bf_kara_icon.gif nicole3_icon.gif

Scene Title TD-037-H
Synopsis antipathy (n.)—a deep-seated feeling of dislike; aversion.
Date January 17, 2021

Yi-Min told her to go home, to get some rest.

She only did one of those things.

Kara's never been a homemaker, precisely, but she's very good at cleaning. When in doubt, when in angst, she cleans and reorganizes. She takes the time to sort things and make them orderly, to help her make sense of something when she has control over nothing else.

Every surface of the apartment has been dusted, wiped down. Laundry has been cycled. The kitchen bleached, floors and counters. She has neither run out of energy or drive, but needing a break from chemicals before diving into the bathroom, she tackles the closet next.

Yi-Min can be mad at her later if things were in a different order than anticipated. And still, who knew when she'd even be able to come home.

There's a cardboard box on the floor of the closet, within plain sight but overlooked owing to months of other more pressing details. It's filled with some papers, photographs, and a stack of four VHS tapes. She picks it up without thought, bringing it out to the bed to begin sorting through.

The pictures are the first thing to jog her memory— taken from a storage unit in Manhattan. It brings Kara to pause and look back at the box's contents again. She lifts up the tapes' outward-facing labels, handwritten.

Everything Ends

The topmost tape she lifts up, eyes and soul heavy. They'd never gotten around to digging into these, if they were anything. She sighs, sinking back against the side of the bed, shoulders sagging. Kara turns the tape at an angle, sees that the Antipathy label on hand is… not the top-most label.

She blinks at that detail, brow furrowing as she curves her thumbnail under the old sticker, very gently pulling at it to peel it off. It sticks in some places, but is encouraged free to reveal the title beneath with only minimal tearing.


Kara looks at that for a long moment, then lowers it out of view. She looks out the window, the skies darkened since she started cleaning several hours ago, and wonders. A moment passes before she picks up all the other videos one by one to inspect the labels as well, but none of the others are double-layered. Comparing them side by side, even the tape's style appears to be different, in a different type of sleeve entirely.

She scratches at the side of her head.

Kara doesn't remember pulling out the phone, or going into the living room, but the sound of someone picking up brings her back to the moment. "Hey— yeah, no, I'm fine. I— yes, I left the hospital and ate. No, I need a favor."

"Do you have a VCR at your place?"

Miller Residence

Bay Ridge

"I need to know," Kara repeats herself for the fourth or fifth time, terse and tense in her manic insistence. "I need to know if anything on that tape has— anything to do with what happened to you and to her. If this has been sitting right in front of our faces and we've— if we didn't…"

Blinking hard, Kara sets the open box down on the couch in Nicole's living room, relinquishing hold of it. She snatches up the appropriate tape from it and holds it out in a jerk of a motion. "Just—" Her eyes are gleaming, but no tears fall. She stubbornly holds them in. "Please."

Let her know if she needs to kick her own ass harder over what happened to Yi-Min.

“I know,” Nicole replies gently, but with an undercurrent of anxiety. This is an avenue of investigation she allowed to fall off her radar. Something that was sitting right under her nose that she could have reviewed by now. Maybe done something with. Maybe whatever’s on this tape could have prevented what happened to Yi-Min.

There’s precisely zero thought given to herself in this case.

“Sit down and eat your fried fucking rice, okay?” Nicole jerks her head toward the coffee table and the boxes of take-out as she takes the offered tape in hand. She knows Kara’s a damn liar when she says she’s eaten. The first thing Nicole does when she gets in a mood like Kara’s in is decides not to eat. Of course, she used to be able to pull that off without loss of energy. Now… Not so much.

“You’re lucky,” Nicole muses sardonically as she sets her television set to the correct input, “I finally got up the nerve to go buy one of these from my ex’s shop.” Honestly, it was less weird than she was anticipating, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t weird at all. Once she’s sure everything’s set, she slides in the cassette and listens to the VCR whir quietly as it begins play automatically.

Climbing to her feet, Nicole meanders back to the couch while soft static emits from the surround sound speakers. At first, it’s just erratic lines of static over a black screen. Nicole glances over at Kara, silently worried this is going to be a bust. But there was a timestamp in the beginning, so maybe…

At the thirty second mark, the black static-riddled screen abruptly disappears to be replaced by what must be observational security footage of a hallway. A small knot of two men and a woman appear to be speaking in front of a doorway. The timestamp reads 9/17/76, and the glass brick walls and manner of dress add credibility. Both men have dark hair and are clothed in business attire. One of the men, with sideburns, appears to have shed his jacket. The other man has longer hair that was fashionable for the time and wears a sport coat.


“They look tense,” Nicole remarks without any real affectation behind it.

Further down the hallway stands another feminine form, dressed in a blouse and a long skirt under a coat, or maybe a long sweater? The style also seems to be indicative of the time. She has short, dark hair, and carries a suitcase. From the way she slowly surveys her surroundings, this place is unfamiliar to her.

The three in the door stop talking and turn to the apparent interloper. The woman in the trio, similarly dressed in outerwear and carrying a purse, tips her head toward the other end of the hall, her shoulder-length hair tossed gently by the motion, as if to usher the other woman on.

Kara doesn't touch her rice.

She sits, at least, on the couch in front of the coffee table like she might, but she doesn't. She even nudges the box she's brought with her further down the cushions to create the elbow room for it. But it might as well be all for show with how she can't take her eyes off the screen. She feels impatience climb in her when the tape statics again abruptly, for almost another ten seconds before picking up in view just after where it left off, in a slow motion view of the four leaving the end of the hall and passing into a more darkly-lit area. The jacketed man guides the woman with the suitcase, one hand open at her back, again to usher her forward.

The view abruptly shifts, and from it, the text next to the timestamp on the recording shifts from Cam 2 to Cam 1.

The date flips from 9/17 to 9/22.

Three people sit around a square folding table. Against the back wall adjacent to a set of double doors is a standing chalkboard, beside it a longer wooden table than the one near the center of the room. On the other side of the door, some kind of equipment, maybe a monitoring machine, is barely in frame. A bulky camcorder on a stand sits between the woman from the hall and the man with sideburns, while the table's third—an unfamiliar man in a sweater— sits with his back to the camera stationed in the upper corner of the room, a second larger video camera on a tripod off to his right while he himself sits across from the woman. She wears the same clothes as before, her head slouched to the side. On the table rest a clear plastic box with something in it, and she pays attention neither to it, nor apparently to the man in the sideburns as he speaks to her.

"What's— wrong with her," Kara wonders quietly. She didn't look like this in the initial shots. She'd seemed more present of mind.

“I have no idea,” Nicole responds with a small shake of her head. It is a strange shift.

The camera doesn't pick up the conversation, but the body language of the speaking man indicates some kind of explanation is being given. In the middle of it, something abruptly startles the man in the sweater, leading him to come abruptly to his feet. Only then does the woman lift her head slightly, she doesn't center it back toward the table. The man who came to his feet looks clearly at his chair rather than anything that happened in the conversation.

His head swivels slowly to the woman, then to the man still seated, who also looks alarmed, grabbing the side of his own chair.

"Wait, did it just…?"

The man in the sweater begins to say something once again unseen to the camera, and the man seated shifts uncomfortably. The woman begins to cringe her head in the other direction across her body, and with no one touching it, the chair scoots on its own several feet further away from the table.

Nicole gasps quietly. “Holy—”

And the screen cuts back to static.

"The 70's— they weren't a great time for Expressives here either, right? The Company was still in full swing, right?" Kara asks in the lapse, glancing momentarily to Nicole before looking back at the screen. She's… less certain seeing the date that this has anything to do with what happened to the Sundered, which is its own comfort and its own frustration. "That room, though— it looked almost like a classroom. Like a science room? But not a…"

Not a laboratory, she'd say, but the recording's back on. The date has switched to 10/02/76.

The camera cycles between several views, void of persons, before coming back to Cam 1. There's been a rearrangement of furniture in the room now. The chalkboard is moved, several boxes behind it. Where the card table was before rests a medical bed with a screen surrounding the top end of it, the woman from before sleeping in it. A cabinet table with a rectangular machine straddles the space between the bed, and a desk positioned just under the camera. A lamp on the desk illuminates a book being read by a woman with her hand curled around a cup of still-steaming coffee.

"Well, scratch that," Kara mutters. It looked like a lab now, if not a well-equipped one, given its single machine that didn't look to be medical, or connected by any wires to the woman in the bed.

“A repurposed building, maybe?” Nicole posits without any expectation of response.

The cameras cycle. Cam 1 for the lab. Cam 4 for a break room, lights off obscuring most of its details. Cam 2 for the front hall. Cam 3 for a carpeted room with 2 snub-nosed study desks with a divider between them against one wall, and a rectangular study table along the left side of the room. Various papers are pinned to the walls and on the desks, but none of them can be read in the unlit space, with this quality of recording.

Back to Cam 1, and the woman slowly sits upright in the bed. The lack of an adjoined microphone on the recording camera makes it hard to tell if any noise was made, since none can be heard to the viewers save for white noise of the playback. Either way, the researcher at her desk doesn't look up.

The cameras flick on again through their rotation. Kara raises her brows and Nicole shifts in her seat with agitation, waiting for the seconds to pass for the cycle to go back.

When Cam 1 returns to view, the woman from the bed has come to her feet. The hospital gown she wears is almost oversized for her, something pinching the collar of it down on her right side. At this distance, in this lighting, it's hard to tell if perhaps she has some kind of monitoring device strapped to her after all. When she takes a wavering step away from the bed, her posture erect, the rest of her gown slides down to her ankles, and finally the woman at the desk looks up.


And the camera begins its cycle again, prompting a growl of, “Oh, fuck’s sake,” from Nicole. “Damn these old systems. Can’t just splice together the relevant parts.”

The hallway.

The study room.

The kitchen.

Holy shit!” Nicole leans back from the television when the picture comes back around to that makeshift laboratory.

The entire room is in disarray. Papers are strewn everywhere. The screen behind the bed is apparently lifting off the ground, tipped askew before finally toppling over. The monitoring equipment has been pushed closer to the wall. The woman in the hospital gown is shuffling — shambling like something from Night of the Living Dead, and the person who was observing her is running from the room. Frightened. Probably seeking backup.


The lights and the integrity of the picture are flickering. Not just in that room, but as the camera resumes its rotation, it’s happening in the kitchen as well. The lights seem to get brighter with each successive strobe, the image seems to distort.

Then black and static.

After about seven seconds, the lab comes back into view. The gowned woman climbs up onto the bed from the end of it, rather than sitting on either side like one might expect. She crawls her way up toward the head, where she simply rolls over onto her side, head on the pillow, knees tucked slightly toward her chest, sheets and blankets forgotten.

For Nicole, it’s reminiscent of the ways Pippa would get back into her bed after a trip to the bathroom when she was very tired and not quite aware enough to think about anything other than getting back to sleep.

Then again, Pippa has fitful sleep, too. God help them if it ever looks like that.


After five more seconds of scanlines, a new scene displays. This one is without a timestamp. In the foreground is a candelabrum with a pale tapered wax candle burning in each of the four arms and a fifth in the center. The dark-haired woman is sitting a few feet away in front of it, dressed in her sweater, modest skirt and blouse again.

A man passes between her and the candles on his way to join the two other men standing not far to her left, on the right side of the screen. Sideburns, the latecomer, has on a sweater vest today. Next to him is the man with the longer hair. Brylcreem appears to have traded his sport coat for a nicer suit jacket. Maybe it has something to do with the third man. He’s a bit more clean-cut by Nicole’s standards. Hair cropped shorter, but not too short. There’s an air to him that perhaps he’s someone who needs convincincing.

But while the postures of Brylcreem and Sideburns are cross-armed and speak to some level of agitation, the newcomer’s stance is different. He has one arm horizontal across his ribs with his opposite elbow settled against the backside of his loosely held fist. His other hand is similarly curled, but the thumb has been left out, providing a convenient perch for the man’s chin, mouth pressed against the side of his first knuckles.


Nicole points to the screen, wagging her finger. “He’s skeptical, but he’s waiting for something.” And now she is too. For roughly ten seconds, all anyone in the past and present does is wait. The woman in the chair fidgets, then stills. When it happens, Nicole at first doesn’t realize what she’s seeing. Or, rather, doesn’t realize she’s seeing anything at all. The flames all seem to jump a little higher, burn a little brighter.

She doesn’t dare turn to Kara when she finally catches on. The flames aren’t dancing in the air anymore, but have begun pointing in different directions. A shift in air current can’t account for that. “Are you seeing that?” Nicole asks. It’s a stupid question she feels like, after the fact, but she shakes it off quickly. “Is she doing that with… telekinesis?” It’d be one of the odder applications of that particular ability that she’s ever come across, to be sure.

"I don't know if it's energy manipulation or what. Kinetic, or… whatever it'd be called. To not just mess with the physical position of things, but things like the electricity. The power. Flame." Kara at this point somehow seems to have relaxed, letting out a slow sigh. Whatever this is, whatever it is, it would be a stretch to try and connect it to what's going in with Nicole and Yi-Min. So she finally begins to kip into the takeout, still watching out of the corner of her eyes.

"She seems like she's getting worse," she notes quietly, a sympathetic frown on her face. "Is… she drugged? Or is she just getting worse?"

"Maybe," Nicole huffs in response, however vague and noncommittal it is in regards to which part of that theory she's agreeing to. Probably all of it.

Given the people involved, it's hard to say.

The people on the screen seem to think they've seen all they need to, a little unnerved. The man in the vest casts a glance down at the woman seated before he edges around her and forward. She lifts her head in his direction briefly, shoulders still slouched, one hand laying over the opposite forearm. The man ignores her in favor of blowing out all the candles one by one before heading back to the cluster of conversation between the man in the suit and the one in his sweater.

The woman seated rolls her head to one side, shoulders twinging, and two of the flames flicker back to life. She lifts her head to look to the men, who take note and break off their serious discussion to one by one look her way.

She can't seem to keep her head up, though, and looks away.

Kara sighs hard when the screen statics again, looking down and away from it finally.

The static doesn’t last very long this time. For her part, Nicole is transfixed. She hasn’t even entertained the notion of her food. She barely blinks, except when something on the screen shocks her enough.

Like when the black screen suddenly shows it isn’t a black screen at all, but a darkened room. It’s like a spotlight pointing at the wall, flashing on and shutting off again before that light can even reach full power. The first time, Nicole isn’t sure what she sees. By the second flash, she recognizes it’s the woman seated in a chair. This time, she isn’t in her own clothes. She’s dressed more like an inmate in a prison. Or maybe, more accurately, a patient in a psychiatric ward.

And this time, there’s sound. Nothing distinguishable, unfortunately. To Nicole, it sounds like when she used to lay on the floor of her bedroom with her portable Holly Hobbie record player and spin the vinyl back and forth with the tip of her finger pressed to the label in the center.


Her head is lowered for the first two strobes, Nicole is sure. By the third, it’s starting to lift. Nicole grows uneasy. There’s no strength in that movement. It’s not leisurely or languid, but like her head is too heavy and she can’t maintain her posture. And Nicole isn’t so sure the woman isn’t bound to that chair.

Well, she supposes, that was probably inevitable. If the date is to be believed, and she has very little reason to doubt it at this point, then whatever outfit this is… Well, it’s not like they were going to be very kind to someone SLC-Expressive once they really confirmed what they were seeing. And given the woman’s odd state— Nicole just sighs, upset for the whole situation.

But her head doesn’t just come up, the woman has started to writhe. It’s unnatural. “You ever watch one of those old horror films where someone’s possessed?” Nicole asks Kara, more or less rhetorically.

The writhing continues. It looks less like she’s trying to escape and more like she’s maybe having some kind of fit. A seizure maybe? It’s hard to tell when the light doesn’t stay steady and she can’t get a clear idea of what’s actually happening.

Nothing good, given the sudden indistinct voices, raised in unmistakable concern, men’s backs obscuring the view of the camera. “Wait.” Nicole picks up the remote and rewinds the tape. Only then does Kara look up from her food, less entranced with the sad thing playing out on the screen than Nicole has been. She pauses with her fork halfway dug in the rice while the other woman sleuths. “What are they saying?” The volume on the speakers is cranked up before she resumes the playback. She leans forward, one hand over her mouth.

Nicole’s brows furrow, horror slowly showing in her expression. “Did he just say she’s having a— a seizure?” That’s not encouraging, is it?

Kara hears it better this second time, thinks she hears that key word of seizure, and instantly her attention is back on the video again.

The lights continue to flash. Nicole can’t make out what else is being said — she suspects it’s something about ensuring the woman’s safety as best they can. The coats are out of the way now, two men are crouched on the ground and she seems to be with them.

«“Turn the lights on!”»

No. It’s not her on the floor. Nicole sits up slowly, eyes wide and the breath leaves her in a single sharp exhale. The woman in the chair is… causing it? Oh. Nicole let her brain fill in what she expected to hear. They said he’s having a seizure. “Jesus. She has multiple abilities,” Nicole posits with more conviction than she felt earlier, once she remembers how to breathe. There’s few explanations for what they’re seeing otherwise.

«“Turn the lights on!”»

The reason for this more emphatic repetition becomes apparent when the next time the spot illuminates, the woman in the chair is gone. “What the fuck?


The chaos ensues on the floor. Shouting. Struggling. Light on an empty space where a woman in a chair should be. And then the scene cuts back to static once more.


Kara blinks hard then, her gaze dithering here and there. The static feels like permission to reflect. "Multiple?" she murmurs to herself, rubbing one hand over her eyes. They're tired. She's tired. It's been a long day, just like the last two. "Like…?"

She doesn't say the word Gemini, afraid to give it credence here without anything else to point that direction. So her eyes go back up even as Nicole’s eyes finally leave the screen to flicker to her, holding a grim moment before going back again, and they wait.

When the camera resumes with an image, it's once again in that same room as before, though it almost doesn't look like it. The lights are off, all except a standing lamp positioned over one of the rectangular tables. In the center of the table is a glass box with what appears to be a frog pinned on its back, four legs spread like it's prepared for dissection. A camcorder is sat on a small tripod on the table above it, peering down at it.

Surrounding the table are so many men they can't be counted well in the first watch. Kara's eyes focus in on the one in the vest and tie, holding and preparing a syringe. Her eyes catch next the woman, twitching and practically writhing in her seat. She looks as though her arms are strapped to whatever chair she sits in. To her left looks to be some sort of monitoring machine with paper running from the top of it to spit out whatever results it finds.

When the man with the syringe bends to inject its contents into the woman's arms, Kara notes the dog— a German Shepherd?— standing next to a man in a jumpsuit. Her brow furrows at that detail, and she wonders at the dog rather than at the woman who jerks and seemingly fights against the injection that's completed anyway.

The screen goes to static again within a second and a half of the injection being completed. The pattern of it this time is — different. Strange. "Did she disrupt the recording?" Kara wonders aimlessly. As the seconds tick by, she can't help but note how the strips of white on the top and bottom of the screen narrow, somehow looking like bullets in their shape.

Nicole’s head tilts and her eyes squint shut tightly for a moment, a quiet groan for the exacerbation of her constant migraine, brought on by the sudden brightness of the two white strips. Halogen overhead lights, maybe?


When the frame resumes, the transition from woman on the street to prisoner could not be more clear for whoever the poor woman is. She sits in a chair, arms and legs bound to it in thick leather cuffs, dressed in shirts and pants that remind her of inmates' scrubs. A glass box with metal supports frame her on all sides. Outside the box sits a man perplexingly enough wearing what look to be noise-cancelling headphones and bulbs of goggles meant to black out the world around him. He sits at a student's desk, both hands flat on its top. A standing microphone rests between both of his hands.

He sits perfectly. The woman writhes slowly in her seat.


After a burst of more typical static, the frame returns to the previous crowded lab as before for all of four seconds, not much happening. One man on the left who appears to be holding the larger video camera on his shoulder adjusts it. The one who gave the injection shifts away from the woman seated, picking something up.

When the static fades this time, it returns to the woman seated in the glass box. All of the lights have gone out around her save for one directly above, capturing her as she shifts back and forth, discomforted but with seemingly more purpose to the movements than that. When the image cuts out and back in, her head lolls forward like one might do when they're resisting something— pain, nausea. Something else.

“I wonder…” Nicole murmurs absently. “Do you think they were testing to see if she could affect the frog in the box first, then built one for her when she couldn’t?”

The image flickers away and when it returns, two men move across the screen. One is the man in the vest, setting some kind of machine on a thin stand down in front of the woman on the side of her. She continues to bounce around in her seat like a ragdoll engaged in a round of bumper cars, her head sagged lower than before. Something can be seen on the side of her forehead—

And then it cuts away to the man in the vest, sleeves rolled up, tie still worn. He stands beside a printout of some kind, one that looks at first like a map for the gridding on it, but Kara decides after a moment it can't be. Her head tilts as she studies it— looking to the left margin where a circular spot might well be an emblem for something— a government agency? "Who…?" she wonders fruitlessly, eyes narrowing.

“Take your pick from the alphabet soup.” Somewhere along the way in this little haunted VHS dinner party of theirs, Nicole has become distinctly upset that she gave up smoking. “FBI maybe?”

The man begins explaining the image, the words not heard by the camera. When he gestures to it, pointing in several spots in particular, Kara wonders if it's not a map after all. Just not of terrain. Is it the woman's brain? Her blood? After another cut of static, the man reappears and the camera view— likely the shoulder-mounted one for how it swivels— turns to the right, briefly catching sight of several other men who had been present, including one in what's clearly a labcoat. It ends its focus on a man in a suit with both hands flat on the table he stands before, a microphone resting on top of a piece of equipment and pointed directly at him.

“Looks like our skeptic.” Despite the brightness of the picture having dimmed, Nicole can’t help but feel as though her head is pounding more, and that it’ll be worse before they’re done.

He nods to whatever the researcher by the image is saying, asking a question. Despite the clear presence of the microphone, whatever he says isn't on this recording, either. After he says something, the cameraman steps a little more forward, like to emphasise the importance of this man, or whatever he's saying.


"The lighting's so bad I don't think I could lipread this if I tried," Kara notes with a tinge of regret. Nicole shakes her head in agreement. Not a chance. When the image is spliced away again to several more seconds of static, the scene reopens again focused on the woman still sitting, writhing in the chair while the man in the vest and the man in the labcoat walk left off screen. After they're gone, she looks up for just a moment, and it's easier to see this time the wiring attached to her temples, electrodes which must be attached on both sides.

After the next period of static, the view returns to the shoulder-mounted camera, and the room looks a little less dark than the previous shot implied. It turns out the man strangely sitting at the small table beside the glass box is still sitting there after all— it becomes clearer he's not wearing goggles at all but instead what appears to be white half-orbs taped over his eyeballs in a cross pattern over each. He focuses on the man and the still-cringing woman before panning to the men observing— researchers, businessmen, whoever the hell they are, ending with his focus on the man who seems to be calling the shots.

He speaks again at length, but the movements of his mouth are barely caught visible before the tape splices into static for a few more seconds.

And this time, when the frame resumes on the woman in the box and the strange blind deafmute beside her— she's still. Her right arm is twisted palm-up, fingers splayed out with her pinky extended farthest, and her left is in shadow. She's leaning forward in an uncomfortable position, but after someone walks past the camera view, she begins to smile. Toothless, wide, jaw dropped in a silent portrayal of what provides itself to be laughter. She doubles over in her laughter and her splayed fingers roll in a wave toward her palm.

She catches sight of them, focuses her eyes on their movements for just a moment, then leans back to one side and tilts her head back to let out another silently-recorded howl of laughter. Kara's expression pains, sensing something horribly wrong about all of this. But before she can form a question, the smooth movements of the woman— the slow rolls— end in a jerk where she pulls her arms against the restraints and cackles again anew.

This time when the static rolls, Kara sets her fork down in her food, appetite gone and unlikely to return. She has no words for this.

“Is that going to happen to me?” Nicole asks in a tremor, unaware she’s even spoken at all.

"I'm not convinced this is related to what happened to you two at all," Kara replies tersely. She glances at Nicole for only a moment, but it has weight. "For better or worse, I don't think so."

She’s startled when Kara responds, but her motor reactions seem to be on a delay. Maybe every part of her is just too stunned for quick thinking right now. Nicole turns to look at Kara with almost juddery movements, like she’s made of tin and she could use a little oil for her rusted joints. “Oh, Kara. I haven’t—”

The static cuts out abruptly and Nicole’s attention is instantly drawn back to the screen. For all that she’s been afraid of what she’s seen, she can’t look away. Now there’s a man in his white dress shirt beneath the vest of his three piece suit, the jacket discarded somewhere, standing in front of what appears to be the box the woman and the… researcher? were being kept in. He’s wearing a gas mask, which obscures his face and the lines of his haircut. With so many dark haired men in the space, she isn’t sure which one it might be, except Not Brylcreem.


He pulls open the door quickly, and once he’s stepped inside, it’s shut behind him by one of the others just as quickly. “What have they done?” Nicole wonders aloud. The muted reflections of the other men watch on through the clear barrier. They seem tense. That seems fitting — so is she. Her own reflection in the television shows her worrying at the nail of her thumb with her teeth.

After a moment of viewing, it becomes apparent that there’s something moving in the space. Not someone, or anything apparently supernatural, but something as mundane as… “Smoke? Jesus Christ.” For a moment, Nicole feels like her heart has stopped. “Did they—” Her mind jumps to conclusions. Commonplace atrocities thirty and forty years before this video was taken. Her hand falls to her lap, then slowly stretches out to the space between herself and her friend, looking for Kara and hoping to be found halfway.

The camera changes angles, focused now on the chamber the woman was held in, rather than the anterior one with the monitor. The smoke is so thick that nothing inside can be seen. When the man in the vest and the gas mask starts to cross that threshold, it’s as though he disappears into a dense fog.

The static makes its return.

When the camera comes back on, the miasma has dissipated enough to view the woman inside, still held fast to her chair, but doubled over herself. Her head rests on her knee. The IV drip has been knocked over, propped up only by the wall of her glass cage. A man with a stethoscope presses the silver disc of the instrument to her back, shifting positions after a time, apparently searching for signs of life.

The static’s next visit is short-lived and soon they’re back to where they were before. For a moment, Nicole holds a vain hope. The woman’s head isn’t resting against her own knee. However, it quickly becomes apparent that this is merely by virtue of the fact that her chin is held in the hand of the man examining her.

There’s a sense of defeat in Nicole. She swallows uneasily and tears roll down her face. It’s one thing to read about the awful things that were done… “We should have learned from this,” she says firmly. “The things we saw while we were evacuating Cambridge in 2011…”

Her brow creases and she sits forward slightly, riding out another spike of pain.

The man on the television places something over the woman’s eyes. Gauze? It doesn’t matter. There’s no one in that woman’s shell to object to whatever it is. Another moment of static, another moment of placement. That dark head is lowered with care.

No, not care.


Even now, all those men still appear frightened of her.

Kara draws in a breath to sigh hard at the inhumanity of what was done to the woman when the next burst of static passes, but there's not even enough time to exhale when the view comes back. In an entirely different room, better lit, no glass box, a figure very similar to the woman sits slumped over. They're in a jumpsuit, strapped to their chair much the same the woman was, lying just as still as she is.

"Is that— is that her again?" she wonders to herself out loud. "Wait— no. The hair."

Indeed, the crop of hair on this person's head is a much shorter thing. He looks to be male. Two men in outfitted in dress-shirts and ties behind him grow more alarmed, one picking up a walkie talkie. The other comes to the man's side, hands on the side of the chair as he begins to crouch down.


The view flips to the inside of the gassed box again after a period of static, in which those examining the woman slowly come to their feet again, seemingly giving up on signs of life from her. When it swaps back to the view of the man strapped to a chair in the study room, the suited man who had been showing him concern before is crouching down on one knee. He adjusts the the seat of his sleeve over his watch before reaching to begin unfastening one of the cuffs, ignoring the visible protests of a man offscreen, who places a hand against his shoulder to deter him from what he's doing before static consumes the image again.

When the view of the glass box splices back in, the camera is outside the box at a different angle, the inside of it abandoned to the woman lying slouched in the same position she was before. Either behind the box or in the reflection of it, a man is visible with his arms folded, continuing to watch the box. The view splits to the tripodded camera pointed at the box's insides, catching a closer view of the woman inside. The position she's slouched in off the side and front of the chair is painful, unnatural— only the weight of the chair she's cuffed to keeps her from falling forward out of it entirely. The curve of her elbow and shapes of her forearms are exposed, sharp and thin. Emaciated.

"There's not been dates for awhile," Kara notes tersely, uncomfortable herself. "How long did they have her? How long before this happened?"

“I have no idea,” Nicole responds, grateful for the question to draw her mind somewhere else, even if that hadn’t been Kara’s intent. Even if she’s just as unsettled by not knowing just how long all of this carried on for.

For too long a time, the camera watches the dead, unmoving body of the woman before finally dissolving again into static. This time, the static lasts all too long. Enough that Kara rocks to her feet, standing with the aim to physically stop the tape. She outstretches her hand for the VCR. "All right, that's—"

But it's not over yet.

Suddenly there's a new image, one of the woman sitting upright, hale. She takes in a breath that shifts her shoulders, like she's steeling herself for everything to come. A date appears in the bottom right corner again— time rewound once more to 9/17/76 at 3:41 PM.

The breath leaves Nicole in a heavy exhale, a single word. “No.”

The sound is so distant, words impossible to decipher. Like listening to a whisper from a shell. But this time, there's a transcription on the bottom of the screen that accompanies the conversation. This time, the video is close enough that Kara gets a proper look, finally, at the woman who's been featured in these steadily-more-horrifying vignettes from the past.

«INTERVIEWER: Could you tell me your name?»

Kara's brow twitches. The woman looks… familiar?

Her dark hair is trimmed short in what her parents would have labeled a boy-cut in an attempt to deter Kara from similar hairstyles when she was younger. But even with a different hairstyle, the imperiously high arch of the woman's left eyebrow, the look she gives the person off-camera— it's not as severe as could be expected— but it itches at something in the edges of her understanding. Kara blinks and begins to tilt her head, studying the woman in her plain light-colored blouse a bit more intensely.

Now each exhale is audible, given a voice by disbelief and a razor’s edge of panic. Nicole’s brows come together, her lips parted. The look is something of a marriage between disgust and horrified awe.

The woman looks down for a moment, like she's considering her choice very carefully. She starts speaking before she even lifts her head, her chin lifting a little higher as she finishes delivering her response, looking once more at the interviewer. For a second, there's a flicker of her usual demeanor, before it fades to something quieter.


«SUBJECT: Erica Kravid.»

Kara's hand drops to her side, eyes widening. "No."

«INTERVIEWER: When were you born?»

Erica's head dips slightly with her response, matter of fact, demure:

«SUBJECT: February 18, 1970.»

"No," Kara protests, but it's not to the impossibility of the date, per se— that this woman sitting there who should be six appears to be in her late forties. It's to the static in her head, the things that do and don't line up about this woman's appearance. "No no no."

«INTERVIEWER: How are you here?»

«SUBJECT: I don't know.»

«INTERVIEWER: Do you have any children?»

Erica doesn't answer at first. She begins to shake her head, looks down and starts to shake it again, arm fidgeting beneath the table. Finally, she admits with a slight cant to her head,


«INTERVIEWER: Are you here with her?»

Erica looks off, away from the interviewer at something distant, well-beyond the room. The cant of her head turns into a full tilt of interest, eyes fixed on that single point.


She turns her head slightly back toward the interviewer, though her eyes never leave that point. She takes in another breath that shifts all of her slight frame.


Only then does she look back, the rest of her breath exhaled away and settling her shoulders. Something in her demeanor is changing. She begins to look… nervous.

«INTERVIEWER: Do you know what year it is?»

When the screen erupts into static once more, Kara's lapse into silence ends. "It doesn't work like that, it—" Frustration that's not even hers to own bubbles to the surface, her very fragile understanding of what happened to her and the incongruous appearance of Erica Kravid in the seventies threatening to break her in a way Yi-Min's suffering already nearly has. "The Looking Glass doesn't work like that, it goes side-to-side, not back, it—"

"It doesn't make sense," Kara insists, louder than she should. Her feet carry her forward and back in a nervous pace. The pitch of her voice shifts higher in her frustration. "She looks— older— She…"

I know!” Nicole cuts in, the volume of her voice carrying enough power that she hopes to jar Kara out of this rut she’s threatening to dig for herself. The other woman’s agitation makes a convenient focal point for Nicole to keep her own shit together. It keeps her from spiraling into a physical manifestation of her own mental repetition of that doesn’t make sense, that doesn’t make sense, that doesn’t make sense.

“I— I think it’s—” The hesitation doesn’t come from lacking an explanation, only from the moment Nicole takes to decide how much she should say to her friend. But if anyone has a chance of understanding and keeping it to herself, it’s Kara Prince. “The Looking Glass isn’t the only way through time, right?” Her tone is gentler now. “People have gone forward, they’ve gone back… It doesn’t always have to be sideways. Time is more like a jumbled ball of string that the cat fucked up than it is a line.”

Nicole lifts her head back to the television suddenly, watching the static stretch on noisily. “Wait.” Lifting the remote, she rewinds the tape.

«INTERVIEWER: Do you have any children?»

“Watch her,” Nicole says, pointing a finger at Erica’s image and wagging it slightly. Again, Erica seems to want to answer in the negative. “She’s answering like I do when someone asks me how many children I have.” She shakes her head. “It could be nothing. But if they’d asked her this question already… Unless she’s changing her answer now.”


«INTERVIEWER: Are you here with her?»

Snapping her fingers, Nicole’s expression hardens as Erica lifts her head, her attention captured. It’s like a gotcha moment for the observer on the couch. “If she possibly told them before that she didn’t have any children,” she posits while the video continues on in the background, uncaring of the speculation around it, “or that she had one…”

Looking up at Kara, Nicole asks, “How did they know she had a daughter?”

Kara only shakes her head, running her hands back through her hair. The attempts to corral her thoughts into order have minimal effect, but not none. "She mentioned it before, wanted to say no, remembered. Or they found something. They knew it was a her specifically, so— I don't know. Does it matter? There's no way to—"

Sighing, Nicole admits, “Maybe it really is nothing. Maybe I’m just projecting. Maybe it’s…”

«INTERVIEWER: Do you know what year it is?»

Kara turns on a dime, closing her eyes hard. The replay of the video keeps on as before, ushering into static before snapping into focus on Erica again, who looks a million miles away.

“God, it’s like she’s attuning to something.” The remark is observational as the woman on the screen slowly tilts her head in a way that somehow reminds Nicole of the way she used to stand in front of Richard Nichols’ television and tilt the rabbit ears this way and that, just so.

Fingers curl into fists. There’s a throbbing behind her eyes at the memory of that old TV set. Her father’s recliner. The scent of…

Erica inhales sharply, like she’s just coming back from wherever it was she went in her mind. Nicole does the same. The sound of it draws Kara back to the present, looking to Nicole first and then to the screen. Erica’s hand lifts to the side of her head, scratching at her temple in a manner that Nicole finds herself matching for both its nonchalance and its self-consciousness.

«SUBJECT: What?»

«INTERVIEWER: I asked you if you knew what year it was.»

Now it appears that Erica has a headache. The sympathetic mirror in the woman on the couch continues. On the screen, Erica turns her face toward her hand, fingers massaging the side of her head now. The pain grows visibly worse in fractions of seconds and her face is buried in both hands. Even without the aid of sound, it isn’t a stretch to imagine the woman may be weeping or at least whimpering at this point.


«INTERVIEWER: Erica, are you alright?»

Two men appear to rise slowly from their seats, coming into view of the camera while not obstructing the line of sight to Erica. While their backs are to the recording equipment, the man on the right side of the screen seems to be Sideburns.

«INTERVIEWER2: She’s bleeding!»


Now some sound does come through the white noise of the static. Muffled though it is, the noise of pain is unmistakable. This isn’t just a little nosebleed. Nicole sits back heavily on the couch and presses her hand to the underside of her nose without realizing she’s doing it until she’s glancing down at the side of her index finger to see that it came away clean.

The men get up and there’s a line of blood that can be seen running down Erica’s right arm, clear to her elbow. The blood is running freely. Far too quickly. A fold of tissues hits the table and when she reaches out to snatch one up, the lower half of her face is covered in blood extending from her nose to her chin like some kind of grotesque mask.

The tissues are pressed to her nose and Erica stares at her right hand. The blood covers her palm, having formed a river that runs down the inside of her arm, forming a bend just before her elbow.

«INTERVIEWER2: Oh ah, tilt your head back like this.»

“She doesn’t look surprised.” Nicole shakes her head slowly. “Just—” The words die on Nicole’s tongue. Gaping at the image on the screen, she shakes her head again, disbelieving. “Is she laughing?

«INTERVIEWER: She’s gotta go.»

The expression becomes clearer when Erica pulls the tissue away from her face. “What the fuck?” Nicole’s shoulders sag and she blinks rapidly, like she no longer wants to trust her eyes. Maybe the men in the room felt largely the same. Blood on the back of her hand, Erica stares at the tissue and laughs openly. There isn’t a trace of blood on her face.


It lasts a moment longer, but then the laughter fades and what’s left is a woman stunned, like there’s been a dawning horror just come upon her. For a moment, all she does is breathe and it’s not hard to see she’s either trying to make sense of the last few moments or maybe reckon with the consequences of them. Wonder what will come next.

«INTERVIEWER: Come on get up.»

Erica doesn’t make eye contact with any of the people who’ve come to hover around her. She’s not hollow, just distant, but not quite gone.

«NURSE: Come with me.»

A hand rests on her shoulder, takes her arm, and helps Erica from her seat, quickly ushering her away. Her sweater is left behind, hanging off the back of the chair.

«INTERVIEWER: I got it.»

Grabbing the leftover tissues, the man in the sport coat ducks down below the level of the table, likely mopping up the worst of all the life that seemed to pour from Erica moments ago. Something out of frame, the direction in which the others exited, catches his attention and he looks up again.

«INTERVIEWER: What’s she—no no no.»

There’s a shout off camera. The man starts to hastily climb to his feet.

«INTERVIEWER: What are you doing? Stop!»

He stands, stepping around the chair to cross to the other side of the screen. On his way out of the frame, his hand comes to rest on the back of the chair, using it as a point of momentum to propel himself forward and after the others.


All that remains is the lonely sweater.


The screen cuts to black and snow.

There’s nothing else.

There’s a long stretch of silence that feels like respects paid. Mourning. Numb and beaten down in some fashion, Nicole finally finds her voice again to speak. “All of that,” she pauses for a breath, “in the space of sixty seconds.”

Kara's gotten the worst of her pacing out probably, the final seconds of black screen before the video has no more to show giving her a chance to come back toward the couch. "The Erica Kravid I knew didn't have an ability. So that's— Gemini. It has to be. She starts falling apart because of Gemini."

She gestures violently off at one of the walls like it indicates the past, like it might as well be a swear. "She gets an ability, and then someone slingshots her back to the— seventies." The munitions chaplain tapers off then, sounding less confident.

She herself took a trip across timelines, but this is still hard to wrap her head around.

Trying proves difficult, but she winds back to the start, to why they obtained the tape rather than contemplate what the fucked-up documentary was supposed to embody. "Why the— why was this in that storage unit? What the hell did Bennet want you to take away from all of this?"

“I don’t know.” Giving herself permission to finally ease the tension of the taut strings that comprise her muscles, Nicole leans back, tipping her head against the couch and staring up at the ceiling blankly. “And he… may as well be a ghost for all I can see or speak to him directly.”

Nicole sniffs sharply, clearly fighting off tears born from stress. “Fuck, I need a cigarette.” Her eyes squeeze shut tightly. “And for these goddamn headaches to go away!” The break in her voice comes from pain. A physical one on top of all the existential and emotional suffering she’s been carrying since July.

Exhaling hard and willing herself not to fall any further into that particular hole than she already has slipped, Nicole pushes back the threat of actually crying. “Sorry. It’s been a long… year.” Sitting up again, she rolls her lower lip under, catching it between her teeth. It’s worried at for a moment while she thinks. “Call me self-centered, but… He said he was protecting me. And when I reached out to another one of my co-workers, someone else I thought I was close with, I was brushed off again. ‘Let me help you,’” she quotes bitterly.

The look of confusion is given to the far wall the Christmas tree stood against not so long ago, like the answers might be just beneath the layer of paint she coated it with when she moved in. “It can’t just be me, right? Someone else had to have been… I don’t know. Good enough, smart enough, strong enough to dig into all of this?” Nicole turns back to Kara. “Tell me I’m crazy. Tell me it’s just that I pulled the short stick in this game of dumbass lottery, and that it could have been anyone else in that office.”

Kara doesn't have reassuring words to offer on the specific thing Nicole has asked for. Her mouth flattens, weight shifting from one foot to another. "Someone knows. Someone in all of this— has to know. The people on the tape had to have been from here. There have to still be people alive who can answer what happened, what was done to her." Civil war be damned, someone had to be out there, right?

She shakes her head. "Your coworkers, though? Especially whoever the second one is? They know something, Nicole." Kara looks back to her plainly. "They know, and they're not owning up. Whatever they think they're protecting you from, they're not. People are dying now because they're trying to keep whatever this is under the rug."

"There are no acceptable losses here. What happened in November should have been enough." She feels like she's rambling now, and for her, she is. She hates talking, she'd rather be doing.

But Kara looks to Nicole. She finally tells her, "You pulled the short stick. But you're not crazy."

Sighing, Nicole nods her head. “You’re right.” Someone knows. About what happened to her, to Zachery and Yi-Min, and the others. To Kimiko Nakamura. Someone knows what happened to Erica Kravid. And someone has to know why that’s relevant now.

“Alright. I’m… going to get a copy of this tape, get it digitized, see if I can get any hits on facial recognition.” Running her tongue over her teeth, she accepts she isn’t going to get anywhere else tonight. “Come on.” Nicole gets to her feet and heads across the living room to the foyer to grab her keys off a hook. “Grab your leftovers. I’ll drive you home.” She starts running down the rest of her task list silently.

At the top of that list is confirming that Erica Kravid is really dead…

…the answer to which is more complicated that Nicole knows.

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