chess_icon.gif ff_jr_icon.gif ff_ryans_icon.gif

Scene Title Questions
Synopsis There are plenty of questions about this world and the other.
Date June 20, 2021

The Cerberus III - Lowe's Docks

The gray sky sends yet more rain slanting down onto the wet world below. Chess keeps her head down as walks against the wind along the dock to where the Cerberus is moored. The ship is a behemoth compared to the little yacht she’s become accustomed to, and it’s clear she’s not used to being around vessels of this size, as she looks for where to board or how to gain the attention of those on the ship.

“This is a stupid idea,” she says to herself, before turning away again, a hand wiping the rain from her face before she shoves both hands in her pockets.

“Hoy there!”

It isn’t a gruff or gravelly voice, but a youthful one that called down to her from the deck of the ship. Above Chess, on the lazily bobbing ship with this grinning shark teeth, someone is bundled up in a rain slicker and a wide brimmed hat. It’s hard to see his face in the shadow of the hat, but not too hard to see the rifle barrel sticking up on his back.

A guard maybe?

The figure leans out a bit more, looking one way or the other. “You lookin’ for someone?” When he looks back at her, the hat tips to one side. “Wait. You’re one of the travelers, right?! Like that Richard guy? I think I’ve seen you hanging with him and that chick in the frilly get-up who’s been singing.” He calls down loudly, which does get the attention of one or two others working on the deck in the rain.

At the greeting, Chess turns, craning her neck to find the shouter. She lifts a hand, and is about to return the greeting when the flurry of questions comes on its heels, and she looks from him to the others as he announces her as a traveler – knowing not everyone’s thrilled with them being in the Pelago, she sighs quietly, and puts on a smile.

“Hey. Yeah, I’m with them,” she says, rather than hiding it, since the youth seems to know enough about them that lying seems pointless. Her gaze drifts back in the direction of the Yeah, Buoy! perhaps wishing she hadn’t come this way, but she smiles again and looks back up.

“I was looking for Captain Ryans, but it’s not that important if he’s busy. I can come back.” Or not. Not is also an option.

“Wow, you're pretty…”

It’s a good thing she can see the horror on his face when those words slip out. “Uh… ah… hold on!” The guard straightens and looks over his shoulder. “Hey dad! Someone here to see you!” There is a rumbled shout in response, though intelligible from the dock, before the young guard turns back. “Come on up,” he says, pointing down the length of the ship. “He says he’ll meet you there.”

And indeed he will be when she makes it to the ramp. Though much older than she remembers in her world, weary and leaning on a cane. The young guard, clearly a teenager, stands just behind him with wide curious eyes. But the voice of the old man has the same deep rumbling sound. “I hear you are looking for me, how can I help you, young traveler?”
“Thanks…” Chess draws out the word with uncertainty, but she can’t help the rosy shade that rises in her cheeks at the unexpected compliment. Especially when she’s wearing hand-me-downs that are too big for her in one area and too small for her in another. At least the Doc Martens she’d found fit, and the hooded coat covers most of her, though it’s far too big for her.

When the boy comes back with the information, she nods, and gives him a thumbs up sign, before making her way to the ramp and carefully making her way up.

“Hey, Captain. Good to see you again,” she says, a little awkwardly. It’s harder without the rest of her fellow travelers by her side – especially without Eve or Castle. The question as to why she’s there is a little harder to summarize, and her fingers in her pocket curl around her little worry stone.

She decides to get right to the matter, but she glances from father to son, then back to the older version of a man she knew in another world. “Silas Mackenzie mentioned you were friends with someone I wanted to know more about,” Chess manages, the words tilting upward into a question mark. “Adam Monroe?”

While he hadn’t been happy to see the travelers in their midst, they were there now and he didn’t seem so upset about it now. A smile deepens the lines and he gives her a small nod. “Seems to be a popular subject these days.” He sounds amused. He motions her to follow him. “Might as well get out of the rain.”

When the boy turns to follow, looking slightly mystified, his father gives him a stern look. “You, Junior, are on duty.” The teen looks crestfallen, shoulders slumping… but then he gives one of those heavy dramatic sighs and stalks off back to his post.

With a satisfied nod, the Captain moves for one of the doors. “Silas came around for some information, as well, though I didn’t have answers. He was family… a brother to me, but we didn’t talk about everything.” He almost looks regretful about that, but he also offers it as a disclaimer for the conversation. “So, what has you interested in my old friend?”

The dramatic sigh draws Chess’ eyes that way, and one corner of her mouth tips up into a smile. “Sorry, Junior. Tell you what, I’ll let you ask me three questions later, so long as they’re not about anyone’s personal information on the other side or anything I’m not allowed to talk about. I’ll even give you a freebie – those bear books are s-t-a-i-n, not s-t-e-i-n.”

That joke probably goes over the boy’s head, no matter how tall he is.

As she follows the elder Ryans, Chess finds herself unsure of how to answer the question of why she’s interested, and rolls her eyes at herself for not practicing the answer to that question before now.

“That’s a complicated question,” she says, but it’s at least an honest one. “I guess you could say I worked with him in the past.” That’s a little less honest, but still true, in a manner. “The Adam there… he’s had a different life, obviously, at least for the last part of it, and I’m curious who he was in this one, to get a better idea of who he really was fundamentally as a person.”

Ushering them through the door, they leave a bewildered young man on the deck mouthing Whaaat? It definitely went over his head.

Meanwhile, Benjamin considers her question as he guides her to the small office just off his sleeping quarters. “An interesting inquiry,” Ryans rumbles thoughtfully. A chair lifts a few inches from the floor and moves over near a desk resting against the wall. Once it is settled again, he motions to it before he sits at the cramped little desk.

“So where to start,” Ryans rumbles softly, settling into his chair. “I first met Adam during the Vietnam War, saved my life many times, but during it all we were separated and I never expected to see him again.” Reaching over to a wall covered in notes and paper, he plucks a Polaroid from under a magnet and offers it to her. While black edges the image, the people in it are clear.

“I found him again when I wardened for a DoEA Black Site… I quickly learned that the people being held there were not the dangerous people we were told they were. Adam was, of course, one. In fact, after the flood, most that survived joined my crew and Adam became my second in command.” The picture he hands her is of three people standing on the deck of a ship. Ryans, Adam and Huruma. There was an obvious closeness to the trio, though Adam looks worn almost… sickly. Eyes, somewhat sad and sunken, with shoulders hunched from an obvious weariness.

Chess’ brows draw together as she listens, her mind obviously working on making sense of the two lives of the single man. She reaches for the photo when he hands it to her, and she studies it, then hands it back.

“A DOeA Black Site?” she echoes, shaking her head slightly. “He wasn’t held captive by the Company? In Level Five?” she asks, tentatively. The names of all the agencies who had used Adam’s genetics and created Chess and her sisters is a complicated tangle in her mind. “Do you know… did he find Joy again?”

The ambiguity draws an exasperated shake of her head. “A woman named Joy. Not, you know, was he happy.” Her fingers curl around the soothing smoothness of the river rock in her pocket, and Chess presses it into her palm to calm her.

Weathered features show no recognition at anything she’s mentioned, his head shifting from side to side. “I’ve never heard of this Company and if Adam ever met this Joy? Well, he never mentioned her.” There is an apology in the smile he offers hee. “Like I said, he didn't talk much about his past and I never asked. Past was just that, the past, and had no real bearing in our survival. I always believed that people can grow from their past.”

Ben quiets and studies her for a long moment, “But, just from what you said, it sounds like Adam’s life was quite different in your world. Here he fought and died trying to do the right thing, to protect people who needed it. In fact, when we were in our most desperate hour and despite our protests, he and Eileen Ramirez went to the head of the Sentinels and tried to ask them to spare the Pelagos.” There is regret and sadness in the old man’s tone, his attention on the image. Leaning over he sticks it in it’s place again. “They were killed for it.”

There is a long sigh, before the Captain turns his attention back to the young lady. “Huruma and I avenged his death, killed their leader and took this,” Ben motions to the ship around them, “from them and turned it from a symbol of hate and fear… and turned it into a symbol of hope.”

Ryans looks a little older, sadder, “I miss the old man… he was one of the greatest I knew.”

“The DOeA and the Company were sort of the same thing, or may as well have been, in our world, but the Ryans there definitely knew what the Company was,” she says quietly, more to herself almost than to him, as her mind tries to slide the facts into categories of same or different. It’s a tricky task, though, and probably not one she can do alone.

The picture he paints is both completely at odds with the Adam she knows and somehow not at the same time. His words come back to her, unbidden, along with the feeling of mourning for both her losses and his, in a conversation from over a year ago.

“‘Sometimes, even when we win a war, we still lose,’” she murmurs, and finds her dark eyes suddenly warm with a swell of tears that she blinks away. “That’s something we both understood, one of the things we both agreed on, I guess.”

Chess shakes her head suddenly, and huffs a laugh. “Sorry. I’m sure you have better things to do than play Fill in the Venn Diagram with some rando from another world, yeah? I don’t really know what it is I’m trying to learn,” she says quickly, her cheeks a little flushed suddenly, and she glances at the door like she might bolt through it any moment.

“I’m sorry you lost your friend,” she adds softly. “I’m sure he’d be proud of what you’ve done with the place.”

“War and change go hand in hand and are often built on the backs of the dead,” Ryans says quietly, eyeing her curiously. It isn’t hard for him to draw conclusions and his expression softens. “I’m sorry for your loss as well, Chess. It is obvious to me that you knew him in your world.”

Leaning forward in his chair, Ben rests his elbows on the arms and loosely folds his fingers. “I take comfort in the knowledge that Adam didn’t waste away painfully in bed… that I didn’t have to watch it. A chemical attack in those early days against the Sentinel had been slowly eating away at him despite his ability.”

Curiosity gets the better of the old Captain and he finally has to ask, “What was Adam to you, in your world?”

She shakes her head slightly to his condolences, misplaced as they seem to be. Her tears aren’t for Adam, but for her sisters, for Miles, for her lost opportunities – the list goes on. But there’s a pang in her chest that says she’s not being totally honest with herself. That part of her mourns him too – or at least the idea of him. The idea of a family that they were never allowed to me.

Sitting quietly for a moment, it seems she might not plan to answer his question. She studies the desk between them, one hand sliding out of her pocket to rub at a scratch on its surface – not that such things matter in a battleworn ship such as the Cerberus.

Finally her gaze rises again, dark, almost black eyes meeting the captain’s. “Biologically speaking, he’s my father,” she says, carefully choosing her words so as not to place a greater significance on herself than exists, when Ryans was a friend of Adam’s. “But I only knew him for a short time. He was an incredibly complex person and a few months – a few conversations – weren’t enough to really make sense of everything he was, everything that had happened to him. To us.”

She looks away again, then back down at the scratch on the desk. “We were both used, made pawns of, made weapons of, and he wasn’t always a good person. He made some fucked up choices, even when he was able to be his own person, but in his mind, he was doing what was right, I guess.” She lifts her shoulders. “You can’t live a life that long and not have a little trouble seeing the trees and not just the forest, I guess.”

Her brows draw together in something like pain, but her mouth tips up into a small, apologetic smile. “I’m glad he got some peace-” the sentence cuts off, like Chess is about to say another word, before she presses her lips together.

That takes Benjamin by surprise. Thinning brows pop up and he gives a soft, “Oh.” Clearly, not an answer he was expecting. Though now he found himself looking at her in a different light. Curious.

Then he looks… guilty? “Had I known you were one of his, I wouldn't have….” Ben trails off and then looks a bit regretful.

“I only ever knew about two of kids, red heads. Daniel and Roselyn.” Ben explains before she can ask what he meant. “They were taken from Adam in the 80s when the Looking Glass was fired up. Like Richard and my firstborn, Bradley. They are in your world. I gave your companion, Richard, things to take to them.” His look is apologetic, yet hopeful. “They deserved to know their father… know he never stopped looking for them.”

A smile tugs to one side, as Ben adds, “That duty should have probably fallen to you, as their sister of sorts.”

The news draws up Chess’ brows, and she huffs a small, soft laugh. “I once asked him if his Y chromosomes can’t reproduce, since there are only women that I know of on our side, but I’m sure he’s had more children in his life than I know about,” she says with a small smirk. After all, the man had been alive for centuries.

She leaves off the fact that most of the women she knows were engineered.

“You don’t need to apologize. It might be easier for Richard, being less…” she gestures vaguely. “Related, I guess. It’ll be less complicated. For them and me.” Her brows draw together and she looks down at the scratch on the desk again. “That will be good for them to know, though. That they were loved.”

Pushing her chair back with a scrape, suddenly, Chess rises to her feet, and reaches across the desk to offer her hand. “Thank you. And I’m sorry you lost your son. I hope he has a good life there. It’s not always a great place, but it has some merits. Mostly, land.” It’s a lame attempt at humor, a failing ploy to push away the emotions that she didn’t expect to feel in this little interview.

There is a worried hesitation, but the Captain finally reaches out to take her hand when he stands with her. “While you are in port, if you ever need anything, work, a place to go, or a friendly face….you are welcome here.” A sympathetic smile deepens the creases of his face. “You may not have been born here, but you are genetically his, which means you’re family.” That offer given, he moves to open the door to the office for her.

“The plank is always down and my door is ever open,” The Captain adds in a deep rumble.

The kindness and compassion are almost enough to be Chess’ undoing – the tall man and his gruff voice remind her of another member of her family, though not by blood, and the first true ache of homesickness surges up in her.

“Thank you,” she says softly, hand curling around the rock in her pocket, and she manages to smile, and actually mean it. “That means a lot.”

She hesitates, then adds, “I don’t know what you know about your other you, but I did have the pleasure of meeting him, and he was also very kind to me, and very brave.” Chess chooses her words carefully, to not reveal more than she wants to about the other man’s counterpart and his tragic, heroic end.

With a quick duck of her head that is almost a bow, she exits the little office, to make her way back to the ramp. She pulls her hood back up to shut out the rain, but it doesn’t do a lot to block the tears that spring up on her face.


A breathless voice accompanies the sudden appearance of the tall & lanky young Ryans. Did he run across the large ship to get there in time? Maaaybe? He starts to say something else, but notices the teary face. Now he just looked awkward, scratching at the back of his damp neck.. “You… uh..” He glances back at the door she just left. “You okay? Dad’s rough, but he’s not all that bad…. Mom always said people think he’s like a pitbull… but she said he’s more like a chihuahua… thinks he’s a big bad dog, but really just a lapdog.”

The teen clearly has no idea what went down in the office. “Did… did…uh… you get the answers you were looking for?”

The arrival of the teen makes Chess swipe at her eyes swiftly, but unfortunately not before he sees. She shrugs, then forces a quick smile at the boy.

“Your dad’s a good guy. I'm just a little emotional,” she says. “Feeling homesick, I guess. Not his fault,” she says, forcing a ‘everything’s just fine’ tone onto the words – it doesn’t sound much like her but it should fool a stranger. Hopefully.

She stops walking, since she knows he’s supposed to be working – the last thing Chess wants is to get the teenager in trouble with his dad for following her like a stray dog. “So. Hit me with them,” she says, lifting a hand in a beckoning sort of motion.

The teen is confused about what she’s giving permission for. “Hit…yo…OH!” He remembers quickly enough. “Questions… Um…” Pulling the rifle over his head, the kid shoves the thing in the hands of a passing crewman. “Come on, I’ll walk with you.”

So much for keeping him out of trouble, he doesn’t seem too worried. “I’m Ben Ryans Jr, by the way… Though I go by JR.” He doesn’t exactly wait for her to go first, taking a few steps down the plank before turning to starting his inquiry. “So I mean, obviously, I gotta ask: what’s the other world like?”

Chess lifts her brows and then follows her escort, then huffs a soft laugh at his first question. “That’s a really broad question, junior,” she says wryly. “There’s less water.”

She seems like she plans to leave it like that as she walks down the plank carefully, not wanting to end up in the drink – or worse, fall and hit her head on ship or dock. “It’s actually not all that great. We had a civil war that destroyed a lot of what we had, so even though there’s a lot of land, a lot of it isn’t really in the best shape. We’re fixing it, slowly, but it sucked.”

Her shoulders lift, and it seems that might be all she plans to say, before she adds, “On the bright side, the good guys won. So people like me are longer second-class citizens forced to live in ghettos.”

“A civil war? Like North against South kind of stuff?” Ben asks thoughtfully, looking out into the water and the broken buildings barely seen through the rainy mist. “I guess that's what happened here. Them vs. Us. It destroyed a lot we had too, but we won… I guess?” He doesn’t seem all that convinced.

“Difference is the water volume.” JR gives a small amused sound, like there is a joke in that.

Pausing at the bottom, the young Ryans boys wait for her to join him. Then he points at one of the broken buildings. “That’s where I lived… with my mom. The Sentinel shot a missile at it. A guy tried to stop it, but… the explosion was still too big.” He holds his hand straight up like a building and lets it fall over. He stares at that spot for a moment, before shaking his head.

“So I guess our worlds aren't too different after all… except… you all have like…. pizza and.. and ice cream. I can’t even remember what any of that tastes like.” Unlike his more reserved father, JR’s hands move about to emphasize what he’s saying.

She follows the trajectory of his pointing finger, frowning in sympathy – empathy – for his losses. “I’m sorry,” she offers softly, giving the building and Chess assumes his mother in it, a moment of silence.

“And yeah. Us versus Them,” she continues after a few beats. “It always comes down to that, yeah? The pronouns are just assigned to different words, but it’s the same. The people in power and the people they’re oppressing or threatened by, or both.”

It’s a dark discussion to have with a teenager, but then JR isn’t much younger than Chess was when she joined the war effort in her own world.

“Ice cream tastes like childhood and summer,” she offers, with a small smile. “As far as remembering… Castle’s a good cook. I bet they could concoct something that is pretty close. It might be gluten free or dairy free or be made from seaweed, but they used to cook for the Ark. Long time ago.”

“Yeeeeah….” JR doesn’t sound like he is convinced that anything can be made edible. “I will have to take your word on it. Seaweed and fish… is weird enough as it is. I think it would take someone like…That italian guy that always said bam! on the tv…. man, I miss tv.

He takes a few quiet steps as he tries to decide what to ask next… she did offer after all and Ben is not going to let this pass by. “Is it weird? I mean..” he motions around him, “Seeing home looking this different? Seeing people you know elsewhere?”

She doesn’t answer the question he asks, not for a moment, focusing on TV instead, cooking shows – the mundane things that make up so much of life in a world that’s not flooded or war torn.

“There used to be these cooking shows where they’d give the people really strange ingredients and make them make something delicious out of them. I always wondered if it really tasted as good as some of the judges said,” she muses. “There are people here that have animals, I know – it might not taste like Ben and Jerry’s or Baskin and Robbins, but I bet they could make something decent. I’ll ask.”

Returning to the question, she looks out at all the buildings jutting up out of the water. “I’m not from New York. I’ve only lived there a few years, and it’s not the New York it used to be, either,” she says softly. “But it is weird. I don’t… I don’t think I was even born in this world. I’m sort of relieved.”

She breathes out that short laugh of hers, and meets his gaze again. “/Tthat// seems weird, I know, but…” Chess shrugs, reaching up to wipe her face of the rain drops that have made it past her hood. “It’s sort of complicated. As for other people, I don’t know that many of them, but enough. Enough to make it extremely, irreparably weird, yes.”

“Not born here?” JR can’t even fathom it. The teenager was at an age he could either look like the adult he’ll one day be or the kid he’s growing out of. Looking out at the wreckage, he looks younger. “When I learned of other worlds… I thought. That’s cool. Maybe my mom and sisters are alive there.” There is a prickling behind his eyes and his smile tugs self-consciously to one side, suddenly embarrassed at such thoughts.

Fingers scratch at the hairs at the base of his neck and blinks too many times, JR frantically tries not to act the baby in front of her. “I feel like I have a ton of questions, but I can’t think of them… it’s like I’m standing with a celebrity… People talk about you guys like it’s some bad omen, cause of the last time Travelers came through… but you’re no different than me.”

Slowing to a stop, JR studies her for a moment. “I know I’m just a kid to most of these people… I don’t blame them… I’m like sixteen, but I don’t feel like one. I dunno. Something changed when the building collapsed and I was in the water… I don’t know how to explain it.” Brows furrow and he shakes his head.

“Do you have nightmares about your war?” JR asks quietly after a moment.

Chess’s eyes widen at first, and then she huffs a small laugh, ducking her head when he likens her to a celebrity, her cheeks flushing a little, and she turns to look at the building he’d pointed out, feeling suddenly a loss for people she doesn’t know.

Turning back, she offers him a weak smile. “Pretty much every night,” she admits. “It’s gotten a little better… or, well. New nightmares have replaced them on some nights. But you’re right, you’re not a kid, in a lot of ways. I was only a little older when I went to war, and things like that, well. You have to grow up fast. Like you have. And you miss out on being a kid when you shouldn’t have to.”

Her smile widens a little. “You’re far too tall to be just sixteen,” she teases him, but then with another glance at the building, she returns to the subject of his family. “They might be. I think… I’ve seen a lot of people I know. Eve met herself. Robyn is looking for herself. Nova – don’t get me started on Nova. But they all exist in both worlds.”

She doesn’t mention knowing Ryans – that is a Pandora’s Box Chess doesn’t want to open in front of the curious boy.

Most things seem mostly the same up to a point. There are some differences, aside from the water. My existence… or lack thereof… it’s a complicated thing that involved a lot of different people, instead of the usual two,” she says with a smirk, “and if any of those things didn’t happen, then neither did I. And I think, from what your dad told me, it didn’t.”

Her shoulders lift. “Like I said, it’s not a bad thing. It’s just a very weird thing, you know? I might be wrong. It might have happened anyway. Castle only exists here, because, well. Time travel.” She lifts her shoulders. “But keep that thought, if it gives you solace, you know? They may be fine over there, and if not there, maybe somewhere else. We know about a few worlds, but there are probably more we just can’t quite reach. Maybe there’s one where Us and Them have finally figured out their shit.”

The young Ryans boy looks as awkward as he feels, giving the side of his nose a scratch as he gathers his thoughts. He was tall for his age, then again… his family always commented on the idea he might end up taller than his dad. “I’ll keep that in mind…” he offers on the idea of holding on to the thought that his family was alive elsewhere.

“Hey, I need to get back… if you haven’t heard dad bellow…” His eyes comically open wider at the idea. “Anyhow, can I look you up when I think of more questions?” JR seems a bit reluctant to go, fidgeting a bit .. a step back where they came from. “Or you know… I can teach you some skills… I know how to repair nets and traps. Fish… all kids learn it as a part of school since…” A hand motions to all the water. “…since you know… Teach a man to fish kinda stuff.”

Almost as soon as he makes the offer, Ben realizes how weird he’s being and gives a small huff of amusement. “I mean… if you are going to be stuck over here, it’s useful.”

It’s been said before that Chess should never play poker, given the way her expressions play across her face for anyone to read;; her features shift from amusement to that same wistful, homesick expression she’d been wearing when she came out over the course of his words.

“That would be helpful. I don’t think bombs or arrows do a lot of good when it comes to catching one’s dinner in an ocean. Or at least, they’re not the most efficient way of doing so,” she says lightly, the smile returning to her face.

“It was nice to meet you, Junior. Your dad’s a good guy, even if he bellows a lot,” she says over her shoulder as she turns to head back toward where the Yeah, Buoy! is moored somewhere with other smaller boats.


The teenager starts to open his mouth and ask just that, but something stops him. A breath escapes him as he watches Chess walk away. “Next time,” he murmurs to himself. “Ask about the bombs next time.”


The deep lion-like roar of his father’s voice echoes out over the docks. Yup. It was time to go back. Grinning like a madman, the boy gives the woman another glance and scurries back towards the boat and the impending lecture on duty.

Not even his father’s ire wasn't going to tarnish how cool it was to talk to someone - other than Squeaks… cause she doesn't count - from another world.

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