The Dread Pirate Sawyer, Epilogue


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Scene Title The Dread Pirate Sawyer, Epilogue
Synopsis “This thing of darkness I; Acknowledge mine.” ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Date December 23, 2018

Run, run!

Groaning steel crashes into old concrete, shattering glass and sending cars tumbling end over end in a surging wall of seawater. Seawater had risen twelve feet in as many minutes, filling the downtown Financial District with overturned cars and screaming people swept away by the incoming tide. But it was the wall of water carrying a tanker ship that drove home the cataclysm’s intensity.

Agent Montgomery Biard and Agent Veronica Sawyer scramble up the steps of the New York Stock Exchange, watching the hull of this six hundred foot long ship carve a gouge in the walls of the skyscrapers across the street. Tilted as it is, the shipping containers slide one-by-one off of the deck of the vessel, crashing into the rapidly rising water.

As they reach the doors of the Stock Exchange, Biard grabs Sawyer by the collar and hauls her inside as water rushes against their legs. They turn, frantic, pushing the double doors shut behind themselves as spray of ocean water blasts through the narrowing gap in the door. Windows crack, water blasts from the gap at the bottom of the doors, and screaming investors and traders on the floor watch in horror out the street-facing windows as the container ship is pushed by on crashing waves.

“Holy shit,” Biard hisses, “holy shit.”

Nine Years Later

The pop and whistle of launching mortars fills the air. Aboard the deck of the Prospero there is no strong wind or cold, protected as they are within the eye of their own personal tempest. Hundreds of people are gathered on the deck, in and around canvas tents and ramshackle favela-like structures. Children, many of whom are crying and clinging to their equally-frightened parents, are interspersed among the coughing and malnourished adults and stray dogs run wild across the ship.

Inside the bridge of the cargo ship, Biard holds his head in one hand and watches the bloom of fiery explosions through the distant haze of stormy weather. “They must be desperate…” he says with a hollowness to his voice. “They must be desperate.” At his side, Captain Veronica Sawyer is overviewing the carnage thousands of feet away through a pair of raised binoculars. Distracted by movement down below in the village built onto the deck, Biard peels his attention away from the fight.

“What the hell is that?” Biard points down, and as Veronica angles her binoculars in that direction she spies a pair of figures running through the village. One, a man with a dark ponytail and a trimmed beard; Miles? Another, an unfamiliar man with dark hair and determined eyes that show a steely resolve, but the other…

it can’t be.

Somewhere between suspicion and revelation, the three simply disappear in a distortion of the air, followed by a too close rustling of cloth and blast of displaced air as the three reappear inside the otherwise unoccupied bridge. Miles Dylan, Mateo Ruiz, and Lynette Ruiz appear out of thin air, bypassing security and manifesting directly within the bridge of the pirate command vessel.

Shit!” Biard hisses, scrambling back and raising one hand with an aggressive splaying of his fingers and a rumble in the floor and walls.

Lynette drops Miles' hand with a huff. She flips long, blonde hair over her shoulder and turns to look over the ship they've landed on. She lifts her hands, to show that she isn't armed. At least, not with any weapons. She keeps close to Ruiz, but lifts her chin as she scans for a particular familiar face.

"We come to parlay with Captain Sawyer," she says, to whoever is close enough to hear her. "My name is Lynette Ruiz, I need to speak with her before this fighting gets any worse."

At first, Ruiz looks a little disoriented, but he shakes it off. That mode of travelling was definitely different than he was used to, but it seemed to work well enough. “Just be ready to get us out of here if it goes badly,” he murmurs, though he casts the stranger a glance that might say he doesn’t mind if they need to leave him as long as his wife makes it out. Though he’s sure his wife would have something to say about that, so he definitely doesn’t do more than cast that look.

Eyes scan the deck, though not for familiar faces, but instead for the batteries that he couldn’t even make out in the distance except as a flash of light when they fired. A crackle of electricity dances between thumb and fingers of his free hand. At least the air was clear here.

“Hey,” Miles says with a wave of his now freed hand almost before he’s fully materialized on the bridge. Not quite before, though. Let’s not tempt fate about leaving a passenger in the in-between space he goes when he jumps, wherever that may be. Even he doesn’t know, nor does he plan to do much to find out.

“Sorry to barge in.” Haha. “But can you all just hold up for a minute while you hear them out?” He gestures toward Lynette and Ruiz — seems that he won’t be a major part of the parlay, but that’s honestly probably for the best from what we know about him thus far.

“Everyone is desperate,” Veronica says, tone flat, dark eyes grim as she peers through the binoculars. “Which makes everyone dangerous.”

When she levels those binoculars at the first appearance of the teleporting trio, her brows draw together. It’s been so many years since she saw the face magnified by her lenses — but something reminds her that she stopped believing in coincidences not much longer than that. “Miles,” she murmurs, though that’s not the face she’s focusing on. She’s about to say more when they disappear.

Sawyer is already turning, one hand going out to still Biard in his defensive posture, much like a mother reaching across the passenger seat when she’s hit the brakes too hard in traffic. Her eyes fall on Lynette, but it’s Miles she speaks to. The other hand has already drawn her firearm, raising it to point at the trio.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, kid? Bringing uninvited guests aboard one of my ships?” Her voice is cold, her expression challenging, with her jaw set and eyes stony.

Don't. Even.” Sawyer’s first mate calls out, his open hand aimed toward Ruiz now on seeing the flicker of electricity. His dark eyes dart back and forth between the visitors to the deck, and then out the windows of the cabin as he realizes that no one saw them come up. An alarm hasn't been raised, no one is shouting. A tense silence follows.

The air around Biard still hums with a sense of energy and purpose, a vibration those who have spent time around telekinetics recognize for what it is. When Biard's attention sweeps back to Ruiz, his fingers flex in subtle movements, shoulders tense, back straight and up against a cork board covered with loose leave handwritten notes and old nautical charts mapped with push pins and strings. He won't challenge Sawyer’s less violent initial reaction, but in solidarity his gaze becomes as steely and as unwelcoming.

They may be listening, but the pirates — cornered as they are — happen to be a tense audience.

Lynette keeps her hands up when the gun appears and she tries to keep herself between the threats and Ruiz. There's a glance to Miles, checking on him as well as making sure he's ready for however this goes.

She doesn't check on Mateo. She knows he's ready.

"Veronica," she says, voice softer now. She looks the woman over— it's been years and worlds since she saw her last. But while her mind may be categorizing what has changed, what's different, she doesn't waste the woman's patience with her observations. "We are trying to reach Cambridge. We have non-combatants on our ships. Families. Children. My daughter. There's a fleet engaging the Sentinel back in the Pelago— dying there— to give us an opportunity to get to a bunker where we can hide. We didn't come to attack your people, just to pass by and find some safety."

Though he can’t exactly suppress all of the signs of his readiness to act, Ruiz can keep it from doing more than sparking slightly. And he can keep his hands lowered, so they’re not obviously pointed like the weapons already pointed at them. He’s a little on edge at the moment, glancing toward those who speak but not seeming to recognize them, except in passing.

The woman had been a member of the Resistance, but he hadn’t really had a chance to get to know her during that time, for many reasons. But he has heard of her. As more than a terrible pirate, at least. He nods as Lynette speaks, as if agreeing with her. Everything she’d said was true, by one manner or another.

But he kept his eyes on the potential threats, those sparks showing his tension level at least to the woman he’s married to, even if she can only hear the soft pops rather than see them.

“Well.” Miles holds up his hands slowly as well, though his gesture seems more meant to be placating than because there’s a gun pointed at him. He looks over at Lynette as she speaks, nodding along, and when she’s through, he turns back to Veronica.

“Yeah. Mad Eve told me to bring them,” he continues. “And you know how she is. There’s no saying no to her ‘cause if you do she’ll just do some other crazy crap to get whatever she wanted in the first place, and it’ll probably involve a lot more damage than anyone wants. You know?” You know, Veronica. You know.

“So, here we are. Just hear them out for a minute, yeah? And then I’ll take them back and we’ll get out of your hair. I know you’ve got people to see, things to do. Places to be.” He still sounds as nonchalant as ever, as though they’re just going on an afternoon stroll and have come upon someone who’d rather be alone. However, there’s a little strange breathlessness to it that shouldn’t be warranted by the exertion — or lack thereof, rather. His face looks slightly paler than it had been before they’d made the jump, too. Maybe there was a reason for his appraisal of Mateo before that wasn’t just him being a smartass. Who knows how much power he actually has?

There’s a fleeting flicker in Veronica’s gaze at Lynette’s voice — recognition — but she doesn’t give voice to it, doesn’t call the woman by name.

“So do we,” she says, with nod of her head to the window of the bridge, where the veritable city below can be seen on the long deck of the Prospero. “You risked their lives by coming into our territory. The Sentinel will follow you here.” Still, there’s another flicker behind her cool, dark eyes at the mention of children, of daughters.

Both Biard and Ruiz can feel their powers poked at, but in different ways; Biard’s is a gentle tug of sorts, a subtle hand squeeze in its way. Ruiz’s, a warning — using his power won’t go as he plans.

“The Commonwealth?” Sawyer asks, her head shaking slightly. “If you can get there, if it exists, what makes you think they won’t kill you on sight? You would be bringing danger on your heels.” Her eyes flicker to Miles. “Is this Eve’s plan too?”

“They're fighting?” Biard can't help but bark the words out without thinking, looking at Lynette like she told him they're trying to shoot the moon out of the sky with a slingshot. For all his balking, he looks back to Veronica then out the windows toward the horizon where the storm is still churning.

Jaw tense, Biard seems ready to fight as he'd threatened, but he can't seem to shake the notion of bewilderment that the residents of the Pelago rallied anything other than a welcoming pillory for the Sentinel with all the local Evolved lashed to it.

"They won't follow. They don't even know there's anyone to follow. They're days away and they will have to fight to the last one standing." Lynette glances to Biard, a sigh following before she looks back to Veronica.

"Whether they kill us in the Commonwealth or not has very little to do with the matter at hand. We have to get there, and I'd like to do it with as little bloodshed as possible." She lowers her hands, slowly, and straightens her posture. "Ronnie, please. We're not here to hurt anyone."

Having never come into contact with the ability of Veronica Sawyer, Ruiz doesn’t really recognize the probing touch so much as the outward effect. The sparks in his hand backfire slightly, snapping his hand back almost as if he felt it. And for a moment he had. He gives his hand a shake as if to expose it to air and lessen the pain.

“They are fighting. Some of them at least. But I think we all know what will happen to those who don’t fight at all if they lose. Vanguard, Sentinel, whatever they want to call themselves, they’re the same people who flooded this world and turned the survivors against each other.” Different world, same thing. Flood or virus, they found their way to their own final solution.

“Soon you will likely find these waters slim pickings. And they might decide to come after you next, too.”

“Yeah,” Miles confirms when Veronica asks, “that’s her plan. Or at least, I think it is. It’s kind of hard to tell what she’s saying sometimes. But more or less.” He falls quiet then as he sticks one hand into his pocket, taking a deep breath and letting it out quietly. The other hand reaches up to rub his face for a second or two, and he makes a little face, but other than that he just stays where he is, looking from Lynette to Ruiz as they speak.

Sawyer casts a glance Biard’s way at the surprised reply, before blinking and turning her less-revealing gaze back on Lynette. Of the two, it’s easy to determine which would do better at poker. Still, even so, there’s a twitch in her jaw at the name Ronnie. At least to Lynette, it’s obvious that Veronica remembers her.

“Might,” she repeats after Ruiz, a shake of her head and a roll of her eyes. “It’s inevitable. It’s why we do this.” She nods to the storm outside of their windows, distant as it is from the bridge.

Her dark-whiskey eyes find Miles’ next. “Can you do me a favor and tell her next time to ask ahead of time? I’m not Catholic. I don’t buy into the whole ‘better to beg forgiveness than ask for permission’ bullshit, yeah?”

She turns to one of her men at the controls. “Go tell the guys to cool it on the mortars for a few minutes.” A few minutes is a compromise, at least. She looks back to Lynette, studying her face for a moment, looking for the teenager she knew once, long ago in California. “Why the Commonwealth?”

And then, perhaps more surprisingly, “What’s your daughter’s name?”

When Veronica asks for her people to belay the mortar strikes, Biard’s brows furrow and he fires a momentarily surprised look at her. But then, there’s something in his eyes that belies something more than surprise. As he looks out the control room windows to the tent city on the ship’s deck, his eyes flick from side to side. He flexes his right hand closed, feels he ache of arthritis in his knuckles, of tired muscles and bones that ache in the cold weather. He isn't as young as he was when this all started.

“How many ships does the Pelago have?” Biard asks Mateo and the others, barking that question atop the unusually personal one that Veronica already laid. “How far behind you?”

That hint of recognition is enough for Lynette to twitch a smile. Just a hint of one. But she feels safe enough to let out a sigh and run her hands through her hair. "Thank you," she says, even to a brief stand down. There's relief in her expression, because she knew Veronica wasn't the boogeyman the Pelago thinks she is. She knew there had to be more to it.

The two questions get a more subdued expression. There's no way for Veronica to know how closely linked the answers are.

"He name is Evie. She's four and she's fearless. I'm the one that's scared for her," she admits with a shaky exhale. "We have a son, too. Manuel. He was taken from us and we have been chasing them… so far." She squeezes her eyes closed, fighting back tears as if she still has an impulse to appear more together than the girl she used to babysit. "There's someone in the Commonwealth who can help us catch up. To help me see him again. I don't even know if he'll remember me." She stops short there— she hadn't really intended to say it, but now that she's voiced it, it feels more true than it was when it was just a ball of anxiety in her gut. Her fingers lift, wiping at her eyes before she lifts her chin and tosses her hair over her shoulder. "I need your help to see him again, too."

The talk about their children quiet’s Ruiz for a time, and he reaches out to touch her arm when she wonders if Manuel will remember her. It’s his way of trying to say that of course he will without actually saying so. “They aren’t following us. I’m pretty sure most of them believe we’re on a fool’s mission to try and reunite with our son at the end of the world.” It’s vague, but it’s the truth. “And who knows how many stayed rather than fled in different directions.” And certainly not this one.

That they stopped the mortars looks like a start, in stopping the fighting, but he still casts a sideways glance at Lynette as if he doesn’t trust them not to take the idea that the Pelago might be weakened and go after them. Though honestly he has no idea how many of them they have. If each of those at the meeting had a decent sized ship, then he assumes there’s nowhere near enough if Sentinel was as big as those who argued running seemed to fear.

He hopes that Lynette and Eve are right about this Captain Sawyer.

“You do forgive me though, right?” Despite the seriousness of the situation, Miles grins at Veronica, exaggeratedly charming. He’s clearly very forgivable. Just look at him! He doesn’t say too much else, though, because even he knows that there’s a time and a place, and it’s probably not that time nor that place right now. He reaches out instead to lean against a convenient surface — bulkhead, maybe, or some sort of pillar, who knows what boats have in them. Something. He takes a breath in, letting it out slowly, though the color still hasn’t yet returned to his face.

“Evie,” repeats Veronica, husky voice lower than usual, and a hand goes to a chain around her neck, calloused fingers curling around a locket there. Her brows draw together in what looks like a fierce scowl, but there’s another flicker of muscle at her jaw suggesting something deeper under the surface.

“And the Pelago is fighting to give you this chance?” Her eyes flicker to Miles. “Eve thinks there’s a chance?”

His question gets a small shake of her head. “If we survive this Purge, we’ll talk. And discuss future changes in boat boarding protocols.”

It’s almost a joke.

Her gaze returns to Lynette, flickers to Mateo, but back to her friend, before she turns to Biard. “Lynette used to babysit me.” Her tone is almost light, but the implication is clear. She’s a friend, and to be treated as such.

She holsters her gun, and reaches instead for a radio at her hip, bringing it to her mouth and depressing the talk button. “Cease fire.”

Shoulders tense, it is only when Veronica calls for a full ceasefire that Biard finally relaxes. Lowering his hands to his side, he looks at Lynette with a look of both uncertainty and slight wonder. “I always figured the Captain hatched out of somebody’s head, fully formed.” The corner of Biard’s mouth quirks up into a smirk.

Outside, the Captain’s order translates into a belated firing of one of the mortars straight up into the air. Not launching an explosive shell, but rather a signal flare up into the stormy skies that bursts with a vibrant green light. A signal to cease hostilities across the fleet and withdraw.

Biard waits for the answer to the Captain’s question before he asks one of his own burning in the back of his mind.

Lynette reaches over, putting her hand over Ruiz's. His reassurance helps— at least to help her regain some calm. Except for that moment when Veronica calls a cease fire, where she looks like she might cry all over again. But she manages to keep it together. She's got a reputation to live up to, it would seem.

Biard's comment gets a more genuine smirk— genuine, because Lynette suddenly has more hope than she has in months— and she looks over his way. "Zeus pays excellent rates," she says. And that is a joke.

The signal leads to Ruiz letting out a soft sound of relief, one that almost sounds like a whisper in another language, almost a prayer of sorts. “Those who came with us were definitely offering us a chance to get this far, and those who stayed— well I think they were fighting as much to protect the homes they built and the people they built it with as to help us.” And some probably did run, if the argument that had sprung up had meant anything. As he mentions those who came with them he looks out toward where the boats were. At least one didn’t seem to have made it. He hoped they were able to get some of them out of the water before it was too late.

Had Magnes been on that ship along with Elaine? He thought so, and he hoped they lived. Elaine had come too far to drown in a strange world without ever reuniting with her daughter.

“She did mention you. And she didn’t believe the stories, either.” He hadn’t been so sure, not with how they had nearly rammed them. That ship could have torn a hole in the little ship they had been on, if other things hadn’t happened. “I wish we would have ended this more quickly.” He’s sure that the Sayanora wasn’t the only casualty on either side.

“Yeah,” Miles replies, and this time his tone is a little more serious. Almost completely serious, even, which is really very serious, for him. “She wouldn’t be here doing it if she didn’t.” Veronica’s next words, though, make him let out a little huff of laughter. “Okay,” he says. “Sure. That’s fair.”

Of course, we know he won’t be in a position to return to discuss anything with her. But it’s the thought that counts.

The captain angles a glance at Biard for his comment and a huff for Lynette’s quip. “Don’t tell anyone otherwise,” she murmurs, her eyes settling on Ruiz next before she looks out to the deck below again.

“Those stories have kept my people safe. No one comes out in these waters but Sentinel or those who agree with them.” Until now, goes unspoken, as she looks back, her dark gaze shifting from Miles to Ruiz to Lynette again.

Her hand tucks her locket back under her sweater. “We’ll escort you to the Commonwealth.” Sawyer glances at Biard, brow lifting — they’ve worked together for so many years, she can see the question bubbling up. “What?”

“We should go the other way.” Biard isn’t one to debate a topic in front of his Captain, he reserves that for behind closed doors, so that the chain of command is never weakened, so that she appears to be the absolute authority. It is the mask she needs, the burden she wears, the flag she carries. Here, though, now? Biard speaks up. “They came this way fine, the only thing we’d be escorting them from is us.”

Looking out to the tent city aboard the Prospero, Biard clenches his jaw and turns his attention back to Sawyer. “We can’t keep this up. You were right. Maybe it’s time for another dread pirate, like in the book.” It isn’t a challenge to her authority, but rather a conclusion. “Or maybe it’s time for the dread pirate to scare the real enemy.”

“We’ve been running so long I’ve forgotten what it feels like to fight back. If we help the Pelago stop the Sentinel, we won’t have to worry about more ships.” Biard glances to the fire blooming in the blizzard beyond the ship. “We’ll have somewhere to settle. Either way,” he shakes his head, “this ship will be our fucking tomb if we don’t do something.”

This is the Montgomery Biard she remembers, crawling out of a fog of the past, from beneath a heap of defeat and regret.

"He has a point. We have enough ships, but if you join the fight in the Pelago… well, everyone's chances for survival go up, don't they?" Lynette may not think of this world as home— and would not want to, but there are people that do, and they deserve a world with some peace in it. With some comfort. She looks toward Ruiz, his words getting a soft nod. Faster would have been better. "We all did the best we could," she says, though, in quiet reassurance.

“You were right, mi luz,” Ruiz whispered under his breath. She was right about her friend, and right about this too. He had come over completely intending to electrify this whole ship if he had to. But sometimes diplomacy was better. And this time it definitely was.

“We don’t need any more ships.” Even losing the Sayonara wasn’t the end of the world, honestly, though he hoped there were survivors. “Those back at the Pelago do need anything that they can get. In a week or less they will be fighting for their lives, and those…” Ruiz gestures toward the silenced mortars, “May be the only thing that can keep them from being annihilated.”

“They intended to block the harbors, scuttle ships that they didn’t need to make the passage more dangerous and limit the directions they could come up. It might slow them down enough to allow you to surprise them from behind.” He hadn’t been planning to tell them that, but now he has hope. “Maybe you can get back some of what Vanguard and Sentinel have stolen, the possibility that you all can live together, openly. Instead of preying on each other out of fear.”

The contradiction from Biard swings Veronica’s head that way. Her expression is hard to read a moment — unless she’s smiling, she always looks hurt or angry, with that case of perpetual RBF. But when he continues, it shifts into something deeper than anger or irritation. There’s a wistfulness mixed with a deep weariness in the look she shares with him, and she nods once.

Ruiz and Lynette each add to the proposal, and the captain nods again, before she turns to Biard.

“We fight, then. One last stand. We end this, or we die trying.” It’s not a rallying cry, nor is it meant to be, but instead a resignation, that this is how their journey is meant to end. That this is what their lives have led to after all of these years.

Her eyes flicker to the battlefield in the distance. She doesn’t say the words, but there’s regret in her eyes. A muscle twitches in her jaw, before she suddenly reaches up to pull the locket out and over her head, flicking it open. She stares at it for a long moment before closing it with a snap and holding it out to Lynette to take. “In case it’s the latter. Give this to your Evie so someone else can remember mine.”

With a shoulder-squaring breath, Sawyer turns to look at the three uninvited guests, eyes falling on the teleporter. “Miles probably needs some food and rest. We don’t have much but there’ll be breakfast in the galley. If there’s anything you need for the Commonwealth that we can spare…” she glances to Biard. They can’t spare much.

Biard tenses for a moment, looking to Sawyer and then to Mateo, Lynette, and Miles. “We’ll make sure you’re taken care of. It’s… the most,” and perhaps the least, “we can do. We’ll have to worry about who killed who later, when we aren’t on the chopping block.” Swallowing tightly, Biard shifts a glance over to the exterior of the ship through the windows, then walks over to the radio and picks up the receiver.

He pauses, looking one last time at Sawyer. He can’t believe he’s about to say this.

Helena,” Biard calls over the intercoms, “drop the storm… we’re going south.”

There was still time yet, for a Christmas miracle.

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