2007-10-25: Strike One


Meryl_icon.gif Nova_icon.gif

Also Starring:

Jerry Dorsey

Summary: All Nova wanted was a bucket of ice, really. Instead, she gets an unforgettable (Or is it forgettable?) encounter with the man they've all been looking for.

Date It Happened: 25 OCTOBER 2007

Strike One

Hotel, Cairns, Australia

They've been at this for hours.

The fact that Meryl's actually mentioned to keep her attention on any one thing for more than three minutes should be a testament to the fact that she really wants to find this guy, whereer he may be hiding. So far, they've had a few leads, and given the book that Benjamin brought back, they seem to be in roughly the right area. Meryl's paging through it, jotting down notes as she does. The Company files didn't lie - he's here. Somewhere.

Putting her pen down, Meryl reaches over toward the bucket of ice, sticks her hand inside, and makes a pout face. "Damn, it's gone," she mutters, looking toward the half-bottle of (AUSTRALIAN!) soda that's sitting just next to the bin. "You wanna go get us summore?" she asks, holding up the empty bucket and wiggling - yes, wiggling - it at Nova. One can't have soda without ice. "I'll hold down the fort, no problem."

Vending would be just on the floor below theirs. It requires a bit of a walk, but at least it's late, and there shouldn't be anyone about. Besides secret non-government agencies, who's awake at three in the morning?


And at least it's warm. This might not benefit their need for soda drinks, but it makes staying up easier. Nova picks up the file she was meant to be scanning, using it to fan herself as she glances at the time. God. Sleep would be great, but their time here is running out and the progress they've made isn't exactly worthy of the trip they've made. Opening up the pages again, she glances at Meryl, then towards the bucket. Well if they're going to be working through the night… Nova tosses the file back onto the table, and rubs her face in her hands.

"See if you can't order us up something to eat too, would you?" she says, standing up and grabbing the bucket. Dressed in a wife beater, comfortable pants and— socks, she's not really fit for anything but a quiet night in doing research, hair even loose and hanging about her shoulders. Running a hand through it, she moves towards the door without a word, heading down to collect them some ice.


"Awesome," Meryl says, folding one leg under her and piling things atop her lap so that it looks as if she couldn't have gotten up anyway.

The floor is quiet, of course. Being that they're the only ones on it besides Benjamin and Megan, there's no one around to make noise. There's a card slot for access to the stairway, much like the ones on the doors. No one can enter or exit this floor except those meant to be on it, and for this trip, it's reserved for Company personnel.

Previously-mentioned stairwell is enclosed, with fire doors on every level as is necessary by law. If a fire starts on one floor, these doors help contain it, to minimise damage. Heavy and steel, they are also fairly soundproof. Unimportant for now. In any case, another patron of the hotel slips through one of the doors on a lower level, and starts making his way up - likely toward vending, as well.


Honestly… Nova is a hard worker, but not when it comes to paperwork. She'd sooner do the coffee errand than review more leads that will probably lead— no pun intended— to no where. So off she goes, down the hallway, not really on her guard - safe in the security of this floor as well as the assurance that no one will be awake. She cards her way onto the stairwell before pocketing the keycard, foot steps (though muffled by a lack of shoes) sounding out as she reaches the lower level. Moving towards the vending, she does hear something— gives it a glance— but no more than that.


Behind Nova onto the vending level exits that man who was coming up from a few floors below. He looks tired, like he's been awake for awhile, wearing what look to be swim trunks and an old t-shirt. Party on the beach, maybe! He goes for the soda machine, looking over the selection idly, as if it doesn't matter much. He's just taking his time.

There's one more important detail. The man looks exactly like the face who's been appearing countless times in the Company files that the little team has been poring over for the past handful of days. He's older, cleaner shaven, but some traits are unmistakable.

Dorsey turns with the quickness of a jackrabbit, placing his hand on the back of Nova's neck and squeezing. "Stay quiet, and you won't remember a thing," he says to her. His accent is very much like Meryl's - of course, they're from the same area.


She gets a glance in, but only a glance, the man moving before she can really identify the man's face. Because some traits are unmistakable, when you've been studying them for the past few days. The bucket immediately falls from the woman's hands as she's suddenly touched, icy cold dregs of water splashing onto the carpet, onto her feet and soaking through white socks. Nova gasps in a quick breath of surprise - but no more than that. Not making a sound.

Nova, after all, doesn't need to make a sound, as she attempts to twist around and bring her elbow up hard towards his face. The advantage of being 6'2" is that that usually works without a hell of a lot of effort, hands joining together so she can put some force in the blow. Whether she's quick enough remains to be seen.


These things take time, and Dorsey underestimated the woman.

He only knew her from photos, and the word of some of his associates, who also seemed to have underestimated the threat. Though Dorsey doesn't manage to dodge Nova's assault completely, he is quick, and is able to take the brunt of it against a shoulder. Staggering backward, using the wall as a brace, he stares. Reaches into the pocket of his swim trunks. Pulls out a small firearm. He didn't intend to kill the girl, merely get her out of the way - permanently - and consign her to a fate that's arguably much worse than death, but if he has to, if there's no other alternative…

There are no further taunts from the man. He isn't going to explain his plan, or waste time dancing around his intentions. Two shots are fired, their sound completely halted by those thick steel doors at every level. For all his stealth, though, it becomes apparent why this wasn't Dorsey's first option - he's a terrible shot.


Of course, her own firearm - the one Meryl had given her - is tucked away in her suitcase, rather than in her hand where she needs it. While the shots don't ring out to anyone but themselves, it's still loud and for a moment, Nova is back in that hallway with Sylar and Mara trading gunshots, her arms coming up to instinctively protect her head rather than moving out of the way properly like she should. Lucky for her, bullets embed into the walls and not her body, ducking enough to avoid even a scrape of a bullet. "Stop," she yells, suddenly, a hand coming forward - a sign of surrender rather than an attack, back against the wall. He may be a terrible shot - but he has a gun, she doesn't, and he's automatically in the lead.


My, but he's certain of himself, isn't he? Dark eyes glare over a nasty scowl, and while he reaches up to rub his shoulder where Nova struck, Dorsey seems remarkably unshaken. Then again, that should come as no surprise for someone who's been a criminal for nearly his whole life. And as he stands there looking at her, there's the slightest smirk, the upturning of one corner of his lip. He knows he's won.

The echo continues for several moments.

There's a leer there. He's checking her out. Then again, Nova is nothing but a piece of meat to him, a nobody, a barricade to bully through on his way to the real prize. "You know," he says, still looking down the barrel of the weapon. "I met Amanda when she was nine years old. She was terrified. Did she ever tell you that? Ever tell you how brilliant she was?" Dorsey hasn't spoken to her since that day, but… "Unfinished business. I'm going to put her away with the rest of her family. You were just unlucky enough to get in the way. You're going to stand still while I do what I need to do."

It occurs to him that he could do anything to her now, and she'd be forced to play that moment again, over and over again in hr head, for the rest of her life. Years? Maybe. The stress would surely kill her long before age would. "Face the wall."


Amanda. Her name… Nova says not a word as he speaks, naturally wide eyes just a little wider, as if trying to force herself to see better in the dimness, arm finally lowering when it seems he's not about to shoot. She files it all away - the way he looks at her, what he has to say, for future benefit, because of course she's going to escape from this alive. She has to. It's what she's paid to do.

"You're the one who's gonna be put away," she promises, with a flat sort of severity. "She'll be the one to do it. And I'll help her." Not exactly the most eloquent of threats, but Nova isn't eloquent in general. But her tone holds the meaning. When he makes his order, Nova scowls at him, gaze narrowing towards the gun pointed at her. The problem is, she doesn't want to look away from the threat, but slowly, she turns, tension lining her body, as if ready to snap and lash out.


"Thing is, Nova Armstrong," he says, taking a couple steps forward as Nova turns, "I've been at this as long as she's been alive." A hand touches her back, gently, almost a caress, and he does think about it. It would be so easy here in this empty floor. No one around but the two of them, and Nova certainly won't be telling anyone. She might try, but as her memory constantly snaps back to that first moment…

His hand moves up to her neck again, fingers pressing through her hair, against skin. No, he won't do anything untoward. He isn't that type of criminal.

But he could.

What did they think they'd be able to do? This one is human. She's lax enough to forget her weapon. This is almost too easy! "You at least could have given me a bit of a challenge. Hopefully the other girl will do a better job of that." Megan's next. The second weakest link, which leaves Ben, then Meryl.


His hand moves toward her head, stops there. That's when Nova will feel something, like he's reaching into her mind, shredding and destroying, killing and stretching, all at the same time. It's not painful, but it's certainly uncomfortable. The gun remains pressed into her back.


She's hurt people for doing less to her. Nova stares stonily at the wall, bracing her hands against it so as to spring herself away should he try to push her against it, which is half what she expects. He doesn't. So she waits, as that hand creeps up her back. Just a hand. Up the nape of her neck. Into her hair. Against her head. The gun pressed, also, against her skin earns her attention and wariness, keeping her frozen in place, waiting for the right moment to strike back.

But she waits too long. "What're you doing," Nova demands with less-than-womanly growl - although her voice wavers, having never experienced such a feeling. She jerks her head away from his touch as soon as she can feel him invade her minds, start pulling things part.


It usually only takes a few seconds, this being no exception. However, interrupt the process, and it's typically hard to just start over, especially when that contact is broken. Usually, his victims are too terrified, too caught up in that uncomfortable moment of 'what the hell is happening to me!?' to fight back. When Nova pulls away, Jerry is left with a fistful of blonde hair. Oops.

He steps back, eyes narrowed for those seconds that he recovers from the use of his own ability. He knows what he was starting to do - it's what he eventually has planned for Meryl. There's no doubt that he has done some damage, but he has no idea how much. The goal? To get a second chance. Leave her a confused, quivering mess in the middle of the floor.

Holding the gun by the barrel now, he swings it at her head like a club. "Had to go make this hard," he says, almost remorsefully. There's a certain thing lacking in doing things the brutish way. Namely, the fact that his victims looks beaten, and that's just not pretty. Again, he's not that tye of criminal.

As he swings the firearm, his other hand reaches again for her head.


No, no more of that. Nova gives a grunt as the blow glances across her skull, but it's like the first blood being drawn. Despite the dizziness that accompanies, she fights back. Despite whatever it is he's done to her, she fights back. It's truly the only thing she knows how. Legs buckling only a moment, she takes the opportunity of not having the gun aimed at her to launch herself back against the man, hands pushing off against the wall. She's strong, as well as tall, muscular, and so it's no small thing when she barrels herself back against him, an elbow going back to hit him in the gut, body twisting to land a backhanded blow across his face.


Unlike Nova, Dorsey is rather wirey, and it seems that Nova has him bested when it comes to sheer power. That? It's embarrassing. It's an unexpected flurry of action, where she's elbowing him in the stomach, and he's simultaniously attempting to gring the firearm around for another good clubbing against Nova's thick skull. It's too bad that the gun is so small - it slips from his fingers and clatters to the floor as that backhand sends him reeling against the glass of the cola machine. It doesn't break, but with his head bouncing against the surface, it sends a good crack up the front, all the way to the top. Dropping to his knees as soon as he's got his wits about him again, he reaches for the gun.


Please let this have been long enough for Meryl to wonder how long it takes Nova to get ice. Of course, with that woman's scattered mind, who knows? Nova staggers a little once the blow is delivered, shaking her head. She wants to fight because she can feel her heart racing with adrenaline hammering through her, but for a moment, she just stands still, watching blankly as he goes for his gun.


"Hah." Ha, ha, ha. Folding his hand around the gun, he lifts it up, pointing it directly between Nova's eyes. She won't be much good now, but why not finish the job? He starts to pull the trigger.

Meanwhile, in the hotel room, Meryl is doing a crossword puzzle. She looks up from the book, narrowing her eyes. Something is definitely wrong… Standing, she ventures toward the hotel room door, reaches forward, and turns the air conditioner down. Aaah, that's much better.

The metal presses against her forehead now - it's still warm from the two shots fired previously, though not so hot that it burns. Maybe it's the fact that he's not completely cold-hearted that keeps him from pulling the trigger right away, but he doesn't, despite the fact that he could so easily end Nova's life right here.

Not his style.

Dorsey can see it in her eyes, though. That blank stare. And he has an idea.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out a pen, and before Nova can snap out of her trance, he scrawls something on her bare arm. Reaching up a hand to cup her face, Jerry gives her a winning smile, before shoving the firearm and the pen back into the pockets of his swim trunks, and meandering away, the way he came.


Nova's breathing comes in small, quick gasps - almost a panicky response. She doesn't know what's going on. It's like she's in a dream, where she sees all the pieces that come together but they're not making sense, and can't possibly be real. The metal of the gun against her forehead, the warmer brush of his hand against her face - neither of them can possibly be the same thing, they seem worlds apart. It's only when he's walking away that she reacts, a small, trembly sound coming from her throat, a hand clapping over where he marked her with his pen.

Time passes. Nova's not sure how long, and she's not sure how she got here. She finds herself kneeling on the ground with her hand held protectively onto her arm. Slowly, she moves it away, looking as if expecting to see a wound - instead, she stares down at the pen scrawl, uncomprehending.


The time that passes is enough for Meryl to wonder where Nova went. Five minutes, ten… This time when Meryl stands, she takes her gun with her, carefully stowing it out of sight, and pulling her shirt over it. Either Nova was too bored to come back, or…

Swiping her card in the stairwell, Meryl hurries down it and out onto the vending floor. There's no one there now except Nova, but that's enough for the black-haired woman. Hurrying to kneel in front of Nova, green eyes meet blue, then go to the writing on the other woman's arm.

One down, three to go.

Meryl reaches for Nova's shoulder, a concerned look crossing her face. "Nova??" she asks, eyes narrowing. The message is clear. He found them first. And if he did to her what was done to other people… "Tell me you're okay. Please."


Nova rubs at the pen markings, but they only smudge rather than disappear. She'll need water. Then they'll go and she'll feel better because she's really not feeling so good right now. But Meryl is here, seemingly all of a sudden, and Nova startles back from her, an awkward movement considering their positions, so she hurriedly gets to her feet. "Where did he go!" she demands on the other woman, anger putting a hard edge on her voice. "He was just here— " She points towards the vending machine, the one with a crack ribboning through the glass. She had hit him. He had her against the wall, he was going to— "Don't touch me," she suddenly snarls at Meryl, then lapses into confused silence, the normally very collected, composed woman obviously somewhat unraveled.


He was here. In the hotel! They could have ended all this tonight, but Meryl made Nova go get ice. Alone. As Nova staggers to her feet, Meryl closes her eyes. Just because they hadn't heard anything didn't mean they weren't being watched. Granted, no one expected anything to happen right under their noses here in the hotel, and it should have been Nova's responsibility as the team leader to ensure everyone's safety, but…

Meryl feels responsible. Completely.

Her eyes widen, horrified, as she stares at the other woman. Slowly, Meryl stands, holding out a hand. This is not cool. She can't find anything to play the Glad Game with here, and the normally upbeat agent is sober. "It's okay. We're just gonna go back to the room. Try to concentrate, Nova. Tell me what happened."


Back to the room. That's a good thing. She can redo it. Because it's starting to occur to Nova that she made a big mistake, she's just not sure what it is. She blinks down at Meryl's hand, then slowly, puts her's in it. "I need to get my gun," she informs the other woman. "I think I forgot it." She was going to go get ice. Did she end up doing that? She'll figure it out once they're in the room. Hopefully Meryl remembers how to get there. Wait, she was asked what happened. Nova presses her free hand against her forehead… then touches the back of her head, remembering something to do with… Her eyes start to glisten with unshed tears. "I don't know," she says, voice thickening. "I don't know."


He takes all the bravado you've ever had and just shatters it. That's what happened. It's like she's seeing it happen all over again, the draining of everything that makes a person who they are, or every ounce of potential they would have had. This is different, but not entirely. The other woman is still scrambled. "No," Meryl says quietly. She doesn't speak down to Nova, but it still has the feel of a parent speaking to a child. Slow, deliberate. "You can't have it."

And Meryl can't explain this here, not where anyone could just appear and make short work of the both of them. She does give Nova's hand a squeeze, though. Despite the fact that Meryl's a rather hug-oriented person, she, too, is scattered right about now, and the idea of comfort simply slips her mind. Instead, she starts pulling Nova toward the door leading into the stairwell.


Nova lets herself be lead, simply because she doesn't know what else to do. Sort of the blind leading the blind, but at least there's leading involved. Her hand clings to Meryl's, letting her guide, and trusting that, she looks over her shoulder at what they're leaving behind, which is nothing at all but an empty ice bucket.


Up the stairs, card in the door, through the hall, and back into the room where papers and files are still scattered everywhere. Meryl offers an uneasy glance backward at the other agent. By their exchange so far, Nova just seems confused. It's a lot like Meryl's initial reaction… The sudden input of millions of different things - none of which mattered prior to the accident - was confusing as hell. It's an explanation as to why the blonde wasn't able to pinpoint where Jerry went after the attack. There was just too much to look at.

After making sure Nova's weapon isn't where she can see it and therefore reach it - because guns are shiny, and that's the LAST thing they need to deal with right now - Meryl takes the other girl's shoulders. "Okay, Agent Strongarms, this is gonna sound like a weird question, but…" And really, it's just to confirm, "Did he touch you?"


Judging by the way Nova is acting now, it's likely that none of this portion of the evening will really factor in to later memory. She looks back at Meryl, a now puzzled expression in place. "Who?" she asks, then briskly shakes her head. Concentrate. "I know. He…" She pauses, thoughtful for a moment, then, lapses again into confused silence. "There was some bloke downstairs," she explains, irritation obvious. "I think he tried to kill me, but he didn't. He just touched— " She reaches back, to touch the back of her own head, looking at Meryl seriously. "There." Pause. "Then I hit him pretty hard. Then… I dunno what happened then."


By now, Meryl's kind of gotten over the 'Oh god, I DRAGGED THESE PEOPLE INTO THIS' phase and is more into the 'what do we do now' phase. There's a sigh as Nova touches the back of her head. Meryl very nearly mimics that, but stops before she does the same. She remembers it - the horrible feeling that she'll never be able to forget. Ever. But this isn't bad. Nova can live with this. She won't have to, though, because they're goig to find this Dorsey guy and kick his ass. Torn between running out and looking for the guy before he gets too far, and attempting to follow protocol - namely not going after Dorsey on her own - Meryl elects to stay here. They'll have to tell Benjamin and Megan.

"I think he did to you what he did to me."


There's a flicker of understanding in Nova's eyes, and it's probably the most attention she's ever paid Meryl, latching on to her every word with as much concentration as she can muster. Which is substantial, but it's like as soon as it gets into her head, it just starts to slip away again. "He did to me what he did to you," she repeats, to cement the words, to pin them down. Her hands come up to hold her head. "Did to me what he did to you." Dorsey did something to her. She just doesn't remember what. A touch to the head… Nova abruptly brings her hands down and looks at the back of her right one, which is still slightly reddened from the blow. "I think I hit 'im," she informs Meryl.


Meryl tries to smile. Actually, she succeeds. It's easy for her — Just let her mind wander a little bit, and she doesn't have to feel so serious anymore. Thus, the smile she offers Nova is genuine, even if it's a little tense. "You did good," she says. It's becoming obvious exactly what the effects of that simple touch were, and it's not quite the same. Nova's confused, obviously. Repeating herself, like she can't remember what she said before. Like what he did to—

Taking her hands off Nova's shoulders, Meryl takes a few steps back to the headset she has sitting on the dresser. "Sawyer, it's Wolfe. Agent Armstrong spotted Dorsey one floor down in the vending area. See if he left anything there for us to pick up." Forensics. You love them, and so does the Company.

Now. What do they do with Nova? Start with the easy stuff. After getting confirmation from Sawyer, Meryl approaches the other woman again. Basics. "Do you know who I am? Where you are?"


Basics. Nova looks back at Meryl, guarded at first before relaxing. "…we're in Oz," she says, with only a little uncertainty. That much she remembers. Back home, if a little more east than where her actual home is. A hand comes up to rub at her forehead. A gun between the eyes is recalled, and she flinches, just a little. "You're. I know who you are," she insists, as if Meryl might not believe her, or maybe she's not remembering the question right. "You found me downstairs."


Okay, she has that. She knows they're in Australia, which is good, because it means Dorsey hasn't somehow erased everything. That gives Meryl a lot of hope - perhaps the initial shck of things is wearing off, and Nova's really okay! Please be okay? Not so much.

Awaiting something more concrete than 'you found me downstairs,' Meryl finds herself sorely disappointed, and her expectant expression dissolves into a scowl. "Who else is here with us? Why are we here? Nova, what's my name?"

Not the same as what happened to her parents. Her parents had stunning clarity from those last few moments, which becomes apparent every single time they relive it. This is something Meryl hasn't seen before.


Not so okay, no. Nova's expression grows stony when Meryl scowls at her, and worse still, she's asking questions - too quick to follow, and to many answers to try and recall. In the face of frustration, anger slides into place before despair can, and she shoves the other agent away. "I don't know," she growls. "I don't care. He did to me what he did to you." As if Meryl wasn't the one who told her this. But at least it stuck. Nova surges to her feet, moving across the room— and stopping abruptly. She doesn't remember where she put her weapon, hand flying to her hip where her holster isn't. She stashed it somewhere, right, so, she moves towards the nearest drawers with the intent to rifle through them, looking for the pistol. Doesn't matter that she's never stashed it there before.


Let Nova look. Meryl's going to allow herself a moment of panic here, as she allows Nova to push her away. Her hands run through dark hair, and she bites down on her lip, hard, squeezing her eyes shut. Now one of their own who hasn't ever dealt with this before is top priority. It's a whole tangle of objectives that Meryl's having a hard time keeping up with, and with her mind swimming with a million other things— She should write this one down. Make a list.

Opening a cupboard, she pulls out another folder with a legal pad inside, moving over toward the table so she can jot a few things down. Nova's weapon is also in that cupboard, which can be safely locked and secured so no one else can find it.


The drawers are basically gutted, but luckily it's a hotel - there's not too much to turn upside down. When Nova comes to the last one, she puases, pushing her hair back from her face. Think. Where did she put it last. Standing up from her crouch, Nova glances around the room, briefly taking in the sight of Meryl writing things down. As if her former anger never happened, Nova moves to sit down at the table as well. After a moment, she speaks up, almost loudly. "Amanda," she says, looking across at Meryl, with a weak smile that doesn't really suit her usually stoic features. "That's it."


Just to make sure she's got this all straight. Absolutely sure, because she didn't expect to have this dropped in her lap like this — How are they supposed to work as a team when one of the four is injured? Well… Not quite an injury, really, but more of a… Brain… thing. And she's got a list scratched out when Nova approaches and states the name. At first, it doesn't register, because she hasn't gone by that name since she was very young.

Then, Meryl looks up. Looks at the words on Nova's arm. Things come together, she knows that this was all planned and deliberate, and now they have to figure out who the next target is. Stay one step ahead of the game.

Meryl smiles back, though it, too, is weak. "That was my name. Is that what Dorsey said?"


Blank stare is returned, but come on. She has to be able to follow a simple conversation, right? Even if keeping up with it is like reading a very fast teleprompter. Because she has to remember what the subject is, then who Dorsey is, then what name Meryl means, and it takes a moment before Nova nods once. Yes. That's what Dorsey said. Absently, she fists one hand and clasps it in the other, cracking her knuckles as her gaze switches towards the wall, silent again.


Patience is something that comes easily to Meryl.

Except for now.

Pressing her lips together, she sighs. This? Is hardly Nova's fault, and the frustration surely stems from that dinner earlier in the night with the slightly burned duck, and that delic— No, that wasn't it. It's a moment the two of them share - as Meryl's mind wanders off into different territory, she very nearly forgets what she was talking about. That's when her eyes fall on the list that she's just made! What luck.

"Nova, this is very important. What else did he tell you? You need to tell me everything." Flipping the page of the legal pad, she jots down the name 'Amanda.'


A difficult request indeed. Nova squeezes her eyes shut. She's gone down to the lower level to the vending to get something and— "Dorsey," Nova states, suddenly, looking across at Meryl. "He was here." She glances about the room, to find herself no longer facing a wall with a gun pressed to her back. Good, she didn't much like it there anyway. "He did something to me, we need to wake up— " Oh god, what are their names? She clasps a hand to her head again, willing herself to recall the people they brought with them.


"I know he was here, he wrote it right there on your arm!" Meryl says, pointing at what remains of the smudged writing. She's not angry so much as she is at the end of her rope. Frustrated for Nova! That's what she was trying to remember before. It had nothing to do with dinner, as far as she knows.

That frustration turns to pity, though, when Nova suggests they wake up the others. "Benjamin. Megan," Meryl supplies, just because she can't make the poor girl struggle to remember something so simple. That's when she realises that the other two could be in trouble right now. Eyes wide, she pushes the chair back, getting to her feet and starting for the door. Hopefully it's not too late.


Nova looks down at her arm, somehow both surprised and unsurprised to see it. As if maybe she'd dreamed that part only to discover it was true. One down, three to go. She'd read that in the light of the vending machine. Opening her mouth, she makes as if to say something, but no sound comes out. She looks towards Meryl, but the woman is leaving. Left to her own devices, Nova sits, frozen, then starts to rub again at the ink, until it becomes a faint, smeary mess on her fingers and arm. If she notices Meryl's leaving, she shows no sign.

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