The Consequences Of Our Choices


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Scene Title The Consequences Of Our Choices
Synopsis In the aftermath of Praxia's fall, Richard Ray visits an old friend and keep a promise.
Date September 11, 2020

Lord have mercy on me

The pale light of a silvery moon filters in through a window as wide as a textbook. The concrete walls feel like an old Spanish dungeon, cold and unyielding. The two cots suspended from the right wall are neatly made, even though there is only one prisoner in the cell these days. A handful of books are scattered on the floor, a nub of a pencil and a few crayons for highlighting passages.

Do not look upon my sins.

The solitary prisoner of this cell sits on the bottom cot, hands folded together and head bowed, eyes closed. Anger swept the books off of his bed, but regret bowed his head and brought a prayer to his lips.

But take away all my guilt.

He liquifies into nothingness, sublimates into a carpet of darkness that clings to the bed and the floor as if a shadow cast by a man that is not there. This flat shape slides along the stone, out beneath the bars of that cell, and across the concrete walkway around his cell block. In the dark of lights out there is nothing to differentiate shadow from shadow, and the phantom is all but disappeared.

Create in me a clean heart

The graying old man that comes into view through the bars of one cell below is covered in old, fading tattoos. His dark eyes are shut, but the shadow knows their judging gaze. Marcelo Cortez will kill him tomorrow. Marcelo is a king behind these walls and he has been disrespected. What is a king to do but rule? And how is a king to rule without respect? The shadow knows the payment for his transgression is blood.

And renew within me an upright spirit

There is no sound as the shadow slips into Marcelo’s cell, no sound as the shape of a man rises up from within it as though he were taking a swift escalator from Hell. No sound as the man slides a shiv out from his sleeve, gripped tightly in a trembling right hand. The transgression must be paid for in blood.


But it doesn’t matter whose.

Fifteen Years Later

Rikers Island Prison
Rikers Island
NYC Safe Zone

September 11th

The drive up to Rikers Island is a hard one. The mile long Rikers Island Bridge hasn’t changed at all in the nearly twenty years it's been since Richard Ray once haunted this place. But from the back seat of a Yamagato Altum he is seeing the trip through different eyes. The boy who was driven here in a van at the age of nineteen is not the man who fled from the prison four years later with blood on his hands. Nor is he the CEO being driven in a car that costs more money than that young man ever stole in his entire, middling career as a burglar.

On the other side of the bridge, Rikers Island looks nothing like what Richard remembers. The original prison is simply gone. The footprint where it was has been paved over by an expansive parking lot and the new facility, constructed in Yamagato Industries’ sleek and stylish eco-futuristic design aesthetic looks more like a clinic than a crucible through which men are made into monsters.

Richard’s car pulls up to the security checkpoint and his driver handles all the details that go unheard through a partition of soundproof glass. Looking behind himself, Richard can see the second Raytech car behind him, right on schedule. He turns back when his car starts to pull through security and up to the building.

The process of checking in with security inside is a standard affair. Richard is expected here, he’s on the visitor’s list and his meeting with a prisoner has been cleared by SESA and the Department of Justice. By the time he makes his way into the monitored meeting room, Richard sees a Rikers Island Prison that looks wholly alien to him.

The visitation rooms look nothing like the desaturated concrete block hovels he had when he was younger. The cheap plastic chairs and formica tables are all gone too. It all looks like a High School cafeteria now with circular tables, nicer chairs, and brighter lighting. There’s security, for certain, but the prisoners aren’t in shackled restraints and they don’t look as haggard as Richard remembers them being.

When he catches sight of Sabine Hazel sitting at a table by herself, head in her hands and head down, it feels like the past has come crawling back up to him.

"We were warned in advance of what you were doing," the Julien on the couch notes with a dismissive wave of his hand and an affable smile, "our operations procedure was to run interference against the National Guard and Institute. We diverted a squad of Retrievers that were supposed to show up on site and neutralized them before they could radio back for assistance." There's a fond smile from that particular Julien to Elisabeth. "You're lucky you let Sarisa know up front about your plans so she could give us advance warning."

"Oh, we have guests? I didn't hear we were having guests, Julien why didn't you tell me we were having guests?" It isn't Sarisa's voice that comes from the hallway behind Elisabeth and Cardinal, but it is another woman. Australian accent much stronger than the Julien clone that subtly professed nationality. Standing there in the mouth of the hall at the edge of the room, a tall and dark-haired woman with a classic profile and sharp eyebrows curiously watches the unfamiliar pair.

"Sabine, darling," the camouflage-dressed Julien states as he motions towards her with one hand, "This is Richard Cardinal and Elisabeth Harrison, the ah… the people that Kershner told you about?" Sabine's expression turns from curious to incredulous as she offers an askance look to the pair, folding her arms across her chest and settling her weight to one foot more so than the other.

"That's Cardinal?" She asks with a tilt of her head to one side, "Huh." As she steps further into the room, Sabine looks clearly dressed in the same military attire Julien is. Olive-drab pants and an unzippered jacket, black tanktop undershirt and a Beretta 9mm holstered on her hip. The uniform looks remarkably similar to that of a National Guardsman.

"I know," Cardinal deadpans, "Everyone tells me they thought I'd be taller in person."

The Sabine Hazel that looks up and meets Richard’s eyes from across the room is older and thinner than the one he knew back then. There are dark circles under her eyes, hollows in her cheeks, and a pallid cast to her skin. She looks sick.

They are both the consequences of their choices.

Richard should have come sooner. He knows he should have, but he was putting this off, and he kept putting it off. It was easy to come with excuses to put it off— things to attend to at work, things to do with the kids, events he needed to attend.

But it was the past he was avoiding, and eventually he had to bite the bullet, shove his fears back under the carpet and make the appropriate calls.

“They’ve definitely made some upgrades since the last time I was here,” he says as he walks over towards the table, the usual joking bravado that he uses to mask anxiety, “I bet the food is even better. You’re lucky, Hazel, this place used to be a complete shithole.”

No suit today. He’s dressed in a manner that she’s likely more familiar with; the old bomber jacket that he’s stubbornly held onto over the years thrown over a black (if nice) tee-shirt and a pair of jeans - although they’re a few steps up in quality from the worn pairs he used to wear.

He drops himself into the chair across from her, regarding her steadily for a few moments before saying in quieter and more serious tones, “You look like hell. Please tell me it’s not a Gemini side effect.”

Sabine doesn’t seem in the mood for light-hearted conversation. “Not in so many words,” she replies. Her accent is much more mild than Richard remembers. Not so much the strong Australian as it is something more subdued and transatlantic tinged, perhaps from spending years around Adam. “But yes.” Her confirmation is painful to hear.

When Sabine looks up at Richard he can see a red ring around her irises. Broken capillaries in her eyes. “The… doctors have told me that I have a year, maybe two, before it becomes fatal. If, and only if, I remain negated. The more I activate the ability I was given the faster the cellular damage spreads.” Sabine offers Richard a hesitant smile.

“I knew this going in.” Sabine says as preemptive combativeness to any sympathy. “That there might be risks. Side effects.” She swallows audibly, then looks back down to the table. “There were always risks. Consequences.”

There’s silence for a few moments, and then Richard leans forward, resting his forearms on the table and clasping both hands together. “We have some… experimental medical techniques,” he says quietly, “We might be able to help. With your consent, I’ll send a request to the administration here— even if it doesn’t help you, we might learn to help someone else. We…”

He breaks off, and then a heavy sigh passes his lips, one hand coming up to pull those shades off to look at her with his own dark eyes, looking pained as he drops the glasses down to the table. “Sabine, why didn’t you ever reach out to me? I wasn’t hard to find.”

Weren’t you?” Sabine asks with a squint. Her voice has a flinty quality it never used to. “Richard, you all but vanished after the Ark went up in flames. Every Retriever squad from here to Seattle was called back to the San Francisco branch. Julien was dead, gone.” Closing her eyes, Sabine swallows dryly.

“Richard, I looked for you. I looked for you for six months and couldn’t find you. Every single contact I had dried up and I was stranded. Things were fucking insane, every city had armed checkpoints, Kershner vanished without a trace, my emergency line to Clara came up dead. I didn’t find out the fucking Ark went up in flames until I heard about it on the news.” Sabine rakes her fingers through her hair, sitting forward and resting her head in the palms of her hands.

“It took less than a year for Monroe to track me down,” Sabine explains. “By the time I learned you were alive… “ she looks down to the table, “I’d already been rescued.”

“I thought you were in the Ark, I didn’t know you’d survived until last year…” Richard breathes out a heavy sigh, his head shaking, “I was— up at Natazhat, dealing with the Director personally. After that, I was in Kansas, gathering resources to rebuild after the war.” Which explains why he’s a CEO these days, really.

“After, though?” He grimaces, “I know he can be convincing, Sabine, but— don’t tell me you actually bought into all his rhetoric? You should’ve known his history…”

“It wasn’t rhetoric.” Sabine says defensively, looking down at her hands. “I bloody know his history,” she says with a shake of her head, raking her fingers through dark hair. “Richard I was angry. He didn’t come to me with some lofty, high and fucking mighty plan to save the world. He came to me with a gun and told me I could kill people and that’s all I needed to hear. I was grieving and I was angry.

There’s not much fire in Sabine’s voice though. Whatever anger she had back then, whatever desperation thrust her into the arms of a man like Adam Monroe, it’s long since died. “Monroe and I discovered the truth together. He wasn’t the man any of us thought he was, he wasn’t even the man he thought he was. But what he found on that penny…” Realizing Richard might not have context, Sabine backs up the conversation.

“It’s a long story, Richard. But I believed in what he was doing. The about-face he was trying to make. It would’ve worked — should’ve worked. But it didn’t. He never should’ve trusted Ryans. It should’ve been me in that aircraft…” Sabine closes her eyes and clenches her jaw shut.

“We’re all fucking dead now,” Sabine says in a bitter whisper. “You, me, everyone.”

“It wouldn’t have mattered. Don’t condemn Ryans for that…” Richard leans forward again, elbows on the table, hands folding under his chin, “…Monroe’s bioweapon was sabotaged before it ever reached him. The only thing that would’ve made his plan work is if he fucking communicated it to everyone. To me.”

There’s that hint of megalomania again. Although maybe, in this case, justified.

“He was trying to destroy Uluru. I would’ve been happy to help if he’d been willing to talk. Instead, he walked into Mazdak’s hands. He was playing checkers on a board where people with a wider perspective than the rest of us were playing four-dimensional Go.”

“But— “ He sighs, “Too late now. Look, all hope isn’t lost here. It never is. We’ll figure out how to deal with this thing, Sabine.”

Sabine sits forward, hands closed into tight fists. Not out of anger, but out of frustration. “He couldn’t go to you even if he wanted to, Richard. Do you know how many eyes are on you? On every person who works for you? Government, Mazdak, the Entity itself. You were exposed to it, directly. If he even so much as sniffed your asshole they would have known something was up. The ripples from reaching out to you would’ve been everywhere. He was convinced they expected you to be at the center of any of Adam’s plans.”

Sabine slowly leans back in her seat, then looks down at the table. “There is no dealing with it, Richard. We had once chance, while it was weak and blind, one chance we’re never going to get again. You were there,” Sabine seems certain of, “you had to have seen what it can do. There’s no fighting that. Not anymore. No matter how smart Adam was, he was no match for it.”

Looking down to her hands, Sabine shakes her head slowly. “It won a long time ago, and we’re just living on borrowed time. Some of us more than others.” Sabine looks up from her hands, immense sadness in her eyes. “Go be with your family, Richard. Enjoy the time you have left. Don’t waste it trying to fight the universe. Don’t do what I did.”

“Adam wasn’t very smart.”

It’s flatly stated, and Richard motions vaguely with one hand in a dismissive motion, “He was paranoid and desperate, not smart. I don’t believe in Kobayashi Maru scenarios, and I’ve fought things everyone told me were inevitable before.”

He leans back slightly, motioning with a hand, “We’re going to fight whether you think we can win or not. And we will. Because I do have a family, and I refuse to accept defeat while they’re in danger.”

He looks at her for a long moment, “And so do you, Sabine.”

“I’ve got fuck-all, Richard, and if you think this is some misguided attempt to rope me back into your side of things by dangling my freedom in front of me like carrot…” Sabine deflates into her chair, fingers sliding up into her hair as she slouches forward, elbows on the tabletop. “It doesn’t matter, because I’m going to be chunky soup stuck to the bottom of some doctor’s shoe eventually, and you can talk about how right and smart you are over the bowl they bury me in.”

Sabine closes her eyes, brows knit together, lips pressed into a thin line. Of course she misconstrues Richard’s comment. There is no part of her that held out hope that her daughter was alive. Not after losing Julien. Not after the fiery end of America. Not after everything.

“Sabine…” Richard leaned forward again, his own forearms resting on the tabletop, hands clasping, “…one, I told you already that if you’re willing, I’ll get my people on seeing if they can save you. I think they’ve got a decent chance. They’re a good team.”

“Two,” he says more softly, “You’re wrong. You do still have something, so try and pull yourself together, because Noel is in the waiting room and she’s been waiting to meet her mother.”

The look that Sabine gives Richard is a coal-eyed stare of clashing swords. She takes it as some sort of off-color joke at first, her upper lip curled back like a dog about to bite. But then something stirs in the back of her mind.

"Come." The deep voice of the empath carries the crackle of overuse as she swoops in on Sabine Hazel. Huruma takes her by the arm, an aura of safety around them both. As she pulls Sabine up, Huruma offers words under her breath to the woman's ear, a ministration. "I do hope you like Christmas carols."

The swords in Sabine’s eyes turn to plowshares as her expression softens, jaw trembling and eyes flicking to the entrance Richard had come through, then back to him with a pleading sort of helpless desperation. It isn’t so much joy in her eyes as it is conflict and dread. To see Sabine Hazel’s eyes well up with tears is like watching a statue weep, her normally stoic countenance breaks and her voice cracks when she tries to speak.

Richard,” Sabine says throatily, “how?”

Richard’s expression softens even more as hers does, and as she starts to break he reaches out to try and cover her hand with his own on the table. “Just luck, really,” he admits in quiet tones, “I was digging up information on Amaterasu — Colobanth was my first stop, and I found her and her guardians there. Good timing, too, since some faceless government agency rolled in over the site a month later and has been keeping me out ever since.” A flicker of irritation there, but he pushes it aside. This time isn’t for that. “You’d already burned all the records, though.”

“She’s in good health,” he adds reassuringly, “She’s a smart kid. Talented. I’ve had her set up with a nice apartment, schooling, everything she needs. I tried to get word to you, but— none of my agents could get close enough.”

There’s a lot of things that Richard says that hold meaning to Sabine, but none of them greater than the revelation that Noel is alive and well. Sabine looks around the spacious common area, then leans across the table toward Richard.

“Who was with her?” She is almost afraid to ask, and Richard can tell he may have given her the wrong impression when he said guardian. The look in Sabine’s eyes is the misguided hope of someone that their lover is still alive. Sabine expects Julien Dumont, not Tyler Case. Richard’s seen that look in someone’s eyes before. It used to be when he looked in a mirror.

As he sees that look, that hope, Richard grimaces slightly. He leans in a bit, giving his head a slight shake. “He’s gone, Sabine,” he says quietly, “I’m sorry, it’s not him. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but after the Ark— he’s gone.”

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, he knows.

Sabine’s shoulders slack, her forehead gently comes down against the table, and she lifts her arms up to cradle the back of her head. Though she knew it was too good to possibly be true, hearing Richard confirm her fears made it all the more true. Julien Dumont was gone, and this felt like losing him all over again.

The sound Sabine makes is a strangled, emotional thing. A keening cry that she would normally be too proud to allow another to hear or see. But she is so worn down by illness and mental exhaustion to keep those walls up any longer. Sabine sobs, just a brief thing, and with considerable effort and strain lifts her head up and fixes Richard with a red-eyed look of broken desperation. “Is she safe?” Sabine asks in a croak.

Of all the things Sabine Hazel lost in the war, the one thing she’d hoped would remain is the one good contribution to the world she ever made. If Noel survived, perhaps all of this would have been worth it.

It’s a sound that strikes to Richard’s core, a knife of pain that reminds him of his own lamentations and losses— even if one of them came back from the void, there were still years that wound was raw within him.

He reaches out again to take her hand, giving it a tight squeeze. “She’s safe,” he says gently, “And I promise I’ll do everything in my power to keep her that way. She’s smart, she’s happy, she’s— just a wonderful kid. You’ll see. Like I said, she’s literally right outside, as soon as you’re ready to see her.” He’s a parent too.

He understands that feeling as well as she does, after all he’s done and suffered.

Right outside sounded less real before, a turn of a phrase like “see you soon” when soon is an indistinct variable. But now Sabine knows Richard means literally right outside and Sabine’s jaw tightens. Her eyes laser focus on him and her hands clench together.

“She doesn’t know who I am.” Sabine says with a hitch in her voice, jaw trembling. “She was… she was too young. I’m— I might as well just be a stranger to her.” Sabine’s fears are ones that are familiar to Richard. After all, he has some experience with being separated from a parent as a baby. The knife cuts deep, close to home.

“Trust me.” Richard meets her eyes, hands covering hers as he leans half-across the table, his tone gentle but serious, “I spent my entire life thinking I didn’t have any living parents, and when I finally found them— look, she doesn’t know who you are, but she wants to. She just wants to see you, and to have you be her mother. Ask about her, learn about her. Show that you care.”

“That’s all that she wants. For you to exist, and for you to care.”

Sabine stares at Richard in overwhelmed silence, tears in her eyes, face red. She looks past Richard, over his shoulder, around the visitor’s area, then back again. There is both nervousness and hope in her eyes. She is silent, frozen still, though trembling in a mixture of anticipation and anxiety.

“Can… Can I see her?” Sabine asks in the smallest voice. She may not have many more opportunities like this, not with what Gemini Degeneration Syndrome will do to her.

“Of course.” Richard turns, raising one hand as he looks back to the guard by the door - a signal to escort the girl in. She’s a minor, so she needs an escort, after all.

Turning back, he shakes his head a little, “I haven’t— told her much. Just that we used to work together trying to save the world from the bad guys, and that you— got involved with the wrong people and that’s why you’re here. Whatever you want to tell her, I’ll go with it.”

He smiles faintly, “Now, take a breath, your daughter’s coming in.”


The moment when the dark-haired Noel steps through the doorway into the visitor’s center, the moment that she goes from infant to daughter, Sabine claps a hand over her own mouth to stifle a sob. Her eyes well up with tears, face flushes red, and she watches as little Noel strides across the room with a bright smile.

The young girl comes straight up to Sabine, and holds out one hand partly hidden by the long sleeve of a sweater and says. “Mr. Ray says you’re my mum. But we haven’t met, so’s proper to make introductions. I’m Noel.” Her brows go up, chin raised. She’d been practicing this at home with Tyler.

Sabine stares down at Noel for a moment, then shakily moves her hand away from her mouth and tries her eyes with a touch of fingers and palm. After drying her hand on her thigh, she reaches out to take Noel’s small hand in hers, jaw trembling as it tries to contain the size of an overwhelmed smile. Tears fall anyway, in spite of Sabine’s best efforts.

“Hello Noel,” Sabine says in a voice choked with emotion. “Hello Noel, I… I’m your mum.”

They stay in that moment of silent exchange, staring at one-another, and the moment in which Sabine sees tears well up in Noel’s eyes she has an answer to the question she feared the most. Does she remember her?

Sabine and Noel embrace. A ferocious hug divided by a decade of lost time, while there was still some time left to enjoy.

Hi mom.

Hi baby.

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