Somewhere Beyond The Sea, Part I


ff_chel_icon.gif castle_icon.gif chess3_icon.gif dana_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif eve_icon.gif gates_icon.gif hall_icon.gif harris_icon.gif bf_kravid_icon.gif marcus_icon.gif mohinder_icon.gif richard4_icon.gif robyn7_icon.gif sage_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Scene Title Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Part I
Synopsis It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
Date June 11, 2021

A teacup leaves a single ring in red fabric.

Smiling from over the brim of her cup, Robyn Quinn watches the woman sitting across the table from her with eager anticipation. The coffee stain on the tablecloth goes unremarked upon, so she knows that her mother’s mind must be elsewhere. Charlotte, in turn, cradles her own teacup in both hands and leans forward, elbows on the table.

“Have you decided on a name yet?” Charlotte asks with eager anticipation.

Robyn smiles away the question, hiding her mouth behind the ceramic cup flecked with floral print. “No,” she admits quietly. Her mother is both intrigued and frustrated, plans forming and crumbling behind her eyes as she takes a sip of her tea.

“Your father’s going to be over the moon,” Charlotte says with a shake of her head. “You and Kristen really do make an adorable couple.” Charlotte’s eyes dip down, as if to peer over the edge of the table, then flit back up to her daughter’s eyes.

“What made you decide to be the one to carry?”


Janus Offshore Drilling Platform
Off the Coast of Virginia Beach

June 11th
4:08 pm

Sparks shower from a connection point where high-power cables join with a triangular metal frame suspended in the air over a deep tank of seawater.

“Secure those fucking connections!” Michelle Cardinal screams from the upper gantry, waving her hand in the direction of the dangling wires. Technicians on scissor lifts reach out with insulated tools, ensuring that the cabling is connected to conduits on the walls.

Down below, coming through a doorway into the gateway lab, SESA Agent Dana Carrington cradles a laminated badge to her chest. She stares, wide-eyed, up at the frame of the Looking Glass suspended horizontally in the air over the diving tank, then down to all the banks of portable computers around the room, to the thousands of feet of cables spooled across the floor.

“Oh my god,” Dana whispers, rubbing the plastic of the ID card between her fingers. “Why is it oriented horizontally?” She asks in a breathless whisper to her escort.

Erica Kravid leads Dana at a brisk pace through the lab. “When we accelerate the particles in the triangular frame, each atomic collision inside — happening at fractions of a second — keep the threshold open. The presence of the electromagnetic anomaly below is what is providing us with the modular vibrational frequency to hone our destination, and it is also providing a Lorentz force on anything passing through the dimensional threshold.”

Dana looks at Kravid, then over to the gate. “So it’s like… a gravity slingshot.” She shakes her head in disbelief. “Is that necessary?”

Kravid nods slowly, pausing to turn and face Dana. “We’re working against standard model forces every second we keep the threshold open. When you helped SESA open the last Looking Glass, the environmental situations were different. Here? We’re trying to push a car with no brakes up a steep hill. So we’re trying to get the physics to work for us.”

Nodding in understanding Dana looks around at the other technicians. “How many probes have you sent through?” She asks, distracted by trying to figure out what it is they’re working on. Kravid, to her credit, manages not to laugh.

“None.” Kravid says with a huff of breath. “We’ve only opened the aperture of the threshold five centimeters. Doctor Cardinal is concerned that we may blow the entire system when we open it fully, so we can’t risk doing so until it’s time to disembark.”

Wide-eyed, Dana circles around Kravid and looks over to the Looking Glass. “How many more weeks of testing do we have, then, before the opening?”

This time Kravid laughs. “We have an hour.”

Dana does not.



Carbon-fiber fingers curl around a paper cup, crushing it.

“It’s okay, that’s normal.”

Dana Carrington offers a patient smile as she pries back the sleek gray fingers away from the crushed cup. “That’s why we start with paper cups, and not… kittens?” She laughs, then gently lets go of Chess’ prosthetic hand.

The laughter that Chess offers in response is entirely from nerves. She looks down at the length of synthetic material that joins at her elbow, at the prosthetic arm that would give her back a portion of her life that was stolen from her and can’t help but feel the flutter of nerves in the pit of her stomach. Chess turns her artificial hand over, looking at the transparent back of the palm, to the tiny synthetic muscle fibers flexing and relaxing there.

“Yeah,” Chess finally says, only then remembering to. She looks up at Doctor Carrington, then back down at her prosthetic hand and one-by-one closes its fingers into a fist.



Agent Gates looks down at Kravid and Dana from the upper gantry, leaning his weight on the metal railing. “She’ll fit in here better than SESA,” Gates opines to the woman at his back. Agent Hall rolls one shoulder and then steps up beside Gates, watching Kravid and Dana walking below them.

“Maybe,” Hall says. She isn’t so sure. “But we keep poaching from SESA and there won’t be a SESA left.”

“You’re just worried I’ll have you reassigned from Raytech,” Gates says with a crooked smile, to which Hall rolls her eyes in response. “I won’t, for what it’s worth. Two sets of eyes on Richard’s operation is probably better than one, all things considered.”

“Where is Richard, anyway?” Hall wonders. Gates wave a hand down below, but it doesn’t even seem like he knows for sure.

“Hopefully enjoying the time he has left here. There’s no guarantee any of them are ever coming back,” Gates says with a furrow of his brow. “Which brings me to what I wanted to talk to you about…”



Richard collapses to the floor clutching his jaw. He groans, loudly, then rolls onto his back and looks up at the broad-shouldered man looming over him.

“Hey, Ben.” Richard manages to say before the other man stoops down and grabs him by the collar and lifts him up to his feet.

Yeah?” Knox says, pulling Richard in close. “What’re you gonna do? Because unless it’s pull a wad of cash out of your shoe, you ain’t got nothing I want.”

Richard grimaces, his teeth pink with blood. “Ben, I told you I’m good for it. Really.” Knox searches Richard’s eyes, frowning, and lets him go.

“You’re full of shit, Dick.” Knox says with a shake of his head, sweeping his hand over his bare scalp. “Man, get the fuck outta’ here.”

“I promise,” Richard says, hands up in feigned surrender, “two grand next week, four more the next.”

“Man get your broke ass out of here before I change my mind!” Knox hollars, and Richard eases toward the warehouse door on his heels.

“Love you Ben! You’re the best!” Richard calls back over his shoulder as he turns around.

“Go fuck yourself!” Knox calls back in a sing-song voice.


From the adjacent lab, Mohinder Suresh looks out over the departure chamber floor with a mixture of excitement and dread. He turns from the window, unable to look at his own faint reflection any longer, then returns to his laptop. Models of solar activity play out across his screen, showing the path of a flare as it crosses the orbit of the Earth. Mohinder shakes his head, scrubbing a hand over his mouth.

“You keep looking at that like you expect it to change.” Agent Harris says from where he learns up against a nearby wall. “I don’t blame you, I did the same thing with the first reports we got. End of the world,” he says with a sigh. “Really puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it?”

Mohinder shakes his head. “I don’t know.” Then, looking up at Harris he clarifies, “About it being the end of the world.”

Harris leans away from the wall, one brow raised in wordless challenge. Mohinder turns his laptop around, showing Harris his latest predictive model.

“Look,” he points to the globe of the Earth on the visualization. “The Earth is effectively a shield itself. Now, the moon’s orbit will place it directly behind the silhouette of the Earth during the potential time of the flare, so that won’t mitigate anything, but…” He traces an arc around the back side of the planet. “When the flare hits, it will irradiate half the Earth and begin a process that will boil off a large portion of the atmosphere…”

“You are really not selling this not the end of the world thing,” Harris says with a suspicious side-eye to Mohinder.

“I’m not saying it wouldn’t be apocalyptic, what I’m saying is the people on the other half of the Earth?” Mohinder says as he taps the screen again. “They have a chance. The world they live in wouldn’t be anything like our own, it’d be more like… I don’t know, surviving on Mars. Not to mention the breakdown of the Earth’s ecological systems and food chain but—”

“Again. Not selling me.” Harris repeats.

“It would be bleak,” Mohinder says, looking back to his screen, “but there’d be some survivors. For a time.”

“How long?” Harris wonders after a moment of silence. To that, all Mohinder can do is frown and shake his head.

It’s the best answer he has.




Slouching back into the supple leather upholstery of a high-backed chair, Elliot Hitchens cradles a cell phone to his chin with his shoulder while he pours Scotch over a globe of ice in a lowball glass.

«Sorry to bother you at this hour, sir,» the man on the other end of the phone says, «but I received word that the prototype from the Republic of Texas is going to be delayed by customs in Louisiana.»

Elliot’s hand slips, spilling Scotch across his desk. “Son of a bitch,” he hisses, setting the decanter down.

«I’m—I’m sorry sir. We—»

“Not you.” Elliot stammers into the phone. “Just—how long is it delayed for?”

«Ah, probably two days. The port authority in Cameron is saying that the ship hasn’t left Houston yet. So, we might not beat the hurricane out of the gulf

Hissing, Elliot daubs up the spilled Scotch with a cloth and then licks his fingers clean. “If we don’t get that container ship out of the fucking gulf before the hurricane comes through we’ll be stuck for weeks, and if Yamagato doesn’t get its prototype you know Kaito’s going to send that piece-of-shit son of his here to fuck up all our lives.”

«Ah, yes. Sir.»

“Starting with yours.” Elliot punctuates his point with a click of his tongue.

«Right. Yeah, absolutely. I’ll take care of it, we’ll get the ship out of the port.»

“Good,” Elliot says, picking up his glass. “And so help me god if I have to handle this myself—”

«That won’t happen sir.»

“Good.” Elliot says, then hangs up the call and throws his phone across his desk. He looks at the cloth stained with whiskey and sighs through his nose, slouching back into his chair again.

“Hundred grand a fucking shot,” he says with a sigh. Then, in a sudden burst of speed he lunges forward and picks up his phone, calling a recent contact.

“Hey, Price? Yeah. When Beaufort is done with the Yamagato handoff can you make sure he gets fucking fired?” Elliot says with a scowl, looking at the stained cloth. “Yeah, awesome. Thanks.”

Elliot sets the phone down, scowling at the decanter of Scotch. “Assholes, I swear to God.”


“They’re almost ready, sir.”

Sage Abernathy stands in the doorway of a private office on the upper levels of the Janus Drilling Platform. The hallway lights shine bright at her back, while the dimly-lit office beyond is thrown in shadow save for the desk lit by a single small lamp with a green glass shade. Sage takes a step into the office, not hearing an immediate response and asks, “Sir?”

“That’s fine, Ms. Abernathy.” Marcus Raith looks up from a small, weather-beaten notebook that he folds closed and tucks into his jacket. “Have they finished on-site prep yet?”

“Uh, no,” Sage says with a furtive look around the dark corners of Marcus’ office. “They’re getting suited up right now.”

Marcus nods, or at least Sage is pretty sure he does, it’s hard to tell in the low light. “I’ll make an appearance before they disembark,” he says as if talking about a trip to another country, not another dimension.

Awkwardly, Sage steps back through the door from Marcus’ office and curls her fingers around the handle of the door. “I’ll let you know when they’re ready for you, sir,” she says with a tentative smile, to which Marcus offers nothing in return as he reopens the journal in his hands.

Sage slowly shuts the door, then closes her eyes and sighs softly.




It isn’t the first time Eve has said that tonight. She laughs, though, tipping back her beer and propping her foot up on the corner of the coffee table in front of the sofa. The man in the recliner in front of her furrows his tired brow and shakes his head, looking at Eve with an easy smile. He threads fingers through his salt and pepper hair, then tips back his own beer to take a sip.

“No, she did. I think you were still in diapers at the time,” he says with a laugh between thoughts, “but your mother was a force of nature. She got right out of the truck and ran straight across the street and punched that woman square in the fucking mouth. Knocked her flat-out.”

Eve laughs again, louder this time, slapping her knee as she does. Her eyes are bright, wide, and as full of delight at her smile. “Why am I only hearing this now?

Some of the delight leaves the older man’s eyes, and when he sips from his beer again it is against a tide of sadness. “Well, you know… you know how your mother was toward the end there. I think she wanted to make a good impression on you, y’know?” He smiles, wearily. “She knew she was sick for a while, did a lot to try and hide it from you ‘cause she didn’t want you to worry.”

Eve nods, exhaling a tired sigh. “So…” she looks from side to side, then sits forward and cradles her beer between her knees, “why didn’t you two work out?”

He grunts a dismissive answer and shrugs. “We weren’t ever meant to be those kinds of people. Your mom didn’t know what she wanted in life and… I wasn’t really a good man t’her. I drank a lot, argued more. Honestly, when she and I went our separate ways it was probably good for the both’f you.”

“Dad.” Eve says, setting down her beer on the coffee table. “That’s fucked up, don’t say that.” She gets up off the couch and walks over to his chair, leaning over to wrap her arms around him in a tight hug. “Look,” she says with a soft sigh and a shake of her head, “maybe you two weren’t meant to be together then but… you’re the one she wanted with her when she went.”

Eve’s father wraps his arms around her in return, then nods slowly. “Thanks, Evie.” He says with a gentle sigh. “Now, go find out if your cousin’s got those burgers off the grill yet.”

Eve smiles and slides out of her father’s embrace, walking to a window facing the back yard where the smell of cooking burgers wafts in. “Tom!” Eve shouts through the window.

Hurry up!


The pressurized hiss and click of hermetic seals closing creates a cacophony of noise in small, enclosed spaces.

In the small operations prep room, a handful of individuals prepare for a journey of a lifetime to save the lives of billions upon billions of people across multiple iterations of history. The suits they are changing into are awkward, bulky things designed to protect them from the shearing friction of interdimensional travel; a purpose that, even now, feels like the realm of science fiction rather than science fact.

Each component of their suit is independently sealed on their body, with joints interlocked with layer upon layer of durable metallic fibers that—in theory—will prevent each user from exiting out the other side of the Looking Glass as a smoking skeleton. None of the material has been tested in practice, however, just in repeated predictive model after another, based on suits that made the same journey during different environmental conditions, made by different hands.

In a way, putting on this suit is like preparing to be the first astronaut to go into space. Except if this goes according to plan, no one will ever know it happened.

Robyn Roux has been uncharacteristically quiet ever since she finally emerged from her room in the Rig's barracks. Barely a peep from her through early prep, even now as pieces of this fantastical suit are effectively bolted on to her person like the future soldiers she'd seen in her son's video games.

At the very least, she doesn't seem hungover, which had been a real threat at last night's dinner. Dark rings line the underside of her eyes regardless, punctuating a clear anxiety that she has yet to voice. There's been no unwanted quips about chances of failure, no angry questions about what she's supposed to do on splashdown.

Just an unexpected silence, focused on her own suit of armour with an occasional flit of her eyes over towards Eve and Castle, sometimes over towards Richard. Subtle, but not imperceptible. Teeth rake at her bottom lip. This is it. This is happening.

This is for real.

And she can't even bring an ipod so she can listen to that exact song to distract herself. A special kind of hell in and of itself.

Quiet and pale, Chess tries to focus on something other than the suit and the memories it brings of last February, but forgetting the past means focusing on the present or the excruciatingly close future, which is just as terrifying.

Her breathing grows shallow and quick as the claustrophobic suit locks into place in so many pieces around her. Last time she wore a suit like this, she hadn’t worn gloves nor helmet — the first for the use of her power, the latter because she had been trying to pull Eve from the Entity’s grasp. This time, she’ll be encased entirely in the armor.

It already feels like a tomb.

Closing her eyes, she focuses on her breathing, then glances at the others, each no doubt wrapped up in their own thoughts and worries.

“Does,” she begins, but the word is too faint, her throat too dry, so she swallows hard and tries again. “Does anyone have a poem or speech or something that’s helping you? All I can think of is St. Crispin’s Day and it doesn’t apply. Like, at all. My mind’s blanking on anything else.” Even Kant is failing her at the moment — perhaps because the little book is packed away already in her crate of personal belongings.

It’s not exactly like the suits that Richard’s worn in the past, but there’s enough similarity that it feels like putting on a new style of dress shoe after walking around in sneakers for years without respite. He’s focused on getting suited up, fingers moving to secure latches and seals, body twisting now and then to feel how it restricts his movements.

Some of that’s his slowly advancing age, but he’s pretending it’s the suit. He’s not as limber as he was the last time he wore a sealed protective suit.

He snaps out of his own thoughts as Chess speaks, and he looks over - offering her a slight smile, reaching a gloved hand over to nudge her shoulder with his fist. “I do, but keep in mind that I was raised by nuns, and I don’t want anyone to roll their eyes at me for being cliche as fuck.”

“I could always break into Come Sail Away,” Basil responds with a glimmer in his green eyes as he checks the seals on his suit, one might even consider it fidgeting. “There’s a lot of poems, but — “ Suddenly he stops speaking and looks upward for a moment and then laughs, as if at something only he can hear. There’s an obvious shift in demeanor, something they might have gotten used to over the last month or so of knowing them, but the other voice is the one that speaks up with a quote.

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” Those blue eyes wink slightly in the direction of Chess and Eve, before shifting back. “Bloody hell, she’s so sentimental, isn’t she, Stardust? Come Sail Away would have been a much better choice… We can always pull out some old sea shanties, though, if it’ll help calm the nerves. They’re great for teamwork— Used to use them a bunch back in the old days.”

“Wow there’s really not a lot of legroom in this model,” Wright says. “And did you ask if it came in anything other than black?”

Elliot chuckles quietly as his armor is assembled around him. Keeping his focus more with Wright than the armor, off of thoughts of the confines of his ACTS. On the music coming through her ear buds for him. On synching his breathing and heartbeat with hers.

His attention is drawn back to the prep room when silent nervousness is replaced by talking. “If you start singing St. Patrick’s Breastplate I’m gonna hold you under the water when we get there,” he tells Richard with a laugh.

“I can link you into the network if you want to listen to Wright’s music with me,” he offers the group at large. “She already made me watch the roll call scene from Muppet Treasure Island, but I’m sure she’d replay it for us.” No telling if those temporary links would survive the stressors involved with the drop, but he probably has the capacity for them either way.

Everything is bright and shiny and Eve is experimenting.

For the second time.

Hmmm. Her thoughts rumble within as the crimson cloud she had poofed into moments before drifts around her suit twice before sliding down through the neck, slowly filling it out. "I told you I'd get in it fine!" Is whispered towards Castle as Eve's face pops into existence, blinking away mist from her blood red eyes, eyebrows raised and waving her hand lamely from where she perches. She's less nervous for herself but her outward appearance doesn't exactly show that. The closer they've gotten to preparing and the closer they've gotten to the Anomaly, the more unstable Eve appeared to become. Sweating as if she's run a marathon and the only thing distracting the dark haired woman from her discomfort is the worry of her friend.

"You've gone head to head with what some might call the divine, this is nothing girlie!" Eve grins at Boomer and winks before looking over the others. If nothing else everyone in the group was competent now if only they could all work together.

Not enough team building exercises the impish woman thinks, they would fix that on the sea. "Do you think I'll let me drive the boat?" It's a hopeful question thrown at the only person who'd have the answer to that.

The technicians helping the team into their suits are largely quiet during the assembly process, having gone over the safety precautions numerous times at this point. But given Eve Mas’ Eve Masness one of them reiterates the features of the suit for the fifth or sixth time, just so that everyone is clear.

“This isn’t body armor,” the technician says, knocking her knuckles on Elliot’s breastplate, “the exterior is a friction-repellant nanomaterial, so it’s not going to stay wet because it’s hydrophobic, but it won’t stop a bullet. Maybe a really small caliber firearm, but it’s not designed for combat.”

The technician steps around behind Elliot, checking the recessed hoses on the attached backpack. “Remember that your suit has a total of 200 litres of oxygen in the tank on your back. You consume about 50 litres per hour under normal, low-stress situations. So you’re looking at four hours of oxygen, tops, should you need it.”

“The emergency release…” the technician says, turning Elliot around to show everyone else, “is here.” She pats a small red level about the size of a pencil recessed into the small square backpack. “You pull it and it will eject the current oxygen canister allowing you to slot a replacement in from the bottom.” She taps four fingers on the induction port. “Given your travel weight limits and the habitable level of your destination Branch, we won’t be sending you with additional oxygen. So if you need a backup someone’s going to need to share.”

The technician lets Elliot go and then turns him around again, tapping on the visor of his helmet. “This visor is not a friction-resistant material. If you leave your blast shield up when you begin your jump you will eat a face full of molten polymer and then incinerate from the friction. Before you jump,” she grabs a small lip on the front of Elliot’s helmet and then pulls down a completely opaque domed visor. “Lower your visor. Once you hit water on the other side, flip your visor up so you can see. Just like we practiced in the high dives.”

The technician then flips Elliot’s visor up and gives him a pat on the shoulder and a smile for being a good sport before stepping away. “Remember, this suit is your only ticket home. A tear or damage to any component means a weak point for the insertion vector friction to rip you apart on a molecular level. Once you’re on the other side, stow your suits like we went over and do not lose them. Should we be able to open a return gateway for you, you’ll need it to survive the journey home.”

The technician folds her hands behind her back and glances at Eve, then looks around at the others. “Remember, these are protective suits, not resources. No comms, no electronic components. Everything is analog. You manage your oxygen output with your hand gauges, you check each other with line of sight. Minimal failure points and having a buddy means you make it home in one piece.” As far as she knows, anyway.

“Any last questions before you head to departure?” The technician asks, one brow raised.

With all of her suit in place save for her helmet, Robyn looks back over her shoulder at the technician as she runs down the features and limitations and precautions that come with them Continuing to remain silent rather than make her usual barbs about does it float or what do we need all that oxygen for, she instead focuses on the question Chess had posed.

A poem or a speech, no. But she has a song in mind, even if it's not the most appropriate time to share it with everyone. Despite that, it's as the techniition pauses for questions that she finally begins to sing quietly to herself, just loud enough for everyone to hear.

It's certainly not the most awkward time she's started singing, particularly not with some of the gathered travellers.

"I called it quits, fell to the ground
I hit every wall, I made every round
I drank till dark, my family cried
Trouble I find, chooses her side
But I had enough
I had enough

Chess’ dark eyes move from each member of her team as they offer their words of wisdom (or not). “Feel free to say it. I can get behind the spirit of it even if I don’t believe in him,” she says to Richard with a smile. She may be agnostic, but she knows faith and hope are synonymous for many, and she might wish she had a little of the former when the latter is scarce.

The two halves of Castle draw a sweeter smile for them. “Sentimental’s okay,” she says softly, reaching with a gloved hand to brush the armored sleeve of Castle’s suit. “You can sing ‘Sail Away’ when we’re on the raft, yeah?”

Chess points a finger in Elliot’s direction. “If we’re still there in December, I absolutely require a link for Muppets Christmas Carol.” It’s meant to be lighthearted but the fact that still being here in December is even a possibility drags her scowl back. Eve’s pep talk earns the woman a look as Chess doesn’t consider that day a victory in the least, but she doesn’t argue, turning instead to the technician whose plain speech doesn’t do anything for the fraying nerves.

“Thanks for the reminder,” Chess mutters regarding the warnings about polymer and friction. “So we’ve been told.”

They’re leaping blindly into the abyss. At least they can’t look so it can look back.

One brow lifts as Robyn launches into song. She quiets, though, to listen.

"Don't let them win, don't let them get
Under your skin, into your head
They're full of it, you're full of love
You'll prove them right if you're givin' up
So let's go for blood
Let's go for blood

“I should’ve gone and mugged Lang for his armor,” Richard mutters under his breath as the technician goes over the features of these suits, his shoulders rolling back a little as he gets used to the fit of it on him. At Wright’s offer, he glances over, “Not a good idea to link me in, but thanks for the offer.”

When Robyn starts singing, he smiles, eyes closing a moment as he listens.

Softer - maybe Chess can hear if she’s paying attention - he murmurs the words he was taught as a child. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of enemies…”

"I've got my words, they're gonna cut
Sure it took a while to to say it's enough
I've got my heart, it's full of love
Sure it took a while to learn it's enough
So let's go for blood
Let's go for blood

“I won’t be surprised if we’re not all itching for a movie night in a week once we’re there,” Castle says, sighing a little at the loss of all the amenities of this world. They were making a huge sacrifice, but, well, someone had to do it. “These suits are great, but I wish they could have had some cool systems.” They can borrow Elliot’s mind-link abilities, sure, but… “If we’d done the jump with the mind link, I’d say yes, but I’d be pretty mortified if I botched this jump.” They’d botched a few of them in the test jumps as it were, but not that many.

Roux’s song was somewhat calming, though. “Before we go…” he steps closer to Chess and leans forward, ignoring the hands of those people helping them put on the suits and uses this chance to just— well— kiss her while their visors are still down.

“One for the road,” he says with a green eyed wink as he pulls back.

Now they’re ready.

"It sure took a while to turn it around
But I never gave up on me
Yeah it sure took a while to turn it around
But I never gave up on me
So let's go for blood
Let's go for blood…"

Elliot bares his being used as a prop as well as he can. He moves his hands anxiously, looking for something to fidget with. Stops himself from trying to stuff them in the pockets of a hoodie. Settles on testing the limits of motion in his joints. “Wright has a copy on VHS that still includes The Love is Gone,” Elliot tells Chess with a smirk, “In case you want muppets and also to cry in public.”

Wright pauses the music on her phone when Robyn begins to sing. Together she and Elliot focus more on his surroundings, his eyes closed and breathing calm. They’re so close now, so close to being further apart than they’ve ever been. Since their earliest memories, vague impressions of hands clasped. Of shouting at another child in the Residence. Before fosterage, before adoption. Over a magnet Elliot had lost when he pushed it through a crack in the wall. Protecting him even then, at the beginning of time.

Wright is overwhelmed by it in a moment, covering her mouth with one hand. Willing herself not to cry about things decades past. About this, the here and now. It’s a flutter of pulls at her attention from Elliot that keep her from dissolving into it. She Coalesces, nods, squeezes her hands in the way that means I love you.

"Card and I can share oxygen with anyone that needs it. We don't need air." The look Eve gives Richard so clearly says: honestly, making her seem any sort of responsible was so boring. Responsible makes her think of Gily, Chicken, and her leaving them behind again.

Didn't she promise she wouldn't do that anymore?

While Robyn sings and Richard prays, Eve hums softly what sounds like a nursery rhyme but her eyes flick over to Castle and then Chess. "We trust each other!" Less of a question or maybe only a question, depending on how you could translate the wild woman.

“You better.” The technician says with a crooked smile. “Because you’re all about to take the universe’s biggest trust fall.

A Short Time Later

Janus Drilling Platform
Gate Control Chamber

The team looks, in a way, like astronauts about to board a space shuttle as they emerge from the airlock into the Looking Glass’ containment chamber. The massive, boxy room is filled with the hum of computer equipment and the low thrumm of high-voltage lines suspended from the ceiling.

“Glad to see you’re ready,” Gates says as he briskly walks across the floor to meet the team. Behind him the scaffolding of the gantry rises up high, from which is suspended the triangular window of the Looking Glass over a tank of seawater. “We’re about finished with the setup here,” he says, taking a step back to motion over his shoulder with his thumb, “we should join Ms. Cardinal up on the gantry.”

A crackling pop resonates through the air, followed by Michelle’s voice over the intercom. «Looking Glass aperture expansion boot up sequence initiated. System wind-up in progress, please stay clear of the power couplings.»

Gates raises his brows and looks up to where Michelle is ordering around technicians high on the gantry, then back to the group. “We don’t want to keep her waiting.”

The glance that Robyn gives Gates is a curious one, regarding him with a strained smile. It lasts only a moment before she turns to glance over at Richard. "What do you think, Richard? Never too late to start testing the lengths of your mom's patience, you know."

With that quip, her attention instead turns ahead to anomaly and the rest of the containment chamber. Her pace slows to a stop as she takes in everything one last time, hands curling into fists at her side. This was her last chance to turn and walk away if she was going to take it.

The thought certainly permeates to the forefront, a genuine and honest consideration as she stares at what awaits them all. It's not awe she feels, but fear, anger, and regret.

“She’s unhappy enough just being here, I’m not going to test her further,” Richard mutters to Robyn in response, lifting a gloved hand to give Gates a thumbs-up before starting to make his way up to the gantry where his mother’s waiting.

He can feel the pull towards the anomaly below, which combined with the prospect of never being able to return— has his stomach doing somersaults. Every nerve in his body is screaming not to do this, but with the world at stake, what else can he do?

The web of events has constricted around him and given him no other way through.

The thrum and crackle of the machinery, paired with Michelle’s authoritative voice, create a confusing air of surreality and actuality that dizzies Chess. Her eyes widen behind the visor, and her gaze darts from Gates to the gantry to Michelle, and then each of her fellow travelers, lingering on each a little longer, from Elliot and Robyn to Cardinal and Eve. It at last lights on Castle, and she reaches to touch his arm — she can’t feel it through the gloves; and he can’t feel it through the armor.

She nods for the others to follow Gates ahead of them, and then steps closer to Castle, a hand on each of his arms. The helmets, with their visors, create a compounded distance, and she shakes her head slightly, annoyed she didn’t do this inside, when Basil had kissed her.

“Before we go,” she says, looking up at him, her eyes studying his face like she’s trying to memorize it, to hold it in her mind when they jump blind into the abyss. “In case…” Nope. She won’t voice that fear. Instead she says the words she had never thought she’d say again in this way. Her voice catches on the words, but it doesn’t make them less whole.

“I love you.”

“She was never very patient where science was concerned,” Castle says in a knowing voice, that hint of a grin in the tone even if they can’t really see it well with the helmets on. But that nonchalant comment gets wrecked when Chess says something that he had not imagined she would say for— well— a very long time. Then again, the possibility that they could die in the next ten minutes might make those statements easier to say.

A gloved hand reaches over to take hers, pulling it close as if to hug her hand with his against his chest, even if they really can’t feel each other through the suits. Lowering his head down, their helmets touch and he responds with a soft, “Tell me that again when we’re safe on the other side,” is what he says, rather than returning the sentiment right now. Elliot is probably glad these two aren’t linked to him right now.

Chess’ gaze holds onto Castle’s for a long moment — she won’t be able to be this close to him, to them, again, until they jump, and in the moment of trust and truth, they’ll be alone and blind. She nods wordlessly, free hand reaching up to tap the side of his visor, before she lets go and follows the others.

Elliot gazes at the gate, the activity. The urgent hum of workers preparing for their dive gives the moment a finality he’d been avoiding. This is it. He holds his hand out as Wright steps up behind him, reaching for it, their eyes still on the gate. They might not feel each other in a space like this again. Know where one stands in relation to the other so perfectly. Already separated from contact by Elliot’s armor.

There are no words from either as they march forward, just silent acknowledgement of the risk they’re all taking. Of the cost of failure. Wright releases Elliot’s hand and steps aside, giving the team the space they need to move. He fights the urge to crack a joke in nervousness only lessened by the medication he took beforehand. Should all estimates be wrong and the link be pulled apart through spacetime.

"Tea cups! Red spinny tea cups. Oh my head." Eve supports herself against the wall and then the railing, sweating but grinning. Eyelids flutter the closer they get to the Anomaly. "Do you hear what I hearrrrr," She sings softly as she trails behind the others.


The voice echoes in her head and she shrugs, "Well they will soon enough. Ha!" Eve isn't speaking to herself though, or not totally. She pats her chest reassuringly and whispers, "We gonna meet ya other momma sweetie."

Bean can't meow or growl but Eve feels the tiniest of movements.

The approach up the scissoring stairs is a long one, and the ascent gives each member of the team time to regret all of the choices that led them to this moment. They’ve made this climb dozens of times by now for each practice dive, and each time the gradually higher view of the deployment pool is no less nauseating.

«Boot up at twenty percent, power couplings holding. Thermal exchange at 65% and rising, boosting coolant.» Michelle’s voice echoes through the chamber, the weight of her presence here echoing through history. Thirty-seven years ago, Michelle could have never imagined she’d wind up where she is now. But standing at the command console for a fully-operational Looking Glass, the sheer glare of determination and spite in her eyes says she wishes she never did.

Through the scaffolding of the stairs, the away team can see the coolant pipes frosting over with ice. Steam from the temperature differential rises up into the air, droplets of condensed water landing on the pipes sizzles before freezing in place. Huge pumps in far corners of the room push thousands of gallons of liquid nitrogen through the frame of the looking glass to help offset the tremendous heat generated by its use.

Halfway up the stairs, lights flicker overhead from the power draw.

"I'm surprised," Robyn says in a low voice as she once more comes to a stop. Her eyes scan the pipes and scaffolding, the myriad moving parts that make this trip possible, and the way Michelle looks around as bellows commands. "This is only slightly terrifying."


Those words bring about another bout of silence in her as she stares down the gantry scaffolding, down at their jump target. What would happen if she turned and walked away now? Would she be forced to go? How poorly would it end for her or for anyone else?

It didn't matter. There's a helpless feeling in her, like she's had little direction in what led her to here, and with the uncertainty of what would await her on her return, was it really even worth fighting it?

Despite all the heated arguments and disagreements, she looks over at her fellow
paranauts and smiles weakly. Not much they do but wait.

For Chess, that climb is simultaneously too long and too short, as every step takes them farther from being able to turn back, and closer to the jump that will bring them into a world unfamiliar to them all — or kill them.

She gives Wright a sympathetic look as the other woman steps aside, and brushes a gloved hand against her arm. “We’ll do our best to get him back to you,” Chess says softly. They’ll do their best to come back to everything.

She lifts her chin, taking a breath to go the rest of the way, glancing at each of the others; her eyes are dry of tears, her expression firm. It isn’t confidence, but it is hope and determination.

“Now remember, everyone, don’t touch the sides…” It’s some forced jocularity from Richard as he makes his way up the stairwell, “We don’t want to end up in Moab or something. Although I hear they’ve got good diners there, if nothing else…”

He continues to climb with the others, hand on the rail, gaze fixed upwards and ahead. That same feeling of inevitability heavy in his gut, like when they approached Alaska… Antarctica…

At least there’s no snow here.

“Suddenly wishing we had that soundtrack again,” Castle muses after the first few steps, talking mostly to talk, because it silenced the worry in their brain. After a few steps, he adds quietly, in a more whispered tone, “No, we’re doing this together.” Whatever that was in response to, though, wasn’t spoken. Nor is the return response. They continued to ascend with the group.

As Chess’ reassurances to Wright, they nod. The plan was for all of them to make it back, after all. Even if so much of that plan was relying on faith and hope. Then there’s a self-deprecating laugh suddenly, as Cardinal reminds everyone that they need to avoid the sides. “I definitely touched the sides during the crossing from the Ark and there’s more to worry about than just showing up in weird places, so definitely avoid that.”

No one wanted to end up suddenly in the wrong body, after all.

Wright responds to Chess’s kindness with a nod and a confident smile she doesn’t fully feel. “Do your best to get you back to me,” she replies before grimacing, looking between Chess and Castle. “Back to us. The proverbial me. The people from this timeline in general, really.” She looks away as though something’s caught her attention before she makes it worse.

Elliot feels something like a laugh build at the exchange, though it doesn’t manifest against the background anxiety. He settles for a lopsided grin and focuses on the stairs, clomping up the switchbacks. “I feel like an Elevator wouldn’t have broken the budget here,” he complains half-heartedly. “Going to be too tired to doggy-paddle by the time we get there.”

"Let's go!"

Eve shouts and grins madly as she eyebrow twitches, flashes of images run through her mind but none that she can gain a firm grip on. Looking at everyone but mostly at Castle, "Don't die! Remember to tread your water!"

Reaching the top of the gantry is an ordeal in and of itself. By the time the team has crested the top of the last stair, Michelle’s voice is blaring over the loudspeakers again.

«Thermal exchange at 75% and holding. Beginning particle accelerator spin-up sequence.»

There’s a guttering of all the lights in the room accompanied by a high-pitched whining sound coming from the Looking Glass. Gates braces one hand against the railing, watching a shower of white-hot sparks erupt from the interior of the frame. He breathes in sharply, then looks across the walkway to where Michelle is hunched over a console, looking from terminal to terminal.

With a wordless, tense nod Gates directs the team down the walkway to the middle of the gantry’s upper level where the diving bridge to the Looking Glass extends out. Michelle’s console is perched at the T-junction of these walkways. Dana Carrington stands with her, checking multiple screens while at the same time running calculations on a tablet.

«Core temperature is stable at minus thirty-four Celsius.»

“Harmonics waveform is stabilized! Audio buffers are keeping ambient noise at acceptable levels!” Dana shouts over the bone-deep hum coming from the Looking Glass. “Setting Root frequency now!” Dana exclaims, keying in a string of numbers into one of the terminals.

As soon as she hits the Enter key, Castle can feel a vibration in their teeth. Like a tuning fork hitting the sympathetic frequency to shatter a pane of glass. It rolls through his body from jaws to toes and hums begins his eyes. At the same time, the frequency evokes a sympathetic psychological response, a sense of both deja-vu and nostalgia, like walking into an old family photograph. Hauntingly, Richard feels the same thing, if not as profoundly.

«CTC chamber sealed. Energy levels are normal.»

There's a bit of a whine from Robyn as those sparks shower out across the gantry, eyes scanning around from inexplicable piece of equipment to even more inexplicable pieces of equipment. Briefly, she focuses on Dana, and can't help but be amused how in her element she seems to be. Was it like last time too?

It's a thought she doesn't linger on, more out of necessity than anything else. It's time to get moving, and despite the hesitation in her steps she wants to get this over with as soon as possible. Get out of the frying pan and into the… ocean?

Shaking her head at her terrible metaphor, she lets out a drawn out sigh. "I'm just gonna…" As they reach the upper level, approaching the diving ledge, she pulls her visor down about half way. "Make sure I don't miss anything, Richard."

Chess’ eyes widen at Castle’s casual mention of hitting the sides last time, and she can’t help but wonder what that might do to the those of them who don’t have multiple people sharing one corporeal form (is she the only one?).

“Almost sounds like they’re prepping for a very cutting-edge concert and not sending us to another dimension,” she muses, putting one hand up to her own visor, so that she doesn’t forget, even after the multiple reminders, as unnecessary as she’d said the last one was.

She’s thankful the suit helps to hide the shiver that runs down her spine. She glances to Gates for signs of anything being out of the ordinary, using his expressions as a litmus test for how worried she should be.

Unfortunately, his expressions aren’t overwhelmingly reassuring.

"How do you feel, returning to your home? For you my dear Castle, it was the only world you knew. For Richard, a home he has only dreamed of. There must be emotion for you both. Doesn't matter the circumstances of the visit."

At the time, Richard had brushed off the question. He hadn’t been there since days after his birth, he didn’t consider the timeline they were going to ‘home’ in any way. As that resonance hums in the air, as it vibrates down to the core of his being, he suddenly has to admit that clearly… a part of him does and always will.

Something related to quantum entanglement, he supposes. Michelle could probably give him some technical details on it, if he asked, and if she thought he’d actually understand.

“I won’t,” he promises Robyn, then looks over at his mother standing over the consoles - lifting one hand to aim a thumbs-up in her direction. Trying for bravado, reassurance.

It was the smell of the sea. The sound of them singing together to the rhythm of thunder and rain and waves as they waited for the storms to pass. It was the feeling of that one hammock that would hang in the cabin that was somehow the most comfortable thing in the whole world. It was the taste of their mum’s cooking, that recipe they could never quite get right. For a moment, Castle could almost see that lighthouse on the horizon, that image that had been painted into their soul.

Not the same view they had found here, but the one they had both looked at once, for the first time, with the same two eyes. They let out a shaky breath they didn’t even know they had held for a moment and open their eyes again, trying to focus on here— but it was almost impossible.

Every part of their being felt the pull toward there.

Elliot traces his gloved hand along the railing of the gantry to keep his position clear in his mind. In Wright's too, charting a path with her fingertips on the cool metal. Keeping Elliot in sight so he can see for the jump, can feel where he stands in relation to her perspective.

It's hard for him to do anything other than anxious chatter at this point, despite the medication. Watching the chaos of this boot up, the sparks and flashes and frost and the concern of those making this impossible machine work.

He turns to Chess to say, "I swear to God, if this turns out to be a Pink Floyd laser show I am done." Then, sighing, "God damn it, now I have Eclipse stuck in my head."

"Rock on dudes!"

Eve stands or hunches over nearby and cackles as the sounds envelope them all. "It's the Last Rock Show ever, that's where we're headed sillies!" Because only a concert was the most fitting place for the end of the multiverse.

Michelle slips over to Richard’s side, placing a hand on his arm. She steps closer, throwing her arms around him tightly. The embrace feels crushing, final. But it only lasts a moment. She steps back, looking into her son’s eyes with ones struggling to contain so much emotion. She swallows down that pain, looking over to the console where Dana has stepped in to take over Michelle’s warm-up duties while she says goodbye.

«Activating laser array.»

Dozens of lasers around the triangular frame light up one after the other and the tracks they are set on within the triangular frame starts to rotate, moving like the treads on a tank and spinning the lasers around as they form a briefly visible lattice within the cold fog inside of the gate’s mouth, a fog that slowly descends down to drift across the surface of the water in the diving pool below.

«Laser rings at full oscillation.»

Michelle steps back, swallowing down her emotions. At the same time, Gates closes the distance. “We’re going to send the supply crates through after you, one at a time!” Gates shouts over the growing hum and whine of the Looking Glass. “Everything except the aperture!” He says, handing a suitcase-sized carbon-nanofiber case out to Chess, who was given the dubious honor of holding the key to humanity’s salvation, because if anyone could survive a rough landing with gear intact, it’s her.

«Increasing power output by fifty percent.»

The noise coming from the Looking Glass’ frame grows louder as waves of freezing cold air radiate outward from the coolant pipes encircling the particle accelerator. Ice begins to form on the high-tension cables extending out from the gantry to the gate and the laser lattice has begun to look like a whirlpool of gleaming light.

«Laser intensity at fifty percent and holding.»

A static-electric charge begins to build in the air, causing the hairs on the back of everyone’s necks to begin to stand on end. Castle remembers this feeling, the moments before the Looking Glass last opened. Richard and Eve too have borne witness to this impossible feat of engineering.

«Increasing power output to seventy-five percent.»

As Michelle comes over to hug Richard, Robyn can't help but watch the pair for a moment. Her eyes drift from them over to Chess, Castle, and Eve, before finally landing on Elliot. With only a moment's lingering, she turns her attention down to the gantry floor in front of her and shuts her eyes as a wistful sigh escapes her lips.

"Can we just get this over with?" is a whispered plea, maybe loud enough for Richard to hear. "I hate this." The wait. The sudden feeling of loneliness. The anticipation of knowing what's next and how much she'll hate that too. "The faster we land, the better."

“Most of Pink Floyd’s songs seem appropriate, you’re right,” Chess murmurs to Elliot, grasping the rejoinder like it’s a lifeline, keeping her from sinking into the almost incapacitating fear that she feels. She manages not to sink down, refusing to move, like she did when her parents dropped her off at the first day of preschool, her tiny body becoming an inexorable force. She stayed under the desk until her parents came to pick her up four hours later, popping up with a smile like nothing had been wrong.

She envies that child right now.

When Gates gives her the case, Chess clutches it in both hands; her eyes seeking Gates’ through her visor — one last look directly into the eyes of someone from this world. Hers shimmer, but her jaw sets with determination — or to clamp them down in case her teeth start chattering due to the sight before them and the horrific weight of all they carry on their shoulders, metaphorically speaking, and the literal weight she now carries in her gloved hands.

“Christ. I should have peed one more time before we suited up,” Chess says. “Too late to wait on a bathroom break?” She’s probably joking.

“Don’t worry, I hear there’s a big bathroom waiting for you on the other side of the portal,” Gates says with an uncharacteristically cheerful smile and a wink. Elliot catches the expression and there’s something about it he can’t shake that feels familiar.

Richard wraps one arm back around his mother tightly, helmet tilting down closer to her. He looks back at her with a serious expression, murmuring down to her, “Watch out for the family for me, mom. I love you. I’ll be back.” Straightening as she pulls away, he looks down at the Looking Glass, drawing in a breath to steady himself.

“Almost there, Robyn. Just another minute…”

Castle is pulled from their thoughts by what Chess says, twisting in her direction and laughing a little. “Yeah, I imagine it’s a bit late for that. Don’t worry, I wager half of us are going to soil our suits before the trip is done.” It’s said with that teasing sound that she’s very much used to, and by the way the helmet shifts in Robyn’s direction, they may be implying she’s the likely one to be soiling the suit as well. “Sad to see you’re not coming with us, Doctor C. Keep the world together while we’re gone, Gates.” Cause Agent Castle has hope that they’ll be back.

There’s a moment of silence as they look back toward the electric charge, taking a slow breath. They would like to take Chess’ hand right about now, but she’s carrying something far more important, so instead, they reach out and take their mom’s. “You ready for this?”

Elliot laughs with Chess for a moment, then realizes his heart is beating pretty fast. He tries, unsuccessfully, to take his pulse at the neck and settles for a moment of controlled breathing. Syncs his breathing with Wright’s, slows down together.

Once he’s level he pings Asi. “Dialtone,” he says, quietly to avoid questions from those around him. ”Originally I was going to suggest keeping your links shut for this part to reduce strain, but this seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. What with me probably not coming back and all,” he laughs anxiously, staring at his reflection in his cellphone. “Sorry, that was bleak. I have absolutely no idea what going through is going to be like, people keep bringing up weird shit having to do with ‘touching the sides’. If you don't want to watch I'll shut them until I'm on the other side. Oh, right I'll be blind going through, heat shield on the suit."

Sitting at a table in the Bastion, Asi curls her hands around the paper cup of coffee a little tighter. She takes in a breath of the scent— the good stuff bequeathed to her— and murmurs into the top of the cup, "新しい大冒険がここから始まるよ1" She puts focus on what very little comfort she can provide from states— soon to be realities away. "一人じゃないわ2," she whispers. "Take a deep breath. Take things one step at a time. Think… Neil Armstrong, but cooler." It's hard to do anything but share his nerves in the moment, but she cracks a sliver of a smile anyway.

"頑張れ, 二人とも3."

Elliot smiles in thanks before letting go of Asi’s senses and language. His focus needs to remain on the task at hand. He does breathe out some more of the stress.

Eve's form inside of the suit warps and she burps and slaps her hand over her mouth. "It makes me woozy, see things. Hear them, did you hear that?" Eve felt the, the tearing of her molecules and repairing along with fissures in her mind. The woman bumps into Gates and her hands rest on his shoulders. Eyes rolling in the back of her head before she cackles and squeezes, "Be good!"

She's going to push herself off the man before she considers, "Tell momma I'm sorry."

Pushing herself off from Gates Eve grabs Castle's hand and squeeze, "Oh dear. I'm always ready! You haven't forgot! Now let's go see your childhood bedroom hmm? It better be spotless!"

«Power output stable, continuing to maximum output.»

After that call over the intercoms, there is a seismic shudder that ripples through the air. It isn’t a physical sensation, but a shockwave across gravity that causes all the overhead lights to flicker and everyone to feel a momentary sensation of weightlessness. A moment later, the laser-light matrix has pushed to the edges of the triangular frame, creating a seething fringe of plasma that crackles and snaps violently. The air between the frames of the triangle ripples like a heat mirage, though nothing is visible on the other side.

«Power levels at one hundred percent and holding!»

The shockwaves end as the air in the middle of the frames collapses in on itself like a singularity, and light around the Looking Glass begins to fold inward, like the world itself was being twisted upside-down.

Down below, water from the divine pool has begun to float upward like rain, cascading through the crackling frame of the Looking Glass to strike the ceiling far above and pool there. Dana looks up from the console, eyes wide, adjusting her glasses. "Oh," she whispers, shaking her head slowly in disbelief as the laws of physics begin to unravel.

Michelle sees that too, hurrying from her son's side over to where Dana is. "The Looking Glass is distorting local gravity waves. Look at the spike on the gravimeter!"

"The waves are inverting!" Dana exclaims, looking back at the diving platform as it buckles and undulates. "The gantry won't support this for too long, we have to—"


Sea Level
Janus Drilling Platform

A small black raft is nearly invisible against the churning, dark mass of the sea. Tethered by a nylon cord to an adjacent ladder, the raft surges up and down with the tidal churn. Rain falls hard on the ocean, blows in sheets across the glistening ladder surface.

Fifty feet above the raft, a figure in black draped in a hooded nylon rain cloak continues an uninvited ascent up the emergency ladder. A combat knife is sheathed on his right leg, a sidearm on his left hip. A bundle of something held in a satchel slung over his shoulders. Beneath the dark of his rain slicked hood, pinpoints of orange light flicker like candle-light.

The intruder continues up the ladder until he reaches a lower catwalk that traverses the underside of the offshore platform, then boosts himself up onto it. A pair of rig workers hanging out on a nearby cross catwalk fail to notice the intruder, and when he spots them his body shimmers like a heat mirage and he becomes as insubstantial as the wind and just as quick.

Ghosting forward, the intruder slips between the two oil rig workers and flies upward toward the bottom floor of the platform, then passes through riveted steel as though it simply wasn't there.


Gate Control Chamber
Janus Drilling Platform

A high-pitched whining sound fills the air in the gate control chamber. The walls vibrate from the noise and the gantry platform rattles. Soldiers on the gantry begin hauling the supply crates intended to pass through the Looking Glass up as far as a clearly demarcated yellow and black line on the divine platform. The soldiers then hurry back to the steadier portion of the gantry.

Agent Gates is wide-eyed as he watches the Looking Glass from over the gantry railing, brilliant light from the gate's surface shining up and reflecting watery patterns on the ceiling. Beyond the gate, framed by a burning ring of plasma, is a violently churning ocean.

"Oh my God," Gates whispers, his voice swallowed under all the other noise. He is overwhelmed by the sight.

«You have to go!» Chel's voice bellows over the intercom. «The Looking Glass is causing some sort of feedback, we can't keep the aperture open for too long!» She leans away from the microphone, looking at Richard across the distance of the gantry catwalk.

I love you too, Chel mouths at that distance. There is dread in her eyes.

Deep breathes. Robyn's hands clench together in fists, opening and closing in rapid succession and she stares down at the now open Looking Glass… portal, for lack of a better word, and at the tumultuous ocean waiting for her on the other side of it.

Every fibre of her being tells her to flee, that she is going to die doing this. Burn up on the pass through, drown, have a heart attack. Anything. She hadn't wanted to be first, she wanted someone waiting to help stay afloat on the other side.

One shakey step forward turns into two as she steps away from Richard. This is what she's been waiting for. To get this over with. There's no time for trepidation and no place for hesitation as two steps turn into three. Before she realises it, she stands at the precipice of leaving everything she has ever known behind, possibly forever.

One last glance down, one last turn of her stomach. They've practiced this several times now, but here and now faced directly with it, she feels like she could faint.

She doesn't.

Lowering her visor, Robyn Roux takes one last breath of the air of her world, runs down her mental checklist of tasks, and

she jumps.

The suit makes it look more sleek than it actually is, hurtling through the air ever down the rabbit hole, until finally she snaps through the gate.

“Is it…” Chess starts, then swallows, “is it supposed to do that?” The fear and tension in the faces of the scientists and on Gates isn’t the most reassuring thing in this moment where she and the others literally stand on the precipice of the world they know, ready to leap into one that they — or most of them — don’t.

If they even make it to the other side.

She turns, dark eyes looking to those still behind her, lingering on Eve’s face and Castle’s, before she nods once, more to herself than anyone else. “Get us back again, yeah?” Chess calls to Gates, before she turns back to see Robyn disappear into the triangular gate to the other side.

She’s up.

One hand stays on her visor to be sure she doesn’t forget to lower it at the right moment, and then, as fast as she dares, Chess makes her way to the end of the diving board. Memories flood her mind of climbing a high dive as a child, being afraid and turning to go back down the steps. She doesn’t have that option. Staring down, she orients herself with the aperture, then takes a deep breath, lowers her visor, and leaps.

“See you on the other side,” Castle says to their mom, before nodding one last time in the direction of Gates, a joke comment that would mean other things in a different situation, but obviously has a better meaning in this— or doesn’t if this whole thing fails. Maybe they were about to all go adrift in space and time never to be seen again— who knew.

They had asked for the spot after Chess, so they release Eve’s gloved hand and move up to the edge, nowhere near as fast or gracefully as Chess had before them. “Yeah, I know… we’ll worry about that when we get to the other side,” he whispers to her under their breath, looking down one last time to get barings again, to see the place where Chess had disappeared.

Then they pull down the visor and let gravity do the rest.

Even if gravity was threatening to betray them.

It still does what it’s supposed to, hurtling them into the triangular gate, where they vanish.

Elliot watches Robyn dive, but turns away before Chess or Castle follow. His eyes meet Wright’s and stay locked there. Together they composite this memory, hopefully not the last they ever share.

Richard’s gaze meets his mother’s across the way, and he offers her a smile of confidence that he doesn’t quite feel. There’s nothing but dread pooling in the pit of his stomach, the feeling that something is wrong… that isn’t at all offset by the harmonic call of his native timeline, or the more subtle pull of the anomaly below.

It’s far too late to have second thoughts now, though.

As Robyn plunges through the Looking Glass, he turns his attention fully to it. To the world beyond, the place of his birth, a place that he’s never known.

“La mer,” he murmurs under his breath, the old song creeping up from memory as the waves churn beneath them, “Qu'on voit danser le long des golfes clairs…”

As Castle and the others head in and she looks over her shoulder, a wild grin splayed across her face. This was a scary time, dangerous time, exciting time. "Hey! Iron Gates!" Eve calls out to the agent and she wiggles her fingers in his direction. "Left you something important in your office! Thank me later!" She marches forward and cradles her stomach once before cackling and shaking her arms out at the sides.

"Get ready Bean, we're going MULTIDIMENSIONAL. FOR SPEED AHEAD!!"

Tapping her chest and leaping into the air with a click of her heels, preparing to run in last when it's time.

“Michelle,” Dana says over the noise of the Looking Glass, trying to draw her attention. But Michelle’s is fixed on her son’s back. “Ma’am,” she says with more urgency, grabbing Chel by the arm.

Michelle looks sharply at Dana, who redirects that piercing stare to a monitor. “The readings from the anomaly are—”

Jesus Christ,” Chel says, eyes growing wide. She turns to look back at Richard, then her attention bounces back to the monitor and Dana. “The Looking Glass is accelerating its growth, the inhibitors can’t—” She looks back to Richard, throat working up and down.

Gates, seeing the urgency in his chief scientists, begins marching across the Gantry to them. Meanwhile, down on the ground level, Mohinder and Kravid watch the Looking Glass from below. There is no sign of Robyn, Chess, or Castle after they passed through the aperture.

My God,” Mohinder says, taking off his glasses in disbelief. His eyes dip to the empty diving tank, then back up. Kravid is smug, proud. After all this time, she finally helped get the Looking Glass working.

“We need to get prepared to monitor their vitals through Ms. Tracy,” Mohinder says, putting a hand on Erica’s shoulder. But he sees something in Kravid’s eyes—she’s not looking at him, but past him. There’s confusion pinched in her brow, horror.

Mohinder follows Erica’s line of sight and sees one of the ground-level security officers slumped up against the wall. A dark stain drags down at his back. Blood. Mohinder sucks in a sharp breath, sliding his glasses back on as he frantically looks around, only spotting a blur as it rises up into the air like a phantom.

We have a security breach!” Mohinder screams, but his cries are drowned out from the upper gantry by the hum from the Looking Glass. He and Kravid break into a sprint, trying to cross over to the ground-floor comms.

But up on the gantry, as Elliot approaches the end of the diving platform, waved on by a Looking Glass technician, everything begins to fall apart.

Michelle,” Gates says as he approaches her, “what’s—” he looks to the side sharply, sensing an emotional spike a moment too late. A figure in black phases up through the floor of the catwalk like a leaf rising on strong winds. His gleaming knife finds Gates in the abdomen, then the neck. Gates slaps a hand to his throat, blood pulsing from between his fingers as his other hand fumbles for the railing.

Blood sprays across Michelle’s face. She and Dana scream at once in shock. Blue eyes with pupils of flickering orange like fire stare from beneath a shadowed hood. The intruder lunges at Michelle, knife finding its way between shoulder and chest, knocking her back into Dana who falls onto the console.

The attacker’s hood comes down in the lunge, and Michelle barks out a gasp of horror and confusion as she sees


A psychic shockwave erupts from Agent Gates, causing David Cardinal to lose his grip on his knife and explode into his phased form, clutching his head. Gates, teeth pink with blood, turns to the three remaining on the Gantry.

Facility security on the upper Gantry scramble into position, rifles raised, sweeping around trying to find the nearly invisible phaser.

Go!” Gates screams as he clutches the bleeding wound on the side of his neck. “GO!

Elliot, with his back to the crowd, experiences events through Wright’s perspective. He stops short of jumping, twisting back. Wright quickly triages the injuries of both Michelle Cardinal and Agent Gates. She scrabbles low to stay clear of the phasing intruder, grabbing for the dropped knife as she clears the distance to Gates.

Elliot grabs Richard’s shoulder to get his attention, shouting as he lets go of the knowledge Wright just used to make her assessment. “She’ll be fine!” He tries to assure the leader of the away team. “It’s not life-threatening. We have to go now!” He doesn’t try to force it, leaving Richard his agency. Without a chance to look at his partner for the last time in their lives, he lets go, pulls his visor down, and plummets into the sky as it all falls apart.

Richard's just about to step forward, his head lifting up to look at his mother for what might be the last time— just in time to see the events play out, even if he can't hear them over the overwhelming noise created by the Looking Glass. It's at just the right time to see the dark figure rising up from the floor, his eyes widening as he sees - a hand lifting, lips parting to call a warning, but too slow, too late, and they couldn't hear him anyway, likely. Gates' injuries are horrifying, but when the man turns on Michelle, his heart skips a beat.


He's jolted by the hand on his shoulder, head whipping to look to Elliot. He hears his words. There's no way of knowing if they're true, but he hears them, and he knows the other man's right. The world's more important than this, than his mother's injury, than any one person, and he should follow him through the Looking Glass before it becomes unstable.

But if there's one thing that's been proven time and time again — Richard, like his mother, like his adoptive father, care about family far more than they do the rest of the world. Dave appears to have missed the memo.

As Elliot plummets towards the churning waves below, Richard whirls about to race back along the gantry towards his mother, shouting through the helmet, "BANSHEES. IF YOU'VE GOT FUCKING BANSHEES USE THEM!"

All of the commotion over the already chaotic moment has Eve's crimson glowing eyes widening and looking around the large room. A man… Gates/, the Science Lady. //Hmm. As Richard begins to go back then Eve's skin begins to glow and shine and she quickly pats her chest. "Stay here Beanie Baby. Momma's gotta help a friend."

The suit collapses to the ground as Eve zips from out of it and trails into the air heading towards where the shenanigans are afoot. Particles of the crimson mist sprinkle down from the cloud that rages forward.

While her vision is low in this state, the bright lights of the Looking Glass make Eve "squint" as she follows the lights within the crew standing on the gantry. Feed. Hunger. Devour whole.

Richard’s voice is a muffled roar behind the thick glass of his helmet, though Michelle is close enough to hear. Gates, slouched against the railing, looks on with desperate horror as Eve’s suit collapses and Richard turns away from the Looking Glass.

No,” Gates rasps, blood pulsing from between his fingers. The shape of his mouth is the only way they can tell what he’s trying to say. Wright can hear him, but her mind is torn between here and—

Wright’s eyes roll back in her head and she collapses onto her side on the gantry.

“No! Go back! Go back!” Michelle shouts, throwing her arms out toward Richard and Eve, the shoulder of her lab coat blooming red. “You have to go back!” She can’t believe she’s shouting it. Can’t believe she’s urging her son to go.

But she’s learned one thing in her life: if someone pushes back, push harder.

David Cardinal manifests on the gantry within plain sight of Eve’s cloud form, throwing his arms out to the side. He smiles, and the security forces open fire. Automatic gunfire peppers the walls, bullets ricochet off of the concrete wall behind Dave, passing harmlessly through him. Dana ducks behind the console, covering her head with her hands.

Down below, Mohinder has reached the ground-floor comms and slaps a button that causes security klaxons to blare. Red lights flash above the exits, and he stares up at the shape of Eve Mas’ ephemeral form seething through the air in both disbelief and horror.

Kravid, however, sees something other than Eve. Something affixed to the underside of the gantry diving platform. A black, plastic-wrapped shape that—

Get down!” Kravid screams as she tackles Mohinder a split-second before an explosion detonates on the end of the dive platform. Kravid drags Mohinder behind cover as metal shrapnel flies in every direction. Huge pieces of the gantry rain down onto the Looking Glass frame, causing massive arcs of electricity to leap out and strike the water below. The metal that hits the edge of the Looking Glass is flung around the interior of the frame like a fork caught in a garbage disposal,knocking coolant pipes apart.

One of the high-tension cables holding the Looking Glass in place snaps and recoils to the wall, striking the concrete and leaving an S-shaped crack in the stone. Lights flicker overhead and the portal begins to destabilize, raining white-hot plasma down into the diving pool which boils on contact with the exotic matter. The superheating of the water causes the wall of the diving tank to crack.

Up on the gantry, Richard’s ears are ringing. He realizes he’s on his stomach when the shock from the blast wears off. Looking back to the diving platform, he watches pieces of Eve’s now shed suit falling into the aperture of the Looking Glass, caught in the whirlpool of plasma and gravity, spinning around with other fragments of the diving platform being reduced to white-hot molten steel.

The explosion has Eve's form wavering in the current and inside of her mind she shrieks and loses her equilibrium, everything is turned around. She stops short before orienting herself and spying the living among the wreckage on the gantry. Save. Save. Save him. Save her. Help Richard! Fly!! That is a mantra Eve continues to chant as she spreads her misty form as far out as she can even when there's pain. The blinding lights from the Looking Glass pierce through and she glitters even more.


Angling her mass towards David Cardinal and diving in as a crackling storm of chaotic energy.

It's only his mother waving him back, shouting at him to go, that makes Richard hesitate in his attempt to get to her—

And then half of the dive platform explodes, and for a split second he's back in Antarctica.

Cardinal can feel the ice quake under his feet. Everything begins breaking apart, and the drill site no longer can contain the pressure from everything crumbling around it; it's a miracle that it lasted this long. Cracks lance through the ice, the ground quakes, and a violent upheaval causes stress fractures to appear in the smooth-bored ice shaft that Francois is hanging in. The bomb rattles loudly, clanging against the ice wall, and Cardinal can see from his vantage point, the tunnel beginning to split around the sides.

50 Seconds Until Detonation

Then, everything just gives way. The ground breaks apart, ice collapsing down on top of ice, the tunnel shatters at the middle sending razor-shape pieces of ice collapsing down on Francois, a piece ripping through his back and then down the side of his face. The scaffolding supporting the bomb bends and flexes, groaning steel straining as everything tilts at a forty five degree angle and begins sliding down the ice slope.

40 Seconds Until Detonation

Cardinal is thrown from his feet, tumbling down the now slick and tilted ice surface until he collides with the metal support bars of the scaffold. His back strikes the metal, ribs snap, and he bounces, wrist caught in the cross-joices, and all of his weight goes flinging over the side, soon suspended by his forearm with a snap.

Then he's back in the here and now, his ears ringing and everything in the world seeming to move in slow motion as his brain catches up. "Failsafe," he mutters under his breath, fumbling for the rail and pulling himself up to his feet. His brain is telling him he needs to go down, even if the blurring of two times has him unsure for which reason, and he lets himself go on auto-pilot.

The weeks of practice are a blessing, as muscle memory remembers to pull his visor down just before he finishes a running leap towards the roiling portal and becomes just another piece of shrapnel hurtling towards the next world.

Eve’s seething mass collides with Dave and at first it feels like a bullfighter performing a practiced dodge of an enraged beast. David turns intangible and Eve’s cloud slides harmlessly through him. But like a bullfighter whose cape is caught on a bull’s horns, something inside Eve snags something inside Dave. There’s a tangle, a twist, a non-physical collision that cannot half the momentum of either body.

Agent Hall comes tumbling out of Eve’s cloud. A spark of light comes crackling out of Dave in the other direction. Hall lands on her knees, gasping for breath and twisting to look back at Dave, who solidifies just in time to grab at his head and stumble forward against the metal handrail. Hall sees the soldiers training their sights on him and rises to her feet, arms waving in the air. “Stop, stop!

Nearby, Dana scrambles over to Wright and Gates, removing her jacket as she does to press it against Gates’ neck wound. “Hold on, hold on!” She gasps, turning to watch Michelle stare in vacant horror in the direction her son disappeared to. Hall’s presence confuses her, but only for a moment.

Mas!” Chel shouts as lightning erupts to the ceiling. She storms across the gantry to where the supply crates are, winding up and kicking one with all her force. The crate skids down the now angled diving ramp, spins in a slow circle before tumbling over the edge and falling through the sputtering aperture of the Looking Glass.

Chel pops the locks on the other crate, tipping it onto its side to spill provisions out onto the ground, scooping packages of rations, bottles of water, and medical supplies out by the handful.

By Dave, Agent Hall blinks over to his side and drags him to the ground, pressing her knee to the back of his neck while twisting his arms behind his back. He doesn’t phase through her, doesn’t fight. Hall’s eyes lift up to the soldiers, then around to Eve’s ephemeral form.

The Looking Glass howls, pieces of the frame fly off, flung by a spiraling gravity into the chamber walls. Bolts of electricity snap up and down in equal measure. Down on the ground level, Kravid hauls Mohinder toward the gantry stairs, taking two steps at a time to get away from the floor as the diving tank wall continues to fracture.

Up near the broken diving platform, Chel looks over at Eve. “Get in the fucking box!” she screams, flipping the now empty crate back right side-up.


She didn't but Eve thinks this as Hall comes tumbling out of her. Feeling that strange connection between the trio briefly electrifies her senses causing a surge of adrenaline. The wild woman's gaze shifts to the heavily bleeding Gates and before she can even put two and two totally together there is Michelle kicking open a box and gesturing to it.

The red mist surges and quacks as she compresses into the size of a bowling ball. Buzzing in the air and darting to the left and right. Zooming in close to Michelle's face she lingers for a moment. Your brain pain is mondo scary… but we trusts it. But her friend, Eve sinks into the box as she eyes Hall and pushes herself to materialize her face in the cloud, "HEY! I'm a genie in a bottle…" She sings before that wild grin vanishes again into the crackling mass.

Michelle slams the lid of the box shut, slaps the locks down, and turns toward the crumbling edge of the gantry.

“Doctor Cardinal!” Dana screams, her hands covered in blood. Gates is slumped against the railing unresponsive. No one is monitoring the Looking Glass from the gantry level.

Down below, Mohinder and Kravid are scrambling up the stairs as the walls of the diving tank blow out, sending glass and boiling hot water cascading across the floor of the chamber. The waves surge around the base of the stairs, then crash against—

—a dome of green light.

Mohinder turns toward the glow, seeing a perfect sphere of soft green light encasing the figure of Marcus Raith in the doorway to the chamber. He turns his monocular stare up to the gantry, tracks the movements of the soldiers, and then raises one hand and opens his fingers and then closes them in a fist.

Up on the gantry, arcs of green lighting begin to dance around Agent Hall. Recognizing what this static electricity is, she leaps off of David, who rises to his knees, gasping for breath. He turns to face Hall, only to be encapsulated in a sphere of green force. Dave’s hands slam against the surface, reverberating like dense plastic. He turns incorporeal and tries to push through in a panic to no effect.

Michelle, heedless of Marcus’ arrival. Pushes the large crate containing Eve along the gantry to the edge. Looking over, she can see the Looking Glass coming apart at the seams. Coolant sprays in every direction creating a cascade of cold fog and lighting down to the floor. Wind blows up and out through the doorway, a cold sea breeze that brings back nightmares and memories,

Her pupils dilate, her heart skips a beat. With a retch, she kicks Eve’s case over the edge of the railing. As the box tumbles toward the swirling, plasmic abyss, Wright jolts upright with her eyes wide, sucking in a reflexive breath.

The box passes through the threshold of the Looking Glass aperture and

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