hold herself up.. This was way too weird, for even an Eve dream.

The fact that Richard is going along with it, that gets a stare of its own.

The screaming has stopped. Odessa doesn't know when she stopped screaming. Doesn't know how they got here. Doesn't know where this i—

Wait. Didn't she watch this show in the break room with Woods? But the host had much more grey hair, didn't he? What even the hell is this?

And she's losing? That's almost insulting. Or it might be, if she could get her head around any of this right now. Odessa looks down the line to Richard, then Kaylee, shaking her head in response to the look she gets back from her. Confused and terrified. Too much of both of those things to utter a single word.

Alex turns around and looks to the screen at Richard’s choice. It's then that Richard notices there's no studio audience, just a black velvet curtain that encircles the stage. The bottom hem of which is decorated in silver and blue tinsel. “The clue…”

The bottom right CRT display changes from $1,000 to a question. “Kara Price Jr.” Alex looks back to Richard, and the timer for answering begins.

Well, that’s not a name that means a damn thing to Richard. He scratches at the side of his neck bemusedly, turning his head to look to the other two - particularly Odessa. Price is her last name, after all, right?

Eyebrows raising, he mutely spreads his hands in a got no fucking clue motion.

What she wouldn’t give to have her ability right now.

Kaylee stares at that little block and the name with it. He just had to go for the toughest question… Brows furrow a little, a side eyed glance going her brother way. Really? The telepath sighs and glances over at Odessa. It’s all in her hands…. Cause the Ray siblings… they have not a clue.

This just got stranger, and she didn't think it was possible. Odessa watches Richard spread out his hands, and looks between him and the monitor showing the category. Seriously? Doesn't he know how this game works?

She looks down at the podium and finds her buzzer, wrapping her hand around the little cylinder. As soon as the time's up jingle sounds, Odessa slams her thumb down over the button on the end of the stick.

She stares straight ahead, looking an awful lot like she did in the cell at Level 5. Like she's about to give up. But then, she answers.

“Who is Odessa Gale Price?"

Alex turns to Odessa, points at her with the cue card. “Correct!” The score on Odessa’s board jumps to $-984.

The stage lights go out in a flash. No screens, no podiums, just darkness. Alex Trebek is gone. Jeopardy is gone. Everything is gone.


In the distance, the darkness is lit by a small blue-white light. There's a television screen, an old and boxy wood-paneled television with rolling bands of distortion and static. Someone is sitting in front of it, playing with the round, analog dial.






A news broadcast is suddenly clear. «…presentatives from the Coalition of Evolved Laborers met today with the Chicago Labor Association to dispute what they are claiming are unfair working conditions. In response to these allegations, representatives from Maxwell Industries said that their Evolved workers were being given a fair wage for their skilled labor.»

The rabbit hole is so much deeper.

As the darkness falls, Richard mutters, “…well, I suppose that answers one question.” It just raises so many more at the same time!

He takes a moment in the dim static-screen light to make sure the other two are still even there before relaxing a bit. He listens to the broadcast — organizations he’s never even heard of (or does Maxwell Industries strike a dim chord?) — and then hesitantly calls out, “Hey! Hey, who is that over there?”

Slowly, he moves to approach the silhouetted figure and the television, his brow furrowing in confusion.

“And here we go again,” Kaylee sighs in a frustrated whisper when the world goes dark. Instinct has her checking for the others, relief plainly visible when she sees them. She wants to say more, but bites her tongue. Things like: Could this get any…

No…. best not even think it.

All she can do is hurry up and follow after her brother, they were this far into it, might as well follow the breadcrumbs. “Let’s find out…” She answers blandly.

Odessa lets out a little sob when all the lights go out, shutting her eyes because it lets her pretend she’s somewhere there is still light. She used to do that when she was a child, she remembers. If she could shut her eyes tightly enough, the monsters wouldn’t be able to see her, because everyone knows monsters can’t sneak into your room while the light’s on.

But she’s known for a very long time now that the monsters are in her head.

Taking a deep breath to steady herself, she opens her eyes slowly. The sounds of her friends’ voices at least assures her that she isn’t alone. After her eyes adjust, she sees the light up ahead, then registers the figure in front of it. A television screen and a viewer?

Odessa hurries to catch up to Kaylee and Richard, grabbing tightly to the former’s hand. “Kaylee? In your professional opinion,” because Kaylee is a professional telepath, you see, “am I dying? Because I think I might be experiencing brain death, and maybe all of this is a figment of my dying mind.”

She might be a little hysterical.

The voice on the television is the only one Richard hears back. There's no picture, just static, and the audio is likewise distorted with a little static and flange.

«Damon Hollis, spokesman for the Coalition of Evolved Laborers had this to say: "Ever since the Unity Act passed, businesses have been scraping up workers like us, getting us to do the work of ten people or more. Just because I don't have a degree don't mean I deserve less pay than somebody with a piece of paper. I can lift ten steel girders with one arm. Ain't that skilled labor?»

As he approaches the person sitting in front of the television, Richard sees that it also is Odessa, but her hair is cut into a short blonde bob. This other Odessa wraps her arms around herself as she listens to the broadcast, pulling her oversized mustard yellow jacket tighter around herself.

«These tensions come after weeks of negotiations with Pinehearst Corporation over their use of Evolved Labor in the construction of Unity Park in Midtown Manhattan. New York Labor Union officials — »

The broadcast cuts out in a spat of static and distorted electronic buzzing. The short-haired Odessa doesn't even acknowledge Richard, just reaches up to the dial and changes the channel again.




«…everclear, everclear. Sign six six nine. Boxcars. Six six nine alpha.»

It sounds like military radio code. The other Odessa folds her legs under herself and reveals that she's had a notepad in her lap. She begins taking notations of the codes, but what's she's writing just comes out as help me, help me, help me over and over again in increasingly erratic circles.

«Code confirmed, channel clear.»

The other Odessa tilts her head to the side and keeps writing the same phrase. By now Kaylee and Des have approached and are able to see the sitting figure for who she is.

«Spotted a strider out by the salt flats. It was chasing some fucking dogs. I think it… ate them? Do they need to eat?»

The other Odessa starts to reach up to change the dial, but hesitates. Her head tilts like she hears something.

«Yeah. Biomass conversion. It's the reserve fuel. How many dogs and how many strikers?»

None of the voices are familiar.

«Strikers? No. striders. Christ, is this a clear channel?»

The other Odessa settles back down, starting to scribble La Mer’s lyrics in her notepad.

«Sorry. We're getting noise from the solar flare. Strider, how many?»

Partway through the lyrics, she starts drawing something on the pad, with stark and thickly sketched likes with her black ballpoint pen. She presses down hard, digs into the paper.


It’s clear she's not listening anymore.

«Lost sight in a dust storm. I think it's on a patrol route. Must be separated from the herd.»

She's drawing some sort of structure, a tapered building or perhaps a tower. Crisscrossing diagonal lines full it's middle, top flat but with a large circle perched atop. Maybe a radio tower?

«Ok. Head back. That's too much for one night.»

But then, at the base of the tower, the other Odessa starts drawing stylized ocean waves.

«Affirmative. Tell Ruiz I found his fucking headphones.»

The other Odessa’s head jerks up when she hears Ruiz’ name. The notepad is forgotten, a hand pressed to the screen with a crackle of static. Brows furrow, eyes become watery and glassy. “Give him back,” she whispers to the television.

«Primal. He'll be excited. See you when you're back h— »

The signal cuts out, and the other Odessa lets out a keening sound and leans forward, her hand dragging down the static screen. She hiccups a sob, pounds her hands on the infinitely black floor. And all three viewers of this scene realize something.

The television isn't a square. Perhaps they'd been unable to truly grasp it's shape, perhaps it's only now fathomable to them. But the static-filled television screen is shaped like a triangle.

A triangle of light.

“It’s Odessa,” Richard reports back in quiet tones as he draws close… and then, for lack of anything better to do, he settles down beside the woman, curling his legs under him to watch the screen, to listen, and to see what she’s writing.

“That’s… Arthur’s timeline,” he says as the television crackles out those words about Pinehearst and the Unity Arc, his brow furrowing a little as he lets that sink in. Then more words, then code, and — reports of Striders, of Dogs. His eyes widen, “That’s the Wasteland. These are all from different timelines…”

The sketches are watched, and he glances back to the other two, “…she’s from the Flood. How are we seeing all of this? What the hell is even going on?” He starts to turn back, just as the woman in the yellow coat breaks down.

He reaches out, trying to rest a hand on her back, trying to reassure her. Which is when the shape of the screen resolves for him, and he stares dumbly for long moments.

Looking Glass. It wasn’t— it wasn’t for looking into the future, it…” He trails off for a moment, before looking back to the others, “That’s the device from the video. It looks sideways! That’s why they didn’t recognize what was in the lab!”

“In my professional opinion, my friend.” Kaylee accepts the hand, and gives it a squeeze. “I do not have a real answer for this. Most of the minds I have been in when they die… It’s sudden.” That thought brings a little shiver to it. Resting her other hand over Odessa’s, trapping it there for a moment, she adds, “However, my instinct tells me that I don’t think you are dying.” She finally reassures, only then letting go.

“Just remember, we are in this together,” she adds as they finally reach the TV.

Moving to crouch on the other side of this new Odessa, Kaylee’s eyes fall on the notebook. Brows furrow a little. Considering a thought… “I -” She stops, leaning a little closer to consider. “You told me once, Richard, that when you found the bunker… this song,” she points to the lyrics. “Was playing?”

She looks at the pad and the repeating cries for help, “Does this Odessa, on some level, know we are here?” she asks softly, leaning so she can look at the Odessa’s face. If she had control of her ability, she might have tried reaching out to see if it was real or just a memory.

“Sudden, huh? Well, that’s a comfort.” Sure. Odessa gives Kaylee’s hand one last squeeze before she relinquishes her hold. The Ray siblings take up a position on either side of Dess, and Odessa remains standing, looking on from the other her’s back.

Help me help me help me is unnerving to see, but somehow not unexpected. She knows her own mind, after all. Odessa listens to the broadcasts and nods along with Ray’s assessments, studying the sketch. “That’s what I said, wasn’t it?” she murmurs when Ray seems to understand the function of the device in the video. “It’s a window.”

Slowly, she sinks down to a crouch. “He’s gone, Dess.” Her voice is soft, strained. She can feel that pain so keenly. Not just because she held Ruiz as he died, but because she is her, in some way. It makes it worse, knowing. Odessa reaches out to place a hand on the back of her other self.

The other Odessa says nothing in response, doesn't register the touch to her back or voices. There’s questions here, in her presence and in the things they've seen that don't have answers. But then the other Odessa’s hand moves up to the dial again.






«Mr. Ray? Oh— oh no Mister Ray? Oh please— please don't be dead. I haven't been paid yet this week!» It's the voice of Raytech’s receptionist Sera Lang. «Miss Desjardins? Oh God. Oh god they're all dead. Uhh— uhh— ok I— I'm…» There's the sound of scuffing feet and panicked breathing. «Miss… Sumter?» A long pause. «Jesus Christ they're all dead. Ok— ok think. Uhh… gotta— gotta get your prints off of everything. Gotta— uhhh— oh god damnit. Uhh.»

“Is that… what’s her name, in the lobby— Sera?” The questioning of the identity trails off as the signal continues and she talks on, Richard’s eyes widening slightly.

Well let’s hope that’s from an alternate timeline too.

He looks back to the others, and then the screen, before something hits him. “Wait. That… I think she just found us on the floor.”

After a moment, “I think that’s right now.”

“Really, Richard… You really need to learn the names of your employees,” Kaylee huffs out, giving him a disbelieving look. “That’s Sera Lang.” She pauses, “Not sure who hired her…” it certainly wasn’t her. The mild scolding is left unfinished as, the telepath listens and what the woman says begins to sink in, only to be confirmed by her brother.

“That… can’t be real,” Kaylee states firmly, like she will not have anyone change her mind, but her eyes widen still. She looks to the man across from her with uncertainty, now…. “That can’t be real.” Their kids… her husband…. They flash through her mind. She pales, looking at that triangular screen.

Trying to keep from panicking, Kaylee tries to focus on the strange TV. “So… if this is Looking Glass… and it looks into other timelines.” Shaking her head, she looks confused. “Does that mean we are not there?” In their timeline? As soon as it is said, she doesn’t believe it herself.

Turning to the other Odessa, she looks at the book in her lap again… The notes, the voice… it seems too much of a coincidence. “How do we get out of here?” She asks the catatonic woman, though she doesn’t expect an answer. The part of her that wants to see her family again is desperate. “How?!?

Odessa looks up at the screen, even though she can’t see anything. It feels like it’s been an eternity since she saw the receptionist, but it was only this morning. Well — No. She climbs to her feet. No. It was definitely just this morning, because someone would have found them before Sera otherwise. Her head is nodded at this silent pronouncement she’s made. Everything’s just fine.

They are obviously physically not anywhere except their own timeline, Odessa reasons further. And if they were dead, they wouldn’t be experiencing any of this. Although, her eyes fall on Kaylee. A telepath would have the possibility of carrying a consciousness beyond a physical body, if anyone can. Lips purse together and screw up to one side thoughtfully.

Look. This is how she deals with panic, okay? There are two modes: screaming terror, or problem solving. She’s had just about enough of the former for one day.

Tipping her head back, Odessa lets out a throaty chuckle, like she’s just heard the punchline to a joke. It grows in volume. Fitting the stereotype she’d really rather break out of, hers sounds like an evil laugh. She can’t help that. It does down into more of a giggle as she looks at Kaylee again, to address her question.

“Follow the yellow paint lines.”

Raytech Offices


The last thing Richard Ray remembers is Des saying something about yellow paint, and then… the nightmare was over. But as the fog of whatever just happened slips from his mind, and consciousness is restored, he finds himself on the floor. Nearby, Sera Lang is wiping down the doorknob with a tissue, scrubbing the door frame, removing evidence of potential wrongdoing?

Kaylee, too, wakes up on the floor. There’s a chair knocked over nearby, a small lump on the side of her head. Des, too, is on the floor and right beside her. All three victims of whatever experience found them trapped inside of Des’ mind left them with throbbing, cobwebby headache and a stiff neck. They feel hungover, like they’d been unconscious for hours or days, and yet the clock on the wall says it's only been forty-five minutes.

“…ndatory first aid lessons for all employees,” Richard exhales in a low, pained groan as he cracks a single eye open, regarding Sera near the door a bit balefully. “Do you not know how to check for a pulse, Sera? Jesus… nnh.”

A hand comes up in a vague, weak motion, “Water. And ibuprofen.”

“…second thought bring the codeine.”

“Noted, Richard. Mandatory first aid…. And make mine Ibuprofen, please, Sera.”

That comes out in a soft groan from the telepath. Knees bend as feet slide up slowly, but she doesn’t try to get up. Not yet. She needs to figure out if this is real or not…. She listens for the minds around her, grasps at her telepathy, hisses at the the spike of pain that causes. A hand is pressed to her forehead in an attempt to stop the throbbing of her over extended ability. Still, she feels an overwhelming sense of relief.

“Okay… so… I don’t know what happened, there.” Kaylee takes a deep breath to steady her emotions against what she says next, “I’m pretty sure we are back.”

Carefully, she turns her head, wincing against the sensation. “Des?” Kaylee checks on the other woman, reaching for her. “You with us still?”

Des lays there on the floor, staring ahead at nothing. She’s breathing slowly, evenly, so she’s obviously still alive, but she doesn’t seem to respond to anything around her. Not the clarification about which painkillers she might like. Not Kaylee’s request for confirmation of her being still with them.

Long past the time it looks like she won’t respond at all, Des finally nods her head slowly, just once. And that’s it. No other acknowledgement. No witty words about whatever it was they just experienced. No jabs at Sera.

Hiding the tissue behind her back, Sera stares wide eyed when her boss and co-workers reveal themselves to be not dead. But then, perhaps it’s not comforting when she says. “I checked your pulses. I heard you all— fall over? Scream? I— came in, and I— I found you like this.” Sera spreads her hands to the scene. “None of you w-were breathing, um, and— no pulses. S-so I… “ didn’t call anyone.

Swallowing anxiously, the corners of Sera’s mouth quirk up into a smile. “I’ll— get— get you your, uh— ” she opens the door and slips out into the hall, promptly.

Richard just sort of looks at Sera as she stammers excuses about why she didn’t call for help, and as she slips back into the hall he breathes out a heavy sigh and lets his head fall back to the floor.


Well, that only hurts more.

“Okay,” he mutters, “Let’s… let’s not do that again, guys.”

A cold dread falls over Kaylee, as Sera confirms what they heard over that odd little TV. The realization of what just happened. “I agree.” As much as that part of her mind rebels at the idea… she agrees. Swallowing against the lump in her throat and the threat of again wanting to throw up she says slowly, “What… whatever just happened….” A deep breath is taken, trying to calm fluttering nerves.

“I think that was a warning shot… but… also a message.” But that whole thing left a whole hell of a lot of questions, a few tantalizing morsels that had her mind already working.

“Richard?” Kaylee tips her head back to look at her brother. “I think we may want to order more string.” There are a lot of things she didn’t want to forget… and of course, a lot she would rather to never remember.

There are so many more questions than there are answers. Silent tears drip from her eyes onto the floor against her cheek. She wondered before what was real, and now? It’s even worse. Des doesn’t know where to begin to start processing all that she’s just seen. If it’s a warning shot? What’s the warning? That the past is better left in the past?

The only thing this experience has managed to confirm is that Des was right about one thing. There is something very, drastically wrong with Time. But for all her mastery over it, she hasn’t the first idea where to begin to fix it.

Especially, because she thinks she may be the broken window that allows it all to bleed through.

The door to the office opens not a moment after that thought, and Sera returns with three coffees. She pauses, blue eyes scanning the room and reading the expressions of everyone else. Pale cheeks flush red, eyes rolled back.

Right,” Sera muses with a huff of breath. “Pain-killers. Right.” Not coffee.

She leaves, again. Without other words.

They find her at her desk fifteen minutes later, on the phone.

Maybe it’s not a training issue.

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