The Long Way, Part I


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Scene Title The Long Way, Part I
Synopsis Slow and steady wins the race.
Date July 12, 1947

Kara Prince looks like a marble statue slathered in blood, seated as she is under a bright lamp in an otherwise dark room. Her hands are restrained behind her back, the chains of her handcuffs looped through the bars of the chair she's seated in. This time they bound her ankles, too, and the split on Mark Ryans' upper lip taught him the necessity in that. Ryans paces around her chair like a panther, all sleek and dark angles in his black suit. Kara Prince isn't intimidated. That fact has Agent Ryans' hackles up. He stops behind her, winds a handful of her hair in his fingers and jerks her head back. Before he can ask a question, Kara spits up in his face and he stumbles back from the chair, wiping at his eyes.

There's blood on Kara's teeth when she gives a feral smile over her shoulder. Mark replies with violence in kind, holding his hand out and throwing her chair over with an unseen touch. Kara falls onto her side and her head bounces off the concrete floor. The most he gets out of her is a reflexive wince, then cackling laughter. "You can't hurt me," she says through a breathless, wheezing laughter. He know's she's telling the truth and it kills him. Leaving her on the floor, Mark walks out of the interrogation room and slams the door behind himself.

This was getting them nowhere.

Walker Air Force Base
Roswell, New Mexico

July 12th

6:29 pm

"It sounds like that's going well," greets Agent Ryans the moment he steps out into the hall. Marcus Raith greets him with a cocksure smile and a flick of a lighter as he lights up a cigar. Agent Ryans pinches the bridge of his nose with one hand and shakes his head.

"She's… very resistant to our interrogation tactics." Mark says with a squint. Raith isn't phased by this, he knows something. Mark's sure of that. "What'd you get from Frady?"

"Lies." Marcus says with a nod to another holding cell door just down the hall. "Says Prince busted out of holding, strong-armed him and pulled a prison break."

"But you don't believe him?" Mark asks with a look up and down Marcus.

"Absolutely not."

"Then… why aren't I in there, twisting his thumbs?" Agent Ryans asks with a gesture to Frady's holding cell. "You know he doesn't have a stomach for that shit."

Marcus casually raises one hand to halt Agent Ryans advance down the hall. "Frady's a softie. I didn't bring him here for his Op-Sec, I brought him here for his investigative eye. Maybe he got cold feet, maybe he didn't. Fact of the matter is they abandoned him here, and he's way more useful to me alive than dead. Go talk to him," Marcus says, and as Ryans starts to walk forward he puts a hand on his chest and adds, "nicely. See if he changes his story. If he doesn't, let him go but keep him confined to quarters. I want to have a follow-up conversation with him."

Mark looks down at the hand on his chest, lingering until Marcus withdraws it. "As you wish, sir." He says, before making his way down the hall. Marcus watches Agent Ryans until he shows himself into Frady's cell, and only then invites himself into Kara's holding cell. When he enters, he finds Kara looking up at him from the floor.

"You here to play good cop?" Kara asks. The idiom is lost on Marcus.

"You know we're not police," Marcus replies bluntly, earning a roll of Kara's eyes. "I'm not interested in whatever criminal activity you perpetrated before we found you. Whatever grievances your Polish friend had with you?" Marcus shakes his head. "Unimportant."

Kara follows Marcus with her eyes as he circles in front of her, then drops down to a squat so as to be more on her level. It's at once patronizing and humiliating. "What is important to you, then?" Kara asks, and in that Marcus knows he's already won the conversation. He got a suspicious fish to bite.

"Information." Marcus says, rising up from the squat. "The next great war will be fought in the mind, Ms. Prince. Propaganda, information control, it perpetuates a reality that is alternate from the true one. Where facts blend with fiction, when a narrative can propel an entire nation. I just want information, Ms. Prince." The Ms. there is added like a jab. Kara rankles at it all.

"Lieutenant." Kara corrects him, and she is ceding ground to him without even realizing.

"Lieutenant Prince," Marcus corrects himself, pacing in front of her. "And what armed forces are you a part of, Lieutenant Prince?"

"United States Marine Corps, do you want my serial number, too?" She retorts with a bloody smile.

"No." Marcus says softly, kneeling down beside her chair. She can't see what he does, but she feels the chains on her wrist restraints come apart. "You can sit up. But if you do anything stupid you'll regret it for a very brief period of time."

Kara slowly pushes herself to sit up, her legs still awkwardly handcuffed to the legs of the chair. It's not good, but her current upright position is significantly better than where she was a moment ago. "You're one of them, aren't you?" She motions to Marcus with her chin. Marcus laughs, and holds up one hand, generating a perfect sphere of emerald-hued light. Closing his fist around it, he crushes it into nothing. Kara spits at his feet. "Fucking Slice."

"I'm not familiar with the epithet. They call us Specials here. Overmen—Übermensch—back in Germany during the war. I get the feeling you would've gotten along with the latter more so than the former, here." Marcus says with a sly smile.

Kara is unamused. "I'm not a fucking Nazi, I'm a patriot." She asserts, looking Marcus up and down. "Where the fuck am I?"

Marcus smiles, faintly. It's a little flash of an expression, almost a laugh. It all dies, quickly. "The Nazis thought they were patriots too. They were mass murderers. I've called myself a patriot, too. I don't think you'd be surprised to hear I have blood on my hands as well." He admits, showing her his black gloves. "From what your Polish friend told us, you do too. He was very emphatic that we not trust you. That you're a murderer. A terrorist."

"I don't talk to Slice fucks." Kara says with a scowl. "So either kill me or get the fuck out."

"What if there was a third option?" Marcus opines, looking Kara up and down. She says nothing, her bloodied face is a cipher. "You have experience fighting people like me, don't you?"

"Seventy-six confirmed Slice kills, not counting however many died with the Dawn." Kara says with a sick measure of pride.

"Dawn? That's the ship?" Marcus inquires, lingering on that thought a bit longer than he should. "The one you blew up. A ship for… going into space."

"That's the one." Kara leans back, hands on the floor behind her.

"We circle back to that third option again." Marcus says, gesturing with a small twirl of one finger in the air. "Option one is I kill you. I don't think either of us really wants that. Option two is I ask you more questions you won't give a straight answer to, and leave you locked up here indefinitely. Neither of us get what we want out of that arrangement. The third option is… you come to understand that you're stuck here. In 1947. And we find a middle ground."

1947. It's the first time Kara's heard it for sure, but for all that she wants to bark out a laugh she can't deny what she's seen and heard here. How none of it makes sense.

"That middle ground?" Marcus continues, his words not hinging on her compliance. "Might just be you continuing to do what you're good at and having some freedom. After we talk a little more."

Kara's nostrils flare, she looks Marcus up and down, and confusion paints her expression. She does not spit at him this time. Once again, a slow smile finds its way across Marcus' face.

Something about it unsettles Kara.


"Don't feed me a loaf of shit and tell me it's a pot roast, Frady."

Markus Ryans paces in a circle around Howard Frady, seated at a metal table under a swelteringly hot lamp. Frady can't help but smirk at Ryans' turn of a phrase. But he forces that smile back down. It isn't exactly an appropriate moment.

"Mark, I know how this looks—" Frady starts to say.

"I don't think you do." Ryans interjects. "Do you have even a scrap of a fucking idea how bad this looks for you? An intelligence officer, coerced by the enemy into facilitating a—"

"Frankly, Ryans, the day we start labeling little girls as the enemy was the day I checked out of caring what your fucking opinion was." Frady says, though with his tense he is the words barely slip past his teeth. Fire and conviction, but no confidence. Ryans clenches a fist, but Marcus' verbal leash keeps this attack dog at bay. He inhales deeply through his nose and takes a step back. Frady thinks he won in that moment, but has no idea how close he just came to dying.

"Colonel Raith is going to let you out of here." Ryans says with a slide of his tongue against the inside of his cheek. It doesn't make the bitter taste of those words go away. "But you're to be remanded to quarters under guard until such a time as he personally sees fit to let you go."

"So that's it?" Frady asks with a hint of exasperation. "This is just what we are now? Spying on our own people, jumping at shadows, chasing—chasing time traveling boogey men because the Colonel thinks its all real?"

Ryans looks Frady up and down. "When you signed up for this job, you didn't know people like me even existed. The world's a lot bigger, and a lot more fucking terrifying than you realize. So I'm sorry that it hurts your feelings that it ain't so innocent out here in the real world. Where little girls can be the enemy. But that's the lay of the land, Frady. That's the world we really live in, and there ain't no going back to your sweet little ignorant fucking life."

Frady is silent, and Ryans turns on a heel and storms out of the detention cell. The moment the door closes, Frady slouches forward and cradles his head in his hands. His shoulders sag with a sigh.

All he can muster is a silent, "Fuck."


Colonel Raith's Office
Walker Air Force Base

Marcus Raith stands at the windows of his office, looking out over the desert under pale moonlight. His office is dimly lit by only a pair of lamps. On his desk, several classified files are spread out, one of which contains a dossier on Howard Frady and a transcript of a signal intercept from World War II. A burning orange ember blooms in the window panes, reflected from the cherry of Marcus' cigar. He exhales smoke around the cigar pinched between his teeth, then turns his attention to the reflection of a man visible in the window.

"It's all real." Marcus says with a slow shake of his head. He plucks the cigar from between his teeth and turns to face the fedora-wearing young man standing in front of him. "Every word of it, even if we don't know the why or how just yet." He motions to the transcript, then pulls out his chair and takes a seat, setting his cigar in the nearby ash tray.

"What do we do?" The young agent in front of him asks, mirroring Marcus' choice to take a seat. Though the young agent sits with a straighter posture, one born of nervous energy and uncertainty. "This all seems a bit… ah…"

"I don't know if there is a strategy we can employ right now." Marcus doesn't let the agent fumble over his question. "We're still grappling with the fallout of the war, and we need to get a firm handle on how many Specials there are in the United States and what they're capable of. This?" He taps Frady's file again. "This is a long-term problem. Did anyone ever tell you where this all started?" He asks, and the young agent shakes his head in the negative.

"No, sir."

"1945, Germany. I met a woman who went by the alias of Nightengale not long before the seige of Berlin. Professed to me that she was from the future. She told me a lot of things. Men on a rocket to the moon by 1969. But the thing she told me that was verifiable? Shew knew when, where, and how Adolf Hitler would die. Down to the detail." Marcus says with a hint of amazement.

"Did she do it? Is that how she knew?"

"No." Marcus says with a breathy laugh. "I knew the Fuhrer was alive when I was talking to her. But by the time the dust had settled? He was dead. It was like she'd read it in a book, and… probably had." Reaching across his desk, Marcus picks up an identification card belonging to Tom Porter and tosses it over to the young agent across from him. "That card? I couldn't tell you how it was made. It says that man was born more than forty years from now. The Polish man we had detained, Mr. Nowak? He believed the year was two-thousand and twenty."

The young agent looks up from the card in disbelief, turning it around in his hands. He says nothing, but his wide eyes show the fear and confusion at this revelation.

"I've met more people who claim to be from the future than I can count on one hand now." Marcus says with a raise of his brows. "But not a single person claiming to have traveled from the past. All of it thanks to abilities. Thanks to Specials like you or me. It tells me that we have a future, and based on the scraps of it I've picked up from Lieutenant Prince? It isn't a pretty one. The boot on the neck of our kind that we're feeling right now? It only presses harder. Whoever those people were that got away from us."

"Permission to speak freely, Sir?" The young agent requests. Marcus picks up his cigar and motions to the young man to carry on. "Why're you telling me all this?"

"Because I believe you and I are going to need to work very closely together in the coming years." Marcus opines with a puff of his cigar. "Because while those time travelers slipped through our fingers now, it doesn't mean they stopped existing." Raises his brows at the young agent. "You see what I'm getting at." He motions to the ID card again.

The young agent looks at the ID card once more, running his fingers over its shiny, plastic surface.

"They'll be back, they have to pop up somewhere again. And we'll be waiting for them." Marcus says with a knowing smile. "Do you understand now?"

The young agent nods, pocketing the card. "I do now, sir." He says with some assurance. "We'll follow them. We just have to take the long way."


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