The Man in the High Castle


elliot2_icon.gif richard5_icon.gif

Scene Title The Man in the Castle
Synopsis Elliot and Richard discuss an ominous whisper.
Date July 6, 2021

It's been a quiet day for Elliot. The revelations brought forward inside the Castle in the early hours have been spinning through his head ceaselessly. Robyn's handwritten sheets of lyrics have been scrutinized, left to run in the background. Nothing new has occurred to him despite the consideration.

He's never been a fan of prophecy, as he's made clear. Warnings without clarity or context are useless; just a preemptive 'I told you so' for when you finally make the connections after the events have already transpired. He may be holding a grudge over the paintings he didn't see in time to avoid Project 0, but he knows seeing them in advance wouldn't have helped anyway. It would have lacked both clarity and context. He'd recovered the paintings anyway.

Prophecy isn't the thing that's bothering him tonight as he finds Richard in the camp.

Castle is.

Weigh Station EB
Chesterton, IN

Elliot lazily maneuvers himself to a point where Richard can see him, waiting for recognition before cocking his head to the side in a request to follow.

The ostensible leader of at least part of this convoy is easily found leaning against one of the vehicles, arms folded over his chest and either lost in thought or watching a group of the others who’ve gathered around a fire.

Catching sight of the other man and that gesture, Richard pushes himself away from the vehicle and saunters casually after him, hands tucking into the pockets of that old bomber jacket he’s wearing. He follows, not calling out, because if this wasn’t supposed to be a secret talk, Elliot would have just come up and started chatting, or called out himself.

Elliot does have a tendency to be overly paranoid, though, he’s noticed. Even for them.

Elliot doesn't lead Richard far, just enough to limit line of sight to most of the campers. On the other side of the vehicles, he displays some of that seeming paranoia. “Wright isn't listening to this currently,” he begins. “Figured it's better to keep this conversation here.”

“This morning,” he says with clear frustration, “as our conversation with Glory and the songs was wrapping up, Castle whispered something to me.”

He pauses as he makes sure he's remembering their words exactly. “For your safety, and ours, you need to bury this.”

“Is that so?” Richard’s head cocks a bit to one side, an eyebrow raising, “Do you know– which part, specifically, he was referring to?”

He doesn’t look surprised. Not a bit. Not even a flicker of an eye, although there’s just the faintest hint of an edge to his tone.

“You can see where the conflict of interest happens there, yeah,” Elliot says, “It was around the time that people were floating the idea of trusting Gates with the intel, and not trusting the director. But that meeting covered a lot of ground, so…”

“What do we want to communicate, and to who?” he asks. “Information security is one thing, especially considering shadowy government behavior. But then you factor in what the rest of that meeting was about, and things get more complicated.”

Because they now possess future knowledge, and Glory claims the rules have changed regarding what happens when events are altered. “Could they be afraid what will happen if the office learns that we were shown the documents that were reviewed? That Glory is on the board?”

“And the fact that we’re aware that they aren’t completely trustworthy, and that it’s possible that we already know that either our mission fails– or what we’re looking for isn’t what we’re looking for,” says Richard with a sigh, his head shaking a little, “Castle could be either watching our backs trying to protect us from whoever the infiltrators in the OEI are… or protecting them from us.”

He grimaces, “I don’t trust most people in that group, personally, not anymore. Provisionally, Nova, but she’s from here - hasn’t had contact with the outside world except through her dupes. To a point, Edward from the ‘Remote Office’, but powered Edwards are only trustworthy to a point. Do you think Gates is trustworthy?”

Elliot scratches his head as he mulls it over. “I think Gates could have reinforced Raith’s lie about having information I've been looking for, but chose to tell me the truth. Even though I could have refused to come here at the time he told me.”

“He also knows about the Palace,” he continues, “and took pains to get Wright somewhere they could have a conversation about it without OEI surveillance. Also I know his real name, and met him late last year. He was about thirty years younger at the time. He's temporally displaced.”

“Huh.” Richard lifts an eyebrow a little in surprise, “I expected dimensionally as a possibility, but temporally? Who is he?”

One hand comes up, rubbing at his jawline, “If he can be completely trusted… then we should tell him everything. If he can’t…”

“Tom is his name,” Elliot says. “Server at Nite Owl Diner. No idea on the specifics, unfortunately. Said he had to take the long way back.”

The rest deserves serious consideration. “If he can't be trusted,” he admits, “we'd be fucked. He collects telepathic abilities and could potentially use them on Wright and have them feedback to me. Hypothetically, anyway; it hasn't happened before to my knowledge.”

“The Nite Owl? The Nite Owl… Nite Owl…” A deep furrowing of Richard’s brow as he tries to dredge up some memory, snapping his fingers, “It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Someone mentioned something that happened there…”

Giving up, he shakes his head, “Alright. I guess we may have to, then. Because from where I’m standing, we tell him absolutely everything or absolutely nothing.”

“Oh shit, right,” Elliot says. “Liz was there. He manifested and it came out as a seizure. Other people in the room got hit with it, I felt like he hit a firewall with me. Fucking Noah Bennet was there. And Robyn, before we were ever introduced. And Asi.” He doesn't get into Gates’s theory that his manifestation involved copying the Palace, since it doesn't make sense and isn't possible.

“But the decision to trust him is obviously kind of a huge one,” he says. “The stakes are pretty high. I have a way to telepathically contact him directly in an emergency, but he made it clear that I was not supposed to abuse that privilege.”

“That’s right– shit, I remember that now. Christ. Okay. So– we know that there’s something that’s messing with communications between the Home and Remote offices,” Richard says, closing his eyes, “And we know that they probably fucking betray and murder us the second we’re back in our own timeline.”

“Stakes are high, but let’s be honest, we’re fucked either way at this point. If you think he’s trustworthy… then let’s tell him what we know. Radical transparency.”

Elliot doesn't want to dwell on the fact that Glory implied they are all going to die. “The important question now becomes,” Elliot notes, “Why doesn't Castle want me to? Because if they're certain that passing on this information is bad for all of us, we should probably find out why.”

It isn’t the first time Richard’s had his awful end prophesied. “Like I said, the two choices I see are either that they’re trying to stop us from warning someone who can change things… or they don't think any of them can be trusted and is trying to keep us from saying the wrong thing. Which, if we weren’t as deep in a hole as we are right now, I might actually agree with the second one…”

“There’s something we’re still missing here, but I don’t think we have the pieces to put it together. It’s driving me fucking nuts, though.”

“I should see how many of the prophecies I can get a hold of and link everyone together for an overclock review,” he says, half joking. When they linked to break the Nakamura code, there was logic to rely on. Poetry is subjective.

“Gates is supposed to get together with Wright at some point,” Elliot says. “He said he may have a piece of my puzzle. You want her to go ahead on all this if the vibes are right? She doesn't know most of what we learned recently, but I can share the memories if it seems safe.”

“I’ll leave the judgment call up to you two. If you think he can be trusted… God knows we need more eyes on that side who might be able to actually help,” Richard says, nodding slightly, “If the vibes seem right, go for it. I’d rather not see the future Glory came from as the best possible ending, personally.”

“Wright could potentially research shit for us,” Elliot says, though his tone loses focus as something running in the background produces a possible result.

“What if we need it to go Glory’s way?” He asks. “What if that's how we view the circle from above? Glory has repeatedly said she doesn't know how it works, she's just a field operative. But somebody is calling her shots with data, which would be future knowledge to us.”

He laughs a bit at an absurd idea. “Maybe we just link her into the network, throw her in her return trip armor, and see if we can establish communication with the future.”

“I’d rather not several billion people die, if I can help it,” Richard deadpans a bit, a hand coming up to rub against his brow, “And shit, I wish it did. If we could communicate with whoever’s there… although God knows if they’d even respond. They’ll be pissed even that Glory’s said as much as she has.”

“And this… refactoring. I don’t like the sound of it, that… wait. Maybe it does?” He pauses, frowning.

“Obviously the main goal here is preventing the apocalypse,” Elliot concedes. “But if Glory’s ‘refactoring’ is a significant feature of temporal manipulation now, her future isn't an alternate, branching future; it's ours. And the people in that future have information about our present and future, and we could use that intel to form the bigger picture before taking purposeful action to refactor away the present apocalypse. because if we refactor away from those events, we lose access to their future knowledge base.”

“Hypothetically speaking,” he clarifies.

“I think it’s happened before. I think it’s happened… it would’ve had to, wouldn’t it? Fuck, this– “ Richard gives his head a tight shake as if resetting an Etch-a-Sketch, lips twisting in a grimace, “— doesn’t matter to the issue at hand. You’re right in that communicating with or visiting that future would absolutely be valuable, assuming we could still get the information back to the past. Unfortunately, I don’t have a spare Mallett device laying around to make a phone call with.”

The other man can detect a hint of bitterness in that last bit.

Elliot notes the discomfort, but he’ll get to that. “Glory’s one-way trip home armor is definitely too valuable to risk on the possibility of a network link establishing communication with the future,” he says, “For sure. Just spit-balling.”

After a pause, he looks away and sighs. “I don’t think I ever said this explicitly,” he says quietly, “but I know that you’re not him. That you’re nothing like him. I don’t blame you for anything that he did, or for anything that’s happened to me. The Ark, all that shit. I might blame you for Ames wanting a Spot, but that’s it.” The latter said with clear humor to level out the seriousness of the former, a line drawn with his hand in the air.

Richard regards the other man for a moment… and then he smiles ever so faintly, his head tilting in a bit of a nod at those words. “I know,” he says simply, glancing away across the encampment as he changes the subject, “Anyway. Let Wright know how to proceed, and… let me know how that goes, with Gates. It may be important for what we do moving forward.”

After a moment, he chuckles a little, “And just relay to Liz I said to give her one. We’ve got plenty’ve robots.”

“I'll try,” Elliot says, “but I'm guessing Wright will refuse to give her chaos gremlin a mechanical war mount.” Though it might serve her well at Camp Terrorist Windbag. He doesn't dwell on it because he doesn't want to be angry right now.

“Should we hold other communications until we get a feel for Gates?” he asks. “If things are being intercepted, any other instructions to non-OEI people could cause problems we can't prevent.”

“Anything other than day-to-day stuff, I think,” Richard agrees, “It’ll look suspicious if we end all communications, so let’s keep up the usual… but anything sensitive we should probably cut, or at least put on hold. Especially since the OEI is certainly watching Wright.”

A slight wrinkle of his nose, “If only there was a manifested Nova in Prime, this would be easier, we’d have a back way.”

Elliot nods. “What about orders based on what we learned from Glory?” he asks. “Changes to Agartha security might lead to a refactored future on her return.”

“Possible,” admits Richard, “Only for the better, though– regardless, the flare hits, and regardless they’ll be looking for a way to change events. Whether or not their door holds against those assholes shouldn’t affect anything important to us, really.”

Elliot ponders that for a moment. “That hypothesis relies on temporal inertia still being a major player,” he says, “and things seem to be falling apart around us temporally speaking. I'm worried that using future knowledge, without considering tactics, could cause way more problems than we're anticipating. But I will pass on instructions if that's the order.”

“At this stage, we can’t afford to play conservatively– if we don’t start to take risks, we’re going to lose,” Richard grimaces, “As much as I’d rather use the scalpel, I have a sneaky feeling we’re going to have to start using the axe. Christ. I… wait. We could…”

He pauses, “There *is* a potential way we could send back a message from Glory’s time, if we could get there or we could send her there to use it instead of their equipment, assuming we could relay the orders to have something constructed secretly in the Ark and hidden– the, uh, the Bill and Ted special, if it were. Fuck, I even just mentioned it. The trick would be powering it, with peoples’ powers degenerating…”

The Decimation *is* a huge problem. “We could go temporally analogue,” Elliot suggests. Set up a cluster of numbered Schrodinger's cat boxes; lockers with time releases that we can fill with instructions in advance of the door closing. With nobody able to see into the boxes, refactoring a message into one would, hypothetically, alter nothing in the timeline other than the messenger's secret knowledge of having placed it.”

“Obviously this is one way,” he admits, “but if we get the exact time of Glory’s last deployment, we could, theoretically, have them deploy responses back to us. Maybe even fabricate and deploy the device you need for us. They *do* have significantly advanced technology, Crowley and such. Maybe it could be powered with cyberware instead of an ability.”

“Potentially. A Mallett device requires a staggering amount of electricity and photonic energy, which historically was best managed with an electrokinetic and photokinetic,” Richard’s chin dips in a slight nod, “If they have better ways to do it, though, it may work. If we had a functioning device, we could literally laser a message into the past.”

His hands spread slightly, “The results can be unpredictable, although admittedly, the last activation of one was accompanied by enough other bullshit to be best described as ‘a shotgun blast across space and time’. Hell, there’s a high chance that there’s some debris from it where we’re going– the Natazhat facility exploded laterally across multiple timelines, including this one.”

“Yeah, wow,” Elliot says, thinking about the OEI brief on timelines, “I'd prefer Plan A not be a time shotgun responsible for doubling all the existing branches. But it's worth considering, seeing as our options in general are limited here. Also it would be a huge bummer if we make it there only to find that it's so leveled that there's no sun screen data to be had.”

“I wonder if we could use the IRIS somehow?” he muses offhandedly.

“The Mallett itself wouldn’t be a shotgun, so long as nobody opens a goddamn singularity next to it this time,” Richard observes deadpan, one hand rubbing against his jawline, “Mm. Potentially, yes– it’s a Looking Glass, technically, and there’s a temporal dimension you can set with it. In theory.” That’s a lot of ‘potentially’ and ‘technically’ and ‘in theory’ for one sentence. “Fuck if I’d know how to do it, though. That’s my mother’s area, and I don’t think she’s ever fucked with the time axis.”

Elliot considers for a moment. “I could ask Wright to talk to your mother about it,” he suggests. “Wouldn't be the first time they talked about Looking Glass physics. She could keep it simple, just say she wants to send a message to her past self to keep her from throwing out her Giga Pet collection?”

“Miss those guys,” Wright laments.

“You could try,” Richard breathes out a chuckle, “Just tell her to stay out of slapping range. I suspect the best you’d get would be a long, very tired look. It’s a bit of a Pandora’s Box for her to open, and I think she’s worried she’d lose Hope this time.”

Elliot nods sympathetically. “I get that,” he says. “Only recently added Hope to my own Pandora’s Box. So far it's still keeping the latch closed.”

“She'll keep it basic, don't want to look too invested in the idea either way,” he adds.

Richard nods back, his tone wry, “Worth a try. Let’s see if we can Bill and Ted this bitch.”

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