Too Deep


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Scene Title Too Deep
Synopsis When Des and Richard enlist the help of Delia Ryans to try and bridge a gap between worlds through Odessa's mind, they find that they may have gone where they shouldn't…
Date October 12, 2018

Black E4. Richard looks up at the mirror and narrows his eyes slightly, he's got it this time…

She pivots on her heel in time to see Magnes become essentially a puppet of the enemy.

White E3. Blazing blue eyes stare back, unflinching, unblinking…

"No!" she gasps as she's slammed to the floor and shoved, hitting the consoles in a tumble of armored arms and legs.

Black B6… the trap is set. The snow is cold, with every shift of his bare feet against the ground, he hears the crunch more than feels it.

She fights the effect of Magnes's overcharged gravity without much luck, but she can hear what Ezekiel says as he attacks… feeds?… Magnes’s explosion of power.

White C3… hooked. A fleck of blood lands on the board, spraying across the pawn as though it’s being led to slaughter.

Sucking in a breath, she attempts to force Ezekiel's train of thought off the rails, "~NO!! NO MORE!! NEVER AGAIN!!~"

Black Knight C6… a tug on the line. An upward tick of the lips at one corner is his giveaway. It doesn’t even know it’s being played.

«This is Red Queen,» she murmurs into her headset as she shifts around to put her booted feet on the table that was keeping her tethered.

White Queen B3… Another spray of blood comes from the mirror, as though coughed from consumption riddled lungs.

«Blow it to hell. Then get out if you can. Go now.» Her tone is calm amid the chaos, as if she knows exactly what she’s doing.

Black F6… Silent, unblinking, it waits.

Tilting her face upward, she kicks off the table with a bit of hydraulic assist, arrowing straight for Magnes Varlane.

White Bishop C4… Stepping cautiously won’t save it this time. Not again.

And despite the pain in her head, she pulls on all the sound around her, fully intending to obliterate either his ability to use his power or him or die trying, in the only hope she thinks is left to stop him from killing all of them.

Black G5… The spring snaps, trapping his prey by the neck.

Her scream hits Magnes’ ink black form..

White Bishop F7… Checkmate.

The victory would have been sweet, he would have stayed to gloat, but there’s a party going on over the crest of the hill. He can hear the squeals of children, likely frolicking in the snow. Confusion rears its ugly head when he feels a rush of warmth at his feet. Looking down, he watches as a pool of blood spreads slowly from the pads of his feet, quickly spreading through the white crystals. Then his leg sinks in, dragging the rest of him with it. He claws for the table, trying to keep himself up, trying not to drown in the pool of blood. Trying to call for help, maybe one of the children… but it’s too late.

“Hello Richard,” in the darkness, that voice is familiar. Not comforting.

The white flakes fall gently down as if onto a picturesque countryside trapped inside of a snow globe. She lifts her hand skyward and catches the flurries on her mitten, a bright smile spreading across her face. Snow still inspires childlike wonder after all these years. The snow melts against the heat of her palms, dampens the fabric. More collects in her blonde hair and against her lashes.

Her hands are beginning to chill.

Arms out at her sides, she twirls a circle in place, boots brushing aside the snow and revealing the faded trail beneath. Skirts and coat billow out around her, face lifted to the sky. She spins and spins, and spins until she’s dizzy. Laughter bubbles up. She feels slightly drunk. Damp.

A pair of hands rest on her shoulders for the briefest of moments before shoving her roughly forward. She stumbles ahead several steps, eyes open wide now as she barely manages to remain on her feet. Whirling around, there’s no sign of anyone, but there’s a deafening sound like a cascading avalanche, yet no source.

Her hands are warm.

Looking down, the damp patches of her mittens are now a stark contrast of red against off-white. The snow around her is stained with blood. It falls in frozen crystals from the top of this dome. Wide blue eyes stare down at blood-stained hands, mittened fingers curling in toward palms slowly as disbelief begins to give way to horror.

He lays there on the ground, the red blooms around him almost beautiful if not for the glassy eyes and the bloodless countenance.

“No,” she whispers. A demand. Desperate. Fists come up to rest beneath chin. In a blink of her eye, there’s nothing there but a snow angel, only it’s red where an impression should be. That’s a different sort of impression entirely.

Turning, she begins to run, toward the hill and the sounds of laughter. Away from the blood falling from the sky. The blood on her hands. As she crests the snowy mound, her foot catches on a rock and she stumbles forward, falling to her knees and tumbling down the hillside, where she comes to rest next to a pool of blood and a drowning man.

It’s not until the voice cuts through the dream-born panic that Richard Cardinal — not Ray, not here anyway — stirs to lucidity once more, even as his fingers drag down the marble of the table leaving bloodied stains behind and the crimson beneath rises to swallow him up.

“Delia.” A ragged breath of a voice, a name, “Welcome back. I think you’ve— been here before.”

Delia. She looks down at herself, noting the scarred skin of her hands and arms. They’re embedded with mirror fragments that could sparkle in the right light but right now, they just look painful. The usual white sundress that they might have recognized her in is dirty and tattered at the edges, a pale comparison to the bright white thing she wore years and years ago. When it was new. She nods once, yes, she is Delia.

First she helps Richard to his feet, out of the pool of blood. Then she turns to Odessa and helps her up to hers as well. “I have, but you haven’t,” she says cryptically we she brushes the snow off of Odessa’s frame and places her hands on the petite woman’s shoulders to get a square look at her. “Hello Cyclops, you got better.” She doesn’t use Odessa’s real name, maybe because she can’t or because she would rather remember dreams, either way the tone suggests that it’s not meant to be insulting.

When she looks around, she doesn’t look down at the blood or at the snow, it’s up to the black sky and to the stars. Swiping her hand through the air, she begins to gouge holes in the sky, tearing at the fabric of Odessa’s space to find something.

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey

A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?

Thrashing in ice cold water, shock hits Delia like a dozen knives. She thrashes reflexively, insensate in the freezing blackness of deep water. Her arms and legs reach out, searching for something to find purchase on, but there is nothing but the numbing darkness. As she twists and writhes, a mouthful of air all she's been afforded, a pair of lights shine in one direction — some direction — in the dark. As the shock quells, Delia can feel the oppressive weight of deep water pressing down on her from every direction, constricting her movement, her chest.

The yellow lights drift closer in the dark, like headlights underwater.

Dream, this is a dream and I am stronger than I think.

Once the initial shock and sensation is done, Delia calms a bit and looks around. This is a dream, she keeps repeating internally, this is my space. The weight is still there, the lack of air, but she doesn’t need it, her body is safe at home. Odessa’s brain can’t get her there. I’m just a fish and I have to keep swimming. Like Dory.

God I hope this isn’t a big ass angler fish.

Leave it to Odessa to dream up that special little monster. Blood and snow just aren’t enough. Still, she swishes her arms and kicks her legs through the water, trying to get closer. Maybe it’s a submarine, like the Nautilus. Maybe she’ll meet Captain Nemo.

No. No it’s not Captain Nemo. As the two glowing lights rise from the depth, as Delia tries to assert herself in a space that feels more suffocating and cloying than any mind she’s ever been in, she finds herself face to face with…


Rising up from the black depths, the glowing lights are a pair of golden eyes belonging to a gigantic screaming face. Locks of blonde hair swirl in the water, jaws open to reveal crooked and blood-soaked teeth, and Odessa’s horrible and howling visage moves with shark-like quickness, jaws opening sharply and then snapping shut around Delia like a steel trap. Molars grind against Delia’s limbs, a massive tongue presses her up against the roof of the mouth and swishes her with seawater, and she is swallowed with a muscular action.

And all is dark.

And all is empty.

Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.

A kid'll eat ivy, too; wouldn't you?

One moment Delia had made a rude cyclops joke and reached up to tear down the walls of the dream. A moment later she guttered away in a static crackle, only to disappear with an electrified pop, leaving behind a scent of ozone and a swirling coil of black smoke. Where she had touched the edge of the dream, a corner is peeled back like the seam of old wallpaper, waiting to be torn back more fully.

But Delia is nowhere to be seen.

“…reful, we don’t know…” It’s too late, because the oneiromancer is just gone in that crackling moment of ozone that swept her away, and Richard’s left staring at the place where she’d been, standing on red-stained snow beside Odessa. The blood doesn’t leave him, staining him like a lover’s bite - the sanguine scarlet only too appropriate for the Red King here in the dreamworld. The hand he’d stretched out towards Delia slowly pulls back, and he chews on his tongue for a moment before looking to the only other person here.

Assuming that’s really Odessa. The world of dreams is a strange place.

“You, uh…” He looks back to that corner, then to her, “You want to do the honors, lover?”

“Well,” Odessa breathes out, “that happened.” So far, it looks like things are about to go as swimmingly (no pun intended, Delia) as the last experiment they conducted into what’s locked away in her subconscious. A rueful glance is cast over to Richard. Cheeks puff out with a heavy exhale. “If I must, I must.”

It is her dream, after all. She may as well be the one to peel back the façade and find out what horrors lurk beneath. “Maybe we’ll figure out why I never seem to quite wake up rested,” she jokes. Only half-heartedly.

“I did warn her this was going to be dangerous,” Richard comments, although there’s a vein of real worry there as he stares up at that torn bit of… reality layer, “Shit. Ryans is going to murder me if I get one of his kids killed.”

A look back to her, quipping, “The existential horror of our lives isn’t what does that?”

“I’m almost fond of that by now,” she responds with a little smile. “My therapist says it’s Stockholm Syndrome.”

That’s a lie.

Odessa doesn’t have a therapist.

“Here goes nothing.” Reaching up for the torn edge — how does that even work? — she grasps, takes a deep breath, and pulls. “If we survive this, I want real ice cream to celebrate.”

As Odessa peels back a one-dimensional piece of fabric comprising her dreamscape, it reveals a very real wall made of rough brick, and after a few more strips of the world are peeled away by eager fingers, there is a weathered door sitting wedged in the brick frame. On the door is a tarnished brass plaque that reads 6A. Murmuring voices can be heard behind the door.

“Deal.” Richard’s stomach tenses up as reality’s peeled away to reveal that wall, and then he’s moving forward to help — just tearing strips of sky and snow away until there’s brick and weathered wood.

“Six A…” A glance back to Odessa as he pauses at the door, “Mean anything to you?”

The last of the tangible intangible is pulled away and Odessa is left staring at the door. Her head tilts to one side slowly as she studies the plaque. “No,” she says softly with a shake of her head. “No, I don’t… remember anything like that. I remember 108, and 150…”

Another shake of her head, and Odessa is frowning, straightening up again. “Nothing.” Slowly, she leans forward to press her ear to the door. After a moment of listening, she rests her hand on the handle and tests it to see if it’s locked.

This is Jeopardy


Riotous applause welcome a sudden and jarring change in environment. In the blink of an eye, Richard and Des find themselves standing at familiar, boxy podiums on a soundstage framed by midnight blue velvet curtains. The third podium is currently occupied by a shivering, soaked, and blood-smeared Delia Ryans, who looks like she was just spit out by a shark.

“Today we have with us, from Manhattan Kansas, Richard Cardinal.” Alex motions toward the podium Richard stands at. “Richard is an automotive mechanic who has a masters in Game Theory from MIT.” Then, Alex motions to the next player. “We’re also joined by our returning champion,” and a noise of screeching electronics erupts from his mouth, “from Odessa, Texas.” Once more, Alex says something that is only translated as a howling, mechanical scream, “is a nurse practitioner at the Odessa Regional Medical Center.”

Lastly, Alex motions to Delia. “And our third contestant is Delia Ryans, a charming interloper who will live or die depending on the success of she and her friends here today.” Alex smiles, tapping his cards on the podium.

“Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to tonight’s show.” Across the black-floored stage, a young Alex Trebek stands behind his own podium with a handful of blue note cards. To his left, a towering pile of old CRT televisions are arranged in a vibrant, blue grid each given dollar values beginning at $200 and increasing by increments of $200 all the way to $1,000 . At the top of the grid are subject matters, listed in order from left to right:

On The Map

Second Civil War

I Don’t Want to Die

World Geography



Smiling fondly, Alex motions to Odessa. He opens his mouth and screams the scream of unearthly nightmares, “you’re our returning champion, so please start us off.”

“Oh no. It’s the studio number.”

Nervous laughter bubbles up once Odessa recognizes their surroundings for what they are. This again. There's a look to Richard that commiserates their situation. Delia is a special little horror show that makes her blood turn to ice water. She'd been warned that this could – would – be dangerous, but she had hoped it wouldn't manifest like this.

"I'm… glad to be back, Alex," Odessa responds, a little hapless as she looks over the subjects on the board. "I'll start with Organizations for $200." All of these categories hit close to home, except perhaps for World Geography. She's certain the relevance will make itself clear before long.

Odessa receives a look of trepidation and Delia shudders violently. Sure, the cyclops comment may have been a bit rude but it’s how she’s presented herself in dreams before. There was really no need for snacking on guests because of it. Trying to quell her shivers, she grips her little button as though clinging to dear life. Which she may well be doing, especially if Odessa has a mind to kill her right now. Which seems to be the case.

Richard receives a bit of a glare. If this is anyone’s fault, it’s his.

When their host (not Alex) calls out her first category, Delia freezes and hovers her thumb over the red button, ready to push first. Oh god, please let it be the Yankees or something easy.

“Oh. It’s this again.” Richard rakes a bloodied hand back through his hair, smearing scarlet across the side of his face and not seeming to notice; staring at ‘Alex Trebek’ for a moment before his words have him looking over to Delia. He shrugs a little with a ‘I said it was dangerous’ sort of look before focusing back on the ‘game’ at hand.

Because it’s not really a game if it’s life or death.

“Organizations for $200, and the clue is…” Alex motions to the screen which flickers and displays a typed out question:

This New York philanthropic group has security camera footage of the day Odessa was born.

Alex raises his brows, tapping the card in his hand.

As the question flickers onto the screen, Richard stares at it for a long moment. Well. There’s only one feasible answer, as far as he knows, isn’t there?

His hand sweeps over to hit the buzzer. “…what is the Deveaux Society?”


Not from Delia’s buzzer, which is good because she has absolutely no idea. Going a little paler (because she is still freezing from being regurgitated chum), she purses her blue lips together and grimaces at the board. There’s only one category that she might have answers to and only because she really doesn’t want to die.

As Jasmine so eloquently put it in a dream, “It’s not fair”

But life isn’t.

Odessa hits the button a second after Richard, but there’s no frustration or disappointment in being beat out on this. Her gaze drifts to Delia, trepidatious as she listens to Richard’s answer. Whatever he’s paying her, it isn’t enough.

“The Deveaux Society is… correct!” Alex offers a briefly knowing look to Delia as Richard gets the first points on the board, and she feels just a touch warmer than she was before. “Richard, you have control of the board.” And Alex awaits Richard’s next selection.

“I don’t think any of us have control of anything here, Alex, but to play along— I’ll take Organizations for $400,” Richard replies with a shake of his head, focusing on the board instead of the not-quite-right game show host. Or the blood-drenched oneiromancer.

“Organizations for $400,” Alex says, “and here's the clue:”

In 2012 this organization surpassed Al Qaeda as the single largest perpetrator of terrorist-related deaths, worldwide.

There's a moment of hesitation before Odessa presses the button under her thumb. She's almost surprised to realize that it does signal her as the fastest draw this time. Taking a steadying breath, then clearing her throat, she raises her voice to speak, "What is the Mazdak Group?"

“That is incorrect,” Alex says with a frown, and Odessa’s score drops to -400. At the same time Delia feels a wicked lash across her back as her skin splits open as though she were just cut with a scalpel. Alex seems not to notice. “Richard or Delia?”

She is so careful not to push her buzzer. Taking the punishment like a champ, Delia just trembles at her podium and presses her lips together, squeezing the little black cylinder as tightly as she can. She is definitely upping her fee.

It's just a dream, it's only a dream. She can't hurt me.

Risking a glance at Richard, her eyes are wild, like a rabbit that's just been caught by a fox. She has no clue as to what the answer could be, she spent most of the war asleep.

At the frown, at that incorrect, Richard can feel his stomach drop. A glance back meets Delia’s gaze, and then he reaches out carefully to tap the buzzer.

bzzz. “What is Humanis First?”

“Correct! According to the German statistics firm Statista, Humanis First eclipsed Al Qaeda as a global killer in 2012.” Smiling fondly, Alex motions to Richard with a card as his score increase to $600 and the pain in Delia’s back numbs some. “You still have control of the board.”

Richard breathes out a relieved sigh at the correct answer. Another glance to Delia, and then he clears his throat. “…I’ll take I Don’t Want To Die for $200, Alex.”

“I don't want to die, for $200,” Alex motions to the screen. “And here's the clue. Please note the clue, and all others in this category, are quotes. You must name who said the quote as their final words.”

“I protected this entire planet. I did what I had to do to save the world. My only regret is what I did to my daughter, and I pray she forgives me.”

There’s a high pitched whine coming from the redhead as she winces and pushes on her buzzer. “I-is.. Who is Bob Bishop?” It’s a pre-emptive wince as she clenches her jaw tightly together and waits for that inevitable pain.

“Correct, Company Founder Robert Bishop. Those were his last words before being executed by a hanging as a result of the Albany Trials.” Alex says as the cut on Delia’s back seals almost entirely shut. The corners of Trebek’s mouth creep up into a smile. The score display on Delia’s podium changes to $200 as Alex says, “Delia you now have control of the board.”

“Fuck Bob,” Richard mutters under his breath.

This category is too damned hard, Delia takes a shaky breath inward and reads through the titles again. "I'll take On the Map for two hundred please, Alex." Her voice is a little stronger than when she answered the question, but regret settles in the moment the words are out of her mouth.

“And here's the clue,” Alex says, turning to the wall of televisions.

This iconic New York City building was the site of a battle that tore open time and space.

It’s a guess, when it comes down to it, but… what other building has shown up in at least a quarter of the precognitive paintings in Richard’s collection? Well, maybe not a quarter. “…what is the Deveaux Building?” His gaze flickers to Delia, hoping there’s no wince of pain to follow.

“That is correct.” Trebek plainly states as Richard’s score changes to $800. “In 1984 the Company tore open a hole in time and space atop the Deveaux Building.” Alex motions to Richard. “Richard, you have control of the board again.”

A relieved sigh. “Well, I think I know what building Adam and Arthur were talking about now,” Richard mutters, looking up at the board. “I’ll take Odessa for $200, Alex.”

“And here’s the clue,” Alex says with a look to the screens.

This former Company agent is Odessa Price’s biological father.

There’s no time wasted in Odessa’s thumb mashing down the button this time. “Who is Colin Price?” There’s a grim determination to her features. She’s read that file a million times.

God help her if she’s wrong.

Richard’s eyes widen slightly as he looks over to Odessa, then back to Alex. What if that’s not the answer?

Well at least she’s sure. Delia risks giving Odessa a small smile, because who isn’t sure about who their father is? No one she knows, that’s for sure.

Trebek raises his brows and looks down at the card. “That is correct, Colin Price.” Tapping the cards once on his podium, Trebek then motions to Odessa as the dollar figure on her display changes to $0. “You're not yet on the board, but you do have control.”

While she had her conviction, Odessa’s shoulders still sag when she’s told her answer is correct. If she didn’t know otherwise, could she dream it? How much of any of this is — Lips purse and eyes drift back to the board.

“Second Civil War for $200.”

“And here's your clue,” Alex says with a motion to the screen.

He was a father of two whose wife had recently passed away from cancer.

The dread creates a lump in her throat that Odessa has to swallow down. She looks over to Delia, feeling helpless and fearful. If they get this wrong, she’ll be hurt again. If they don’t answer at all, does that have the same outcome? Odessa is willing to bet it does.

Or worse.

She hits her buzzer. “Who is—” Oh, please, be right. “Who is Noah Bennet?”

Noah? Richard slants over a bemused look to Odessa, then back to Trebek. “Didn’t know that’s how Claire’s mother died,” he murmurs, tensing as he waits for the answer.

“That is incorrect,” Trebek says with a frown, and Delia lets out an involuntary yelp of pain as a deep scalpel cut slashes across her arm. Odessa’s score drops back down to -$200. Trebek looks up to Delia and Richard, as if one of them isn’t profusely bleeding from her pale arm. “Delia or Richard?” The timers begin counting down on their podiums.

A catch of Richard’s breath as there’s that yelp, and he glances over to Delia— then to Odessa— and then back to Alex, chewing on his lower lip a bit. No ideas from him. This one has him stumped.

God damnit in her anger and pain, Delia presses the button and then just freezes when the attention is on her. Oh god..oh god..what do I.. “Who is Pete Varlane?” Her answer is just as shaky as Odessa’s and it seems that this is the way it’s going to go for her. To the meat grinder.

“I’m sorry that’s incorrect,” Alex says as another slash rips across Delia’s waist as her score drops to $0, sending a lancing web of pain up her side. He waits for the timer on Richard's podium to count down, and then three soft chimes indicate that time’s up. “The correct response was who is Lawrence Penn.”


“Odessa,” Trebek redirects to her, “you still have control of the board.”


Though she does cry out in pain at the gash at her waist, Delia glares at Alex with an expression that very much says fuck you Trebek. God she hated this show when she was little, it was so boring compared to General Hospital or even Spongebob. All those self important, show off intellectuals, bitches. Still, what she wouldn't give for an Odessa expert on the panel right now.

And even though the blood is seeping through her sundress, Odessa is given a slight nod. Keep going. It's not what they're here for, but at least it's unraveling this knotted chain.

“Who the hell— ?” Richard cuts off his question, a concerned look given over to Delia. “Just a dream,” he tells her lowly, not that she needs a reminder. She’s the expert here, after all. And they both know dreams can kill.

Lawrence Penn is a name he files for later research.

Odessa gasps and covers her mouth in horror at each new wound that marks Delia. Her eyes are wide as she shakes her head so slightly as if to indicate this isn’t her doing. It isn’t what she wants.

She has no control here.

Except of this board. Her hand slips away from her mouth finally and she voices her selection: “Organizations for $600.”

“And the clue is,” Trebek says with a motion to the screen as though all of this were perfectly normal.

This international paramilitary organization bases its operation out of the region of Cappadocia in Turkey.

Then, expectantly, Trebek turns back to Odessa.

“…are these questions even still from our timeline,” Richard hisses over to Odessa, starting to look seriously worried for Delia now. Back to Trebek, he hesitates, then reaches out and taps the buzzer.

“What is… Mazdak?” Maybe it’s based in Turkey… somewhere.

“I'm sorry that's incorrect,” Alex says as Richard’s score drops to $200 and a slash splits across Delia’s back, running warm and red, seeping into the fabric of her sundress. “Delia or Odessa?” Trebek inquires, one brow raised as their timers count down.

There are tears streaking her dirty cheeks, but Delia remains silent as the latest bout of punishment is doled out. She places both of her hands on her podium and lowers her head, shaking it slightly.

Blue eyes glance between the clue on the board, to Trebek, and to Richard and Delia in turn. Odessa is at a total loss. Her eyes shut tightly as she waits for the timer to count down, wishing as hard as she can for a different outcome than previous incorrect or non-answers.

Three quick beeps signal the end of that question. “What is the Vanguard,” Trebek indicates with careful tone. “Odessa, you still have control.”

Jesus,” Odessa mutters under her breath. “Let’s go with Odessa for $400.” That has got to be an easier category, right?

Trebek motions to the screen. “And here's your clue…”

This “Kill Squad” Agent of the Company was responsible for Colin Price’s death.

The temporal manipulator’s jaw sets tight as she hits the button under her thumb. Bzz! “Who is Samson Gray?” A shudder runs through her frame, symptomatic of revulsion and anger.

“That is correct, Samson Gray.” Trebek says with a wave of one hand, and mercifully Delia begins to feel marginally better as some of her scalpel wounds begin to knit shut. At the same time, Odessa’s score changes to $200. “Odessa you're back on the board and still in control.”

She heaves a sigh. “Odessa for $600. Please.” Maybe being polite will help? Yeah, probably not.

“Odessa for $600,” Trebek motions to the screen and t begins to flash the words Daily Double. “That clue is today’s Daily Double. Odessa, you may wager any amount up to $200 before hearing the clue for this answer.” Trebek’s brows raise. “How much would you like to wager?”

Odessa buries her face in her hands and laughs. “Of course.” She takes a moment to compose herself. This is all beautifully absurd. “Okay, sure. Let’s wager the full $200.” Her blonde head lifts so she can look over to Richard. And resist the urge to ask why are we like this?

“And here's the clue,” Trebek says with a motion to the screen.

In 1984 this Company agent with the ability of clairsentience became Odessa’s legal guardian.

Closing her eyes, Delia begins breathing the rhythm to a song, not quite humming but something to give herself courage. I am stronger than yesterday… Britney Spears was always very inspirational to her as a teenager. …now it's nothing but my way…

“Christ. A clairsentient…?” Richard’s brow wrinkles as he stares at the clue, and then looks to Odessa— who he’s pretty sure doesn’t know. Most of her childhood was erased by the Magi. “I’m sorry, Delia,” he says quietly, tightly, “This is getting bad. The Company erased most of these memories…”

Odessa stares off into the middle distance as she tries to think of who that could have been. She’s not trying to come up with a memory of a family, but some recollection of who might have had clairsentience. While she has a guess, if she’s wrong, Delia will be hurt twice. Once for the incorrect answer and again when their time runs out with no better response.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Odessa repeats, closing her eyes as a tear runs down her cheek. She lets the clock run.

Three loud beeps, and Trebek frowns. “I'm sorry,” he mirrors Odessa’s statement and Delia is struck by a deep cut across her right thigh that sends a shooting pain up the entire side of her body. “The correct response was, Who is Cindy Morrison.” Odessa’s score plummets down to $0. “That’ll cost you everything you've earned so far.”

Instead of redirecting to the next question, Trebek turns to an empty point in space. “We’ll be back after these commercial messages.”

//Mairzy Doats Ze Do…

Delia collapses down to the ground on all fours. There's corpses everywhere, black-suited men with crisp white shirts stained with blood. One lays in a doorway to stairs, horrifically burned down to the bone. He's still crackling. Some of the men are twisted like they were made of putty filled with bones that now show themselves in broken disarray.

The floor has a brown shag carpeting that is blotched with blood. Furniture is broken and in disarray. The doorway behind them no longer leads to Raytech, it goes outside of a suburban home in a flat, dry, evening landscape.

The walls in the house are wood paneling.

“C’mon…” Richard’s down on one knee in a second, reaching out an arm to support Delia — to help her up, if she feels up to it, although he couldn’t blame her for wanting to stay down for a bit. The blood doesn’t bother him, he’s covered in enough of it already, after all. His head dipped down a bit, saying quietly, “Don’t look around too much just yet, give yourself a minute… this place wasn’t pretty the first time around, and it won’t be pretty this time either. Des, you alright?”

He turns his head to look for the woman in question, concern writ plain on his face.

Delia screams as she's slashed and then….

"GOD DAMNIT!!" She's angry now, angry at Trebek, angry at Odessa, angry at Richard. Pulling herself up with Richard's help, she throws away his arm and wrenches herself bodily away from him. Then she turns her rage on the sizzling corpse until it's just pieces on the ground. "YOU ARE SO MESSED UP ODESSA!! MESSED THE FUCK UP!!"

The furniture is broken, so she grabs a chair leg and wields it like a baseball bat. Ready for anything. Then she begins hitting the wood panelling as hard as she can, trying to destroy the house like she did her father’s watermelons so many years ago.

"This is what happens when you try to do favors," she continues to yell, a temper tantrum. Of course, she completely leaves out the mercenary situation she's put herself in. "I hate all of you!! I HATE YOU!!!"

"This place again," Odessa murmurs as she looks around. The horror came from the first time she'd seen aftermath of what she apparently was capable of. Now, there's a certain kind of defeat in it. When Delia begins lashing out, Odessa shrinks back, trying to make herself small and unthreatening, staring at the dreamwalker with wide eyes.

Explaining that nothing like that happened the first time they tried to dig into her mind seems ill-timed at this point. "I'll see if I can find some bandages," Odessa murmurs quietly and crawls a few feet toward the kitchen before she actually feels safe enough to push up to her feet and walk the rest of the way. She'd rather not make herself a convenient target for bludgeoning.

Calm against the macabre tableau presented to her, Odessa begins to walk toward the kitchen when she hears a crackling pop of static come from the headset of one of the Company agents laid sprawled out on the stairs, impaled by the shattered railing. It’s too hard to hear from this distance, but it sounds like a voice. At the same time, Richard hears something he didn’t the last time they were here, the sounds of a car pulling up out front.

Time isn’t frozen.

Anger’s expected, but Richard’s taken aback by the shouting tantrum as he’s pushed away— brow knit as he watches Delia attack the wall, then glances back to Odessa as she slips towards the kitchen.

“Careful,” he calls after her, and then? The car pulls out front, and he turns his head slowly in that direction. That’s new.

After a moment, he heads for the front door to step outside and meet whoever’s showing up to join them in this little tableau of horrors. “Play along,” he calls back over his shoulder. Play along with what, he’s not sure yet. He’ll figure it out!

After the initial bout of temper, Delia lets loose a final growl of frustration and throws the chair leg back on the furniture pile. "Sorry, it just.." hurts, a lot. Shaking her head she presses her lips together, "When you said dangerous I thought you meant I might get lost again, not that I would die." Disembodied can be dealt with for a little while. Dead is… dead.


When the adrenaline wears away, the pain registers and the dreamwalker looks own at all the scalpel slashes and blood that covers her. She looks like a murder victim, like she belongs with the suited bodies. So, she simply nods to Richard and takes a seat in the corner of the room, hugging her knees and tucking her head in to hide her face. It's never been like this.

Last time, she and Kaylee could hear voices coming from the radio, but each heard different things. Odessa freezes a moment, eyes fixed on the seemingly innocuous device. The sound of a car door brings her back to attention and Richard’s words make her eyes go wide.

“Play along?! Agents are about to—” Panic and frustration mingle together, creating indecision. With a growled resignation, Odessa continues on to the kitchen while Delia finds her corner. Once she gets her hands on a knife, she’ll feel slightly less vulnerable.

All the knives are presently occupied inside the house residents, specifically the man who has been made out to look like a renaissance autopsy diagram by the overturned Formica table. Footsteps are rapidly approaching the house, two pair from Richard’s assessment.

Up through the doorway emerges a young Arthur Petrelli, eyes wide and mouth agape. “Jesus Christ,” he breathlessly offers, head shaking slowly from side to side. He looks right at Richard, and then keeps looking as if he didn't see him at all.

A hesitant figure emerges behind Arthur, creeping into the house with wide eyes and splayed fingers. Rene, through decades younger than Richard had ever seen the Haitian, perhaps just barely in his twenties. Neither seem to be aware of the dreamers, as they appear to be merely observers to this grim tableau.

Richard was already coming up with a cover story to try and bluff the arriving agents with, but the sight of Arthur - of all people - makes him hesitate, stopped in his tracks as adrenaline rushes suddenly into his bloodstream. Even after all this time, the sight of the man kicks him into fight-or-flight mode.

The realisation that this isn’t an interactive dream has the breath leaving him in a rush, and he sinks back against the wall near the door, a hand coming up to rub between his eyes. “Christ,” he mutters, “Gave me a - fucking heart attack.”

Delia’s head pop up from behind her arms and legs and she breathes a long sigh of relief. Though, with the way things have been going for her in this place, she’s still half expecting the two men to see her. Because it would be her luck.

Both of the men are vaguely familiar, images in photo albums decades old made fuzzy by memory. Albums that don’t exist anymore, try as she might to save them. One of these men was in a picture with a Christmas tree, he was older, and silent. She snaps her fingers, a eureka moment, and immediately regrets it, giving Richard a wide eyes look of alarm before breathing out a long sigh.

“That guy used to work with my dad” she ventures, in a very quiet whisper, pointing to the Haitian. “Who is that other one?”

There’s a long moment in which Odessa must decide if she’s the type of person who’ll pull a knife from a body to arm herself, or if she’ll think of something else. The sound of Arthur’s voice prolongs indecision, which neatly transitions into the choice not to disturb the scene in front of her when she doesn’t hear Richard — or gunshots — in the aftermath.

Emerging from the kitchen again, the blonde moves toward the broken corpse of the agent with the chattering radio. When no one looks up at her, she catches on quickly. The sight of Rene puts her ill at ease as ever. That’s to say nothing of the sort of dread that builds when she actually sees Petrelli. He’s so young.

He’s also not who she was expecting. “Wait. Where’s Thompson?”

As Rene starts to move toward the basement, and there’s a television static glitch that flashes over Arthur’s body and replaces him with Agent Thompson in the precise moment that Odessa has wondered to herself where he wasn't

“Jesus Christ,” Thompson murmurs as he looks around the house, stepping over the body of a fallen agent. He looks up to the ceiling, then down to the floor and over to Rene with furrowed brows. “Yeah. Check downstairs,” he says with a flick of motion to the charred body laying in the basement doorway, “I’ll check the ground floor.”

Thompson flickers briefly and moves ahead, stepping over another body and moving toward the kitchen as Rene disappears down the basement stairs. In the ear of the dead agent impaled on the broken railing beside Odessa, there's a crackle of loud static emitting from his ear piece.

“That’s Arthur Petrelli, the monster himse— wait, what was… did you see that?” Richard glances to the others, his brow furrowed as he looks back after Thompson. “Someone follow Rene downstairs, I’ll stick with Thompson… or Petrelli… whoever he is.”

The patriarch of the Company might have been there in disguise that night, after all. God knows he probably had some manner of shapeshifting or illusion ability with all of his others…

He steps after the man heading towards the kitchen, avoiding looking at the basement stairs. The last time he went down there still haunts him sometimes at night, and he’d rather delay going down there again. One giant Odessa head is enough for one lifetime.

Delia is stunned as she sees the man transform from one to another. It’s nothing she’s ever seen before, not in real life and it wasn’t a gradual shift like in a dream. “He just..” she points to the man and looks at Richard, “when Odessa…” asked, it happened. “How..”

Pushing herself up, Delia just nods to Richard and plods along after Rene. On her way by, she risks a glance at Odessa and whispers her apology, “Sorry for…” screaming, beating up the house, kicking the sizzling corpse all over… she leaves it to the other woman to fill in the blank. “I’m better now.”

“You don’t need this anymore,” the blonde murmurs as she liberates the radio from the dead agent, listening to the static for a moment to see if there’s anything worth hearing. When Petrelli is swapped for Thompson, Odessa is left gaping for a moment in disbelief. The earpiece drops from her hand and dangles from the box it’s connected to. “Did I just make that happen? Because I remember it differently?” She looks to Delia, hoping the dream expert might understand better what’s happening here than she does. That’s a notion she’s disabused of quickly.

The apology is accepted with a quick nod. “Don’t worry about me. You’re fine.” If anyone is entitled to an outburst in this scenario, it’s definitely Delia. With a worried glance to Richard as Odessa starts winding the cord to the earpiece around her finger, she heads down the stairwell after Delia.

Thompson makes his way into the kitchen, stopping to briefly cover his mouth with one hand. The agent exhales a breathless gasp, then takes a knee down beside the woman laying on the floor, broken and dead. He then glances to the man, riddled with knives and pinned to the bottom cabinet, slouched down against the floor.

“What the fuck?” Thompson asks with a wide-eyed stare. Behind Thompson on the wall is a calendar, ignored by him but legible to Richard. Counting the days crossed off and checking the year, it puts a sign-post on all of this:

June 5, 1989.

Not far away, the stairs make no noise under Delia and Odessa’s feet, but they creak when the Haitian walks down them. There's a molten gun fused with the middle steps, dropping like something out of a Salvador Dali painting. As they reach the bottom of the stairs, they can see Rene moving through a demolished basement, tentatively headed for an open door at the far end of the dimly lit space.

«What you fear most is real.» Whisper an indistinct voice through the earpiece Odessa has just put back in place.

Delia is the first to see that there's blood on the floor, shelves that are thrown over, metal frames knocked into each other making a slanted "A" shape. Their contents are spilled onto the floor; crushed boxes of macaroni, cans of beef raviolis and spare snacks in roll-topped bags with hair-clips holding them shut. A dollhouse, plastic and cheap, is broken here too. Someone stepped on the dream car, crushed it, and the wheels came off. Blood fills part of the dollhouse, and three severed fingers lay in front of it with their stumps cauterized.

Rene stands in silhouette in the door at the other end of the basement, flickering aurora-borealis lights flashing around his motionless body.

“You said it, asshole,” Richard replies, not that Thompson can hear him, pausing to look at the calendar; flipping a page to peek past this month before letting it fall. “June eighty-nine…”

Slowly he steps over to look past the agent, lips thinning in a line. “Christ. No wonder you were desperate…” He forces himself to look at the faces, committing them to memory. Every detail might be valuable, every bit of what happened here…

Every detail might be a clue to how to stop it from happening again.

Bright blue eyes dart around the scene as she descends silently after Rene. Delia halts on the step and reaches a hand out and behind her, to spare stop Odessa from seeing any more.


"Don't come down, you don't need to see this."

From Delia's estimation, Odessa has been through quite enough already. Especially if these are memories and not simply dreams. This isn't what the dreamwalker had signed up for, she was supposed to be a bridge not the Mystery Machine.

She frowns at the motionless man and drops her arm. Then she runs ahead to the Haitian and circles him, like a shark. The lights, these are different. "Where—" She looks around frantically, readying herself for some sort of horrible surprise.

“I lived this,” Odessa says numbly. Even if she can’t remember it. Not really. Delia’s given a head start before the dreamer begins to follow. “I’m… maybe five years old? And I’ve just killed them all.” The lights that shine from that back room are dazzling. Almost enough to combat that detachment.

It’s the voice in her ear that gets her attention. “Delia! Come here. See if you can hear something!”

What you fear most is real.

What that even means, Odessa is miles away from sure. There are so many things she fears, and she’s reluctant to name what it might be that she fears most. Even if she knows in her heart. Even if it won’t make a difference whether she gives a voice to it or not.

Amid the chaos of the striving, aurora lights Delia sees not just Rene. He is there, assuredly, but so are two children standing in front of him with hands linked. Each child has one iris that glows a bright gold. The aurora light surges from around them, scintillating in waves off of their bodies, reflecting onto the wall and floor. Rene stands transfixed, his own eyes also gold.

“This world is sick,” Rene whispers in a hoarse voice barely his own, “and we are the cure.” There's an electrical snap and the aurora ends, the two children pushes away from one-another like opposite magnets until they topple onto their backsides. Rene blinks, looking confused and holds his head softly in one hand. A moment later he looks to the children.

He says nothing.

He w—

Mares eat oats and does eat oats

“And we’re back.” Alex Trebek says with a smile toward an empty point in space, standing beside Richard’s podium back on the Jeopardy set. “Before we continue, why don't we learn a little more about our contestants?”

Gently tapping a hand on Richard’s podium, Trebek seems to be signaling him out first. “Richard, you have such an interesting background. You graduated from MIT at the age of sixteen with a bachelor’s degree in game theory. But you chose to work as a mechanic, back home at your family garage. Tell us a little about why you did that?”

“I think you just confused me with three of my parents simultaneously, but sure,” Richard answers sarcastically once he recovers from that momentary disorientation, a hand rubbing at his eyes to help him focus again, “I’m going to answer what any of them would.”

His hand drops down to the podium, and he fixes the game show host with a steady look. “Family.”

Oh NO…

Delia had just gotten used to the horror movie duo in front of Rene when she finds herself at the podium again. It was too much to hope that the commercial break would last until Odessa woke up. If she wakes up.

Richard gets a look of warning for the tone he answers Trebek in. It doesn't seem like manners are proving helpful to the situation but outright sarcasm or hostility could be harmful. His reply causes her to let out a small huff of frustration. Simply because if they don't do well, she might never see hers again.

The sudden return to studio 6A is more than slightly disorienting, but Odessa isn’t wholly surprised to find them back here. By the time Trebek’s finished introducing Richard, she’s got her wits about her enough to put a hand up over her mouth before she starts laughing at the sarcastic response.

She flashes an apologetic look to Delia. She can’t help it, she laughs in nervous situations.

“Well, an interesting answer from an interesting man.” Trebek nods to Richard. “Moving on,” he says with an even stride over to the giggling Odessa’s podium, opens his mouth and exhales a reverberating screech like microphone feedback, “— you're a nurse practitioner at the Odessa Regional Medical Center. What made you decide to go into nursing?”

“Huh.” Richard’s brow knits a little at the description of Odessa’s job, and then he’s looking back to Delia, hands spreading a little as he shrugs. What can he say, this is who he is.

Delia shrugs at Richard as well, as far as she knew Odessa wasn't what Trebek described. A lifetime ago, the dreamwalker had taken over the clinic at Gunn Hill for the dreamer. "I thought you were a doctor.." she murmurs in question to the other woman. Maybe she lost her license or maybe Trebek got Odessa confused with three of her own parents.

That mechanical sound takes the giggles right out of her. Until recently, Odessa had, to the best of her knowledge, no parents. Now, she’s thinking she might be in Richard’s boat. “It’s what I was good at,” she replies in a soft voice. It’s not even untrue, but may have been untrue for whoever she’s being mistaken for. Was this Rianna’s life? “I like helping people.”

Now anyway.

Trebek side-eyes Odessa, giving her a flat and disbelieving look as he just walks away from her podium and comes up to Delia’s, tapping cards in his palm. “Delia Ryans, you're an interloper from the outside, here to hurt Odessa. Why are you like this?” Trebek asks, one brow raised. “What motivates you to hurt the people who trust you?” He smiles, politely, as if he were asking her about her hobbies.

“, that was uncalled for,” Richard comments sharply, and it’s not exactly under his breath, fixing a glare on the horror-from-beyond-worlds-in-the-shape-of-a-game-show-host.

Caught off guard, the dreamwalker takes a moment to gather her thoughts. Taking a deep breath, she straightens her posture and delivers a tight smile to Alex. "Well Alex," she starts off, her tone almost saccharine. "I suppose we can go back to my childhood on that one. I came from a broken home, our dishwasher didn't work."

She pauses, letting her expression turn to neutral.

"Also, our fridge was running and no one left to catch it."

Fight me, Odessa wants to say, but this is already something of a battle and she’d hate to see what happened if Trebek actually got combative. But his assessment of Delia has her eyes grow slightly wider, a small gasp muffled behind her hand. Her mind thinks Delia’s here to hurt her, and that’s why she’s being attacked.

“Actually, Delia’s my friend,” she says out loud, as though that might help.

Even as she wonders if there’s a reason Trebek, manifestation of her eternally frustrated subconscious that he is, has pegged Delia as a traitor. Is she tracking her? Telling someone how to find her? Is this all an elaborate trap?

Odessa frowns and pushes down the encroaching paranoia. No, she decides, Delia wouldn’t do that to her. Or to anyone. Hopefully. She reaches out toward the dreamwalker to give her hand a squeeze. They’ll get through this together.

“What a fascinating story,” Trebek says as if he wasn't listening to a word Delia said. Instead, he drums his index cards on her podium and begins his wall back to the stage in absolutely silence, save for the squeaking of his shoes on the midnight blue linoleum floor. Jeopardy is unusually haunting without the upbeat music, just a mustachioed man demanding questions from people to opaque answers. Everything about it is so backwards.

As Trebek reaches his podium, he turns and smiles at a point in space where there is no camera filming, just a tall midnight blue curtain of rich velvet. “And let us continue,” Trebek says to an audience of Odessa’s subconscious mind, before turning to address the players. “Odessa,” he raises his brows, “you're still in control.” He says with a motion to the board.

Odessa’s eyes follow the host’s movement with some measure of incredulity at the continued absurdity of all this. Most absurd of all is that she keeps treating it seriously. And has to wonder if that’s contributing to the mess this all is. How much of her conscious action is influencing the subconscious? Or is it vice versa?

Fuck it. “I’ll go with Second Civil War for $400.”

“And here's your clue,” Alex says as he motions to the screen.

She was a graduate of UC Berkeley with a doctorate in microbiology.

The timers begin to count down.

“Uh,” Richard glances to the others, eyebrows raised. No clue here, clearly.

Strangely, this sounds familiar to Odessa. But…

But all she conjures up is memories of Veronica Sawyer in her Berkeley sweatshirt. Recollections of relaxed conversations with her old partner aren’t going to give her the solution to this puzzle. Anyone else she can think of either definitely did not study microbiology or isn’t a she.

Maybe in another life, she’d have an impressive degree like that. Helplessly, Odessa shakes her head.

Trebek scams the row, tense with anticipation.

Eh… Phuket…

Delia slams down on her button, confident that her answer is wrong but it carries the same consequence as no answer at all. She grits her teeth and narrows her eyes, "Who is… " And she opens her and lets out a mimic of that metallic screech that Trebek uses in place of Odessa's name.

“Correct.” Trebek says with a motion of his cards toward Delia. “USMC Second Lieutenant Aimee Bowen.” Delia’s score begins to count back up and her feeling of well-being begins to return. “Delia you're back on the board. Where would you like to go next?”

Holy crap… it worked.

Delia's face betrays her surprise as she gapes at Trebek for a moment before shaking her head and stammering. "Uhm.. I… uhh… World Geography for two hundred please?" It's the only one they haven't touched yet. The dreamwalker just hopes that the New York public school education will be good enough. So far, it hasn't really been helpful.

Uh oh. Richard knows what’s coming, and he grimaces, expecting the clock to run out and something horrible to happen to Delia. Nothing does. Instead, she pulls a trick…

…that works, to his astonishment. “Damn,” he breathes out, straightening as he relaxes and flashes her an impressed grin, “Good one there, Ryans.”

When Delia’s play actually works, Des gapes in shock. “H- Wh- Well, shit.” Will that work more than once? That would be super handy. And Odessa has no qualms about letting Delia run the board. Anything to allow the dreamwalker to heal from the apparent hazards of her troubled mind.

“World geography for $200.” Trebek says with a motion to the board with his cards. “And here's the clue.”

Asia forms the entire northern border of this ocean.

Hesitation, and then Richard reaches out to press down on the buzzer. “…what is the Indian Ocean?” This completely ignores Africa… unless, of course, this is a question about the Flooded Earth.

Which may not have Africa at all, anymore.

“That is correct, the Indian Ocean.” Trebek says with a motion toward Richard as his score jumps to $400. “Richard, you're in the lead and have control of the board.” Slowly, cuts on Delia’s body begin to knit themselves together, pain ebbs. Perhaps this was the rally they needed.

“Fuck,” Richard slants a look to his ‘opponents’, observing in ‘this isn’t fair’ tones of voice, “We’re dealing with questions here that aren’t even necessarily about our home string…”

Hazel eyes sweep to the board, hesitate, and he asks, “World Geography for $400.”

“Well, that makes a certain kind of sense,” Odessa mutters under her breath. The point of this exercise was to see if they could connect with her other selves. It stands to reason there would be questions other versions of herself would be able to answer.

This just got a lot harder.

"Oth—" Delia stops and just freezes a smile on her face.

"Awesome," she gushes, "I've always wanted to learn about new and interesting places." She's stuck in polite mode and refusing to get overconfident with her second correct answer of the game.

Somehow there's an air of normalcy in all of this madness. Somehow this just feels like being on a gameshow until anyone even close sliders the blood stains soaked into Delia’s clothes. But they hadn't come here to play a game.

And yet here they were, buying into the dream logic, playing Jeopardy.

“World geography for $400,” Trebek says with a motion to the screen. “And here's your clue.”

This capital on the island of Java is sometimes spelled with a D at the beginning.

Des presses the buzzer with her thumb, slightly nervous about the fact that she’s so certain she knows the answer to the question. “What is Jakarta?” Her tone is anything but assured, but unless this is some ridiculous alternate reality question… Well, she’s just hoping it isn’t.

“We’re not getting anything useful out of this,” Richard mutters, turning his head to look around the ‘studio’ for anything besides themselves, Trebek, and a game board. They can’t just be in a void here, can they?

"Your mom isn't anything useful," Delia glowers as Richard complains about their current fate. Shooting a glance toward {screech}, the dreamwalker gives the other woman the same frightened encouraging smile and thumbs-up that Ben used to give whenever Delia was standing in the church choir.

“That is correct. The Isle of Jakarta,” Trebek says firmly, looking to Odessa as her point total reaches $400. “Odessa, you're now tied with Richard for the lead and remain in control.”

As Odessa scores another victory thanks to a lifetime of book-reading and isolation, Richard’s assessment of the studio comes up largely empty-handed. The bounds of the jeopardy stage are presumably much as they are in real life, except there's no audience in the stands and no cameras anywhere to be found. Worse, there's no exits. The walls are shrouded in midnight blue velvet curtains, even now obscuring the door they’d come through on first arrival here.

Looking up, Richard sees the stage lights. Unsettlingly, they form a familiar S-like pattern that he hopes is purely coincidental. Intellectually, he knows better.

Richard’s lips purse together briefly as he considers the stage lights for a moment. “What is Kolowisi,” he mutters to himself, as if the lights themselves were a Jeopardy! question that had been suggested.

Then he turns back to the others, Delia given a look at her comment. “Do we really want to keep doing this?”

She’s blood soaked, she is in pain. "What is no?" Delia replies to Richard under her breath, praying that Trebek can't hear their exchange. She's not hopeful on that front and braces herself for punishment for speaking out of turn. Gripping the pew tightly, the dreamwalker watches Ray out of the corner of her eye. I am stronger than I think is the mantra that begins filling her mind. She will return to her family and she will not accept defeat from a game show host that used to sport a rat tail.

Des, it seems, is committed to the illusion. Perhaps that’s fitting, considering it’s her dream. It can be difficult to separate dream from reality, as absurd as this is, it feels important to her somehow.

“I Don’t Want to Die for $1,000.” She has the good grace to look apologetic as she glances back to the others.

As soon as those words escape Odessa’s mouth the lights in the studio flicker briefly. All of the screens flicker in time, but Trebek doesn't seem to notice. “I don't want to die, for $1,000.” He pivots, motioning to the screen as it changes to text. “And here’s your clue. Please note the clue, and all others in this category, are quotes. You must name who said the quote as their final words.”

The screens flicker again.

“No. No! Not like this. Please. Please! Please, no. Eve, stop. Eve!

Trebek looks at Odessa expectantly.

When Richard doesn’t immediately buzz in - not that she expects he knows what Doc Carpenter’s last words were - Odessa jumps in instead. “Who is…” She has two very distinct thoughts about how to answer, neither of which is she confident in the correctness. Darting a momentarily panicked glance to Delia, she takes a leap of faith.

And mimics the sound of static.

Odessa, not a dreamwalker, seems equally able to control her own mindscape as Delia was able to influence it. Trebek smiles, and motions to Odessa with his card.

“That is correct. Those were the last words of Odessa Price before she was killed by Eve Mas.”

The lights in the room flicker again.

“Odessa, you're now in the lead with $1,400 and still in control.” Trebek’s voice sounds like it's underwater for her.

What did he just say?

Richard just looks over at Odessa, his eyebrows raising a little. “…fucking told you that Eve is bad for you,” he mutters under his breath, and then he clears his throat.

“Hey Trebek, can I give you an answer to come up with a question for? Just mix things up a little,” he suggests with forced cheer.

Well that’s fair… Eve is a little bit of a firecracker and Delia has witnessed a bit of her more chaotic side. “I wonder where that’s from though…” she murmurs, her eyebrows coming together in thought. A mental note is made to ask the seer about how many people she’s killed or if she plans to do anymore.

Des gets another encouraging smile and two thumbs up, you got this girl!

Bewildered, Odessa first looks to Richard then Delia with wide eyes. “Eve— But she—” Obviously has not killed her, for starters. And if the whole by the way, I ran with Humanis First during the war thing didn’t drive the seer to murder, Des isn’t sure there’s much else that could inspire her.

Well, self-defense, presumably. But then it isn’t murder, is it?

“What?” The blonde looks around the studio as the lights flicker, suddenly scared. “What?

Trebek stares at Odessa expectantly, as if he can’t even hear Richard’s voice. He raises his brows, leaning forward just a little bit as if to emphasize that he’s waiting for her. “Odessa, you’re in control,” he reiterates.

Des shakes her head back and forth several times, as though it would unjumble all the confusion in her head. “Ah, I… Odessa for $800?”

“Des.” Richard leans over the podium a bit, his voice low and insistent, “I think he’s reminding you that this is your dream… you’re in control here.” She seems dazed, and he looks worried about that.

“I don’t know what to do,” Odessa whispers back, mouth pressing into a thin line. Her eyes shut next. “We wanted to find Destiny, but I don’t know how.”

Delia turns her head to regard Odessa for a moment. "You close your eyes…" she murmurs low, her tone as gentle as a mother - "… and you just do" - bear. Reaching over, she takes Odessa's hand and squeezes it lightly.

"You can do this. This is your place."

“Are you going to let this frizzy-haired asshole control your brain-scape,” Richard tosses over, “Or are you going to exert control? It’s a dream— use dream logic!”

The aforementioned frizzy-haired asshole motions to the board. “Odessa, for $800.” Trebek says as though the others weren’t talking about him. “And the clue is…”

This notorious serial killer knows the truth.

Trebek slowly turns to look back at Odessa, then the other contestants, brows raised.

Whatever concentration Odessa had hoped to achieve is broken by the clue. Her eyes open wide and she presses the buzzer, likely much to the others’ chagrin. A look of confusion settles on her face even as she gives her answer.

“Who is Samson Gray?”

“We can’t keep playing this game, Des,” Richard says with a shake of his head as she hits the buzzer, as she gets another answer, insisting over to her, “Come on. You know why we’re here— we need to force our way through. You can do this!”

“That is correct, Samson Gray.” Trebek says with a flash of a smile to Odessa, not even seeming to register that Richard is talking across the podiums to her, as if anything that exists outside of the reality of a Jeopardy show simply isn't happening. “Odessa, you're in the lead and still in control.”

“Odessa, you are in control,” Delia punches in, right after Trebek. “He keeps telling you, you’re in control. Damnit, take it.”

“Look up,” Richard urges, pointing up at the lights, “The Symbol. The Zuni knew it as Kolowisi, the guardian of water, and that’s where we want to reach - somewhere with a lot of water…”

“You aren’t gonna like this,” Des tells the other two, tipping her head back so she can open her eyes and look to the light.

The light seems to grow brighter, but also more focused. There’s a… humming? A sort of sound that one feels rather than hears. There’s a sort of almost sentience to it, like thoughts or feelings can be conveyed through this sound. Maybe it’s another sort of manifestation from Trebek, as it seems to speak of power and control, causing a shudder to run through Odessa’s frame as she closes her eyes and opens her mind to it. Delia has a mantra. Maybe this isn’t so different.

The sound becomes more tangible, a dull roar that starts to build a crescendo.

“Take a deep breath.”

Water comes pouring into the room as though waves suddenly crashed against the backs of those velvet curtains, pulling them off their rings and exposing the expanse of nothing beyond the studio boundaries.

“We’re going to retrace Mateo’s steps.” Blue eyes snap open and Odessa looks straight ahead as a portal opens and tears the television monitors into its howling maw. The water churns around it and the podiums threaten to pull away from their bases. Odessa holds out her hand and the portal takes on a green hue to its horrible energy. “I have control,” she tells them, gesturing to the now eerily calm eye of the storm. Water continues to pour in from all sides, quickly rising around them, almost knee-deep already. “But you have to trust me.”

Somewhere in the chaos, Trebek simply disappeared. Perhaps swallowed into the portal, perhaps Trebek was never there at all. What remains is the spinning disc, el umbral in as much as dreams can replicate its screaming vortex.

The studio lights overhead flicker again. Except now they are stars.

A constellation.

“Sure thing,” Delia says, happy that the Jeopardy nightmare is finally being traded for something new. She turns to Odessa and gives her a genuine smile, “you haven’t steered me wrong yet.”

She steps to the other woman’s side and reaches for her free hand, the one that isn’t making the screaming portal, and grips it tightly. “We’re here and you got this, Lady.” While her faith in Odessa is strong, she does have some fear; meeting another one of those giant megalodessas and being chewed up and spit out… again. She doesn’t need to voice it, rather, she shoots a look toward Richard and extends her hand.

“Ready Dicky?”

“Don’t call me Dicky,” Richard shouts over the sudden roar of water — and vacuum — that fills the studio, reaching out to clasp his hand with Delia’s outstretched one to complete the chain, black markings twisting over his fingers and the back of his hand as if a second — darker — hand lay just beneath the skin in this dream-world. The water sloshes around him as he steps over to abandon his podium, looking to Odessa and flashing her a reassuring smile. “If I didn’t trust you, lover, I wouldn’t be there.”

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and staff they comfort me,” he murmurs as the portal yawns wide with emerald sparks, prayer possibly only audible to the dreamwalker.

There's a quiet huff of laughter at the exchange between Delia and Richard, and a faint blush to her cheeks when he offers his confidence. What's important here is that Odessa believes that this is going to work. This is how she imagines the portal operates. So this is how it's going to work, regardless of what happens in any reality not hers.

As they approach, the portal doesn't seem to pull them through. The awful noise is more from the power of it – of hers clashing with what she remembers Mateo's sounds like – than it is from the destructive capability of it. If not for the water flooding around them, it could be still. "I don't know where this will take us," the blonde admits with a little concern. "I don't know where to—"

She stops short, then shakes her head. "No. I know exactly where we need to go." Odessa grips Delia's hand and stares into the heart of the green-tinted portal she's wished into existence. "Together!" she shouts as she steps forward, picturing the only place that could possibly be at Point B.

The Commonwealth Arcology

There is no portal snap, no crackle of light, no transition from point A to point B, just a sudden scene change without so much as a star wipe. Suddenly Richard, Delia, and Odessa find themselves within the matte white corridors of a subterranean structure lit by recessed ceiling-mounted lights. The white walls have no such coloration, though, for the ceiling lights blare crimson and the entire structure is bathed in shades of blood red.


A klaxon blares down the halls, sharp and intermittent in its rhythm. There are sounds of gunfire echoing from elsewhere in the facility, the staccato pop of machine-gun fire mixed with semi-automatic. Shouts and screams join those noises too, though nearly drowned out by the alert system in place.


For Odessa, this scene is hauntingly familiar, the white walls and blaring alarm of the Institute’s corridors tell a tale told time and time again in her nightmares. A thunderous explosion shakes the structure, causing the lights to flicker, and the gunfire seems to continue unabated. In the gently curving hallway they stand in, there’s no sign of this altercation, but behind one open door there’s sounds of gasping, wet breaths and soft reassurances.


All of the other numbered doors in the hallway pop open with a release of magnetic locks at the exact same time.


Through the klaxon, through that first open door, Odessa is certain she hears her own voice.


Is this then?

The noise and the gunfire cause Delia to tense enough that she squeezes both hands she holds a little too tightly. She freezes, uncertain of where or when they even are. A panicked glance is sent Odessa's way, as if to say what fresh hell have you dreamed up for us this time? But she doesn't say it out loud.

She's expecting an army of Trebeks to round the corner at any minute to shoot at her. So she lets go of both Odessa and 'Dicky's’ hands and circles behind them, using them as human shields. Of the three of them, she has the least value, so if there is an army of Trebeks they won't be killing Richard or Odessa.

“So,” she begins in the calmest and most collected manner she can muster, “where to?”

A slight stumble, and then Richard catches himself— straightening, his hand reclaimed as Delia releases it, and he turns to look towards the opening doors. “This could be your memory, Des, or…”

A full turn is completed, his brow furrowing, “…or it could be one of hers. No idea what happened to the Ark there.”

Yes, this is a scene she's played over in her head many times since the fall of the Commonwealth Institute's Arcology. Tears spill down Odessa's cheeks as, unbidden, her ears strain to hear the exchange beyond that open door.

"I'm not letting you die."

She isn't sure if the others can hear it, or if she only hears it because she knows she should.

"Ruiz, stay with me. I'm here, okay? It's me. I'm here."

"You're not her. But you look like her."

No longer in possession of her earlier confidence, she makes her way forward. Maybe it's worth reliving the memory to see his face one more time. Even like this.

Except it isn't.

The voices exist only in her mind. But, isn't that all around them? Does that make them any less real? It doesn't dull the sudden pain she sees upon rounding the corner into the doorway.

A suite-like room bathed in red light is pristine in condition. There's a familiar bed, familiar lounge chair, familiar furniture and bookshelves. It looks like Ruiz’s room at the Ark, and yet that isn't the where or when. There's still a dark trail of blood, dark against the floor and the lights, leading to a figure slumped against the wall. But it isn't Mateo.

It's James Woods.

“It’ll be ok,” Odessa hears herself say, but it isn't her. Or at least, not the her that she remembers. Her hair is a little longer, a little curly, and she's pressing bloodied hands against a sucking chest wound just to the right of Woods’ sternum. The blonde man gasps wryly, unable to form words.

It’ll be ok,” Odessa sees herself say again, trying to stanch the bleeding but knowing she can't. Woods reaches up one hand to touch her cheek, jaw trembling, blood on his lips. He smiles, wearily, and begs of her:


She doesn't.

Odessa, not the one covered in blood, gets a fleeting and uncertain glance from the dreamwalker. “You’re not running,” she says matter-of-factly, then she goes back to observing the scene in front of them, a frown on her face. This man must have meant alot to Odessa for the woman to be uncaring about saving herself. A lot.

Delia can’t help but blink back the tears. This is a love she has never had the misfortune of experiencing. Raggedy and worn out, she brings a hand up to her eye to swipe at it before clearing her throat. “This isn’t where we need to be, is it?” Please let it not be where they need to be. Delia doesn’t want to see this.


Richard’s hand reaches to try and claim Odessa’s as they come upon the scene, his expression one of worry for the woman beside him. “No, it isn’t,” he tells Delia quietly, “I think— this isn’t the Virus line, or the Flood… it can’t be Pinehearst, either, the Ark never existed there. This must be the Wasteland.”

Softer, “You okay, Des?”

“No.” No, she isn't okay. No, this isn't where they need to be. No, she isn't running. No, she doesn't want to see this.

“I—” This is almost worse than what she expected. Des trembled as she clutches Richard's hand. “Why?” Why is it so unfair? Why does he have to die?

Except he doesn't have to.

“Oh no.”

I can save you,” is the nightmare phrase Odessa hears herself say. She latches her hands on to Woods’ face and closes her eyes as notes of emerald green light begin to spark and sputter around her fingertips. Woods gasps our something like a rebuke, but it dies in his throat and is replaced by an agonized scream. His back arches, fingers curl into the air, and legs kick as the green light flares with sickening yellow tint at its edges.

Odessa’s eyes wrench shut, her jaw clenches, and her scream joins Woods’ as the world around them seems to pause in time, then begin winding backwards like a video recording. Neither Woods nor Odessa move, but everything around them does. Blood slithers back across the floor, disappears in reverse droplets, the dark black-red again on his chest fades back to the crisp white of his button-down, color and life rush back into his features.

Odessa, no,” Woods breathes out the words, only to see her entire body wreathed in emerald green light. She shimmers, glows, and then explodes like she was made of snowflakes hit by a strong wind. There is nothing but sparkling, iridescent notes of lime green energy sparkling where she was a moment ago, and Woods’ overwrought expression of shock and grief.

No,” Woods whispers, hoarsely, as he reaches out into the empty space where she was.

Richard? Something echoes within the moment of sadness, a voice on the wind. Richard! Here in the dreamscape it is alien, foreign, not of this place, and yet has all of the qualities of something both familiar and threatening all at once.


Control of the mindscape slips, the walls of the Institute shudder like the surface of water, and Odessa feels her grip on this memory-vision slide through her fingers like melting snow. The world spins, buckles, and bends around them, wrapping them up as if they had been pulled into a net trap made of the surroundings they had just seen. But when they are hoisted back into the darkness, it is not the Institute they find themselves returned to.


A blue velvet curtain surrounds a sound-stage, black tile floor underfoot. Richard’s breath blasts out of him as though he’d landed on his podium from a great height, and Delia’s hair flies wildly around her head as though she’d been spinning like a top. Odessa has to peel herself up off of the floor, seeing past the top of the differently-shaped podium across an open space to a…


…a wall of white tiles on a glittering green backdrop, with Odessa standing in front of them in a red skirt with a painted smile.


Dread sinks in, just as something else sinks in to the back of her mind.

For— fuck’s sake wake up!

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