When You're Done



Scene Title When You're Done
Synopsis Richard reflects on the discovery in Kansas.
Date November 30, 2018

None of it makes any sense.

Richard Ray has been staring at the photographs of what laid behind the wallpaper in Michelle Cardinal’s dorm room for hours now. Mathematical equations, schematic designs, practically intact blueprints scrawled in faded wax pencil on old drywall. Some portions are only partly legible, but the majority of it was there, hidden away for decades. The Company couldn’t be that sloppy, they wouldn’t have wallpapered over it and left it. Which means, Michelle or someone else did it before the Company got ahold of the dorm room.

But who? Barbara’s vision in the room didn’t answer those questions.

Over the table, a pair of sliding doors leads out into the dark balcony adjacent to Richard’s hotel room. Beyond, the lights of Kansas City are so much more vibrant than anywhere in the Safe Zone, save Yamagato Park. But there’s a lack of neon signage here. It feels like, with just a squint, the world could be the way it once was. The aurora lights hanging over Kansas City, however, dispels that illusion.

Tomorrow was bound to be a busy day. The schematics would need to be taken to Detroit on the way back to the Safe Zone and delivered to Warren. Christmas was rapidly approaching and there wasn’t so much as a semblance of a plan for how to get everything into place by then. Would there even be time to build the device? Would they need to? Could they without Michelle?

He was so close to her now, and yet… so far away.

Hyatt Regency

Kansas City, Missouri

November 30th

9:12 pm

«…authorities have stated that the perpetrators of the bombing on Medina Campaign Headquarters earlier this month are still at large.»

The television isn’t helping with his anxiety. Talking heads going over news broadcasts that feel like so much past regurgitating itself. Pro-evolved extremists bombing a government office. It feels like people are desperate to crawl back into the gutter they’d just worked so hard to pull themselves out of.

«Kansas City Police Chief Daniel Partington discussed the coordinated efforts of local law enforcement with federal agencies.»

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose," Richard mutters darkly from the couch in jeans and a t-shirt, one of the few bits of French he's ever learned — picked up from Remi, he thinks. Or maybe Lola? There's been so much that's happened that some things tend to blur together.

As the television continues to report about the bombing, he pushes himself up to his feet, padding towards the sliding door to the balcony and shoving it open - careless of the chill in the air as he walks out onto it, leaving the door behind him as he looks out over the city.

"Is this the only way, Edward? Every timeline where we win, or where they win, turns out like shit in the end… is just conflict forever, kept in check, the best thing we can hope for?" Rhetorical questions asked to a dead man, to the closest thing he has to a father, gaze lifting to the twisting colours of the aurora.

As if it could carry his question to someone who would have an answer.

What are the odds, then, that he does?



What are the odds?

Standing in a basement room, a string map splayed out behind him on a cork board, Edward Ray is unmistakable. There's a wariness in his eyes, but also a certainty that is unmistakable in its own way. “If I'm right, we’re experiencing a Coronal Overlay Event. I'm not sure what they're calling it in your timeline, but on average they last fifteen to twenty seconds so this has to be brief. This may be our one window.

Edward steps back and motions to the string map, showing news articles about the aurora, about Kansas City back in the eighties. Articles about visions people have had, about solar bombardments and cosmic energy. “Your Elisabeth was here, Pinehearst did research on your mother’s lost program called Looking Glass. I've been working in my downtime on a way to help Elisabeth get home, and I think I've figured it out.”

Edward steps close again, kneeling down to get to eye level. Swirling motes of shadow drift around his ankles in eddies and currents like dust. “It's the simplest solution,” Edward says as he takes a folded piece of paper and a pen out of his pocket. “One side of this paper is your timeline, one is Elisabeth’s.” He draws an X on each side, then punches a hole through the X with the pen. “The reason she's been aimlessly wandering, the reason they can't get home, is that she needs a constant. She needs an anchor for the other side of Mateo Ruiz’s ability. Synchronized. Simultaneous, but that level of synchrony — same place same time — might be impossible for her depending on where and when she is.”

Edward holds up the paper with a hole in it. “There's going to be a surge in the energy displaced by the aura on Christmas Day, Richard. A massive bombardment of neutrinos will energize the aura and bend the spacetime distortion we’re experiencing. If you can get Mateo to a thin spot, somewhere the boundary has been breached on your side before— maybe Kansas City— maybe— I don't know. I don't have the data. But Christmas Day, Richard. Mateo is the key, he needs an anchor, but I've run out of time.”

Jaw set and eyes glassy, Edward wastes a valuable moment struggling to find the words. “I've done all I can. I've tried to guide Magnes. Elisabeth. All of them. It's on you now. It always has been. I wish— I hope I've told you how proud I am of you. I hope I've told you that I lo

« — orities have yet to confirm if Mazdak is responsible, and the terrorist organization has yet to claim responsibility for the attack on Medina’s campaign headquarters.»

What are the odds? When you're Edward Ray, pretty good.

There’s silence on the balcony for long moments before Richard brings a hand up from the rail where it was resting, rubbing at his eyes briefly. A breath’s drawn in slowly and exhaled, misting in the cold as he straightens to look heavensward.

“You did, Edward,” he says quietly, “You did.”

Turning, he steps back into the hotel room, drawing the doors carefully closed behind him and stepping back over towards the couch again, dropping down to sit and leaning forward to sift through those photographs again. They don’t need to build the machine, then, at least not for this

“Looks like maybe we can get our cake and eat it too,” he murmurs, a smile finding its way through his thoughts as plans begin to crystallize behind his eyes, strings connecting and overlapping to better the odds of reaching the best available future.

“Thanks, dad,” he murmurs to nobody that can hear, reaching for his phone to make some calls, “I love you too.”

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