RP Remnant of Form


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For an airport, it's rather cavernous.

Wide sweeping ceilings littered with dark windows, curved arches and twisting supports like some fusion of Escher, Giger, and a post-modernist's interpretation of an "industrial mall". Of course, some of you might have been to O'Hare already. There are travel agents and once-famous writers in your midst just as much as there are floudering artists and high school washups. There is a difference here tonight, though. A certain stillness in the air, a supposition of silence somehow clawing its way through the white-light halls despite the bustle of the late night crowds.

"Gate M21 for Flight A4. M21 for Flight A4 will be boarding in thirty minutes."

It is the sort of place where day and night only define how much light is artificial, where it could be 3 AM or 3 PM and travelers would be none the wiser. But here - here, it is nearly Midnight, as it is all around the world. All Midnight, all at once. The clock hand moves. Terminal 5 echoes. Across the crowds, all of you notice each other, and immediately know each other by face - and by word.

It's strange, to feel like you know someone so well, but not even know their names.
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Shiver. Breathe. You are alive, and not insane. You are the sanest man who ever walked the Earth.

Robert J. Darby, the nascent genius, the magician, sat in still thought, head tilted gently against an oustretched finger that ran up the side of his face, the tip coming to rest on the side of his right temple. The thumb supported his chin as he looked idly around the terminal.

Find each other.

There were no other dreams like that one. It came with a demand, an urge stronger than he'd ever experienced in his life - and he'd long learned to listen to his urges. Whenever his friends asked him how he did it, he simply replied that he let his gut take the wheel, and that was where the magic happened. He had an inner confidence that he had cultivated over decades of work - the knowledge that evolutionary instinct would guide him perfectly through life. He had his ups and downs, but those were moments of overthought. Regret emerged from the cerebral cortex, not guts. He trusted guts now.

He was a goddamn perpetual motion machine. A lightning bolt made flesh. Not nerv-y, but activated. Looking, hungry, for the next clue. He had followed his dream here in full confidence that it would lead him to something beyond imagination, something that had always lurked at the periphery of thought.

This was right, being here. The real test would be whether the people he recognized recognized him in return. He was mindful that memories of dreams sometimes adjusted themselves to match present stimuli - producing deja vu. He looked, hawk-like, for familiarity. He had enough money to finance a drink with whoever showed their face first.

Then it would be time for the next step. Find each other - and then what? Become friends? Enemies? Was it a last man standing situation?

Either way - he'd win.
"No, mom, I'll be fine. It's a short trip, just going to see a friend from school. Yeah, I know I haven't talked to any of them in a while, what's that got to do with anything? Yeah, I- no, it's not any- arg, mom, no. It'll be fine. I'll stay in touch, don't worry about it. I'll let you know if I need anything. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, bye. Love you too. Bye."

The call ended a moment later, and Elizabeth tucked her phone, a smartphone several years out of date, back into her bag. She only felt a little bad about the dishonesty, but- well, her therapist didn't really have anything enlightening about the dreams. If anything, she had been getting worried that they were starting to think she was crazy- and, granted, she was too. It'd been going on for about a month, and it was... persistent. None of it made sense, especially not the Lover thing. One of her younger coworkers said it was like something out of a movie, so she took extended time off specifically to get away from that comparison.

Now, she was here. O'Hare International Airport. She'd never left home before, much less somewhere like this. Already it was weird, rolling her luggage along behind her, and it was only made stranger by the- whatever was going on. The entire building felt uncomfortable. It only got worse when she saw him. The Magician. God knew she didn't know his name, but she knew his word for certain, and his face just as well. It was an intimate familiarity she was intensely uncomfortable with, only amplified by the... hungry look about him.

Against her better judgement, she approached. It was the only course of action. He was the only person Elizabeth had any recognition of here. God, this was a terrible idea.
Not a dream! Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story!

Vindication. Sweet vindication, that he had not come here for nothing. The escape from normality that he had longed for - the plunge from man into magician - had come to pass. Not at spotting her, one of the eleven from the dream, but on her approach. It had already been established that his brain might fill in blanks on random faces from the memory of the dream - recreating them in real life, as it were. But no. She walked up to him and showed that it was all real.

She was physically unremarkable, plainly-dressed, and looked younger than he. His gut instincts were still where they needed to be, but the neurons in his brain were firing in all directions at the implications of the situation. A woman that he had dreamed about had dreamed about him - knew him. Telepathy? Astral projection? The supernatural had become real.

He affixed her with a perplexed gaze, eyes narrowing from their dinner-plate size down to slits as he scanned her - as if to confirm, yet again, that she did in fact exist.

"Hello," he said, nodding his head in her direction as she came up to him - his hand remained where it was for a moment, cradling his chin, before he extended it in greeting, fingers perfectly perpendicular to the floor.

"I'm Robert. It's good to meet you, Ms. - ?" he said, cracking a small grin, concealing the elation that he had not just wasted a plane ticket after all.
What was he going to do now? He all of the money he had on a dream, a stupid dream.

Nick paced through the airport, looking for something, anything that would assure him that this wasn't a waste. The man dragged a beat-up suitcase filled with his things, or at least what was left of them. More than a few items had been confiscated by security, but they were not taken easily.

Then, he felt it, he felt them. It was real, very real. He saw the Magician and the Lover striking up a conversation. Deciding to talk to them, Nick strode up to them. He wanted to know what this was about, you don't dream of strange people you've never met, at least he didn't.

Right as he was about to reach them, his phone rang, it was his roommate. He probably wanted to know where he'd gone off to, there was no one else to pay the rent.

"Yeah?" Nick answered, sounding a little annoyed. He paused to listen to his ex-companion, then opened his mouth to speak again. "I'm goin' somewhere, find another place to crash, God knows you're good at it, you lazy bitch." Without waiting for a response, he hung up and then blocked his number, and damn it felt good.

"Hey," He greeted the two, not caring that he was being an interruption. "So, who're you? You're like.. the Magic Man or somethin', and you're.. the Lover. Seems a little poetic for a girl who looks like she had an unhealthy obsession with Twilight fanfics. Nah, you look like the type to be readin' a book in a coffee shop just so people can ask what you're readin'." Laughing to himself, he dared not to continue, he might strike a nerve.
This entire time, Al had been telling herself- if this flight doesn't kill me, then the next one will. Or the next one. Or the one after that. At some point, they're going to be rolling my corpse down the terminal. She had counted four planes so far. Four. At some point in her cost analysis, trying to find the cheapest way to reach her destination (a mighty hard thing, given that she didn't really know where she was going), she had decided that the tax on her psyche was negligible. Well, it certainly wasn't negligible now. Thank you, Ms Bird- hope that £35 discount was worth it, you gormless dunce.

So, four planes. Four planes, taking her every which way, before dropping her in this escherian nightmare of an airport. It was just a normal airport. With normal walls and normal walkways where time flowed normally- she was just so jet-lagged and sleep-deprived it felt like she had gotten off the plane on the set of some blandly psychedelic music video. Al kept her eyes on the ground, lest they drift too close to the walls. They'd been trying to climb them, whenever she looked for too long; up into the impossible heights of the ceiling, making the rest of the world spin. They didn't give out sick-bags until you were on the plane. Every time she landed in another terminal, she wished she brought one with her.

It was almost enough to make her regret the trip in its entirety- to give up and go home, pour herself a beer, and forget this whole thing ever happened.


The dreams had been bothering her. They had been bothering her agent as well- though her plots had never been simplistic, this recent spate of scripts had been particularly bizarre. It was a shame, really. The Counter was the last thing she had submitted before the dreams had started, and that was on the way to being a success, before the studio got involved. Her next work could've made it big, if it made any sense at all. Even she could see it. She'd write page after page in fevered delirium, not eating, not drinking, not sleeping until they were done, and every time, the feedback would be the same. They're written well, they're funny, there are some good ideas here, but- Jesus, Bird, pull yourself together. Who except you would be able to understand this? She knew what the problem was, but she couldn't stop herself. It was how she dealt with stress. Al always said she felt like a pressure cooker- she needed to vent, or she'd explode, and the only place she could vent was on paper. The dreams had been driving her mad. If she could get them out, then maybe things would be okay again.

It was childish, really. She realised that now, in the too-glossy Starbucks of an airport four fucking flights away. It was childish to chase a dream in the metaphorical sense- to do so literally was ridiculous. This was just another thing to tell her therapist, wasn't it? Another example of her sleepwalking through life, pushing forwards towards nothing like a roomba stuck in a corner. It was all she knew, now, and she was starting to realise how fucking pointless it all was.

She took a sip of her latte. Too bitter. Of course, she'd forget all about this in a week's time, regardless of the outcome. Then, she'd be back to her usual routine; write a script, send a script, burn a script.

Then, she spotted them.

People she knew- not by name, but by something else. Something... no, deeper wasn't the word. She knew them in broad strokes, in names that weren't names- words, like titles, she had heard in her dreams, for faces, like masks, she had seen. Her nails dug into the side of the paper cup, hands tensing as she recognised the recognition. Find each other. Well, she had. What now?

Al pushed herself off the chair, taking care not to spill her coffee. It looked like there were three so far: the Magician, the Lover, and the Rebel. Weird mix. Weird people. She made her way towards them, trying her best to smile.

"Ah, there you are. The only group left who will call me funny."

Or 'The Jester', to be specific. Not quite the same. She pointed to each of the group in turn.

"Magician, Lover, Teenager." She said, "My name's Al."

She didn't give her surname.
"Yeah, funny." The Rebel replied snarkily, "More like funny-looking. Besides, who're you callin' a teenager, huh? I mean, I kinda am surprised. Last time I heard a' ya, the only words in your vocabulary were 'washout' and 'one-hit wonder.'" His comments were mean-spirited, but they weren't entirely meant to be. He wasn't really thinking about his words, and they got him into trouble more often than they didn't.
The way he- the Magician, Robert- looked over her, it made Elizabeth very suddenly self conscious, and very very uncomfortable. Her hair was a bit of a mess from the flight, her dress wrinkled from hours of sitting in a plane (for the first time ever, it was exhausting as it was stressful). She fidgeted awkwardly with her hair, running a hand through it as she stopped near the man. Tense, she looked between his hand and face, before offering a tentative, and nervous, handshake.

"Elizabeth. Did you also-"

She was cut off a moment later, and the knot in her throat got instantly worse with the new voice, much rougher, meaner. Her hand released Robert's, and she half turned to look at who it was. Of course, another face, another word- the Rebel. Already he filled the role of every high school bully she'd met. All she hoped was that maybe he wasn't actually that bad, and that she wouldn't have to walk on eggshells again.

Of course, Elizabeth was instantly proven wrong, as it seemed that, instead of introducing himself, he was more keen on tearing down any bit of self esteem she'd built over the long years. What irked her most, though, was the word.

It was made worse by the next person, an older woman. The Jester. Hardly seemed like someone she would laugh at, she seemed nice enough, though her reaction wouldn't show it. Instinctively, her face screwed into something like distaste at the mention of her word. The Lover. Ugh, it felt- gross. Wrong.

The Rebel, of course, went at Al almost immediately. Elizabeth took a breath, then held a hand up towards him, motioning for silence. "Be quiet, you're proving her right. I'm Elizabeth. He's Robert." She neglected to point towards the Rebel.
Seeing the Lover's hand raise, the Rebel instinctively shut his mouth. When she finished, he spoke again, realizing what had come out of his mouth, but not really regretting it. "Uhh.. Nice to meet ya. I'm Nick, by the way. Um.. sorry for what I said, it kinda slips out sometimes.."

Then, he decided to ask the million-dollar question. "So, why're we all here, anyway? Like, I'm assuming we all had that same dream, and we all seem to be at least a little familiar with each other. Y'know, in movies, when people dream about other people and meet them in real life, they're usually savin' the world or some shit, is that what this is gonna be? That'd be kinda cool, but at the same time it'd be a little stressful."
Aurora hadn’t told anyone that she was going other than her boss, and all he knew was that she was taking some time off. He had been rather supportive of that, her taking some time for herself to recharge the batteries, which she wasn’t quite certain how she should feel about. The support was nice, sure, but that little touch of — oh how to say it — implication that she truly needed to take some time away left a bitter tang. Some minor creative clashing about how a role should be aside, had her work not still been good?

Though, as much as she wished she could, Aurora couldn’t quite rid herself of the feeling that perhaps he was right. It was hard to say she was giving herself fully to the craft when she was letting dreams creep into her thoughts during rehearsals. Hard to focus on reading scripts when her quiet hours were consumed by a feeling that she needed to move. The problem was in the where, she needed to move, to go but what direction? Royal? Royal wasn’t a direction on the compass. Her boss had asked if she was going anywhere, so Aurora had said north. He joked that it wasn't a location, she had said that she was planning on passing through a lot of different places which he had accepted.

And, well it hadn’t been a lie, had it? Here she was in O’Hare which was to the north, dragging along a suitcase that had been wanting for travel for a long while. Was it happy to travel now? It was here now, as she was, and maybe that little rattle in the wheels was showing its own discomfort in her not knowing what came next. She had rented a car which was something even if it wasn’t a plan. Her feet carried her forward, the flow of the crowd carried her forward, the signs for the rental companies carried her forward, everything pushing her towards—

Oh. It’s here.

Why here? Well, why not be here? She did wish that Here was not here, if only because she wished to be a little more rested for whatever it was that here meant. But, she was here now, so Aurora took a moment to smooth out the rumples in her dress’ skirt, and to tuck an errant lock of hair back behind her ear. Looking as presentable as one possibly could given the circumstances presented by modern air travel, Aurora stepped forward.

Good day, it seems I’ve found the right place.” She said with a smile. The magician, the lover, the rebel, and the jester, it wasn’t all of them but it was far more than she was expecting to see on this journey. “So, what’s the plan then, do we analyze one another’s dreams or are we hoping for divine revelation?” Her sea-green eyes flicked around the gathered faces as she slid into an easy-feeling empty space amongst those she hoped could understand this feeling stuck in her head.
"Hey- with lines like that, you'll be taking my title soon. I'm sure of it."

The Rebel's comments made her smile, but not laugh. Unfortunately for her, they were things she had heard before; published and unpublished. Her past failure was something she had been forced to take in her stride for a very long time, since her single success was all people really knew about her. Well, that and her orientation, but that wasn't as much of a problem, in this day and age, in the places where she found herself, as it had been in her youth.

She nodded at the Lover--Elizabeth--as she introduced herself and Robert. It felt strange, attaching names to not-names, but she was glad they were going that route- having to call everyone by these pithy titles would've grown very tiresome very quickly.

Nick was the last to introduce himself, accompanying the statement with an apology.

"Well, it's nice to meet you guys- now that we're awake, and all."

That would be good dialogue for a scene after a party, she thought, but the idea of writing another script based on these dreams was making her a bit sick. Well, it was either that, or the four-flight, infinite-ceiling vertigo that was causing her stomach to turn. It was hard to tell.

The following speculation, and the arrival of the fifth person, made her frown. She took another sip of her coffee. Why were they here? There weren't really any guidebooks on the best things to do when meeting up with people you saw in a dream- the fact that they were even real was weird enough. Al shrugged.

"Well, since we're at an airport, I'm guessing we've got to go somewhere, but I don't see Voidsville, New Nowhere on the departure board, so- yeah, divine revelation sounds like a good idea."

The phrase 'do you think God can call us an Uber?' entered her mind, accompanied by the sneering face of that script editor who tried to ruin Counter. Make it more current, they said. Uber, they said. If it was Hell they were going to, then Al was fine walking.
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You could tell a lot about someone from their actions. More ambiguous were the titles, a detail of the half-remembered dream that now flooded back as the others verbalized them. Automatically, Robert connected names to faces. He'd kept them in his notebook.

Elizabeth - the Lover. The first woman he'd met. Her handshake was tense and she seemed wracked with nerves, but given the circumstances, that was fully excusable. She dressed plainly. The origin of her title eluded him, but so far, he probably liked her best.

Nick - the Rebel. Almost right away, Robert felt like punching him in the head. He could get away with it. He was the tallest here, with the most mass. For someone overly preoccupied with efficiency, physical violence often got a point across more effectively than words ever could. Nick walked his behavior back almost immediately, obviously sensing that he was making a stupid impression, but perhaps unable to control himself - true to the moniker. Robert had some sympathy for the rebels in his life. There were always better ways to do something, and power - particularly in an office context - had a way of calcifying. But revolution, man! for its own sake was stupid, and worse, a waste of time.

Al - the Jester. Gay. Breaking the ice with more self-awareness than the Nick, that was for sure. The jokes did flow. Nick seemed familiar with her work, and called her a one-hit wonder, which she took...well...but was the smile genuine? Nick's presence was already grating on him. If this were a battle royale, no doubt he'd be the first to go.

Finally, Nameless - the Royal. Effervescent. Sea-green eyes. She looked almost exactly his age. Of all of them, she seemed like the most interested in figuring out what was going on - or at least prompting the group to start moving in a direction. Al, a creative type, risked a guess and a non-suggestion: divine revelation. Plausible as it may be - they had breached the surface of the supernatural already - Robert wasn't about to wait around and do exactly nothing. Things had to happen. Someone had to be in charge, someone who could ignore ontic uncertainty and act swiftly - whether he was still in a dream, or not.

He snapped his fingers.

"Contact information, in case we get split up. We should stick together. Furthermore," he paused, eying them all, "We should write down everything we dream from now on. As we can see, it's reliable intelligence."

Arms crossed, he tapped his foot, wishing he had a cigarette - but this was an airport, in the twenty-twenties.

"We should also compare the dreams we had that led us here. We shouldn't assume we all had the same exact dream. It's entirely possible we all had a different variation."

He began: "I dreamt that I was standing in an empty void, as part of a circle with eleven others, you included. A voice said that I was to find you all, that it was midnight, and that my time had come. I heard your special titles. Then I woke."

He ran his fingers across his lips and sighed.

"Anyone have anything different?"
Looking at all of the people that he just met, the Rebel started to get nervous. He assumed that he would have to trust these people, and that would be difficult. So what if the universe told him that these people were important? The universe couldn’t tell him what to do, no one can, and fuck those who think they can.

Upon the Magician’s suggestion, Nick whipped out his phone, then pulled up his phone number, ready to give his information when his turn rolled around.

Then, when he mentioned sharing their dreams, he thought about what little he had, and when he did have them, he saw the same thing every time. Every time, he would walk into a bathroom, and there would always be a woman in the bathtub, and the water would always be red, it was probably that way from the cuts on her wrists.

Snapping out of his daze, Nick looked up at Robert. “Yeah.. mine was the same, except my word was different..” He replied, his voice a little shaky.
So it seemed something was guiding them all here- another one of the eleven had arrived. The Royal. She certainly looked the part, carrying herself with that straight-back posture that projected importance, confidence. As she joined the slapdash circle they were beginning to form, Elizabeth shirked away, shuffling her feet awkwardly. All the same, she found it hard to not look at her.

Of course, immediately she had questions. They all did, Elizabeth had just been too scared to ask hers. Al was quick to answer- she seemed the type. Waiting for another message, another dream, seemed like the best course of action, given, well, everything, but at the same time, it was hard to say what was even causing the dreams, what was making them happen. Would they get another one? Where were the rest, they weren't all here? Why did they need to find each other?

Then, Robert spoke up, most of a plan already formed. The Rebel- Nick- was quick to respond, holding out his phone for ease of access. Elizabeth wanted to keep hers firmly tucked away in her shoulder bag, but she knew Robert had seen her with it. She wasn't keen on the idea of giving out her phone number to complete strangers- but then again, she'd flown all the way here to meet them, hadn't she? Reluctantly, she retrieved it, showing her number to the man closer to her age.

"Mine was the same. Darkness, in a circle with- well, all of you, and then the words. It's- weird. All having the same dream, I mean."
Ah, a shame, from the sounds of things there isn’t much of use I can add unless the word Royal is an interesting difference.” She had hoped that one of them had seen something different, something that would help the world make sense again but at the least the fact none of them had seen anything different meant something even if she didn’t know what that something was. The Lover seemed uncomfortable with this whole affair, or maybe just uncomfortable near her, it was hard to read shuffling feet and little side glances but hopefully that didn’t mean that they had already gotten off onto the wrong foot.

The Magician offered that they should exchange numbers, which seemed to Aurora to be about as logical as anything else happening today. The Jester, who Aurora was fairly certain to be Alison Bird, mentioned that perhaps they needed to head somewhere next, which was something to think about wasn’t it? Aurora slid her shoulder bag open and fished out her cellphone while she mulled that thought over. A different idea came to her, though it was hard to say if it would be useful or not.

A thought I had thanks to Mrs Bird, I loved your episodes of Doctor Who by the way if you’ll pardon me that indulgence, but we all chose to come here in our own yes? What plans, if any, did we all have after? Might be something useful there. For my own part I had rented a car so I could drive… northward.” She shrugged, and smiled lightly at the strangeness of what she was saying. This whole day was odd, so it was likely no problem to also be odd wasn’t it?

With that said, Aurora turned to the Lover and offered her a more conspiratorial smile. “I hope you don’t mind me asking for your number first, dear.” She said, bringing up her contacts on her phone.
The delightfully merry gathering and exchange of numbers was - as all things must be, when stories begin - suddenly interrupted. First, only by a minor inconvenience. The lights flickered. It wasn't unusual for lights to flicker. Well - perhaps it was a tad unusual at an airport, especially at an airport of this size. That was the sort of thing you never considered until it happened, wasn't it? Places like this had their own backup generators ready to kick in at a moment's notice, ready to keep things seamlessly running as they always had. Overengineering redundancy all for the sake of making things people never considered never happen.

But - the lights did flicker. Every light, from the fluorescents above to the glowing signs to the emergency exits, short enough to not inconvenience, but long enough to notice.

In a nearby chair sat a wizened old lady. She hadn't been there before. But - how many people paid that much attention? Smiling from behind a black veil, she stared at the group, hands folded neatly in her lap. She was dressed like she was going to a funeral.

"Well, well, well," she called, her low voice carrying better across the room than it had any right to. At least the terminal was empty, no noise to dampen it - but hadn't it just been bustling a moment before? "It seems we've found the lucky few."

In the newfound silence, it was easy to make out the low, rattling hum of an airplane coming in from overhead. The old woman glanced over her shoulder.

"Another of you lot missed the mark. The... Sage, I think. Isn't that ironic? Not wise enough to heed a call in proper time."

The grin crept up her face, teeth small, white, and impossibly even, like a mouth from a five-year-old's drawing. The sound grew louder. And louder. And louder. The windows rattled - the ground shook - and with a trembling crash, the dark sky outside lit up with a momentary flash of brilliant orange.

"Tick-tock. It's almost midnight."
Ada was not normally the type to run late, in fact she would obsess over the Metra and CTA schedules but tonight was not in her favor almost as if life wished to cause her trouble in the form of inconveniences. A scheduled bus never arrived and the next one wouldn't arrive for another 25 minutes. That meant she would miss the Blue Line but at least it would be a straight shot to O'hare once she did manage to catch the L. In the heart of O'hare, Ada walked through the terminals but none of them felt right. She digs into her sweater's pocket and dug her phone out, it wasn't midnight just yet, but she was still cutting it close.

Arriving at Terminal 5, Ada felt uneasy, trepidation followed with each step closer and closer and- where had the people gone? The staff and the few late fliers and overlay stayers? And that sound? That was far too loud for a plane to make, it was far too close to be able to shake the foundation of this building. Something is wrong.

The way the ground trembled, Ada had lost her footing momentarily before finding the strength in her legs once more, she booked it, the flash of orange that lit the sky behind her casts the stretch of shadow that would meet the small group before her. She was out of breath, eyes wide and frantically searching those among her for a clue, anything to indicate a direction or path for her to follow. Though only half of the group had assembled, Ada did not recognize the old woman in black, not in the way she had recognized the others.

Panic and stress guided her and Ada did not do well under pressure, in fact she froze then and there, mouth agape as she stared at them all, not a single word managed to be formed as her voice died before she could manage a sound.

It's almost midnight.
Upon seeing the woman, frustration bubbled up inside the Rebel. Putting his phone in his pocket, he strode up to the woman. “What the fuck is this, huh? What are you trying to do? I spent all my goddamn money to come to a fucking airport to see a bunch of people I met in.. a dream? Like, sure, thanks for being super cryptic about it, like I really needed that..” He spat. This whole thing didn’t seem real, none of it did. The old woman in front of him seemed to know the answers, and he would get them, at least he hoped to.
Robert nodded at the others' descriptions of the dream. It seemed they were synchronized. The supernatural side of that, however, paled in comparison to what happened next.

For someone who had been watching the terminal like a predator, it was eminently obvious that it had been emptied of people after the lights had flickered on and off. He was suddenly seized by the thought that he was again in a dream, and that soon he would wake. It was one explanation for what had just happened - the horrifying surreality of it, the way that nobody else seemed to notice. But what was impossible to disregard was the ground-rumbling crash and brilliant luminescence that permeated the now-empty terminal. It was like a bomb had just gone off outside. Instinctively, he grabbed at Elizabeth's arm, but if they connected, he'd just as soon let her go.

Robert fixed his gaze on the old woman. She spoke with a voice that seemed like it was coming from inside his own head, in spite of all distance; she had straight white teeth and wasn't dressed like anyone else around. This was something out of a bad dream. But whether they were awake or asleep, they had to behave the same. Questioning the illusion wouldn't help him figure out what to do next. He was 'the Magician.' He had to be fully immersed in whatever this was.

The old woman chilled him to the bone and he had a strong feeling that provoking her was stupid. Nick was quick to try to assert control over the situation. Either he was panicking and trying to hide it, or, true to the title, he had an inhuman impulse to twist and squirm against any and all circumstances he found himself in. She spoke of their being the lucky few - that midnight was approaching.

"Shut up, Nick," he hissed, eyes darting around the terminal. He cleared his throat, knit his brow, and directed his next question to the old woman - who he was quite sure was not an old woman.

"Now that we're here, what are we supposed to do?"
Pretty quickly, Elizabeth felt herself becoming flustered. Sure, she knew how to hold a conversation, but everyone was so direct, and this whole situation was so weird, she just didn't know what to make of it. Her face turned flush when the other woman, the well-dressed, well put together one, the one she didn't know the name of- the Royal, her face turned red when she spoke directly to poor Elizabeth. She wasn't really sure why, something about her was just so- well, intimidating. She seemed to sure of herself.

Meekly, she held out her phone, mumbling a "Yeah of course..." as she turned her eyes to the floor. Christ, this was so weird.

Of course, things only got weirder immediately after. The lights flickered, almost out of some bad horror movie, and very suddenly, it was... quiet. Quiet in a way that made your heart start beating, quiet in the way that made the hair on your neck stand on end. She turned, and heard the woman begin speaking. "Wait, what do you mean luc-"

One of them hadn't made it. The Sage. What did that mean? Had they just decided to not show up? Everything about this woman set every nerve in her body on fire, highlighted by an orange flash and a deep rumble through the earth. Now she really felt sick. The only thing that kept her on her feet was the momentary support from Robert, something she hadn't expected, but was greatly appreciated.

It was almost midnight.