Return To The Dead Zone, Part III


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Scene Title Return to the Dead Zone, Part III
Synopsis One journey's end is another's beginning…
Date August 11 — August 12, 2019

Beyond the concrete perimeter wall partitioning the wasteland of California’s war-torn ruins spreads a city of manufactured design. What was once the city of San Francisco looks nearly unrecognizable in its current state, a far cry from the shades of old New York still visible in the bones of the New York City Safe Zone. No, the California Safe Zone is a sprawl of microfabricated concrete and wood homes, rolling up great hills and spreading out into flattened construction areas littered with vibrantly yellow-painted spider-like machines the size of pickup trucks, building homes layer by layer.

Driving through the Safe Zone is like being transported through time to a future far beyond the war. Though the looming silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge brings some semblance of familiarity, the equally looming shadow of a massive technological pyramid on the island that was once known as Alameida brings the moment in time into sharp focus. For Gillian and Jolene, having driven halfway across the wartorn wastes of the United States to get here, it feels as though they’ve become like Alice and slipped through the looking glass into Wonderland.

If Wonderland had been paved over.

The California Safe Zone


August 11

12:17 pm

Signs for unfinished neighborhoods with names like Glen Canyon, Hunters Point, and Sunrise District rush by on the newly-paved freeway trafficked solely by autonomous vehicles carrying construction equipment and the occasional armored vehicle filled with armed soldiers without nation or identification clearly displayed. The guards at the checkpoint had indicated that the entrance Gillian and Jolene had arrived at wasn’t fully functional yet, indicating they should follow the coastal freeway north past the unfinished neighborhoods to the island of Passport that lays between the unfinished residences and the one populated neighborhood of Oakland.

Looking out the passenger-side window, Lene squints at the way sunlight reflects off of the sloping sides of the copper-colored pyramid across the San Francisco bay. “This is all new…” she says in two meanings, one that all of the construction is so recent, another that this never happened in her timeline. “I’ve never even imagined anything like this before.”

Turning to look over at her mother in the driver’s seat, Lene props one arm up in the window as they drive, wind in their hair. Then, her attention tracks down to the compass on Gillian’s hand, pointing eastward, pointing in the direction of that monolithic building. “Mom…” The worry in her voice is beyond palpable. Gillian already knows what’s going through her mind, it’s been on hers ever since they arrived.

It’s the Ark all over again.

The only San Francisco Gillian had ever seen had always been in movies or TV shows, but she had known enough about it that she knew this looked completely different. And the looming structure looked like something she only expected to see in movies, even today. Even the Ark hadn’t stood out like this. It had been a reverse of this, growing into the ground, hidden away. She could only imagine how many levels a place like that had to have. How much they would need to search. Would it also have an underground? So many questions ran through her mind before she looked back at her daughter and nodded. “I know.”

She did know. Somewhat. She couldn’t possibly know everything, but she could understand a little. Looking from the compass on her hand to the monolithic structure, she sighed a little. “Looks like we’re going to have to get ourselves invited. I wonder how far the author-business will work.” She had the chops, at least. She probably would write articles about it for the New York Safe Zone, if not a book later on. And she’s sure Praxis would love the chance at positive publicity in the middle of Yamagato’s own attempts to remake the world.

But their primary goal would always be to find Squeaks and bring her home. No matter what.

“It’s not too late to change your mind,” she offered again, even if she knew the answer. It was the same one she had.

Lene fixes a stern look at Gillian, brows furrowed. Peter looked at her that way once before too, on the roof of the Pinehearst building. There’s so much of him in her. She doesn’t verbally protest the suggestion that she turns back, instead defiantly reclining against her seat as she crosses her arms over her chest. “Compass keeps pointing east, now,” she says to change the topic and resolve her position. It was the first time the Compass had said anything other than north or west since they began their journey.

Looking out the passenger side window, Lene fixes her green-eyed stare on the pyramid across the bay. “Why wouldn’t it be there?” She says sarcastically, throwing one hand into the air fitfully. “The map they gave us at the checkpoint says that’s a place called Praxia,” Lene continues, looking at the small, folded brochure in her lap. It’s cover has a perfect nuclear family, dog and all, in front of a 3d printed home with a manicured lawn. “Apparently it’s the,” and she takes on a flat affected tone, “commerce hub for Praxis Heavy Industries in the California Safe Zone.” She looks up to Gillian, doubtfully.

“I can see an airport from here,” Lene goes on to say as her mother drives, “and it looks like they want us to go to Oakland, just north of there. Over that,” she points to a bridge that crosses the San Francisco bay up ahead, “and through customs.” That last bit earns a small sigh, and Jolene looks over at her mother.

“The hell are we going to do?” Lene asks, hopeful that her mother has a plan.

“At first, I thought that whoever took her must have been the same people who tried to take you, and took Hailey, and almost got her once before as well. That she’d been sold out west to some growing community,” Gillian spoke quietly, even as she paid almost all her attention on what was in front of her. Her fingers tightened and loosened on the steering wheel more than a few times as she continued on. “I thought we’d have to break her out of a compound at most, sneak in and steal her away in the night, scout it out and call in a favor from some people, maybe…” She had even considered contacting Wolfhound, or Robyn, or Raytech.

She knew they would have, but she didn’t want to put anyone else in danger until she had an idea of what they might be facing.

“But with it showing her in there… we don’t have a lot of options. If someone sold her, they aren’t just going to hand her over. If they took her for some kind of experiment— like many in the past have, then they won’t hand her over, either. Perhaps they took her because of her connections to SESA, or Raytech, or me. Perhaps her monster of an uncle is involved. I’ve considered every scenario I could imagine.” She stopped to inhale before finally answering the question.

“The only thing we can do is go in through the front door. They have too much security and resources to attempt anything else. We go in there under a cover story, the fact that I might write a book, or article at least, but we will have to acknowledge that someone inside will know we’re there for her. We’ll stop and try to get access to a phone, or the internet, or something, leave a message with someone to give the illusion that people know where we are and expect us to be able to come back out. I suspect they will track this communication and even stop it, but we don’t need it to actually reach anyone.” With the distance and the unreliability of communication, she fully anticipated it getting lost along the way. “But that’s why we state it in a way that sounds like they already know exactly where we are and where we’re going and will contact the authorities if they don’t hear from us soon. Our only real advantage is the lady who’s got us this far and… possibly you.”

Then she glanced over at her daughter, “You haven’t updated your registration yet, have you?”

“No,” Lene admits with a furrow of her brows and an aversion of her eyes. “I— hadn't planned on, either.” Trusting the system was still hard for her. With everything that happened in her timeline and this one, the government had been her enemy for so long that seeing it as anything otherwise is challenging. Distrust is her second nature.

But then, exhaling a sigh through her nose, she looks back up to the pyramid with that same worry in her eyes. “I like your plan, I like… I like operating from a position of strength. These people have to know who we are…”

Lene looks back to her mother, thoughtfully.

“And that should scare them.”


California Safe Zone


August 12

9:17 am

If the administration of the California Safe Zone did know fear, the engine of their bureaucracy certainly didn't show it. After arriving on the island of Passport, Jolene and Gillian spent hours in background checks and interviews with one office administrator to another. During that time both Gillian and Jolene were able to place calls back to the NYC Safe Zone, to both friends and legal representation. It would seem that getting access to the California Safe Zone required sitting on a months-long relocation waiting list, and even temporary access was strictly controlled.

The two found themselves put in transition housing while their entry application processed. While they were expecting a trailer, what they got was a 2-level open concept auto-fabricated house built by machines when the island was rebuilt. The morning after their arrival, Jolene stands by the floor to ceiling windows in the kitchen, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, a cup of coffee from the smart kettle steaming in her hands.

“I can't believe this,” Jolene says into her muted reflection in the glass. “This is… how can they afford to build this?” The looming, sun-reflecting surface of the Praxia Ziggurat shines brightly in the distance.

At least Gillian finally had gotten to call Robyn. She had tried to be secretive in the way she talked, not wanting to go into too many details, but it had been a relief to talk to her and to pass along messages. She knew that Emily and the kids from the Lighthouse would be worried, but she would be home before they knew it. Possibly even sooner than she expected, if they ejected her instead of approving the request. If Squeaks was in the Ziggurat legally, then it would be even harder.

Jaq Childs was listed as her daughter, legally. She was missing. It wouldn’t take a lot to draw lines if she was inside legally.

But if she wasn’t there legally, then the person who was responsible had a lot of resources, if they managed to beat this system.

“I doubt that’s a question that we’ll have an answer to,” she responded quietly, even if it had been half a statement. “There’s a lot fewer mouths to feed in America than there used to be. There’s no electric grid to run and keep active, less government lobbyists to pay off. If they control the food and power, they can pretty much get whatever they want. And I’m sure they have other ways of making money that would have been unthinkable just ten years ago.”

“The TV here is just,” Lene motions to a razor thin television mounted on the nearby wall, “it’s all tourism information and some local and mostly foreign news. More than half of the channels are in Chinese. The ones that aren’t are like… I don’t know… informative for new residents? This feels weird, it doesn’t— it feels like we’ve somehow landed in another world, not just crossed the country. Not even the DoEA cities in my time looked like this.”

Unable to shake a feeling of incongruity and unfamiliarity from her surroundings, Jolene steps away from the window and turns her back on the Praxia skyline. “It’s hard not to feel like we’re— ” An unexpected knock at the door jolts Jolene from her thoughts and her right hand reflexively moves down to where a gun would be holstered if this wasn’t a city and she didn’t live in a society. Swallowing down old habits, Lene locks eyes on her mother right before a voice calls out through the house, projected from a front door security system.

“Hello, Gillian Childs?” A woman with a British accent, flinty, distinct. “I’m with the department of relocation and settlement, may we have a word?”

A year ago that phrase ‘it feels like we landed in another world’ would have honestly been dismissed offhandedly. But Gillian now knows some things that would make it possible. With a shake of her head, she tries not to think too much on that possibility when the unexpected knock is heard and she quickly stands up, feet positioned as if to dive for Jolene and push her behind some kind of cover. Where her daughter from another world’s first instinct might be to defend herself, her mother’s is to protect, it would seem.

At the voice, her shoulders relax and she stands up a little straighter, as if getting ready to speak at one of the Council meetings back home. Oh, how she hopes this won’t go poorly. Only the fact that they had let them contact people back home, including lawyers, gave her additional relief. Surely if they intended to sweep them under a rug never to be heard from again, they wouldn’t have allowed for them to tell anyone where they were.

Walking over, Gillian unlocks the door and opens it, saying before she even looks out, “Yes, of course. Thank you for seeing me so quickly. I’m sure you have many cases.”

There’s a brunette woman in her forties on the other side of the door, high cheekbones and a regal nose that gives her profile a Romanesque quality. She smiles a practiced smile, not entering the home but rather taking a half-step to the side. “The Director of Operations for the California Safe Zone’s tourism and services board would like to meet with you inside the Ziggurat to discuss your stay.”

The tall woman’s dark eyes settle squarely on Gillian, briefly flicking to Jolene, and in that moment there’s recognition. Jolene’s brows scrunch, nose wrinkles, and she takes a step closer toward the door. “I… I know you.” The brunette outside the house raises one brow, hiding any possible recognition behind a neutral facade. “You… you used to work for Richard, at Redbird Security, didn’t you? I saw you in his office a few times.”

“Guilty as charged,” the brunette says with a hand gesturing toward her chest. “I did security consulting for Mr. Cardinal many years ago. Or, I suppose that’s Mr. Ray these days, isn’t it?” The British woman offers a smile to Gillian, then extends her hand.

“Sabine Hazel,” she introduces confidently.


While the younger woman might recognize this woman in the suit, Gillian does not, but she just nods when it turns out she consulted for the old Redbird back in the day. It seemed everyone somehow had worked with the man she still thought of as Cardinal at one point or another. “I still think of him as Cardinal, too,” she admitted with a hint of fondness in her voice as she shook the offered hand.

She might be mad at the man for taking Squeaks out west the LAST time the girl disappeared, but she also hadn’t pressed charges or anything. Or even yelled at him too much. She’d yelled at him just enough. It was difficult to do so when he had gotten his dead now-wife back. She didn’t know how much Squeaks had contributed to that return, but she gathered that it was an important piece. It might have even made the difference, so it had been worth it.

“I’m grateful that the Director is able to meet with us. And thank you for coming by as well. I suppose I should warn that I don’t know any Chinese at all. Though that might be why the sent you.”

“I don't know much beyond a few curse words myself,” Sabine says with a wry smile. “The Director speaks fluent English, if that's any worry off your shoulders. He just wanted to make sure to send a familiar face.” As Sabine steps toward the sleek black limousine parked on the side of the road leading up to the house, Lene offers a momentary look behind herself at the apartment, then slips on her flats and steps toward the door with Gillian.

“We’re very excited to have you here, Miss Childs.”


California Safe Zone


August 12th

9:39 am

Across the bay from the island city of Passport lies Praxia, a walled industrial compound of sprawling factories, refineries, and warehouses mixed with airfields and scrapyards. Through the high security checkpoint the industrial sprawl of Praxia is full of machines, some run by humans, others not. Enormous spider-like machines car try big blocks of prefabricated housing material scuttle past on the roads, followed by swarms of flying drones serving more opaque purposes.

“I…” Lene begins to speak up, looking across the rear of the limo to Sabine. “I thought robots like this were illegal in America. Some of these— they're armed.” Between buildings, Jolene spotted several spider-like tanks like the one seen near the southern checkpoint. Sabine follows Lene’s stare, then looks back to the girl.

“This isn't America,” is Sabine’s simple answer.

“Wait, then, where is it?” Lene asks, glancing at her mother nervously.

“Officially the boundary of Praxia is its own independent nation-state not beholden to the United States’ laws or regulations. Praxia is a sovereign nation owned and operated by Praxia Heavy Industries.” Sabine’s answer doesn't ease Lene’s concerns. Sabine can see that.

“I assure you, these machines are only here to protect people,” Sabine adds, and that too does little to ease Jolene’s worry.

They're always designed to protect someone.

Until they suddenly aren't.

Praxis Ziggurat

Praxia, California Safe Zone


August 12

10:16 am

The Praxia Ziggurat is a stunning structure. It is as technologically revolutionary as the Yamagato Building back home, but where Yamagato Industries designs with a sleek futuristic aesthetic, the Praxia Ziggurat leans on the ancient world. Brutalist and modern designs of sharp angles and concrete contrasting against dark metal and glass give the Ziggurat an earthy industrial feel. The greenery of plants juxtaposed against it feels more like the Safe Zone, where old metal meets new growth.

Gillian and Jolene do not stop at the security desk save to pick up pre-printed lanyard badges with their photo identification already printed on them. They are soon whisked through the marble-floored lobby to a stainless steel elevator and whisked up thirty-seven floors to an office level of similar aesthetic design. Glass-walled work places filled with computers give the impression of being at a technology company and the diverse staffs working them look to have come from all around the world. Sabine moves briskly through the Ziggurat, not once stopped by any of the sleekly dressed and discreetly armed security guards seen along the way. Eventually she leads Gillian and Lene down a concrete-walled hallway with round, recessed lights in the wall and potted plants in raised sconces.

There is no elevator pitch, no up-sell from Sabine about the virtues of Praxis Heavy Industries, just a politely brisk walk into a fully furnished lounge. The glass wall opposite the entrance is sloped here, clearly the outer wall of the ziggurat. Large horizontal metal shutters along the outside allow in thick shafts of morning light. The floor and walls in here that aren’t glass are concrete. Furniture of supple black leather is accented by Persian throw rugs, tall wooden book cases filled with hardback and softcover books. A claw-foot antique writing desk sits by the windows, flanked by low shelves lined with terrariums filled with greenery. At the center of an arrangement of sofas and chairs is a glass-topped coffee table, upon which sits a traditional sword rack where a katana in its black lacquered scabbard rests on display.

There is a woman looking out the partly-shuttered windows as Gillian and Lene arrive, dressed in loose clothes of earth tones and handspun fabrics. She turns as Sabine shuts the doors behind them, and they immediately know her before she even says a word.


One moment Gillian was in an office, ready to give the performance of her life— the next, she sees Joy turn and suddenly part of her feels like she’s back on that street in Cambridge, with a yellowed street lamp giving a dim illumination and two women and a girl standing over her. Part of her body retained the memory of what had happened, she’d felt it every time she saw those robots on the walk over, but now she could hear a voice whispering from the past.

“Life is precious” the stranger explains, stepping into the light of the street lamp. Her dark hair is matted down by the rain, stuck to her cheeks and beads on her heavy woolen coat.

Joy smiles, faintly. “Be safe.” Then, her body slips into darkness as she becomes little more than a living shadow. Gillian has seen Cardinal’s ability before, so has Jolene, and it's one he and Joy appear to share. The woman slithers away into the dark of the alley, and Jolene squeezes her mother tighter.

Much of that night Gillian wishes she had forgotten, and some of it she actually had. But she remembered that face. That voice. Those words. And after meeting Nathalie again, she remembered part of what else had truly happened that night. She suddenly wished she could sit down, as she stood there frozen for a moment. A few slow breaths and she kept from just sitting down on the floor right there. She spoke before she even realized what she wanted to ask, “What are you doing here?” Probably not the best question to start with, but it’s the one that escaped.

“I live here,” Joy says in a casual tone, regarding Gillian's surprise thoughtfully and letting her attention move to Jolene, who has one hand cupped over her mouth to stifle a gasp of shock. “It's, a long story… but one I think you deserve an answer to, eventually.” Joy makes her way over to the furniture, taking a seat with her legs folded under herself in the armchair, bare feet tucked under the fabric of her skirt.

“Sit,” Joy suggests, beckoning Lene and Gillian over. “I know why you're here, and I understand the kinds of emotions that would drive you to journey all this way for another person.We weren't sure you would come, but we did talk about what would happen if, somehow, you did.”

Slowly lowering her hand from her face, Lene takes a shaky step forward. Joy, smiling softly, looks down at her lap. “History doesn't trend well for people who hurt you or the people you love. There's a trail of demolished buildings, corpses, and ruined dreams in the wake of people who intend on wronging you. We’d rather not continue that.”

“We?” Lene asks if Joy, briefly glancing back at Gillian. But Gillian sees something past Lene, something on the coffee table. The sword —

That sword

The Kensei Sword.

The sound of the door opening at Gillian’s back sends the hairs on her neck on end. Following the rush of climate controlled air is a voice, startling and British. The Director is British, Sabine had said. The Director. “Gillian,” the voice slithers over the back of her mind. Familiar and unfamiliar all in one.


“There's someone here who'd like to see you.” Behind Adam Monroe, dressed in new clothes and in good health, is a young woman.

The compass on Gillian’s hand pivots toward her.



Of all the ways Squeaks could have greeted her mom and sister, she falls back on old habits. A quiet voice, politely curious peek of blue eyes on those within the lounge. A swell of happiness and sadness flashes for an instant, the rush of emotion that should have followed is subdued. She had expressed a tangle of feelings much earlier, before even leaving her apartment for this meeting.

Feet carry the girl forward, from behind Adam to beside him. Her eyes dart up to his, then return to Gillian and Lene, and hands clasp together against her stomach.

“I can't believe you're actually really here.” Squeaks practically whispers the words, maybe not trusting her voice to stay even. Or maybe wanting to keep the spoken thought to herself. “I'm sorry I didn't call or…” She supplements with a shrug. She'd made her choice, and by doing so accepted the costs.

After days and days and days (it felt like even longer, honestly) of driving, Gillian suddenly felt like everything was happening at once. To start, she walked quietly over, listening to what Joy was saying and trying to figure out if she really knew why they had come all this way. She didn’t stay seated in the chair long, though, because as soon as she saw Adam Monroe she stood up immediately. She mostly knew him from stories and paintings done by Eve, but she had captured him well. For a moment she might have been about to say something, but then the ink on the back of her hand liquifies and shifts and she sees who’s behind him.

For a moment she wonders what it felt like to have one’s heart skip a beat, cause she could have sworn that just happened. She hadn’t expected it to be easy, or to happen so quickly. Even if Joy was right. People who hurt those she loved did tend to have bad endings.

But so did people she cared about, in some cases. She had had no idea of knowing which one this would be.

After a few seconds, she starts forward, hands reaching up before she looks unsure. Perhaps due to the subdued emotion from the other girl. Perhaps not. Her eyes swam a moment before she blinked it away. Not all tears were tears of sadness, she had said. And this was one of those times.

“Of course, I came. I am your mother now,” even if she felt like she’d only been that for too short a time. I had some help, too,” she didn’t point out the lady made of ink, but she might explain that later. “How did you get out here? What happened? Are— “ she trails off and looks from Joy to Adam, eyes narrowing suspiciously at the man whom Eve had spent so much time trying to find and obsessing over. She’s noticed how Squeaks seems to be looking at him as if for support.

“She showed up on my doorstep,” Adam says with a spread of his hands, showing himself into the room and past Gillian and Squeaks, pausing only to leave a lingering look at Jolene. There’s scrutiny there, uncertainty as well, before he settles over at the chair Joy was sitting in and steals it from her. “She ran into one of my men, had her head full of notions and ideas, and took it on herself to come here and confront me. Directly.” Adam exhales a sigh, running one hand through his hair. He sounds tired. Looks it too.

Jolene has been as still as a frozen pond this entire time. She regards Adam with the same unfamiliar scrutiny that he had given to her. She had never mentioned the immortal in stories of her timeline, nor had Adam ever heard the stories of the people who came with warnings from the future — not in great detail, anyway. They were unknowns to one-another, circling the conversation like two stray cats that have encountered one-another for the first time.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Joy is quick to add, and Lene can’t help but hear a hint of sadness in those words. Joy comes to stand beside the chair Adam is sitting in, one hand on the high back, watching the reunion. “It’s time, Adam.”

Joy’s assertion elicits a look up from the blonde Briton, who draws in a deep breath that he is slow to exhale in an ever-suffering sigh. “Later,” Adam says to her, quietly, before turning his attention back to Gillian and Squeaks.

“I didn't know.” Squeaks looks first at Adam as she reasserts her interpretation of circumstance. Her eyes flick to Gillian and Lene next, searching for any sign that they believe her.

It takes a few seconds before she offers any more explanation. When Adam moves, she watches but doesn't follow. Her weight shifts, a look darts to Joy, she takes a breath.

“I couldn't find answers.” And she knew there had to be something somewhere. “It's so deeply classified, or people are trying to keep it secret. But I thought maybe one person would know. I didn't know that it meant leaving leaving, but I had to know.”

Squeaks mirrors Adam’s sigh and looks at the floor. Her eyes pick out the subtly varied grains that make up the concrete as she thinks on how lame her reasoning that led to her disappearance and presence in Praxia sounds. “There's answers here. I'm learning. About myself and history. The future.”

How was it that Gillian could see herself in this young girl when they weren’t even blood related? In many ways she had done some similar crazy things when she found out there was question of her parentage. She had even travelled through time for answers. She had been ten years older than Squeaks was now, an adult, but as she thought about it she knew she probably would have done the same things had she been this girl’s age when everything she had known about herself had been turned upside down. It made it hard to be really mad at the girl, but she does agree on one thing she had said not too long ago. “You should have called.”

But the girl had apologized already, so Gillian turned her eyes on Adam. This was like Richard all over again! “You should have called, too. Allowing her to stay here without her parent’s permission is kidnapping. I thought she was taken by slave traders or worse.” She had so many terrible scenarios in her mind, that she hadn’t quite figured that the girl would have gone on her own to Praxia of all places.

If only she had checked her voicemail when she got here, she hadn’t thought about that since she figured it was swamped with calls from worried librarians and her publisher wondering when she would get her next draft to her.

“If you’re the director of this place, you could afford to send someone with a message, if you couldn’t get me by phone. She’s been missing about 50 days. If she’s been here this whole time on your doorstep…” She casts a glance at Joy as well. Yes, her anger was being directed at the adults in the room.

Possibly lucky for Squeaks.

“I could have,” Adam agrees, “I chose not to. You’ll have to forgive me for not reaching out to one of the most well-known women in America after SESA issues an Amber Alert to say, oh by the way she’s here with me, when you’re friends with Eve Mas and most of Wolfhound and— I don’t know— everyone.” Waving one hand in Gillian’s direction, Adam is eminently frustrated by the whole thing.

“There’s more at stake here than Jac,” Joy tries to smooth that out, “which we, unfortunately, can’t share with either of you.” She says to both Gillian and Jolene. The latter of whom gives one askance look to Gillian, her hands balled into fists, jaw clenched shut, before she fixes a baleful look bact at Adam.

“Look,” Adam holds up his hands and then claps them down on the arms of his chair, “this isn’t ideal for any of us. But when you popped up on Safe Zone perimeter security, I… didn’t have much choice. This felt like the path of least resistance, all things considered, and I didn’t want you assembling the bloody Avengers to flatten everything I’ve worked so hard to build.” Joy rests a hand on Adam’s shoulder, squeezing gently.

Sighing, Adap rests his head in one hand. “Which brings me to… I don’t know what to do now that you’re here. So,” his brows rise, “I guess this is extra kidnapping. For now. If you’d be so kind.”

Squeaks’ gaze lifts from the floor as the adults speak, her blue eyes seeking Gillian and Lene then Adam and Joy in turn. It's the latter pair she takes a half step toward, but the former she speaks to.

“It's for everyone’s safety.” It's a quiet and simply stated reason. One she only openly questioned the first hour or two following her arrival. One that she's come to accept only until discovering a reason to doubt it. It's also all she offers, choosing to be an observer. Another few steps are taken from the door, closing the distance to Joy and Adam. She shifts a look to her mother and sister, again searching for their understanding in the matter.

At times like this, Gillian started to wish they’d tried to sneak in or something. Though she knew they couldn’t have. “I’m guessing no more phone calls allowed, then,” she murmurs, rubbing a hand through her hair. It had been a good explanation, cause yes, she would have brought down the whole bloody Avengers if she had known this was the situation that Squeaks had found herself in. It would have been the Pinehearst raid all over again, probably.

And that hadn’t turned out great for a lot of people.

“You know, Adam, if you just answered Eve’s calls she might get bored with chasing after you,” she can’t help but add, before her eyes settle on the sword behind Joy for a moment. She remembers one specific place she had seen that. Suddenly she really wished she had insisted on Jolene coming in later so it didn’t seem like they were together. It had been one of her many ideas, but Lene was too much like her father. And too much like her.

She just hoped that was one dream of Eve’s that never came true.

Looking back at Squeaks, she lips pressing together in a frown that causes her dimple to appear briefly. She’s not liking the implications of what is happening here and what Squeaks is saying. But a lot can happen in fifty days. “I hope you’re right, Jaq,” she says quietly, before looking back at the Director. “So, you’re just going to hold all of us here until you’re done with whatever it is you’re up to?”

Adam levels a look up at Gillian, his brows furrowed intently at mention of Eve’s name. “I wouldn't recommend that,” he says in a hushed tone of voice, the way he might try and dissuade someone that drinking from the toilet is a bad idea for their health. “My talking to Eve,” he clarifies, “as for holding you here…” he looks to Joy, uncertain.

“We can't hold you indefinitely,” Joy says in a reassuring tone of voice. “But we cant have you leave at the moment, either. It isn't about whether or not anyone suspects Adam is here, we believe that ship sailed when Ms. Mas led a group of people to dig into events in Japan. But rather,” she looks to Squeaks, then back up to Gillian, “it's… complicated. But Jac is right.”

Joy’s expression tenses, and in a tone Gillian hasn't heard since the dark days of the Arcology she reiterates:

“It's for everyone's safety.”

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