ff_cat_icon.gif magnes_icon3.gif

Scene Title Sensei
Synopsis Magnes and Cat travel to meet someone very important to her.
Date October 23, 2018

The morning after is a hell of a thing. The cramped sleeping space of Cat’s waterside apartment means waking up to the sound of the crashing surf coming in through her open windows and needing to tiptoe around many exhausted bodies huddled in sleeping bags on bare concrete.

Elaine is still sound asleep, on her side in the shared sleeping bag Magnes just wound himself out of. It's just after dawn, judging from the pale blue light spilling across the sea line outside and the crumbling skyscrapers visible outside the tenement window. But Magnes has been awake for hours, now. There's something about this world that makes his teeth ache, something that buzzed behind his eyes and leaves him feeling restless.

The lone figure in the doorway implies that he isn't the only one who can't sleep. Cat Chesterfield leans against the doorway into the tiny kitchenette, cradling a tin cup between hands covered in fingerless gloves. She makes a motion with her head, indicating the kitchen, and then slips through the doorway and out of sight.

Cat’s Apartment

The Pelago

October 23rd

In the kitchen, Cat rests against the counter opposite the doorway, taking a sip of the watery and mild tea she'd been nursing. The air in the apartment is damp and cool, like a spring morning after a snow thaw. Birds are chirping somewhere out of sight, and one tiny sparrow flits in through and open kitchen window and lands on the sill, singing happily.

“I've got a question.” Cat says quietly, so as to not wake anyone up. She isn't the only one who does.

"I have a bunch of questions." Magnes fires back, running a hand over his finally dry long coat. "Like who can make my coat normal again. But uh…" He leans against the counter and stares at her. "In all the time I've known you, you've never called me 'master', I can't even begin to think of the series of events that would have happened to lead to that. I'm pretty sure you always thought of me as a little kid, especially considering how awkward I was when we first met."

"The one solid state is the Bomb, very little before that can change before the timeline splits, though I've learned that some things have changed, the earliest branch point I know is the 80s. Things can't change that much, otherwise I think what we understand of the timelines just stop… making sense." He continues to stare at her, mind clearly racing with a million thoughts. "I don't know what could have possibly happened, what could have changed, that would lead to you addressing me that way."

“Woah, woah, woah,” Cat says with one hand out as if to defend herself from the inquiry barrage. She's so much more relaxed here, so much calmer and less rigid. “First off, I don't know much about all this timeline stuff. When we rescued you yesterday I didn't even… I couldn't even imagine something like that was possible.”

Cat spreads her hands, gesturing to Magnes with her tin mug. “But, here you are and… If this isn't proof of the impossible I don't know what is.” Finishing her tea, Cat leans off of the counter and walks over to Magnes and puts a hand on his shoulder.

“Honestly? It's probably just easier if we go see him.” Cat pauses, smiling. “You?” Her brows screw up. “If you're up for a quick boat ride. He— you— ” She takes a step toward the door, reaching for her jacket. “He's on the other side of the Pelago.”

"You're a lot different from the Cat I know. You're less like Mr. Spock here." Magnes then quickly nods, pushing off the counter. "Let's go. Though I mean, we can probably just jump over there if it's not too far." he considers. "Might be faster than a boat."

Jump over there.

Cat stares vacantly at Magnes for a moment, hand still on her jacket and lips slightly parted. She isn't sure exactly how to take that, or the Spock comment. Instead, she awkwardly pulls her coat from the hook and grimaces while looking at the floor.

“Let's…” Cat delicately dances around the suggestion, “take it slow for today. Evolved powers make me a little nervous.”


The Pelago Waterways

“So I think what used to be Broadway is below us.”

Magnes was right about the speed of boats, especially the rowboat that Cat has chosen to take them to their destination. She's opted to row by herself, for now, mostly using the natural current swirling between the looming skyscrapers to get where they need to go. “Over there,” Cat says as she gestures to the south, where the World Trade Center towers still stand, “are some of the more densely packed residences. Sensei likes privacy, so he's up north in what used to be the Harlem.”

There's a simplicity to Cat that Magnes has come to discover, a genuine spirit who seems both comfortable and at home in this waterlogged world. The way she squints at the sun, smiles at the sight of birds scattering from the top of a near water-level roof into the air, makes her seem more carefree and certainly less cold.

“So…” Cat digresses from the tour, “what was I like?” She looks over at Magnes and leans in to guide the rowboat around a broken satellite dish sticking up out of the water. “It sounds like I was kind of a jerk to you. Was I a jerk?” She seems concerned about that.

"Are those the freaking Twin Towers? What the hell is this world, how is that even possible…" Magnes considers, just, staring, in shock, as if he's more shocked by that than all the water. "You weren't mean to me or anything, it's just, your super intelligence, or memory or whatever it was, made you a bit Spock-like, maybe it stunted your emotions."

"You were always good intentioned, I trusted you a lot." He looks around, noting the tops of buildings. "I know where we are exactly actually. I delivered pizza all over New York, I was always on the rooftops. I know the city better from up here than below. You were one of many girls I ended up getting a crush on until I realized you were way more mature than me, and busy saving the world from everything. Plus I was kind of a ridiculous kid back then. But I'm over my getting a crush on everyone phase. I have Elaine, traveling across worlds to get our kid back."

Cat bursts out into awkward laughter, moving one hand off of an oar to cover her mouth as the laughter turns into a few snorts. “More mature than you?” Another squeaking laugh erupts from Cat and she shakes her head, making a concerted effort to stop laughing in a few bubbling wheezes.

“My god, Magnes.” She says with a flushed face and a smile. “I can't even imagine what kind of place you're from.” She briefly glances at the towers, recalling his amazement. “Liz seemed surprised to see those too…” She doesn't ask why.

Getting back to rowing, Cat nods up ahead to a building that only rises three stories above the water-line, additional wooden scaffolding erected atop it to form a makeshift house on stilts. “Not far now.”

"I can't imagine what kind of place this is where you're actually surprised." Magnes shoots right back, eyeing the shack. "I always fill my apartment up with roommates, usually my ridiculously lesbian bandmates, so I'm surprised that I need privacy here."

"So uh… I don't suppose you can explain why you don't have your ability here? The way you talk, it's like you never had it." he suddenly decides to ask, curious.

“My what now?” Cat looks back to Magnes, momentarily distracted by something on the horizon. It's a bird. “Oh. No it's,” she shakes her head. “I'm not Evolved. In fact, that kind of saved my life… I mean, in a way.” As she continues rowing toward the building, Cat slows and eventually just steers the boat, and Magnes notes she's just riding the currents now.

“The Vanguard has a woman working for them who could tell if people had abilities or maybe the genes for them. I was in a hostage situation in the library, just after the flood. They separated us.” Cat looks back to the horizon, as if to orient herself. “I was on the side of the room that didn't get shot,” she says quietly.

Then, feigning a smile and pushing down a look of icy guilt, she reorientation her attention to Magnes. “Actually, you were the one who pulled me out of that mess. You came in right around the time the gunfire started. Saved some people, definitely. That was the first time we met. April 8th, 2010.” She states the date firmly. “That, I'll never forget.”

"The Vanguard are alive here? I mean, I guess that makes sense, because of the flood. But… fuck, how many times do I have to stop the Vanguard." Magnes sounds exhausted at the thought, holding his forehead. "My fiance, Elaine, she came from a world where the Vanguard killed the entire Evolved population with a virus. I had to fight Kazimir there, a lot of us did, and not all of us got out."

He seems to suddenly be stuck in the memory for the moment. "Can't fight him again, not right now, I can't throw my life away with my daughter out there somewhere. I had to destroy the Empire State building just to slow him down."

Raising his head to look up at her again, he shakes his head. "Sorry, we've been through a lot, this is the fourth world other than my own that I've been to. And I'm just… tired of seeing history repeat itself, tired of seeing a world where my efforts seem like they don't exist."

But at that, he smiles, reaching over to gently pat her shoulder. "I'm glad you're alive though, I'm glad I saved you. I've seen worlds where I didn't seem as big on saving people anymore, and it just encouraged me not to lose my way."

“As far as I know they're all gone now.” Cat says with a small shrug of her shoulders. “That Nazi Volken disappeared after he took my friend’s body, and then… I know there's some Sentinel group they formed. But nobody's seen them for almost five years. I think after their cleansing was done they just… blew away. I don't know.”

Cat pulls the boat up to a floating pier adorned with Orange life preservers and rope. She ties off the rowboat and steps onto the platform, and already here Magnes can feel something in the air. It's like static electricity, but inside his skull. In a way it feels like it did when he clashed with his other self in the virus timeline, when their gravity fields collided. But this feels less intense, less forceful, but broader. All-encompassing.

“We’re going up,” Cat explains, pointing to a wood ramp that switchbacks up to the wooden cabin atop the ruined building. “And… for what it's worth, I'm sorry it's been so hard for you. I can't even— I can't imagine living what you've lived. But I'm glad you have Elaine. You… always seemed like the kinda guy who doesn't do alone very well.”

At that somewhat personal observation, Cat turns for the wooden ramp and starts walking.

"I don't, really. But I've always made questionable rash decisions for the sake of not being alone, like dating Elaine in a different timeline. But, well, we're in a good place with that. At least until I have to explain to the Elaine in my world why I suddenly have a baby with her. But I perpetually have a lot of awkward conversations waiting for me." Magnes shrugs, apparently having thought about this plenty of times to the point that it doesn't scare him anymore.

At least for now.

And then he has that feeling in his head, looking around. "He's here, I can feel it." His own gravitational field begins to expand, as if trying to feel out the other. It's not particularly aggressive, not really pushing against the other, he's instead trying to match the other, almost like a weird gravity handshake. "If you feel weird, it's because I'm doing gravity stuff. Sometimes I don't have a good idea of what other people can feel or not."

“Gravity?” Cat raises one brow and looks over her shoulder, watching Magnes for a moment, but then simply returns to ascending the ramp. “Awkward conversations are basically my whole life. I'm always saying something the wrong way or putting my foot in my mouth. But I'm charming so — ” Cat turns around, walking backwards up the ramp as she shrugs, “I can get away with it?”

Says who?” Comes from the top of the ramp where it meets a wood-railing encircled deck. There, silhouette by the gray morning sky is a tall and broadly muscular figure in an unbuttoned gray shirt and loose pants. Barefoot. At first it's hard to make out who he is, or even recognize his voice.

Cat spins around, ducking with a grimace spread across her face. “Sensei!” She proclaims with shock, hustling up the ramp to meet him the rest of the way. Cat’s Sensei greets her with a hug that seems to swallow her up given his broad frame and height. When he sets her down, Magnes finally gets a look up at him…

A look at a version of himself decades older.


This Magnes Varlane, Cat’s Sensei, is a mountain of a man with sturdy muscles and a full beard streaked with gray, much as his short-cropped hair is. His face is creased with wrinkles, and he looks like he spends a considerable amount of time in the sun. “Who's your friend?” He asks, starting down the ramp.

“Magnes J. Varla— ” Only then does this older doppelgänger recognize the young man standing in front of him. He stares, mouth agape, hand still outstretched, and is at a loss for words.

"This is probably kind of weird." Magnes says, tilting his head. "It's a bit weird for me too, considering that you're, uh, older, and I'm not from the past or anything, I'm from a parallel timeline." Magnes rests a hand on his forehead for a moment, considering things. "Okay… I think I understand this. Assuming you aren't from the future, this is another big difference, and… fuck okay."

"The twin towers are back, I should be less surprised, but…" He hunches over, resting his hands on his knees. "This is a world where you didn't die of the virus, and our dad didn't clone us a bunch of times, I guess because the Company and the Institute don't exist, or something. I mean, that's the best I can come up with." He straightens, looking up at himself, holding his hand up to continue.

"This will be easier if I just sort of info dump." he quickly decides. "Long story short, me and my friends are displaced, we've been traveling from world to world, places where history turned out differently from our world. In all of the worlds except this one, I guess, you died and our dad cloned us. According to the documents I read, most of the clones die except for the 'Alpha clone', the one raised from a baby, directly cloned from you. And me, in the documents they call me the 'aberrant' clone, who doesn't die because who knows why." He throws his hands up.

"I met myself multiple times. The version of myself who was taken in by the Vanguard and led Abigail Beauchamp to her death, and killed himself right in front of me when I told him there was a way out. The version of myself who becomes a detective, and the version of myself who's some kind of blind gravity wizard in a robot apocalypse. They were all versions of me, the aberrant clone."

He steps closer, holding out his hand. "But I've never met you, I guess, uh, the real thing. I was cloned in 2006, so I guess technically I'm not as old as I look, but I guess it's how you feel, y'know?"

I’m so sorry,” Cat whispers at the older Magnes’ back as she sort of just stares at his younger self. “I didn’t think he was totally crazy.” The older Magnes looks back at Cat, then shakes his head and makes a small gesture to her. Then, taking in a deep breath he comes down the ramp the rest of the way to his younger counterpart. Instead of taking in the verbal barrage of facts, he claps one hand on each of Magnes’ shoulders and takes a steady look in his eyes. Then, after a moment, he just tugs Magnes in to a hug and slap-pats him on the back once before releasing him.

It’s only then that the older Magnes exhales a sigh and lets his hands fall away from his other self’s shoulders. “I only heard about half of that,” he finally admits with a toothy laugh and a smile, pointing at his right ear. “Hard of hearing in that one, got too close to the business end of a shotgun once.” He leans in, wrapping one arm around Magnes’ shoulder and offering a reassuring look to Cat.

“Why don’t we go upstairs, and you can…” the older Magnes trails off for a second, searching for the right words. “You can tell me that again. Because I thought I heard you say something about a parallel timeline and— ” he barks out a sharp laugh, “and I mean that’s just crazy.”

Cat stares at both Magneses. Awkwardly smiling as she slides a look to the younger of the pair.

“About that,” Cat delicately says, “Sensei…”

Varlane Dojo

The Pelago of Manhattan

Two Hours Later

Beneath the high ceiling of a spacious, single-room cabin-come-dojo, Magnes sits on a folded cloth mat on the floor across from his older self, who sits cross-legged on a similar mat, hands on his knees and brow furrowed with his head down. Cat sits nearby on a small ottoman, knees tucked up to her chin, arms wrapped around her legs and eyes wide.

“So…” the senior Magnes closes his eyes and presses his hand to his forehead. “Okay. Okay.” Drawing in a steady breath, the older version of Magnes seems to struggle with everything he’s been told, re-told, and told again. “Look I’m… I’m normally a pretty open-minded person, but this is just…”

Isn’t it?” Cat chimes in with wide eyes.

The older Magnes nods once, then slaps a hand on his knee. “Okay I… I think I can… I should at least help square your orientation with where you are. I just… I can’t believe what you’ve been through happened outside of a book. I know we live in a world of superpowers and the fantastic but…” he laughs to himself. “Well, I thought we’d seen it all, honestly.”

Taking one last breath to clear his head, the older Magnes rises up to stand and pace the floor a little. “You’re right, about my age. I was born in 1968.” He’s fifty. “I was primarily raised by my mother — Donna — and… my dad was in the picture for a while, but he died of a heart attack in 71. I’ve got a sister, like you, Clara. She… was a climate scientist, worked in Antarctica before…”

Cat makes an awkward face and looks down to the floor. The older Magnes, after a moment, continues. “Ah… Felicia? Never heard of her. I suppose if— if we’re really from parallel realities it makes sense, things change. Choices are different? Ah… my— ” he looks at Magnes, “our? Uh, mother? Raised us alone. She passed away in 05 from lung cancer. Clara and I were picked up by the Department of Special Affairs — oh uh, that’s what they used to call people like us, Specials, up until recently. Uh, we were picked up back in 87, they kinda’ helped us come to terms with our abilities, helped us get on tracks to do good with them in exchange for keeping a lid on it all.”

The older Magnes rests his hands on his hips, brows furrowed. “I got into the academy, joined the NYPD in 88. I was a detective when the flood waters came, thinking about what I’d do in retirement.” He stops his pacing, looking over to his young self. “But, God… nothing like what you’ve lived through. I can’t… I can’t believe dad…” He can’t even bring himself to say it.

"I met Clara, but I didn't know she was my sister when I did, and I'm not sure if she knew who I was or not. We didn't really talk much. I remember Antarctica, because that's where we stopped the Flood and I think it's where I first saw her." Magnes tilts his head, thinking about the entire story. "I was a cop for a little while, but I was bad at it because I kept sneaking around secretly being a superhero. My girlfriend, uh, the first Elaine I dated, and my bandmates, kind of made me quit doing the vigilante thing."

"I'm still coming to terms with the clone thing, after all this time. It's… still difficult. And recently I've been having flashes of memories, I think they're your memories. It started when I met our mother in the Bright universe. Uh, we have cute names for the worlds." He shrugs a bit at the naming. "I guess we never change too much. Even as a clone, we're pretty similar. I mean, I learned martial arts from Hiro and Kimiko Nakamura, and from some secret agent stuff that I can't remember because they wiped my memories."

"So uh, just to be sure, your ability is also gravity manipulation, right? I mean, I sort of felt that gravity feeling when I came here." He wants to be sure, one can never be too sure. "I mean I guess it was a gravity feeling…"

“Gravity?” The older Magnes has the same reaction as Cat did. Head bowed, he seems momentarily uncertain of how to explain things. Instead, he circles back to something else Magnes had said to him. “I’m… I’m sorry you didn’t get to know Clara. She was a bright woman, really assertive. She could, ah,” he makes a vague gesture with his hands as if sculpting a sphere, “she could unstick herself from a quantum plane. Is. How she described it?” The older Magnes grimaces. “I’m not really a science guy.”

“He’s really not.” Cat chimes in, helpfully. “You should’ve seen when I tried to explain how solar cells work and— ”


“Right.” Cat grimaces, ducking her head down. “Sorry, Sensei.”

Clearing his throat, the older Magnes scrubs a hand at his brow. “So, yeah… we have… similar abilities? Sort of? We both manipulate uh, quantum… things?” He eyes Cat, who just slowly shakes her head in the negative, and Magnes looks back to his younger self and just paces across the floor. “Clara said I manipulate dark matter, but I don’t know what that really means.” His hands come up in the air, helplessly. “I know I can make things heavier or lighter, and if I focus I can— ”

And as he walks he disappears like he walked behind an invisible curtain.

“ — fold one point in space onto another.” The older Magnes says from behind the younger one, grinning proudly. “Didn’t pick that trick up until I was in my forties, and I can only do it for really short distances. But, man is it easier than owning a boat for getting around town.” His smile fades some as he looks at his clone, brows creased with worry. “I wish I could’ve helped you. Been there for you, or…”

"Admittedly, if you were, our father wouldn't have seemingly lost his mind and tried to clone you a bunch of times, so I wouldn't exist. But dark matter, that's crazy. I've heard Cat's dad talk about things like that, when we were working on the device to cross worlds. We got to know each other really well, actually. He was a really good friend to me, even though I never knew him in my world…" Magnes looks a bit down for a few moments, then looks over at his older self again.

"But you feel the same as me, I mean, your ability, I can kind of feel the 'field', it's all around us. Though admittedly I can't do that, what you just did… I did turn into a black hole, so, I guess under the right circumstances I can kind of break space and time, and also nearly die at the same time!" He holds his hands up, as if showing off a party trick. "But uh, you know how I mentioned being exploded and put back together? So, I'm near the point where I'm supposed to re-explode, because of the nature of the temporal ability that was used to put me back together. I don't suppose you could, like… somehow sense what's wrong with me with dark matter?"

"Also, I wasn't so great with science myself, but I had to get better and better at it over the years, I didn't really have a choice if I wanted to learn how to poke holes in the universe to try and get home." he admits, staring at Cat for a brief moment.

Grimacing, the Senior Magnes creases his already weathered brow and slowly shakes his head. “Clara probably could've figured that out. Honestly? I'm still not even sure what happened to you, because it's like… it's weird time stuff. I hardly know what to even think about that. Hell, the fact that you said time travel is even possible just kind of… I mean it's wild.”

“I… may have a thought on that.” Cat says as she stretches out her legs and rests her hands on her knees. Mention of her father has cast her expression with a more serious look than usual. “Normally I wouldn't bother with rumors, but given how everything I've learned over the last few days has thrown my world upside-down…” She rises to stand, brushing her hands off on her pants. “Why not?”

The older Magnes looks over to Cat, one brow raised as she comes into their conversational circle. “There's been rumors for a long time now about an underground settlement, way up north past the Stormfront in pirate territory. A place called the Commonwealth.” Cat looks over at Magnes, then to his clone. “Supposedly it's where a bunch of scientists avoided the end-times. I don't know much more than that, but if you think it would help I could try asking around.”

“I'd consider it a personal favor,” the older Magnes says, looking from Cat to his duplicate. “You're basically family,” He says to Magnes. “So, it's the least we can do. I don't imagine it’ll be quick, but… but maybe at least it'd be something.”

The entire idea weighs heavily on the elder Magnes, of his own mortality in his clone’s timeline, of his clone’s impending death from extreme circumstances. “It's a small miracle that you're here. An even bigger one that we got to meet each other and learn… how similar we are. I'd love it if you could stay for the day, or… however long you can. I'd love to hear more about mom, and… and I guess dad. And whoever Felicia is.”

Cat takes a step back, hands folded behind herself. “I'll leave you both be, then. I can get a head start on doing some research, and lunch. Certainly lunch.”

"The Commonwealth Institute. It's the ARK… so it exists here. It's where our father worked, they're the people who cloned me. It's not a rumor, so, yeah, I think it'll help if you find out more about it. It can't be a rumor, that would be the most insane coincidence ever." Magnes determines, and then nods to his elder self. "I can stay, yeah. My life has been a bit… complicated, even before the universe traveling stuff."

He looks to Cat, then to older Magnes. "I had a crush on Cat once, in my world, when I was younger, so I guess that's pretty weird to hear. Though she was more Vulcany because of her ability."

At the revelation about Cat, the older Magnes bursts out with laughter and slaps a hand on his clone’s back. “She’s a nice girl, but that’s a little weird because she’s young enough to be my daughter,” he adds with a laugh. “I’m glad you have someone else, because I really don’t want to try and wrap my mind around the moral implications of however that’d work.”

I’m still here.” Cat reminds, helpfully.

The older Magnes looks back at her, both of his brows raised. “Well, what’re you waiting for, you have research to do!” She closes her eyes in response to that, drawing in a breath through her nose and pushing it out as a deep sigh. When she finally turns fully to leave, the older Magnes waves with his free hand, smile beaming. “Best of luck!

Then, back to his cloned self, the older Magnes kicks up one brow. “Vulcany?

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