The Last Road


odessa2_icon.gif richard4_icon.gif

Scene Title The Last Road
Synopsis In a lonesome hotel on the outskirts of what was once New York City, Odessa and Richard stare into the face of armageddon.
Date February 7, 2020

The worst part of it is that it actually does feel good, a brief rush of endorphins conflicting with a roil of guilt in his stomach as the lab rat crumbles away into a fine ash in the bottom of its cage. The small door to the cage is closed and latched, and Richard leans forward to set it down on the table before leaning back in his chair, one hand coming up to rub over his face.

“You know, it’d be nice if one of you would speak the fuck up,” he says to nobody at all, at least nobody outside his own head, “I mean, this is probably the only time in my life that I’d be happy to hear your voice, old man, but— “

He jumps as his phone suddenly rings, staring at it in shock for a moment before he laughs at himself. “Christ, Richard, you’re jumping at nothing…”

The phone’s tapped on, and he brings it up to his ear, “Richard Ray.”


The voice on the other end of the line is tentative. Uncertain.


“It’s good to hear your voice.”

Richard can almost hear the shaky smile on the other end of the line. Almost visualize it on the face it belongs to.

There’s a startled silence on the other end of that phone. It’s one of the last people that Richard thought he’d hear on his phone when he picked it up.

He almost says her name. Almost, before he catches himself.

“…hey. It’s good to hear yours, too. After I heard the news, I was worried.”

His voice quiet, uncertain. Not the usual confidence from the man.

“Makes two of us,” the woman responds. “I…” There’s a quiet exhale as she trails off, uncertain of how to proceed. “Wasn’t sure it was a good idea to reach out, but… I couldn’t not.

There’s a hitch in her breath, quiet but still audible. “Fuck, I miss you.”

“Yeah. Yeah, it wasn’t a good idea, but I’m— glad that you did. I miss you too, I…”

A slow sigh whispers past his lips, his voice still hesitant, “I’m— not in a good place right now. We were fucking— we’ve all been manipulated. Adam wasn’t the one pulling the strings. He never was. He probably thought he was, but…”

“I know.” There’s the barest beat of a pause. “At least, I think I do. I mean… I just…”

It’s complicated.

“Can we meet?” That’s an even worse notion than this phone call, admittedly, but it feels necessary in some way. Easier to communicate. “Let me help you, Richard.”

There’s silence for long moments. It’s a terrible idea, of course; someone broke her out of PISEC, and with her history of jumping ship to every organization that held out a hand to her, the chances of her not working for Mazdak right now were extremely low.

There is no way he should say yes.

“…yeah,” he finally says quietly, “Yeah, we can do that. Where?”

The surprise is palpable over the line, made evident with only a sharp exhale of breath. “Ah…” There’s a thoughtful hum. “How mobile are you right now? We could meet for a game of chess?”

She means in Manhattan.

“It’ll take me a bit. Can you get there?”

He’s uncertain. It’s dangerous territory, after all, and the last he knew she didn’t have her ability anymore…

Then again, maybe that’s where she’s been hiding.

There’s a quiet breath of laughter. “Not as easily as I used to,” she admits freely. “But I might be able to get an escort to the line.” From there, she expects she’d be on her own, but it’s better than nothing.

“Unless you have a better idea.”

“There’s that place that we used to watch home movies,” he suggests instead.

The motel on the border of New York.

“Perfect. I’ll meet you there.”

The Last Road
Somewhere Outside the Ruins of New York City

February 7th
8:12 pm

The motel at the edge of New York is almost exactly as Odessa remembers it. It feels in so many ways that it lives up to its name. Then again, she wonders if every road travelled is going to be the last for her.

Sitting at the end of the bed with her feet dangling over the edge, bare toes barely brushing the floor, she stares ahead at her muted reflection in the old television set. It isn’t on, or anything. This is the same room they’d had the last time they’d been here — purely coincidentally even in a world where coincidence seems not to exist — and even touching the TV feels like inviting a curse into play.

What we did to her… She’ll never lead a normal life.

The words echo in her head, the voice of Charles Deveaux discussing a fate he and the others of the Company had condemned her to. For what?

The glow of headlights filtering through the curtains drawn over the windows catches her attention again when they glare across the dark surface of the screen. Odessa rises to her feet and peers through a gap in the window dressing to try and see if she recognizes the vehicle that’s just pulled up. There isn’t enough lighting in the dilapidated parking lot to give her much more to go on than the fact that a vehicle does, in fact, exist there, and when the headlights are on, they cause her to wince, unable to see past them.

She moves to one side of the door, her hand wrapped around the handle of the pistol she doesn’t remember picking up. She holds her breath and waits.

The abrupt death of the headlights doesn’t help much either, as the afterimage of them lingers to make it difficult - if not impossible - to see beyond the windshield to the man within. The driver’s side door opens then, and a black shoe hits the blacktop first, followed by the end of a cane. Following it up, the silver of a wolf’s head gleams beneath a gloved hand.

Richard Ray rises to his full height and pushes the door closed behind him, turning his gaze to the motel room door past dark glasses. Are his eyes blue behind them?

He steps up to the door, looking tired, pale, drawn— and knocks.

It’s fortunate for Richard that Odessa determined she wouldn’t be able to see the driver even after he left the vehicle. If she had waited - if she had seen that cane, - the greeting he received would have been shots fired through the door.

Instead, there’s silence for a long moment. She’s trembling with nervous energy. There’s any number of questions she could pose to the person on the other side of the door in an attempt to ascertain their identity. To determine if this was a huge mistake. In the end, what does it change? She’s here. There isn’t another way out. If this turns out to be a trap - either because Richard’s turned her in or because someone was tapped into their conversation - there isn’t much she can do about it that would be aided by playing Twenty Questions.

Reaching across the door, Odessa finally breathes again, the first coming in a short gasp as she turns the handle just enough for the door to pop ajar.


A faint smile is there upon his lips, but it’s a genuine one - the gloved hand that isn’t on his cane coming up to pull the shades from his eyes, and they’re the same hazel shade that they always were. His gaze hopeful as he looks to her, and of all things—

“You went red? I like it.”

The smile that breaks out across Odessa’s face is one of relief and joy. Her lips quiver from the swell of emotion that comes with seeing his face again. “Yeah,” she laughs softly. “Seemed like it might be the way to go this time.”

She’s glad he likes it.

The derringer is slid into her pocket as she steps forward to wrap her arms around her friend and once-lover.

It’s with all his heart that he wants to just reach out and melt into that embrace.

The smile fades as she steps forward, though, and he steps back - raising the cane, that cane to intervene between them.

“Careful! I…” A breath’s sucked in between his teeth, his gaze searching her face for the reaction, “I’m not safe to touch. Right now.”

If there’s anyone in the world who would understand what’s going on with so little to go by, she’s amongst them - and that’s why he’s terrified of her reaction.

There’s a lack of comprehension that comes on the heels of the visible break of her heart when he seemingly spurns her affection. Her eyes fall on that cane, lips parted around a sound of shock that doesn’t manage to escape her throat.

Those blue eyes come back up to find his face, incredulous. Deep down, she understands what it means. But she denies it. After all, the last bearer of that cane, by her recollection, wasn’t the same kind of threat that simple ambulatory aid represents.

Before she can start asking questions, however, her head swivels sharply to one side, her gaze searching through the middle distance for something unseen. “Get away from the windows.”

There’s pain and sorrow in Richard’s eyes as he watches her reaction, and once she’s stepped back he moves to slip through the door - stepping over to make sure the curtains are securely pulled closed.

“There’s… a lot to talk about,” he says in quiet tones, head dropping forward and gaze going with it down to the floor, “I’m sorry, I probably shouldn’t’ve even come here, but…”

“I think we might be equally dangerous to each other,” Odessa reasons, turning the deadbolt on the motel door and sliding the chain into place for good measure. She stays leaning with her back against it, trying to make sense of all the clues in front of her.

She’s trying to make one and one make three, even though she knows that isn’t how it all adds up.

“Did you come here alone?”

“You know, that’s the kind of question that’s usually followed by someone coming out of the bathroom to shoot me, Des…”

There’s a rueful note to it as Richard half-turns, watching her for a moment before saying quietly, “But I trust you. So yeah, I did. Unless you count— “ A hand raises, a gloved finger tapping the side of his head, an eyebrow popping up. “— all these dead people.”

“Or out of your car to shoot me,” Odessa counters with a shaky sort of grin. If she really believed that was what might be going on here, she wouldn’t still be standing against the door.

The corner of her mouth ticks up again at his explanation. “Ah, so I was right.” She does, as it happens, count all those dead people. “Fuck,” she breathes out, eyes growing wide as she studies him from head to toe.


“The last few years…” Richard steps over to the bed, turning around and dropping down to sit on it with a creak, the cane leaned against the bedside table. “…since we thought they were destroyed? They’ve been in— my cousin, actually, if you can believe that. Sarisa Kershner’s daughter, Nathalie LeRoux. We’ve kept it quiet, for obvious reasons.”

His head drops back, staring at the ceiling, “Doesn’t matter now. Shedda Dinu took us. Mazdak. Adam thinks he’s calling the shots, but— he’s not. It’s this guy, Baruti Naidu. He…”

A slow breath drawn in, exhaled. “Shoved a blade through my side and let me bleed to death. Then let her find me. There wasn’t— anyone around for at least a mile. He made sure of it.”

“Welcome to the club,” is supposed to be some kind of joke about death and resurrection, but it falls flat, understandably. She understands the cost better than most. “Oh, god. I’m so sorry.” Her knowledge of how the white conduit works is admittedly limited, but the power of the black conduit is one she’s experienced firsthand on multiple occasions. She’s felt it reach for her very soul.

For a time, Odessa stares at the floor some distance between their feet. That she finally moves to sit on the opposite bed is a sign of respect given to his situation. She wants nothing more than to stand in front of him and pull him forward to rest his head against her chest. Let him try to draw strength from her love for him.

But that isn’t what would happen. He’d draw something else entirely from her, and neither wants that.

“So when do we take the fight to Mazdak?” We.

“I don’t know. I’m working in the blind here, we’re… this whole thing was planned, Des, all of it. The patterns, the connections— even the exact path that Liz and Magnes took through the worlds,” Richard says in frustrated tones. Frustrated? Yes, but there’s something else there. Fear.

He spent so long following a pattern that he knew was leading him in the right direction, and now he’s trapped in one that he’s sure isn’t.

He falls back onto the bed with a creak of the springs, feet still on the floor, staring at the ceiling still. “It would’ve been— impossible if Edward wasn’t somehow coordinating between timelines. But he wasn’t, couldn’t be, so… something else was guiding him. I just…”

“Any move I make, they could be counting on. I have to do something… completely unexpected.”

There’s concern as she watches, listens. Feels. It occurs to her she doesn’t have a baseline for Richard’s emotions. He’s got one of the bravest faces, but she never really would have known what was beneath the surface. Has he always been frightened of this path? She reasons that it would have been the smartest thing. Fear, as it turns out, is quite often a healthy thing.

“When he killed me,” she says as though she wasn’t talking about another version of herself entirely, “it was because he saw me as a threat to what he was doing. What he was planning. I didn’t understand it. I was helping him. I trusted him.”

A rueful smile tugs at Odessa’s lips. Where did that get her?

“But Eddie’s not like that.” Eddie. A man wholly different from the one she just discussed. There’s no resentment when she says that name. There’s a fondness, in fact. A complete turnaround from the way she snapped at the sight of him in a photograph all those years ago. “He didn’t know things like Edward.”

Which is to say that she agrees. Some force outside of Edward Ray was truly pulling the strings.

“How do you do something unexpected when we’re a world of clairvoyants and precognitives?” Odessa asks uncertainly. “Even I can tell what drives you.”

Which is a feat, considering what he knows about her capacity for empathy.

“Charles Deveaux once asked that very question,” might as well be a gunshot for how startling it is in the quiet space of the motel room. There is suddenly someone else in the room with Richard and Odessa, standing beside the TV as if the curse Richard was afraid of invoking had truly been made manifest. Odessa only sees an old man, dressed in that crisp black and white business dress of a Company Agent. He’s at least seventy, judging from the wrinkles on his face and the shock white of his hair. Tired, old eyes too. But Richard sees more than an old man.

He sees Walter Renautas.


As another voice speaks, Richard shoots up and lunges across the bed. He has the blade of Kazimir’s cane half-way out before he recognizes the man. The weapon snikts back into its casing and is dropped back down before he drops onto his back once more, an arm thrown over his face.

“Jesus Christ, you just about gave me a heart attack. Uhh- Des, this is Walter Renautus, the ghost of Christmas Past. You can relax, he’s only kind of here.”

Pushing himself back up, he stares at the old man for a long moment before giving his head a shake— a bit of a shiver working its way down his spine. “I don’t, uh— I don’t suppose Charles had a good answer for the question?”

Odessa’s arm is out in front of her before she realizes what she’s trying to do. Her expression is stern, eyes blazing as she tries to assess the threat. But what her instinct tells her should happen doesn’t happen. Her breath hitches in her chest for a moment as she reconciles the fact that she can’t simply halt the moment and determine what’s happened.

Living in the moment is a drag.

Slowly, her arm lowers, her hand no longer outstretched toward their intruder. She reaches out with the senses she does possess and slowly starts to ease. There’s no sense of hostility coming from the aged man. Seemingly no intent to harm.

“Renautas,” Odessa repeats, as though testing the shape of the name in her mouth. “Like Kyla.” Her blue gaze sweeps the man’s frame up and down as she rises to her feet. A slow, deliberate motion, like she doesn’t want to spook anyone. Least of all Richard at this point.

“If he was only kind of here,” the woman refutes, “I wouldn’t be able to—” Her brows furrow, curious about the nature of the man before her. Finally, the corner of her mouth ticks up in tandem with an audible exhale of breath. “I’m beginning to doubt Mister Deveaux had a good answer for anything,” Odessa admits.

Renautas’ brows rise when Kyla is mentioned, but then slowly lower without remark. “His answer was, you can’t see without eyes.” There’s a hint of skepticism in Renautas’ tone, or perhaps it’s cynicism. “I don’t know how effective it was, but Charles held fast to that belief.” Walking through the bed as though it weren’t there, Renautas comes to stand beside Odessa with an appraising expression on his face. Again, though, he makes no remark of his obvious expressions.

“I came to inform you that I am nearly complete in my assessment of the events that preceded the redaction,” Renautas explains. “I have but a handful of pieces left to assemble, and then we should have a much clearer picture of what transpired on November 8th, 1984.” Renautas’ brows crease together, hands coming to fold behind his back. “For now, however, I found it pertinent to inform you that my son has…” he searches for the right word, “reawakened to his ability. It appeared to be a critical component of the Entity’s first defeat, and I would be remiss not to warn you that it may remember such transgressions.” Which is to say, the Trafford family may be in a considerable amount of danger if anyone were to become aware of Niel’s ability returning.

“Beyond that personal matter,” Renautas looks back down to Odessa, “I need to borrow this one.” He says with a gesture down to Odessa as though she were a housepet, before turning his attention back to Richard. “She is the last tether to Colin Price, and I believe there is a thread that runs through his life connected to these events.”

“He’s their grandfather,” Richard affirms with a glance over to Odessa, then back to the old man— or image of the old man. Or ghost. He really can’t tell, although the lack of a living presence is starting to give him the heebie-jeebies.

The answer brings a frown to his lips then, and he looks away. The horse has left the stable there, it seems, and there’s no closing it. So how can he take the enemy’s eyes away when he barely knows who they are?

Back to Walter, his frown just deepens, “Daniel? Shit… okay. I’ll go talk to Delilah when I get the chance.” To Odessa, “…huh. He was working on Tartarus…” Whatever the specifics of that project were.

Odessa’s gaze narrows, her lip curling faintly at the way she’s referred to like she isn’t a sentient human fucking being with agency. Then again, when has she ever had agency when the shit hits the fan? The brief animosity fades into neutrality. “My name is Odessa,” she offers, expecting that he knows this, but pretending he may not at least gives him an out to excuse his lapse in manners. He seems like the type to care about manners.

Her attention shifts to Richard briefly. “Tartarus?” She takes a moment to rack her brain. It becomes apparent when she remembers the reference in the way that she stiffens up, clenching her fist. “What does my father have to do with…?” Her brows furrow and she looks away, trusting her senses to keep her apprised of any shift in the room. “He was killed before all of that. He and my mother.”

It is perhaps Odessa’s mistake to believe that her mother is the more important portion of the equation.

“Your father died on April 8th, 1984.” Renautas states plainly. “The Looking Glass was opened in 1982.” His eyes drift down to the floor, lingering there as he continues. “But, Richard is right. This is about something called Tartarus, and something called Umbra.” He slowly blinks a look back up to Richard. “But it will be easier to

Fort Hero

Montauk Point, Long Island

April 9th


show you.”

Suddenly, the world is not as it was.

“Recording begins.”

A tripod mounted camera records a concrete-walled laboratory space. A pair of solid-case computers with monitors mounted to the keyboards display monochromatic black and green screens. Adjacent to the desks they’re on is a ten-foot-by-ten-foot wooden maze about waist height to the figures in white lab coats standing around it.

One of these figures is a young woman somewhere in her early teens with sandy brown hair down to her back. Her eyes are a piercing blue, features strong and angular with a prominent nose. She has a stopwatch in one hand, clipboard in the other, and is looking at a man in his thirties in a matching lab coat holding a wire cage containing a mouse.


“April 9th, 1981.” The brunette girl says with a fond smile to the older doctor. “Facility B, 10:44 am Eastern Time.” As she gives the dateline, the doctor in the labcoat sets the cage down on the corner of the maze and pulls out a tiny brown rat from within. He carefully sets the mouse down inside of the maze. “Test subject: Shakespeare. R. Norvegicus, age 1. Generation 4.”

The rat begins nosing around in the maze as the older doctor closes up the cage and sets it on the floor. The girl checks her clipboard and reads something aloud from it. “It has been fourteen hours since the second injection and Shakespeare is not exhibiting the signs of neurophagia that Frost and Plath experienced.” She looks up to the rat, then back down to the clipboard. “Last maze run confirmed metacognition completely intact. And if we’re lucky, he’ll shorten his time by half today.”

Odessa’s eyes had gone glassy the moment her father appeared in the room. Or she appeared there? Whatever the reality of it, it’s overwhelming to see him whole and more-or-less in person. She smiles shakily, pressing the back of her hand against her mouth briefly. “You nerd, Dad,” she says of the naming convention of the rodents.

“She looks familiar,” Richard frowns, moving to try and spot her name-tag if she has one, stepping ‘round the image of the girl carefully. Which is when he walks into the television stand that he can’t see right now.

“Nhf. Careful where you step,” he mutters, rubbing his sternum.

Watched by the older doctor, the young teen sets down her clipboard and approaches the corner of the maze. Gently, she strokes her fingers along the rat’s back. “Come on Shakespeare,” she says encouragingly, eliciting a series of soft squeaks from the rat. “Ok, here we go.” She says, lifting up a block of wood that had kept Shakespeare isolated from the rest of the maze.

Standing up straight, the teen girl clasps her hands together excitedly as she and the older doctor watch the rat. “Shakespeare is… navigating the maze.” The rat swiftly moves from corridor to corridor. “He’s remembered the turns… avoided the trap door. Gosh, just— look at him go!” There’s so much pride in her voice.

Reaching out to rest a hand on Richard’s arm without looking at him - without the risk that this might all disappear if she tears her eyes away from the scene for even a moment to focus on something that’s real - Odessa answers his unasked question. “That’s Cindy Morrison.” She’s seen the woman’s picture before when she was doing her research. Looked at it many times since.

But then, brows raise in worry, and the girl watches the mouse begin to act erratically. The older doctor picks up the clipboard and begins to take notes. “He’s— oh, Shakespeare.” She says disappointedly. “He’s gotten himself lost in a corner.” She starts to reach in. “Ok. Well, this— ” Whatever she was going to say next is cut off by a sudden explosion of electricity from the corner of the maze. “Oh my God!

A power surge causes the footage to sputter, and when it comes back on there’s an alarm klaxon going off and the brunette girl has fallen onto her side on the floor. “Oh— Oh my God where— where did— ” She looks up sharply to the older doctor who is helping her up off of the floor. “Doctor Price! Doctor Price! He’s— ” A rat scurries across the floor. “He’s out of the maze!”

The flash makes Richard grimace at the brief spike of pain, turning his head away. “Wait…” He turns his head to look to the floor where the rat scurries, eyes widening, “..was that…?”

Odessa’s arm comes up to shield her eyes from the sudden blast, shaking her head. “I have no idea.”


The older man, Doctor Price, helps her up off of the floor and is just as bewildered as she is. “How… how did he— Why is the alarm going off!?” He shouts over the blaring noise.”

“I don’t know!” The girl yelps. “I think it was a power surge— it— ” There’s another snap of electricity and the rat on the floor transforms into an arc of electricity and disappears into an electrical outlet. “Ah!” She shrieks, recoiling from the electrical blast.

Doctor Price stares on in wide-eyed bewilderment. “Oh. My God.” He looks to the girl, then to the outlet. “Did— ” His mouth hangs open and he exchanges a look with the girl in stunned confusion.

“Oh my God. Call Mr. Deveaux right now!” The teen shouts, looking horrified. “We might have an unexpected mutation. Tell Victoria too. She’s— ” The girl looks up to Doctor Price. “She’s going to be beside herself.”

Doctor Price slowly raises one brow at the girl, ordering him around as she is, and cracks an amused smile. “Yes ma'am," he says with a ping of good-natured sarcasm.

“It was! It’s one of the electric mice that the kids found,” Richard says, his eyes widened slightly, “Holy shit. Des, your father made evolved animals. Was this a predecessor to the Formula research?”

“I don’t know,” Odessa answers honestly. “If… If this was his legacy…” She finds herself looking to Renautas, wondering if he’ll have more to say on the subject. “Did you know him?” Again, she turns to look at Colin Price, studying his face and looking for the similarities between the two of them, looking for nature in the absence of nurture. “My father?”

Her brow furrows and she toys with a strand of her red-dyed hair, stretching the curl down until it’s run the spectrum from wavy to straight, then letting go so it bounces back into shape. “What was Cindy to him?” is an idle ask. If the memories locked away in the dark recesses of her mind are anything to go by, Cindy was more than simply Dr. Price’s assistant for her to have taken custody of his child after his death.

“I didn’t know your father well,” Renautas says with an incline of his head to the side. “He did work for the Company, but by the time he started in the late 1970s we had already grown into a large organization. He was in the sciences division, not my field of expertise.” Renautas’ tone is as much informative as it is apologetic. As he starts to circle the vision, it becomes clear to Odessa and Richard that his interest is more on Cindy than it is Colin.

“As for what they were to one-another,” Renautas says with a slow narrowing of his eyes, “I suppose that’s what we’re here to find out. At least in part. I know that your father, Colin, developed two programs for the Company: Umbra and Tartarus. I don’t know if he finished either, but I know that Ms. Morrison was key in both. Unfortunately…” Renautas’ eyes narrow, “I can’t seem to find her daughter in the present to communicate back into the past. So,” he blinks a look to Richard and Odessa, “we are here.”

“But here,” Renautas says, motioning to the tableau before them, “is the wrong when.”

Upper West Side
New York City

December 25th

It’s snowing outside, a few inches have already gathered on the balcony railing of the twenty-third floor condo belonging to Colin Price and


Merry Christmas!

A cheerful wave of glee emanages from a young blonde woman in a garish sweater of green and red and a Santa hat. The woman Odessa knows as Rianna Price bursts forth from the kitchen into the living room, carrying a serving platter with mugs of cocoa and a plastic bag of mini marshmallows. Seated on the sofa, Colin looks exhausted but charmed by Rianna’s energy.

“I only see two mugs,” Colin remarks, followed by an impish smile from Rianna as she leans down in and whispers into Colin’s ear.

Mine’s got a little extra kick,” she explains with a peck to his cheek, letting him take one mug and add a couple marshmallows, then turning to the teenager sitting cross-legged on the floor beside a Christmas tree surrounded with presents. Rianna kneels down and offers it out, brows raised and smile beaming.

Cindy Morrison reaches out, taking the last remaining mug and smiling away the offer of marshmallows. “They’re too sweet,” she says with a sheepish duck of her head down and a warm smile as Rianna’s response. As if honor-bound to ensure no marshmallow does to waste, Rianna just starts eating them out of the bag as she brings them back into the kitchen.

“Honey, which one did you want us to start with?” Colin asks, a faint hint of tension telling in his voice. Cindy doesn’t notice it as she turns a small box wrapped in colorful paper over in her hands.

Hold on!” Rianna calls out, before returning with her mug, coming in to settle down on the floor next to Cindy. “That one’ll do…” she says cheerfully, leaning back against Colin’s leg, “go on,” she urges Cindy, “open it.”

“Monroe’s got her in California. Praxis. She…” Then the scene changes, and Richard falls silent as he takes in the festive decorations, the snow outside, the Prices, and… Cindy Morrison? One hand slides to rub at the nape of his neck as he looks between the teenager, the older couple, and back again.

“Des, is this— “ He hesitates. It can’t be. Right? “—is she your sister?”

“Mom…” Now is when Odessa sheds tears. Colin Price is an abstract. A nice story of something that could have been. Rianna was real. A part of her life. To see her again is overwhelming. “But when… is this?” Her brow furrows, tilting her head as she tries to make sense of the scene playing out in front of her.

“Why is Cindy here? What…” Brows furrowed and lips parted in speechless bewilderment, Odessa looks to the man who always seems to have the answers. But Richard seems just as confused as she is. That only opens the floodgates.

“I don’t know,” Odessa grits her teeth around a threatened sob. “What is this?!” she demands of Renautas. He seems to have some sort of power here. He has to know something. Have some kind of answer. “Who is she?!”

On that topic, Walter remains silent. It is just as likely that he doesn’t know the answer, but rightly expects to find out.

In the discordant family tableau, Cindy offers a coy look to Rianna and then starts opening the package. It’s about the size of a shirt box, longer than it is wide and less than an inch deep. She peels away the wrapping paper, revealing a nondescript white box that does little to reveal what might be inside. Too big for jewelry, too shallow for clothes. Colin sits forward in anticipation and Cindy laughs away a nervous smile, opening the box to reveal a stack of official looking documentation.

“I’m not— ” Cindy starts to say before Rianna sits forward and motions for her to look back at the paperwork. Cindy smiles, embarrassed, and looks back to the document, quietly mouthing the words as she reads and stumbling over some of them in a way someone her age normally wouldn’t. But there’s one word she gets right, and it is reiterated with a quaver in her chest and a weakness to her voice. “Adoption.”

Cindy looks up to Rianna and Colin, tears welling in her eyes, hands trembling and jaw unsteady. “Adoption?” She croaks, barely able to say the word again. Rianna can’t contain herself and throws herself forward, arms winding around Cindy and pulling her into a firm embrace. Cindy immediately begins to sob, burying her face in Rianna’s shoulder and returning the hug. Colin, trying to stifle his own tears, sits back on the couch and watches the two with a fondness.

“I spoke to Mr. Petrelli and Mr. Monroe and they agreed,” Colin says with an incline of his head in a nod, “living as a ward of the Company is no way for a young girl to be raised. The paperwork’s all final, Mr. Petrelli’s firm drafted it last week. As of today, you’re Cindy Price… if— if you want to keep the family name.”

Cindy nods through her sobs, managing to squeak out a weak, “I do, I do.” Rianna is beside herself with emotion, her face buried in Cindy’s sandy brown hair, crying with her now adopted daughter. But they, like Cindy’s, are tears of joy.

“What cruel truth,” Walter says in a hushed tone of voice, a hint of glassiness to his own eyes. “To know the road laid out ahead of this moment, it makes the twist of fate’s knife no less painful.” Slowly, Walter turns to regard Richard and Odessa. “This is still the wrong time, but we’re close.” It’s both an apology and a request.

He needs to dig further.

It’s so hard, at that tone in Odessa’s voice, for Richard not to reach out to her. He starts to once, before he catches himself— dropping his hand back down, a grimace twisting his features.

No wonder, he briefly thinks, that Kazimir went so far over the bend.

The isolation that the black conduit brings is total, complete, and so very painful.

At the reveal, then, his eyes widen.

“I… they redacted this? They— those fucking— Des, she’s your sister.”

Odessa stares for a long moment at her mother hugging another child. There’s a pang of jealousy, but it’s overshadowed by this horrific and oppressive sense of loss. “She was my sister,” she murmurs numbly. “Cindy is my sister.”

And in just over two years’ time, she’ll be an orphan again. A ward of the Company. Odessa knows that life all too fucking well.

A shaky hand comes up and wipes away the tears from her eyes. “Well,” Odessa begins with a shaky smile, “wouldn’t be the first time.” First a brother, and now a sister. “But, Richard… I was there the day my parents died. She wasn’t there. Gray didn’t—”

Odessa falls silent and looks up to Renautas. “What else can you show us?” Any time spent in the presence of her parents - her family - is time spent well, in her opinion.

Walter’s chest rises and falls with a seemingly real breath. “I believe you and I may be considering the same moment in time,” he says with a wariness in his voice, gesturing to the Christmas day, causing it to freeze in place.

“But I suppose we’ll see.”

Odessa, Texas

April 8th


The evening sun hangs low on the horizon, cast across the rooftops of ranch style houses and sparse trees. Inside, soft music plays and a few yellow-shaded lamps shed a warm light amid the fiery glow coming from outside. The house is welcoming and inviting, with its wood paneling walls, thick carpet, and color television tuned in to the Nightly News.

“No,” Odessa whispers. “Please, no.” Pleadingly, she starts to reach out toward Renautas with a trembling hand, but ultimately pulls it back toward herself. Not just because it would be a futile effort, but because part of her doesn’t want to avert this. This last chance to see them again.

Past the living room, where only scraps of pink subst light touch the far wall, a happy couple sits around a small dining room table. The kitchen around them is bright and cheerful, with vibrant red and yellow Le Creuset kitchenware. He, Colin Price, has just settled down with a sheet cake with maple sugar frosting and neon pink candles. They're all aflame, tiny flickers of fire dancing in the air.

This last chance to see them happy.

Happy birthday to you,” Colin begins crooning with a too amused smile, mouth twisted into a smirk he's struggling to hide. The woman beside him, Rianna, presses a hand to his whole face and tries to gently shove him out of the chair.

Colin,” Rianna complains in a high-pitched whine, “no! No singing, there's a moratorium on singing! You are not allowed!” She's laughing as she says this, and Colin can't help but join her. They regard one-another in silence for a moment, and then lean in for a tender kiss.

Colin threads a hand through her hair. “Love you, Ri.” She smiles, an honest and uncomplicated smile, and reaches up to scratch gently at his beard. Colin sets a hand on her swollen stomach, feeling a little kick there.

She returns the kiss, lit by candlelight and the pink glow of the setting sun.

Odessa finds herself looking out the window, expecting to find a version of herself, nearly ten years younger, standing on the front lawn and adjusting her snow white hair. Tightening a messy ponytail as she prepares to go to war to protect her family, not knowing there’s no way for her to win this fight.

“So,” Colin smiles and looks at the candles burning on the cake. “You and Michelle going to blow those out or what?” Rianna raises her brows at that, slowly shaking her head.

But that comes later.

“Her name,” Rianna raises one finger, “is Kara, and that's final.” The smile that flits across her lips is a challenging one. “I'm giving birth to Supergirl and there's nothing you can say about that otherwise.”

Laughing, Colin reaches out into the air with one hand and draws a chef’s knife from across the room to his waiting hand. “I'm going to have competition?” He asks with a broad grin.

Rianna rolls her eyes, pressing a finger to his nose. “Superman doesn't have telekinesis. You're like…” her nose wrinkles, “Not Superman?” Both laugh together, and with flushed cheeks and a bright smile Rianna leans down and blows out her candles.

Odessa rests a hand over her chest, unable to keep from chuckling at the exchange between her mother and father. If he only knew the run for his money she would have given him. In another life, she made a good go of it before this all caught up with them.

Rianna pauses as the candles go out, a light dancing across her eyes, a rainbow hue of colors and possibilities. Colin doesn’t notice the change, can’t, and as she looks down to the cake she slowly turns her attention back to him. Reaching up and pressing a hand to his cheek. “Or maybe… Odessa?”

The paradox. The loop is closing.

“Is that… did you see that?” Richard glances to Odessa, then back to Rianna, his brow furrowing slightly. It wasn’t his imagination, was it?

“Don’t worry,” Odessa confirms, resisting the urge to reach out and grab Richard’s hand. “I saw it too.”

The last rays of sunlight dip down behind the horizon, and the light of day has passed. Now lit only by the interior house lights, none of which are on in the kitchen, Rianna and Colin share a moment of peaceful quiet beside one another.

“Should I cut the cake… or…” Colin’s smile is felt against Rianna’s cheek with the scrub of his whiskers. Rianna bubbles with laughter again and shakes her head slowly. Before she can say another word, there's a knock at the front door. Rianna and Colin both offer a side-eyed look to one-another, and Colin sets down the chef’s knife and slowly gets up from his seat.

“I know how this ends,” Odessa tells Renautas in a quiet voice, unable to take her eyes away from the scene unfolding before her. “Samson Gray arrives, and he kills my father, taking his power, and mortally wounding my mother. I don’t know what you expect to get from this.”

Nowhere in that statement does she ask for him to stop.

Through the kitchen and across the living room, Colin makes his way to the front door and opens it a crack. “Hello?” In the dark of night stands a broadly built man in a crisp suit for his size, brown beard cut into a goatee, dark-framed glasses and a fedora. Colin’s eyes dip down to the carnation in his lapel.

“Hello Mr. Price,” the stranger says with a genial fondness. “Might I have a moment of your time?”


“Wait.” Odessa tilts her head to the side slowly, confused. “Who the hell is this?” If she ever knew who Caspar Abraham was, she’s forgotten now.

Richard swears under his breath as the door opens and the man is standing there on the other side of the door. “It’s one of the Magi,” he says quietly, regarding the broad fellow steadily, “Caspar Abraham. Thief of Memories. He’s the one who performed the mental portion of the full redaction… he’s here to make sure your parents don’t remember anything involved with Umbra or Tartarus.”

“And maybe more.”

“I’m sorry, who’re you?” Colin says while Rianna rises from the chair in the kitchen and makes her way to the living room threshold. Caspar smiles away the question, taking a subtle step closer to Colin and lowering his voice.

“Mr. Petrelli sent me,” Caspar says quietly, glancing inside at Rianna, then back to Colin who immediately removes his hand from the doorknob and moves into the house. His welcome of Caspar into his home is a wordless one, accompanied by a gesture of his hand inside. Rianna’s brows furrow together, a look leveled on Colin, then Caspar.

“I’m sorry to come at such a late hour, I had trouble finding your house.” Caspar angles a look up to Colin, watching as he closes the door to the house behind their unexpected guest. “My name is Caspar,” he introduces, taking off his fedora, “Caspar Abraham.”

“Mr. Abraham,” Colin says, not moving from the door. “I think I made it abundantly clear that I’m retired.” Caspar glances over his shoulder to Colin, then back to Rianna.

“I promise this will only take a few moments of your time,” Caspar insists, glancing up the stairs to the second floor, then back to Colin. Rianna, trying to defuse some of the tension, steps back into the kitchen.

“Are you hungry, Mr. Abraham? I was just about to serve dinner anyway.” Rianna says, moving to the stove where something is in the oven. Caspar follows her into the kitchen and Colin slowly behind him. When Caspar turns his back to him, Colin extends a hand toward a bookshelf and pulls a screwdriver off of a nearby bookshelf with telekinesis, then exchanges it from his hand into his back pocket.

Odessa watches the display of power with a slow grin, her tongue running over the front of her teeth and catching at the tip of a canine for a moment. Even if this is utterly nerve racking, she can still appreciate it for what it is. Appreciate that her father was as quick to reach for a weapon as she is.

Caspar moves to the dining room table, pulling out a chair as he sets his hat down. “I’d be delighted,” he says with an affable smile, settling into the chair. Colin follows him in, lingering by the door, then moving to relieve Rianna of duties setting up the dinner table. Rianna and Colin swap places, and as she moves to the kitchen door she calls up toward the stairs.

Cindy!” Rianna shouts. “Come down for dinner!”

Be right there!” Cindy calls back, though she doesn’t sound rushed.

“Congratulations,” Caspar says when Rianna turns back around, motioning to her belly. “Is it a— ”

“It’s a girl,” Rianna says with a protective smile.

Mazel tov,” Caspar adds with a smile, turning to watch Colin pull a roast out of the oven and set it down on the stovetop.

The grin has faded by the time he’s said those words. Odessa eyes the direction of the stairwell for any sign of the enigmatic Cindy, but it’s brief.

“So, what is it that Arthur wants from us?” Colin asks, sliding a large knife out of the butcher’s block to begin cutting the roast.

Caspar folds his hands in front of himself on the table, sighing softly. “We’ve exhausted all of our options, Colin.” There’s tension in Caspar’s voice. “The Entity,” he explains. “Victoria hasn’t had any luck finishing your work on Umbra and we aren’t certain Charles will be able to complete the arrangements for Tartarus on his own.”

“Wait, what…? This was— this was before the redactions? Then why did they send…” Richard trails off, his brow furrowing in confusion as he looks to Caspar, then back to Colin, swearing under his breath, “What fuckery was Petrelli pulling here…” They’ll find out soon, he has no doubt.

“They knew— I mean, if the videos were anything to go on, they still knew about all of this when I was a kid.” Odessa gestures to her mother’s swollen belly. “Years from now yet.” Then? This? Whatever.

Rianna glances to the doorway to the living room, then back to Caspar. “It’s still out there?” She asks with a quick glance to Colin, then back to Caspar.

“Ten days ago,” Caspar begins, looking down to the table, “the Moscow office of the Company lured the Entity into an underground complex just outside of Balapan in the Kazakh region of Russia using the Lure.” He finds a small discoloration on the table, then pulls out a handkerchief, blows on it, and tries to smudge it out. “Ms. Ayers teleported a 83 kiloton nuclear bomb into the complex which was remotely detonated.”

Colin stops what he’s doing, standing up straight and turning around with eyes wide. “You nuked her?” Rianna slowly covers her mouth with one hand, too distracted to hear the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. Caspar nods in solemn acknowledgement.

“What the fuck?” Odessa breathes out, having the grace to dart a brief and apologetic look to Renautas, who seems far too respectable for her sort of language.

“No effect,” Caspar says flatly, tucking his handkerchief back into his pocket.

How is that possible?” Rianna croaks into her palm as Cindy slips past her into the kitchen. She pauses on spotting Caspar, pulling a bulky pair of headphones off of her ears and hitting stop on her Walkman.

“Hi,” Cindy says flatly, looking up to her mother with brows raised in question. When she sees Rianna’s horrified expression, she takes the headphones and walkman off entirely and comes to sit at the table, folding one of her legs beneath herself. She isn’t surprised. She knows what this has to be about.

Caspar looks to Colin, who is distracting himself by serving up thin slices of pot roast, steamed vegetables, and a dollop of mashed potatoes onto four plates. Cindy bristles at the silence in the air and the tension. “It’s still out there, isn’t it?” She asks nervously.

“I’m afraid so,” Caspar admits in a hushed voice. “Which brings me to why I’m here,” he says with a crease of his brows.

Absolutely not,” Colin says as he slams the chef’s knife down flat on the counter hard enough that Cindy and Rianna both jolt. Caspar doesn’t, and instead fixes a stern look at Colin. “I’m retired. We,” he motions to his whole family, “retired. You aren’t putting my daughter through any more of this hell.”

Dad,” Cindy says sharply, and Colin raises his voice over her protest.

“No. Absolutely not. I served the Company, loyally for fifteen years. I told Arthur the moment I learned Rianna was pregnant that I couldn’t do this anymore. We all agreed.” That last part is aimed at Cindy.

In spite of himself, Colin picks up two plates and angrily sets them down. One in front of Caspar and one in front of Cindy, then goes back for the others. “We can’t protect Cindy if we don’t know where she is,” Caspar says firmly. “The Entity has seen her, Colin. It made a connection.” He angles a look to Cindy, who also seems unsurprised by this revelation. “You had to suspect that this might have been a possibility.”

Richard’s making connections too, and his eyes widen in shock— and then in anger, one hand curling into a fist by his side. He doesn’t notice a faint, ashen wisp of life-hungering radiation drifting up from that fist, as he spits out, “They sent him to take Cindy and redact her from her parents, that son of a god-damn bitch— !“

“No,” Odessa refutes with a shake of her head. There’s heartbreak in her eyes as she puts together the pieces. “They didn’t just come to redact her from them. Arthur took them from her.” Slowly, that heartbreak is replaced by anger. She’s trembling.

No one wants to talk now. Rianna slowly joins her family at the table as Colin sets down plates for her and himself. The four sit in silence for a time, quietly eating, though no meal goes finished. No one has a drink either. No one dares stand to get one. It’s Cindy who, ultimately, chooses to speak up first.

“I’ll go back,” she says firmly, watching Colin’s face for a reaction. Colin doesn’t look up from his plate, angrily stabbing at broccoli. Caspar does, though. There’s a moment of relaxation on his face. Of ease.

No,” Colin says firmly, firing a look across the table at Rianna who is a picture of inscrutable uncertainty. She presses one hand to her stomach, worry crossing her face and thoughts forming behind her eyes. But nothing happens. “My family isn’t— ”

“What do you think is going to happen?” Caspar says, setting down his fork and wiping his mouth with a napkin. Colin fixes a steely look at him. “I’m going to return to New York, inform Mr. Petrelli of your response, and he’s going to… what?” Caspar looks around at the three seated at the table. “Forget everything?” Caspar sets down his napkin. “Let’s say, miracle of miracles, that he does. The Company is wiped out, and you think the Entity is going to forgive you? Forgive her?” He motions to Cindy. “Because you retired?

Colin drops his fork on his plate with a shaky sigh and runs both of his hands through his thick head of hair. Caspar doesn’t relent. “You think running away to Texas is going to work? I found you, Colin. I sometimes get lost in Brooklyn.” Colin closes his eyes and holds his head in his hands.

“I’m not asking for you to come out of retirement,” Caspar says softly. “I’m not asking you to put your wife or your unborn child in danger.” Though there is the implication of the danger to come if he doesn’t do what Caspar wants. “I’m asking you to lend Cindy to us, because she is one of — if not the only — clairsentient in the world. Without her, we’re cockroaches trying to play chess.”

Wordlessly, Rianna reaches diagonally across the table and takes one of Cindy’s hands in hers. She doesn’t make the choice for her daughter, doesn’t try to persuade Colin one way or the other. It’s an impossible choice, and she is going to stand behind him regardless of the one he makes.

Colin is silent for a time, head in his hands, eyes closed. The weight of the entire world is on his shoulders. “Fine,” comes out as a whisper. When he opens his eyes, he looks up to Cindy. “If Cindy is willing to help— ”

“I am,” Cindy says firmly. “I’m not— a fighter. I don’t have all of Mr. Petrelli’s abilities. I don’t have Miguel’s nuclear fists. I don’t have Vee’s cool Magneto powers.” She tries to smile, but it’s clear deep down that she’s scared. “But I want to protect you. Everyone.” She looks to Rianna’s hand, then up. “My little sister.” Rianna swallows a sob, using her free hand to dry tears from her eyes.

A choked cry escapes from between Odessa’s clenched teeth. “If any one of these monsters is left alive, I’m going to find them and I’m going to— I’m going to—” Her mouth purses tight, her chest heaving with the effort it takes not to break into more sobs.

“I’ll come,” Cindy insists. “I’ll help you finish Tartarus.”

“Yeah. Yeah, he must have redacted their families from all three of them, like he did to Ryans, like he did to Charles, like…” Richard draws in a slow, shaky breath, closing his eyes and trying to calm his anger. “If I didn’t already kill the bastard it’d be my first damn priority.”

He hesitates, and then reaches out — careful, careful! — with gloved fingers to touch Odessa’s shoulder fleetingly, saying softly, “Caspar’s dead. All the Founders except Monroe are dead, now. I know— I know it hurts. I’m sorry, Des.”

And that’s probably what hurts most. All of this is in the long dead past, and there’s nothing for Odessa to take her revenge upon.

Renautas watches Richard and Odessa’s reactions with a tension in his jaw. He does not raise a hand, does not end the scene. Instead, he looks toward the windows and with a jerk of his head drags the frame of events. The scenery blurs past, moving horizontally through space, not just vertically through time. Now, Odessa and Richard are on the street somewhere in the same neighborhood several houses down. There is a black Lincoln town car parked at the sidewalk, tinted windows up and engine running.

Odessa knows that somewhere up the street, she and Elle are about to appear. Renautas has no such perspective as he watches a pair of people up the street exit a house. Richard and Odessa can see that it is Caspar and Cindy. Caspar holds the passenger side door of the car open for her, Colin and Rianna exiting the house and handing her a hastily packed bag.

Their tearful goodbyes cannot be heard from here, the whispered wishes said between tight hugs. Caspar waits patiently, not rushing this moment. It’s unclear if he knows just how final it is. Eventually all the goodbyes that can be said are and the headlights of Caspar’s car turn on and the vehicle turns out of the Price’s driveway and moves off down the street. It turns at the end of the cul-de-sac, then doubles back and drives right past the Lincoln before turning the corner and stopping.

Renautas twists his hand and suddenly Odessa and Richard are yanked with him to Caspar’s parked car, becoming spectators in the back seat. Renautas is seated, though Odessa and Richard stand partly fused with the vehicle, expressing its unreality. Cindy and Caspar sit in the front, and Cindy voices her visible concern.

“Why did we stop?” She asks with a look out to the house nearby with its lights off. Caspar turns off the engine and reaches into his pocket, retrieving a penny from inside. He rolls it around between forefinger and thumb, then looks up to Cindy. She turns bright blue eyes down to the penny, then up to Caspar quizzically.

“Take it,” Caspar says, offering the penny out to her with a smile. Cindy’s brows pinch together, nervousness stealing her voice. “I’m like you, Cindy. My ability is about information.” He proffers the penny up on a fingertip, and Cindy can hear a faint, resonant humming coming from it. “It’ll only take a moment of your time.”

Looking like she wants to get out of the car, Cindy thinks better of it and exhales a slow, sharp sigh. Her brows crease together and she retrieves the penny from Caspar’s hand. “It tingles,” she says softly, looking from her closed hand to Caspar. “Why…” she looks out the window again, nervously, then back to Caspar.

“Close your eyes, and think about your parents.” Caspar says with a gentle, calming voice. “I can create a… keepsake for you. So they’ll always be,” he pats his breast pocket, “close to your heart.” Cindy looks visibly uncomfortable, but what Caspar is asking seems harmless if not creepy. Exhaling a sigh, she closes her eyes.

“I don’t see why this— ” is all Cindy manages to say before she makes a choking sound and a strangled scream. She starts to thrash, hand now clenched like a vice around the penny. Caspar reaches forward, grasping at her forehead with one hand while the other clutches her hand, keeping it wound fast around the penny. Cindy’s eyes roll back in her head, stammering and gasping breaths exhaled through parted lips.

Ssh,” Caspar whispers, “shh. It’s okay.

It absolutely is not.

I don’t want to go in the basement,” Cindy whispers sharply, tears welling up in her eyes, “momma no, I’ll be good,” she slurs her speech. Caspar’s face turns red with effort, his hands tremble with concentration. “You— saved me. From the fire?” Cindy whispers, her head lolling to one side. “Company?” She exhales breathlessly. “Adoption?

Caspar’s hand jerks back from her forehead and Cindy collapses into a heap in the front seat, eyes open and unfocused. Were it not for the rise and fall of her chest, she would look dead. Caspar exhales an exhausted breath, physically and emotionally, and rubs his hands up his face, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose to dry at his eyes. He swallows noisily, then looks over at Cindy, and steps out of the car.

Walter is quick to do the same, moving through the door like a ghost and bringing Richard and Odessa along even though they do not truly move in space. Caspar slowly walks away from his car, comes back across the street and reaches the black Lincoln parked on the side of the road. He leans down as the window slowly slides down to match. The man sitting in the passenger seat takes a slow drag off of a cigarette, head tilting to the side as he regards the man with the carnation.

“It's all done.” Caspar says softly, holding up a penny between two fingers before carefully stowing it inside his jacket. The man in the car nods, exhaling a mouthful of smoke. His head starts to bob in a slow series of nods and he flicks the cigarette out the window, past Caspar, then opens the door and steps out onto the grass.

“Good.” He exhales the word with the last bit of cigarette smoke wafting over his teeth. “Take the car and circle the block. I'll be done by the time you get back. I’ll be gone too.”

Anxiously, the man with the carnation nods and watches the taller, leaner gentleman with a jagged smile. “And… tell Arthur thanks.”


“I always wanted telekinesis.”

It is here where Renautas pauses the tableau.

“I can tell from the tension in your expression,” Renautas says with a look to Odessa, “that you may have some idea what comes next. Is this… a moment we need to revisit?” He doesn’t know what happened here.

“I’ve never seen what comes next, but.. I know the gist of it,” Richard admits, glancing over to Odessa. He knows what happens here, but it’s hers to explain, if she wishes to.

Odessa stares straight ahead at the scene paused in front of her, seeing it but not really. “He’s about to walk up to the house and—” Breath catches in her throat and she closes her eyes. “I couldn’t stop him. I wasn’t strong enough.” She never had a chance to save her father. By the time she appears on the front lawn of the Price house, Colin is already dead on the floor. That screwdriver he previously gathered to himself for protection didn’t ultimately serve him.

Taking a deep breath, she opens her eyes again and looks over to Richard first, then Renautas. “He killed them,” she says numbly. “Arthur had them killed.” Memories of a woman called Odessa Woods clash with her own. “But he was— He—”

Tears stream down her face now, unashamed. “He got what he wanted.” It’s all she can do just to remember to breathe, wiping the back of her hand under her nose and the pads of her thumbs across her cheekbones. “Why?

Slowly, she turns to her ex-lover and fixes him with a steady gaze. “Give me your anger, Richard.” She doesn’t clarify what that means to her. And it takes no effort on his part to feel what he feels naturally in this moment.

Odessa draws in a deep breath and lets it go as a shuddering exhale. Her demeanor shifts from distraught to determined. It’s then she turns her attention to Walter. “Will it help you to see it?”

Renautas exhales a breath through his nose, brows furrowed. “No,” he says in a way that implies it may not be entirely true. But it’s not an issue he is eager to push on either. The implication is enough. “I’m information-gathering for Richard. If he knows, that is well and good enough for me.” Renautas seems relieved in that kindness. “No need to duplicate efforts.”

Blinking a look back to Richard, Renautas is momentarily silent, then looks to Odessa. “I have one more stop that the two of us can accomplish.” He raises his hand, two fingers pointed into the air, and like a conductor he moves them and

The Deveaux Building
Midtown, Manhattan
New York City

April 12th

past-charles_icon.gif past-renautas_icon.gif

"You planning on being up here all night?"

Walter Renautas slowly turns to look over his shoulder, the bare edge of the Deveaux Building roof at his back. He's been nursing the same martini most of the night, and it's still cradled in one hand like a cross when he regards the tall silhouette of Charles Deveaux standing in the greenhouse doorway in a tuxedo. "I had considered it," Walter says with a distant smile, turning fully from the edge of the roof to close the distance between he and Charles. "Your greenhouse is lovely, this patio is divine. However, I'm finding myself ill at ease celebrating when the end of the world is at hand."

“Everything always ends up on this rooftop,” Richard mutters.

Charles' brow furrows when Walter makes that assertion. "We've had this fundraiser planned for months. One more day won't change anything." He looks out to the glittering city lights, the way the moon hangs heavy in the air, and turns to look back to the lights and noises of the party through the penthouse windows. "Jon's been filling up space in your absence," Charles says with a fond smile, looking back to Walter. "Really, you should come back with us. You need to meet Ms. Brauer and her daughter anyway."

Walter looks down when that name is mentioned, searching the slate tiles underfoot with a thoughtful expression. "I suppose I do," he says with a sense of finality. But when he lifts his attention up, there is a silhouette of another man in a tuxedo in the doorway and Charles makes a dismissive motion, sending the man back inside. With a sigh of resignation, Walter nods and takes a sip from his long-ignored martini and moves to follow Charles back into the penthouse. The two pass through the verdant greenhouse, avoiding the doorway to the party proper and instead entering into Charles' dimly-lit office where a blonde woman sits cradling a vodka and tonic with a twist of lime in one hand. She regards Charles through the fringe of her bangs, smiling fondly. At her side, there is a young girl seated in a chair with wide, blue eyes upturned to the two founders.

There is also a young boy sitting in a chair beside the girl, looking nervous. She turns to him, smiling, and the young girl reaches out to take the boy's hand as if to say it will be alright.

past-ruby_icon.gif young-lynette_icon.gif young-mateo_icon.gif

Walter stops in the doorway, pressing a hand to the door frame and looking at Charles with a wordless criticism. Charles walks across the room, coming to stand by the older woman's side, letting a hand come to her shoulder. "This is Karin Brauer, Simon found her for us. More importantly, Simon found her daughter who will help us with our power concerns." But all of Charles' words fall on deaf ears, a thread of worry moving up through Walter's chest as he looks to the other man in the far back of the room, standing by the window, cradling a baby in his arms.

“Wait, that’s… Ruby, Simon’s widow,” Richard’s brow furrows a little as he glances over to Charles, and then back to the youngsters, “And that’s— Mateo, I recognize him from that one time. Who’s the girl? Not Elle…”

“No. Not Ellie,” Odessa supplies helpfully, voice tinged with frost.

"Arthur," Walter says with tension in his jaw, stepping forward. "Whose baby is that?"


Arthur turns, smiling, unfolding the cloth by the baby's face to show Walter. "Our little miracle, she's going to help make this all possible," he says with a growing smile.


“He looks so damn proud of me.” Odessa tries to reconcile this man — the one she recognizes, the version of him she thought she knew — with what she’s just learned moments ago. “How lucky for him that I survived.”

"They're going to help us save the world."

"How’s this going to do anything, Arthur?" Charles asks, looking at the child with furrowed brows. "Where did she come from?" Arthur curls his upper lip into a sneer, keeping the child tucked under one arm as he paces about the room. He's practiced with this, with holding a child. For as cold as he is now, he wasn't always that way. There was a time when he was a good man. Maybe, somewhere deep down, he still wants to be one.

"I found her in Odessa, which coincidentally is also the girl’s name." Arthur admits with a shrug. "That incident with Colin, the break in and the murder. I had Walter’s son Daniel check her out, and he's confirmed she's special. Unmanifested, but with Daniel’s ability we can draw that power out and bend it through the lens into a shape we need. She's a time manipulator."

“Wait…” Odessa tilts her head, leaning in and looking to the Renautas that brought them here, rather than the memory of him in front of her. “How would he know that? I didn’t manifest until I was… I don’t know. Fifteen? Sixteen?”

Everyone in the room was skeptical until Arthur mentioned that, and now everyone has fallen silent. "The boy here is another convenient find, and Daniel thinks his ability can create doorways in space. Not entirely unlike what the Looking Glass did." Then finally, he motions over to the girl in the other chair. "Simon’s friend Ms. Brauer has brought her daughter, Lynette, who is a potential electrokinetic like Bob’s daughter. Together…" Arthur inclines his head to the side, "along with what Drucker and Charlotte are finishing, might be the final pieces of Project Tartarus."

Lynette?” Richard’s eyes widen as he looks between the girl and Karin Brauer, “Ruby’s her mother?”

"Tartarus?" Walter raises one brow. "That's an awful portentous name, Arthur. Just what are you suspecting we do precisely?" Charles looks at Walter and nods, then looks over to Arthur to see how he’ll answer that.

“One thing at a time,” Arthur says, cradling Odessa in the crook of his arm. “We have to think clearly about our next steps, and the Entity not seeing them coming.

Just as his head’s still whirling about yet another seemingly coincidental connection in a long line of coincidental connections that don’t seem so coincidental when you think in strings and maps, Arthur says that— and Richard’s head snaps to look at him.

“That. That’s what we need. How did they do that.”

“We can’t,” Odessa posits. “Without my ability, we can’t do what they’re proposing to do here. And Hiro’s dead, so—” Except there’s one more person who possesses an ability like hers. Or will.


“I am not putting Niel and baby Walter through this shit again,” Richard replies with a scowl at that— but his emotion is a flash of fear and worry for the pair, not anger. Because now he’s wondering if he may have to.

The Renautas who brought Richard and Odessa to this moment in time is stone-faced when his grandson’s name is mentioned. He says nothing, reacts only in a brief look to Odessa, then back to his past-self. “I have no memory of these events,” he says as distraction from Odessa’s point. “Clearly they were part of this… redaction.”

The admonishment rolls off Odessa like water off a duck’s back. “Your options are slim, is all I’m saying.”

“We’re working on something,” Charles says with a slow smoothing of his hands over his face. “The going theory right now is that some of us are more vulnerable than others. The operations we’ve succeeded on have keyed on compartmentalized knowledge. People whose minds are stronger against this being have always been present in moments where the Entity seemed blindsided by us.”

“Well, telepathy certainly isn’t a sure-fire protection,” Arthur admits with a knowing look to Charles, who settles down at his desk and runs a hand over his forehead. “Kaito’s been one,” Arthur admits, “he’s been able to stay at least side-by-side with the Entity.”

“The radio isotope in Kam is helping,” the Renautas of the 1980s’ notes. “There seems to be some usefulness around Richard Drucker as well,” he says with a look to Charles.

“Drucker? Why Drucker, he was a technopath, that shouldn’t protect him from her,” Richard puzzles, following Walter’s gaze to Charles.

“That’s what Kaito’s ultimate decision came to,” Charles admits with a furrow of his brows. “If this thing is as old as Adam said before…” and Charles just shakes his head and looks away to Arthur. “How readily do you think we could get access to ARPANET?”

Arthur’s brows rise for a moment, confused, and then dawning with understanding. “She’s from the stone-age,” he says with a crooked smile. “Of course, that’s why she didn’t even recognize the threat of a gun when she was staring down the barrel of one, or tried to avoid the security alarms on her way out of the Bronx facility.”

“She’s a luddite?” That era’s Renautas asks with a hint of sarcasm. “I don’t see how this helps us so late in the game.”

“We have to act in ways she can’t comprehend,” Charles explains, spreading his hands slowly. “We communicate to each other utilizing the ARPANET, no paper missives, no verbal communication. Data that can be destroyed the moment it’s sent. We have Drucker keep his eye on the whole thing.”

“Hrn. I don’t think that’ll help this time,” Richard frowns, looking between the gathered, “But if she’s accessing this information through… wait. If she’s unable to follow those communications because she doesn’t understand them, then— she’s not— omniscient at all, not like Adam thinks.” His mind racing as he starts deciphering how the Entity’s knowledge works, finally. “She’s using a combination of telepathy and probability analysis, I think… fuck, that makes so much sense.”

Odessa wishes she could experience Richard’s certainty more than by proxy. “Then someone ought to keep her away from—” She smiles tightly, unwilling to tempt fate by finishing that thought out loud.

“That doesn’t sound foolproof,” Arthur says with a wince. Charles shakes his head, even though he’s in agreement.

“It’s the only edge we’ve got. That, and Cindy,” Charles says with a look to Arthur. “How’s she doing?”

“Fine,” is Arthur’s quick dismissal. “Maury’s keeping an eye on her,” loyal Maury Parkman. “He’s going to make sure she isn’t distracted by the Scooby Gang while she works on pinning down where the entity is moving. All we need now is to finish Tartarus, keep her from getting her hands on Ishi,” he looks back to Renautas, “and set the trap.”

The time-spanned Renautas pauses the moment in time, pinching two fingers together. “Ishi,” he says with one brow raised. “Ishi Nakamura?” It’s a rhetorical question, one that elicits a side-long look to a vacant space, then back to Richard. “I think I have all I need.”

Ishi? Richard’s head cocks a little to one side at the same time as Renataus asks that rhetorical question, frowning as he thinks back. What does he know about Kaito’s wife, Hiro and Kimiko’s father?

It only takes a few moments for his brain to make connections that, perhaps, he should have made a long time ago.”

“Ishi Nakamura… my god. The Catalyst. It wasn’t— Arthur didn’t just steal it, Ishi gave it to Claire, it could move like— Des, Walter, it. Jesus. If the Entity was looking for it— ”

He runs a gloved hand back through his hair, eyes wide as he stares at the image of Arthur, “Is it a third conduit?”

There’s some comprehension on Odessa’s part. She’d studied the properties of Claire Bennet’s blood in her lab for some time. There had always been something unique about it, meaning Richard’s theory doesn’t sound so completely farfetched. That still doesn’t keep the sarcasm from creeping into her voice as she asks, “What? You mean a grey one?”

Some bit of realization seems to dawn on her. Odessa lifts her head, tearing her gaze away from the scene in front of her in order to regard Richard properly. “I— We’ve been trying to perfect the Formula for years. And, I thought that’s what my dad was working on, but… what if that was never the original intent of the project?”

The past fades away, revealing the present day like a comforting blanket of familiarity draped across Richard and Odessa. Walter is still there, one hand at his chin and head down, eyes focused on the ground with a furrow in his brow. There is something working behind his eyes, a thoughtfulness and uncertainty toward the future. Or, perhaps, toward the past.

“I will leave you both to your… catharsis.” Walter says with a weight to his voice that wasn’t there before all of this started. “I will return with the remainder of my findings,” he says as an afterthought, while vanishing into the wind like a blown-out candle flame.

“Tha— ” No, he’s already gone. “He’s worse than Batman like that,” Richard mutters briefly, one hand rubbing at the nape of his neck as he looks back to Odessa.

“Ishi had an— ability. Whatever it was, part of it was the secret ingredient that made the Formula work, it was a catalyst of sorts. It could be passed on somehow, like the two conduits…”

He sinks down to sit on the bed again, “Christ. I’m so sorry, Odessa.” For everything. For her life.

Odessa stares at the space where Walter Renautas was just standing. “Huh,” she breathes out, brow furrowing in consternation, head tipping to one side and shifting her jaw from side to side. “So that’s what that feels like.”

Shaking herself free from that moment, she turns her attention back to Richard. “It’s— It’s fine.” It isn’t. “I’m fine.” She’s not. “Just… sprinkles for the shit sundae, I guess.” She pads over and stands in front of Richard, keeping her chin level, looking down the length of her nose at him only slightly. She appears numb.

“I had such a different portrait of Arthur in my head,” Odessa admits in a soft voice. “The memories I have from when I was a kid… He and Angela were kind to me. I mean, maybe like you’d be kind to a favorite dog, but… And the other me, the one you met, she trusted him.”

Odessa Woods absolutely trusted that Arthur Petrelli would choke the life out of her or throw her out a window if she fucked up, but she also trusted that he valued her as an asset. For someone as unusual as she was, so used to being othered, it was a comfort.

“He couldn’t have possibly known what I would become, could he? He— He thought my mother was nothing. The Company had nothing of any note on her in their files. If his goal had been to get me, he wouldn’t have had her killed, right?” It’s all a lot for Odessa to wrap her head around.

Reaching out, she rests a hand on his shoulder, curling her fingers around the bend of it, closing her eyes and waiting for the sting that is likely to follow. She needs to feel something real.

For the first time, it doesn’t come. Perhaps, in this moment of grief and understanding, Richard has come to understand a piece of both sides of the conduits he bares. But moments of peace like this are fleeting, and he can already feel the anger losing out to the grief. In that, the darkness starts to win.

But isn’t that how it always goes?

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License