Threading The Needle, Part V


ff_carina_icon.gif bf_cassandra_icon4.gif ff_chel_icon.gif ff_denisa_icon.gif ff_doyle_icon.gif vf_elaine_icon.gif elisabeth_icon4.gif vf_isabelle_icon.gif ff_joy_icon.gif vf_kain2_icon.gifff_kenner_icon.gif vf_ling_icon.gif wf_lucy_icon.gif bf_lynette_icon4.gif magnes_icon3.gif ff_mala_icon.gif ff_miles_icon.gif ff_namiko_icon.gif bf_odessa_icon4.gif ff_remi_icon.gif ff_ria_icon.gif ff_ruia_icon.gif vf_ruiz_icon4.gif vf_shaw_icon4.gif ff_silas_icon.gif wf_walter_icon.gif

Scene Title Threading the Needle, Part V
Synopsis One journey's end, is another's beginning.
Date January 12, 2019

There is a distant buzz of alarm Klaxons barely audible in the dark. The day had finally come.

Far below the ruins of Cambridge and even farther below the great oceanic waves, the marvel of architecture and engineering that is the Commonwealth Arcology lays hidden from view. In one of the deepest subterranean levels of the arcology is the remains of an unfinished machine fabrication facility. Roughly the size of an entire automobile engineering plant, the structure would have been one hundred percent automated, but instead the rusting arms of mechanical assembly lines sit dormant, like the skeletal corpses of some great, multi-armed beast made of steel and rubber.

The factory floor is a graveyard of unfinished machines, many of which resemble miniature submersibles and other watercraft. The grasping limbs of long, articulated arms ending in clamps and dormant welding torches form an unsettling stil-life of an assembly line that follows the entirety of C-Ring’s half mile circumference. The machines here, clearly designed to navigate ocean depths, may have been a part of some sort of surface reclamation project before their chief engineer died. Now, they collect rust and stink of oxidized metal and seawater like everything else.

“Not much further,” is the guidance of Carina Harrison, flashlight in hand as she stands at the forefront of a group nearly one hundred in number. “So far… so good.”

Civilian refugees from the Ark cut off from the group heading to the submersible had joined up with Elisabeth’s team headed down to the Looking Glass, located somewhere down here past where Donald Kenner tried to kill her. Nearly forty minutes into the battle for the Ark, with fighting on two floors above them, the Travelers move into position to forge a way forward. A way home.

Toward the middle of the group, Joy — still dressed in the guise of Doctor Sara Ingram — looks at one of the rusted and fused machine assembly arms and furrows her brows. Worry creases the corners of her mouth, and as she turns her attention to the trail of survivors and refugees bound for a new life in a new world, she is left with a thread of doubt.

Traversing the arcology hasn't been a picnic, but it's not been horrible yet. Not with others keeping most of the focus on themselves. Elisabeth has Aurora on her hip, both arms around the little girl as they move. Joy is not the only one concerned, and as Carina comments 'so far, so good,' Elisabeth can't help give her mother the Eye. "And here you were the last person I thought would jinx it," she mutters.

Pausing, the blonde turns her eyes to the route we're heading on, seeking out hidden sounds that don't belong. There's fighting sounds from above — those are easy to filter. There's the strange and sometimes terrifying sounds of metal under pressure, walls groaning or creaking, water dripping or trickling. None of those are what she seeks, instead filtering out all of those and seeking the subaudible — the brush of clothing ahead of them where there shouldn't be anyone. The pop of joints as anyone shifts subtly up there. The sound of breathing where there shouldn't be any. So that if there are, she can warn the combatants of her group to take point.

In the chaos above, Odessa managed to retrieve her prized sword from security, using it to cut a bloody swath on her way to rendezvous with Carina and her people. "C'mon," the woman mutters under her breath, glancing toward the ceiling and the commotion above their heads. She's waiting for the return of her ability. There's a smear of tacky red across one cheek that doesn't seem to bother her and only proves that she needn't be in possession of her power to be a force to be reckoned with.

The woman who looks like her mother, if older, is just ahead of her and Odessa catches the look in her eye. Rather than try to offer a smile, she only nods her head once, resolute. This is the direction they need to go. This is their chance.

Lynette hasn't let go of Evie since they reunited. At the moment, the girl is walking next to her mother, hand-in-hand, her other hand clinging to an old stuffed animal that one of the defected guards gave her. She looks around the group, curious. It hasn't occurred to the girl that she should be scared. As is usual for this family, Lynette is scared enough for the both of them.

The noise in her head sounds like bursting pipes and water crashing, often too loud for her to hear the others over it. Speaking to her is hit or miss. And she's tired— she hasn't slept much since her power returned to her and it shows. But she is determined. It has to work this time or their journey ends here.

So it has to work.

It’s been a very long week and more, but Ruiz had kept himself busy redoing the wiring and making the areas they held up better for their particular use. In just those days they could tell why the Hub had looked so good and worked so well in spite of the circumstances. Or at least Liz probably could, as she had been one of the only ones who had seen it. He may have joked he’d been a glorified garbage man, but he had done a lot of work with very little to work with. And he tried to do it down here, too.

The area they are hasn’t benefited from that work, but it’s still better kept than some of the worst areas. He keeps glancing in the direction of Joy, Doctor Sara Ingram, as if curious about her. Due to words from another world he was curious. “‘Nette— it’ll be fine. That sound in your head, it’s what’s going to get us where we need to go.” It’s something he felt she needed reminding of, since he at least can tell exactly how worried she is.

He’s worried too, anxious, but more hopeful even then. He’s already experienced the worst things that the world has to offer. If they all died here, they died together and knew at least their son was somewhere safe.

Elaine was at war with herself. Part of her was scared—this was not a good situation. This was hell. They had all been through a lot before this but there was a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that this was not good in any way. The other part of her, however, was different. It was a lighter feeling, a hopeful feeling.

Magnes had promised that everything would be okay and she believed him. He had gotten her this far and they couldn’t fail now. They would find Addie and everything would be alright. Even more than that sick feeling, she was hopeful. It got her through. It was only a little while longer that they had to get through this. Then they’d all be okay.

“We’ll all be just fine, I know it.” She states to no one in particular. She just figures someone there would need to hear it.

There’s a short burst of automatic weapon fire up ahead, followed by brief screams and then metal clattering. The front of the group bunches up as they come to a stop at the sound, though Joy seems less wary than others. She takes a few tentative steps forward toward an open pair of double-hinged doors and relaxes when familiar faces emerge from within. A pair of Ark security officers who’d flipped to join Michelle’s team greet the others.

“Don had some guards down here,” one notes with a nod back to the other room. “The path’s clear for you. Michelle sends her regards.” Hopefully, if Kain’s team is successful, she’ll be able to do more than send regards. Joy waves off the security team, hustling over to them.

“Go up to A-Ring, there’s a firefight in the promenade. Make sure the people there can make it down here.” Joy looks back to Elisabeth and Carina, then past her to the others. The security officers nod sharply, then start hustling across the metal floor in the direction the long and winding trail of refugees is coming from.

After a moment of pause, Joy moves to the forefront of the group, leading the way through the double doors into a hangar nearly identical to the one she, Rianna, Elisabeth, Lynette, and Mateo were nearly killed in. There’s crumbling catwalk twenty feet up, crooked and sagging stairs of thoroughly rusted metal. The floor is dark brown grating that stinks of oxidization and seawater. But none of that matters when compared to the machine at the back of the chamber.

In the middle of the room rests a towering cylindrical machine, one Elisabeth last laid eyes through a balcony window in Mount Natazhat. It was one of the last things she saw before throwing herself into the abyss of Magnes’ ability gone out of control. It is, at least in part, the Mallet Device designed by a Richard Cardinal from another timeline. It even has the same coupling and hoses, the same laser ring array at the top.

But attached to the Mallet Device is a small triangular frame of copper and gold, with that metal piping snaking its way around the machine’s base until it becomes a tangle of dozens of braided power couplings. It’s not only Richard’s Mallet Device, but also Michelle’s Looking Glass.

Situated around the machine are banks of old broadcast radio equipment, the same equipment that was missing from the radio station at the Tower where they’d found the submarine. It’s broadcast equipment, sound boards, and an old 1950’s style stand microphone in front of a duct-tape patched office chair. There’s a faded photograph tucked into the console, too. Hard to see from a distance.

“This is it,” Joy says, staring up at the rust-streaked machine with a mixture of fear and reverence. She doesn’t notice her hands clenching, jaw setting, her body reacting to the machine the way it would the presence of a predator. Instinctually sensing danger.

At the sound of gunfire, Odessa's hand is immediately on the hilt of her sword and she starts pushing her way forward. She relaxes when it turns out that it's friend and not foe, clearing their way, easing and letting her hand drop to her side again. As Joy leads the way ahead, she follows behind, unwilling to let her stray too far.

The hangar is a sight. The negated temporal manipulator's eyes widen as she steps into the space. "Do you feel it?" Odessa asks quietly. There's a fascination in her expression as she takes in the sight of the hybrid machine. There's power that thrums through her, incomprehensible and intoxicating. Not her power, but it feels familiar somehow all the same.

Elisabeth flinches at the gunshots ahead, her body tense as she readies herself for the possibility of having to fight in the midst of a panicked mob. She relaxes fractionally when it turns out to be guys on our side. When the group enters the room with the machine, though, she steps sideways out of the way to stare. Probably a lot like everyone else.

The bastardized amalgamation of two machines that should never have been conceived of has Warren Ray's fingerprints all over it, of course. Her arms tighten on Aurora just a bit and then she sets the girl down so that she can… not really marvel exactly but there is a definite sense of awe mixed with the terror. She studies the banks of controls, unwillingly impressed at the ancient equipment that they'd used. Reaching out to touch the sound boards, familiar only because she spent time in recording booths, Elisabeth asks Joy quietly, "Do you ever wonder if what you learned was worth the cost?" Her eyes slip to her mother. So much time lost. So little time together here. And she wishes she knew what her mother had decided to do… but she's desperately afraid to ask. Afraid that the answer might break something inside her.

Tentatively, because it catches her eyes, Elisabeth frees the photo from the control board — she's nosy like that. Former cop.

The reassurance gets a shaky exhale in return and Lynette looks over at Ruiz, giving him a nod and a small smile. For him, it's an easy expression to conjure. When she looks forward again, she seems steadier. Her steps are more sure as she walks into the room.

She steps up next to Odessa, not looking at her, but giving her question a deep nod. "This is going to work," she says, although her words sound— like she half dreads it. "It wants to work." She can hear the machine in her head— no, she can hear the void beyond it. She heard about the void from two husbands before she experienced it herself, the way it seemed to hunger. How it wanted. She's learned enough to regard it with a fearful respect.

A long wooden stick is in Doyle’s hands used as a makeshift walking staff - and weapon - as he moves with the group, and with a trio of teenaged girls. Two of which he’s known all their lives. One of which knew him in a life he never lived. The end of the mop is missing, and somewhere there’s a guard whose head was held in a mop bucket until bubbles stopped rising up.

“Alright, keep close, keep together,” he says to both the teenagers and the few other children that ended up with the group, “It’s okay, kids, keep moving, we’ll get you out of here. Does anyone like puppets? Not you, Mala, I know you do— when we get out of here, I’ll put on a show for you all— “

Then they’re in the room, and he looks up at the machines, eyes widening. “Wow. Well, somebody aced Supervillainy 101.”

While still powerless, and shivering in Denisa’s case even bundled under two layers of coats and extra clothes, Mala and Denisa both seem brave and curious as they follow behind their father figure, keeping the youngsters with them close by in a herding fashion that they were honestly very used to. They knew that many people still considered them children, but they were definite big sisters at least to everyone they could be. And legal adults in most worlds, all at the same time. “I would love a show! You could tell this whole story and where we’re going they won’t even believe it. But we’ll know it’s true.”

Under her chattering Denisa asked, “Is this thing going to hurt?”

“It doesn’t hurt,” a blonde girl younger than them speaks up, even as she keeps glancing behind them as if looking for someone. Lucy didn’t like being separated from the Gerkens, but she remembered her promise to Magnes in the previous world. He had been very intent on her making it to his world for some reason. And she was starting to guess what reason that was, really. “I wish Lance and Lene were coming with us, but I’m glad he found his family.” That was one thing she could be relieved for. It was the one thing every orphan wanted anyway. A family. It wasn’t often the one they’d actually lost. But after they left behind the Lighthouse Kids in the previous world already… Maybe these could become hers. “It is scary, but it doesn’t hurt. Assuming we land on ground this time.”

And she’s pretty sure it won’t happen while a nuke is going off this time, so there was that. And hopefully they wouldn’t land in the middle of the ocean or underground, either.

Staying close to Lynette and Evie, even if his fingers are sparkling a little again and giving off some ambient light, Ruiz glances back at the talk by youngsters about his portal. He was glad that this world’s Mala and Denisa were with them and not headed toward the submarine, if only because he knew that they’d lost one of them on the first jump, and left the other behind in another world— with this same man who was talking about puppet shows. “One of these days I’ll tell you two a story, too,” he comments with a small nod to the man. Maybe he’d tell his in a song form.

At Lynette’s fearful respect, though, he tilts his head and looks off into the distance for a moment. Once he had those sounds in his head. “We’ll use that to our advantage.” As his eyes settle on that machine, he frowns a moment, pressing his lips together. So this was the machine that Destiny had sat beside trying to find him. The other him.

The balance between nerves and faith was in constant war within Elaine. While most of the time her faith won out, the sight of the machine was something that stirred up her nerves. Could this really work? Her gaze shifted to those around her—a hodgepodge mix of people from all walks of life here for the same reason. They’d made it, even though some were lost along the way.

But there were still others they were waiting on. Their victory was right within grasp and yet it wasn’t quite time. So nerves were winning out now. Instead of letting that on, she simply smiles in the general direction of the kids. “When we get there, I’ll have Magnes pick out the best comic books. He’s told me about some really good ones so I’m excited to read them instead of just hearing the stories. But the art was really good in my head, so… we’ll have to see how it compares.”

Silent for a while, Joy slowly turns a look over to Elisabeth and shakes her head in the negative. No, she surmises, it likely hadn't been worth it at all. As she turns wide blue eyes back to the machine, she takes a step forward to come up beside Odessa.

“I'll get it running,” Joy says with hushed confidence, then moves over to the cylindrical center mass of the machine. “If Michelle’s intentions were correct,” Joy says, voice raised as she begins flipping large circuit breakers over, “this machine should create a sympathetic vibration in the subatomic particles around it. Effectively, it will tune the local area to a specific quantum waveform.”

Power begins to thrum inside of the amalgamation, and Joy steps around to the side and plugs in a connection to the radio equipment. “I'm not exactly sure what all that means, except that it helps you.” Joy motions to Lynette. “We fired this up last time… when our Mateo was still here. But we didn't have a confirmed frequency, we were blind firing. God knows where he wound up.”

Joy moves over to the radio equipment, powering up the consoles. “This should make it take less effort for this side of the bridge to connect to the other side, make it easier to find, given that we’re not in the same geographical position.” She flips a few more switches and there's a feedback shriek from one of the speakers, which she quickly turns off.

“Because…” Joy looks over at Lynette, “Michelle was concerned that the strain of opening a stable portal could be fatal.” She flips two more switches. “Think of this like a signal boost.”

Finally, Joy hits a button and the ring of lasers at the top of the machine begin to spin wildly in a circle. The lasers, pointed just off-center from one-another, creates a web of blue-green light that once it gets to speed, just looks like a ring of auroral colors. “We’re not drawing enough power…” Joy says with a wince. “We had this trouble before. There's too much loss from the faulty wiring. The lasers can't get fully up to speed or intensity.”

As Joy mimics Michelle’s work, Carina Harrison places a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “I…” She looks around at everyone else l, then speaks softer. “I just want you to know, no matter what happens here, I'm proud of you.” There's a tightness at the corners of her eyes. A worry. She's trying to be strong when everything inside of her is screaming to break down.

“I don't know the frequency we need to input,” Joy says with a shake of her head. “We can get this started, but without Chel to tune everything…” there's a crease of her brows, “if I put in one wrong number it could screw everything up.”

The shriek of feedback from the speakers makes Elisabeth flinch, her eyes drawn away from the photograph in her hand — she can't help staring at it. She glances up at the machine as it spins up and starts getting colorful. Aurora creeps her hand into her mother's again, refusing to get more than half a step away, and Liz squeezes the small appendage in reassurance. Tucking the photo into her pocket without comment for now, she reaches up to rest her free hand on top of the hand on her shoulder and looks at her mother. Swallowing hard, she whispers, "No matter what happens here, I've always been your daughter. In all worlds, I love you." She leans her head sideways to rest against Carina's for a long moment. She's more afraid of stepping through this portal than she has been of any other — hope can be a vicious thing.

"I can't tell you what the frequencies are, but I might be able to tell if they're right — maybe," Elisabeth offers tentatively, lifting her head. "I can definitely tell when the harmonics are disastrously wrong." Well… it's not nothing. Biting her lip, she looks at the group of survivors standing in this room and sends a silent prayer into the universe to whatever God is listening. Please let this work. When her blue eyes come back to her mother, she finally asks softly, "Are you going to come with us?" It's something she hasn't pushed, but well… now is about all the time there is left.

It feels to Odessa as though something is stirring inside of her. Like something slumbering longs to awaken. Cut off from her ability as she is, it's like she can't tap into whatever power it is that wants to truly sing through her. It's disconcerting, but also thrilling in its own way.

"They're waiting for us," she says resolutely. Like she knows for certain that there really is someone waiting just beyond their perception for them to break through. Slowly, Odessa reaches out in front of her with one hand, trying to feel for something in the air with gentle movements of her fingers.

A light suddenly comes to Odessa's eyes as she snaps out of her reverie. "I know the frequency," she breathes out. Breaking her gaze away from the machine and the thrall it seems to have over her, she trails after Joy. "One-twenty-six-twenty-two. Richard made me memorize it all those years ago." She hopes it still holds true.

That someone believes it might be dangerous actually gets a look from Ruiz, because he has personal experience that it was indeed dangerous. “The first trip we took from my world to Lynette’s almost didn’t go well.” It nearly killed him, in fact, which a few of those there knew about. Gave him a heart attack. “Anything that makes it easier on Lynette is good.” Even if they both had long ago decided they had no choice but to try, no matter what happened in the end. They had a son to get back to, a daughter to reunite with her brother, a mother to get back to her daughter, and even Aurora who needed to finally meet her father in a world so very far away. What choices they had were taken when a blue eyed woman took two children.

As Odessa remembers the frequency, he nods and smiles at her, grateful that that was out of the way, just in case something happened during the breakout. “If the machine needs power, I might be able to provide,” he adds after a moment, looking at the machine as if to decide where he could dump some of the electricity he’s been building up and trying to keep inside, sometimes unsuccessfully. “But if its wiring is the problem too much could cause more damage if I’m not careful.” He starts to eye it as if to find where the faults might be, as he moves closer, leaving his wife and sister behind for a the moment as he tried to find somewhere he can feed his built up charge without overloading anything.

The good part about being an electrician used to working with jury-rigged systems and an electrokinetic as well, thanks to the ability swap. Near a year worth of training in the previous world, too.

The teenagers nod after Elaine, looking grateful. Mala may not be the Mala she knew, but basic things about her were the same, even if she looked healthier and filled out more. Denisa looked as if she were hopping in place, which she very well might be in an attempt to stay warm. She wasn’t used to having to actually stay warm. It wasn’t even that cold. Lucy kept looking behind her, chewing on her lower lip anxiously.

Other people were anxious, and for Elaine that meant she had to suck it up. She only really liked to put down her brave front when everything was safe or when she was talking with Magnes. If he were here, she wouldn’t even need to be scared. This time, she’d fake it until she made it. She smiles, although it’s a little dim, and takes a good look around, absorbing the words and conversations of those around her.

Something about numbers and frequencies? Her smile turned into a frown, but not an unpleasant one, the kind someone might get when they were deep in thought, Could she help in some way?

Lynette looks over at Odessa when she provides the numbers, then back to Joy. "Last time when Don turned this on, it changed the nature of the portal. We won't be able to pass through if it does the same thing this time." A number of other things went wrong last time, but this is the one she finds most relevant to their current situation. "I don't know what he had it tuned into, but we need to be careful." Not just with getting the frequency right, but with not finishing whatever he started.

Her gaze takes in Ruiz, then, watching him and the machine. When she speaks, it's hard to say who she's addressing. "Let me know when we're ready."

As Mateo examines the Looking Glass, Joy turns her attention to Odessa with brows furrowed. “You’re sure?” She looks to the machine, motioning to a radio tuning dial. “You can set the frequency over there, then flip the broadcast switch to start tuning.”

Not far away, Carina offers a look over to Elisabeth, worry in her expression. “I want to,” is Carina’s affirmation, “but let’s focus on the here and now and see if… we get that opportunity.” Turning her attention over to the doors at their back, Carina tilts her head the side, reacting like she’s hearing something. Elisabeth hears it too, though, feels it in her bones, a weird supersonic trilling sound that has an ethereal and distant quality, like a penny whistle echoing from the bottom of a well.

When Carina turns back to Elisabeth, she starts to ask, “Can you h— ” but then everyone can hear the sound. There’s an eruption of noise from the speakers on the Looking Glass’ radio console, a high pitched whine like glass scraping across glass. The sound is grating, distracting, vibrating. But Lynette feels it in the core of her being, like something in her bones is resonating with the sound.

Joy clutches her head and staggers, flickering for a moment as though she were a poorly tuned in signal on a television, momentarily looking like someone else entirely. She turns blue eyes up to the machine, then to the radio. “We’re— that’s— that’s a signal! Someone’s trying to communicate with us!” To Elisabeth, the sound is a discordant and chaotic jumble, a vibrating frequency oscillating up and down the spectrum, lacking focus and refinement, a proverbial grasping hand pawing blindly in a dark room.

Through the noise, Mateo finishes his circuit of the Looking Glass, shutting the last wiring panel at the bottom. The machine itself looks sound, wiring reasonably solid, but the power conduits in the Ark that it’s connected to are old and corroded. Mateo could feed power directly into the Looking Glass fine, but it might blow circuits through the entire facility. But they aren’t planning to stay here.

This isn’t home.

There's a brief moment of uncertainty where Odessa's hand hovers over the console. If she's wrong, this could be an unmitigated disaster. Taking a deep breath, she assures herself that her memory is correct and starts to dial in the frequency.

The sudden noise has her lifting her head and her hands away from the console. She hadn't even initiated anything yet. As Joy seems to flicker from existence, Odessa's eyes get wide. "Mo— Joy!" She reaches out toward the other woman, her breath caught in her throat along with her heart.

Steeling her resolve, Odessa turns her attention back to the controls in front of her. The frequency entered, she flips the switch to begin broadcasting. "Here goes nothing."

The discordant shrieking from the speakers brings Eric’s hands up to his ears, face screwing up in a grimace. “Is it supposed to be doing that,” he shouts over the noise, looking with wide eyes around the group, “I mean, that doesn’t… uh… can someone tune our host in a little better? I don’t want to get turned to Cinemax Thrillers while we’re trying to PBS our way out of here.”

He’s mostly staring at Joy in suspicious worry.

Elisabeth's headtip and flinch when the noise crescendos match her mother's almost exactly, although she doesn't notice it. The two women, their power so alike and yet so different, listen intently and when Odessa speaks up that she knows the frequency, Liz focuses her attention on what the time manipulator is doing. Doyle's words bring a faint, wry twist to her lips. She leans over to kiss her mother's cheek, slipping Aurora's hand into Carina's. "You two stay close, hmm?"

Stepping over to stand behind Odessa, the blonde says softly, "I might be able to help." She doesn't know by numerical frequency, she only knows what feels right in the sound. While Dessa works on tuning it in, Elisabeth breathes out slowly and reaches for the discordance in the waves, seeking out the feel of them and trying to level them off, stabilize them in conjunction with the electronic tuner. If the other signal is the one Odessa's tuning to, perhaps the stabilization will help.

"I think that's right," Lynette says, her head tilted as if it might help her adjust to the feeling that's filling her. But that's not the answer, she knows that. Something inside her knows that. When Joy mentions the signal, Lynette tightens her grip on her daughter and holds a hand out in front of her.

"Everyone find something to hang onto, just in case," she says, looking to Evie before she adds, "hang onto me, my little darling." The girl listens and throws her arms around Lynette. Turning her attention forward, Lynette stops fighting El Umbral and instead, lets it open. It tears open in a flash of white light, electricity sparking around the edges. And she focuses on finding the other side, Point B, where she knows Mateo is waiting. It's the Garden all over again, running through endless hedges and dead ends with one single goal in mind.

As the machine starts drawing energy, Ruiz moves closer, laying a hand against piece of metal wiring. He knows what he’s going to do will mess up this station even more than it already is. With a crackle of lightning that’s tinged in bluish tones, he feeds more energy into the machine, trying to control the amount, but still giving them enough to modulate properly. Sound was not his strong suit, but this was. He just wish whoever had taken over for other him would have done a better job wiring the place. He still didn’t like the scorched earth approach, even if it was necessary.

Half of the electricity he expels goes into the machine. The rest seems to get pulled up into El Umbral.

This wasn’t their home. These weren’t their people. And those who weren’t were trying to make their own ways out of this underwater prison of sorts.

The young adults near Doyle look nervous, Lucy moving to grab onto something, while Denisa continues to shiver. It’s Mala who speaks up with a question under all the noise, “Don’t we need to wait for the others?”

Elaine moves to do as instructed, searching out something to hold onto. Her face scrunches up at all of the noise, but there’s nothing she can do about it. Nothing she can do about anything at the moment. The helplessness of her situation finds her suddenly looking a bit distressed. With Mala’s question, however, she’s shaken even more. Weren’t they supposed to wait until the others?

A sudden thought hits her. Were they supposed to go first? Just go through and not wait for the others just in case they didn’t make it? That was unacceptable. She couldn’t leave without Magnes or the whole time they had been together would have been for naught. “She’s right. What about them?”

A thunderclap fills the air as the portal, night black at its center and absorbing all light begins to tremble and quake. As Odessa tunes the machine, there's a second sound that screams against the first, a disharmonious noise that fills the air and vibrates glass in a sympathetic manner that causes it to crack.

Carina, wincing against the noise, wraps one arm around Aurora and shields the girl’s ears as she watches the unfathomable on display. Elisabeth's ability modulates the audio waves coming out of the machine, tries to smooth the discord, tries to build harmony into chaos. The portal vibrates, trembles, and then begins…

…to clear.

The flat pane of the portal resembles a round window in time, a ring of lightning flanked on one side by Lynette with her daughter holding her, and Mateo crouched in front of the machine at the other side. Odessa’s heart lurches in her throat when she sees them. Lynette facing her, Mateo’s back to her. The portal between them.

It's the Deveaux Building sculpture. But how?

Inside the black center of the portal, darkness gives way to bright light, and then silhouettes like foggy glass clearing up. Soon, another place entirely comes into view through the portal. A concrete-walled and tall chamber with white-painted metal stairs. Generators are everywhere, spoiling power cables, government agents in sleek suits.

Richard Cardinal standing between Mateo and Lynette Ruiz. All three staring wide-eyed. But in this mirror image, it is Lynette sparking with electricity. Even more curiously is the teenager hunched over a control panel near Richard. A girl they'd saved from the Wasteland who chose to stay in this timeline: Squeaks.

Odessa is there too, but in glasses with dark hair. An unfamiliar African-American man in a clean cut suit with a strange looking gun on his hip, watching in wide-eyed horror. Elisabeth and Mateo immediate recognize Kaylee, wincing and holding her head, watching the world be torn open.

But much like last time, the portal isn't a door. It's a window. It's surface looks tangible and glossy, like a rippled sheet of glass. Also, like last time, there's no sound coming through.

It's only then that Elisabeth feels something. A noise, a freak of metal, then the sloshing of water. Subtle sounds, but—

What have you done!?” Blood spattered on his face, smoking handgun in one hand, Donald Kenner stands in the doorway to the Looking Glass chamber, eyes wide and water rippling around at his feet. “What have you done!?” The water rises up, pulling from the halls, gathering in globules around the insane hydrokinetic.

Get away from my fucking machine!” Don screams, sending a crashing tidal wave of water cascading forward into the room with a push of one hand. Those in the back and furthest from the portal are struck first, swept off of their feet and doused with water. The wave isn't big enough to reach the machine itself — Don may not want to risk short circuiting it.

"They'll be here," Elisabeth replies to Elaine absently, her attention on what she's trying to accomplish. "They know we're on a short deadline here. They're coming." She has to believe that. As the portal starts to clear, the things she can sense still don't sound right. It's not … if she had to use a word for it, it's not in sync. Which might actually be borne out by the fact that right now, it's simply a window. Don's arrival, with minimal forewarning, pulls her attention back to him and the surge of water he brings with him. Goddamn hydrokinetics — just about now, she wishes we had a competing one. She wobbles on her feet, the water rushing up around her ankles but she's too close to the machine, with Odessa, for it to be a hit as bad as the first time.

With her power already tied up in a plethora of frequencies up and down the spectrum from ultralow to ultrahigh, she has ammunition… and rage to fuel it. Bright was useful for a great many reasons, not the least of which the training she undertook to use her abilities in performance. She can't manipulate a lot of frequencies all at once, but she can split her attention a couple of different ways. Yanking on the waves that are not apparently part of the broadcast spectrum that we need to use, she turns and hurls them at him, forcing them into the extreme nausea-inducing ranges.

"~I will make you vomit your fucking organs out your nose, you sonuvabitch.~" The tone is grim and she may be having to fight to get what she wants from the sound waves while holding the others as steady as she can, but hold it she will if it's at all possible.

The juxtaposition of Mateo, Lynette, and the portal with the Deveaux Building's rooftop sculpture is breathtaking. How do you send a message through time? Create a monument. Odessa doesn't have time to appreciate the moment as Kenner appears, a surge of fury and waves. She's faced down men more terrifying than this one, where her ability was useless to her.

Odessa stands her ground and continues to attempt to tune the frequency. To find the harmony that will allow the window to become a door.

"No," Lynette says when the portal clears and she can see through to the other side. That isn't what she wanted to happen. That isn't what is supposed to happen. When she lets out a desperate sigh, Evie brushes through her hair with her fingers. It's a copy of what Lynette does for her when she's upset, if clumsier. But. It does remind Lynette that she has someone to stay strong for, so she leans her head against Evie's for a moment.

"Something's wrong," she says, looking for Ruiz near the machine. She isn't sure who has the answer, but he's the one she looks for. And then, a look toward the other Mateo. While she tries not to look tired and defeated, Evie lifts a hand to wave to the man who looks like her father, and the woman who looks like her mother.

But both Lynette and Evie look sharply off when Don makes his entrance. She shakes for a moment, a too-recent memory of this man's capabilities flicking through her mind. Fear enters her gaze. She glances to Mateo, to the portal, and her features shore up.

"Stop. Or we'll destroy this machine, Don," she says as water laps at her feet.

Oh no, thinks Eric Doyle, as a rush of water crashes into him and sweeps him off his feet, Not again.

Sputtering and spitting out water, he flails a few moments before pushing himself up on one hand on the slick floor, soaked to the bone as he turns a glare of pure hatred in the direction of Donald Kenner. Fingers curl together, but nothing happens, his ability still blocked from his access— frustration building behind his teeth in a low, feral growl. He doesn’t move to rise yet, turning his head to make sure the girls are alright first, muttering lowly, “Whatever happens, make sure you get out as soon as that portal thingie is open all the way…”

Trying to power the machine without risking an overload of it, Ruiz has almost all his attention on it, a hand pressed against it as the pale blue tinged bolts feed into the machine off of his fingers. Some still come off him, joining the outer ring of el umbral but it doesn’t need constant attention as much as the machine. Once opened it will continue to run off the energy that opened it for a decent time. Especially if it stabilizes. As it goes clear, becomes a window once again, he straightens, standing, staring at the imperfect mirror of another world. A reflection of what could be. “It’s not safe yet,” he murmurs immediately, even if it’s no longer his ability he had seen what happened down in the other part of the Ark, when they’d been connected to the roof.

They couldn’t risk going through, not yet. He turns back to face the rest of them, having a thought, but that thought freezes at the voice and the rush of water that thankfully doesn’t reach him. The effect of water on his current ability was not something they needed right now. They didn’t have time to get him dry.

The teenagers yell in surprise, Denisa getting knocked down and grasping out only to find Mala’s arm, who surprisingly stands firm against the waves. She may not have her strength, but she had stood against waves before. Denisa probably would have managed if it hadn’t been the shock of the temperature change for her. Lucy slides more than the other two, with nothing to hold onto, and grasps onto a nearby railing with a shudder.

At Lynette’s threat, Ruiz nods, putting his other hand against the machine and looking at the man, though the gesture itself wasn’t needed. He could send the same amount of electricity through one hand as he could through them both.

You sons of bitches!” Don’s strangled cry comes with a hand at his head, stumbling and staggering from the infrasonic attack he's under. His legs start to buckle, control over the water around himself waning. “You changed the frequency! You— you fucking idiots! You've ruined everything!” Wide eyed and manic, Don collapses onto the floor in a gagging, retching heap.

“You've lost the— you lost the Aleph!” Don splutters, pushing himself up onto his hands. “You idiots!

The sound of a gunshot rings loud in the hangar, and Don stumbles back from the shot to the stomach. He gasps, sucks in a breath, and looks to the source of the shot. Carina Harrison holds a pistol in one trembling hand, a small snub-nosed .22 revolver. She pulls the trigger again and there's just a click. Again. Again. Again.

“You— shot me?” Don mumbles as he slouches against a nearby wall. A moment later there's a screech if a klaxon blaring from the speakers at the ceiling. Red emergency lights flood the chamber, bathing everything crimson.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

Pulling herself up to her feet, soaked in water, Joy looks up to Mateo and Lynette. “Someone opened an exterior hatch,” she says with surprise, though not shock. There was a group headed for the submarine… perhaps they made it. Or perhaps someone opened another exterior entrance to flood the entire ark. Time will be the telling factor there.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

Beside Don there's a heat mirage ripple as the woman from the banquet — Ruia Henrique — appears and looks stunned by what she sees. Carina turns to focus on her, but Ruia grabs a hold of Don’s sleeve and the pair vanish a split second before a deep, bass-filled shockwave of sound erupts from her.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

From Carina.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

Carina seems just as surprised, looking at the gun in her hand, then to Elisabeth with wide eyes. They're not negated anymore. Remi and Cassandra did it… but where are they?

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

At the machine, Odessa struggles with the oscilloscope, trying to match the waveform frequency of what Elisabeth was emitting with what they're picking up through the Looking Glass. Her turn toward Don threw everything out of sync, made the connection harder to manage. They're so close now.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

Lynette can feel it, that closeness. She can feel herself reaching, as though her arms were stretched down a long hallway, and she can feel the Mateo on the other end of that metaphysical hall reaching for her, his fingertips nearly touching; an inch and forever apart.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

Without Magnes’ help, this is as far as she can reach. Other, less sure options feel within her grasp though; other worlds beyond the ones they've visited, vibrating gaps in spacetime to possibilities unknown. She can feel it, the Garden, the infinite. Some places feel further away than others, and home…

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

Home feels the furthest away of them all.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

With Don no longer a threat, Elisabeth's attention is immediately pulled back toward the machine and their more immediate problem. She has to put her entire focus on helping Odessa match the waveforms. The numbers mean nothing to her, the oscilloscope itself something that the trainers she used in Bright showed her, but she never did quite get the hang of using that to tune … it's always been by feel for her. "Aurora, you hold tight to Nana!" she calls. The question of where the hell the gun came from will have to be dealt with later. She closes her eyes and focuses all off her attention on reaching for the signals coming in, trying to give them the boost we need. "Magnes," she mutters, "get your fucking ass here!"

The little girl, shoved into her grandmother's legs by the rush of water and somewhere in there regaining her feet, crouches Squeaks-style behind Carina's legs with her hazel eyes wide and her hands over her ears, her beloved Blossom clenched in the crook of her arm by his neck. She is not crying out loud, but there are tears running down her small face — this is the second time they've watched people be shot immediately in front of them. It's even worse than the explosions and shouting and fighting on the way out of the last two worlds. She's made herself as small a target as possible and is frozen there.

Odessa gasps sharply and doubles over the console as her power returns to her in a sudden rush. The noise of the machine is felt even more keenly in her bones and it takes her a moment to stabilize. With a shaky hand, she wipes her brow.

"I can feel her on the other side now," Odessa tells Elisabeth, referring to her dark-haired counterpart across the portal. "We're so close." She closes her eyes and tunes to the sound in the air and inside her head.

Evie jerks at the sound of gunfire. She throws her arms around her mother as her gaze turns toward Don. Her young eyes widen, her heartbeat speeds up, her breathing shifting to match it. Her fingers reach into her shirt collar, pulling out a locket on a chain.

"Are all those people dead?"

Evie's question is plainly spoken, although there is a touch of hope in her eyes, like she's hoping they're all just pretending. Lynette comes over to the couch in their room, sitting down next to her and putting her arm around her.

"Yes, they are," she says quietly.

"I don't like it here," the girl says, curling up next to her mother and burying her face into her side.

"Neither do I, my little darling," Lynette says, her fingers brushing through Evie's curls. Her free hand reaches into a pocket, drawing out a locket on a chain. "My friend gave this to me. Her daughter was also an Evie. When my friend— Veronica— when she lost her Evie, she took all that fear and hurt and did everything she could to make sure no one else had to feel that ever again. Even us. When we get to your brother, it will be because of her. For every Donald Kenner out there, there's a Veronica Sawyer." She shifts, hooking the chain around Evie's neck and letting the locket fall against her shirt. "So when you're scared? When you hurt, you wrap your hand around this locket and remember Evie. And remember Captain Sawyer."

Her eyes tear away from Don, back to her mother. But something is wrong with Lynette. Her gaze is distant, her breathing slow and deep. It's like she isn't aware of the room or the events transpiring around her.

Lynette's attention is elsewhere. It started with trying and trying to close that last bit of distance to Mateo, but part of her senses more. The Aleph isn't lost, it can't be, because she can feel all those infinite possibilities. All those she's seen, all those she hasn't. She knows her son is in there somewhere, in the endless spinning worlds. She wonders if there's a world there where her husband never died, where she and Mateo and Manuel live in a house of cedar and pine. If there's a world where Ruiz's wife didn't die, either, where they got to live out a long life together, even if it was hard.

She knows, standing there with El Umbral, that she could find them there among the forking paths.

Evie, staring at her mother, wraps her hand around the locket.

With the current threat gone, Ruiz lets his extra hand drop away from the machine and goes back to concentrating on controlling the amount of electricity he’s feeding into it, through it. The words over the speakers give him some hope. Hope that Destiny might be among those who were breaching containment. Hopefully in the sub that brought them there in the first place.

He wished he’d had a chance to see her off and say goodbye properly. Their last meeting would have to do for that. There was another sister, somewhere, waiting for him. He could see her now, through the opening. Her. And her. And him. And people he knew and people he didn’t know at all. Kaylee and Eve held his glance for a moment. He couldn’t wait to introduce yet another Eve to her namesake.

Every Eve had been so pleased to hear about her. All three of them.

“We’re going to make it. Now that they have their abilities back, they won’t be much longer,” he assures his wife, though he’s not sure how much she can hear over everything. Maybe he was saying it as much for himself, really.
That they would arrive shortly. And then they could go home.

Steadily maintaining the portal, Lynette and Ruiz struggle to do more than keep it open. Without Magnes’ gravitokinesis to make the final component of the bridge, they're left with an interdimensional window showing a panicked room of friends, familiar faces, and scientists struggling to to the same from their end.

Holding firmly onto Aurora, Carina watches the display of shimmering lights and seething energy with a mixture of wonder and dread. Aurora buried her face in her grandmother’s side, and Carina gently rests a hand atop the girl’s head, holding her close. “It'll be ok…” Carina whispers, unsure of that much herself.

“Someone’s coming!” Joy says with a wide-eyed and preternatural awareness, blood vessels in her eyes spotting red. Within seconds, a pair of people come rushing into the chamber, out of breath and looking only slightly worse for wear.

Remi and Cassandra.

As soon as the pair comes through the door, there's a shrieking noise from the security speakers overhead and the warning klaxon changes. Five quick beeps, like the emergency broadcast system starting up, and then the worst-case scenario.


Carina’s grip tightens on Aurora. Joy looks up to the ceiling, then over to Mateo and Lynette. “I'll get down to the— ” A sudden explosion of sparks from the Looking Glass and the power conduits connecting to it floods the room with an incandescent blue glow.


Mateo can feel what happened, even as he re-absorbs the ambient electricity blasting out from the machine. The power conduits overheated and melted, causing circuit breakers to blow and the shoddy power couplings to melt down. The Looking Glass sputters, gutters, and then winds down. Clearly on another circuit, the radio equipment is still powered up. When the Looking Glass Powers down, El Umbral goes black and opaque, like it always has on every other world. Lynette can still feel the others in the other side, but the connection is even more tenuous now than ever, she feels it slipping, like a limb popped out of the socket.


Maybe this is the end.

Cassandra’s exodus from Ring 2 to Ring 3 after taking care of her task took a surprisingly small amount of time. The stairs that they took led them along the inside of the outer skin of the Ark - one of the many passageways that Elisabeth and company called home in the days that passed after the untimely and untruthful announcement of her death. Armed with only a six shot snub-nosed pistol that’s tucked into her hip pocket and the clothes on her back, she bursts out of the door into the cavernous third ring of the Ark.

It takes her a few moments to take in the enormity of the place, hiding in the stairwell, peering out into the darkness of the third ring. The callousness it took to keep people from utilizing this as living space, cramming them all into the first ring when there was at least one more that could have been safely called home. Megalomaniacs generally ignore the needs of the many when their unlikely goals seem to be in reach.

Cassandra is keeping her power in check, too. Little flickers of the past do fade in from time to time as they move, a black tear or two streaking down her cheek before she pushes it back down again, the ghostly visions banished to the darkness from which they came as she and Remi move. They do not have time for distractions, after all. Their goal is within reach. She looks back over her shoulder at Remi, makes sure her pistol is where she left it and then looks out toward the chamber, passing the few people who are fleeing away from the chamber for their lives.

When she arrives at the home of Looking Glass, the absurdity of the situation finally sinks in. This is the second time she’s been in a situation where a life and death situation and this damn machine are involved. Potentially the third time she’s gone through a portal and the second without a protective suit. The iridescent blue glow causes her to lift her arm to shield her eyes, range-walking toward the first knot of familiar faces she sees, stealing glances at the machine as she goes. It’s different from the one from her world - the configuration of the tubes around the opening is all wrong, and it looks like they used some kind of stainless steel instead of the gold alloy that was discovered. No wonder it blew - the power consumption was too great by at least two thirds! She’s trying her best to ignore the warning coming from the speakers, skidding to a stop near Carina and Aurora, reaching out to touch the little girl’s face, somehow able to smile after all of this.

“Hey there, Rory. I hope you didn’t miss me too much.” She looks to Carina, then the gate, her expression helpless before hardening. Cassandra stands and calls out in between warning beeps as best she can. “Elisabeth! Someone! Is there anything can I do?” She helped build this thing in her world - she might have a little magic left somewhere to help get them out of this.


Even before entering, Remi could hear the chaos within. The terrified minds within, muddled and washed out by some strange static in the area, are the first indication to the telepath that she and her companion have reached their destination. She pauses in the doorway, eyes wide as she takes in all that is going on — the portal, the exploding machine, the gathered refugees hoping to flee this forsaken world.

It is a lot to take in.

The telepath pauses just outside the doors, wincing as the security systems shriek to life, warning of imminent reactor failure. She looks up toward the speakers as if they are an entity of themselves, frowning; then, with a shake of her head, she slips further into the room, sticking close to Cassandra.

If Remi’s ability had a physical shape, it would be a hummingbird, flitting from mind to mind to find a place to focus on. From Liz and her intense concentration, to Cassandra’s desire to help, to Mateo’s worry and impatience, to Carina’s wonder — and she can’t help but pause, staring aghast, on Lynette’s mind, and the vast horror that she is experiencing right now.

She reaches for Cassandra’s hand on instinct, to ground herself on the young woman who she just went through so much with, eyes wide as she stares at Lynette, and at the portal.

The room is barely there for Lynette. She hears things, but they seem distant. Her focus is on the Garden, even more so when the portal goes black and she starts to lose her grip on it. Path after path after path, they all flitter by as she hunts for the right one, for the right Mateo. She's run this course before, night after night, she knows where he is. She can feel her Point B. Her nose starts to bleed through the effort of holding onto the connection through the infinite.

And there's a part of her that wants to keep going, to find every possibility, to pull her family into the infinite. She knows what she needs to do, but letting go of what she wants to do is hard. Harder than holding onto the connection through time.

"Javi," she says, her voice oddly distant and low as she calls to her husband. She needs him, needs him to help her focus on the goal here. But she wants to convince him of something else entirely. "Javi, I can do it. We can have everything, all of it," she says, eyes glued to the portal, to the endless dark, "There is no beginning, no end, only us."

Her hold on Evie tightens, her daughter, her family, but the little girl looks toward Ruiz, eyes wide.

The power surge makes Elisabeth jump visibly, her hold on the acoustic waves wobbling slightly again, but she puts a hand on Odessa's shoulder and murmurs, "Hang in there. No… No, no, no!" As the portal itself goes dark, she shoots a panicked look over her shoulder toward Lynette, desperation in every line of her face. "Oh God," she whispers. That look… she saw that look on Gabriel's face when he reached for that cursed portal, too — the lure of the infinity beyond what all the rest of us can see.

The klaxons are drowning out a lot of the chatter, just heightening the tension in the room. Liz's blue eyes flit over the people in this room. If we fail… they all die here. Her gaze settles on her mother and her daughter. A frisson of fear raises the hair on the back of her neck, and the audiokinetic has to fight her instincts to leave off what she's doing here and get to her child. It's the hardest thing she's ever done to turn her back to Aurora and go back to listening — the machine isn't the only part of this.

"If we can't get power back to it, we're not going to be able to aim!" she shouts over the klaxons. It'll mean stepping blind again. There's no telling if that will even work without Magnes here. "Mateo! Cassandra worked on the machine in the other world!" The younger woman might be able to help some, in the absence of Michelle and Magnes. At least maybe to keep it open!

“Where did he go?!” Doyle’s voice is a roar of rage as his ability returns… just in time for Kenner to disappear before his eyes, fingers curling like claws at his side as he glares through the room in search for the man that was teleported out of the room, “Where is that murdering sonuvabitch, I’ll drown him in his own water…!”

The explosion of sparks and electricity has him turning, seeing the portal going black, hearing the klaxons overhead, and his eyes widen into bugging-out orbs of white with dark pupils. A frantic look to the girls, then the portal, “C’mon c’mon c’mon— this needs to work, is there anything— is there anything I can do, can we help, can…?”

The surge was sensed before it ever happened. Ruiz started to say something, to give a warning, but he jerks his hands back as the whole thing overloads instead, staggering backward in surprise. The backlash of electricity didn’t hurt him, but the bits of metal exploding out as it shorted did hit him a little. A piece of debris rips a small scratch on his cheek as he steps back further. He knows what went wrong, and there was nothing his ability and knowledge of electrical systems could do to stop it, even as he absorbs the left over energy before it can spill out and fry anything else that might be in the room. Or hurt anyone else who wasn’t standing right next to it already.

“There’s no fixing that,” he mentions as an aside. “Not without hours, if not days which we obviously don’t have. We didn’t need it. We never did. You can make the sound it was producing yourself.” His voice is calmer than his mind, as it runs over layers of worry. Worry that Magnes won’t get here in time, worried about the voice over the alarms. Worried about— his eyes fall on Lynette. Within moments he’s at her side. “’nette, look at me.”

No one understands the sounds that she’s hearing better than he does, honestly. “We need you here. Now.” The electricity still arcs around him, just enough that he doesn’t dare touch her, but most of it flutters off like sparks from a fire caught in the wind, drifting to join the electrical vortex at the edge of the darkness.

At the sound of the warning, Odessa lifts her head and looks to the ceiling in a mirror of Joy. She rests a steadying hand over Elisabeth's. Shaking her head quickly as she steps away from the radio console, she briefly rests a hand on Carina's shoulder. "Stay with your family."

"Mateo!" As Odessa makes her way to her brother's side, she's unfastening the strap that holds her sword to her back. She holds it out to him, resolution written into the lines of her face, but fear in her eyes. "Zorro needs her sword." She turns and looks to Evie and smiles. "Be brave, my hero. Find your Tia Dessa and tell her to keep this sword safe for you until you're big enough to use it."

Odessa swallows hard and lets her gaze shift to Lynette. Now all there is, is regret. "I can't undo all the wrong I've done, but…" She turns back to Mateo, tears welling up in her eyes. They're so close. So close to finding their lost son, her lost mother. So close to the end.

It's not to be. Not for her.

"I can buy you time."

There is only one person that could get her to look away from the portal, to turn her attention away from the worlds in her head. Tears well up in her eyes when she turns to Ruiz. "They're in there," she says, her voice breaking, "All of them." The lives they lost, the people they've lost. She can feel them, the threads of time where there was less hurt, less pain, less loss. She squeezes her eyes shut, pushing tears down her face. She lets out a shaky breath, daze broken. Heart, broken.

"I'm here," she says, reaching her hand up to touch Evie's cheek. "I'm here."

The girl lets go of the locket, giving her mother a hug instead. And then, when she hears Odessa, she turns to her, too. And the sword. "I'll be brave, Tia. I'll find you there," she says, before she lets go of Lynette to lean over to cling onto Odessa.

Lynette follows her gaze, her eyes falling on Odessa for the first time in days. The face of the woman who killed her husband. The face of the only sister she's ever known.

"I've loved you," she says, eventually, "I've loved you."

One of the major downsides of this ability that Ruiz has found is, since he has nowhere the control level that his wife had had, he can’t often touch or hug people like her dearly wants to. Because he knows what’s happening as he locks eyes with Odessa. He doesn’t even comment on the things that she’d done. He knew. He’d known for a long time. That maybe she had been the green dragon that the seer had warned him about all along. That maybe she’d been the one who killed the other him.

He hadn’t even needed to see it in Overlay, because he knew his sister. He knew the things she would do for those she followed. Just as he knew the things he’d done for those he’d followed.

The time she can buy them won’t be enough to fix an already very broken bastardized excuse for a machine, but it might be enough to get Magnes there, have Liz find the sound, and get them moving through it.

He does not echo Lynette’s words, but he nods, his eyes saying them enough. “We’ll see you in another life.”

When Evie reaches out for her, Odessa takes the small girl in her arms and hugs her fiercely, knowing it will be the last time. She kisses her forehead, then passes her back to her mother with visible reluctance. Leaving is the most difficult thing to do now.

"Find my mother," she begs. "Show her your children. Help her understand why I couldn't make it back to her." Odessa takes a step back, then another. She closes her eyes a moment and the tears spill down her cheeks. "I love you all so much." Then, she simply disappears.

What they don't see is Odessa opening her eyes and reaching out to touch Mateo's face. "I hope I won't be forgotten." Letting her hand drop to her side, she finally moves past them, weaving between the knots of refugees as she begins the long, unseen walk to meet her fate.


There is a look in Joy’s eyes as Odessa departs, a strange look of fraught emotion and confusion. Reaching up to her red-rimmed blue eyes, she daubs tears away from her cheeks, then looks down at her fingertips as if unsure why she’s having such a reaction. Hand trembling as she looks at the tears on her fingertips, Joy turns to look back at the flickering and lightning-rimmed portal. “There’s not enough power…” Joy whispers, though it isn’t her words. It’s like she’s reciting something she’d heard before, somewhere else, a long time ago.


As all this is happening, Remi Davignon cannot help but intrude on the private thoughts of others. She sees Lynette, a relative stranger, channeling something, possessed of a fitful mania as her hands sculpt the presence of El Umbral, and like a moth she is drawn toward that proverbial flame. As Remi’s telepathic link brushes against Lynette’s mind, it is entirely akin to a factory worker getting a limb caught in a mechanical chicken separator. The sudden and overwhelming sensation of agony from Remi is nearly as profound as the sense of disassociation that comes with it. There is no scream, no yelp, no cry for anything other than a faint parting of her lips and a widening of her pupils to nearly overtake her iris.


Remi feels as though her mind is caught, taffy on a spinning wheel, stretched out and spread across an infinite. Someone, somewhere else, experienced a similar death of self and identity. Too much. Mind thrown into the air like confetti. Split apart. So too is Remi’s sense of self siphoned into the event horizon of El Umbral, drawn like any other energy and stretched beyond the limits of her perceptions. A second later, Remi, exhaling a single breath, whispers “Ina Idannu.”


Remi Davignon doesn’t speak Sumerian. Elaine Darrow does, however. When she hears Remi Davignon speak the words, “the appointed hour,” she turns and furrows her brows in bewilderment.


Carina, closing up to Elisabeth’s side with Aurora, looks desperately at the doorway. Then, on seeing her daughter’s face, is overcome with a sudden wave of serenity. Carina, tense and stiff, reaches out a spare hand to take one of Elisabeth’s and squeeze it. It’s as if she’s accepting what’s happening here, that while going home was a good notion, perhaps it wasn’t a realistic one. That this is where the road ends, that at least she got to see her daughter’s face one more time.


Then, the chamber erupts with light.


Swirling motes of light tighten from cables into the form of a blonde woman in a blood-stained electrician’s jumpsuit with M. RUIZ on the chest. It isn’t any shade of Mateo Ruiz, however. It’s Ria Cardinal. “Hey babes,” she says with a hoarse tone of voice, throat dry and sweat clinging to her brow. “Calvary’s here.”


Rianna!” Joy exhales her name, throwing her arms around Ria’s shoulders, eliciting a noise of pain from the shorter woman. Joy hears the sound, steps back, and notices the dark red stain on Ria’s jumpsuit and the charred black marks of cauterization at the wound and the burn hole through the cloth. Joy’s wordless expression of worry it met with a touch of one of Ria’s fingers to the tip of her nose.


“No time for worrying, dummy,” Ria says with a feigned smile, moving a hand to hide her wound. “Like I said, calvary’s coming.”


As if one queue, the sound of thundering footsteps heralds the arrival of Magnes, Kain, Ling, Namiko, and Silas into the massive workshop floor. Trailing behind them, Michelle Cardinal looks back through the doorway, handgun trained down the hall. Breathing in deeply, she waits, then turns slowly to set her eyes on the Looking Glass as it sparks and arcs with electrical discharge and a shower of molten metal from its power conduits. A dawning look of horror spreads across Michelle’s face, head shaking slowly. “No, no, no, no, no!


Tucking her revolver into the front of her pants, Michelle hustles past Carina and Elisabeth to come up to the radio equipment Odessa had been manning before her departure. “What the hell happened?!” Michelle demands of no one in particular. “We don’t have time, the reactor is going to go! The Ark has failsafe charges in its support pylons, this whole place will become a concrete tomb before it blows!”


Coming up beside Ling, Kain’s jogging pace comes to a slow stop. He unshoulders his battered and grimy Hello Kitty backpack, letting it hang at his side. He slides a worried look over to Ling, then looks back up at the demolished Looking Glass as it belches smoke and sparks. Only the circular ring of El Umbral provides any sense of hope, but its infinitely dark center is full of the same uncertainty that has plagued them with every jump. There’s no guarantee that’s home.


A rush of displaced air fills the room behind the others, pushing standing water on the floor away in a circular blast. Fading in as if from a heat mirage, Miles Dylan appears from thin air with a badly burned Shaw, heavily bleeding and cut up Isabelle, and a seemingly unconscious — or perhaps dead — Walter Trafford laying flat on his back. Miles holds Walter’s sword in his hand, blood running down its edge.


“Chel!” Joy calls out, “Mateo had an idea! Elisabeth could do something with the frequency. He doesn’t think we need the Looking Glass at all!” When Joy says that name, Michelle looks up from the radio console and really sees Mateo for the first time. Her eyes, widening slowly, show an immediate and unfiltered guilt. She sucks in a sharp breath, then looks up and sees that it isn’t Mateo tethered to the portal but Lynette Rowan.


Eyes flicking back and forth, Michelle sees something. Something that clicks. “Magnes Varlane!” Michelle calls out, motioning to the portal. “Dark matter! Gravity! The Looking Glass created — it’s not important. Magnes, I need you to use your ability to create a vibration in the room, a hum. You’ll know when you hit the right frequency, you’ll feel it in your bones. In your teeth. Once the room is vibrating at the same frequency as your atomic structure, we’ll all know. Elisabeth,” Michelle turns, looking briefly at Mateo one last time, as if to recognize the genius of his recommendation. “Elisabeth— ” Michelle looks to the audiokinetic. “The frequency Magnes creates, I need you to amplify it and direct it in a narrow band into that portal. That should create a bridge of vibrating atoms that synchronizes this superstring with whatever’s on the other side.”


Magnes, once Elisabeth emits that sound and pushes it into the portal, I need you to put everything you’ve got into that portal. I need you to create a gravity well at the center and push. We need to turn that disc of spacetime into a cylinder.” As Michelle rattles off orders, she looks like a woman possessed, eyes wide and frantic as she looks around the room. “It’s— like a fucking symphony. It’s all music. Everything is music. Musica universalis.” Michelle smiles with a flutter of laughter. “Pythagoras’ great movement.”


“Everyone else!” Michelle raises her voice and one hand into the air. “That portal will rip you into disconnected atoms. Be ready for anything, when the portal is open… When it’s truly open— I don’t know what will happen. Just… just— just play like Operation. Don’t touch the sides?” Sometimes even geniuses have to guess.

It’s quite a scene to teleport into, that’s for sure. Of course, the group of teleported people make a pretty strange sight, too, Miles holding onto that bloody sword with one hand while the other is half-around the supine form of Walter. The figure he cuts isn’t as noble as some — Buffy Summers or River Tam, he is not. He is, however, here, and so he’s done what he attempted. His face is white, though he doesn’t look injured, and he just stares at Michelle as she speaks, as though she’s speaking in some language that’s not even as recognizable as knowing which language it is, let alone what she’s saying. Well, he did come in in the middle.

“Hey,” he finally says, to no one in particular, as though they’ve just come upon some friends out for a walk, and aren’t mostly halfway or more to death. Everything’s fine. Clearly.

When Magnes enters the room, his hair and coat are strangely flowing from even the slightest bit of airflow. He's been going overboard with conserving his ability, far lighter than he needs to be. The first person he locks eyes with is Elaine. "We're going home." he immediately says, standing in the middle of the room, in front of the portal. He tries to keep distance from everyone, holding up a hand. "I need everyone to keep some distance from me, hold onto something, because I don't know what's going to happen."

He takes a deep breath, closing his eyes as he tries to concentrate. "Nothing's ever felt right, none of these worlds, I know, deep down…" he says in response to Michelle's instructions, as people can suddenly feel a bit of a pull toward his body. It's subtle, nothing particularly violent, but the increase in his gravitational pull is definitely felt.

Gravity, dark matter, it's oscillating around him. "I don't… I don't know how to vibrate, unless…"

His arms are held up, as if trying to grab something, and then the light around his body begins to distort and bend in a spiral centered around his abdomen. There's a sort of friction created as he tries to really feel it, the low hum as strings begin to vibrate at the state of gravitons. Something far lower than any ordinary human can hear.

Magnes himself can't even hear it, but he can feel it, and as he adjusts to the feeling, the bent spiral around him begins to expand, shifting out from his body like a glass bubble of distorted oscillating liquid.

It causes the area in general to begin distorting in strange ways, almost forcing the strings of the area to adjust to his own, to feel like home. Elisabeth can more than feel it, she can hear it, the subtle hum of the universe, their universe, growing more and more as the area continues to shift into some sort of non-euclidean mess of funhouse mirrors.

"I don't know what the hell I'm doing." he decides to admit. "But it feels like home."

Immediately upon materializing into the room Isa Wesley backs away from Miles with a nervous grin and nod taking Shahid with her and almost falling over, the gash opening a large bit of her face revealing bone and an orange glow. Black smoke billows from her nostrils and she glares around the room before finding the forms of her family.. shit they were all here. "Sorry we're late," they seemed to make a habit of that. Coughing and sagging against Shaw before she eyes the portal and listens to Michelle's words as she directs the group. She had never met her but she feels the need to be close to her, Richard's mother. The two use to talk about what their parents might be like, her half lidded gaze searches for Cardinal in that face, the voice.

Her free bloody hand blazes in orange flames and she leans further against her partner the warmth in the air spiking as she shivers. Isabelle has lost a lot of blood and the effect shows on her face and the way she moves. Blood no longer pumping freely but a slow trickle. Droplets fall on the floor one by one a trail behind her as she moves. "Namiko!" Her scream as she reaches for the surrogate daughter.

At the same time she feels a familiar pull and she shifts her gaze over to Shaw, "Ah fuck it's hungry again." The flames flicker and brighten in light before they soar away from Isabelle and into the air creating a spiral that spins around the room above the group before smashing into the portal, orange snaking out from the center to warp and ring the inner layer of Ruiz's electricity, melding together. The heat in the surrounding area snapping away and back again as she lets loose a continuous stream of flames into their source of escape, anything to be helpful.

Ling purses her lips as she listen to the various bits of banter and conversation. Some of it is over her head, some of it disinteresting. Taking the knife she pilfered from one of the guards, she uses the tip to clean out under her fingernails as she idly stares at what, implausibly, is implied to be their way home.

"I don't understand," she replies tiredly, "why this is so hard. We have done this more times than I wish to think about at this point." She fixes her gaze on Magnes, then Michelle, before letting out a sigh. She shrugs, knife still in hand as she looks back to Kain. "I suppose one way or another, this will finally be over soon."

"Oh my god," Namiko says as she rushes over to Miles, Isa, and Shaw, "you're here! We're all here." She looks between the three of them, taking them all in. "Isa, your face, holy crap," she says, grabbing onto the woman's arms. She looks over at Shaw, a frown for the state he's in, too. And then, she lets go of Isa to step over and hug Miles. "You look like you're about to faint," she says, although her voice is tinted with a confused laughter. "I can't believe any of this," she says when she steps back again.

Lynette turns her attention back to the portal when Isa's fire joins in. She wipes the tears from her face, clings onto her daughter, and pushes. Seeing the puzzle from above, she knows where Mateo's side is, she just needs to keep this portal open long enough for the others to tune it. She just needs it to be powerful enough to match his. To get them all home.

Blood slides down her face and drips off her lip, but a bloody nose isn't enough to get her to stop. Not when they're this close. Not with her son waiting on the other side.

"And move fast," she says on the tail end of Michelle's instructions for the group, "I'll hold it open for as long as I can. But quicker is better."

Cassandra remains silent as more people come in, as Remi is incapacitated, as Michelle yells out instructions. Cassandra seeing the woman she's researched over years standing there, in the flesh, is another level of surreal that, while explained and expected, could not have been adequately prepared for. Some things are just too odd. Briefly, she considers trying to get more juice to the system, bypassing safeties and wiring the reactor directly to the Looking Glass circuits. With all the force swirling around the device, going in there would be tantamount to suicide, as the last thing Cassie wants is to give up foolishly.

Making her way across the floor littered with debris, Cassandra pauses and checks to see if Remi is moving - aside from breathing shallowly, not much. Waving a hand in front of her face and then tapping her on the forehead twice like one would an old TV that wasn't tuning in properly, Cassandra frowns as a Remi sways like a marionette with tangled strings. “Kase’ tet…”. She mutters in Creole, shaking her head. Nope, nobody home.

Cassandra sighs and takes the other woman’s hand, gently leading her through the chaos to somewhere safer, keeping her out of the way but visible. Cassandra then moves to be with Aurora. The little girl’s well being has been the only thing keeping Cassie going over all this time, and with Elisabeth and Aurora as the only real family Cassandra’s had, if it's about to be over, she's going to be with that little girl.

“We’ll be going soon.” Cassandra says, reaching for Aurora’s free hand. One way or another, it’ll all end in the next few minutes. She takes a small breath, choking back tears, and starts to pray, waiting for Lynette’s word to move.

Right now, it's all she can do.

Shirtless, hanging on to Isa in one hand and stolen pistol dripping blood down its barrel in the other, Shaw appears with the others from their battle on A-Ring like some modern Macbethian vision of blood and fire. A long cut of an open wound sliced down his back bleeds, sure to join the other battlescars on his person. The severe burn on right arm and smell of singed everything doesn't make the other senses much better. And Namiko might assume he'd gone mad by the elated way he smiles with mouth half open, corners curled back to expose the tips of teeth, at the sight of all this destruction and chaos.

He's just happy to see his friends and family again, old and new.

Then with a glance to the downed Walter, Shaw nods at Namiko and then to the unconscious (hopefully) man who had carried them all this way. Shoving the pistol into his waistband, Shaw plants a brief, reassuring kiss against the pyrokinetic's bloody, sweaty hair and then bends down to check the man's pulse amidst the noise.

With the arrival of the last people they were waiting for, the sheer relief on Ruiz’s face overwhelms everything else. They were going to make it. He just wished Odessa hadn’t had to leave them, to slow down the meltdown and buy them time, but… he would see her again. Another her in another world. But worlds apart wouldn’t change that he loved her.

The blood on Lynette’s face gets a glance, but— he knows how it can be. That she’s not clutching her chest or swaying is a relief, honestly. Blood can be washed away. “You and Liz will need to go last, and you should probably go through at the same time,” he says, as people start to follow the plan, start to get ready. “Evie can come through with me, and we’ll see you there.”

In a dramatic fashion all the remaining sparks all fly off of him into the vortex, joining up with Isa’s fire and the previous rings. That makes him feel able to reach down and pick up his little girl, only the slightest static shock as he makes contact. “You on board for one more adventure through the universe to get your brother back.”

Her response is lost as others start to get ready.

Lucy and Denisa are looking ready, the no longer quivering girl shedding her damp coat (damn due to Kenner) and tossing it aside, Lucy moving toward Elaine to go through with her, while Denisa sticks near Doyle.

Mala, however, moves over to Shaw, kneeling down and looking at Walter. “I can carry him. There’s enough relief in the room that that part will be easy.” Plus a myriad of other emotions that seem to qualify to raise her strength. “I can keep him from hitting the sides. We played Operation before.”

Silas doesn't have to be Michelle Cardinal to see that something is wrong as they arrive. The sparks erupting from power conduits and the smell of burnt insulation is kind of a dead giveaway, but even aside from that, there's the portal itself; looking into that pitch black abyss is like looking into the eye of darkness itself, the kind of thing that instantly provides a visceral reminder of just how small a human life is.

Of course, Michelle's reaction is also a pretty good clue, and if Silas hadn't been sharp enough to pick up that something was wrong from her first 'no', the other five or six probably would have done it for him. On top of the alarm blaring about the nuclear reactor going critical.

But even in the midst of all this… Silas feels relief. Michelle and Magnes are both out of confinement (admittedly with assists from West Rosen and Rianna Cardinal), and if there are some faces missing from the crowd, well… he's done his best to see to it that as many made it as he could. His job is, for the moment at least, done, and he takes satisfaction in having done it as well as he could.

He takes a look around, out of force of habit. Miles's group in particular looks like they've had a face-first tour of several levels of hell; it's a bit jarring to see the teleporter holding a bloodied sword like that. It's more jarring still when he sees Walter lying still and flat on his back; someone's already tending to him though, looks like. All that's left, it seems…

…is to wait. Wait, and hope.

Michelle seems to have a plan, at least. That's good. Something to be hopeful about. He feels the eerie vibration starting to ring through the room; it makes his teeth feel funny. Hopefully that's a good thing. He turns his attention back to the gathered travellers, and his gaze spots Remi in the crowd, standing still and silent, facing away from him. Hope you're ready, Sunshine. This is either the end of the line, or a whole new beginning, he thinks, knowing that if she's got her ability back, she'll probably pick it up. Then he turns, looking away from the portal. If some new and exciting fresh hell turns up — because, after all, they still haven't had that alien invasion, so there's still room for things to get worse — he intends to introduce it to his filleting knife.

Odessa's actions bring Elisabeth's hand to her mouth to stop herself from saying anything. Tears flood her blue eyes — this woman has saved their ass more times. So many people lost… and this at the final moment. As always, grief has to wait. Things happen in rapid succession after that, and relief makes her knees weak for just a moment when she sees the rest of her people appearing, though some are clearly injured badly.

Squeezing Carina's hand with one of hers while the other settles on Aurora's hair when the little girl wraps herself around her mother's leg, Liz's gaze settles on Michelle. The explanation on top of Mateo's assertion that they never needed the machine at all makes a lightbulb go on over Liz's head. Is this is how they got here — Magnes had hold of the strings and she accidentally hit the frequency of the Virus world from her end even as Mateo opened a porthole from the other side that day? It doesn't matter. She understands, in theory, what's being asked.

As Magnes starts plucking at the quantum strings, the vibration begins at the back of her senses. Elisabeth's eyes seek and find Kain, and a brief nod passes between them. "Mom… you and Aurora stay close to Kain. Cass, you too." One more time she entrusts the most precious thing in her world to the man, her faith in him to make sure her daughter is safe and reaches her father absolute.

Her heart kicks into high gear; she closes her eyes and feels what Magnes is doing. The resonating hum builds and the audiokinetic catches her breath on a gasp. She knows he hit the right one before he even speaks — it resonates deep inside her. Home. "Hold steady, Lynette!" Click your heels together three times, Dorothy…

Opening her eyes to look at Lynette's portal, she takes the vibration and starts magnifying it, tighter, bigger, forming it first into the metaphorical equivalent of fishing line then adding to it to make it 'thicker' — if they're going to reach another world, it has to be strong enough. If it's like the first time, she was throwing all of her power into it. Not a filament but a steel cable. So now she does it again, full out. The room does in fact start shaking — Michelle hadn't been kidding that everyone would feel it. It builds and builds, a low roar rattling the entire place, and Elisabeth shapes it into the narrowest beam possible as it builds.

There's a pressure in her head as she manipulates it. She's not unfamiliar with the feeling of pushing her ability to its limits and the kind of amplification that Chel asked for is going to leave Liz with one hell of a headache if they survive this. She releases all the energy she's building into the heart of the aperture, the strain of it evident in the sweat that sheens her face, the intensity of her focus.

"Magnes, NOW!"

Space is so thin… or at least that's how it feels to Magnes right now. Normally, to his senses, it feels rigid, like something that takes so much effort to bend and manipulate. He's not sure how his older self does it so easily, though perhaps it's a bit like working a muscle.

Here, however, frequencies are so in sync, even across worlds, everything is resonating so perfectly, it almost feels like he is the space around them. So before Elisabeth is quite ready, he's already starting to gather as much energy as possible. Gravitons, dark matter, whatever one wants to call it. He's not sure what part of physics applies here at this point.

The space around him twists and bends even more as he holds his hands close to him, to the point that his body becomes very difficult to see clearly.

When Elisabeth says now, he thrusts both hands forward, and everyone can feel a hard pull. Not enough to lift them off their feet, but certainly enough to feel like someone just shoved them. The space around them visually drags. The room that surrounds them becomes difficult to impossible to clearly make out anymore, with space becoming so distorted at this point. All they can clearly see is each other, Magnes' distorted body, and the portal.

What comes from his hands is actually visible for once, or at least its effect on the space around it. A large conical mass plows through the air as if a very large person were diving through water, and then it slams into the portal.

His eyes begin to glow a white-purple as he pushes his ability to its very upper limits, slowly walking closer and closer as he pushes the portal inward. It almost looks like inflating the world's most dangerous modeling balloon.

As he steps forward, it looks like he's dragging the space of the room with him, towards the portal, but optical illusions when a group of people are manipulating space and possibly time are a hell of a thing. "Elaine, Kain, bring the kids and stay behind me!" he instructs as he strains and walks, coming close to entering the interdimensional tunnel.

He fully intends to walk through it first, because being close is the most efficient use of his ability, and he'll be damned if they fail when they're finally almost home.

Magnes’ voice sounds like a distorted band of audio stretched and stuttering across the room. From where he stands, the room seems to stretch outward as though a zoom lens camera were panning backwards like in that famous shot from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. There is an unsettling sensation of falling that accompanies the distortion of space and time around the portal.

Light begins to emit from Mateo and Lynette, not electricity, but ribbons of zig-zagging rainbow hued light shimmering in multi-faceted strands that cut through the air like the spreading of ice crystals. The light looks like something shone through a fractured prism, reflected on the walls and floor as sound rather than light. Elisabeth can hear voices emanating from where the light should reflect. Shouting, machine noises, harmonic clicks, Richard.

What Magnes strains to do is a monumental task. This isn’t just pushing open Mateo’s portal into whatever superstring is closest, it isn’t trying to hop from one string on a guitar to another. It’s a reach. It’s moving from an A sharp to a G sharp with the same finger. A throbbing sensation builds behind his eyes, and he feels himself coming apart at the seams while at the same time compressing together into an infinitely dense point in space. While he’s not out of control, it feels like the moment he became a singularity. The moment he was spread out across all places and nowhere at once.

A voice, right beside Magnes’ ear, breaths reassurance. His mother’s voice.

You're almost there. Keep going.

Teeth gnashed together, Magnes feels a sudden snap when the threshold of his gravitic manipulation breaks through the resistance of El Umbral. Lynette can feel it behind her eyes, a suction like her sinuses suddenly clearing. The roaring voice of the maelstrom in her mind suddenly grows silent, as though all the animals in the garden died at once. El Umbral turns from a flat disc into a tunnel. It is not like anything they have ever traversed before, a tempestuous and seething vortex of crimson lightning and particulate matter with shadows swimming beneath the surface.

Magnes is talking, trying to explain something, but no one can hear him. He is being stretched forward, the light reflecting off of his body drawn toward the tunnel. But at the end there is just darkness. The tunnel gutters, sparks, and starts to lose cohesion. The end of the tornado begins to buck and kick wildly, spinning around and disintegrating portions of the room. Where the narrow funnel end of the tunnel touches solid matter there are glowing white-hot scars cut through the matter. Michelle stares on at this phenomenon with one hand clapped over her mouth.

Lynette can’t keep the portal stable. She can barely keep it from unwinding entirely and annihilating everyone in the room. She’s fighting the vortex like it isn’t a part of her anymore, but some separate force now seeking freedom. She simply doesn’t have enough power.

There’s not enough power,” Joy reiterates, as if calling the phrase from somewhere in her memory. It’s then, staring into the schism of reality, that she understands. “There wasn’t enough power!” Joy hurries to the portal, moving up beside Magnes and looks over to Lynette. “It needs more!” Isabelle’s fire and Mateo’s electricity simply isn’t enough.

El Umbral is hungry.

The rear of the vortex begins to become even more unpredictable, swinging up and cutting a twenty foot long gash in the ceiling that explodes with seawater. The water, too, simply ceases to exist when it comes in contact with the vortex. Seeing the carnage and watching water beginning to flood the chamber, Michelle looks on helplessly. She barely registers the touch of a hand to her shoulder, noticing Rianna limping past her a moment later. Michelle’s eyes don’t comprehend the complexity of the look her daughter is giving her, but feels it in the firmness of the grip on her hands.

Michelle pulls Rianna in, and the blonde whispers into her mother’s ear. “Tell my brother I’ll see him on the other side.” Michelle chokes back a gasp, realizing what’s about to happen, and she tries to scream a croaking and mournful cry of defiance. She wraps her arms around her daughter, a gesture reciprocated until suddenly…

…it isn’t.

Rianna Cardinal explodes into a being of pure light, swirling and radiant threads of energy. She turns, her burning silhouette too bright to look directly at. Then, with a clench of her fists at her side and an understanding of what has to be done, Rianna Cardinal does what her father would have done. She sacrifices herself.

Lynette feels the sudden and horrifying surge of energy when Rianna’s light form blasts into the middle of the untempered vortex, sees her caught up in the event horizon at the portal’s edges. Light, like any other energy, is consumed by El Umbral much as the atomic flash from the nuclear detonation on Staten Island was consumed when they left their last world. Rianna Cardinal, when giving it her all, puts out as many lumens as an atomic explosion.

She is disassembled by El Umbral, torn apart and refined into a swirling ring of light that resembles a perfect white halo around the edge of the portal’s red and seething interior. It is joined by the roaring flames cast by Isabelle, by the electricity surging from Mateo. This trinity of power sources is enough, perhaps just enough and the wildly thrashing tail of the portal steadies at Lynette’s command and straightens into a tunnel.

Standing beside Magnes, Joy rests a hand on the gravitokinetic’s shoulder. There’s dread in her eyes, an intense fear. The end of the portal is still dark, and she knows she has a role to play in this too. She always has. “I’ll keep it stable. Trust me, please. You make it,” Joy says with absolute certainty, before she moves to stand in front of El Umbral and then thrusts her hands inside of it. Joy screams a scream stretched across time, her arms disappearing into long bands of light the color of her hands and sleeves. Vibrant green light crackles and snaps around her body like sparks and embers. Only then does the darkness at the end of the portal change.

Only then is there a light at the end of the long tunnel.

Only then can they see and hear a distant place not here.

Only then, is the journey finally over.

Go! Go, now go before it collapses!” Michelle shouts, waving forward the Travelers that aren’t directly maintaining the portal. Remi Davignon is first, hustling ahead of the others and running headlong into the surging tunnel. The moment she touches the interior of the portal she is stretched into a colorful beam of light that vaguely resembles the hues of clothing, skin, and hair. Then, like frames cut from a reel of film, she is visible moving in snap-shots down the tunnel.

Picking up Aurora from Carina, Kain offers a look over to Elisabeth’s mother and then Ling, and rushes toward the portal to get the child to safety. He leaps into the schism and both he and Aurora are dissolved into long streams of colorful light, reappearing as flickering phantoms within the tunnel that get further and further away.

It’s time to go.

“What’s— “ Going on? Doyle brings an arm up to protect his face from the spray of water, from the blinding lights, hearing cries of grief and agony and confusion. He’s not sure what’s going on, so he just stumbles through the room, boots splashing in water, over to the girls to make sure they’re alright, bringing Denisa with him.

If all this goes to hell, at least they’ll be together in that handbasket.

“Mala, Denisa,” he mutters, looking anxiously at El Umbral as it thrashes about like a fish on a hook, “Love you girls. Always have…”

Then, miraculously, it’s stable. His eyes widen to pale saucers at the sight of it, and then Michelle’s shouting— and he moves to head there, “Come on! Go, go, go, let’s get through— “ A jump, and the puppeteer dives into the swirling chaos of the portal ahead of his small following.

Miles gives a half-hug to Namiko with the ghost of a smile for her, small — very small — but no less genuine for that. “I’ll wait until we get to the other side,” he quips. “Then you better watch to make sure no one loots my body.” It’s not exactly said with his normal levity, but almost. He tries, anyway.

He turns to watch the proceedings, and if his face was white before, well…now it’s almost completely colorless. However, when Michelle starts yelling at them to go, he doesn’t hesitate. Much, anyway. “Thanks,” he says as Mala comes over to offer to help. “I don’t want to leave him here.” Then, he starts toward the portal to another — hopefully better — world.

Ling's eyes widen at the display before her, watching the spectacle she had mocked moments before with rapt attention. Lips purse, brow creases, and she finds herself biting her tongue as it all plays out before her. She is still, almost rigid, uncertain of what to do after watching Ria dissolve before them.

At least, until Kain finally takes action and hustles forward. Though she tries to hide it, the way she swallows and stares betrays her desire to keep how nervous she is hidden. For a moment, she second guesses this decision, begins to consider how long she could survive as smoke, if she could make it back to the surface.

Fingers curl in and clench. "No time to think," she mutters to herself, before she takes off after Kain. If she makes it, than this whole thing was worth it. If she doesn't…

Well, then at least it's all over.

Cassandra watches as the bursts of light, the fire, the electricity, the everything condenses into a vortex of nothingness that could deposit them literally anywhere in the continuum. Would they be jumping into an irradiated hell? The garden of Eden? Something in between? With the arcology domes cracked and flooding, the choices are dwindling rapidly. Aurora gets a small squeeze of her hand as she and Kain stand, the little girl getting a wave and a mouthed ‘I’ll see you soon’ as they run off into the vortex. Carina is offered a small reassuring touch on the shoulder before Cassandra stands, walking slowly towards the portal hanging there, stretching into nothingness.

Cassandra turns to look at Elisabeth, her hair whipping around her head, watching as the blonde focuses on maintaining the sound and the path between worlds. “Liz!” She waves, hoping she breaks through. “Don’t leave us waiting too long!”

And then she pivots on the ball of her foot and sprints to the portal. Leaping. Vanishing in a string of component atoms.

One ill-fitting and grubby boot left behind on the concrete.


"No one will loot your body except me," Namiko says as she moves to oversee the Walter process. "Hang on, big guy," she says with a look at the redhead. He's in a bad way.

She has a hard time comprehending anything that's happening around them and mostly stares. At least until Michelle calls for them all to go. She gives Mala a grateful nod when she takes over moving Walter. "Hey, She-Hulk, you're the best," she says, since neither she nor Miles could be accused of having super strength.

She glances back to Isa and Shaw, too, a frown on her face. "I better see you two on the other side of this thing or I'm gonna be pissed." And then, to Miles, "You, too, I mean it." But then she heads for the portal at a run. Mostly to avoid being definitely vaporized here in the Arc. She's willing to give the portal better odds.

Silas stares wide-eyed at the portal, his face ashen; his mind is making the mental equivalent of the noise you get when a fork gets stuck in a garbage disposal. The luminous ring around the portal is all that remains of Rianna Cardinal, whom he had known far too briefly. And the other woman… that scream…

A recent memory flickers to his mind, that look Kain had given him after they'd met Michelle. Kain hadn't said anything aloud, but that look had been answer enough: it's not going to be okay. Kain had been right.

But there's precious little time for shock, or horror, or regret; there is no way back, but the way forward is open, and however nightmarish the trip has been, he won't live long enough to have regrets if he doesn't go. He closes his eyes, laying his hand over his chest where that improvised omamori still hangs, and gives a sad smile. "Sorry Aces… won't be makin' it back," he whispers aloud.

Then he opens his eyes, and raises his voice. "Come on people, let's move! Hurry! Go, go, go!" he bellows, doing his best impression of a drill sergeant. He sees that Namiko and one of Doyle's girls has Walter, so he doesn't hesitate. He makes for the portal, trying to shepherd along anyone who's in shock or having doubts as best he can; he doesn't know what's on the other side, but it's hard to believe it'd be worse than being simultaneously buried at sea and irradiated by nuclear fire.

“I got this,” Mala responds with a nervous smile. The relief in the room is turning to other emotions, but she had stored up enough of it that when she reaches down and picks up Walter like a big manly princess held up by a tiny young woman, it looks like a funny sight. “And I’m Princess Powerful!” she corrects the She-Hulk reference, though she still smiles at it. Denisa and Lucy don’t hesitate, they follow not far behind Doyle, and then Mala as well jumps through, avoiding the sides, and making sure that Walter is held as closely as she can manage.

Hazel eyes take in the changing portal and all of the elements that go into making this possible, Isabelle’s brain spinning with her own calculations, the speed they're moving with the heat and the electricity, nodding her head at Miles and Namiko she smiles softly, "Right behind you kid." Her wobbly steps take her towards the portal and the Ruiz's and Michelle. "Michelle." She says her name as loud as she can muster and she looks in the woman's eyes. "I've known Richard since the beginning! We both.. we both came from here." Tears well up in Isabelle's eyes. "I see him in your eyes," there's a look to Shaw at her side and she nods firmly back towards the scientist, "I'll keep stealing his cigarettes." Whatever that promise means the pyrokinetic begins to step away before she looks towards Lynette and Mateo, "Don't leave us hanging."

With that Izzy begins to walk and sort of fall into the portal. Blood dripping and all.

Shaw ducks his head at Namiko's 'threat', calling after her, "We're coming!" Then he levels a toothy smile at Mala's confidence, the expression shifting to one of wonder at the ease of the girl's form holding Walter's. Dark eyes turn, a glance cast back to Ruiz and Lynette as well, and Shaw motions to his family. He's going on ahead with Isa. He slips his hand into hers, blood-slicked arm winding around as well, and carefully guides the pyrokinetic along. "When we get to the other side, Eanqa', we're finally going to get waffles," says the man with as much faith and confidence as he'd just seen and then some. "No recall."

While they’d been through a lot together, jumping through universes on a great trek “home”, it never gets easier when chaotic things are happening. Elaine’s eyes dart back and forth between people, her ears perking to hear what everyone is shouting and what has to be done. There’s sacrifices and people moving through and she honestly isn’t sure what to do with herself. But she hears Magnes’ voice and it’s like the fog clears for her.

“You better be right behind me!” She threatens in Magnes’ general direction. “We’ve got to find Addie together.”

Pushing past whatever anxiety she has regarding the whole situation, she does what she saw the others before her doing and moves towards the portal to be dissolved into motes of light.

She's horrified when Rianna becomes the final sacrifice on the altar of their return. Elisabeth keeps her hold on the frequencies they need for as long as she can, but they seem stable enough. Looking at the last three of her original traveling companions companions with tears in her eyes, she takes just a moment — all they have to go on is hope. "Let's go get your babies," she tells them. Her mother she hugs very very tightly. "Come through right behind me, okay?" She peers into the weathered face. "I'll see you on the other side. I love you."

She turns to Mateo and holds out her hands to take Evie with her, giving the little girl a small smile. "Let's go, pequena, we'll meet them on the other end, huh? Aura's waiting for you!" Clasping the 4-year-old in her arms tightly, she pauses at the threshold for a split second. You'd think she'd be old hat at this crap. If it all goes wrong, this is the last thing she'll see. Of course… if it's the end, she's already sent the only thing that was important to her through. Swallowing hard, she takes that last step into the event horizon and hopes for the best.

It's not fair, that's all he can think. More people dying, sacrificing, after coming so far and trying so hard. But he sees Elaine, and nods. "I'll be there, we'll find Addie together. I love you." Magnes says, but doesn't move, still trying to concentrate as more of them go through.

He looks back to Lynette and Ruiz, nodding. "We're almost there. I… wish I could have made this easier. I'll see you on the other side."

With that he begins to step forward, nose beginning to bleed as he jumps. "I didn't have the heart to tell them how much this hurts." he says right before he enters the portal, allowing himself to give into that void once more, but perhaps this time his mind can finally handle such an experience.

Perhaps this time he's finally overcome the overwhelming feeling of infinity, of feeling like a singular point within the whole of the universe that it's trying to crush.

But, more importantly, perhaps there can be some peace and solace on the other side, time to rest, friends to reunite with, a daughter to find…

For once, maybe they can get a break.

The portal was not without sacrifice, too many, as far as Ruiz was concerned, but he counted each one who tumbled through quietly in his head, and looked back toward his wife with a quietly proud look. “You’re doing wonderful, mi vida,” he offers her, before looking back toward the exit. He knew it was too much to hope that his sister would come running back, grinning madly like she’d just fixed the impossible, but he still wanted to look one last time. Just in case. Was it all worth it?

That little girl being carried away down the tunnel by Elisabeth made it all worth it. The children already on the other side, made it all worth it. Everything.

This portal was different than any of the ones before. El Umbral might not even be a good name for it anymore. It was more than a threshold. It was a light to bring them home. He whispers out loud, though likely only Lynette can hear him. “El Umbral de la Luz.” The Threshold of Light. He knew no one else would probably ever know the name, but he quietly thanked the woman who had worn the clothes of a him he’d never meet.

With one last glance back at Lynette, he crosses the distance enough to brush his hand against her cheek, a little bit of the blood on her nose touching his fingertips. He doesn’t even have static anymore. What power he had had been drained out, he knew it. It hadn’t even been enough, in the end. But he knew he couldn’t spark a light if he tried. “See you soon,” he whispers, before he breaks away and reaches for the doctor they’d come down here to find, who just lost her daughter, “Get in there. You’re not going down with this ship. Your son shouldn’t lose all the family members he never got to know.” He even gives her a bit of a push in the right direction.

Toward El Umbral de la Luz.

Lynette's struggle is obvious. Her breathing is panicked, her forehead sweating, her heart pounding. She can't hear the room around her, with the hunger screaming in her head. She tries to speak, but it only comes out as a pained, strangled noise at the back of her throat.

She gasps for breath when Rianna gives herself to the portal, tears falling, mingling with the blood on her face. "No, no no," she says, louder than she means to and much too late to stop her. She feels how El Umbral sinks its teeth into Rianna, how it devours her, piece by piece.

It's all she can do to steady the portal.

Shaking, she steps to the side, making room for others to pass by and pass through. It's done by rote, not with thought. Her thoughts are on the woman of light and how she was torn apart to get them home. Ruiz is left to make sure the rest of the room heads for the portal while Lynette stares. It's only his touch to her cheek that draws her away. She leans into his fingers and reaches for Evie's arm to give her a squeeze. She lets out a shaky exhale at his words and gives him a nod. "See you soon," she repeats, her voice breaking as if she'd just screamed it raw.

It's only when all the travelers and refugees are through that she takes her own stumbling steps toward the portal.

La Mer

“My answer hasn’t changed.”

The panoramic view of the Chicago skyline is a contrast of glass and concrete against the midday sun. Settling into her seat, the stern and stoic silhouette Alice Shaw cuts is a firm reminder of what that answer was. The leather of her chair creaks under her weight, chair pivoting as she reaches for a pack of cigarettes on the table, but keeping blue eyes trained on Lynette as she takes the opposite seat.

“Your record of service with the Company is exemplary,” Alice says with a rise of her brows, sliding a thin cigarette from the pack, “but you’re not ready to go back to the field.” She holds the cigarette with her lips, retrieving a lighter from the top of the desk. “When was the last time you actually went to one of your therapy sessions?”

Lynette bristles, fingers digging into the arms of the chair and face flushing with color. She reaches up with a swift, irate motion to sweep an errant lock of red hair from her face and flattens her mouth into a stern frown. She doesn’t dignify the question with an answer.

“Let’s have this conversation again in a year,” Alice says softly. “Or more.”

Qu'on voit danser

The world is a shimmering field of red light pulled all around Eric Doyle. The portal — El Umbral — is a seething wound in the universe that he is both falling through and stationary within. The others are smudges of light, tracing lines of color in vague humanoid silhouettes. The tunnel is both infinitely long and claustrophobically small, flashing with intense illumination. It feels as though he is making no progress, and shadows on the inside of the energized edges of the tunnel look and sound like people, moving, at a distance. The tunnel fluctuates, vibrates, and seethes and Eric feels himself thrown off balance.

Le long des golfes clairs

“One more time,” Eric says, hunched down onto a small stool under the dim glow of the overhead lamp, “come on give me one more push.” A pair of dark legs rest at either side of his broad shoulders, a blanket draped over them. Raising latex-gloved hands under the blanket, Doctor Doyle looks at once concerned and overjoyed.

At the bedside, a nurse looks down to a heart rate monitor and smooths her hand over the woman’s thick bundle of dark hair. “Come on Mala, one more push.” The nurse looks down to Eric, who twitches his nose beneath the teal cover of his face mask, then raises one hand and curls fingers as though tugging on an invisible series of threads.

A squealing cry fills the air, followed by cries of happiness and joy.

A des reflets d'argent

Spiraling through the infinite schism of scintillating bands of red light, Miles can feel his heart in his throat, but he can also feel a sense of evacuated pressure behind his eyes and chest, as though he were at a suddenly high altitude. Up ahead, he can see Eric Doyle’s silhouette, spinning out of control in the shimmering field of lights. There is a tempestuous twist in the tunnel, and Doyle is knocked careening off from the central path and strikes the tunnel wall and vanishes in an explosion of multicolored light. Miles can feel his heart racing, blood pressure spiking, and an inverting sense of nausea and vertigo.

La mer

A single gunshot rings out in the dark of night.

Sliding the rifle bolt back, Miles chambers another round, turning to the next figure tied to the adjacent tree. Brows furrowed, he looks to his side at the short and thin woman in a gray overcoat watching the proceedings. She gives a subtle nod, motioning with a gloved hand to the other struggling and sobbing person lashed to the oak tree by rope, a blindfold made from an orange shirt bound over his eyes.

Abigail Beauchamp takes a step forward, resting a hand on Miles’ arm. “God has a plan for us all,” she says in a heavy tone of voice, piercing blue eyes moving to lead Miles’ stare toward the bound prisoner. “He has no use for these ones now.” He can feel the prickling sensation of something cold and dead emanating from her palm, making his fingers bristle with a tingling sensation of numbness.

Half out of fear, half out of purpose, Miles pulls the trigger.

Des reflets changeants

Hands clutched at his head, Miles becomes untethered from the path the others were following, spinning like an unhinged wheel end over end as his mind reels from infinite possibilities and unrealized realities. His scream is stretched across time and space, and Ling Chao can see him struggling up ahead as she tries to navigate this slithering passageway. She is helpless as he collides with the roof of the tunnel, his voice turning into a thousand thousand screams, before he explodes in a blast of rainbow streamers of lightning. Ling passes through the incandescent cloud that was his body, and barrels toward the end of the tunnel.

Sous la pluie

Mom! Mom! Mom!

Barreling down the stairs, Rei Chao’s socked feet sound like a thousand children rather that one. She misses the last step, falling forward but straight into her awaiting mother’s arms. Ling hefts the small girl up into an embrace, spinning her around and feeling the relief as her tiny arms wrap around Ling’s neck for support. “What is so important?” Ling asks, with one dark brow raised and a fond smile.

“Mom! The tv! The tv!” Rei shouts, pointing up to her room where Ling can hear the muffled sounds of a television on. That skeptical look doesn’t fade, and Ling makes a soft noise in the back of her throat as she carries Rei up the stairs on bare feet. When they reach the second floor landing and move into the girl’s bedroom, Ling is greeted not by a cartoon, but by the talking head of a newscaster with an image of police and ambulance lights in a pop-out screen over his shoulder.

«…which according to early reports from NASA indicate that the asteroid will make landfall in the central United States. Evacuation orders are already underway but at this point authorities cannot be certain there is enough time to get anyone to safety.»

La mer

Cassandra tries to scream as she collides with Ling inside of the tunnel, feeling not a solid presence but something more permeable like gelatin. The impact knocks both Cassandra and Ling off balance, sending them cartwheeling through the air. Ling is able to quickly reach up and grasp at Cassandra to try and pull herself forward, but her heel catches the edge of the tunnel and she is torn apart into a screaming pattern of rainbow hued light and energy that is funneled down through the tunnel with everyone else. Cassandra can feel Ling dissolve around her, feel the tingling charge of energy as she spins end over end through what remained of her.

Au ciel d'été confond

Heels report like gunshots with the intensity at which Cassandra Bauman carries herself down the tiled hall. A thick folio of papers is held fast to her chest, tabbed and collated precisely. She moves with a purposeful fluidity through the partially open door into the city-facing eighth-floor office overlooking the Pentagon, and settles her attention down on the gray-haired man standing behind the desk, hands in his pockets.

“Before you drop that book on my desk,” Director Epstein says as he turns to look over his shoulder, “I want to hear from the horse’s mouth what it is you found. I don’t want the lab’s analysis, I don’t want Henrik’s opinion, I want the God’s-honest out of the mouth of babes details.”

Breathing in deeply, Cassandra considers setting the thick folio of documents down, then hesitates and nestles it under one arm again. “It’s the end of the world,” she says with a hitch in her voice. “Mid 2015, a solar flare. Bigger than any we’ve ever seen, and it’s going to wipe out all life on earth. There’s researchers at the Renautas Corporation who are working on a… a… time bridge?”

Ses blancs moutons

Nearly spiraling out of control, Cassandra feels a thin pair of arms around her midsection somehow steady her from hitting the tunnel wall. Namiko, carefully balancing Cassandra, plummets through the vortex and keeps the traveler from meeting the same fate as the others. As they careen toward a rapidly approaching and yet infinitely distant point of light there is a sense of finality about this journey. The light at the end of the tunnel. The approaching end.

Avec les anges si purs

Run!” She calls out from behind Namiko as they break through the alleyway. The roar of a car’s engine is right behind them as they come off of the street, crashing into a trash can and spilling garbage behind them as they move. Namiko’s sneakered feat chew into the sidewalk and she looks quickly behind herself as where Delphine is just a few short paces at her rear, mane of black hair flowing behind herself as she runs.

The car following them mounts the curb and comes up to block the end of the alley. Two men in black suits leap out from the car, one on a cell phone and the other takes a long-limbed climb over the hood of the car and trains a tranquilizer gun down on the fleeing women. Noah Bennet catches Delphine in his sights and fires with a thwip and the red-tassled dart hits her in the shoulder, sending her staggering against a brick wall and then down into a heap of black trash bags. Namiko skids to a stop, looking back at Delphine.

I said run!

Bergère d'azur

Up ahead, Cassandra and Namiko disappear into a distant circle of white light and a cacophony of voices. But all Silas sees is the seething red vortex around him. The world undulates and breaks apart, spirals around him even as it seems to focus into a million laser-like lines of light focused down to that single point of colorless illumination at the end. Silas feels like he’s trembling, like he’s falling, sinking, soaring, dying all at once. The world, physicality, reality has no meaning or boundaries. He has gone behind the curtain and discovered that there is no Wizard, no Henry Gale, there is just a seething maw of possibilities spread out into the infinite.


Crashing through a steel door, Silas lands flat on his back, then quickly flips onto his hands and knees and scrambles through a shallow puddle down the uneven asphalt of the alley. Before he can get to his feet he hears the gunshot and feels his legs give out. The pain doesn’t come right away, just a slam of pressure into his back. Shock delays the inevitable. But his mind knows what happened. As he exhales hyperventilating and panicked breaths, Silas rolls onto his side and with bleary eyes looks as the dark silhouette holding a gun advance out of the back of the Chinese restaurant.

“Ya’ll gone and made a fool of yerself, Smiles.” Kain Zarek’s blue eyes look hollow and lifeless under the jaundiced light of the alleyway. Silas is beginning to feel warmth before pain, his white undershirt darkening with red. The bullet went clear through him. “Ah’d given you time after fuckin’ time t’make things right with Danny, an’ ya’ll just pissed it away.” Kain clicks the hammer back on the gun as Silas raises one hand in silent pleading.

“Like Ah’ said,” Kain’s expression tightens, “it’ll all come back around.”

And he fires one last time.


Still holding on to Walter, Mala watches as Silas disappears into the light at the end of the tunnel. Walter, eyes wide and chest tight, looks both surprised and concerned as they drift helplessly through a tunnel that feels like it’s moving around them. He turns that worried look up to her, and she can feel is sap her strength some. Trying to speak, all Walter does is create a noise that sounds like a single word spoken over a hundred years. Then, there is a riotous fluctuation in the tunnel and a stroke of lightning that separates the two. Mala watches as Walter spins off into the tunnel wall and is torn apart in a series of rainbow-hued streamers of explosive light, but with a twist of her torso and a kick of her legs she somehow rights herself and falls backwards toward the end of the passage, watching helplessly as the energy that was Walter zips through the tunnel in a spiral.

Près des étangs

All it takes is one punch.

A padded blue glove connects with a square jaw at striking speed and strength. Cheek dimples, teeth dislodge, sweat flies like raindrops from damp hair. A broad-shouldered woman flies backwards, crashing to the mat with a single slam and a bounce. Within the stadium, the crowd is momentarily dead silent as the referee looks down to the woman on the ground, then up to Mala Patel, one single arm extended, not a drop of sweat on her brow.

The ref kneels beside her opponent, checking her eyes and lifting her arm, then hustles over to Mala and grabs her by the wrist and raises her arm up. “Knockout!” As those words fill the air, the crowd leaps to their feet and lets loose a riotous cheer for her, and she can feel that addictive sensation of joy and elation roll through her body like a drug.

Ces grands roseaux mouillés

As Mala rockets through the light at the end of the tunnel, she is rapidly followed by Denisa and Lucy, the three of them sticking together through thick and thin, from one universe to the next, moving in an unerring bolt into the seething white light. Isabelle and Shaw can see them making it in, hands held together as they move through the cyclonic tunnel of shadows and voices. Or rather, as it moves around them. They can hear whispers in the dark, voices, as though they were standing in the middle of a crowd but also separated by a glass wall. There’s a feeling of being everywhere and nowhere, and yet also in that exact moment.


“Shahid Khan, come on down, you’re the next contestant on the Price is Right.”

Pete Varlane has no bedside manner. As a pair of men in urban camouflage drag the shackled and rail-thin frame of Shahid through the doorway, Pete’s broad-framed form leads them. He turns his attention up to the metal tracks in the ceiling, then to the chairs lining the concrete floor. Glass cylinders filled with a bioluminescent blue fluid bubble softly, clear tubing filled with the same fluid connected to restraints in the chair. The soldiers drag Shahid over, forcing him into the chair and unshackling him, only to strap him in to the chair as a pair of white-coated lab technicians check settings and hook up hoses.

“You’re either going to be a, uh,” Pete waves a hand vaguely in the air, “scientific breakthrough, or you’re going to be a somewhat sticky film on the floor we have sanitations clean up.” Shahid can’t really hear what Pete’s saying through the sedatives, though he does recognize the unfamiliar dark-haired young woman being brought in to sit in the chair beside him.

“Taylor,” Pete says to the young woman with raised brows, “today’s the day.”

Ces oiseaux blancs

Shaw can barely process what he sees as he moves through the tunnel, places he’s never been, people he’s never met, voices unfamiliar and alien to him. It is as though he were falling through frames of a film reel and seeing a movie out of order. Isabelle’s hand tightens on his, because she’s seeing the same thing.

Et ces maisons rouillées

“Look, babe, can we… talk about this?”

Storming down the street at a furious pace, Isabelle doesn’t want to turn, doesn’t want to show that her mascara is running or that she’d red-faced with anger and a sense of violation. The wiry man following behind her has to run to keep up with her pace, and he grabs her by the shoulder and tries to pull her back, partly tugging her jacket off of her. Isabelle whips around and smacks her now-ex square in the face, sending him crumpling to the ground from the shock of the blow.

Michael Green stares up wide-eyed at Isabelle as people on the sidewalk just part around them and go about their business. Cars continue to drive. New York continues to live around their personal drama. “Babe. Babe. It was a one-time thing, I was drunk, she’s— not even special. She’s— ”

Fuck off!” Isabelle screams, not noticing the smoke issuing from the shoulders of her jacket. Michael sees it though, and there’s a confused look of horror dawning on his face as Isabelle’s arms catch fire, and she leaps back, letting out a scream of confusion and disbelief. Flames reflected in tear-filled eyes.

What the fuck!?

La mer

Isabelle and Shaw continue to hold hands, wherever this journey is taking them, it will take them there together. When the tunnel begins to rumble, when the passageway contracts, when they strike the wall of the red lightning cyclone neither lets go of the other. Isabelle and Shaw embrace, burying their faces in one-another’s shoulders as they explode into crackling patterns of rainbow-hued light that Elisabeth Harrison has the horrible misfortune of falling straight through, having watched them disintegrate on impact.

Les a bercés

“Happy birthday.”

It’s a gun. It’s a replacement gun for the one she dropped into the Hudson last week. He buys her the nicest things.

Soft music plays in the background, glittering city lights of New York visible in the dusk glow between skyscrapers. With a crooked smile, Marcus Donovan removes his tie and walks around the dining room table, looking up to Elisabeth. “Commissioner Hawthorne’s nominated you for Commendation for Integrity, it’ll be public tomorrow.” Marcus drapes his tie over the table, moving to stand in the doorway to the living room.

“Christ.” Elisabeth says with a shake of her head and a look down to the gun on the table. “You realize this is just him covering his ass for that entire IA fiasco, right?” Marcus shrugs helplessly at the notion, slowly turning to walk into the living room as Elisabeth follows.

“Take your star, take your— probably a promotion— and be glad that d’Sarthe didn’t come after you yet.” The yet hanging at the end of Marcus’ words elicits a look back over his shoulder. “Feds will be in on Wednesday, taking this off all our hands. But babe,” he stops and turns to fully face Elisabeth, “Gideon’s not going t’take this lying down.”

Elisabeth isn’t as concerned as Marcus might prefer. She smirks, shrugging. “I suppose that’s more a you thing, isn’t it?” They laugh together.


Le long des golfes clairs

Elisabeth is a distant speck ahead of Magnes in an infinitely long tunnel, she is Proxima Centauri to his Earth, and when she disappears into the light at the end of the tunnel there is both a palpable sense of relief and a growing sense of dread as Magnes is moved through the tunnel of seething energy and light. He feels disembodied, feels disconnected, feels as though this was the moment he was a singularity and he experienced the events out of order. Right now, gliding through this fissure in spacetime, he is at one with the universe and the universe is at one with him. But he’s felt this before, loaded with a sense of Deja Vu, feeling as though he’s been here before and that this has… and will… happen.

Et d'une chanson d'amour

Bolting up in his bed, Magnes can feel his heart racing. Throwing off blankets and sheets, there’s a sensation of both pain and nausea overwhelming him. Socked feet strike the floor as he moves to the stand beside his bed, picking up a small bottle of pills with trembling and sweaty hands. He fumbles, struggles, fights with the cap leaving bloody fingerprints on the white plastic. Small pills are shaken out into his hand, popped into his mouth and painfully swallowed.

As he looks up into the mirror, Magnes can feel his chest tightening. His skin has an oily sheen, transparent like grease-stained paper, dark veins visible beneath. “No…” Magnes whimpers, “no I— I’m not ready.” He turns, hurrying to the window and skids to a stop, looking up at the aurora shimmering over the Safe Zone, and he presses one hand to the cold glass of the window. Lynette and Mateo aren’t here, Kaylee isn’t here, Luther isn’t here, nobody is here.

When he pulls his hand away, Magnes leaves a sticky red handprint behind. He stumbles, trips, and falls onto the floor with a crash. His leg breaks, pain lances up his side and he lets out a keening cry as he starts to write on the floor with his fingertip, a message, a farewell:

Thank you for taking care of me. I felt real.

To a boy that could have been real, it was all he ever asked for.

La mer

She’s been screaming his name for what feels like forever, but no matter how loud Elaine Darrow calls for Magnes he can’t hear her. She’s not sure whether she’s ahead of him, whether she’s behind him, or whether spatial distance matters. Her chest rises and falls, fear fills her, dread as she skims the side of the tunnel, narrowly missing an arc of red electricity. As Magnes is consumed by the white light at the end of the tunnel, Elaine feels tears well up in her eyes as she wraps her arms around herself. Hoping, praying, begging to make it through.

A bercé mon cœur pour la vie

“Yeah, you better remember it,” Elaine says, nudging Robyn in the side before resuming her seated position next to her. “But I’m glad you’re feeling better. You kind of reminded me a bit of a flaming garbage heap for a while there.” She grins, clearly trying to make light of the situation. “But yeah, that’s what I’m here for. And you know where to find me if you ever need it. I’m not going anywhere.”

There's a quiet nod from Robyn, staring down at her hands in her laps. It had been a bit of a lie - she feels better, but she's not better. Her thoughts still eat at the back of her mind. Despite that, she nods, once slow and then a few more times a bit more affirmatively. "I'm okay," she lies in a low voice, before looking up at Elaine.

"Trust me."

La mer

Of all the things Carina Harrison has seen in her life, this is the closest she’s ever come to a religious experience. As she falls through a tunnel made of light and sound, both terrified and overwhelmed with a sense of rapture, she knows she’s crying for more reasons than she can count. Up ahead, she can see Elaine struggling in the tunnel, trying to right herself. It, for a moment, feels like they’re miles apart and yet overlapping each other. So Carina reaches out, finding Elaine’s hand and taking it in hers, protectively drawing the young woman close as they hurtle toward the white light at the end.

Qu'on voit danser

Of course it would rain.

Some three dozen people are gathered in the rain in Queens, standing partly under the bough of a centuries-old oak tree, a field of black umbrellas and red eyes. It is with great difficulty that Carina reaches out to take her daughter’s hand, looking over at the teenage girl with a furrow of her brows. The pastor’s words are lost on her, and for as reassuring as Pastor Daniel Sumter has been since her husband died, none of it is helping. The tightness in her chest is a vice, and ache in her stomach is like broken glass. Whenever she looks at her daughter, all she can feel is anger and resentment. The intrusive thought of it should have been her is disgusting and makes her feel sick to her stomach. But Elisabeth survived the crash. Elisabeth was the one who was driving.

The loss of Jared Harrison breaks her heart, but the loss of her maternal love is even more agonizing. Because she knows this isn’t the person she is. This is grief talking.

And grief can change people.

Le long des golfes clairs


Nearly everyone is through. Mateo and Lynette stand side by side, moving toward El Umbral, waiting for Michelle to make the last step through the gateway. She offers a worried look up to the two, even as water is collecting around their ankles, and then begins to step through before hesitating. She looks to where Donald Kenner tried to break in, to where the last resistance of their journey had come. She looks up and around to the Ark that should have been her tomb.


Michelle Cardinal turns back to the portal, holding out her hand toward its surface and watching her fingertips stretched as Joy’s are, and affords the woman bridging the gap a worried expression. Joy, not seeming to see Michelle, also doesn’t hear the woman’s last words to the rusting heap below the ocean.


You almost had me.

A des reflets d'argent

Joy breathes in a deep breath, her legs buckling. Her arms are pulled apart like smoke and dust, spiraling into the portal. It was her acausal nature that stabilized a doorway that should not have been possible to hold open this long. Mateo and Lynette could feel it in their very beings. As she dissolves entirely, as she is broken up into light and energy and becomes a part of the portal, Mateo and Lynette stare into the infinite together.

It’s just the two of them now. But they knew how this was going to end when it started.

La mer

It was always going to end in sacrifice.

Des reflets changeants

Their end of the portal begins to collapse, the last threads of energy that Rianna had contributed fading away entirely. Mateo simply cannot channel electricity any longer, his bones feel like they’re on fire, his legs feel like brittle wood. Blood runs in a red line down Lynette’s face from her nose, down over his mouth, her chin, and the front of her neck. As she looks at Mateo, sees him collapse and draws him into her arms. She knows this is the end.

Sous la pluie

Lynette collapses too, not having the strength to hold Mateo any longer. They both collide with the floor, arms around one-another, as the mouth of El Umbral seethes and deforms, losing its circular shape and unraveling like a wool sweater.

La mer

Somewhere in space and time, there is a garden of forking paths.

Au ciel d'été confond

A place where the pasts, presents, and futures collide.

Ses blancs moutons

As Mateo and Lynette begin to dissolve into streamers of rainbow light in one-another’s arms, into the fabric of the universe, they have one constant.


Each other.

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