Some Of Us Had No Choice


kaylee_icon.gif luther_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Some Of Us Had No Choice
Synopsis In the aftermath of the solar storm, Richard grapples with revelations, history, and the truth.
Date June 28, 2018

WRAY Bunker

In the wake of the successful broadcast and reception - more successful than any of them could have hoped - the technopaths and intuitive are busy isolating data and clearing up recordings in the radio room tangled with cords and buzzing with mechanical life.

The one thing missing is Richard Ray.

The hatch that leads down to the underground bunker has been opened, however, the door swung open wide as if to announce where the man has gone.

Some things were left behind when they left their safety and returned to the world. Milk crates of stray books and magazines, closed drawers with clothes waiting to be worn again, blankets gathering dust upon the cots and posters peeling off the walls.

It’s on the cot that was his that Richard’s lain back, knees bent, head resting on an old pillow as he stares at an unfolded piece of paper in his hand, yellowing now with age and rumpled from all the times he’s read it.

He doesn’t look up as others enter this old sanctum, the eye of a storm long passed.

“He’s down here.”

There was a certainty to Kaylee’s tone as the words echo down the hatch into the bunker. “Richard?” She calls ahead of her and Luther’s arrival into the smaller room. There is a bit of relief when she comes into view, she finds she was right.

Of course, then her attention is pull to the rest of the room and the state of it. “I never thought we back in here again.”

She offers a touch more light hearted, doing a small turn, pausing to push one of the posters back into place. Of course, it curls again, receiving a unsatisfied glare. “The swing Joseph hung for the kids is still in good shape,” she informs him, conversationally, turning to face him again.

There is a moment of serious study of the man she calls her brother, before slowly moving to sit on the edge of the cot, giving him a nudge to scoot over a little. So that she can sit sideways on it, feet still planted firmly on the ground. “How you holding up, big brother?” It’s asks quietly. “That— “ Kaylee glances over at Luther briefly. “ — well, that was kinda big. Especially, for you.”

Entering after Kaylee, Luther finds himself habitually ducking and standing slightly hunched as if aware of the smaller confines of the room within the bunker. Once inside, his gaze sweeps the room in quick, scanning assessment of the new surroundings for him. He doesn’t appear uncomfortable about it, eventually finding his focus settling on the two Rays. The security chief finds a spot by the open door to lounge against for the time being. “To say the least,” he remarks in agreement with Kaylee, sharing the glance with the telepath before turning to the other man.

Who, thus far, hasn’t really answered his question from earlier. Not that he really expects Richard to be able to answer it now.

“It was home, for a few years,” is Richard’s quiet response to his adopted sister’s words, thumb brushing over the crisp, crinkled paper in his hand as he regards it steadily, “You can’t just leave somewhere like this behind. Especially not when Edward set it up… I thought he was done with us, but— ”

A faint, almost-smile tugs to his lips, “I was wrong.”

Not answering her question about his welfare, he instead says, “To answer your question, Luther, I’m still figuring that out. I’m not from here, though. I learned that much in David Cardinal’s garage. S’why I didn’t care about the genetic match. He wasn’t my father. Not this David Cardinal.”

“Another one,” he closes his eyes, “Somewhere that Apollo failed. Because it didn’t have me. Because I was here, instead.”

“Not done with you,” Kaylee corrects with a rueful smile, a little sad. All the messages ever left for her, were for him really. She only ever had claim to blood, Richard and her father it was something much different. “But, yeah, I could have told you that. I saw that huge string map in Edward’s head, that day he died in the Arc. Went on forever, thanks to Gillian.”

Hand fold and rest in her lap as she considers Richard, thoughtfully. “I would question that, if it wasn’t for what just happened. With everything we know of groups like the Company and the Institute.”

Brows lift with curiosity, his sister asks, “So where do we go from here?”

The sentiment of home gets a furrowed brow and glance away to neutralizing point of a concrete wall from Luther. It's an almost alien feeling now, that sentiment. But the man's attention eventually returns to Richard, expression kept a flatter neutral, caution tinted voice kept low.

At least, that's how it starts.

"Doesn't that mean someone's also messed around with your head?"

The more Luther's seen and the more he thinks about it, the crazier it gets and the tenser his posture becomes. Everything they know of the Company and Institute… he doesn't know the exact details, but then again he hasn't had to know. "If David Cardinal's not your father, what was the voice that Kaylee heard really trying to do? What was Edward's real motivation with all… this?" His hand throws out in gesture to the bunker as a whole. To everything, really. "This is some fucked up… how are you all so calm about all this?"

He pushes off the wall he’s leaning on, staring from one Ray to the other. Kaylee's question gets a pointed look, because indeed, where do they go from here?

“Don’t— “ The note’s dropped to the cot, Richard’s hand reaching out to rest on Kaylee’s arm, “Don’t feel jealous, Kay, because— fuck. He let you live your own life. Same as Val. Same as Warren.” A grimace tightens his lips, “The reason— the only reason— he ever paid that much attention to me was because he could use me.”

Hazel eyes drop to the note, then lift back to her, “That letter says ‘I love you’, but I don’t… everything he did was to put me into a position to protect the three of you, Kaylee. I’m just a tool. Always have been.”

His hand slides back, head dropping onto the pillow again and eyes closing.

“Yeah, Luther. Yeah, they did. As far as I can tell, nothing until— nothing until Riker’s is real. Someone looked into my background once. I was just a ghost,” he says quietly, “I don’t know who I am, Luther, and— I’m calm because the alternative is to start screaming and never stop.”

Pulling her attention from Richard over to their poor flustered security chief, Kaylee gives him an understanding look. “We’ve been dealing with things like this for what…” She glances at her brother briefly with an arched brow, “Nearing 10 years now? No I guess closer to 15 with that time in the past. At least for me. You learn when to freak out and when to go with it and see where it takes you.”

In other words, you learn to cope.

“Especially, me, since I can’t disappear behind a bottle.” Both get a look with that one.” Wimps, the both of them.

The hand on her arm, gets covered by her own briefly, “To be honest, Richard, I’m not jealous.” Fingers squeeze his briefly, before letting go.. “I only wish you didn’t have to take on so much. Dad shouldn’t have made you shoulder all of that burden. Though — knowing him it was the only way we’d all live.” There is a resigned sigh that goes with it. “However, dwelling in the past and feeling sorry for ourselves is easy, but we definitely need to be looking forward.”

Her brother especially, given a supportive smile, leaning forward enough that she can really look at him, “By the way, I know for a fact that dad loved you. Remember I was in his head. It’s hard to lie to a telepath.” She gives him a matter of fact look, “You were less of a tool and more the only one of us with the ability to get us through all of this alive.” That was something her father had shown her with all those connections. “The only one us he couldn’t save — and it hurt him to allow it — was Howard.” Warren’s son and their nephew from the future. “But he did love you.”

Well. What is he going to say to that? Luther takes a moment to compose himself, scrubs a hand on his jaw, and breathes out a long, tired exhale. The man nods to the pair, slowly coming to acceptance of the present moment's dump on reality as he knows it.

Kaylee's comment about disappearing behind bottles earns the telepath a tight-lipped frown that feels both chastised and yet stubbornly resentful. And so what of it? seems to be the sentiment, the feeling almost verbalized, but not. Instead, he swallows it and his stung pride dryly enough to wish he had a drink right then.

"Yeah, well. Your fathers all sound like assholes," grumbles the security chief, a disapproving shake of his head for the parental units he holds at least partly responsible for this mess. None of those men are here now, though, so his annoyances aren't able to be said to their faces. Luther points first to Richard then Kaylee. "What you all need to figure out now is what all that," he gestures out to the direction of the radio room, "is going to mean for the rest of us. Raytech needs its leaders." He takes another breath, and lets it go. "We still have work to do."

The claim gets a dubious look from Richard, who clearly - despite his sister’s insistence and the contents of the letter - still has his doubts on the matter. A heavy sigh, and then he’s pushing himself up into a seated position.

“You’re right, Luther,” he says, “We can rest when we’re done. Kaylee… I’m going to need you to try and un-alter my memories as best you can. There might be something there that’s important for what’s coming.”

Legs swing off the cot, boots hitting the floor as he sits fully up beside Kaylee. “Alia’s translating the signal from the Wasteland, and whatever was coming through… it’s not good.”

There is understanding and patience at Luther grumbles and gripes. “Yeah, dad was an asshole, but…” She climbs to her feet, moving to gently grip his arm, mostly to make him turn. She doesn’t pull him with her, but she moves past him, to a large cork board, which had been moved from where it sat upstairs so long ago. “He is partly the reason we even have Raytech.” She motions towards the board an invitation to look.

On the corkboard, strings in four colors criss-cross and intertwine, mapping out the lives of four people. Locating the points where they meet, where they cross, where they interact. Mapping out the best places and times to nudge events, to leave a hint, to drop instructions, to urge them closer together. It’s the simplest form of the plan that lay at the heart of all of Edward Ray’s other plans, cut down to its one end goal. The secret behind his grand manipulations, his catastrophic workings.

At the middle of the corkboard is a single point where all four of the main strings finally come together in a knot around one pin from which a picture of the Shalegate Factory hangs, the factory that Warren had been doing his work in. On the picture someone has written in red pen: //Raytech?

It's a map of the lives of the children of Edward Ray. A plan of how to bring them together, and to give them what his own cowardice had denied them all those years.

Each other.

A hand moves to rest along the wood frame, looking back at their security chief, a small smile touches her lips. “You ever wanted to know how Edward Ray’s ability worked?” Her head nods towards the board. No doubt he’ll recognize some of the bigger events. One thing is clear though, the lives of his children, were never really their own.

The mention of the Wasteland signal, pulls her attention back to her brother. “We got a signal from the kids’ timeline?”

This has her thinking, brows furrowing, but eventually, she gives him a small nod that he can see from where he still sits on the cot. “But, yes. Whatever you need. You just tell me when and I’ll take a look in your head and see what is even there. As long as it wasn’t someone like the Haitian, we should be okay.” There were some abilities who’s effects not even she can repair the damage of.

Nothing quite like hearing that turn of phrase "unalter my memories" that makes Luther turn a disturbed (more than ever) gaze at Richard. It's just now that he seems to start to understand what the other man might be feeling. But it doesn't make the situation any less strange or worrisome. Especially with the terms being thrown around, ones that Luther is not familiarized with.

When he's turned and led to the corkboard with the simplified string map, the security chief studies the display. Grey eyes settle on the picture of the now Detroit factory for the company. On the word in bold red pen. When realization of what he's seeing comes, he turns back to the pair of adopted siblings.

"Wasteland?" he echoes of both. Because it really does sound "not good". He flicks his concerned gaze between the two. "Is that where this is all headed? I thought you said there was a flood." And with that, an added narrowing of the chief's gaze. "And the lady on the radio, 'Destiny'? That's another…?" The question dangles, the dies off the man's lips. Luther shakes his head slowly. There's really a lot to take in.

Finally, "So what's your plan now, Richard? You got some other ball of string you're tying up?" Luther nods in the direction of the corkboard.

“I’m just one of the strings, Luther, not the man who makes them,” Richard replies in dry tones, looking over to the corkboard, “The hell of it is… as I said once, I believe in Edward Ray. Even after all of this, for all my bitching— at least I know there’s a plan. I’m just part of it. We all are.”

Hazel eyes sweep back to Luther, considering him seriously before asking, “Do you want to know everything? I could explain it, but we’d be here for awhile. Edward, our family history, the alternate timelines, Odessa.” A faint smile, “It’d take awhile, but you seem to have all the questions, and if you only look at a handful of puzzle pieces — a few pieces of string — it’s hard to really understand.”

Moving to sit next to her brother again, Kaylee watches Luther quietly. “No. Wasteland is another timeline, now. The Ferrymen’s grown kids came back and prevented us from that disaster.” Not that their world now wasn’t a disaster, but clearly it could have been far worse. “That old notebook I showed you, that was a peek into that world. What would have happened if they didn’t come back.”

Glancing at her brother she adds, “Some of the kids still live in this timeline, since they can’t go back. My step-daughter Hannah was one of those that came back as adults.” Luther’s seen the tiny brunette often enough in the company of Kaylee.

A smile starts to tug up at the corner of her mouth when Richard makes that offer, eyes casting down to the concrete floor.. “I — uh — might have already started Luther on all of that,” Kaylee explains a touch sheepishly. “But not everything. There is an awful lot. I am only one perspective and somethings are not my tale to tell.”

"Once upon a time," Luther begins with the idiomatic phrase in a wry humor, "you liked that I didn't ask questions. But it never meant that I didn't have them." He ticks his brow up at the other man, meeting eyes. "But. The world was a hell of a lot simpler then." Maybe not for Richard or Kaylee, but Luther's had been about surviving. "And, I wasn't Chief of Security." He glances over to Kaylee briefly, acknowledging that it was her who started him down that path. And her who showed him the notebooks she kept that sent him further into the rabbit hole. Luther steps over to grab a spare chair, folding his tall frame down. Hands settle onto his knees.

At the mention of kids from the future living in the current times, Luther perks and straightens at a further revelation that dawns in his gaze. "Wait. J.J., Monica's…" And thus he wipes a hand down his face. The first of many similar movements to come, surely.

Luther shakes his head again. "My job's to keep you all safe," he says to them, preloading the next bit of worldshattering possibilities with, "I'm hoping you all actually trust me enough to tell me what I need to know to do that. And that I'll do the best that I can. The way that I can." He exhales heavily, blinking as he looks away for a moment, then back to them. "RayTech's a family business. As long as you'll have me be a part of it, I aim to protect you as my own. All of you."

“You punched me in the face, but you didn’t turn me in, at least,” Richard says with a twitch of his lips up at one corner, “So I’ll assume we can trust you. I hope we can trust you. I’m going to make decisions you don’t like, Luther— “ He brings a hand up to rub at the nape of his neck, “But I’ve always got a reason for them. I’m not good at explaining them beforehand, or— at all sometimes, but trust me, I always do. I’ve got one goal— to make the world a better place— and I hope, if you didn’t believe that, you wouldn’t still be here.”

He reaches over, fingers curling around that note again, picking it up to re-read it for the ten thousandth time. “Where to start… it’s not just a line that’s easy to explain. It’s a tangle of string, but I don’t have time to teach you to read a map. I guess at the beginning.”

There is a slow nod of confirmation from Kaylee that J.J. was one of the kids. “Of course, this isn’t something that is common knowledge, for their protection of course.” Then she falls quiet listening to the two of them.

The mention of trust and family, Kaylee looks like she is going to say something, but stops herself. Luther knows her feelings on it and this is more about the two of them maybe finding that common ground again. So she goes quiet, allowing them to talk for the moment.

Though she does pipe up and supply, “String map…” with a significant glance towards the cork board, before Luther can think otherwise.

Huffing a wry and mostly humorless laugh, Luther says, "Jesus Christ it was one punch, Richard." The man shakes his head, but looks to the other man with a steadier eye. How long had they now known of each other, and in a sense, stuck around? "Like I said, as long as you'll have me be a part of all this." He lifts a hand, indicating to both Rays.

"But if you do make a decision I don't like, because you're putting someone or yourself in danger? You're going to know."

Goes without saying, both of them are included in the statement.

At that, he falls back to quiet and a listening mode, regarding the pair more than the simplified string map on the corkboard behind.

“I put myself in danger all the time, Luther,” says Richard in wry tones, “It’s literally what I do most of the time… and I’ve put a lot of other people in danger, too. We all knew the risks when we signed up for them, though.” He looks down at the paper, “Well. Those of us who had a choice to sign up.”

The note’s folded, and he frowns, “Okay. So…”

He stops himself, then, and shakes his head, pushing himself up to his feet.”No. You know what? No— we’re not doing it like this,” he says firmly, “Jared was right. No, we’re going to go the fuck home when we’re done here, I’m going to fill a god-damn room with people who deserve to know all the truth, and explain all at once. No more of these damn secrets.”

“Luther,” he gets a significant look from the telepath. “The moment you agreed to get in that car with me, you became a part of this. I haven’t looked back, yet, have I?”

When her brother stands, Kaylee’s attention shifts and she listens. Her head nods slightly in agreement. Reaching up, she takes her brother’s hand briefly, giving it a squeeze of support. “Good. There is too much for us to do just us. Especially, too much for just you.” They needed allies going into the whole lot of crazy coming their way. Even she could acknowledge that.

Luther lifts a brow at Richard. At least the man's admitting the whole putting one's life and others' on the line part. "Can't blame me for caution," he replies to Kaylee and the telepath's look, shoulders lifting and dropping in a short shrug. And to Richard again, he adds, "We always have choices." Kaylee isn't spared from the look either, though it lessens and he eventually resettles into his chair, readying himself for a tale.

That doesn't actually come. Because as Richard pushes up to his feet, Luther straightens and blinks, surprised by the conviction as much as the content of his determination. But again, it's the security chief who provides the caution as he slowly rises up to stand as well. "Before you do that, though, let's make sure this time we don't invite more trouble than planned?" His smile is still wry, but at least agreeable.

“I can run the guest list past you, if you really want, Luther,” Richard quips, a wry smile tugging up at the corner of his lips, “After what we heard in there, though— like I said. Jared was right, Kaylee’s right. We need to bring more people in. We need to find out what everyone’s been doing past my reach, too…”

He glances to the wall, to the strings upon the board, the notes and the clippings. “I need more strings.”

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