What Alice Found There


alia_icon.gif barbara_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title What Alice Found There
Synopsis Richard Ray leads a team of experts on a trip to Kansas to search for evidence of the Looking Glass and finds something mind-shattering.
Date November 30, 2018

These days, travelling halfway across the country is an arduous task for most; long drives through empty parts of a once-great nation and around the devastated husks of what were once cities, caravan-style travel through territory sometimes dangerous and often full of sorrowful memories. It’s a slow and arduous thing, and done neither lightly nor without extensive preparation if one can help it.

Which is why the sparse passengers on this particular trip are probably happy that Raytech Industries has provided a Cessna 525B light personal jet for the trip between the NYC Safe Zone and Kansas City, turning what would otherwise be a prolonged journey into a matter of hours. Comfortable seats, an open bar, and a view out the windows that goes for miles when clouds aren’t obscuring the landscape. Kansas is still the breadbasket of the country, and the sprawling fields of crops form geometric shapes that stand out in the sunlight.

It’s about as close to true luxury as one gets in the United States these days, at least without stepping into a part of the country that’s been sold to foreign interests. And how often does one get flown personally by a corporate CEO? Richard likes to keep in practice.

After the crumbling buildings and recovery efforts of the Safe Zone, Kansas City can be a bit of a shock; barely touched by the war, the city’s not changed much since the days before the country took up arms against itself. Nice lawns and homes, power lines crossing the skies, traffic a constant presence, a skyline of buildings that never fell against one another. Oh, there have been changes given its new status as temporary capital, but compared to how New York has changed… it’s almost as if the war never happened.

The longest leg of the journey was over. Not far to go from here.

University of Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas

November 30th

8:12 am Local Time

“Alright, so the goal here,” says Richard as he walks the green-lined paths of the University of Kansas, struggling as he does with a fold-out map of the college that flaps unhelpfully in front of him as he tries to get it correctly folded to be useful and lead them to the right building, “Is to find her old room, get what’s supposedly hidden there behind the wallpaper, and then locate the lab where the incident happened. We’ll see if Barbara can get anything, find out what happened, check the records and hopefully— gah, why don’t they make these easy to fold?”

Paper rumbles as he folds it incorrectly yet effectively at last, frowning down at the crumpled map and smoothing the necessary part out with his thumbs.

Alia just cringes as Richard tries to fold the map… and eventually just takes it from him, unfolds it again, then refolds it correctly. Apparently even a decade after changing jobs, she’s -still- got some of that librarian in her from way back… or remembers getting yelled at enough. Both are actually quite possible. Either way, the technopath is here, and looking at the grounds with the group. “… Hope they didn’t wall scroll the thing later.” She grumbles.

When the map is pointed at, Kaylee Sumter take a moment to look, before looking out at the campus around them and points. “So over there somewhere?” When her brother asked her along, Kaylee jumped on the chance. Put some distance between her and all that stuff going on at home; and also the ability to actually dress down.

The rustling of the map, pulls her attention back, brows dropping in a flat look at her brother’s inability to fold a map. Really? The telepath is also relieved when Alia takes charge of the map. “You are completely helpless,” Kaylee teases her brother. “No wonder you surround yourself with women.” This is the most relaxed she’s been in sometime, even though she knows that distance will not stop those damnable visions from happening.

There's a small smirk at the situation with the map, but otherwise Barbara Zimmerman remains quiet. Well, at least at first. "I should start charging for this," is a thought she's probably shared more than a few times before. "Get my COM license, meet a nice Precognitive, and start a consulting agency."

She knows neither Yamagato, the Department of Energy, nor the Society would let her slip away that easily. Not to mention that Richard knows she has no intention of charging him. What a horrible way to repay him for all he's done for that would be!

Unlike Kaylee, or the night at the Brick House, Barbara is back to dressing as sharply as ever. In a navy suit with white trim, she follows behind the others, looking around, and waiting for her time to shine.

“Look, it’s not my fault that I never learned origami,” Richard grumbles good-naturedly as the map’s taken away from him, hands spreading helplessly, “Rand-McNally are creators of fiendish puzzles, not geography.” That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.

“I hear Tamara’s doing detective work these days,” he teases back to Barbara, “You two could make an unbeatable team. You’d just need to convince all your other employers to let you freelan— there it is. I think?”

He thrusts a finger in the direction of the dormitory, leaning over to peer at the map. “I think. Let’s check. If it’s not co-ed, I’m just a particularly butch cheerleader, that’s our cover story.”

The ‘plan’ declared thusly, he’s striding for the doors.

Alia just sighs, and moves to keep up. Unlike most here, she’s the least likely to be seen in what would be considered ‘business’ or ‘business formal’ even in her own office. So the fact she’s in a white t-shirt, a red cloth vest, a set of jeans, and a baseball cap that says ‘Fatal Fury’ on it is about par for course. There’s so much to do and not enough time to do it all in. At least she might get to fly home, depending on how badly engrossed in things boss man is after all this.

“You really should,” Kaylee pipes up, looking back at her former councilwoman with a grin. “You’d make a killing at it, I have no doubt. Lord knows the people I could contract you out too if you were on the payroll. We get inquires, but of course, no one with your talents on staff.” Realizing how she sounds she turns around to walk backwards a step or two, all so she can hold up her hands and say, “Not a job pitch, just saying if you freelanced, you’d make bank.”

Turning back around, she can’t help but roll eyes upwards at the cover story Richard chooses, Kaylee is amused and looks it. “I can make them see you as a sexy blonde young thing if you wanted me too.” Her brother gets a once over, “But, butch cheerleader won’t stretch my abilities to their limit.”

Barbara chuckles, offering Kaylee a grin. "I don't think the Government would be too thrilled, but I've certainly thought about it." She taps a finger on her elbow, considering for a moment. "But, I still think I could maybe do some side contracting…"

She lets that thought drift off for a moment, before shaking her head at Richard. "Perhaps I should be trying to poach you, Kaylee," is added with further amusement. "I didn't go to college, mind you." Not in any traditional sense at least, "but do you think "butch cheerleader' won't raise an eyebrow?" she remarks teasingly. At the end of the day, she's here to help, but she's enjoying the banter on the trip so far. It reminds her of the better days in the Ferry.

“I don’t think the government wants any of us,” Richard observes with a chuckle at Barbara’s faux-threat to poach Kaylee, “There was that whole ‘someone who was sort-of me tried to pull some shit’. We can’t even build too many robots without being swarmed with inspectors.”

A wink back over his shoulder, “And your mother knows better.”

Up the stairs, and he’s pushing open the doors, “Alright. Dormitory hunt. Brings me back to the old days.” He never went to college.

Alia happens to know this, but so is not asking what kind of Dorm Hunts were done where Richard did go. Instead she just sighs, and puts the map away now that the general location is found.

Richards remarks about the government get a flat look, but instead of responding, she lets him see her turn and look back at Barbara. Her hand is held up like a phone and she mouths, Call me. Before breaking into a smile. No doubt she’s missed those from her days in the Ferry.

“And don’t worry. It’ll work,” Kaylee reassure Barbara, at least has learned to trust her ability. “But, with hope we won’t have to use it.” However, again her attention is pulled to the brother. “Gawd. You were one of those? The things I learn about you, the more I realize you make a perfect CEO,” she teases mercilessly.

At what is apparently some sort of revelation about Richard, Barbara furrows her brow - perhaps her lack of knowledge plays in her favour this time. "Do you have an idea what we're looking for at all?" There's a moment's pause, and then she chuckles. "I suppose if you did, you wouldn't have all three of us here."

It almost scares her a little to imagine what the three of them could get done together, were they so inclined.

"Do you want me to start looking?" She's not a psychometer, but she's sure there's something around here with a strong enough impression of what they're looking for to pull her in.

“Not yet, first let’s find her…” Richard glances at the room number, grasping the handle and pulling the door open. Maybe he figured it’d be locked if there was anyone inside.

What the hell!?” Screams a young man in his late teens in boxer briefs standing in front of a hot plate, cell phone in one hand and box of macaroni and cheese in the other.

It's hard to tell what Richard must have expected here. But holiday season or not, this particular dorm isn't unoccupied. “You need to knock, holy shit!” It's a fifteen by ten dorm space, bunks wedged into a corner by the door, narrow desk set with laptops — and right now a hot plate and a pot of water. There's a small bookshelf, a speaker dock for a phone. Wallpaper of cream and beige stripes that went out of fashion thirty years ago.

“Dude. Dude.” The student gapes at Barbara, at Richard behind her. “Clark isn't here. Get your stoner asses out!

“…oops.” Clearing his throat, Richard moves to step forward, flashing a bright smile even as he slides a hand into a pocket and pulls out— a wallet. “Hi there. We’re here to fuck with Clark, and you… Jesus, is that boxed macaroni and cheese?” That’s worse than ramen.

Leather folds are parted by seeking fingers to pull out a hundred dollar bill, brows raising a little as he holds it out, “Why don’t you get some pants on and go get some real dinner. Or a microwave. Or both. We’ll be out of here by the time you get back.”

A glance over to Kaylee. Halp.

Alia refrains from facepalming. IN fact, she’s wearing the best poker face anyone’s ever seen her use at the moment. Occasionally, it’s good to know that Richard Cardinal has some blind spots.

That isn’t to say she won’t both laugh and cry about this later. At least she doesn’t stare as she gets helpfully overlooked for the moment by this poor student who’s got the luck, good and bad, of being in this dorm at this time. Still, she readies a plan B for if Boss’s idea doesn’t work. Her’s is going to be a hell of a lot louder though .

“I’m a bit insulted that he thinks we’re stoners,” Kaylee comments lazily as she slips past the others, her head tilting a bit as she studies the man in his boxers. Her smile tugs up a little more, a bit crooked. “I miss college sometimes.” Even before the younger man can start screaming again, Kaylee’s ability is curling around the man’s mind. Whispering ideas of how reasonable Richard’s idea and suggestion are.

“Though I think you are being far too stingy,” Kaylee snags another hundred dollar bill from Richard’s wallet, before he can react, and tucks it in next to the other one. Blue eyes are fully on the man in his boxers, to use her ability without touching him, was tougher than when she makes a connection.

“Go on, live a little,” Kaylee suggests with a purr of words, “splurge a little on the meal. Maybe see a movie.” There is a sort of seduction to her words for the guy, a desired to go get that meal and watch that movie. Doing that always means she has to play nice with the snake in the dark corner of her mind, which might explain her behavior.

Barbara looks rather uncomfortable as they burst into someone else's room - clearly this isn't quite what she had in mind, even with ample preparation from Richard. She stays near the door, quiet and looking to Kaylee with an unvoiced thought of please fix this floating at the surface of her mind, easy to pick up.

Once the money is handed to the man, she lets out a sigh and shakes her head. "You're incorrigible," she offers to Richard with a small smirk. "I would rather this happen without anymore attention drawn to us. You should've brought an illusionist or photokinetic as well." She grins. "Complete your little personal Ocean's Eight you're building here."

The kid in the room maybe acknowledges Barbara’s presence, but instead snatches the money and double-checks it. He looks up to the group standing in the doorway of his dorm, left and right across Richard and Alia, then over to Kaylee, then briefly to Barbara. “Whatever, dudes. He’ll be back in thirty, don’t get sex all over the place or whatever.”

Or whatever.

Shouldering past Richard, the kid grabs a pair of jeans from the floor and tugs them on, steps into slippers, and walks out the door, wadding up the bills and cramming them into a pocket. Alia is the last to see him, putting in a pair of headphones as he slips out of sight. What’s left behind is a typical dorm room of a pair of male college students cohabitating, smell included, and the slightly peeling wallpaper of a time gone by.

It’s a miracle the dorm building is here after more than thirty years. A miracle the room wasn’t renovated. Also, suspicious. Had the Company not come through and cleaned this up?

“Trust me, Babs, if I could pry Candice away from the Guardians,” Richard laughs as they’re left alone, offering a grin back to Barbara, “I’d do it in a heartbeat. Close the door, let’s… see.”

He steps over to a wall, reaching out to sweep his hand over it. “It’s— they never renovated. Probably Charles’ doing. He left enough other breadcrumbs.” He hopes it was Charles’ doing. Other possibilities are more ominous.

Or, perhaps, Thompson was just this inept.

A hand slips into his pocket, and he comes out with a box cutter. Sliding the blade into the open, he drags it down the wall sharply and digs his fingernails under the edge of wallpaper to carefully peel it downwards.

Alia looks to Kaylee, then to Richard… then just breaks out laughing. Yes, she’s suspicious too. The odds of not a single tenant wrecking this wallpaper is just so low that she’s already pulling out a camera to use to take pictures of the things on the back side to hopefully reconstruct them. If she can stop laughing her head off over the dorm’s resident who just peeled out with the cash.

“Wonder what he’d think of the ‘whatever’ of the walls having a new look… Let’s not be here to find out.” She quips quietly.

“He only thinks he’ll be back in thirty,” Kaylee comments with a satisfied smirk, closing the door behind her, leaning back on the door. Clearly, she might have slipped a suggestion in that should linger the young man a little longer; when she follows him to the door. Young men that age, were always predictable and she’s manipulated enough of them in her youth.

It takes a moment, but then Kaylee wrinkles her nose. “Good lord, what is that stench?” She glances to the floor next to her and takes a step sideways. Away from a rather questionable pile of clothes. “Let’s not dilly dally.” Moving to see what Richard is doing, the telepath falls silent watching.

Pursuing her lips. Barbara moves deeper into the dormroom, circling through the small living area as best as she can. "You're assuming he'll notice. Or remember," Barbara remarks in a low voice, a glance given back to the door. "Still, I would rather not be here to find out."

She looks back to Richard and quirks an eyebrow. "Do you do this often?" is an honest, if teasing question. "You take to this a little too easily, Richard."

The wallpaper peels from the wall with surprising ease, like the skin of a clementine pulling away from the fruit within. It’s as though it’s eager, after all this time, to divulge its secrets. Posters stuck up to the wall with sticky-tack come falling down like leaves off of a tree as the wallpaper is pulled away, revealing faint — but still legible — writing in black wax pencil beneath.

It’s equations, tightly packed rows of equations. It’s a staggering amount of math, and not all of it is in one set of handwriting. It looks as though two, or perhaps more, people worked on writing things down in this room. The concrete-block walls on the other side of the wallpaper were never meant to be decorated like this and with the glue having broken down over decades, the writing stays adhered to the gray-painted concrete.

There’s at least sixteen panels of narrow wallpaper in the room, most of which is hidden behind beds, desks, dressers, and other furniture pushed to the walls. But it’s here, three decades after, and the original work of Michelle LeRoux is here

Waiting to be found.

“A long time before I was an executive or even a resistance fighter,” Richard explains as he peels that wallpaper aside, “I was a cat burglar after all…”

As one of the posters drifts down, he catches it carefully with the palm of his hand — gingerly laying it out on the floor. “Get everything,” he says quietly, “We can’t miss a single line or a number.”

Furniture starts to get moved in the process, legs screeching on the floor.

Alia wastes no time in taking high resolution pictures of the equations. She'll dump them too text later. And start working out the actual math and meaning. For now, it's peel and preserve time.

Barbara can see Kaylee nodding to confirm what Richard says. She remembers.

Once paper starts coming off the wall, revealing what is under it, Kaylee’s brows lift. “Oh wow,” she says softly. “So crazy that it is still here and intact.”

After a moment or two, the telepath moves to another part of the room and starts moving furniture to get to the equations underneath.
Barbara wants to offer some disbelieving interjection. There's no way! or Are you sure this is hers? or even This is too easy…. But the truth is, she knows that this potential treasure trove of knowledge, scrambled and ciphered through numbers and equations, was probably still intact for a very, very good reason.

That's always something that worries her, particularly when it traces back to the former Company and their people.

A scoff escapes her lips as she moves to help Kaylee. "All this foresight and look where it got them."

And Michelle LeRoux apparently.

Beneath decades of wallpaper is a trove of scientific data. Some of it crossed out and rewritten, some of it looping back around with a tangle of hastily drawn arrows and brackets. It is not just an equation, it is Michelle’s vision taking shape. Mixed in with the science are schematics, crude diagrams not drawn to scale, depicting a machine no bigger than a television if the measurements along it are to be read correctly. Multiple tubes of copper piping, liquid nitrogen tanks, electromagnets, and a triangular frame of a miniaturized particle accelerator.

Up until that last part, it seemed like something a college student could’ve been putting together. But the miniaturization of technology like that wasn’t even conceptualized as possible until 2016, and then not even within the United States. But here, Michelle LeRoux had put together a proof of concept and made it triangular for reasons that are several masters classes in particle physics above the people in the room.

More enticingly are the pieces of writing that aren’t formulas or equations, scrawled between the margins of math and machines.

If we can look into the past, will we like the history we see? Will we learn from our mistakes by peering into a window in time? Or will we turn a blind eye to the things that contradict our beliefs?

Then, on another wall:

The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.

Beneath the drawing of the machine:

Oh, what fun it'll be, when they see me through the glass in here, and can't get at me.

Not far below that, in different handwriting:

Time Window Timescreen Temportal Looking Glass History Viewer

Then, under one of the strips of wallpaper behind where the bunk beds were pushed, there is a message written.

I don’t know if anyone will ever see this. Rich convinced me now that we’re on to prototyping stage to put everything down on floppy disk. I’m covering this all up before the RA finds out I’ve been using the walls as a sounding board. I can’t believe we’re actually this far.
If you’re reading this, a month, a year, ten years down the line then you’re experiencing what I intended to build: a window into the past. If I was successful, then congratulations you just discovered the research notes of a world-famous Nobel Prize winning physicist. If I didn’t, then this is just another wild idea in the realm of physics research.
I’d almost given up on this project a dozen times. Each time, someone would listen to me ramble about how general relativity allows for the possibility of viewing prior quantum superpositions. They’d smile, and nod, and tell me to follow my dreams.
To Rich: You’re the one who started this all. Without you, I wouldn’t be here. Without you, I wouldn’t have attracted the funding to make this possible. Without you, I’d be short a best friend. Without you, the world would be less of a great place.
To Dave: How can I express my feelings for one person on a wall that might be read by who knows what without getting extra personal? You know what you mean to me, and that I’d do anything for you, and I know you’d do the same for me. You’re my rock.
To Eddie: I’ve never seen someone crack math like you. Never seen someone willing to stay up until 3 in the morning listening to me complain about my roadblocks and not try and push his own ideas. I’ve never seen someone get wasted off of two beers and almost fall into a bonfire. Love you, Eddie.
To Ronald: Your story about your father inspired me. I never knew mine, and we shared that missing part of ourselves. I wish you’d stayed at MIT. I hope one day, if my project doesn’t work, yours does. One of us deserves to see our father again.
I guess that’s it. I didn’t have an ending for this. But I do have a message to the people in the future who are reading this, whether it’s tomorrow or the day after: Don’t give up hope.
— Michelle LeRoux
May 12th, 1982.

“I think Charles was interfering with this whole… investigation,” admits Richard with a slight shake of his head as he drags the bunk-beds aside, “He purposefully let Edward get away with me, kept the Company off his trail - and mine - for years. Protecting us from the shadows…”

Then the wallpaper’s stripped aside, and he finds himself reading that message. He smiles faintly, a hand half-raising as if to touch the words. “She never knew what she really made,” he admits quietly, “She thought she was building something else, but she made something… even more impossible. Even more amazing.”

“Schwenkman, Cardinal, Ray… Ron— oh. Mallett.” The last words are read, and he smiles a little more. “Don’t give up hope. I won’t, mom. I promise.”

Alia just frowns, but keeps right on working. She’ll detangle the stuff as best she can later… though she’s aware that teasing this mess apart is going to be insane. “… Hope. Never let it go.” Alia offers softly.

Stepping back, Kaylee slowly turns looking at the walls around them. “This is way over my head, but it’s amazing,” her words murmured quietly, in the small dorm. Her gaze then drops to watch her brother quietly, completely understanding where he’s at. When she had learned about her real father… even the little things made her feel connected to him.

“So have you thought about once we get all of this, what are we going to do? Just leave it for someone else to find?” As much as she’d hate to see something to happen to all that hard work, written by his mom.

Barbara stares at it all in disbelief. "Amazing," is repeated with just the slightest bit of scepticism, but Barbara is too dumbfounded to elaborate much on her thoughts. Instead, she pulls out a camera, and begins snapping pictures - better than just relying on writing things down, at least in her mind.

"Quite the collection of minds," she adds to Richard. "It's amazing they didn't accomplish more." And it sounds like they have the Company to think for that.

“If Thompson didn’t panic,” says Richard quietly as he steps aside for Alia to record the notes, “History might’ve been… very different. If Michelle hadn’t died, if Edward hadn’t gone on the run for years hiding from the Company… they should’ve been the ones to establish an Institute, and it would’ve been one that changed the world for the better.”

A shake of his head, then, and he frowns at the walls. “We’ll need to do something… think we could find a can of spraypaint somewhere? I don’t want to have to burn the place down.”

Alia shrugs, and instead hands Richard a few different choices in permanent marker. A change here, there, wouldn't matter. And would likely be even more frustrating then not finding the equations at all. Can you say waste the opposition's time and resources? Not that Alia offers any of that in words even mentally, more images. “Feels wrong, yet right?” She does offer out loud.

Looking over the wall, Kaylee moves to brush a finger over a section already documented. After a moment, she wonders out loud, looking over her shoulder to her brother. “What about acetone and a few mops and rollers?” Shoulders lift in a shrug. It would smear it all really good. “It’s a thought. It is your call though, cause it’s your mom.”

Looking at the rest of the room and the huge mess they have made, “Remind me to alter this guy’s memory before we leave?” Kaylee says it so casually, it would be alarming if it was anyone else she was with. It’s followed with a glance to Alia, who she knows will do her part, too.

"Richard," Barbara hisses chastisingly. "You didn't think about that before we got here?" She closes her eyes, taking a deep breath. "Acetone and spraypaint aren't something we should be covering the walls in without proper ventilation. Both aren't going to be readily available on campus either. Well… spray paint might." Her eyes drift voer to Alia and Kaylee.

"You two probably fit in here better than I do," she remarks with a smile that implies maybe they should go looking for some. "Someone might have some we can, er… borrow."

“Acetone? I’m sure they’ve got a chemistry lab,” Richard points out, “They do science here, after all…” He offers a sheepish smile to Barbara, spreading his hands to either side, “Sorry. The one thing I didn’t think about… alright. Before we start destroying what we can’t physically take off the walls, though, do you want to do your thing?”

Brows raise a bit, and he gestures to the note that was left suggestively.

He does take the markers, though. It’s not a bad idea just in case.

“Why Destroy? False trail more useful.” Alia offers her opinion. “Waste time, send down wrong track. Just change a handful of numbers.” And yes, Alia is already wiping the digital security footage, or rather, replacing the footage of them in the hallways with innocent footage from other days to make a nice seamless file that never shows them here. “… Make him forget we here, but have him discover this, announce it even. After our alterations.”

Having taken countless classes on such things, Kaylee’s eyes close slowly at her brother’s wording. “Did you just call it her thing?” She can’t even with this right now. “Know what. Nevermind,” she sighs out the words heavily, waving it away. She is not going to think about it, they are not at Raytech and Barbara was a friend.

Kaylee motions the other woman to do her ‘thing’ for Richard, however, she also asks, “And you are still okay with me listening in so I can share what you find?” For the telepath, it was an important question to ask.

While Kaylee reacts with disbelief to Richard, Barbara does the same to Alia. "Just change a few numbers? That's not a false trail, that's handing over this information to whoever wants it. And then to put it so plainly out there through a discovery? I hope you aren't truly naive enough to think no one could figure this out from something like that. I'm not the only postcog, or you the only technopath," she chastises, watching Alia for a moment. "No, this is too dangerous. It has to be destroyed."

With that assertion, though, she turns her attention to the wall. She purses her lips, and closes her eyes, taking a deep breath as she tries to feel out… something from the room. "Yes," is an answent remark, but clearly aimed at Kaylee.

Once she has that verbal permission, Kaylee steps closer and reaches out to touch Barbara’s temple as the other woman’s eyes close. Contact was so much easier and she didn’t know how deep they were going to dig. This allowed her to be sucked into the memory that Barbara pulls out of the walls of the small room.



It’s quiet in the dorm, all of the lights are out save for the lava lamp bubbling up on the small square table at the foot of the bed. Out the dorm room windows, the red and blue lights of emergency vehicles are a distant distraction, the swirling green spiral of a fading aurora in the sky subtly brighter but much more recognizable. The walls in this room, with just its single bed and desk, are covered with writing. Black and red ink, mostly, scribbled across whatever exposed surface can be reached. There’s a step stool by the window to help in that.

The door to the dorm room cracks open, light from the hall flooding in. A single shadow cuts across the floor, stepping into the room and closing the door behind themselves so that the light narrows to a thin sliver, then is darkness. Save for the lava lamp, save for the aurora.

Soft footsteps carry a silhouette through the room, occluding the lava lamp for a moment. They turn, focusing on the glowing fluid, and the lamp begins to phosphoresce brighter, shedding more light into the room and revealing more of the tapestry of equations on the wall. Also, in fiery shades, revealing the dark-haired woman standing in the middle of the room.

She looks up at the walls again, drawn toward a diagram of a triangle. Carefully, she reaches up and brushes her fingers across the glyph representing the Looking Glass. Worry knits her brows, dark eyes scanning the room, and she reconsiders what’s sitting here in front of her. “Kei-mu-sho,” she whispers in slow measure of each syllable.

Moving her hand away from the triangle, she turns to the window and looks up at the aurora. The spiral of green is reflected in her eyes, and as she looks back to the door, there’s tension in her posture. “I know you’re there,” she says in accented English. The doorknob turns, and another, larger figure enters the room. This time the door isn’t closed, and Charles Deveaux takes a few steps inside, brows furrowed and eyes narrowed as he looks at the writing on the wall.


“Why’re you here, Joy?” Charles asks with a look back to her. Joy shakes her head, brows furrowed.

“After we… found the others,” Joy says hesitantly, looking back to the triangle shape on the wall. “I was reminded of the past.” She looks over to Charles, who seems wary as he steps around her and looks out the window, then back again. “This has happened before.”

That doesn’t set well with him. Charles looks back to Joy, lips downturned into a frown. “When?” He doesn’t sound like he’s had a good night, or enough sleep, or any combination of the such. “When have people from— from God knows where just appeared out of thin air?”

Joy looks away from Charles, then to the shape of the triangle on the wall. When she looks back, her brows are furrowed and dark eyes intense. He won’t like her answer.



Barbara lets out a soft gasp, pulling her hand away from the wall.

Richard’s been watching her carefully— worried, perhaps, that she might find something able to hurt her even through the past— and as she draws away, he steps instinctively over to touch her shoulder and steady her.

“Easy,” he murmurs, “What’d you see?”

When Barbara lets out a gasp, so does Kaylee. Fingers pull away from the woman’s temple, brows furrowed, the telepath is thoughtful for a long moment. It is only when her brother speaks up that her attention is focused and pulled to him.

While the memory is still fresh, Kaylee looks at her Brother and without another word, reaches over to touch his temple. Richard will get to see it all. This is after all what he brought her for.

A hand moving over her chest as everything around her refocuses, Barbara takes a long and deep breath. "1671," she whispers, eyes moving to look at the numbers on the walls. "How?" is breathed up as a follow up. A hand rubs at her lips, before she looks over at Richard. "This has all happened before." Though it's much easier for her to process her visions than it used to be for her, that doesn't make it any less… overwhelming in the moments following them.

But as she closes her eyes and nods, she finds herself recentered. "And unless we do something about this, it'll all happen again." It hasn’t yet occurred to her that it happened in 1671 without something like Looking Glass to help.

"I know that year," Richard murmurs as the memory fades, as it's replaced with reality, his eyes rolling up to the ceiling and a frown pursing his lips. "Why do I know that year? And what was she saying…"

He turns his head to look back across the room, and then with slow but purposeful steps he moves over strips of wallpaper towards a section of wall, regarding the triangular symbol that represents the Looking Glass. "What was it that she was saying? Keimushi… no. Keimusho…?" One hand slips into a pocket, and he pulls out his phone, thumb tapping across it a few times.

He stares at what he reads there, paling a bit, and then looks back up to the glyph. "How— ? How could she have… was she a precognitive?"

Alia tilts her head as the year is rattled off. She'll refer to the laptop in her bag later, one loaded with all kinds of lovely historical things. Right now, focus is first on making sure the walls are completely archived digitally. Then deface, then destroy. Though, the implications of it happening without tech help leaves her unnerved as she considers possibilities.

There's more than a few, and she isn't liking most of them.

Moving to look at the symbol the woman in the vision was looking at, brows furrow a bit in thought; but also at the painful twist in her stomach at a thought. “She might know cause of-” there is a pause and a soft huff at the nausea. “Adam.” Kaylee looks aside to her brother, “They were working together in that memory we saw. He might have told her something about that time. I mean, he existed then.” She would know.

Attention going back to the triangle, she touches it just as the woman did. “Without this, how did it happen then?” Kaylee finds her curiosity piqued. “There has to be records of it somewhere, since we can’t exactly go ask them.”

Barbara purses her lips tight. Kaylee has voiced her rising question, and presented a new one. One she has an answer to - Yamagato. They should go to Yamagato if they want more information on back then, she figures.

She doesn't voice her answer, though. She still has a promise to keep, after all.

"Just what was Looking Glass doing?" she asks, eyes sliding to look over at Richard. "Because I'm starting to think it wasn't actually what we thought it was doing."

“My mother thought she was inventing a window through time,” Richard explains quietly, still regarding the diagram that Joy had been looking at, “She was inventing something much more… impressive without realizing it. That said, I theorize that properly used, you could likely move through time as well as between strings with the Looking Glass. It’s not technology anyone who could potentially abuse it should ever have.”

He reaches out, fingers touching the triangular symbol, “After the current crisis is over, we’ll need to bury it again, aside from some secondary technologies that we’ll need in the future, but this… no. This is potentially the most dangerous thing anyone has ever invented in the history of mankind. It eclipses the nuclear bomb. It…”

His eyes close, “Joy looked at this, before the Entity incident, and said prison. How did she know what it would be used for, if it wasn’t used previously to capture the Entity? Are we in a closed temporal loop?”

“Only closed if we close it.” Alia pauses, considering what this knowledge could be used for. Both good and bad. And she shudders. “… detector, anchor, we build nothing else, and we -trash- all of this when we’re done?” She offers, even as she looks at the walls.

“… huh. Memory manipulation. Great.” Alia sounds absolutely -thrilled- about the idea, even as she understands the why of why she brings it up.

“You realize… I’m not him,” Kaylee comments blandly at the mention of burying it again. “Or any of those people that buried all of this the first time.” She sighs and looks at the diagrams frowning. Something wasn’t adding up for her.

“Why go through all the trouble to bury this whole thing, wiped everything, and yet left this. Richard… Why?!?” Kaylee gives him a look that is a mix of curiosity and confusion. “Why leave this here? What did she see?” She was brimming with unanswered questions. “I mean, how does something like this happen in 1671?”

Turning, Kaylee risks stepping on her brother’s toes by looking at Barbara. “I’m not asking this in any official capacity, but I don’t know how your ability works. I’m asking as a friend… Would you be able to look further?” Looking at the wall again she shakes her head. “I mean… with the way Richard had been led by the nose by my dad for so long, clearly, they had to know we would be finding it.” It sounds crazy, but the Ray siblings whole lives have been designed to be crazy.

"I don't know," is Barbara's most honest answer to that question. "I've learned some finer control in my ability over the years, but… I've never really tried it in the same place, or with the same object twice before." She sighs. "And I'm not a psychometer, so it's hard for me to find these… imprints intentionally. I can induce a vision, but I have no real control over what I may see beyond…"

She looks up to the writing on the wall, and her head tilts to the side. "Beyond something relating to whatever I am focusing on." A hand reaches up and hovers over some of the writing for a moment. If this works, Barbara knows she's going to have a headache the size of a three day hangover afterwards. But still, she closes her eyes, focuses, and drops a single down on the triangular symbol Richard was inspecting…

…and her irises turn gold.

Another Place

Another Time

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The sky is awash with colors. Clouds are pushed to the horizon in every direction, a perfect ring of dusky, starlit purple near the clouds, fading to an inky black directly overhead. A shimmering curtain of aurora lights dances in the darkness, vibrant greens and blues with flickering edges of pink. The wind here is ferocious, whipping across bare rocks and blowing what little scrub grass juts up between them flat in a cyclonic pattern.


A black-haired woman stands on the outcropping of a rocky cliff overlooking the ocean, hands clutching her head. The fabric of her red kimono flows in the wind, the branch patterns of deep crimson silk contrasting against the vibrant scarlet of the rest of the cotton attire. Red makeup is streaked over each of her vibrantly gold eyes, each saucer-wide in shock. She screams, a dual-tone voice, one pitched deeper than the other. Her movements are staggered, struggling against unseen fetters, as she raises one hand with nails tapering to claws, a silk dragon embroidered down her billowing sleeve.


A tall, bearded man in black and white stands just a few feet from the woman, hands held up in the air and corsucating waves of heat mirage emanating from his palms. Sweat rolls down his brow, both eyes are bloodshot to the point of looking simply red with a dot of black for iris and pupil. There are three wounded people scattered about the rocky cliff, two in lacquered wooden armor clutching bleeding wounds at their abdomen. One in a fur-trimmed robe of brown and gray, braided fabric wound like a band around his head, with two strips of cloth flanking the sides of his face.


The man shouting is the only figure in armor still standing, his black and red armor notched and dinged from a hundred battles. Helmet cast aside on the ground, Takezo Kensei stands out from the others with his blonde hair, blue eyes, and foreign features. His sword, pointed at the dark haired woman, is gripped tightly in both hands. “Yaeko,” Kensei shouts over the howl of the wind, “fight it. I know you’re in there. Fight it.” He addresses her in English.

Yaeko, the woman with gold eyes, draped in blood red fabric, clutches her clawed hand closed and Kensei lurches forward, rising up on his feet as though grabbed by the throat. “Yaeko please. Don’t do this— You are my heart.

She squeezes harder.

Yare!” One of the wounded soldiers on the ground screams to the man in black and white, and after one pained look, his hesitation fades into resignation.

Gomen'nasai,” the man in black and white says as he claps his hands together, eliciting a scream of pleading from Kensei, “Ane.” When he pulls his hands apart, there is a shearing sound like metal scraping against metal, and the world behind Yaeko collapses inward like a thousand origami folds. Each triangular shape slips into the next, tessellating outward until a one-dimensional pane of absolute blackness eclipses her silhouette from behind.

Kensei!” The other wounded soldier cries. “Kimi ga shinaito!” Tears in his eyes, Kensei tightens his grip on his sword, jaw set, knuckles white. The howling wind changes direction, sucking inward toward the slowly rotating triangle of emptiness, the fabric of Yaeko’s kimono billows toward it. Dust, small rocks, debris, all tumble toward that yawning vortex.

Kensei, imasugu!

Kensei lunges forward, breaking the telekinetic grip as his sword plunges into Yaeko’s chest. Her eyes grow wide, blood sprays from her mouth, darkens the vibrant fabric of her kimono. She opens her mouth to scream and—

Present Day

Laid out on the floor of the dorm room, Barbara Zimmerman bleeds from the eyes and nose. It only took a moment for the vision to play out, and she seized the entire time. Legs kicking, fingers flexing, mouth working open and closed. Barbara’s entire body shudders from the vision, her breath coming in fits and starts, breathless gasps and horrified shudderings. Pain greets her in the present, an ice-pick behind her eyes, a migraine unending.

Gold irises cool to blue, and Barbara Zimmerman goes limp. Unconscious, but alive. If only just.

“Barbara!” Richard’s on his knees beside her in a moment, remembering what little he knows about seizures to carefully roll her onto her side so she doesn’t suffocate; his eyes wide with concern, heart racing as he catches sight of that gleam of gold in her bleeding eyes.

“Alia— Alia, we need an ambulance,” he calls over quickly, figuring the technopath can probably get a 911 call through faster than any of them could, looking back down to the woman again, voice rough with the worry that they’d pushed the postcognitive further than safe for her, “Barbara, can you hear me? Talk to me, Zimmerman, tell me you’re still in there— ”

Alia already has her phone out of her pocket before Richard asks. The fact it's already dialing is a given. Alia's words to the dispatcher are, predictably, brief: “Medical emergency, woman having a seizure, University Kansas dorms.” Before rattling off the dorm number, address, and, perhaps amusingly, the GPS coordinates. She then pockets the phone as it moves to her Bluetooth earpiece, so she can have her hands free if needed. The real magic here might be evident only to those who know Alia well: she has a sat phone, not a cell, so she looked up and dialed the number 911 redirects to in that time.

As soon as Barbara is lifting her hand, Kaylee’s fingers touch the woman’s temple. Something was wrong this time as she caught up. While Barbara goes down, Kaylee is still on her feet with eyes closed. Seeing it just like the other woman, Adam’s presence… much like in Eve’s causes the trigger in her head to react violently.

When the vision ends, Kaylee stumbles forward with strangled sound… catching herself on the wall. One arm curls around her middle, as she doubles over in pain, teeth clenched. Then blue eyes snap open, so that the telepath can cast a panic look around her. Lucky for her… well, everyone really… there is a short trash pail nearby. She only just manages to reach it and pulls it close before she throws up whatever she ate earlier in the day. It doesn’t stop until her stomach is empty. More alarming is the light smear of blood when she shakily wipes the edge of her hand across her mouth.

“Fuck—” Kaylee hisses out softly in annoyance. “I hate that fucking trigger.”

Looking up finally, intent on apologizing for her embarrassing moment… only to see Barbara on the ground looking dead. The telepath straightens in alarm, grimacing as she moves to fast for her poor body. Still she asks the others, “Is she-?” alive is almost what she asks, but she falls silent… not sure what to say or do.

“She’s alive,” Richard reports tightly, having looked up worriedly when his sister began throwing up, his lips twisting in a grimace, “Fuck, are we going to need the medics for you, too…?”

He remains where he is on the floor, supporting her on her side, hand on her shoulder and the other smoothing her hair back in an attempt to be reassuring. “She— her eyes turned gold,” he reports softly, “They turned back, but— fuck. I don’t know what happene— no, that’s a lie. She must have seen it.”

“Alia, they have an ETA?” he asks, flicking a look her way.

Alia without a motion or word mutes her headset’s mic, “ten minutes, traffic depending.” Somehow, she’s glad this isn’t some random spot out in the safe zone for this.. Instead Alia is quiet, since Richard seems to not be messing up first aid for a grand mal seizure, and thus she has little to do other than stay on the line with the operator and offer them status updates if things change.

After a moment, she finally comments, “From volume of nose bleed, long ways back?”

“It…” Kaylee starts, taking a moment to take a breath, stomach still sore. “It was of that day.. In 1671. Ad-” Just mentioning the name at that moment, has her stomach twisting a little sharper than normal. Her stomach is empty, but her body still tries to heave. After spitting out some blood tinged bile, the hand not smeared with blood covers her eyes for a moment and she works on taking few calming breaths.

“I’ll be fine, medics can’t do anything for this anyhow,” the telepath murmurs weakly, giving her brother a worn look. “Anyhow, in 1671 they had someone that could bend space.” Looking up, she points to the triangle with a shaky hand. “Looked like that. They banished the Entity into it.. I think it’s definitely like the conduits.” Kaylee wants to say more, but with her body rebelling she can only shake her head and say, “I’ll show you once we get Barbara seen to.” She needed to stop thinking about it for a bit and let her body recover as well.

“Okay.” Richard holds up one hand to pause Kaylee’s explanation, seeing how she’s suffering just to explain the situation, “You can show me later. You’ve got it, good, just… sit down and breathe and think about something else.” Like the postcognitive that they just called an ambulance for.

Softer, he looks back down, “C’mon, Barbara. Just hold on, we’ll have help for you in just a minute…”

All they can do now is wait. Wait for help to arrive, wait for the doctors to examine her, wait for the opportunity to adjust the circumstances of their presence at the school with telepathy and technopathy, wait for the inevitable questions from SESA regarding why a member of the Department of Energy was nearly comatose on a college dorm floor.

By the time Richard returned to New York, he’d have a voicemail from Donald Kenner waiting for him.

There would be questions to answer.

But only more questions raised.

This has all happened before.

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