The Brightest Light


bf_alia_icon.gif bf_colette_icon.gif elisabeth4_icon2.gif bf_else_icon.gif bf_goodman_icon.gif vf_isa2_icon2.gif vf_kain2_icon.gif bf_kathleen_icon.gif vf_kaylee_icon2.gif bf_lynette_icon.gif magnes2_icon2.gif bf_odessa_icon.gif vf_ruiz_icon2.gif vf_shaw_icon.gif bf_tamara_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

vf_elaine_icon.gif vf_ling_icon.gif bf_robyn_icon.gif tyler_icon.gif

Scene Title The Brightest Light
Synopsis The way back is closed, so for one group of travelers, the only way left to go is forward.
Date November 8, 2017

So up on the wind, we've soared far and wide
On wings of our memories
Up high above, we fell so far below
Washed up on shores of the never was

Night has fallen on New York City, and the glittering city lights in the distance are kept at bay by the darkness of Unity Park. Though street lights burn low, the park has been darkened on its perimeter in memorial for the Midtown Explosion. Only a single bright light burns resolute in the darkness, a tremendous floodlight several blocks away at ground zero, sending a lancing beam of colorless light straight up into the cloudy and starless night’s sky.

So we go to the end of one road
Fresh on our memories we say
Turning back this time
Because we've got miles to go
Before we're back to our lives

The harmonized voices singing this song come from a great and elaborate stage set at a three-way crossroads on the edge of Unity Park, where tens of thousands of fans of the Shattered Skies have gathered for the memorial concert. The stage resembles Midtown as it once was, just after the bomb, a tumbledown tangle of concrete and rebar, twisted and broken along the perimeter of the stage, to remind people that even in this time of crisis and doubt, things got better. That real change can be found. It was eleven years ago today, the Midtown Explosion claims thousands of lives in a single instant. Today, Else Kjelstrom and her special guest Robyn Quinn sing a collection of songs inspired by their memories of that tragic day, and — for those who know who and what Else truly is — perhaps a glimpse into memories yet to come.

Ash all and dust, fade to the endings
We see by candle light
Deep down below, we follow our hearts
To the whispers of our families
We walk under boulevards
We hide in the dark
We go

A small pink light flashes in the dark — once, twice, three times — in rapid succession. It hovers just above the heads of the crowd, enough to be a beacon to those who know to look for it. Below that flashing light, Colette Demsky-Brooks stands with one hand raised into the air, a sturdy white winter jacket making her stand out in the dark, plush fur of its interior pressing from collar to neck. Behind the stage the Shattered Skies play on, the looming shadow of the Deveaux Building cuts a black silhouette against a dark sky, illuminated by the lights from the stage in shades of neon violet and teal. It is an echo for many of the people here, a reminder of the last time some of them were in these streets — crowded not with eager concert-goers, but with the screaming damned and a Vanguard shelling.

So we go to the end of one road
Fresh on our memories we say
Turning back this time
Because we've got miles to go
Before we're back to our lives

“You know, I remember listening to the Shattered Skies before they were cool.”

The comment earns Tyler Case a swift elbow to the ribs from the bearded blonde man coming up beside him. Tyler makes a noise in the back of his throat, rubs at his rib and gives Kain Zarek a confused look. The cajun makes a frustrated face at Tyler and motions to the flashing pink light ahead.

“Keep yer eyes on th’ way out numbskull, not the stage. Ah’m not gettin’ stranded in Oz because you went all Scarecrow on me.” Kain grouses, brandishing a hand in the direction of the light and stage as they’re mentioned. “Now c’mon, Ah’ve about had mah fill’f this fuckin’ place.”

We built up our lives
Through thick and through thin
But paint can't hide cracks in the wall
We're two paces behind our own footsteps
But we don't know
How to find
The way

“Okay but, like, am I supposed to say anything or just hold the camera?”

Oh. My God.” Kathleen Brooks covers her face with one hand, eyes closed and breathing deeply in and slowly out before looking back up to Tyler Case standing across from her, holding a large camera on his shoulder. “Tyler, we— we went over this about a dozen times already.”

“Right, right, I’m a reporter.” Tyler responds, slapping the side of the camera with one hand.

No!” Kathleen shouts, stamping one foot and wrenching her eyes shut. Her well-laid plans. Exhaling another slow and calming breath, Kathleen opens her eyes and motions to the building nearby. “Go join Tamara’s team!

So we go to the end of one road
Fresh on our memories we say
Turning back this time
Because we've got miles to go
Before we're back to our lives

Exhaling a slow breath, Tyler looks like he’s about to say something until Kain Zarek, ballcap pulled down over his now short hair and headphones around his neck slides in and grabs the camera. “Ah’ll take this, tough stuff. Why don’t you follow Missy’s orders here before she blows a gasket?”

Still confused about how all this is supposed to work, Tyler shrugs helplessly and starts to jog off after Tamara’s group that has started to make their way toward the Deveaux Building. As he makes his way apart from them, Kathleen drags one hand down her face and looks up to Kain with a weary expression.

“Okay, you’re the cameraman,” Kathleen notes with a hand gesture to Kain. “I’m an editorial intern,” then gesturing over to Alia Chavez the blonde adds, “you’re our Audio-Visual tech,” which isn’t much of a stretch at all, “you’re our producer,” she says to Kaylee. Finally, she motions to Elisabeth. “You’re our reporter.”

All is not lost, we've seen this before
Though the blood and the tears fall anew
We've built these lives
Behind walls of stone
and towers of emotion trapped inside
But we're almost home
Just one more heart
To beat

“Ain’t she a little recognizable as a dead woman?” Kain asks with a tip of his head toward Elisabeth.

“No she— we’re not actually going to be doing any filming. This is just a cover to–” Kathleen’s face turns bright red. “Didn’t you pay any attention during the– ” It’s only then she notices Kain is smiling. “Oh you asshole.

Kain’s smile spreads from ear to ear as he adjusts the camera on his shoulder. “Guilty as charged, sweetheart. Now, what’s say we make our way through the crowd an’ get in that building?”

So we go to the end of one road
Fresh on our memories we say
Turning back this time
Because we've got miles to go
Before we're back to our lives

Kain gets a light swat with the clipboard in Kaylee’s hand, her voice just a little above an whisper.“You best behave yourself?” The now blonde again telepath grins with amusement and shakes of her head at him in disbelief. The scar that tracks down the left side of her face, keeps the grin a bit lopsided. “She might just leave you behind and then what would I do?” She points the clipboard at him with a knowing look, “Not feel sorry for you that’s for sure.”

Okay, maybe she would a little.

Maybe it was the excitement of what was happening, of finally getting out of this damn place, that has her making comments like that. She was sure as hell tired of running and hiding. There is an annoyed sound from her as she pushes up a pair of glasses on her nose. No prescription, but it was suppose to break up the look of her, along with the messy braid blonde locks have been trapped into. “Do I look like a nerd? I feel like I look like a nerd,” she asks of no one in particular. She might not be cool with this, it’s hard to tell.

The river of time carries us on our way
We row down the boulevard
of our lost hopes and dreams
We can light the way to get home
If we just try hard enough
They'll leave the door open
Just long enough
For us
To get

The edge that Elisabeth is riding tonight is razor thin, made moreso by the fact that the tall Cajun has her most prized thing with him — Five-year-old Aurora Cranston is sitting in a backpack carrier snugged tight against Kain's body, where she should be mostly shielded by either his body at the front or just the masses of people around them. Too fucking cute for words!

Liz did not color her hair back to its natural blonde. There will be time for that when they get home. For now, she still has the almost-black locks pinned to the back of her head to keep them out of her way. She looks "business" — it'll pass for the crowd tonight.

Blue eyes scan the area constantly. Strangely enough, this is the place Liz feels most in her element — competent, with clear goals and a plan to accomplish them. Even though Plans A through J go tits-up before they even hit the ground and K through M don't survive first contact with the enemy, it's still some kind of strange calming effect on her.

So we go to the end of one road
Fresh on our memories we say
Turning back this time
Because we've got miles to go
Before we're back to our lives

"The very fact that I do look like a dead woman means most people, even those who double-take in the crowd, will just think 'everyone has a twin somewhere' and go on about their business," she comments to him. A brief, slow grin at the child who peers inquisitively around and Liz is back to work. "I don't know why you let him get to you, Kathleen," she snickers. "C'mon, let's get this show on the road." Literally.

Alia for her part stays quiet. She’s got a backpack on, and is carrying enough techie looking bags to play the part… and who knows what all she actually has in there, unless you asked her to carry it in the first place. Her hair is still it’s normal color, but then, she’s native to the timeline as it is, and isn’t exactly worried about being recognized for anything she’s done. That said, every now and then, there’s a handle for -something- sticking out past her backpack, and she has a tension to her stance, even in her silence. For better or worse, a place that isn’t the saccharine world this has turned out to be.

After all, a brave new adventure, and a chance to shine on her own, to be her own person? This isn’t a thing she’s quite passing up. What’s the worst that could happen other than getting caught up in the violence that is already a problem in places? Famous last words, those.


Gathered just a few feet from the base of the sewer ladder, pale light from a street lamp coming down in a dusty spotlight, four people bound for another world stand in close confines in the musky dampness of New York City’s underbelly. This team is the most critical, out of all of them, without Magnes and Ruiz and a power source like Lynette, they have no hope of opening a doorway to get home, let alone an accurately-aligned one. Thankfully, the blonde seer standing among them is the best shepherd for the task ahead.

There’s a soft splash in the tunnel behind the others, when they though the last of them had come through. Coming off of the ladder from the manhole overhead, Tyler Case sheepishly rubs one hand at the back of his neck and affords an awkward grimace. He hustles to catch up to the sight of flashlights up ahead, calling out in a somewhat sheepish voice.

“Kathleen got mad at me?” Tyler admits with a furrowed brow, “so uh, I guess I’m with you guys now?” His dark eyes scan the gloom of the sewer tunnel, lips crooked in an uncertain expression. “Are we reporters too? Because I don’t know if there’s a good story down here.”

"We're not reporters, we're just getting through this alive and uncaptured." Magnes answers, wearing his full long coat and fancy looking outfit under it, which hasn't stopped him from concealing a variety of weapons, particularly his treasured Jericho.

He doesn't seem to be in the mood for banter, but it's been months since he's been in any kind of particularly good mood, outside of when he's trying to comfort Elaine.

Here, though, he doesn't need to do any such thing, so he's entirely focused on the mission at hand. "If anyone gets in the way, I'll flip their gravity so that they get stuck to a wall or something. Try to waste as little energy as possible."

Lynette and Ruiz showed up with an extra body— their daughter stands between her mom and dad, brown curls framing her face. They brought an extra and yet, are short one. Manuel isn't with them. Which might go a long way to explain why Lynette hasn't been very talkative so far. Or why she looks more fatigued than she should be.

But, it's also why she's here. Why she's agreed to let Ruiz be anywhere near any of this.

Her hand tightens on her daughter's as she glances over to Tyler and Magnes. The idea that anyone might try to stop them has something stirring in Lynette that she wasn't sure was even still there. Anger simmers just under the surface, but she keeps it down in favor of comforting little Evie.

“On the bright side, I know this place pretty well.” As long as they haven’t made improvements since the early 2000s, at least. But Ruiz didn’t think there was much they could have changed, considering most the tunnels were decades old when he’d been in them. He gives Lynette a small smile, one that’s tired as well. He hasn’t slept much in the last few months either. Only a short visit from Eve had really calmed things.

For either of them.

Even if he wasn’t sure how well his heart would be able to take this trip. He wasn’t sure he should mention that outloud. This was, after all, their only chance. “Come on.” At least they aren’t running from exploding people and hordes of zombies this time around. He just wished they didn’t have to bring their daughter down into the sewers. “Maybe one of us should carry her,” he suggests, bending down to pick her up. They won’t be seeking out a story of any kind, but hopefully it will end up for the better.

For her part, Tamara is quiet as the group settles into their present surroundings. She wears a long-sleeved shirt and pocketed vest, and the flashlight hanging from a cord about one wrist remains dull and disregarded, currently contributing not at all to illumination of the tunnel.

The seer nods towards the others. "No stories but what we make," she remarks, turning and beginning to walk down the tunnel. "That's the most important one, anyway."


A crackling purple light fills the darkness.

So unstable then you were born

Out of the corner of Odessa Woods’ eye, Roger Goodman walks into view, as sleek and dark as the room, one hand set on the back of the chair beside her. "Is this seat taken?" He asks in a hushed tone. She gestures with an unoccupied hand: sit.

So unstable then you were born

"I didn't think you liked the Shattered Skies," he queries, dark eyes turning to the enormous glass window overlooking a stage lit by neon violet and teal. A blonde woman, Else Kjelstrom sits at a piano, singing into a mounted microphone. Sitting on top of the piano, her partner Robyn Quinn holds a microphone, joining Else's voice.

So unstable then you were born

"He told me to be vigilant." She says in a low, self-satisfied tone over the slightly muted quality of the concert. "The stars are aligned. It's tonight or… maybe never. If they try anything, I'll see it."

So unstable then you were born

Ice clinks in a lowball glass containing a cherry red liqueur with a twist of orange. Slouched back into a like green leather chair, the view of the stage from the VIP booth is without peer. Though it isn't the display on the stage below that has Odessa's attention. It's the man seated beside her in an equally green chair.

Just leave a light on in the window

(I'll be there, there, I'll be there)

"They're here," is a silken smooth warning from Roger to Odessa, elbow on the chair's armrests, hands steepled in front of himself. "Somewhere here, tonight." Odessa slides a look his way, one brow raised slowly.

Just leave a light on in the window

(I'll be there, there, I'll be there)

"Exactly what do we do about that, Mr. Goodman?" Odessa looks out the floor to ceiling window to the concert. "There's thousands of people here right now. Even I can't pick through everyone one by one." To punctuate her sentence, Odessa crosses one leg over the other and bobs her black heeled shoe to the beat beginning from the stage.

How has the song in your heart found a tune?

How is the sound strong enough to carry you?

"I suppose you're expected to be vigilant, yes. But there's a certain amount of whimsy that I find you here," Goodman notions around himself to the black-walled VIP skybox. "Drinking."

Over the undertow

Keeping the volume low

Odessa's attention turns to the stage, her focus now drifting beyond it to the skyscrapers rising up around the intersection the stage is constructed in. Plants crawl across the broken concrete, blown out windows are roosts for birds, and the Deveaux Building looming tall behind the stage never looked so haunting in shades of neon violet and teal.

I stay with my memories

And it's a minefield of memory

"They won't get away," is Odessa's coolly delivered assurance as she sips from her drink. Ice shifts, clatters together, and she looks to the laser lights rising up into the sky from around the stage. "We have to know, don't we?" She looks back to Goodman, brows furrowed and stare intense.

I'm going to stay with my memories

I'm in a minefield of memory

Oh it's a minefield of memory

Goodman nods, hands clasped together and his own attention turning to the concert. "It's an auspicious night," is delivered with a weight only he can find in words. "The anniversary of the day that changed the world."

I've been living in a hole

Everybody has to know

"If there's even a chance they know what happened," Odessa's attention returns to her drink. "Where the facility went," her stare becomes long and distant. "What happened to the people there…"

All the ways I didn't deal with everything right

Help me dig another hole

"We'll find your mother," Goodman asserts, raising one dark brow as he turns his attention back to Odessa. "We'll find her, and if we have to, we'll go over there to get her back." Odessa's eyes narrow, slowly.

Everybody has to know

All the ways I didn't deal

"Not without me."

with everything right

Goodman flashes a smile, then closes his eyes and inclines his head into a subtle nod. “I have no doubt about that, Miss Woods. We’ve lost both Looking Glass facilities now, but that hasn’t deterred them. The secret is inside one of them…” he says as he rises from his chair, “and I intend to find it.”


The roar of the crowd is nearly deafening, almost as much as the noise thrown off by the audio equipment up on the ruin-decorated stage. With the song Minefield of Memory over, Else and Robyn have switched positions, with Robyn moving to settle at the Piano and Else standing up to work the crowd while technicians tune the audio for the next song.

“How’re we feeling New York!” Else shouts, one fist in the air, and the crowd lets out another riotous choir of cheers and claps that echo through the border between Central Park and Unity Park. The applause continues on, and beside the stage, technicians work moving new instruments up on stage, pre-tuned guitars to the acoustic finale that will be coming sooner rather than later.

Beyond the busily working AV techs, Colette Demsky-Books looks only somewhat out of place in roadie attire; black jeans slashed with cuts across the thighs and knees, loosely-laced combat boots and a Shattered Skies against the chill of late autumn air. Her mismatched eyes shoot up to find Isabelle, then Shaw, and she jerks her head away from the stage as if to indicate showtime.

Just, a different show.

In a different world.

Time to bust out this joint.

Burnin’ up like a big bright sun
Floating down from outer space
Tell me that I’m all yours
The brightest star in all the sky
Lighting up the atmosphere
Drive me wild with your pulse
Not caring for the ground
Burnin’ out, only ashes still remain

Her own combat boot laced feet carry her away from the stage while she looks over at Shaw with a slow nod, just like they discussed. Sauntering over to one of the racks of clothes the pyrokinetic rummages underneath to pull out a black backpack, handing the first one to Shaw and then taking the other for herself. They had years of memories here, sometimes you get attached to things. Like guns and knives and all kinds of futuristic shit. Isa’s hazel eyes check over her shoulder to look again at Colette before she's hustling off and into the darkness hopefully with Shaw in tow.

The heat around her is moderate and her bare shoulders don't feel the breeze fully as she goes to check in her backpack as she walks, everything there Izzy smiles softly, “I'm sorry we have to leave. It’ll be fine. The next world, I'm like sure of it.” She really wasn't but keeping Shaw calm this night was paramount, so was keeping herself calm. No matter how pissed at Kaito she was, his words and trainings rang through her mind. Reminding her of tempering, of controlling herself.

Can’t think, can’t sleep, can’t move
Torn asunder

A hand goes to thread loose strands of hair out of her face before Isabelle quickly ties it up into a high ponytail and slips her cap back over her head, pulling the brim down low. Another adjustment to the strap of her tank top and she feels as prepared as she can get.

A Mets-blue ballcap with orange NY lettering bobs in time to the beat of the music, and the man whose head is doing so seems a touch distracted when Minefield of Memory ends. The rest of Shaw is clad in the typical black shirt and dark grey cargo pants of stagehands. His pockets aren't laden with the typical tools and duct tape, but rations and supplies. Well, maybe a roll of duct tape somewhere in there, holding a Philips screwdriver. Because duct tape is the Force, and who couldn't use a screwdriver for whatever reason.

He glances towards the stage as other hands begin changing equipment and adjusting equalizers, scooting back to Wardrobe to meet up with Isa as they had discussed. There he takes one of the backpacks they'd stashed, his gaze dropping away in avoidance of hers as he looks to a sliver of sightline where he can see people still. A last slice of Paradise.

What I am, can't be without you
There's no future I can see without you
Don't matter how many tears I cry
My wings are clipped, I'll never fly

But, here they were again, intrepid space-time travelers readying to brave yet another new world. Shaw isn't exactly calm, but he's not frozen in anxious indecision. He's made that decision to leave. Or rather, to follow his family. And so he treks after Isa to join Colette backstage. "Do you think they'll have waffles? I hope they do." He casts a faint smile at Colette. She'd been the first to reintroduce Shaw to that flavor. He hadn't forgotten.

“Everywhere’s got waffles,” Colette opines with a helpless shrug, “if the universe is fair, anyway.” Walking along beside Shaw, Colette adjusts the strap of her courier bag over her shoulder and looks up to the stage as a series of swirling, colorful lights begin to improbably dance overhead.

Like a fairy tale now we wind
In and out of my worn mind
Tell me now what you saw
Losing control of what I feel
Falling down all around us
Pushed too far, breaking down
Collapsing to the ground
Fade away, ashes still remain

Robyn Quinn’s photokinetic display elicits a raise of an eyebrow from the brunette, but then a slow shake of her head. “I'm only going with you as far as your door out,” Colette reminds Isabelle, “I've got a lot to stay here for, and… and Tamara can help keep us safe if things get worse. But so can't… I can't leave my dad, and everyone else.”

As they move through the backstage area, roadies tuning instruments offer a sidelong look to the group. Colette flashes her lanyard badge at them and doesn't stop moving. Through the crowd quite a distance away, she spots someone and makes a waving motion to Isabelle and Shaw. “I think I just saw Kain and Liz, they're already through. Everything's right on time.”

What I am, can't be without you
There's no future I can see without you
Don't matter how many tears I cry
My wings are clipped, I'll never fly

Isabelle’s eyes take in Colette but she stops the frown, this universe isn't any safer than hers with someone like Arthur running around but she understands not being able to leave family. Leaving.. hers. Was hard enough though she felt some solace in that she no longer would be ruining their lives.

The pyrokinetic keeps up pace with Colette and Shaw smiling softly at her man, “If they don't have waffles, we’ll make waffles. Promise.” Not that Isabelle is a great cook but waffles are easy. Right?

Can’t think, can’t sleep, can’t move
Torn asunder

The mention of Kain and Liz have hazel eyes flicking over to where Colette has gestured. “Ah fuck ok.” A light smile thought of as encouragement is given to Shaw before Isa lays a hand on Colette’s shoulder. “You're a good person. If I run into more of you on the way..” Isa doesn't always make promises and not to just anyone but for helping them get out of here? “I'll make sure to look out for you.” Fair is fair. Saving her life. She’ll save Colette’s, if given the chance.

What I am, can't be without you
There's no future I can see without you
Don't matter how many tears I cry
My wings are clipped, I'll never fly

Shaw’s faint smile pulls wider with Colette’s opinion and Izzy’s idea. “That would be wonderful,” he thinks aloud, shifting the heavy-laden hiker’s backpack behind him. The man sends a sidelong glance back in the direction of the roadies but he keeps moving, not wishing to be a delay.

But when Colette notes that she’s not coming with and why, Shaw looks saddened in the way friends saying farewell at a station might. That’s similar, but this is much more forever feeling. Isabelle’s sentiments are echoed in his slow nod. But before he’s really ready to go, the man steps in with the intention to give Colette a hug. “Thank you,” he says quietly, “for everything.” And then he’s ready to head out.


Though saddled with a child on his back, Kain seems on balance as he adjusts the straps and re-adjusts the camera over his shoulder. “Okay, Harpo,” he says with a nod toward Alia, “look uh, technical, and keep your head down.” Tugging his ballcap down lower, Kain ambles along behind Elisabeth and Kaylee with Alia at his side. Though Kain side-eyes Kaylee for a moment, eyeing the glasses and then the outfit. He starts to say something, but then notices Kathleen is looking directly at him and just flashes a charming smile.

He’ll keep the comment about librarians to himself for later.

“Tamara said southwest stairwell for us,” Kathleen offers to Elisabeth in an aside loud enough to hear over the crowd, but quiet enough to be between them. “We’ll need to skirt the stage, and…” she motions with a tip of her chin to a man in a black windbreaker in the crowd with an obvious earpiece. Alia is too far away to pick up any signals coming from it, but with a little luck she could close in and intercept or interfere.

“FBI,” Kathleen indicates with a furrow of her brows, “some sort of new task force, they’ll probably have the sensors on them to find people like you.” Her blue eyes flick back to Elisabeth. “I tried to get my hands on some of the technical specs, but I couldn’t get into Doctor Luis’ office.” Scrubbing one hand over the back of her neck, Kathleen shoulders through a few people in the crowd hopping up and down to the beat of the song pounding from the stage. It’s a familiar one to Elisabeth, and also a reminder of things yet to come.

Swallowed up the moon
Burned up all the land
Seen it all here
The lapping shores of the Empire State
Building a new day from nothing

Up on the stage, Robyn Quinn sits at the piano, eyes closed and hands moving across the keys while Else walks back and forth in front of the crowd. Their other bandmates play off to the sidelines, with a backup electric keyboard and guitars. The crowd seems filled with electricity, and the feeling is hard to ignore. For Elisabeth, it’s hard to imagine this place as anything other than a burned ruin. The Ruins of Midtown, and yet here… so much beauty and life. For Kaylee and Kain, too, an empty ruin devoid of life. It is Alia who is the only one leaving the greener grass behind, for the unknown on the other side.

Woke me up to a world
that I am not a part of
more than in dreams

Up at the head of the group, Kathleen slows her pace as the FBI agent slips into the crowd, reaching inside of his jacket and removing what looks like a geiger counter with a digital display, holding it in one hand while he sweeps a chrome baton in the other, pushing through the crowd. Kathleen tenses up, looking to Elisabeth and then back to Kaylee and Alia. She knows better than to hope Kain has some sort of magic solution to that.

Alia spots the device as well, and stretches out with her ability. This isn’t her strong suit, but as the thing nears, she should be able to send it barking up the wrong tree, she hopes. After all, while it has some fancy tricks, in the end, it’s a digital circuit going ‘the sensor is on here’. Telling it to detect nothing at all once it’s within reach shouldn’t be that hard… the problem being the reach.

And Alia, the child of two well to do gentleman thief types, pushes. Because it’s now or never. So She gets closer. “Go. I’ll confuse it. Southwest Stairwell.” It seems Alia knows her job even in this universe.

It's strange…
Why you swallowed up the moon
Cast it all to ash and dust,
Washed it all away to start again…

Slanting a glance at Alia, Elisabeth tips her chin toward Kaylee and murmurs, "Back-up in case she can't keep the sensor busy?" Because Kaylee should be able to confuse the guard and Liz's ability to simply silence the alarm depends on being able to isolate and mute the specific wavelengths she wants. She takes up a position to cover all three while Kathleen acts as a guide through the crowd.

The speakers set up in the park for this are a godsend… there are plenty of sounds out here dancing in the air, and she has literally spent 5 years learning what she can do to them. So while the two take on the guard and his machine, Liz herself just makes sure the music of these two rather amazing artists is laced through with the subsonic frequencies to make people … just… relax. She keeps her focus in an arc of the audience around them so as not to include Kaylee and Alia, though… she doesn't want them relaxed at all!

Standing on the shores of the Empire State
beaches of 34th street
Lapping shores of the Empire State!
Building a new day from the remains
of all that we have been
for the nothing left behind

Chances are she heard what Kain was thinking anyway, he gets a flat look at his back, but only briefly. Focus shifts to the man making his way through the crowd. Elisabeth gets a bit of a smirk and a nod when she is called back-up. She is okay with that.

Why? Crowds suck, that’s why.

Not only are people loud in general in this sort of setting, but that excitement is often times mental, too. Makes it a little harder to pinpoint one mind in the crowd, even if she’d know Kain, Liz and her niece, if she lost them in this craziness. Shifting around with the technopath, Kaylee’s eyes unfocus a little, searching for that mind and waiting to give a nudge if necessary.

Alia’s ability plays havoc with the sensor, muting all outside stimuli from triggering the detector. The device gives off a baseline level of clicks and chirps as Kain breezes past with baby on board and his camera in some sort of bizarre bring your daughter to work day. As Alia stays in range to keep the device malfunctioning, the agent twitches his brow once as Kaylee’s mind reaches out and pushes inside and plants a suggestion.

Just as Elisabeth and Kathleen are moving past, the agent murmurs to himself and goes wandering off deeper into the jumping crowd. She exhales a deep sigh of relief, one hand at her chest and a thankful look to Kaylee and Alia. “Much appreciated, dreamwalking isn’t all that helpful uh, in these sorts of situations.” She falls in line right behind Elisabeth, who can see Kain about forty or fifty feet ahead of them through the crowd, approaching the far side of the crowd toward the front of the stage, where grated metal partitions keep the crowd from moving up directly next to the stage. Kain eyes the Deveaux Building behind it, and turns back to Liz.

Swallowed up all the light
shadows of the islands of Brooklyn
shores I call my home

Kain can’t seem to find a way through that doesn’t involve some level of subterfuge. Slowly making his way back to meet Elisabeth and Kathleen halfway through, Kain leans in to conspire with them both as Alia and Kaylee catch up. “Got some security Gorillas up past the barricade, we’re gonna have to flash press IDs and just act, y’know, natural right?”

Kain flattens his brow and grimaces as the baby on his back coos softly. “Ah’m gonna ask ya’ll never t’speak a word’a this t’anyone once we get somewhere that ain’t here.”

It's strange…
Why you swallowed up the moon
Cast it all to ash and dust,
Washed it all away to start again…

Catching only part of the conversation, but just enough to casually look past the tall blonde man to the checkpoint beyond. “I won’t be able to tell if I can get into their heads until I get closer.” She glances down at her press badge slightly unconvinced that they will work.

The sound of the little girl on his back, gets a soft look. Yeah, well, she can’t help it, she’s spent enough time with Aurora. Of course, Kain asking them never speak of his nice guy moment. It takes everything in Kaylee not to laugh, but it shows in her blue-eyes. “Oh no no, I think not, Mr. Mom.” Those last two words get drawn out rather smuggly, by the telepath. “This will definitely be coming up again when you least expect it. If I still had my phone, this would be one for the photo album.”

Standing on the shores of the Empire State
beaches of 34th street
Lapping shores of the Empire State!
Building a new day from the remains
of all that we have been
for the nothing left behind

“Come on, y’all.” She says with a glance back at the others. “We got an appointment to keep. Time’s tickin’ away.” As she is sweeping past Kain he get a wink and a smile, she is after all the producer. Her expression settles into a faux shy and nervous smile, like a girl who finds someone cute, as she begins the approach the guards, her ability stretching out. It lays in waiting to see if she will need to her change a detail here and there; but, hopefully they won’t need it. Fingers tuck length of blond hair that’s fallen from the braid behind her ear, while the pass is held up for scrutiny.

Alia just puts on a weary ‘I’m a tech to fix their stuff’ smile, and clips her badge to her blouse collar. Fancy isn’t really required for her part of this job. Other than making sure any electronic database check they try to do comes up valid, mind you, which she is keeping an eye on. Go figure.

But there's nothing there
No one here
In the world you woke me up to
That I am not a part of
more than in dreams

Elisabeth laughs softly. The 5-year-old is just like most women — Kain talks and she flirts. She pats the man's blonde hair and bounces happily on his back. Watchful hazel eyes keep her mother in sight, though; she wouldn't normally be this easy-going with someone she barely knows, but she is absolutely fascinated by his voice — she whispered to Aunt Kaylee, "He talks in gold!" when she heard him talking the first time — and her mother put her up there and told her secrets! Uncle Kain needs someone to make him brave! So her job in all this is to hug him tight!

The audiokinetic clips her badge and holds the microphone that got passed to her while she tries to smother her grin about Kain being petted and cooed over like a pet cat, Kathleen getting an amused wink despite her tension. "Not to worry," she murmurs to the dreamwalker. "Between those two, honestly, I think we got the dream team. If Kaylee can't sweet talk them, I'll back her up and see if we can persuade them that all we need for the show are a few good shots of the crowd for our broadcast."


Sheepishly scrubbing a hand at the back of his neck, Tyler catches up with a few hustling steps and comes to stop by Ruiz and Lynette, eyeing the two up and down for a moment. He then shoots a look to Magnes and then back to the Ruiz’ daughter, and then back to Magnes. “I'm no expert but this seems like a dangerous time to have kids around. Don't they uh, isn't there like, a sitter?”

It only takes a moment more for Tyler to put two and two together and slap his own forehead. “Right, right, fleeing. Am… I going with you guys? Or is this just like a relay race or something, pass the baton?” His voice echoes down the sewer tunnel, though the bass beat and noise of the crowd above keeps his raised voice from traveling far.

Up ahead, where Magnes and Tamara are at the fire of the group, the old sewer passage makes a circuitous path toward the Deveaux Building. To the left, a shallow set of concrete steps leads up to a rusty iron door marked with a faded yellow sticker with a black lightning bolt in the center. Equally faded spray paint stenciling on the wall reads Maintenance Conduit. There's two more of these along the way before the basement entrance to the Deveaux Building.

As they pass by, continuing through the musty tunnel, graffiti paint up ahead shows a strange orange and red flower in bloom amid a tangle of thorned brambles. It looks to have been painted years ago, alongside a faded phoenix with wings spread and the words Rise Up.

Overhead, the tone of the music changes, as does the thumping percussion of the beat. The travelers are left to their thoughts, for now, and one-another’s company.

Magnes stares back at Tyler for a long moment, then starts walking again. "Yes, you're coming with us." he says as if he just sort of decided that on his own, and continues walking. He looks around, considering a few things. "Ideally, when we get to the next world, we'll let everyone recover, and then figure out when our next opportunity is to jump again, if we don't manage to make it back to mine immediately."

Lynette watches as Ruiz picks up Evie. She fusses over them a little, as if adjusting backpacks and shirts and stray hair might somehow make this less stressful. She ends up casting Tyler a sidelong glance, letting him work out for himself why they have her along. Her response is to kiss her daughter on the forehead before following Ruiz as they make their way forward.

"Do you want to come with us?" Lynette doesn't seem to notice Magnes' answer, or she's deliberately ignoring it. "No promises that it's going to be comfortable. Or that you'll ever make it back." Things Lynette herself has had to come to terms with. She's had a very comfortable life here, after all. Leaving it all behind— her father, her money, her home— it hasn't been an easy decision. Of course, her world was changing as they speak, a notion that lingers in her mind as they walk.

“Yeah, that should be your choice,” Ruiz echoes his wife as he motions along down the Maintenance Conduit. He knows why she’s coming along, even if he had tried to talk her out of it really. There had been no way after what Eve had said, and he doesn’t think she would have let him go on his own even if their son— her son— hadn’t disappeared. He doesn’t actually know who Tyler is, not even recognizing him from another world, but he doesn’t think it should be someone else’s decision.

Even if they are being chased and hunted by a government. “We don’t know if the world we’re going to will be any better than this one.” His had been so bad he’s not sure anything could be worse than a world where billions of people were dead, though.

“And no, we’re not leaving our daughter.” There might be a sitter, plenty of them even, but no— he would never see her again, most likely. And neither would Lynette, if they go together. She’s not screaming or fussing, at least, her hand grasped around her dad’s shirt.

"Yes," is Tamara's contribution to the conversation, patently elicited by Tyler's questions — although which question it's an answer to is rather more ambiguous. She glances back as the conversation continues, but on the subject of worlds and their states, the seer remains silent. Instead, she pauses briefly beside the stylized pattern of the burning bird, fingertips lightly tracing the leading edge of a faded wing. Then she continues on, blue gaze turned forward into the darkness and the distance they have yet to cover.


“Look missy,” Kain says over his shoulder to the blonde on his back first, “Ah’m glad Ah’ don't have long hair anymore for you t’chew on but somehow yer still findin’ ways t’tug on what's there so— could— ” Kain can't. He can't sass a child.

«Welcome home»
«I've been missing you»
«We're insuperable»

Kaylee witnesses Kain’s weakness unfold in front of her like a how-to manual on pushing his buttons, and when he makes eye contact with her there's a firmly grumbled. “Not one word, Malibu Stacy.” Because she's not blonde anymore, and Malibu Stacy was a brunette and— Kain grimaces and drags one hand down his face.

Up ahead the security checkpoint for the backstage area doesn't look unusually tight. Badges are scanned with a phone and Kain is waved through with the rest of the entourage, right up until someone spots Aurora on his back. “Hey uh, buddy?” The security member motions at Kain, suspiciously eyeing Aurora who hides her face behind Kain’s shoulder.

Welcome home, it said to me, the fires far as eyes can see
I need so much to see along side you
I do
I do

“Hey man, you ain't gonna make me leave mah’ little girl on the other side of the gate, are ya?” Kain ambles back over, “Ah’m a single dad an’ she loves this band. C’mon cut me some slack.” The security for the concert eyes Kain, then Aurora, then back again and his expression shifts from a flat line to a slow smile and he waves Kain on through again.

“Darlin’,” Kain says over her shoulder to Aurora, “Ah’ sure coulda’ used you about six months ago. Nobody questions a man with his daughter.”

Come with me, she took my hand, please try to help me understand
So pointless, but my heart is ash and coal.
I know
I know

Past the concert checkpoint, though, the badges for press only mean so much. The Deveaux Building isn't part of the venue, just a backdrop to loom over the stage in its vine-encrusted and ivy-decked brick. But the building isn't abandoned, either. Two black sedans are parked out front, and the entrance Kain and the others need to move in from are surveilled by two men in black suits with black wool jackets.

“More feds,” Kathleen quietly notes as she spots the men by the building. She looks to the right, to stairs that lead out on stage, then back to the feds and around the backstage area. “Thoughts?”

I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you then
I need you now
I need you now

“Can distract them some.” Alia notes. “But doesn't get them out of area.” she considers. “or could make a lot of racket, but has own issues…” Alia is trying for the less violent methods it seems. “Or bluff, do piece on building itself?”

Way to go, baby girl! Elisabeth grins and shakes her head — small children make everyone smile. Aurora grins widely and stage-whispers in the way only five-year-olds can, "Good job bein' brave, Unca Kain!" After they're past the guards. Someone better thank God that her mom's an audiokinetic — the words don't carry past their small group. Liz knows how her daughter takes pride in complimenting other people!

«Heaven cannot brook two suns, nor earth two masters»
«A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient»
«There is nothing impossible to those who will try»

Studying the black sedans, Elisabeth purses her lips. "I could knock them out, but honestly… keeping it within a field while hitting them hard enough to do it from here would still probably cause too much attention." She's love to chase them away herself by playing REALLY obnoxious reporter, asking them embarrassing questions about whether they have comments for the public…. but that would also draw too much attention. And maybe a riot.

I wish we could, she whispered near, go someplace far away from here
While hoping, a small voice would disappear
That said, welcome to the end

"Alia… can you squawk their radios and tell them targets have been sighted at the west side of the crowd and they need backup?" She glances toward the technopath. "It'd pull everyone from their posts, or at least a lot of everyone. Maybe clear the road for the others too."

Nodding in agreement with both women, Kaylee adds, “If they resist, I can always give a nudge, but they are on edge enough, they might go without it.” Plus, she better not burn herself out before they get on the other side…. Where ever that is going to be.

I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you then
I need you now
I need you now

Aurora gets an affectionate smile. Awww. Reaching out, Kaylee gives the girl a boop on the nose. “Just remember.” she says softly, “If Uncle Kain gets scared, give him a big ‘ole hug. He likes hugs.” Sorry Kain, you’ve dug that grave. Gonna have to live in it now.

Turning to Alia, the telepath motions her on. “After you.”

I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you then
I need you now
I need you now

Turning to Alia, Kain offers the technopath a swift nod. “Ah’ll back y’up whichever way,” he offers, once more adjusting the balance of weight that baby and camera put on his frame.

He then looks over his shoulder to Aurora. “An don't you start with me like them. They're just jealous they ain't gettin’ t’ride in style.”

«Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely»
«Soldaten des Reichs! Dieser Tag sollen Sie an einer Offensive von solcher Bedeutung teilnehmen, dass die vollständige Zukunft des Krieges von seinem Resultat abhängen kann!»
«The only thing we have to fear… is fear itself»

In for a penny, as the saying goes, Alia frowns “thanks, Unka Kain” then tries to do something new. Digital is by far Alia’s strong suite. Trying to mess with analog radios is taking a chance. But hey, it might work. In theory, anyway.

The tall blonde cajun was making it all too easy today, but… there are children present and whatever comment might have passed her lips is stifled; but, not without that mischievous smile. Clipboard against her side, Kaylee keeps near Alia, her head tipped a little listening to the pair of minds ahead of her. Tendrils of her ability hover listening and waiting to see if she’ll be needed.

It's been so long, since we broke free, it's hard to feel that memory
Dirty mirrors, our reflections entwined, always
Suffering, we understand, put forth on us through time's deep sands
Unending chain, one broken link, between us two
And I say
Welcome to the end

It was hard for this telepath to be patient and let others take care of it. Kaylee manages it, tho.

Fortunately for Alia, once she's moved within her short range for the radios she discovers that they're digital and not analog. Immediately this feels more her speciality, and each radio squawks with not only a synthesized voice, but static to cover the artificiality.

«We've got a— th— on the southw— ide of the p— »

I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you then
I need you now
I need you now

One of the agents grabs the radio and calls into it. “Repeat, cannot confirm.” That's when Kaylee uses her ability, filling in the blanks of what he heard and what he thinks he heard. It's enough of a short leap for her to cloud his mind, for when the inevitable comes next.

“The fuck did they say?” The second agent asks as he comes over, motioning to the radio of the other agent.

I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you now
And I wish I didn't need you then
I need you now
I need you now

“Sighting on the southwest side of the park, they want all available agents.” That the transmission only reached one radio is both inconsequential to these two, and also by design. One person is easier to fool than one hundred.

As the two agents jog off, Kain glances up to the stage and bounces on his heels a little, giving Aurora a bit of entertainment as she bounces in her backpack harness. Kathleen follows the agents’ sight line until they're lost in the crowd, then nods to Alia and Kaylee.

«It is a parent's right to know if their child is a boy or girl, has any health issues to be concerned about in the future, just as it's their right to know if their child is Evolved or not. It would certainly enable registration to integrate easier into daily life»
«Today, the fire is no longer about destruction»
«Initial reports from the scene indicate the body was found in the same fashion as the previous victims of this serial killer that New York locals are calling "The Reaper"»

“Good work, hopefully that's the last of them we need to worry about.” With a nod, Kathleen directs everyone forward and Kain pivots, pretending to film the backstage area as they briskly make their way to the southwest entrance to the Deveaux Building.

Just memories, passed down instead, washed with images of the dead
Who held our hands with pride?
Inseparable sides, of that same coin, yet shades of gray
Fails to define, the certainty of when we say
Welcome to the end

“Once they find out that was a trick, the heat is going to be on us.” Kathleen offers a look back over her shoulder, then to Elisabeth with a reassuring smile. “I hope the others are going ok.”


Flattening her smile, Colette shakes her head dismissively to Shaw. “I’d accept the thanks if you didn’t have to run from the government. But…” her mismatched eyes flick away, then back again. “I guess our world wasn’t as flawless as we thought it was. It was just… we were just blind.”

As she leads Isabelle and Shaw past the backstage area, their approach to the Deveaux Building is made clearer by what are clearly federal agents being drawn away by a disturbance. One is talking on a radio and hustling away from the crowd and another is reaching for a holstered firearm, but they’re moving away from Kain’s team. Whatever they did, it was effective.

Oh mother, can you tell me?
Tell me, where we're going?
Oh mother, can you show me?
Show me, where we began?
Oh mother, can you tell me?
How long, we have to go.

Colette motions around the right side of the Deveaux Building, “Southeast stairwell,” she says, indicating a matte red steel door far from the front entrance. The pulsing beat of the music behind them grows as Colette hustles across the street, crowded with vans, trucks, and trailers for all of the equipment and performers. By the time they reach the doorway to the stairwell, Colette comes to a stop and tests the lock. “Shit,” she looks bewildered. “Tamara was supposed to— somebody re-locked the door.”

Mismatched eyes flick to Shaw and Isabelle, “Either of you know how t’pick a lock or… uh…” Colette turns and looks back to the door, then back to Shaw and Isabelle, then past them to the crowd. “Whatever you can do, do it fast.”

Without another word Izzy and extends her hand, the heat around her surging to new heights as she squints and the door lights on fire, concentrating she builds the flame from the inside out, small before it's burning and glowing red hot. Picking the lock could work but that might take more time that just don't have. Reaching her hand forward she twists the knob and yanks the door, it jostles but doesn't open at first.

Far, far, far, from the pages we've unturned
Far, far, far, all the faces have changed
And then, they're perfectly in synch with one another.
Oh, from up here we can see forever
But that doesn't feel like so long anymore
Oh, from down here we can reach for the sky
But that doesn't feel quite so hard anymore

Hazel eyes flashing with a focused angered the woman concentrates harder on the heat and the yanks again the door pulls open and the flames are immediately doused. Wisps of smoke lift to the air and Isabelle waves at it so it doesn't rise into the sky too noticeable but dissipated.

A light grin flashes on the woman’s face as she waves, “After you.”

“The TV makes it look so easy,” Shaw mumbles on the subject of lockpicking, tacking on with an aside to Colette, “It’s not.” So he busies himself with keeping a lookout instead, considering they’d seen agents being distracted away. Using the bulk of his pack and himself, he stands so he can block most of the immediate view of Izzy’s on-the-spot lock-melting trick. Once the door’s open, he turns and grins. It’s always a fun trick to see.

Once they’re just inside the door, though, he lifts a hand in gesture for them to hold on a moment before they go climb stairs. Head tilting up, the man takes on a slightly blank look as he focuses on sharpening his hearing to superhuman levels, listening to the sounds that might come reverberating or echoing through. Isabelle would recognize the look as Shaw engages his own ability. The rest of his senses drop away, leaving him vulnerable, but at least he’s doing so in the safety of the others’ presence.

Oh we're far, far, far, from the place we came from
Oh we're far, far, far, from the light and the dark
Oh we're far, far, far, but there's miles yet to go!
Oh we're far, far, far, from the shadow below!
Oh, from far away all our troubles look small
But that doesn't help us forget how they've come
Oh, from right here we remember the lost
But that doesn't help us who survived the fall!

As Shaw’s senses expand up and out through the spaces beyond where the three stand, Colette offers a wide-eyed look at Isabelle, then around to the crowd to see if anyone saw the light-show. Fortunately, they’re distracted by the literal light-show going on above the stage, where nebulas of light and energy in shades of neon violet and teal churn and spread. A slow, easy smile crosses Colette’s face and she turns to Isabelle more appreciatively. “I’ve gotta learn that trick,” she notes with a lopsided smile.

As she and Isabelle make first steps into the southeast stairwell, Shaw’s senses sweep the unseen and unheard. At the moment the roar of the crowd and the steady bass beats and rhythm of the music drowns out much of the ambient noises otherwise inside the building, but Shaw’s fine senses don’t pick up anything trying to hide within that noise. He can hear the crack and groan of the southwest stairwell door, multiple feet moving; the sounds of Kathleen’s team making their way inside. He can also pick up something underground, Tamara’s team most likely, but those sounds are but muted thumps without real resonance or texture.

Oh we're far, far, far, from the place we came from
Oh we're far, far, far, from the light and the dark
Oh we're far, far, far, but there's miles yet to go!
Oh we're far, far, far, from the shadow below!

As the last one inside, Shaw shuts the door behind himself and can overheard the radio chatter of the federal agents on the other side of the crowd. “I swear to God, I heard you call us out here!” It sounds as though some misdirection is already in play by one of the other teams.

“Nobody called you! Are you sure you heard what you heard!?” Another federal agent calls out.

Oh mother, can you sing?
To me, a song
Oh mother, can you tell?
A story, to come
Oh mother, do you hear it?
The voice of the sun
Oh mother, did you know?
We've been here before

I swear!” Shaw hears as the door to the southeast stairwell shuts, but no longer locks. Neither Shaw nor Isabelle and Colette notice the small electronic device set beside the automatic hinge at the top of the door. It has no flashing light to give it away, no alarm to sound, just a purpose to tell whether a door has or hasn’t been opened, then silently send that information elsewhere.

But we're far, far, far, from our life and our love
We're too far, far, far, from the safety of home
Oh we're far, far, far, but we're not looking back
We're gone, gone, gone, and the way back is closed!
The way back is closed!
The way back…
…is closed.

…to waiting parties.


The lights from the stage flood the otherwise dark VIP box. As the colors spread across the glossy black floor and the blonde woman seated in one of the plush leather-upholstered chairs, the man standing at her side reaches into his pocket and withdraws a cell phone, checking the notification that has lit up the screen.

Roger Goodman stares into the cell phone with furrowed brows, lips slowly downturning to a frown. His dark eyes move to offer an askance look to Odessa Woods, then back to the phone with eyes closing slowly. The pulsing beat of the music from the stage reverberates through the glass, piped in from speakers in the corner of the room. Goodman puts the phone back in his pocket and looks over to Odessa and rests a hand on the back of her chair.

“The southeast stairwell alarm was triggered, we have movement in the building.” Goodman’s hand slips off the back of the chair as he circles behind it and comes up on the other side of Odessa’s chair. “I’m going to step outside and let them know we have contact, then lead the forward team inside. We won’t let them escape, after everything they’ve done.” After everything Goodman and his ilk have blamed them for, to cover their own asses.

“Will you be joining me, or would you like to watch the show from here?” Goodman raises one brow thoughtfully.

Odessa feigns polite indifference when Goodman pulls out his phone, rather than fix him with her sharkish focus. There’s a momentary desire to freeze things and look over her shoulder, but Goodman is her ally. She’ll give him the courtesy of trust, whether that street goes both ways or not.

When he explains the alert, her brows lift. “Is that so?” She tips the last of her drink back in a smooth motion then climbs to her feet easily. “I’m with you, of course. Can’t have your team hogging all the glory, can I?” He’s seen that grin before. She’s on the hunt now. “What are we waiting for?”

Goodman’s smile is as tenuous as his loyalty, and with an incline of his head and a wave of one arm he gallantly motions for Odessa to join him in preparation.


Tyler has a hard time speaking to either point of view. Brows knit together in worry, it's evident that some of the conversational topics are going over his head, even the basics of what is or isn't his choice. “Look,” he finally says with a firm gesture of both hands. “I don't remember where my uh, house is, so I guess that means it's anywhere, right? It doesn't matter where I go. I don't have anything to miss.”

A hollowed-out gourd is what Edward called him in Magnes’ presence, and it isn't far from the truth. What Pinehearst did to Tyler's mind is nothing short of a crime. “But just so we’re all clear, I'm pretty sure I was the president or something, and they made me step down and go into hiding.”

Ahead of Tyler’s incessant chatter, Tamara winds down familiar corridors of yet-to-be’s. There's a pair of boots down here, tucked into an alcove by steam pipes, leather cracked and split. Their owner has long since left, abandoning their shoes for reasons unknown a very long time ago. Nearby to that, a wrench is rusted to the tunnel floor so soundly that it is a part of the concrete now. Past here, things start to get more damp, and the terrain changes in unusual ways.

There is an inch of standing water up ahead where the tunnel slopes subtly downward. Overhead, the arching brickwork dating back to the 1800s is split by roots that extend down from Unity Park above. Thicker roots split out from the walls, push brick apart and make room for not only their verdant intrusion, but the trickling water as well. The door they need is through the water, around a corner, and just a few hundred feet to go.

The travelers see themselves reflected in the water, their reflections lit up by flashlights and casting their presence in sharp contrast of shadow and light. For Ruiz and Lynette, the water feels like a challenge, a threat. No turning back now, the crossing implies, allusory. The metaphor of water being change, of crossings and endings.

Magnes sees his reflection as well, bereft of his daughter. Even if he feels that as only temporary. The crossing is a symbol, a signpost on the way from Edward’s rantings. The ferryman after the river exchanges the coins, silver for copper, copper for silver.

To Tamara, perhaps it is just water. No one here could profess to know what she thinks.

"Sorry." Magnes says in a way that suggests he means everyone. "I'm just desperate."

He raises his hand when they get to the water, then shakes his head. "Alright, let's get through this."

It's clear he was about to use his ability, but for whatever reason, he changes his mind and simply enters. This is what his boots are for, after all. "I'm not entirely sure where we'll end up from here, but we have plenty of evidence that if we continue this journey, we'll end up in my world again. Once we're in my world, I know people who can help anyone who makes it there. It's not as sparkly as this one, but it's also not an Orwellian hellscape either."

There's a pause, and he adds, "Except for the occasional robot. But we're not the worst robot world." He tries to lighten his tone a bit, but it's clear there's something weighing on him, even as he tries to be more like his usual self.

Lynette looks over at Tyler at his answer, concern and sympathy pulling her expression dimmer. "In that case," she says, her voice softer, "you're welcome to stick with us. We'll make you some new memories." It might be a blessing, him not being able to know what he's missing.

She glances to Magnes next, her head shaking. "So are we. But not so much that we'd push someone into this blindly." She would chase her son through any world she needs to, but she doesn't like the notion of ruining anyone else's life. "And your world isn't how you left it. It's been years. There's been a war. Are you even sure you'll know it if you do find it?"

When she steps through the water, she reaches over to take Ruiz's free hand in hers. There's concern in her gaze as she looks at him, too. She knows there's more at stake for him than just landing in an unexpected world.

They are too. Desperate that is.

The missing piece of their reflection does make Ruiz think on what they are lacking. A hole that, at least someday, might be refilled. But for now, he just nods and steps into the water, holding Lynette’s hand and following. “I don’t know as much the rest of the way.” They had approached the building from above, but they should still be able to go as they had planned. Especially with the guide who greeted them upon their original arrival along with them.

She would know if they turned the wrong way.

“We know someone in your world too,” he agrees, though he doesn’t know how much help she could be, knowing what she had been through. But he also didn’t know if that world Magnes had left five years ago would be at all similar to the one that is there now.

But they couldn’t stay here, either.

"Home knows you when you find it," drifts back over the sound of Tamara's steps sloshing through the water, tone more companionable than declarative. Looking back to Ruiz, she nods once, little meaning though the gesture has in the dark.

"There's not much to know," the seer remarks as they continue on. "Bricks, water, doors. No mazes." A momentary pause, a contemplative tilt of her head. "Just don't mind the flies buzzing around."


Between songs, Else Kjelstrom has walked to the front of the stage again, microphone in hand as sound technicians swap out instruments and prepare audio adjustments. “New York!” Else shouts, fist in the air as the crowd riotously screams. “That last song…” she waits for the crowd noise to die down a little, “Way Back is Closed? I wrote that after the fifth-year anniversary of the Midtown bomb. It felt like… like we’d reached a turning point, y’know? The whole world had turned around, an’ we were gonna’ be okay.”

The crowd continues to cheer, and Else works the audience as she moves across the stage, receiving an electric guitar, looping the strap around her neck. “But we aren’t okay, are we New York? Everything seems kinda’ fuck right now, don’ it?” The crowd roars again, chants rising up and dying down. Else interjects over a moment of relative calm. “Well, it always gets worse ‘fore it gets better, don’ it? This next song… this next’s song’s about the darkest day.”

Else backs up a few steps and nods to Robyn on the piano, then turns back to the crowd. “This is City of Glass.” The crowd explodes into a cheer as she strums the first opening riff.

Elisabeth's watchful gaze takes in the two who head for the other side of the park and she nods to Kathleen. "Me too." She is more than a little worried… it's not a running gun fight to the portal this time, but it's no less harrowing for all that.

Thursday morning
wake to a city of glass and ash, set down my feet, take up my roots
Too many days, this went away with the rays
The one who burned
and the one whom they made burn
not one in the same, but

She herds her little group ahead, taking the rear guard position as they make their way into the building. "Take the stairs to the second floor and pick up the elevator there," she suggests. "That way if they do get back, there's nothing to see here in the lobby." She made the same suggestion to the other groups too — pick a floor a couple levels above the main lobby so they're not sitting ducks. She's not sure if they'll be able to but… any small thing might help.

“Two sedans. Travel in pairs. Where is other pair?” Alia observes as she moves, trying to ignore the headache trying to form. She is so not used to this. But forward and onward, and hope the other two aren't on the stairs.

While Liz has the back, Kaylee steps to the front of the group. Mainly, she is listening mentally. With the humming of minds around her, she pays attention to the tone. Anyone, who seems suspicious by just that gets a glance at their surface thoughts. If she can help it, no one is catching them by surprise.

Too many hours spent pining away over it
Innocence — and nothing of value was lost
Too many hours spent pining away over it
Innocence — and nothing of value was lost
Cut it out, watch it bleed, pining away over it
Cut it out, put it in, feel about the meaning

Anyone that might show up and think their presence is odd, might find themselves thinking something else odd.

Spotting the access for the stairs, the telepath glances back to the others and angles herself that way.

Liz glances at Alia and nods. "Let's hope they're at the other side of the building. I'm a little worried that if they actually think we're heading to this building, the guard rotation is already a little light. They either don't think we're a threat, or there's something nasty as shit waiting for us," she says grimly. Her eyes are constantly on the move as they head for the stairwell, though she spares a quick grin for the little girl enjoying the bouncing on the Cajun's back. Aurora only knows they're going on a trip and it's a super-special one, so she's not scared right now. It's just an adventure. Elisabeth is hoping to keep it that way.

Too many days this went away with the rays
I'll stand right here and beg for forgiveness
Too many days this went away with the rays
I'll stand right here and shout for forgiveness
Because in the end we're silhouettes of memories
We're standing up high looking down on everything
on everything we know is going to burn

On reaching the doors to the southwest stairwell on the building’s brick-faced exterior, Kain hesitates when he discovers the door is unlocked. He fires a look to the others, slowly swinging the door open and closed to wordlessly display his concern, then shoulders his way inside while Kathleen holds the door for everyone else.

“It's okay,” Kathleen says over the noise of the concert, “Tamara did some ground-work for this. Most of the exits we’re using at street-level should be unlocked for us.”

Beyond the door, the group arrives not in the Deveaux Building’s main lobby but an emergency exit at the ground floor level of the southwest stairwell. There's no lights on in here, and the gloom is oppressive in the massive building. Kain tenses when he sees the stairs, the same ones he'd taken on the way up the first time in his home world. The music of the concert outside becomes a dull roar, muffled by brick and glass, and no longer can Else’s voice be heard singing over the crowd noise.

“No power,” Kain says with a shake of his head, “we’re gonna he hoofin’ it the whole way.” That remark elicits a grimace from Kathleen, though she isn't surprised. It's an old building that was nearly destroyed by the Bomb, and stands more as a historic monument than a real building now. Restoring power was never a priority.

“Long way up,” Kathleen says with a nod to the stairs.

The telepath can’t help but lean out a bit and crane her head to look up. He isn’t wrong. “With Liz quieting our steps and me looking ahead…” Kaylee shrugs a bit, looking confident with the group they have. “We should be okay. Besides, we’ve done this before,” she points out matter of factly.

Starting up the stairs, Kaylee pauses and looks back. “This time, at least, I ain’t having to run up, sick as a damn dog with a virus that was tryin’ to kill me — while assholes chased us.” She takes some comfort in that at least. As she takes to the stairs, her ability stretches out and turns upward.

"Fffft," Elisabeth hisses. "Woman! You keep putting shit out there like that and inviting trouble, I'mma smack you," she retorts. She's vaguely amused, sticking her tongue out at Kaylee when the telepath rolls her eyes. But perhaps there's a little bit of superstition going on… because this has been far too fucking simple. She's got a bad feeling. There's no such thing as paranoia when you're us. Felix's words when she first contacted him come back to her now, and she shakes her head slightly. A frown pulls her brows together and then she closes her eyes.

She enfolds the group easily within a silence field that allows sounds in while not allowing anything out. She pauses just a moment with her hand on the rail to concentrate on exactly what she wants to hear and sort through the information she's sensing as she stretches her own ability up through the stairwell, holding it wide enough to encompass the stairwell as high as she can reach and the doors on the wall that lead into each floor, seeking out the sound range where the subtle sounds of the human body live. Anyone hiding just outside the fire stairs might be able to hide themselves many ways but not that one.

"Kain…" The audiokinetic hesitates and then offers a faint smile. "No matter what happens, you get her through." There are only a few people she will trust with her baby's life — Kain, perhaps oddly enough, is one of those. "Don't stop for anything. And if things go to shit…" She bites her lip. "You find my world's Cardinal, and you take her to him." She's never acknowledged to anyone outside Kaylee, Ygraine, and Magnes who the child's father is. But she knows Kain has loyalties to the man in question, and she entrusted Aurora's physical safety to him on this run… Now she is charging him with making sure the little girl gets home. Just in case.

Alia meanwhile just keeps walking with the techie bag. Her ability is kept open, reaching out to watch for others her own limited way… and to her own bag, where a small board computer sits, processing and storing the notes and doodles and pictures and more that the database queen calls her memorybox. Unka Kain and Aurora have a few already!

As they enter the stairwell and Liz lays that responsibility on Kain, his eyes go briefly dead and his jaw slacks. He looks down to the ground, over to Liz, and then turns away and ascends a couple of steps. “Yeah,” Kain murmurs, “Yeah— ”

“Take her! Kain! Kain you son of a bitch, take her!” Kaydence’s hair is plastered to her face by blood, pinned beneath concrete rubble. The sounds of gunfire and screams echo down the street, and Coleen stares down at her mother, sobbing uncontrollably.

Blue eyes wide, Kain bends down and picks up his backpack. The chop of helicopter rotors getting closer. He'd have to carry her. He can't save Kay. “Kain you selfish motherfucker take her! Coleen go, go with Kain!”

Coleen continues to sob over her mother, “Mumma, mumma!” Her face is spattered with Kaydence’s blood. But Coleen’s screaming is nothing compared to the mournful scream that erupts from Kaydence when Kain turns and runs, when he flees the sound of approaching helicopters as fast as he can, leaving Kay pinned beneath the rubble, and her daughter screaming for her dying mother.

“ — of c — Yeah.” Kain agrees, flustered, as he turns to shakily continue up the stairs.

Behind them a few paces, Kathleen pauses to look out one of the stairwell windows to the street below. “No sign of movement, they still haven’t figured it out. We've gotta hurry.”

Memories can be weird and funny things, especially, when you get caught by them. It’s the screaming of the memory that grabs Kaylee’s attention and drags her in. The intensity of the memory swirling around in his head is enough that, her next step catches the edge of the stair and the telepath trips. Without the sound barrier, it would have been a loud sound that bounces off the stairwell walls. Luckily she doesn’t fall, but it manages to bring her back to herself and cut off the memory… though the screaming girl, even muffled by mental walls, bleeds through.

Cheeks flush with embarrassment at her own clumsiness and possibly being caught red-handed looking where she shouldn’t.

Glancing back at Kain, it’s obviously she is seeing him a bit different. While, she knew about this woman from his past, she didn’t know this. There is a flicker of concern, but Kaylee doesn’t stare. Instead, she shifts a look over to Elisabeth, a bright smile — though most likely not real — touches her lips. “Don’t worry, Liz. I’ll do my best to make sure he does… or at least make sure she gets there myself. Any of us would.”

Meanwhile, Inside the Deveaux Building

With a grin and a wink to Colette, “If the next you hasn’t learned it, I'll teach it to ya.” Another promise, she likes the woman. She's risking a lot helping Isa and the other travelers. A hand goes out to grip Shaw’s whenever he loses his sight to enhance his hearing and also just for support.

Going up the stairs eventually the pyro lets Shaw’s hand go and she continues up, at ready if they encounter a team working to stop them. Isabelle can't lie that she wouldn't mind burning some folks before she leaves. Her breathing even and her mind focused as Kaito had beat it into her, her hazel eyes narrow as they round the levels of the steps one at a time. It's time to get the fuck out.

Reaching into her backpack she pulls out two long chains and a water bottle of clear liquid, pouring it over the chains and a look over to Colette and Shaw as to not sprinkle any gasoline on them. “Just in case.”

It's a testament of trust that Shaw lets Isabelle lead his blind, numbed self up the steps. Somewhere he has to remember to lift his feet so that they don't catch on the steps on the way up. "They're close, but still cold," Shaw says as his trio proceeds, and he releases the augmentation, letting the feeling of his other senses return. The man's eyes squint as blurry vision returns and sharpens. His nose wrinkles with the scent of the air, skin prickles with the chill feel of the air contrasted with Izzy's warmth.

Seeing Isabelle prep her chains prompts him to swallow a worried noise. "Wait," he says softly to the firestarter, "Until we get to the top."

The smell of gasoline has Colette’s eyes widening, a look leveled at Isabelle that implies what the actual fuck without so many words. Blinking away confusion, Colette looks to Shaw and mouths and appreciative “thank you” before continuing up the stairs. As the three make their ascent, Colette’s mind wanders to Elaine and the others moving up with the other children, the notion that Magnes’ own daughter isn’t among them strikes her in the gut. They’d trusted Colette — trusted this world — and everything had failed them.

As she reaches the next landing, turning to motion up, Colette looks back down to Shaw and Isabelle. “Only uh, eighteen more floors to go,” she notes with a grimace. As Colette turns back, there’s an explosion of light behind Isabelle at the landing to their backs. A rippling blast of violet and lavender light that ripples with an energetic plasma. Appearing from the static disruption is a tall and lean figure in matte black armor that looks like some sort of next generation FRONTLINE suit, except for its six glowing orange eyes spaced out across the otherwise featureless helmet. Behind the armored figure, a small blonde woman stands with a sword sheathed at her side.

«Stop where you are!» The armored figure threatens, raising an assault rifle at Isabelle, Shaw, and Colette. «You are under arrest for acts of terrorism and illegal entry into the United States through abuse of Evolved abilities!» It’s the most litigious way to say you’re from another fucking dimension.


Tyler offers Magnes a worried look for a moment, but says nothing as he follows at the rear of the group with his hands tucked into the pockets of his pants. The shallow water proves to not be an obstacle, more a symbol, as Tamara leads the way through it soaks her sneakers and the hem of her jeans. As each traveler or would-be traveler moves through the water, then wind their way into the older brickwork tunnels of a century and change past. The roots overhead that have split the brickwork are not naturally occurring, forced into being by the creation of Unity Park through evolved powers capable of terraforming the ruins of Midtown.

Around a bend, the door they’d been looking for approaches. An old, rusted and metal thing, heavy in its riveted frame with a too-faded stencil marking what once indicated electrical access. The tunnels keep winding past here, but they won’t be traversed into the deeper water, because they’ve reached the end of the line. Though the door is rusted shut, it only takes a firm application of Ruiz’s shoulder to break the rust off of the hinges and force the door open into the dark basement beyond. A pair of rats scatter when the door is forced over, winding their way past the former electrician and one scurrying over a seer’s sneaker, before disappearing from sight into the shallow water.

Flashlights illuminate the basement, where an old generator rests behind a rusted chain-link fence and gate. Corroded signs that read CAUTION indicate that these was once electricity flowing through this place, but not in a very long time. The elevator here, an old slatted-grate maintenance lift likely dates back to the early 1900s and no longer functions, but the dingy stairwell beyond an open door leads exactly where Tamara needs to take the others, a straight shot up the central stairwell to the roof.

“So…” Finally, Tyler speaks up. “Have— ” He reconsiders, lips pressed into a thin line. “You guys have done this before, right? Or— or some of you have? What’s it like on the other side of this? What’s… what’s it like trying to live somewhere else?” His brows raise, and it’s clear that above all other things, Tyler is just scared.

“I don’t…” Tyler’s brown eyes flick to the floor, then up to the path of flashlights in the dark. “I don’t have family here, I— I don’t think. But maybe I do? I don’t know, I… is it fair to go to another like, whole world? Don’t they have enough problems without me?” He tries to laugh at that, but there’s a kernel of self-doubt there, a seed of concern in his confused heart.

"It's difficult, and our priority has always been trying to get home. I can't say what it's like to decide to live somewhere else permanently, because my plan has always been to get home eventually." Magnes looks around, as if indicating the entire world at large. "But fitting in here, I think it was only difficult because I missed home, and I was so focused on getting home. I don't think it would have been that hard if it wasn't for that. Tamara helped a lot too, without her it would have been nearly impossible."

"Actually leaving, though…" He considers the actual, literal process. "It's kind of like walking through a door, or jumping into a swimming pool without any water under the surface."

"Tyler," Lynette starts, her tone gentle, "you're not a problem. We're all going to be there with you. Evie and me, we're in the same situation you are, leaving the only place we know. But you can stick with us, we'll all figure it out together. Javi— that is, Mateo can give us some tips as we go along."

He may be a grown man, but it seems like Tyler has been adopted, after a fashion. Like a wayward brother.

"We'll find our way," she says, squeezing Ruiz's hand. "And our families." She's trying to sound confident, for Evie's sake, but truly it only comes from her being unable to accept any other outcome.

“Magnes and I have done this before,” Ruiz responds, as he follows along, trusting the seer’s vision more than his memory of the maintenance tunnels. They hadn’t gone this far underground, but there had been a lot more obstacles between them and the building than there were in this world. In terms of destroyed tunnels and mobs of mindless killing machines with abilities at least. “It’s not easy, but I believe that if you’re meant to find someone, you will. No matter what world.” After all, he found Lynette a world away after she was supposed to be dead.

But he trusts the trip enough to bring his daughter along.

Even if he doesn’t know what it will do to him. “When we get there, we’ll need to find a hospital or something, probably. Not for you guys. My ability takes a pretty big toll on me.”

As Magnes has seen a few times.

In the distance, as the small group ascends the stairs, there is a sound of echoing shouts and voices raised in alarm. It's clear that the other teams may have run into obstacles, perhaps even resistance, but that is why Tamara chose this path for the most vital of the travelers. Without Magnes, Ruiz, Lynette, and Tyler there will be no portal, there will be no way home.

But there is always another motive behind the sibyl’s actions, a fork so far ahead that her sight already diverts the current of events toward its path. She is not so much a guide as she is a ferryman in the most literal of senses, bringing those in her care safely to distant shores…

…but, sometimes, at a price.


“Nothing,” Kathleen regretfully notes, shaking her head. “We didn’t want to have too many moving pieces, too much risk of being discovered. The plan is,” she threads a lock of blonde hair behind one ear, taking two steps at a time with haste, “once we get to the roof you all do whatever it is you need to do to get home as fast as possible. My sister and Colette are crafty enough to get us out of whatever trouble might be incoming.” Of that, Kathleen has the utmost faith.

Kain, who had grown noticeably quiet, pauses on the landing for the fifth floor and looks up through the switchbacking stairwell. “Fuck Ah’ forgot how many floors this is.” No language filter for the baby. Sass, certainly, but Kain’s mouth is a toilet regardless of age. He looks back at Aurora, though. “Don’ say that till’ you’re old enough t’smoke,” is certainly a piece of advice to give.

“So d’we just go straight up the whole way?” Kain asks, turning to look down to Elisabeth and Kathleen as they ascend, “Or— ”

A violent explosion of purple light ruptures the air behind Kain, sending him stumbling forward, television camera dropped from his grip to crash lens first on the stairs, then bounce and over end in an ever-splintering mess of expensive hardware. In that same moment, a dark shape crashes into the wall beside where Kain was standing, shattering brick and cracking the glass of the window beside it.

Kain lets out a yelp of surprise, turning around and staring death square in the face. Leaning away from the wall is a tall, lean figure in matte black armor reminiscent of that of FRONTLINE but looking a generation more advanced. The helmet is likewise black, and it is adorned with six glowing orange eyes. Mercifully, or perhaps not, the armored figure has no weapons.

Kain, however, does.

But as Kain reaches for his gun, Kathleen is faster on the draw, shooting over his shoulder and causing the armored figure to disappear in a sudden explosion of purple energy that leaves crackling motes sputtering in the air in his wake. Elisabeth recognizes that teleportation, knows who the man inside that armor must be:

Roger Goodman.

What th’ fuck was that!?” Kain shouts, gun out and aimed down at the floor, gripped in both hands. There’s no sirens in the distance, no alarms sounding, no telling where Roger just teleported to other than anywhere but in front of a bullet.

We have to move!” Kathleen shouts, underscoring the urgency.

Alia doesn’t hesitate to reach under her hair and… is that a sword she just pulled out? Really? Perhaps so. The teleporter is gone before she can lash out with her blade… but her ability seeks about her. After all, that armor wasn’t just armor. Her range though, is her limit, and odds are he can bamf out further than Alia can reach… so she moves, up the stairs, blade in her right hand, bag over her left shoulder, and a somewhat wild look in her eyes as they glance about the stairwell for this most interesting fellow. Or more accurately, the -interesting- suit he is wearing.

Terror rips through the audiokinetic as the explosion slams into Kain and her child! Aurora is too stunned by what just happened to even cry out, hazel eyes wide and confused by the sudden noise and movement all around. The screaming is likely to start any moment. Liz herself is shoved against the railing, but she's quick to regain her balance and takes the stairs two at a time to get above Kain. "TELEPORTER!" she shouts to the others. Until he reappears, she sure as hell can't do much of anything against him. With Kain hampered by the carrier on his back, Liz grabs for the camera bag, which had her weapon in it only because it was HIGHLY improbable that anyone would frisk a man with a baby strapped to him. She comes out with the handgun, stops for a split second to stare at the sword — she wasn't expecting that, though she's seen the one her Alia back home had — and then resumes best pace up the stairwell. "Go, go, go!" she urges Kain. The stairwell is a fatal funnel if they can't keep moving.

The explosion has Kaylee turning back with a jerk, eyes wide as an unfamiliar mind pops into existence behind Kain. Before she can even try to grab hold of it, it’s gone again. The telepath’s focus is suddenly pulled by the young girl, whose mind is shocked, but the familiar build up is there. While everyone is stunned, she hurries down the few steps, to touch the girls temple, a gentle brush of fingers.

“Hey, sweetie.” Kain probably hadn’t heard the telepath talk like that. Oops. No time to think about it really. “Look it me,” she coaxes to get those wide eyes to look at her. Contact made, the little girl seems to relax almost immediately, eyes drooping slightly. Clearly, not the first time that the telepath has used that trick. The fingers brush at the temple one more time, with that smitten look women get around kids, before she blinks and is pushing Kain up the stairs. “Go, handsome, I got your back.” A glance goes to Liz to convey she’s got this, with a nod and rushing after her friend.

Her ability is out around her searching for that mind to pop in again, fingers find one of the knives she had stashed, holding the blade flat along her arm. Kaylee will probably be thankful of her time around Ling all those years.

Thundering footsteps slam up concrete steps, past narrow windows overlooking the concert grounds. Kain has forgotten the remnants of the camera on the stairs, the cover doesn’t matter anymore, something else is at work here. One hand on a strap of his backpack holding Aurora in place, Kain uses the other one to liberate his handgun from where it was hidden in the back of his pants. He clicks the safety off, shoulder jostling against the wall as he skids to a stop and checks the stairwell behind him. He glances over his shoulder, checking on Aurora, then trains his sights down the stairs again. Nothing, no one, no signs of that man in the armor.

Kain breaks into movement again, hurrying up the stairs to catch up to Elisabeth and Kathleen. “What the fuck was that?” Kathleen gasps breathlessly again, pausing only briefly to stop at one of the narrow windows on the stairs as she notices something mid the crowd. From this elevation, she can see lights that don’t look to be part of the show.

“Oh no,” Kathleen hisses, waving for Liz. “Police. We’ve got— they must've— shit.” There’s flashing blue and red lights moving at the perimeter of the crowd, police moving in from all around the building, but not looking to be eager to make headway into the building. No sign of a helicopter yet, but it’s only a matter of time. The roof isn’t that far now, they’re almost there.


“See!” Isabelle feels vindicated at the sight of Goodman and Odessa and also, “Ah fuck. Odessa we gotta get outta here alright?” She's not fully aware of which Odessa this is but.. can't hurt? Goodman gets a stare and Isa cocks her head to the side tightening her grip on the chains. “You think we wanted to end up in this fucking Twilight Zone with all you crazy fucking people!” The heat around Odessa and Goodman spikes as she speaks but she doesn't direct her fire at them directly but at Goodman’s rifle, the firearm smoking before flames kick up, smoke rising up the flights of steps.

With a look over her shoulder at the other two and eyes wide, “Run!” Whirling the chains in front of her in a circle it's not long before there's a wheel of fire in front of Isabelle and she grinds her teeth as she braces herself shoving the wheel of flame off of the chains with a thought and sending it roaring towards the two Pinehearst employees.

This utopia timeline has ruined so much for her… Thalia on the run, her other self imprisoned, being caught up in their war. All of it, Isabelle channels and funnels into a fine line of focus.

Shaw climbs the steps in uncomplaining silence, giving Colette an encouraging smile. "One time, it felt like Isa and I ran around the whole city hiding from the Vanguard who were trying to catch us." And kill us, is the implied conclusion of their motives there. "But we made it here. So, it could be worse." He shrugs under his heavy pack, dark eyes blinking lightly at the woman.

When the static disruption rips through the air behind them, he spins around. His eyes round out in surprise and horror at the sight of the glowy-eyed, black clad slenderman stepping out of the purple portal, and the blonde woman who he recognizes but in the moment cannot immediately place a reason why she's there behind the armored monster. And she's got a freaking sword. Goodman's raised rifle kicks Shaw into action. And that is swift retreat.

He urges, almost pushes Colette, "Go! Run!" Even as Isa's firewheel ignites, he calls back to her, "Come on!"

“Don’t be so dramatic, Roger.” Odessa rolls her eyes and works her jaw from side to side languidly, as though this isn’t the sort of tense situation that it is. She thinks the armor is excessive, but she’s never been one to rely on it either. She might have a few more scars for it, admittedly.

She reaches out with the initial intent of lowering the man’s rifle, but she recognizes the effect of Isabelle’s ability and withdraws quickly. Odessa draws her sword instead and moves to give chase, but stops when those chains start to whirl. She holds out a hand to hold the fire still, brow creasing with the effort. “Look at them,” she says to Goodman. “You’re frightened of them?” Her eyes narrow, she watches the others begin their retreat. “You’re such a coward. You hide behind your armor and your gun…”

She lashes out at her side, at the man she arrived with, blade looking for gaps in plating. “Your lies!” Woods snarls, vicious.

There isn’t enough time in the world for Goodman to react to everything that happened in the seconds after he arrived. All that he is focused on in the sword that found its way through the flank of his armor, designed to protect against interdimensional friction, not low-kinetic puncture wounds. There’s not enough force to harden the ferromagnetic plates, not enough friction for the re-entry tiles to serve their purpose. Instead, it’s just seven or eight inches of a sword embedded in his abdomen, followed by a kinetic cracklesnap of purple light as Goodman throws himself away from the stab and teleports off of the impaling blow.

Ahead of the pack fleeing up the stairs, Colette’s eyes are wide in what the fuck was that terror. Her boots slam against the steps, and she pauses only long enough to make sure Shaw and Isabelle are both following. “Isabelle come on!” As she screams, Colette reaches out with her ability and throws Shaw into an envelope of invisibility where light cannot reach. “Use your ability, I think— you should be able to move fine!” Colette opines, hoping that she can keep at least Shaw hidden on their flight up.


Elisabeth and Kathleen have the point position and Kaylee is watching Kain's back — it's all Liz can ask in terms of protecting Aurora. She pauses at the window briefly, a grim expression crossing her features. "It's body armor," she calls to Kain. "With a fucking teleporter inside. If it's made the same way we did it, it's liquid metal inside. Hit the joints, they'll be the weakest points. Although…" She glances back at Alia with a faint smirk. "Pretty sure sending that here was a mistake. Worry more about the helo that's inbound!"

She looks up the stairs and waits until the group is only several steps apart before resuming the grueling climb. "Kathleen… if you need to get out of here, we'll understand," she tells the dreamwalker. After all, she's not leaving this world with the group that's heading upward. And Elisabeth doesn't want her captured either.

She keeps one ear on the climbers and one ear out for the sounds of people ahead of us. Liz has no way right now to know who could be meeting them on the roof. Somehow, it seems that reaching home is always going to be a battle.

Moving with Kain, Kaylee glances out the window as they pass it, worry etched on her features. “Ain’t nothing ever easy is it?” She huffs out a sigh and hurries onward to catch up to everyone. Fingers catch briefly on Kain’s sleeve, but only to catch his attention long enough to offer a brief and supportive smile. Nothing more, though maybe it’s for her too, as the anxiety starts to ease in the higher they go and the closer they get to the top and the that portal again.

Elisabeth’s advice is listened to and heeded, Kaylee’s ability stretched as far as she can, hoping to be ready for anyone that tries to sneak up on them. “Hope the others are doing alright.”

Alia smiles, thinly. She doesn’t speak, just keeps her blade drawn, and keeps sweeping her maximum reach, which is, sadly, not nearly as far as she’d like right now. Getting out of this is now down to if this is going to work or not.

She can only hope, that the rest works right.

As they continue up the stairs, Kain looks over his shoulder to Aurora. “You hang on, missy. Ok? Ah’m just a big fraidy-cat an’ ain’t got nothin’ without a lady t’hold mah hand.” Trying to reassure the child between panting breaths and in spite of the fear he feels, Kain looks hell-bent on making sure at least Aurora makes it to somewhere better than here.

Behind Elisabeth, Alia, and Kaylee they hear nothing but the pulsing thump of bass and the call of music. There's no sirens yet, no police. There's still — maybe — time to make it out of all of this alive. To somewhere safer, freer, and to another fresh start.

Kathleen’s nervousness, though, comes from knowing that not everyone will be leaving today. Some people have to stay behind, for the world left at their backs, for the people who can't fight for themselves. For the family that refuses to go.

For the bright future that could be.


Izzy’s eyes widen as Odessa goes for the strike and a grin curls on her lips with a nod, they could use Odessa on their side. Her eyes flicker dangerously with the flames reflecting on the chains but she whirls around to race after Colette and Shaw who are soon draped in invisibility courtesy of Colette. She doesn't get too nervous knowing Colette’s ability. She hastens nevertheless to the spot they were last scene, the flames on the stairs being dampened in her wake and for Odessa if she chooses to follow.

A look over her shoulder aiming to send the wall soaring up once the time manipulator was through, not that a wall would help much with a teleporter. Isa making a vow to never trust a teleporter in her life. She pounds up the stairs after the two.

Hot on Colette’s heels, Shaw doesn’t look back in time to see the betrayal that occurs. Fear in no small amount drives him to mount the stairs quickly, but he slows to a halt as the lights go out. Then it’s a precious second or two of panic. “I…” Colette’s tip breaks through the paralyzing fear. The man reaches blindly to plant a hand on the stair railing anyway, but tunes his sense of touch to a powerful degree. The vibrations of footsteps, the brush of air moving through the stairwell, the feeling of the heat of Isabelle’s fire wall, all serve to help him orient his direction. He might not be able to hear or see in the dark, but he goes as he knows. And that’s going up.

Odessa huffs with quiet frustration, but a retreat from Goodman is nothing less than what she was expecting. He had her respect for years, and while he lost it all in the course of one lie, she'd still rather give him a fighting chance. If he lives to regret his choices, that wouldn't be the worst outcome. But if he lives, it's the end of her freedom.

What sort of life does she have left now anyway?

Woods disappears from the staircase.

“Come on we have to hurry!” Colette shouts as she thunders up the stairs, looking to her right out one of the stairwell’s narrow windows to the concert grounds beyond. Once they're a landing or so away from where Goodman showed up, she dismisses the invisibility around Shaw and stood by one of the windows. There, blue and red lights are flashing in the distance. Police cruisers suddenly active like a hive of bees come to life.

“Fuck,” Colette whispers sharply, watching Isabelle catch up. “I'm sorry,” Colette apologizes, “I'm sorry, it was supposed to be better here for you.” But after everything she's seen, Colette can't help but feel as though better is now relative, and peace — such as they had — was either unattainable, or a lie.

“We can't stop. We have to make it to the roof.” Breaking away from the window, Colette continues up the stairs and away from that unknown assailant, away from the danger they know, and to the danger of the unknown.

Both of this world, and another.

The Deveaux Building Rooftop

The southeast door to the roof bursts open and Colette Demsky comes stumbling out, gasping for breath and knees shaking. She stumbles past the broken remains of a chicken coop and a demolished greenhouse, boots scuffing on the ground. As she wheels around, Shaw and Isabelle are hot on her heels.

“Elaine!?” Colette shouts, and from the ruined greenhouse, the redhead emerges with a worried stare. “Okay, whoever you've got with you get ready! We’re not gonna have much time!” Mismatched eyes turning to the vibrant colored lights coming up from the concert ground, Colette shakes her head in disbelief.

Where is everybody?

The brunette woman emerges with Shaw next to her trying to catch her breath and carrying metals chains in her hands that flickered with flames that are doused as they enter the roof and Izzy spots her housemate, “Elaine!” Shrugging her shoulders to readjusts her backpack and wave a chain at her friend. Glad to see her but.. her eyes scan the rest of the rooftop and eyebrows shoot up, last time around they were the stragglers with Magnes pulling in pretty soon after.

Twisting around she looks for the others, “Fuck.” Biting her lips she goes to peer over the edge of the building to the concert and city below. The wind tugs at her cap which she yanks off and stuffs into her back pocket. Hair now flying in the wind but and she shrugs it over her shoulder, a look to Shaw with wide eyes. Izzy inches closer to him as she waits for the others to arrive.

Shaw just about collapses on the rooftop once he’s reached it, crumbling to a knee and really wanting to just roll over and lie on the ground. His pack heaves off one shoulder, at least for a moment’s reprieve of its full weight. “I’m okay,” he lies, chest puffing out and in with every sucked in breath. He’s not exactly. Lungs feeling like they’re on fire and legs feeling like they’re jelly, the man has to force himself to his feet but wobbles in place. That many flights of stairs is no joke.

Tired as he is, Shaw reaches out to grasp for Izzy’s hand in support. And only then does he remember why they’re there, and who should be there with them.

“Son of a bitch!” Comes exploding out of another stairwell door. “If Ah’ have t’run up the steps of this fuckin’ buildin’ one more time Ah’m gonna— ” Kain loses his words when he sees the others, equally as exasperated on their emergence. “You get jumped by the gimp suit ninja too?”

Kain,” comes from nearby to where Elaine stands in the shadow of the greenhouse. But it isn't Elaine speaking, but rather the silhouette of a woman made from smoke, one brow raised. Kain cracks a relieved smile, then looks back to where Kathleen, Elisabeth, Kaylee, and Alia are coming up the stairs.

Where’s Tamara?” Kathleen asks abruptly, eliciting a look from Colette, who turns a wide-eyed stare to the doorway they were supposed to already be through.

As they break out onto the rooftop, Elisabeth sweeps the area with her weapon in a practiced movement and breathes just a little easier when she spots the group and hears Ling. A faint grin crosses her lips as Kain uses the same name for the armor that Felix always called it. Eyes scanning those already present, she has a mental headcount going, and even as Kathleen asks the question, she too is looking worriedly toward where Tamara's group is supposed to appear. They're not going anywhere without Magnes and Ruiz and she grimaces slightly. "If they know Ruiz is the only one who can get us out of here…" she murmurs to Kathleen. That might explain why Goodman just popped in and popped back out — he may have been searching for Mateo.

The lack of Addie at Elaine’s side still makes Elisabeth's guts wrench, even as she glances into the backpack carrier at her sleepy (thanks to Aunt Kaylee) daughter. She reaches out to help Kain strip off the carrier, slithering into it herself and buckling the little girl tight to her own body and then bringing her sidearm out to ready position.

"Ling, recon those stairs; make sure they're good." Elisabeth glances at Kaylee and Alia. "Back her up?" she asks both of them. Between the three women and Magnes, Lynette, and Ruiz themselves, she's pretty certain Goodman is screwed. "I have helo and kid detail." God help whoever comes in airborne like that … she has no issues destabilizing their rotors before they get very close at all… or pushing gimp-suits off the roof either, to protect everyone.

There is relief when Kaylee finally steps out onto the roof. “You best knock on wood, else you’re gonna jinx us, Kain.” The telepath warns with a bland tone. She’d rather not ever have to run up those stairs either. Seeing Shaw and then Izzy brings a bright smile and some relief knowing that they were okay. Though the absence of Ruiz and his family… also Magnes is noted. It won’t feel like it is everyone until they were there.

However, there were other things that needed doing. Liz’s instructions get a firm nod of her head and Kaylee moves to do what she can to make sure everyone stays safe.

Alia gives a nod, rapier still in her hand as she moves to do as the more experienced Liz asks, her ability also sweeping, scanning. Waiting for trouble to bamf back in. Hopefully they'd be gone first. Realistically, they will not.

What Colette and Kathleen have learned in her life, and others too, is that Tamara Brooks is never late or early, she arrives precisely on time and exactly when she intends — nine times out of ten. Today is not an outlier. Just as Ling Chao and Alia Chavez begin to follow Elisabeth's request, the door to the maintenance stairwell beside the ruined greenhouse slowly opens, and Tamara leads the way into the neon-flushed night, blonde hair reflecting pink and violet from the glow of the stage lights emanating up from the street.

The music below resounds upward in a riotous swell, and the Shattered Skies are moving into their final song. Fitting, then, for the final moment for many in this world.

Kathleen throws her arms around Tamara the moment her sister arrives on the rooftop, briefly cupping the sibyl’s cheek in one hand and then swiftly stepping away. “What do we do now?” She asks, looking to the doorway as Ruiz, Lynette, Magnes, and Tyler file up from their uneventful ascent of the building.

Colette closes her eyes and furrows her brows, shaking her head. “I don't see anyone nearby, but the weather feels like it's going to turn.” She doesn't need an ability for that, the others can feel it too, a coolness and dampness in the air, a storm coming, signaled by a distant sound of thunder rumbling to the west.

“Figures,” Kain says with a roll of his eyes, moving to hand off Aurora to Elisabeth before noticing that she seems to just be leaving her in his care. “Buddy,” Kain jerks his head at Mateo, “do your hocus pocus before we get struck by lightning. Ah’m not keen on lettin’ Mother Nature take mah’ ass out.”

Tyler steps up with brows raised and eyes wide. “What, ah, do you need me to do? Who gets the red lightning?” A few crimson sparks dance around his fingertips.

Tamara pats her sister's shoulder briefly as she is embraced, then motions her and Alia and Ling back, presumably to make room for the others emerging from the stairwell. "We don't," she tells Kathleen. Despite that, the seer promptly steps away, moving over to join Colette near the coop and greenhouse. Her partner receives the same sort of brief reassurance as her sister, the seer's blue eyes surveying the rooftop and the people on it. "Help with the kids," she tells Colette, another seeming self-contradiction; apparently we don't is not in fact quite the same as do nothing at all.

To Liz, nearby, Tamara offers a nod; to Kain, arched brows and an amused smile.

"No one has to worry about lightning," Lynette says as she makes her way to the group. The living lightning rod glances toward the skies. "A little extra might not be a bad thing." Between her and Mateo, the electricity isn't likely to hit anyone else.

She turns to give their daughter a reassuring kiss, fluffing her hair a little. "We'll be out of this storm in a minute, little darling."

But ultimately, she turns to Tyler at his question, letting out a shaky sigh. "Me. It's bad enough that Mateo has to mix his power with Magnes, he doesn't need another in that mix." His heart might not last as it is. "But he'll need all the power I can muster."

The electricity in the air might be a good thing as far as Ruiz was concerned, but even then, he know the portal had plenty of energy to draw on. The entire city had electricity, after all. That shouldn’t have been the problem. It’s other things he’s worried about. At the young seers words, he hands off the dark-haired child and looks around at those gathered on the rooftop. A lot less than they had had on the roof years ago when they’d entered this world and that’s a good thing. Those who did not need to leave shouldn’t — and he might not have been here if it hadn’t been for the missing piece of his small family.

At least not with the intention of going with. Even with the government hunting people, he knew they could escape if they really tried without this. Him and Lynette had helped many of the escapees from his world relocate, including a young teen who deserved a chance at happiness with her new adopted family. But like Magnes and Elaine, he too had a missing piece he knew he could only find if he went down this path.

Though he still wasn’t sure how his heart would be able to handle this again. It had nearly killed him previously. “Okay,” he responds quietly, going to join Lynette, reaching out to take her hand for a moment, even though he knew he couldn’t hold her hand much longer. Not when she would be drawing on her ability to fuel his. He won’t argue with his wife, after all.

“Everyone ready?” he asks, as he starts to focus on doing what they’d done before, pushing it toward one tiny point in space. His chest already tightens, heart not as strong as it had been years ago.

Colette moves to quietly take Evie by the hand and gently lead her a little bit apart from her mother and father, carefully watching the rest of the rooftop as those responsible for the gateway’s creation come together. She then goes to find Kain, walking up to brush a gently touch of knuckles against Aurora’s cheek. “Is this loud?” She asks Kain quietly, to which the Cajun raises his brow and looks at her like she has two heads.

“Darlin’,” Kain mutters to Colette. “You ain't heard loud till you've heard this thing punch a hole through everythin’ God made.” His answer elicits a look of surprise from Colette, who stands by quietly after that with eyes wide.

Kathleen comes up to stand beside Tamara, searching for her sister’s hand with one of her own, posture tense and shoulders squared. As she watches Mateo and Lynette meet with Magnes, there's another thunderclap and a bright flash of light as lightning strikes the rooftop of the greenhouse, far enough away that it causes no harm as it grounds out. Though the yelp of fright that moves through those on the rooftop is palpable.

Wide-eyed, Tyler moves away from the greenhouse and holds out a hand toward Lynette, sending a crackling bolt of vibrant red electricity into her body. It's remarkably uncomfortable, like battery acid tingling under her skin, burning where the direct contact of the beam hits. Her skin warms, reddens, and she can feel a tremendous surge of power flow through her.

“Okay,” Tyler says once the beam steadies, “now nobody distract me ‘cause this is not easy,” he says with a toothy smile. “But I— ”

A flash of violet light explodes nearby on the roof, briefly sending Roger Goodman into existence in his matte black armor, sidearm raised to fire. A shot goes off, striking Tyler in the chest and sending him staggering to the ground as his red lightning arcs up from Lynette and then begins exploding from his body in a shower of blossoming and snapping arcs.

Shit!” Kain shouts, wheeling around with his gun to fire, but Roger disappears in a crackle-snap of violet light before the gunshot rings out, sending a bullet into the night and beyond the roof. Tyler lets out a scream, and two bolts of his vicious lightning snap out and strike both Lynette and Ruiz, then ground out to the rooftop before hitting the greenhouse and racing through the walls. He clutches a hand at his gunshot wound, blood spurting out of his mouth.

Where’d he go!?” Colette shouts as she looks around wild-eyed for Goodman. Though Elisabeth doesn't hear their attacker anywhere near, she can hear an approaching sound — close enough to hear by far enough to be unseen: a helicopter.

At the sight of Lynette, Mateo and Magnes the pyrokinetic woohoos and punches the air, “No saving it to the last minute this time eh!” Screaming over the wind and thunderclaps Isabelle listens to the group speak about the portal with Shaw nearby.

Lynette powering the portal makes sense, she doesn't need to use up her fire when that fucking teleporter appears and fires a round into the cute guy’s chest. Hazel eyes wide Isabelle roars and whips her chain out at him before he disappears again in a flash of purple light. “Fucking teleporters!” Rushing to Lynette and Mateo she looks helplessly between the two of them. “Lyn! Mateo!” That's their fucking ticket out of here. Frustration creases Isabelle’s face.

Alia meanwhile grits her teeth. Her expression is one of annoyance as this pain in a suit of tech has now twice just slipped through her grasp just as she had gotten a grip on the system. Her eyes narrow as she sweeps about her again with her ability, but this time, doesn’t just wait for him to reappear… no, this time she’s readying a full out assault on the electronics as soon as the violet light reappears. Not that she hadn’t this time, mind you…

Once he finally catches his breath, Shaw lets go of Izzy's arm and shoulders his pack again, watching as the others gather. When he sees Kaylee's smile at him, he gives a little wave. There's a questioning blink at Alia and the rapier, but he turns his attention to the door where the final group arrives. Seeing Lynette and Mateo brings relief.

He's in the middle of holding his arms up to help Colette out in taking care of Evie when Goodman appears. He immediately moves in front as a human shield, dark eyes wide and fearful but his body acting almost out of reflex to protect the children. It doesn't keep him from flinching at the gunshots, the one as close as Kain's return fire getting a bigger twitch.

"I'll take her!" he calls to Colette, arms held out for Evie to come to him. Things are happening fast, and they're about to be set upon.

Goodman's appearance brings Elisabeth around to face that direction, but she has no time to react pretty much to anything that happens despite having a weapon in her hands. It's instinctive to shield the weight on her back from the sounds happening around her, but it's a negligible use of her power. As the violet light flashes in and out and Tyler's gut wound blossoms into being, she backpedals a few steps to put some distance — she's seen what happens when Tyler's power goes nuts. Blue eyes are wide and she calls out, "We've got more incoming!"

The rotor sounds are low, still, but she can ascertain the direction they're coming from. She races toward the side of the roof where they're going to pop up. "Izzy, cover them! Are they alive??!"

The lightning strike makes, Kaylee jump… a wide-eyed look sent to the greenhouse… Then chaos erupts, Kaylee snaps around to look where she feels Goodman pop-in, but he’s gone before she can truly react. Like everyone, Kaylee doesn’t have enough time to act. A soft curse is uttered one his mind pops out.

Tyler’s scream pulls Kaylee’s attention and she starts to step that way, but then his ability is going haywire and the telepath is forces to duck and shade her eyes. “What the hell…” she starts, but then notices the state of the man.

Against her better judgement, Kaylee rushes to the side of the poor man who was only here to help them escape. Up close the heavily bleeding wound gets a soft gasp. “Damn it.” Was there even anything she could do? All she can do is be ready catch him before he goes down so that he doesn’t hit the ground hard — she knows better than stop it completely — or brace him up.

The lightning hadn’t concerned Ruiz, but the red lightning definitely had some kind of affect. The loud noise that would have come from that tiny hole punched in space never happened, not while the teleporter moved around and shot at people. It happened too fast for him to really notice, and he’d been focusing so much on trying to get his ability to activate properly. He had, after all, been on negation medicine for so long, and the last time he did anything like this, a robot jumped through, shot up the man who was helping them’s wife and then nearly got the rest of them killed.

It hadn’t been a good day. Lynette had helped him practice for today, but even then.

When the red lightning hits him, his hand is resting on his chest, pressing the rings around his neck against his shirt. The lightning knocks him out of his focus and for a moment all he can hear is the sound of a roaring thunderstorm inside his head, louder than anything he’d ever heard before. It fades into a crackle as he drops to his knees, catching himself with his hands on the rooftop.

A pale blue spark jumps off his hands as they hit.

Lynette braces herself when Tyler reaches out her way, but even so, she cries out when the red lightning hits her. She folds into a crouch, her fingers sliding into her hair as she presses against her temples, trying to handle both the pain and the surge of her own power.

She almost doesn't notice Goodman. If it wasn't for the gunshots, it would have all passed by without her noticing. She looks up, tears running down her face, in time to see Tyler hit the ground. She makes a sound, something that might have been his name on any other night, but right now it comes out like a pained groan instead.

The gunshots spur little Evie into Shaw's arms— someone she's familiar with— and she tucks her face into his shoulder. Tears hit his clothes as she tries not to see what is happening to her parents. Or anyone else get shot.

Which means she misses it when the red lighting hits both Lynette and Ruiz.

Electricity around the rooftop sputters. Lights flicker in and out. Phones, cameras, batteries— the power pulls out of everything nearby while Lynette struggles to keep control. It's only the shine of the concert below that keeps them from being in total darkness.

Lynette looks over at Ruiz, worried and scared for the both of them. But it's only a few moments longer— just her looking at him and remembering to breathe— before a bright white light appears hovering just over the roof. Her attention snaps to it, looking for all the world like she's staring it down, and it starts to pull open. And as it does, air pulls toward it— clothes and hair pull toward it. Lynette pulls herself to her feet, nose bleeding as she focuses on opening their escape.

"Shit!" Magnes shouts when Tyler is shot, running over next to him before the white light begins to form above them. "If you die, I can't teach you how to be awesome and independent." he says while trying to keep Tyler calm. But then he has to stand, holding a hand out to the vortex. "I don't have a choice, though. I'm not augmented, but I have to push myself…"

He then starts to strain, trying to manipulate the vortex as much as he can without the aid of augmentation. While he's much better with his ability than in the past, the sheer raw power required for something like this is still far beyond what he can naturally do.

But even so…

He has to try.

In the wake of the lightning strike, the rooftop descends into chaos. By comparison, Tamara is an island of quiet, looking on from where she stands half-sheltered by structures that once upon a time held living things. She keeps firm hold of Kathleen's hand as gunshots and electricity fly, and as the portal begins to take shape, the culmination of a long and winding road realized at last.

The swirling vortex of light and energy above the roof of the Deveaux Building looks like something out of a dream. Loud, but not as loud as the music bursting from below, it is more a scintillating disc that a screaming presence. Lynette's hand in its creation — as someone who had never once created a portal before — shows in its makeup. Magnes feels the portal differently, its center of gravity rests in the same spot, but the entire structure feels thinner and more spread out at the edges. There's a shearing quality where the electrified rim of the portal meets the air, as though it were going to bore a hole through spacetime.

Staring up at the vortex, Colette is transfixed with mouth hanging open and arms slack at her side. She had seen their arrival at this very rooftop years ago, but seeing the genesis of such a portal at night is different. It feels so much brighter, so much more fantastical. She is at a loss for words, drawn in like a moth to its light. But then she remembers, recalls the peril, and turns to see Tyler on the ground.

"Kaylee," Colette cries. Not her Kaylee, but it didn't matter. She rushes to the brunette's side and takes a knee, pressing her hands firmly over Tyler's entry wound. "Oh my god, oh my god Tyler." Blood pulses up between her fingers, brows furrowed and head shaking. "He— he needs a hospital. I can't stop the bleeding!"

Nearby, Elaine and Ling approach with a mixture of fear and anxiety in their eyes. Kain steps to Ling's side, then looks around with his gun out, aiming at every wavering shadow cast by the nascent portal's vibrant glow. Briefly, the two lock eyes, and in that moment they share a fear that perhaps this trip will be the last one. Perhaps that portal isn't a way to another world, but a fast track to the pearly gates.

"Lynette! Mateo!" Kathleen is frozen by fear as she watches the two struggle to maintain the portal after their abilities seem somehow transferred from one to the other, clutching Tamara’s hand for that anchor of unflappable stability. But there's a look from the dream-walker to her sister, raised brows and eyes wide: you saw this. It isn't a question, but an accusation without barb. Of course she saw this, and here it is happening. Kathleen is the one who is left to determine why.

In the distance, Elisabeth can hear the chop of a helicopter still out of sight drawing incrementally closer. It's circling the building, but the low cloud cover and storm seems to be keeping at at bay for the moment. She can feel other vibrations in the building, of doors bursting open and booted feet hitting stairs. The police have arrived at the ground floor.

But it's Alia's senses that catch something else. A steel trap waiting open for something to just get within range is she can clamp down on it. Once caught unaware, then caught outside of her twenty meter reach, but the third time—

An explosion of violet light erupts by the twin cherub statues holding open the stone ring at the roof's edge. From that explosive plastic haze appears that same lanky silhouette in black armor with six glowing orange eyes. Alia can feel it now, the beast paw set down upon the pressure-plate of her trap. No hydraulic strength enhancements like frontline, but their same ferrofluid armor she'd read about in technical journals. All it takes is a fraction of a thought for her to change some 1's to 0's and fool the suit's sensors into thinking a kinetic threat is enclosing from all sides.

Roger Goodman isn't even able to start a sentence, let alone fire his gun this time, before every soft curve of his armor doubles in size and stiffens to a steely rigidity. His back tenses, armor plates lock down movement and entrap him within his own armor. His HUD goes black, then strobes in vibrant patterns of scintillating colors. Everything that can go haywire does.

Kaylee can feel Goodman's mind, feels his panic, but as her attention is drawn toward it and away from Tyler there's a sudden cracklesnap and a violet glow that flashes out of the seams of Goodman's armor, and she loses track of him. The armor tips over in the strong, stormy wind, like a piñata loosed from its string. The empty suit pitches over the edge of the building and tumbled through the air…

…as Goodman re-manifests from violet plasma by the ruined garden. His black, padded under-suit for the armor is laced with wires and sensors, read-only plugs intended to handle vitals. Nothing exploitable. He raises his gun and trains it square on Mateo Ruiz. "You aren't going anywh— "

Blood and steel burst forth from Goodman’s chest. Kaylee feels the disturbance first, then Elisabeth.

An unquiet mind.

I’ll kill him. I’ll kill him.

An unquiet heart.

Hammering like a runner in a marathon.

Odessa Woods stands behind her former colleague, the Kensei sword buried in his back up to the hilt. “Not my brother too, you son of a bitch.” She twists, eyes narrowed to dangerous slits with her violent determination. Her chest is heaving from the effort of more than just this display. It was a long way to the roof from the ground. Tears stream down her face. This isn’t how she wanted this to end, but he dug this grave for himself.

One booted foot kicks the man forward, off of her blade and to the ground. A swing of her arm sends blood scattering across the rooftop. Odessa sheathes her sword and relieves Goodman of his gun.

“I can buy you time!”

Goodman lays on his stomach, and another thunderclap comes, followed by a torrential downpour of freezing cold rain. Goodman gasps, gurgling and clutching at his chest as a swirling pool of blood gradually spread out beneath him. At the moment he is alive, but with how fast he is bleeding, it is likely that will not be the case for much longer.

Tyler sucks in a sharp breath, eyes unfocused, looking away from Kaylee and to Magnes. He exhales a grunt of effort, and a crackling beam of red light surges through the gravitokinetic. It isn’t as strong as Magnes expects, and at the moment it seems to be spinning.

Tyler is dying, and his power is dying with him.

Eyes are wide at the appearance of blue sparks on Mateo and then Lynette is opening the portal, a confused look on her face but she grins widely despite the circumstances, “Come on lovebirds, get us out of here.” Isabelle’s arm nudges Lynette's in support and then the teleporter is back and his suit is fried… when Odessa appears behind him to stab him through the chest the pyrokinetic locks eyes with the time manipulator and dips her head. She won't forget the blonde’s help here, she sees the pain she's going through on her face.

Speaking of pain, Isabelle’s gaze falls on Magnes, Kaylee and Colette surrounding Tyler’s wounded and bleeding body. Swift strides among the rain which evaporated once hitting her skin to reveal tiny streams of smoke rising off of her.

“Lemme try,” it works with her at least. The bleeding, kneeling down next to the group the heat around them soars, humid, thick and the pyrokinetic reaches out for Tyler's wounds with a look at Colette and then the others, “Hold him still.” Is said through bared teeth as two of her fingers light up in flames and disappears but the heat remains. Pressing her fingers forward over the wounds she concentrates on generating a fine heat around it, pressing in on the flesh causing it to smoke, Isa’s fingers being covered with blood but she continues to press down on the wound with her fingertips and then the palm of her hand to cauterize it.

Goodman's reappearance is of concern, but Elisabeth's visual attention is on the two people opening the portal while her power feeds her the information on what's coming at them from below. The storm is a blessing, and the sudden torrent of rain soaks her and the child clinging tightly to her. Her eyes go wide as Odessa appears out of nowhere and runs the teleporter through. Jesus Christ, so much is happening so fast.

Liz moves toward the opening portal, letting those surrounding the injured handle that while she takes up a guard position between Magnes and Lynette to cover them.

Aurora whimpers in Liz's ear, and with her free hand she pats the little girl's foot where it dangles by her hip. "Hang on, baby. Just hang on," she murmurs. Mummy has you. And she silently blesses Kaylee for making sure Aura is mostly dozing and calm.

"We've got boots on the ground floor, folks! It's time to go!"

Alia, for her part, is sporting a brand new nosebleed from her fast work. She stumbles towards the others. Opening a portal isn’t something she knows how to do, there’s nothing for her to interact with ability wise, and others have more medical know how then she does. So she keeps her blade at hand, and offers a silent prayer to the powers that be, not in words but images… images of a differently vibrating string… and her other hand pulling out sealed sterile gauze from her laptop bag. It’s not much but it’s something to offer.

Down below, Else Kjelstrom’s voice rises up into the night air. Though the storm may have delayed the final song’s beginning, it seems that she is going on with the final performance of the night regardless of the weather. “New York!” She shouts to a cheering crowd, sticking out the weather with her. “Las’ month, I wrote this song… it’s a new one,” the crowd hoots and pops with cheers, “ain’t never performed it yet. But Robyn here, she wrote the music for it. So this is… a’suppose you could call it a duet.”

From behind a nearby building, a helicopter comes dropping into view, searchlight moving across the rooftop of the Deveaux Building. An acoustic guitar, amplified by the equipment below, pipes up all the way to the roof. “It’s called Eclipse,” Else says, “an’ it’s about finding a way home.”

All the lives always tempted to trade

Shaw gathers Evie up, one hand wrapped around the little girl's waist and the other clutching the back of her head protectively to his shoulder against the cushioned pack strap. "Shhh it's okay memna, it's ok little lamb," he comforts her and nods his thanks to Colette. But it's time to go, and he scoots closer to the other travelers. He too watches in awe as the bright disc of a new portal opens, having to squint at its brightness compared to the night.

Will they hate me for all the choices I made?

So he's caught staring when Goodman reappears, a gasp of breath is all Shaw manages before Alia's trap closes down the armor function. Clutching Evie tighter, Shaw bares his teeth at the six orange glowy lights only to blink in surprise as Goodman ports out of the suit. He spins, trying to track the threat, worried for the safety of the girl in his arms and others on the rooftop. Somewhere in the back of his memory, he remembers this very same situation with a different face of the huntress, this time turned a hunter, just as terrifying. Then Goodman appears again, gun aimed upon Ruiz. Shaw moves to block, perhaps too slow, turned sideways to let the pack on his back take the bullet— that doesn't come.

Will they stop when they see me again?

He peers back over his shoulder, eyes widened as he sees Odessa having impaled the hunter. Her words startle him out of his shock. The rain pouring down has him glancing up to the storm. And then he turns back to the others, to the sight of Isabelle cauterizing Tyler's wound, to Ruiz and Lynette and Magnes struggling. One hand still supporting Evie, Shaw lets go of the young girl's head, bending and reaching for Ruiz's arm to help him up. "Come on, Akhi, it's time to go… We're going to get Manuel." Here's hoping the reminder helps bring things back to focus.

I can't stop now I know who I am

The telepath hears the call for people to get ready to move, but right now Kaylee has a lap full of Tyler as she ends up there after he goes down. Arms awkwardly hold him there even as Colette tries to stem the bleeding. It wasn’t fair for the poor guy. The arrival of Goodman draws her, but then Izzy arrives in the chaos of trying to save a man, with a brutal tactic. Blue-eyes widen. “Oh god.” In the Hub, you sometimes had to go to extremes, but this time… maybe she can help.

Now I'm all yours, I'm not afraid

One arm tightens around the man, the other… a hand plants firm across his forehead. She only has seconds to act before Izzy starts cauterizing the wound. Her head drops to press her forehead to the top of his head and squeezes her eyes shut tight. Kaylee Thatcher tries something new in the heat of the moment, she tries to distract Tyler from the intense pain coming. Pull his mind away from the pain and focus it on something much more pleasant, than dying in the rain with a crazy (sorry Izzy) pyro sticking the equivalent of a hot poker into that bullet wound. If he lives, great… if not, then maybe he’ll pass peacefully.

And you're all mine, say what they may

Magnes holds his other hand out, his eyes glowing bright white-purple once the augmentation hits him. Where in the past, he's lost his mind while doing this, entirely lost control of his sensibilities, this time he refrains from openly expressing it.

And all your love I'll take to a grave

He can feel the vortex, trying to push into it, tame it, control it like he has in the past. The pull of the Void is strong, both physically and mentally, but there's something far stronger than that pull keeping his mind firmly grounded in reality, a driving force that keeps him from entirely losing himself.

And all my life starts now

Pushing his ability as hard as possible, all he utters is, "Addie…"

Tear me down they can take you out of my thoughts

The pale blue lightning that sparks up in Ruiz’s hands sputters out almost as it forms, pulled into the air to become part of a bright light punched into space. His heart is no longer showing major signs of strain, but still shows signs of anxiety. And considering everything that’s going on around them, it’s no surprise there. He’s too busy staring at Lynette to notice the gun that would have probably killed him if it hadn’t been for the blood splatter belonging to the one who would have shot him.

Under every scar there's a battle I've lost

Take her brother too? His dark eyes fall on Odessa, the woman who he’d played piano with for many months, the woman who had become a slow part of his family once again. The sister he’d lost a world away, and one who might also be waiting for him in a world yet to come.

He’d never considered asking this one to come with them— because she had a husband, the possibility to start a family of her own, finally.

Will they stop when they see us again?

But at the too he understood. At her tears, he understood. Because he had been there once before. He had closed a man behind in an incinerator with the same anger boiling under the loss, and Edward Ray of his world had only been tangentially responsible for his wife’s death (though directly for his sister). He may have his wife again, in this place, but he knew what it had felt like to lose her— and he never wanted to have that again. Nor would he wish it on anyone. But as Odessa offers to buy them time, he responds with, “You can come with us.”

I can't stop now I know who I am

He looks toward Lynette, concerned about the bleeding from her nose— after all nosebleeds had been his thing. He doesn’t quite understand what’s happened, but he understands this much. The hole in space was not opened by him. And it must have been her. “You’re going to have to go last, mi vida,” he says, as Shaw hauls him to his feet, his brother can feel the change in him as they touch with the snap of static discharging.

Now I'm all yours, I'm not afraid

Anyone paying attention can tell that this is taking its toll on Lynette. She's tense, teeth clenched, breathing panicked. A noise escapes her that's part fear and part determination. Tears form at the corners of her eyes as Ruiz's voice pulls her gaze away from the portal. "Get Evie through safely," she says to him, straining to sound calm. For his sake, for their daughter's sake, for her own sake. "I'll be right behind you, my darling," she adds, a hitch in her voice driving her to look away from him and back to the portal.

I'm yours always, say what they may

"Now would be a good time to move," she adds to the group at large, "I'm not sure how long I can hold it open." She'd seen these portals over two husbands, helped them learn to use them as best she could, but observation has not been enough to give her mastery over them herself. And she's worried.

And all your love I'll take to a grave

"Shahid," she says, reaching a hand out blindly to grab onto Shaw's arm, fingers trembling but her hold tight, "protect my family."

And all my life starts

Hearing the police approaching, hearing the offer from Ruiz, Odessa turns toward the swirling white portal as she watches Elaine hurry through first with Ling. In her periphery, she watches as Colette slinks back to join Kathleen and Tamara, and the three begin a subtle retreat from the rooftop now that their work here is done.

Now I'm all yours, I'm not afraid

Kain watches Elisabeth leap through the portal next, his blue eyes tracking to Shaw and Alia as they make their way through. He breathes deeply, considering the city behind him, and then turns to look back at Odessa. There’s no words for her, but instead he walks over to where Isabelle and Kaylee kneel around Tyler. “Come on!” Kain shouts, grabbing Tyler by the wrist and hauling him up to his feet with a groan of effort. “Ah’ ain’t leavin’ nobody behind this time!”

Practically dragging Tyler to the portal, Kain waits for Kaylee and Isabelle to head through before looking back one last time at Odessa, then over to Lynette with an expression like he’d seen a ghost, only realizing who she really is once he’s practically on top of her.

I'm yours always say what they may

Kain says nothing, waiting for Magnes to disengage and hurl himself through the portal next, before he pushes Tyler through the vortex. “It ain’t worth staying for,” Kain says to Odessa with a frown cut across his face, “it ain’t never.” The sound of a nearing helicopter and the flash of a searchlight on the roof gets Kain moving again, and as he runs toward the portal and leaps through…

And all your love I'll take to a grave

…he, like the others, hopes it’s to a better future.

And all my life starts now.

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