The Algorithm Of Causality


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Scene Title The Algorithm Of Causality
Synopsis After the events of Detroit, something has changed in Warren Ray.
Date March 20, 2020

It's been a few weeks since the events that left the world permanently altered. It's known that after the attack on Detroit, Warren Ray passed out. The medical examiners agree that it was some sort of ability exhaustion induced by the Red Wave. He kept to himself in the first two weeks after that, apparently recovering.

But now he's called a meeting in Raytech, once again in Detroit, as he hasn't yet returned to the Safe Zone. But when people arrive for the early morning meeting, it's with warnings from security that Warren has some crazy project going, that he's told them not to interfere with. The door to the emergency stairs is entirely covered with red yarn.

Anyone who chooses to open the door will be able to follow an extremely complex and calculated network of strings, much like the string maps that Richard makes for Edward Ray's predictions, but wrapped in the insanity that often encompasses Warren Ray's mind.

Others can simply take the elevator if they so desire, no strings there.

At least until the door opens and the hallway is also covered with yarn. There's networks stapled to the ceiling, the walls, passing through the space of the halls and criss crossing each other. One has to be very careful to get through the jungle, but soon they reach the meeting room that Warren is holed up in.

When they reach there, they'll find him sitting at the head table, his eyes reflecting the red of the strings rather than the hold chromium they used to glisten. Now they simply take on the color of whatever is reflected from them, the apparent benign physical mutation that the doctors explained to those 'in the know' within Raytech.

The strings take on their most elaborate and perhaps beautiful form here. They swirl around the middle, sticking through a jade ball of yarn above the center of the table. Hundreds of strings go through it, from every direction he could manage, and he just lays there with his legs up on the table, fingers steepled.

"I tried, over and over, to see how I could do it differently… how I could save Eve. But everything that I try to see, every variable that I try to understand… they all lead to the same conclusion."

That's what anyone is greeted with. He seems calm, not necessarily manic.

Robobo is absent.

And then he closes his eyes, and simply states, "I've created the algorithm of causality, I understand how the machine of the universe works. Where are my Japanese crepes?"

Executive Conference Room
Raytech Renaissance Center
Detroit, Michigan

March 20th
10:13 am

“Warren, you…”

Richard ducks down beneath a string, one hand lifting to carefully raise the next string so he can get past it as well, steps over two, and finally drops tiredly into a chair at the table, leaning back and pushing fingers beneath his shades to rub at his eyes. He hasn’t gotten a lot of sleep since the Battle of Detroit. Too much to do.

“You know we have an augmented reality tool for building string maps, right? Alia wrote it years ago. Although I think the twins would love playing in this, which I’ve got to admit is one of the reasons I had her code it to begin with after Lili ended up cocooning herself in the Nazahat Incident.”

He gestures a bit with a hand, “So, what, you’ve decided to take up the family business of staring at string?” Ironically, there’s not a single hint of sarcasm to that sentence.

"I needed a medium, to make it make sense, to get it all out of my head. I thought about the causality loop in my mind, I saw how all the pieces fit, between the versions of me in my head, and myself. And I figured it out, the causality algorithm!" Warren stands up and heads to a whiteboard in the back of the room, then grabs a marker and starts rapidly drawing. There are lines, lots of overwhelmingly complicated lines. There's engineering math, weird shapes, odd loops that encircle lines. At certain points he just starts writing out various philosophical concepts and ideological principles that are then tied into loops and lines of engineering math and blueprint math for some machine that veers off into seemingly unending paths and has no logical or rational purpose.

Basically, anyone but Warren looking at this sees complete and utter nonsense. Like Godel, Escher, Bach attempting to be summed up on a single filled up whiteboard. "I can't quite entirely write it out, I may need the entire building, but if you can just read these few things here, you can figure out the basics of predicting causality. Watch."

“Warren. Little brother…” Richard brings both hands up to cover his face for a moment, and then he exhales a heavy sigh, leaning forward and folding his gloved hands on the table, “…if you’re going to write all of that down, please use the augmented reality program. The interns will get confused if there’s fourth-dimensional math written down the hallways. Or use paper. We have paper, still.”

He looks at the board, then back to Warren, “Also, none of that makes any fucking sense to me. I’m the dumb one, remember?”

"It's pretty clear if you just connect this part about 11th century Buddhist solipsism to this entire part about forklifts and the non-Euclidean effect that time has on dirt, on the quantum level. Or…" Warren walks over to the table, grabs a glass, and then throws the glass at the ceiling, which ricochets back onto the white board and causes it to rotate backward juuust enough so that it can gain the momentum to go flying onto the table, and lands perfectly fine and unbroken in front of Richard.

It somehow misses all the strings throughout this entire process.

"It's perfectly predictable." he explains, motioning to the glass.


Security Chief’s Office

Raytech Renaissance Center

Diana Hahn sets down a stack of file folders on her desk with a deep sigh. Her attention goes to the dog-eared tabs at the top of each manilla folder. She flips a finger over them, looking at the names of employees past and presence, to familiarize herself with the office’s personnel records.

Circling around her desk, Diana takes a sip from her coffee, then goes to stand by her window, looking out at the damage done to nearby buildings, clear evidence of the Battle of Detroit that will take months to repair. The sound of an urgent knock on her door and someone immediately entering after breaks that moment of peace.

“Ms. Hahn?” A security analyst leaning through the open door looks at once alarmed and apologetic. “I think we may have a security breach.”

Hahn immediately sets down her coffee on the desk with a clunk. “How long ago? Where are they? How did they get inside?

The analyst backs up from the door as Hahn approaches. “We just spotted someone on the security cameras on the conference floor, but they’re using blind spots. We’re not sure how they slipped past lobby security.”

Son of a bitch,” Hahn says through her teeth, grabbing her holstered gun from the coat rack beside the door. “Silent alarm, get an emergency response team and watch the exits. I’ll get Richard and Warren.”


Executive Conference Room

Raytech Renaissance Center


The sound of an unfamiliar voice in the hallway might as well be a gunshot for how quiet the building’s been lately. Someone is standing on the other side of the string web that has spilled out into the hall, partly occluded by the web of strings and notes, making a brisk advance on the web. Richard can feel their presence as they draw closer; alive, healthy. Warren can understand their immediate trajectory; forward, greeting, non-hostile.

But Richard recognizes her when he finally gets a good look through the web.

“I have a bad feeling I’m about to be tackled by security any minute now, can you lend me a hand?”


It’s family.

Warren suddenly steps up onto the table, hunching under the strings as he gradually walks over to Lisa. He has to lean over and stare, squinting at her. "Whose adorable little sister are you? Someone call Zachery and tell him to get her a large duck immediately. Do you work here? What's your name?"

He stands up in the middle of all the strings, apparently greatly underestimating her age, and then clears his throat. "I am Warren Ray, one of the CEOs and the founder of Raytech. If you already work here then you already know that. I'm trying to explain the Algorithm of Causality, so you're just in time for the meeting. Unless you aren't. It sounds like you snuck in. Do you want a job?"

There were a lot of thoughts in that long, rambling sentence, but he got to where he needed to go.

In mid-attempt to explain to Warren that, in fact, everything he wrote on the board looked like gibberish to him, Richard’s attention is drawn by that voice, and his head tilts a bit to look over… before realization hits, his eyes widening as he sits up sharply in the chair..

“Jesus Christ, Lisa, I have a phone— “

Speaking of phones, he pulls his out and taps in the number for security so he can turn off whatever alert she’s triggered, commenting dryly as he waits for an answer, “She’s our little sister, Warren. Technically. One superstring removed, anyway.”

"Someone tell Zachery to get her two large ducks!" Warren interjects.

“Also, you’re the CTO, I’m the CEO,” Richard adds. Not that it matters much except on paper.

Lisa lingers in the doorway of the conference room, one brow kicked up and silent in response. Instead, she slides a look to her side and leans back out of the doorway, then back in. “Sorry, I don’t do phones. They give me anxiety.”

The woman Warren is confronted with shares so many familial traits with his father that even if this were a lie he could see the parallels. Dark-framed glasses, enormous blue eyes, small stature. She looks like a young Edward Ray in so many respects, even has her father’s peculiar cadence of speech with a less nasally tone.

“Sorry about not introducing myself sooner, Mor— ” Lisa catches herself. “Warren.” Her jaw sets. “I— honestly I was gonna’ wait. I’m still not sure I’m ready but… I had a— my stomach’s been in knots.” She looks to the door, then back to Richard and Warren. “When I saw what happened here I had to come by. It’s just… hitchhiking to Detroit takes way longer than movies make it seem like it would.”

Lisa glances at the door again, waiting for the interruption she knows is coming.

"Don't worry, I am the most intelligent and sane Warren there ever was! I know that for sure because they're all lodged into my brain! Well, I'm not sure which are which at times, but they're the reason I was able to figure out the algorithm of causality!" Warren suddenly jumps down from the table, bending and maneuvering between strings as he heads over to the door after glancing at Lisa's eyes, then he opens the door and stares back at his sister.

"I was just explaining it to Richard. This is actually a meeting, so that I can explain it to other people!" he points out, now that he's here. "Since you're on the board of directors, you're welcome here."

Finally, while holding the door, he begins to explain again. "As I was trying to save Eve, I was slapped in the face by the universe! I didn't understand at first, but I started to think. The way that machines connect, how they all make sense and have an internal logic, I began to see it in the universe itself!"

He very dramatically motions his chromium hand around. "But it was confusing, lots of data, variables everywhere! So I started looking into my own mind. The other Warren memories, from when the causal loop hit and all the Warrens smashed into each other, and child Warren saw the tentacles for the first time! That's when it all started to make sense. All the loops, the paths, the choices. They're like puzzles, but my brain started to put the puzzles together, started to understand how it all fits together! Every Warren is a puzzle piece that unlocks the machine of the universe!"

Lisa makes something of a wide-eyed look behind the dark frames of her glasses. Slowly panning that look from Warren to Richard with an equally slow rise of her eyebrows. “Let’s pretend that we’re following you,” Lisa says, teeth pressed together and grimacing, “I suppose this explains the stomach ache I’ve had for three days straight…”

Gently approaching Warren, Lisa lifts up a hand and places it on his arm. “I— really was hoping we’d meet under better circumstances than this. I uh,” she looks down to the floor, then over to Richard for help, then back to Warren. “But you’re sounding like fifty percent of a Heinlein novel and fifty percent of a street preacher. And that’s a little intense.”


Richard slides a hand up his face, thumb and forefinger pressing to the bridge of his nose between closed eyes, sunglasses propping up on them. He draws in a slow breath, then exhales it.

“Please tone things down by at least fifty percent. Also, she is not on the Board of Directors. I’m sorry, Lisa, our brother is a recovering schizophrenic, and his ability doesn’t really… help with that very much. Come in, sit down, do you know how to drive? I can give you a car, at least. Or a Mantis, if you want a bike. They’re very versatile.”

He’s trying to be as normal as he can to contrast Warren right now.

“Yes! This is Richard Ray,” he says as someone answers the phone finally, sitting up, “If there’s a security alert right now, you can cancel it.”

Hahn is going to love that order.

"No no, really, I'm using my ability right now so I'm slightly less capable of rational thought, but!" Warren takes deep breaths. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten." Then he exhales. "Okay, rational thinking, with my ability on." He squints, trying to think. "Okay, hear me out…"

He pulls a pair of scissors from his blazer pocket, then cuts a single string, which causes all of the strings to suddenly collapse to the table and floor, and all over them. "I needed the room clear."

"I want you both to watch closely, pay close attention!" He removes string from his shoulders and from around his feet, heading over to one of the chairs. "I'm going to throw this chair, and it's going to land perfectly balanced on top of the white board, and then Richard is going to knock over that glass of water in front of him."

He suddenly lifts the chair up and tosses it clear across the room. It hits the back wall and then ricochets against the white board a few times, until, very improbably, it lands perfectly balanced on the white board and he yells, "Tadaaaa!" he holds his hands out.

Jazz hands.

“Not a lot of call for cars back home,” Lisa says with a knowing look to Richard. “I’ve never even sat in the driver’s seat of one.” She glances back over her shoulder. “You’re gonna need to— ”

Richard.” Hahn looms in the doorway of the conference room, a pair of security officers behind her. “Mr. Ray,” she addresses the brothers equally. “I’m sorry, is— ” she takes the temperature of the room, looking from Richard, to Warren, to Lisa.

Hahn might as well be a Charlie Brown teacher for all Warren hears her voice as a muffled trumpet. He noticed something else in this. He’d anticipated security would come, given the previous conversation between Lisa and Richard, but Lisa seemed to know it was going to happen before it did too.

“Is everything alright here?” Hahn asks, hand on her holstered Banshee.

“Warren, what exactly— I mean, that’s an impressive throw, but— “

As the security chief of the building suddenly barges in, Richard sits up too-fast, his hand nudging the glass in front of him, which topples over. Swearing, he grabs for a napkin and starts to soak it up, waving his other hand vaguely.

“It’s fine, Hahn. Compliments to your security protocols, though, I’m actually impressed you were able to notice her coming in,” he says, without explaining, really, mopping up the pool of water and glancing up with a wry expression, “Lisa, before you leave can you please stop off at the security office so we can give you clearance? You don’t need to sneak around.”

"You knocked over the water too." Warren points out as Richard cleans it up, then points to Hahn. "Because Hahn came in and you got distracted, but the distraction of the chair on the board is what put you in the precise position for your body to react in a way that would very specifically knock over the glass!"

He looks to Lisa, tilting his head at her. "Breaking the bubble of plausible deniability is difficult! But don't worry, now that Hahn is here, this will be easy!" He suddenly reaches into his blazer and pulls out a notepad and pen, scribbling something down. Then he folds the paper up and slides it to Richard once the water is wiped up. "Open that in three minutes. If you open that in the next three minutes, most of what happened in that time should be approximately accurate." Then he just sits back in a chair and puts his feet up on the table.

The chair on the whiteboard starts to slowly slide back, until it rotates all the way back and gets stuck in between the wall and the board.

"Lisa, before you leave, I have to take you shopping and to get ice cream."

Lisa’s lips slowly purse in a w sound, stay that way for a few moments as she stayed eyes locked on to Warren, then — without moving her head — swivels her gaze to lock on Richard. “I can’t do that,” she says with a quaver in her voice, looking to Hahn and grimacing apologetically.

Hahn braces in the doorway. Shoulders squared. “I almost didn’t.” Hahn interrupts. “Notice her. Mr. Ray we need to have a talk about intrusions like this. After you’re…” she finally sees what’s become of the conference room and takes a few slow steps back. “Done with whatever… this is.”

Slowly, Hahn looks at Lisa, then to the Rays, and back again. After another moment she shakes her head and walks back down the hall where she came from, calling over her radio to stand down.

Lisa waits until Hahn is gone before looking back over to Warren. She lingers on him again for a few moments before flatly saying, “I’m thirty.Two, but she doesn’t sweat the extra years.

“I know, I know,” Richard’s nose wrinkles up in a grimace, “Sorry, Hahn, life is… complicated sometimes.” He has the feeling of being called to the Mother Superior’s office to get yelled at, all of a sudden.

The paper’s pulled over and set to one side, “…and sorry about Warren, he’s… just like that. He doesn’t see reality in the same way as we do and speaking of that— Warren, are you trying to say you’ve figured out how to emulate Edward’s ability?”

He asks it, and it’s an important question, but he’s still watching Lisa curiously— and a little cautiously.

"Exactly! I figured it out by deconstructing the alternate imprints of myself from other realities, and the causal loop that formed in my brain. The explosion, the red light, it gave me the boost I needed! It let my brain run faster, like the time the sexy smoker voiced woman augmented me, but different! Now I just get it, now I understand the machine." Warren walks over to the table and slaps his hand against it a few times, like a car hood.

"This baby is refined, but complicated. Like something so large I can barely see the whole thing, but I can see where it's going when I understand the intent of the parts. Like how you can tell what'll happen when you turn the key in a car's ignition." Then, he dramatically points at the piece of paper. "Open that right now!"

If Richard opens it, he'll find Warren's normal engineer scribble.

Hahn warns everyone like a gun mom. Lisa is too hard to figure out right now but she is adorable. Hahn storms out after doing something with her radio, I'm not sure what! Richard says sorry a bunch of times. Lisa is ADORABLE. I dramatically point at Richard and tell him to open the letter. Richard reads the letter. He looks up. Shocked Pikachu.

Warren holds up his phone. There is a shocked Pikachu gif waiting for Richard whenever he looks up.


Then, looking over at Lisa, he asks, "Are you saying you want Baskin-Robbins?"

Lisa slowly angles a look from Warren to Richard with a deadpan, “I’m familiar.” It occurs to Richard in that moment, she likely knew an entirely different Warren. The one his mother had spoken of before, Mort.

Slowly, Lisa looks back at Warren with one brow raised. “Can someone clarify something for me? When you say Edward’s ability, what precisely are you talking about?” She looks back and forth between Warren and Richard. “Because my father didn’t have an ability.”

The envelope’s opened, and Richard reads— then looks up, although the meme just has him looking puzzled. He’s not exactly a primal dude in tune with social media trends, he has people for that.

He starts to say something, then Lisa speaks— and he looks over, lips pursing a bit. “My mother told me, yes, and… that worries me, honestly, for a number of reasons. But— Edward could analyse the probabilities of events occurring. The more data he had, the more accurate he could be. He— I mean, even when he was incapacitated, even after he was dead, we were still picking up notes and letters that he’d left for us to find at the right moment to nudge things this way and that, to steer the future towards one where us - the people he considered his children - would survive, and prosper..”

A shake of his head, “He was— not omniscient, but in a long sense he came pretty fucking close. Which…” He grimaces, “Is where my worries come through. There are signs that he predicted things that crossed over multiple superstrings, but where did he get the data to analyse that? I’m starting to worry that he was being manipulated by Uluru the entire time.”

Lisa squints. “What’s an Uluru?”

"Ah! You're the girl, the one from my mind. I know your face, but not your name. That means this is your real face! I thought I might be hallucinating." Warren motions his hands around. "So you're from another me, not a fake face at all. But those memories are unclear, very patchy, I can't even tell which me! I rarely can. It's like tubes, they're all tubes. We're all really the same, but different tubes from the same machine."

"You're thinking of it wrong. I understand Edward now." he says to Richard before pulling out a marker to start writing on the table. He starts with a dot, then makes branches to more dots, and more branches to even more dots until he's creating a complex web. "You don't need to see the other worlds, you just need to see the first dot."

He points to, well, the first dot. "The dot already happened. And then, if you have the brain processing power, you can predict from the dot instead of from now, and then you can see sideways. Though it would be very tricky, I'm still not sure what I can do, but the algorithm… I think that's how it would work! Brain processing power is the difficult part…"

He starts to draw more, making some of the dots larger, and some downright tiny. "Big dots come from lots of small dots converging. Or big butterflies and small butterflies. And then you have special butterflies, the most important dots within the big dots. And then you have to make sense of it and figure out what matters. It all depends on what you want to know, I think… Edward can think very far away, and he's been doing it for a long time, so he's known about sideways things for a very long time, and probably had to prepare for them. It's all connected, it's all the same thing but different tubes. You just can't think of the world as three dimensional."

Brows raised, forehead wrinkled, Lisa looks at Richard with an absolutely helpless expression. She returns her focus to Warren, leaning forward and lifting her glasses up for a moment, then lowering them again. She makes a trying really hard face, then looks back at Richard with a quick shake of her head.

Are you following any of this?” Lisa whispers sharply at Richard with a wild and rapid gesture of her hands, as if pantomiming Warren grasping at the straws of reality.

“No,” Richard assures her with a slight shake of his head and a quiet word, “He seems to think it makes sense, so maybe it does.”

He leans back in the chair, rolling his head to one side and then the other as he stretches it - he was sitting still for too long leaning forward trying to figure out what Warren was saying - and grimaces. “Uluru… short version? Incredibly powerful entity and-or Evolved dating from thousands of years ago, or possibly pre-dating humanity itself. Possibly the original source of our abilities. Exists in a red or rainbow-colored energy form, crops up in multiple mythologies, hops from body to body and may want to terraform the planet to return it to a previous state, although that’s just a guess. She was imprisoned in the— nothing between superstrings for awhile, but broke out when we rescued you all from the flooded Earth. They killed her previous host here in Detroit, but who knows where it’ll crop up next - Mazdak seems to worship her, at least their leadership does.”

"I'm going to need help!" Warren points at Lisa, and then Richard. "I need to test the limits and parameters of my ability, and Richard knows more about this ability than any of us do. So I need to use your active knowledge of Edward's predictions, combined with my understanding of the prediction algorithm, and then we need to try to predict various things so that we understand the extent of my ability! So…"

Pointing at Lisa again, this time with his other hand. "I need you to think of some small things for me to predict, it'll be a bonding exercise! And Richard…" He looks back to Richard again. "I need you to think of something more complicated for me to predict. Not right now, in this moment, but I want you to think of something, a few things. Two things that scale differently. We're collecting data. My ability won't be useful if we don't know its strengths and weaknesses! Also, we need to get Alia to make the virtual string map compatible with my VR tentacle headset."

Lisa mouths the words tentacle headset to Richard, then feigns a smile at Warren. But it isn’t a surprise. The moment Lisa gets up from her seat and takes a step back, Warren is able to see the algorithm of causality in her movements, from the way she looks at Richard to the micro-expressions Warren’s brother offers back before he decides on a full one.

“Maybe I should come back later,” is what Lisa says, but Warren says it at the exact same time. Lisa’s surprise doesn’t surprise him. She blinks twice — though he saw three initially — and the subtle movement of one hand over her mouth went unaccounted for. But Warren knows when she says, “You’re freaking me out.” Because he says it with her.

Lisa shoots a look at Richard, then back to Warren. But that’s when it starts to collapse. Too many butterflies, the one hand over her mouth threw off the whole equation. Lisa never says I don’t know what you want from me, but I can’t help you. Instead she’s silent and fixes an unplanned stare at Warren. She doesn’t step right, but instead steps left. Now Richard’s eyes aren’t fixed on the same spot.

The math decays, probability lives and breathes and dies like an organic thing. The data is all there but there’s no planning in the moment, the valve only goes one way, intake until output. You can’t predict for the moment, only leading up to. Warren’s mind races, a dull him behind his mercurial eyes.


Richard holds up a hand, “Can you— can you try and be a little less you right now, for like… ten minutes, maybe? Think about your equations or something, just stop being so aggressively intrusive and weird for like ten minutes. Please. As your brother, I’m begging you, just turn your extrovert down to a normal level for a little bit. We can go back to unlocking the secrets of the universe later - and yes, I am very interested in that.”

He draws in a slow breath, then exhales it, shaking his head and gesturing to Lisa, “You’re not going to come back later because you literally hitchhiked and walked here from the Safe Zone, Lisa. I’m sorry, I know he’s a bit— much.”

A faint smile’s offered over, eyebrows lifting, “So. You’re here. What can we do for you?”

"I needed you to believe me." Warren says as his eyes gradually shift back to normal, and he wipes them a few times. He waves a cybernetic hand at the air. "Give me about five minutes." He reaches into his pocket to pull out a bottle of pills, popping one into his mouth.

He squints, seemingly having more of a calculated procedure for when he's no longer using his ability than he did before.

Lisa slowly slides her attention away from Warren, lingering for a moment on his string map, then to Richard. “Actually, I don’t know the answer to that. I just… know I had to be out here.” She makes a helpless shrug, grimacing all the while. “Maybe I just needed to see…” Lisa motions to Warren, “…all this.”

“It’s just— ” Lisa interrupts herself with a sigh. “This is all stuff Mort used to say. Between talking about the coiling tentacles and the Seeing Deep.” She lifts her hands and makes a spooky-fingers gesture while wavering her voice. “But all this, the whole… protecting reality, cosmic tapestry shit?” She flicks a look back to Warren. “Mort— the you where I’m from— he went down this road.”

Shifting awkwardly in her seat, Lisa’s brows knit together. “That’s why Mort left the Ark. Why he went looking for salvage, came back with that machine. He said he had to fix things. He was obsessed with… repairing some sort of damage. Something that was broken, and the Looking Glass was how he was going to do it. He built it behind your mother’s back,” Lisa adds to Richard. “She was…”

Then, Lisa stops. She shakes her head, questioning herself, and then looks back up. “She was so scared of what he’d do with her research that she put him out an airlock.” Research that, ultimately, Michelle would finish. But with technology she never would have imagined. If what Elisabeth had told him was accurate, a Looking Glass integrated with the Mallet Device.

"I remember Richard's mother killing me, yes." Warren states with a firm nod, glancing over at Richard.

At the glance, Richard grimaces briefly, but he doesn’t respond directly to Warren just yet.

“You make a…” He trails off then, looking at Lisa, and then back to Warren, as if making some connections somewhere in his head. One hand comes up, then, fingers rubbing over the bridge of his nose.

“Mnm. The Entity also seems to see things as needing correcting. It isn’t worth fixing the universe if doing so potentially exterminates the entire human race, I’ve got to note, Warren. If…” He motions to Lisa, “If she’s here just to say that? Then you’re going down a dangerous path right now, and I’m inclined to take that seriously. You need to be careful, brother, you’re just starting to stabilize.”

"I don't think you understand my concern, Richard. My concern is her concern, but external. You see, I can get obsessed with building things, but I've gotten control over that compulsion, I have coping mechanisms." Warren taps the side of his head with a chromium finger.

"However, my ability creates temptation for everyone else even if I control it. Everyone wants to use my ability, but they don't really understand the implications of what they want me to build!" He runs a hand down his prosthetic arm, flexing his shiny fingers. "Keeping the universe stabilized means I have to make sure no one builds things that will unstabilize it. And I have to make sure that people like me aren't being abused to do so either."

"But…" He looks to Lisa for a long moment, then back to Richard. "My ability is more of a danger to the universe than anything. People would not be able to put the universe in danger without my ability. The war would have barely been possible without my ability. I improved Hector's designs and made my own. I invented the modern power armor. I am Robert Oppenheimer, and people continue wanting me to be Robert Oppenheimer, because no one can be trusted with my ability! Elisabeth and all of those people, they are important people, but they were a few people. We endangered the universe out of pure selfishness. We endangered humanity!"

He suddenly slams his fist against the table, then sits down, holding his head. He groans in pain, a migraine quickly setting in. "I need edibles, I have a headache and my girlfriend is dead."

There’s a sudden twist in Lisa’s stomach that makes her briefly grimace and shift in her chair. It’s noticeable by a little burble-gurgle noise, followed by a wide-eyed expression of embarrassment as she looks between Richard and Warren.

“Is she?” Lisa asks Warren with one brow raised.

“All we did was finish what was already started, Warren. We didn’t even use the Looking Glass when we brought the travellers through from the Flooded Earth,” Richard says with a shake of his head, one hand coming up to rub over his face, “I know you blame yourself for providing him with technology when they had you, but that’s in the past, and it’s over.”

More gently, he looks across the table in concern. “I don’t want you to be Oppenheimer, Warren. I’d far rather we build infrastructure technologies, things to make the world better, not worse. As much as things like— this attack make me want to invest in stronger defenses, nobody’s trying to use you to make weapons of mass destruction, or technology that’ll damage the universe. There’s a reason I haven’t requested anything like that from you. You do that on your own, and I think that’s what Lisa’s saying.”

Then there’s the question from Lisa, and he looks over sharply, “What?”

"I want to create world peace, but I can see the ramifications of everything that I do! I can't create a water pump without imagining how it can be used to split atoms." Warren shakes his head, and slowly stands. "She means is my girlfriend dead. Yes, she is."

That's all he really says, his last words having quite a lot of mental clarity to them, but he heads for the door, his mental and physical exhaustion clearly through the roof. "I'm going to Bella's office to get pills for my headache."

Lisa frowns softly, not answering Richard’s inquiry as Warren shows where his psychological seams are splitting. “That’s… probably a good idea,” she admits, offering Warren a sympathetic smile as he excuses himself.

A silence falls over the room. One punctuated by the slip of a post-it note falling off the wall where its glue wasn’t quite affixed right. Lisa watches it flutter to the floor, then looks up to Richard. “I don’t know,” she admits, “but… it felt like the right thing to say in the moment.” Lisa admits with a sheepish smile.

“Just like coming here did.” She adds, looking around the room. Then, after an awkward pause she looks back to her ostensible brother and wonders aloud.

Who cleans this up?

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