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To Live and Die in Arcadia Bay

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OCTOBER 11th, 2013 - SAVE CHLOE TIMELINE

 

            A butterfly, blue as a sunny day, flaps across the dark clouds consuming Arcadia Bay’s skies. Its wings are no match for the violent winds raging upon the town, sending it hurtling into a wall. It dies.

            A desperate family drives past the Two Whales Diner -  or rather, the “TWO WHALES DIE” according to the damaged neon lights overhead. Inside the car, the driver, a middle aged man, is maneuvering past frantic neighbors looking for some sort of sanctuary that will give them the illusion of safety. Sitting behind him are his wife and daughter: both are freaking out, and rightfully so. An EF-6 tornado is tearing up their hometown!

            Tired, the wife yells, “Please, just keep on driving!” A young boy from Blackwell Academy falls onto the hood and bangs on the front window in desperation. The husband keeps on driving, pushing him aside as he swears at the uncaring townsfolk.

            Panicked and muttered, the husband tells his wife, “I’m driving, Lorrie! Just stay calm!”

            “Where’d this damned storm come from anyways?”

            “Oh, only God knows, Lorrie! Just stop panicking!”

            The daughter, Lola, asks Lorrie, “Mama, where is Dale?”

            “We tried calling his parents, Lola, we don’t know! He’s probably okay! All that matters right now is that we’re okay!”

            “We’ll be safer when we get to the lighthouse! Look! It’s safe up there!” The husband points to the lighthouse by the edge of town. Its light is still shining, leading the way for support that will never come. He slams his foot on the gas and jets down Arcadia Bay Avenue. Narrowly, the car avoids a billboard flying at it. The billboard loudly scrapes across the top of the car and crashes a few feet behind them.

            Five minutes later, the car reaches the parking lot at the head of the lighthouse. The husband steps outside and is blasted by a harsh gust of wind, slamming his back into the driver’s seat door. He goes to open the back door for Lorrie and Lola, letting them out of the car. “Okay. This way!”

            With a flashlight in his hand, the husband leads his ladies up the path to the lighthouse. For years, it has stood at the top of Arcadia Bay, leading desperate sailors to dry land. Now, in this time of disaster, it serves that purpose once more.

            The family climbs over a downed tree and steps aside a pile of boulders before approaching their destination: The Lighthouse. Standing by the doorway is a ghostly deer. She stares down the family for a few seconds with a grimace on her face. The husband walks into her and she vanishes as he grabs the doorknob. It doesn't budge. Frantically, he pulls at it and kicks the door to no avail.

            "Oh god." As he continuously pulls on the door, a boat crashes into the lighthouse. It shatters on impact with the boat and debris flies out of it. It lands within a few feet of the husband… and right on top of the wife and daughter.

            “I… Oh, no… No…” The husband runs to the debris, tears welling up in his eyes, and looks for a way, any way, that the two survived. It is obvious though they did not. “They’re dead… They… THEY’RE DEAD!”

            The husband hops to his feet with an unsure smile on his face. “THEY’RE DEAD! OH MY!” He raises his fists in the air and looks off into the path that he walked on just a few moments prior. He fails to notice the radio flying at his head, knocking him out cold. As he hits the dirt, the radio lands within a few feet of him, playing Frankie Valli’s “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)”:

            “ Ooooooh… Ahhhhh…

Lonliness… Is the coat yooou wear…

A deep shade of blue… Is al-ways there…

 

            The tornado hits Arcadia Bay, crushing everything and everyone in its path. Houses and cars are picked up with the violent strength only Mother Nature’s wrath can muster. Within seconds, hundreds are killed with the hopes of their own intuition comforting them in their final moments.

            Just a minute later, the storm flies into Blackwell Academy, levelling it to rubble fast enough to make a demolition crew shed a tear in glory. Hundreds more are killed. And then, seconds later, the tornado hits the mountains bordering the town and dies. Just as it came, it left.

            Standing next to the unconscious husband, the doe returns and sniffs at him. She turns her sights to the destroyed Bay and her ear twitches. Peacefully, she fades away. Just as she leaves, fearful townsfolk descend upon the husband.

            “ The sun ain’t gonna shine anymooore

The moon ain’t gonna rise in the skyyyy

The tears are al-ways clouding your eyyyyyes…

When you’re withooout loooove!

Baby…


 

            Five days later, the husband reawakens a new man in a hospital bed. One without his burden of a wife and child. He looks around, tired, to see a serene nature take root in the ruins of Arcadia Bay. Seagulls fly freely amongst the blue butterflies and the breeze is cool. Inside his room, staring at him, are other survivors, scarred and scared alike. He asks them, “Where are we?”

            A young boy with rugged hair shakily tells him, “Arcadia Bay, mister. The hospital.”

            An elderly pastor, Father Lawrence, harshly adds, “Or what’s left of it.”

            The husband sits up in his bed, stroking his chin inquisitively, and asks another question: “What do we do now?”

            Silence befalls the small crowd. They are asking the same question in their heads. The silence is broken as Father Lawrence tells him, “We celebrate. We beat the storm, and we beat this shithole taking us with it!”

            The husband smiles: “I… I’d like that a lot. Yeah! Screw Arcadia Bay!”

            The crowd mutters and exclaim together as one, “YEAH!”

            “We’re the survivors here! We were chosen for this for a reason! I saw that tornado destroy everything- everything bad with the town!”

            “Like the bank!”

            “And Blackwell!”

            “And my family! My shitty little family! Oh god, we’re the new order! We’re the children left to thrive thanks to Mother Gaia! We are the Children of Nature’s Winds! We are a family reborn!”

            The crowd rejoices thusly: “YEAH!”

            The husband rubs his eyes and continues violently, “We need more storms! More brothers and sisters to fill this void in our lives! Onwards! To filling the void!” He leaps to his feet and screams, “To filling the void! Follow me, for I am your Storm Singer! We shall seek out the answer to this storm and bring more worthy survivors into the fold!”

            As the crowd cheers on their new charismatic leader, the husband grins and begins crying. He’s at peace. Happy with his lovely little… cult.


 

NOVEMBER 17th, 2013

 

            Inside the destroyed former Latter Day Church of Christ's Will, down by the shores of Arcadia Bay, The Children speak amongst one another, their ranks at the size of five dozen now. Their conversations are interrupted by the presence of the Storm Singer.

            Clad in black and blue robes, with a metallic blue and silver helmet that has metal antlers and soulless black eyes, the Storm Singer stands before his followers. In his hand is a wooden staff, typically used for discipline. Standing to his left is Father Lawrence, wearing a similar pair of black and blue robes. To his right is a young woman whose face is obscured by a potato sack. She is tied to a cart but she isn’t struggling.

            The Storm Singer points his wooden staff at the crowd and speaks: “Greetings, my brothers and sisters! We have come a long way from Oregon all the way down to Nevada! But it is all for the sake of a grander purpose. That purpose being to create a family. One where we can save others from their worldly fears into interlocking familial bondage. And with the secrets hidden in Pan Estates after our return home, we have found what we believe to be the key to more storms! And her name… is Maxine Caulfield!”

            The Storm Singer tears away the potato sack on the girl’s face, revealing her to truly be Max Caulfield. She speaks, in an annoyed tone, “First of all, it’s Max. Not Maxine.”

            Excited, Father Lawrence exclaims, “She speaks!” The crowd goes wild in anticipation of their goddess talking.

            Max rolls her eyes and tells them, “Yeah, hi. Secondly, I’m not the cause of the storm. The person you’re looking for is dead.”

            The Storm Singer drops his staff and worriedly asks, “Dead? Blast it! How come?!”

            “You can thank Nathan Prescott when you see him. No wait, you can’t. Because he’s dead. So really, you should be thanking Mark Jefferson… who is also dead.”

            “Prescotts, of course! The scourge of Arcadia Bay, how we all hate them!”

            Max smirks at the Storm Singer, telling him and the Children, “I’m glad we can agree on that.”

            “No matter! We shall make a storm with whatever it takes! Perhaps that includes human sacrifice!”

            Max fires back, with an air of boredom in her voice, “Ooh, sacrificing me! That’s a first! I’ll have to try that out at some point or another. Better than looking at your stupid mask and your stupid cult!”

            The Storm Singer recoils in offense while Father Lawrence asks, “What makes you so crude in the tongue, Maxine?!”

            Max’s smirk grows into a conniving grin and she sends the signal to attack: “My girlfriend.”

            Out of the blue, a warning shot is fired into the air. The source: Chloe Price, dressed entirely in black and armed to the teeth. She aims the pistol in her hands sporadically at the Children while yelling, “Get the fuck away from her, you creeps!” She triumphantly steps closer to the front of the Church where the Father, the Singer and Max are. The crowd collectively plot their next moves, nonverbally threatening Chloe with their combative stances.

            Father Lawrence speaks slowly in response to the blue-haired intruder, “Ah, Chloe Elizabeth Price. An undeserving survivor of the Tornado. Fortunately, your mother is among the de-” He is cut off by a bullet Chloe fires into his forehead, killing him instantly. He collapses to the floor and the Storm Singer rushes to his aid. With his eyes turned away from her, Max vanishes from her restraints before returning behind the cart.

            “Father Lawrence! God… KILL THE INTRUDER!” The Storm Singer unsheathes a knife from within his robes before turning his attention to Max. “I will sacrifice… Maxine?” She’s escaped her restraints. He looks around before coming face-to-face with the young time traveller as she is standing behind him.

            Harshly, she corrects him again, “It’s MAX.”

            Without a second to react promptly, Max sprouts blue butterfly wings from her back and hovers in the air to kick the Singer in the face, sending him flying backwards. While still in the air, Max pulls out two pistols from her pockets and fires on the crowd of cultists, killing five with ease.

            The Singer shakes his head in horror as his family is being assaulted by these two hipsters. Many of the Children escape through the front and back exits of the church and, while focused on them, he takes a bullet to the face courtesy of Chloe. He falls backwards and clutches his swirling head. "Thank you, helmet! Ow."

            "Let's go, Chloe!"

            Chloe looks up at Max and cheekily tells her, "My favorite three words! Y'know, besides 'I love you'!"

            Max flies over to Chloe, taking her hand. She shifts her attention to one of the glass paintings, shooting it and shattering it open. The two fly up and away, and the Singer sees them disappear into the darkness of the night sky.

            He stands and asks his adopted family, “Oh, God… Is everyone okay?”

            “We’re fine! But… we’ve lost some people…”

            “Those two will pay for this!”

            A child runs inside and worriedly yells, “Mister Storm Singer, sir! Something is coming! A military helicopter!”

            The Singer briefly freezes in shock, uttering an “Oh no… Everyone, into the tunnels! NOW, DAMMIT!”

            Nearby, an airborne helicopter pilot - one working under the elusive Agency of Metahuman Containment - clings to the cyclic controller between his legs. Through the headphones on his head, he asks his demanding boss, “Target in sight. What next, Mister Prescott?”

            Harshly, Sean Prescott responds, “Turn it into a parking lot. Stolen files be damned.”

            “Yes, sir!” The pilot flicks some switches and pulls the trigger on the controller, firing a single missile at the church. Within seconds, the church is hit and massive damage is sustained in a massive explosion. The spires collapse upon the building and smoke arises from the fires within.

            Just a few feet underground however, the Singer is leading the quickest of the Children - roughly three dozen - into safety through a tunnel.

            A teenaged member of the Children asks the Singer, "Y-you heard that?"

            "I did. It's the sounds of our enemies. No matter. We shall recruit and return across the border. Safe from the hands of the metahumans and their Agency opponents!”

            The teenager happily exclaims, “Hell yeah!”

            The Singer smacks him across the cheek. As the teenager recollects himself, he grabs his shoulders and harshly whispers, “No swearing, boy.”


 

AUGUST 22nd, 2019

 

            "SHIT, SHIT, SHIT! I hate you superheroes so GODDAMN MUCH!”, the Storm Singer screams as he runs into an alleyway in Puerto Lobos, Mexico. He leaves behind several wounded or dead Children, killed at the hands of a local vigilante. While scurrying in, he narrowly avoids getting crushed by a flying pickup truck. It slams into the wall behind him and falls to the ground. Desperately, the Singer runs down the alley before spotting a wall at the end - a dead end. “Damn you. You killed my family.”

            The prepubescent perpetrator of these deaths speaks from around the corner: “A few of them ran. Sucks.” The voice makes himself known as he turns the corner into the alleyway. Clad in red armor with his crimson wolf mask is Daniel Diaz, also known as the Superwolf. He adds, “But the ones I killed… You’ll join them.”

            The Singer spits, “What’s your deal with us, Wolfie?”

            Daniel expresses angrily, “You’re a cult! When has there ever been a good cult?!”

            The Storm Singer shrugs and mutters, “Fair point.” Suddenly, the winds pick up and the Singer shakes in place. “This isn’t me.”

            Daniel raises a fist at the Singer, lifting him into the air and slowly crushing his helmet. He clutches his helmet as it bends inward. He groans in agony, realizing his imminent death… that is until Daniel begins losing his footing on what should be the solid floor beneath him.

            Instead, under his feet is a black and white portal, pulsing and absorbing the young boy. Confused, he asks, “What are you-”. He falls in and disappears.

            The Singer holds his head as the helmet slowly pops out and reforms. “Finally. Some peace and qui-”

            A portal opens under the Singer and he too is absorbed into it. After feeding the portal, he vanishes.

            The Storm Singer looks around the white oblivion surrounding him. He yells panickedly, “Children? Children, where are you?”

            From afar, a young girl loudly begs for the return of, “Mister Storm Singer!”

            The Singer looks around and, behind his helmet, smiles. “My Children! Come to me at once!”

            He becomes distracted by a caveman falling through one portal into another. He scratches his helm in confusion as more and more people and things enter and exit through portals - androids, vampires, zombies, knights, artifacts, spaceships, buildings, just a smorgasbord of everything connected within the multiverse. Behind him, he hears the swoosh of a spaceship gliding out of a portal. Inside the porthole, a giant black eye with an orange iris looks down at him. Its pupil dilates in amazement at the weird man standing in oblivion before the ship is consumed by another portal. Beneath him, the Superwolf rolls by quickly in a ball of confusion. He falls into a portal, screaming as it closes behind him.

            The Singer laughs at the Superwolf before slapping himself in the face: “Agh, snap out of it! My Children, come to me at once!”

            The other Children, looking around to find the Singer, follow his voice and walk over to him. A younger Child, no older than three years old, pulls on the Singer’s sleeve and tells him, “Mister Storm Singer, I saw momma again! I thought she was dead!”

            The Singer heartfully and harshly tells her, “She is, young one! That isn’t your momma, just some other version of her! A cheap carbon copy from a parallel timeline. Your momma will always be dead, a sacrifice made to the Storm in your honor. Just like Arcadia Bay! Both are gone and long laid buried, never to-”

            The Children are all sucked into another portal, closing behind them.


 

NOVEMBER 17th, 2013 - SAVE ARCADIA BAY TIMELINE

 

            “-be seen again!” The Storm Singer pauses before looking around. Blue night skies, 

            “Uh, Mister Storm Singer?” One of the elder Children calmly points to a spot behind the Singer. That spot is the Two Whales Diner, intact and filled to the brim with happy Arcadia Bay citizens celebrating the end of the Prescott Era with drinks, dancing and a developing friendship between two Blackwell graduates by the entrance.

            The Singer drops his staff in shock. “How can this be? No… No, no, no, NO, NO, NO, NO!” The Singer looks at the starry scar plaguing the sky over Arcadia Bay’s waters. He clutches the antlers on his helmet and screams into the air: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

            From inside the Diner, Victoria Chase raises an eyebrow at the Singer’s behavior and asks her friend, Kate Marsh, “Um, is that guy okay?”

            Kate looks at the Singer outside as he bangs his head on the road, humiliatingly knocking himself out. Victoria holds in her laughter, covering her grin with a soft fist. “I doubt it. Anyways, wanna eat breakfast here tomorrow?”

            Stifling her laughter, Victoria stutters a friendly, “S-Sure.” She quickly turns her amused attention back onto the Children as they hurriedly pick up the Singer and carry him off elsewhere.

Chapter Text

SIX MONTHS LATER

 

            The day is breezy and the skies are blue over Arcadia Bay. They’ve been like that for a good many days, must be the summer slowly rolling in.

            Sitting on a bench, Chloe Price looks up and sees the white clouds making strange shapes. Suddenly, the clouds become clouded themselves by the gray smoke of her lit cigarette. She smiles and passes her cigarette to her living tattoo, Bedlam, as he looms over her. Bedlam inhales the cigarette and lets the smoke leave through his nostrils.

            As Chloe takes another puff, her phone begins vibrating in her black hoodie's pocket. She checks it and is astounded to see:

May 7th, 2014

RACHEL

Calling

 

            Chloe immediately picks up her phone and answers the call with a stunned, “Uh, hi, Rachel.”

            The cool delivery of Rachel Amber’s voice comes in through the other side: “Chloe Price, it’s been a hot minute. How have you been?”

            A dorky grin grows on Chloe’s face and she adds, between tears and a chuckle, “I’ve been dead apparently!”

            “Oh, ditto! So legit, what have you been up to?”

            “I’ve been doing better since we last talked. I met up with Max again, well, two Maxes. I got with both of them and they’ve made me the happiest I’ve been in a long time. And we made some new friends, the two of us. You’re not gonna believe me when I tell you that me and Victoria Chase are coworkers and friends.”

            “The same one we drugged?”

            Chloe raises an eyebrow to this and laughs before clarifying, “Yes, the same one YOU drugged. We fought a bit when we first met again but she’s changed a lot. Got herself a girlfriend.”

            Rachel snaps and adds, “I knew she was bi! Who’s the lucky lady?”

            “Kate Marsh, you’ve probably never heard of her. Or maybe you have, you tend to know a lot of people.”

             “I think I met her once at an orientation for the Fall 2013 classes at Blackwell. She seemed super shy.”

            “Yep. But I guess Vic’s rubbed off on her.”

            Rachel laughs, stating, “Well, what they do in the bedroom is their business.”

            Chloe recoils and adds, “Not like- okay, maybe like that- but she’s gotten braver since she met Vic. At least, that’s what she told me. Maybe they did that for each other. Ah, young lovers, y’know?”

            “I’ll have to come back around to Arcadia Bay one of these days. I heard about the Prescotts getting the boot.”

            “God yes! After Nathan killed the other me, it kicked off a shitstorm.”

            Rachel solemnly asks, “He got a slap on the wrist, didn’t he?”

            Chloe isn’t as solemn, heartily bellowing, “Try twenty-five to life! Him and Jeffershit.”

            “Oh, shit! I’m definitely visiting when I’m free from work! Ah, gotta go. New delivery coming in. Woof, it’s gonna be a late night tonight.”

            “Okay, cool, take care! I… It was nice talking to you.”

            “It was nice talking to you too, Chloe. I’ll see you when I can.” And with that, Rachel hangs up the call. Chloe puts her phone away and looks off into the sky wistfully as Bedlam retreats back onto her right arm. Things are looking up for her.


 

            An anvil falls from a scaffolding, heading straight for Victoria Chase. She’s dressed in a white martial arts uniform and has a blindfold over her eyes. She senses the anvil coming for her so she leaps away just as it slam down onto the ground.

            “Phew.” She sits up and grabs a wooden staff headed for her face. She pulls it away and spins around to grab a yoga ball flying for her chest. She tosses it aside and marches forward. Another wooden staff comes for her face and she blocks it with her forearms. “Ow.” Another wooden staff suddenly hits her in the back of her head, causing her to yelp, “OW!”

            Rubbing her wound, she senses another yoga ball coming for her from her right, so she kicks it away. She puts up her fists and punches yet another yoga ball following right after that one. And yet, she cannot stop the last yoga ball from flying at her back, pushing her to the ground.

            Five monks, clad in indigo, slowly walk up to Victoria and the eldest, Master Gohdo offers her a hand. She carefully takes it, still blindfolded, and is helped up to her feet. “You’re a tad sloppy, Miss Chase. But your reflexes have vastly improved. Well done.”

            Victoria removes her blindfold and smiles at the monks. “Thank you, Master Gohdo. Thank you, all of you guys.” She bows to them and they bow to her.

            The youngest of the monks, K’mai, asks Victoria, “Are you going to be online today?”

            “Definitely! Here’s hoping we get our fifth victory!”

            K’mai triumphantly mutters, “Epic”, much to Victoria’s delight. She walks over to a bench and grabs a bottle of water. She takes several gulps and wipes off her sweaty face with her sleeve. She then takes a seat and puts two fluffy pink slippers on her feet. For a few brief moments, she sits back and rests.

            Suddenly, the sounds of light crystallizing enters her ears and she looks to her left. She gets up and walks over to a room with a soft orange light emanating within.

            Upon her quiet entrance, Victoria bears witness to Kate's training: she is using her power to create hard light constructs to carry objects. In this case, she is holding dozens of fragile glassware with dozens of hard light circles, big and small. She is wearing a martial arts uniform just like Victoria is, and her hair is loosely floating and glowing. Standing next to her is an elderly female monk, also clad in indigo, with a glass of water in her hands.

            Looking at her girlfriend in action, using this soft shade of orange in the light calms Victoria’s mind. She smiles and takes in the moment.

            The female monk, Sani, evaluates her performance: "Excellent, Miss Marsh. Your powers are improving greatly. Max and Victoria would surely be impressed."

            Cheekily, she says, "Oh, I am."

            Kate smiles and sets her eyes on Victoria. She slowly sets down the glassware and melts the constructs into a spring behind her back, pushing herself closer to Vic.

            Victoria hugs her and plops a kiss on her forehead. Kate looks up at her: "Hey, Vic. How did your training go?"

            "Not too bad. I took a few hits but I've got a good hold on my Vicki-Sense."

            "That's awesome! I've been getting better myself, holding a bunch of stuff with my powers at the same time." The two walk over to a bench and Kate puts on a pair of navy blue Crocs.

            "Let’s go hang out with everyone in the break room. Max won’t be coming for another eleven minutes.” Victoria takes Kate’s hand and walks with her to the break room in the dojo. Sani follows after them with her glass of water in hand.

            The two enter the break room and see the male monks jovially laughing to one another in response to a story being told by Master Gohdo: “The young boy brought me forward to his bully, a big doofus as you can imagine, and I could tell! He had no clue he was in the presence of Master Gohdo. He made obscene remarks and gave me a gesture that was rather inappropriate!”

            K’mai asks, completely captivated, “What’d you do to him, Master?”

            Master Gohdo sighs and explains, “I peacefully told him that violence was not the answer… and then, I tapped him on the forehead with two fingers, knocking him out like that.” He snaps and falls backwards before recovering in the span of a second. The other monks laugh and applaud Master Gohdo.

            Sani looks to Victoria and Kate, informing them with a sly smile, “He’s always telling that story. Always!”

            Master Gohdo adds, “That’s because there are always bullies, Sani. I can’t let them go by and do whatever, now can I?” Sani shrugs and Master Gohdo smugly adds, “Exactly.”

            Victoria walks over to a window overlooking a snowy expanse of white mountaintops and starry skies. She gazes at the world and Kate walks up next to her. “This is nice. Just looking at all of this.”

            “Yeah. We’ve come a long way from Arcadia Bay.” Kate smiles while looking at the expanse and Victoria slowly turns her head to capture her happiness.

            “I guess we’d have to thank Max for that… Wish it’d be on better circumstances though. I’m still not into the whole ‘save the world’ gig.”

            “I know, Vic. Regardless, we still have our lives to live outside of ‘superhero training’ - the Helper Shelter, our awesome dates, that party tonight. And we’ll always have each other.”

            “Amen to that.” The two continue their staring out into the distance and spot the sun slowly emerging over the mountains. The skies slowly become consumed by light and Victoria spots a black speck coming closer and closer to the window by the second. She mutters, “Aaaand there she is.”

            As the speck comes closer, it becomes apparent that it is a butterfly, tiny and blue. Roughly two minutes later, she flaps onto the windowsill in front of Victoria and Kate, hopping up and down as a request to enter the monastery. Kate rolls up the window and the butterfly dashes inside.

            Victoria asks the butterfly, “Hi, Max. How was your day today?”

            Within seconds, the butterfly grows from an insect into Max Caulfield, clad in a green jacket, a black t-shirt with a blue butterfly on it, khakis and sneakers. Her skin is pale white and her hair is jet black. She tells Kate, “I’ve been fine. Just hanging around the Max Shack. How about you two?”

            “The usual. Master Gohdo and Sani said we’re improving just fine.”

            Master Gohdo walks forward and Max bows to him. He modestly informs her, “That is correct. This last four sessions with Miss Chase and Miss Marsh have been very efficient if we must say so ourselves.”

            Max smiles: “I’m glad you guys are living up to the reviews. I wouldn’t have consulted your training otherwise.” Master Gohdo nods. “Now, let’s get back to Arcadia Bay.” Max snaps a photo of the Arcadia Bay Lighthouse into her right hand and tells her two friends, “Okay, grab my shoulders.”

            Victoria tells her, “Yeah, we know.” Max stares at the photo intently as the two hold onto her shoulders.

            Kate and Victoria wave goodbye to the monks. Kate tells them, “Okay, goodbye guys! See you next week!”

            Sani happily adds, “Take care of yourselves!” And with that, the trio vanish from the monastery in the blink of an eye.


 

            A portal opens by the Arcadia Bay Lighthouse and Max steps out of it, leading Victoria and Kate forward. “What’s next for today?”

            “Me and Katie are going to go home, shower, rest up and get ready for the party tonight at the piers.”

            Max smirks at them: “Okay. I’ll be at the party with Chloe.”

            Kate tells her, “Ooh, awesome! Well, we’ll be seeing you then!” Kate begins to walk away from the Lighthouse while Victoria pulls at Max’s arm with concern.

            She motions to the greenery that Kate is calmly walking past, telling Max, “There are bad guys in the bushes. They’re gonna-”

            “I know, Vic. Don’t worry, I can take them. Plus, we both know they’re only here for me. Catch up with Kate please.”

            Worried, Kate asks, “Vic, is everything alright?”

            Victoria looks back at her and tells her, “Yes, Katie, I’m coming!” Victoria nods to Max, sternly telling her, “You better be right.”

            Max grins as Victoria runs up to Kate, letting go of her stern look. The two walk away with Kate still completely unaware of the dark forces hiding in the trees and bushes. One minute later, with them gone completely, Max yells, “Okay! You can come out now!”

            First to step out of the bushes is the Storm Singer, wielding his wooden staff. Behind him are fifteen other Children. “Greetings, Maxine. It has been a long, long time since we’ve last met.”

            “That wasn’t me, uh… you.”

            “Ah, then let me introduce myself. I am the Storm Singer, and this is my family. We are the Children of Nature’s Winds.”

            Max snickers and claims, “Chloe and the other me told me a lot about you.”

            “Did they tell you about how great a threat we are?”

            “They told me how intangible your goals were. ‘Trying to cause storms to recruit for your little cult’? That was your master plan?”

            The Singer is taken aback by this, adding, “‘Recruit’ is a strong word. My goal is to make a family. Make a home. Make it grow.”

            Max tilts her head before asking, “Because your wife and daughter were too good for you?”

            “How do you know about them?!”

            Max waves her right hand at them, showing off a blue butterfly tattooed onto her palm.

            The Singer spits, “Bah! They were weak!”

            “Weak enough to resent you?”

            “Yeah! I… They were… Seriously?! HOW?! Do you-” Max waves her right hand again. “Y’know what, enough of this foolishness, all we want is information on Rachel Amber!”

            Max rolls her eyes, adding, “No, I won’t help you with your plan. Now, leave this area or I will make you leave.”

            The Singer scoffs, “Like hell you wi-” Max reaches into her jacket and pulls out a shotgun, pumping it loudly. “OH SHIT! Everybody, run!” The Children disperse, running away from the Lighthouse and not looking back… save for the Singer.

            “This isn’t over, Maxine Caulfield!” Desperately, he rushes Max. He strikes at her with his staff but she parries the hit with the shotgun, stunning the Singer.

            She retaliates by grabbing him by the shoulders and tossing him aside over the cliffs at the edge of the Lighthouse, much to her own shock. She scurries over and sees him hanging on for dear life. “Maxine, please help me!” Max decides to try, offering her hand to him. He takes her hand and pulls himself back up to solid land.

            As the Singer scurries back in the direction of the greenery, Max utters two words in a bit of a harsh whisper: “Get lost.”

            The Singer nods and walks backwards into the bushes. He taunts one last time: “We will find Rachel Amber, Maxine. The storm will come again.”

            Absolutely tired of his antics, Max fires her shotgun at the Singer, causing him to fall into the bushes. With that done, she stashes the shotgun back in her jacket and walks into her shack, muttering to herself about those “stupid jerks”.

            With Max gone, the Children reemerge from the trees, confused and worried for their Singer. They search where he fell and find him lying on the ground in shock. He pats down his chest for wounds and finds none. Slyly, he remarks, “That mad woman, she used blanks… A mad Maxine.”

            “Boy, I’ll say. But I’m madder.” The Children look around and spot a dark scrawny shadow hanging in the branches above them. His body appears to be made from the greenery and nature around him.

            The Singer curiously asks, while pointing his staff at the stranger, “Who are you?”

            “I’m your meal ticket to mayhem.” The shadow moves closer to the Children before inquiring, “You wish to see Arcadia Bay wiped off the map?”

            The Singer nods: “That and more. Why do you ask?”

            “I’d like to see the Bay gone too. And I’ll help… on one condition.”

            “How will you help?”

            “I’ll get you the info you want, the info that’ll get you your Arcadian armageddon.”

            The Singer looks at the other Children before shrugging and telling the shrubbery shadow, “Fine, tree person. Lay out your conditions.”

Chapter Text

            It is peaceful in the Price house; such is fitting for an Arcadia Bay afternoon. Chloe opens the front door and walks in to the sound of daytime dramas and dishes being washed. She gives them a happy, "Hi, folks!"

            From the kitchen, David Madsen rinses off a plate and asks, "Hey, Chloe! How was your day today?"

            "Really good. Seeing the Park changed the way it has is really cool. Oddly enough, my version of the Prescotts never got around to ‘Overlook Avenue’. It was still a park when the storm came around. But that’s not the best part of today! Guess who called?"

            David merrily asks, "Rachel called you?"

            Chloe nods her head with a wide grin on her face, adding, "Mhm, on the anniversary of our first time hanging out no less… and also that giant forest fire, but er, we don’t talk about that. And she seems so happy!"

            David smiles, telling her, "That's cool, it really is!"

            Chloe snaps her fingers and speaks: "You know it, daddio! And she's in Culmination too! Just a brief train ride away.”

            From the living room, the very pregnant Joyce Price asks, “You heard from Rachel?”

            Chloe tells her too, “Yeah, mom! She’s busy and so am I, but we’ll see each other again soon.”

            “That’s wonderful!”

            “You can say that again… Hey, I gotta say that to Max some time.”

            “Do her parents and Frank know?”

            “Not sure, Mom. I really couldn’t care less about her dad, the DA. Her real mom, Sera, is off in Italy trying to run a business, and her step-mom’s… somewhere, she’s not on social media anymore. Also, Frank’s gone ghost for the past little while, it seems. I need to check in on him sometime.”

            David points, “Well, you be careful around that Frank guy. He’s bad news, isn’t he?”

            “Gotta give him credit, he did save my life from Damon Merrick back when he put Rachel in the ICU. And he helped me get high… ly, uh, paid.”

            David chuckles and adds, “Yeah… Wait, how old is he in comparison to Rachel?”

            Chloe shrugs, telling David, “I dunno. Never asked him.” Chloe walks over to Joyce and asks her belly, "Hello, Clarence! How're YOU doing today, little guy?"

            "He's kicking as always. I guess you, the other you, and him have that in common."

            Chloe tells her, "It's the price of entry into this world!" The doorbell rings and Chloe says, “I’ll go get that.” She walks over to the door and answers it, seeing Max. She hugs her, asking, “Hi, Max! How’ve you been?”

            Max and Chloe exchange a kiss. Max tells her as she walks into the house, “I’ve been busy. Not a lot of threats coming into Arcadia Bay… except for one. The Children of Nature’s Winds.”

            Chloe rolls her eyes, annoyed: “Oh great, those as- uh, buttholes again?”

            “Yep. The few of them tried to intimidate me into giving them information on Rachel Amber.”

            Chloe recoils in a bit of a panic, asking, “What, why?”

            “It’s complicated but, to put it bluntly, Rachel has powers.”

            “She WHAT? How do you know? Oh, that’s right.” Chloe waves her left hand at Max, showing a blue butterfly tattoo on her left palm that is identical to Max’s. “What are they? Fire powers? Mind powers? The ability to turn into a doe?”
            “Like, wind, or something. The ability to control wind.”

            “She’s an airbender! Ha! That’s kinda cool. Time powers are cooler though.”

            “You can say that again.”

            “Yeah- wait, no! YOU can say that again!” Both Max and Chloe point at each other with massive grins on their faces. From the living room, Joyce laughs at the girls. Chloe chuckles heavily while Max giggles to herself. “Anyways, back into game mode, what do we do about the Children?”

            “We do the one thing we can do… We call the Police and put in a report! We’ve got a party to attend and I didn’t bother to find out anything about their plan besides ‘get Rachel and make a storm’ or something.”

            “Fair enough. I’ll text her.” Chloe pulls out her phone and texts Rachel. "You call the poli-"

            Max shrugs and smugly tells her, "Just did."

            Chloe looks at Max, stunned, muttering, "Oh… Okay. Coo."

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Hey, Rach, please be careful for some guys in black hoods called the Children of Nature’s Winds. They are going to try and hurt you.

 

TEXT FROM RACHEL

Thx for the heads up, Chlo

Don’t worry, I can handle myself

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

I know you can

You have those superpowers of yours

 

TEXT FROM RACHEL

How did you know?

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Max told me, we’re dating

She has superpowers too

And so do I kinda

 

TEXT FROM RACHEL

Max Caulfield? You two met up?

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

It’s a long story

Come and find out!

 

TEXT FROM RACHEL

I will soon! ;)

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

An emoji?

Ugh

This must be a wrong number

 

TEXT FROM RACHEL

lol


 

            The waves crash on the shores of the Bay. Above it are the piers where a large gathering of young people are doing as they tend to do: Partying! People are dancing to the ditties, drinking 'til they're drunk, and talking up the town.

            Standing on the edge of the piers are Victoria and Kate, dressed in a black dress and gray jumpsuit respectively, doing a bit of talking themselves. Kate states, "This is a nice party."

            "It is. But I've seen better."

            "It's always better with you, Vic."

            Victoria begins blushing, bashfully telling Kate, "I mean… I- I suppose so." The music playing around them switches to Oasis' "Wonderwall".

            "Ooh, I like this song! You ever listen to it, Ka-" The song quickly works in the beginning of Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" before fusing into Neil Cicierega's "Wallspin". Astounded, Victoria asks herself, "What the fuuuu-"

            " Today, is gonna be the day

That they're gonna throw it back to you

By now, you should've somehow

Realized what you've gotta do "

            Kate looks at her and shrugs before pulling her by her wrist into the crowd. Victoria smiles and yells, "Okay, let's party!" The two dance together as the song plays on:

            " I don't believe that anybody

Feels the way I do

About you now

            In the midst of their dance, the two can’t help but to keep their eyes on each other, on the smiles on their faces, on the fires raging in each other’s hearts. The song intensifies and the two move closer to one another, still smiling.

            “Hey, lovebirds!” The two turn to see Max and Chloe, smiling as well.

            Kate speaks, “Hi, Chloe! Hi, Max! Welcome to the party!”

            Max smirks at her, “Thanks, Kate!”

            Victoria asks Max, “How’d your day go, Max? Y’know, with that infestation problem by the lighthouse?”

            “I took care of it… and since we’re out of harm’s way for now, it was the Children of Nature’s Winds. Their numbers have been dwindling since they popped up in November, so they weren’t a big deal.”

            Kate recoils and asks, “Oh my goodness, why didn’t you tell us that they were there?”

            Max looks at Victoria and tells Kate, “Vic knew too.” Victoria shakes and crosses her arms, giving Kate a thoughtful smirk as an apology. “It’s just that they were there for me… Or rather, there for Rachel Amber so that they could go about creating a storm.”

            Victoria snickers to herself. “Oh, that’s rich. What, was one ecological disaster not enough for her?” Chloe glares at her and Victoria defends herself: "I'm just joking around. What's a joke between friends?"

            Kate bumps Vic's shoulder and adds, "Like having drugs slipped in your drink!" Kate and Victoria high-five each other while Chloe's eyes widen.

            Chloe raises an eyebrow and claims, "You know she didn't have to drink it, right, Kate? And she slipped it in her tea first!"

            "All I'm saying is that she still made me drink it. Plus, what happened after was messed up."

            "Okay, yeah, I get that. We probably should've rushed Victoria to the hospital after she fainted…”

            "And also maybe used me as the understudy for Juliet."

            "Just to be clear, I'm not upset with you. And neither is Vic. We've all messed up at some point or another. What matters is that we move on from it. For the better."

            Victoria nods and tells Kate, "Yes, that's right. Thank you, Katie."

            Chloe shakes her hands and exclaims, "I suppose you're right in that regard! Just… let's get back into the party. No more fighting. Peace?" Chloe extends a hand to Vic.

            Victoria takes her hand and the two shake on it, smirking at one another: "Peace."

            The two hands separate and a cool breeze passes by the Blackwell crew and vanishes as quickly as it came. Both Max and Victoria know what - no, who - that breeze was.

            Victoria knows her very well: " Rachel Amber, that stupid, self-centered, manipulative, not-as-fashionable artsy punk-no-offense-Chloe-you-do-it-right ". Victoria tells everyone, "I'm gonna go grab some punch real quick" before walking away from the crew.

            Max knows her well enough: " Rachel Amber, Chloe's friend ". Max tells the crew, "Me too", before joining Victoria on her crusade. Both Chloe and Kate are left alone at the edge of the pier, a bit confused but understanding nonetheless.

            Chloe bumps Kate’s shoulder, asking, “Time travellers, right?” Kate laughs and Chloe lets out an earnest giggle.

            Vic, hearing Max's footsteps just behind her, asks, "You felt it too, huh?” Max nods. Sighing, Victoria asks, "Want me to stay back again?"

            Max tells her promptly, "I think we both know you wouldn't if I told you to."

            Victoria laughs before telling Max, "We need to hang out more often."

            Max smiles and adds, "You know it!" Before they even know it, they're marching side by side to the center of the party, where partygoers are receiving small colorful party bags.

            Victoria bumps her shoulder into a blonde girl dressed in a red romper and a floppy sun hat. Her head becomes filled once again with the foresight of who this is. She screams angrily and shrilly, “Rachel! RACHEL!”

            Rachel turns around to spot the source of her name being called. She spots Victoria and sputters to herself, “D’oho, shit.” Suddenly, she starts moving faster, pushing through people more roughly.

            “Vic, we should be a bit more friendly", suggests Max.

            “Forget ‘friendly’.” Victoria increases her speed as well, stepping over and marching past the people Rachel herself pushed past.

            Max sighs and asks herself, “How does Kate do this? How- How do I do this with Chloe?”

            As Rachel reaches the edge of the party, away from the piers, she sees Victoria still chasing after her. She grimaces at this annoying experience and decides to make a dramatic escape, dispersing into a puff of white smoke.

            “Rachel! Get back here… right now… Where’d she go?”

            Max catches up and tells her, “She’s in the air.”

            Victoria crosses her arms and says, “Hmph. What a lame superpower. For a lame person. Hah! ‘In the air’, gimme a break… You hear me, Rachel?!”

            “You know she can’t hear you, right?”

            Victoria crosses her arms and spitefully murmurs, “I was hoping she would hear me.”

“Between you and me, I think Rachel’s not the best. She’s not the worst either

            A hollow voice booms from the center of the party: “Hear me, Arcadia Bay, for I am the end of your suffering!”

            Victoria growls, “Oh, fuck me. Who’s this asshole?”

            “The leader of the Children of Nature’s Winds.”

            Victoria scoffs and sarcastically asks, “I thought you ‘took them’.”

            Max snarks, “Hush! This was gonna happen regardless!” The two laugh before running back into the party.

            In the center of the party, the Storm Singer hovers in the air. He is hoisted up by a whirlwind engulfing his legs. “Arcadia Bay is a garbage fire, whether we rid ourselves of scum like Sean Prescott and ‘grow’ past it. With this new Bay surviving a storm sent from the heavens, my Children have abandoned me. I know we… we, as a Bay, will fall again, one day, as is the fate of all things.”

            “What’s important is that we get back up. We don’t let the bad things rule us.” The Singer looks around and spots the source of this comment: Kate Marsh, alive and well as opposed to his timeline.

            “Kathryn Beverly Marsh, long time no see! When Arcadia lost your upbeat attitude at the hands of Prescott and Jefferson, it was an omen of bad things to come for sure! And thus, the storm saved us all from a future without it!”

            Kate slowly shakes her head, telling him, “That’s… not exactly right. I don’t quite recognize you, but you seem to know me a bit.”

            “Sunday congregation. My old name was Paul Callahan. My new name is the Storm Singer!”

            Kate waves, “Oh, hi Paul! Back on topic, I know what it feels like to lose everything around you. When… When those bad guys hurt me last year, it sucked to see people demonize me for being a victim. I fell into dark times, and the other you - this timeline’s you - and your family were there for me. But it wasn’t just the other you. I was also uplifted by some of the people closest to me. Like my dad and my sisters, my friend Max, and my girlfriend, Vic. That’s what Arcadia Bay - what any community - should be about!”

            “Perhaps.” The Singer looks away, considering what to reply to this innocent young lady. “Agh, if it is any consolation, you can be spared from the imminent massacre and you will always be welcome with the Children as my right hand woman.”

            Kate confusedly asks, “What?”

            “‘Tis a defiance of the wishes of my benefactor, but I will make an exception for you alone!” The Singer raises his staff over his head, pointing it at the night sky. Lightning strikes it and a whirlwind begins to form. The crowd disperses perilously, running away from the piers without a second thought.

            As the Singer looks around at the frenzied partygoers, he fails to notice a blue butterfly landing on his shoulder. A pale white fist flies into his jaw and the butterfly grows into Max, who is putting him in a chokehold. The mini tornado he is standing in collapses and the two fall to the ground. The staff rolls away from the two. She asks him, “

            Victoria runs over to Kate, holding her tightly from behind: “Katie, you okay?”

            Kate holds Vic’s arms and nods casually, “I’m great.”

            “Good! Now, let’s help Max.”

            Max puts a free hand up in front of her friends while she is using her other to hold down the Singer. She tells them, “No, stay back! I’ve got him.”

            “You sure? I don’t want to wait until this guy gets tougher in Round 3 or something.”

            “Positive! Get outta here!”

            Chloe steps forward and asks, “Max.”

            “Go!”

            The three run away while Max is scuffling with the Singer. He elbows her in the face and grabs his staff. “I’m sorry, Max, but you’re in my way.” He aims the staff at her and she smirks smugly at him.

            Poof poof , goes the staff as white smoke rises from the point of the staff. Max laughs at this, adding, “Good one, Rachel!”

            Standing behind Max is Rachel Amber, holding out a hand at the Singer. A tornado flies out of Rachel’s hand and blows the Singer away. “I take it you’re Max.” She helps her up to her feet and dusts her off a bit.

            “Mhm. Chloe’s told me all about you.”

            “Likewise. Now, let’s finish this guy off.” The two girls charge at the Singer while he hazily aims his staff at them.

            “So you do control the winds… That’s good confirmation. How about we all cool off?” The Singer’s staff emits a beam of water and Max pulls Rachel out of the way… leaving it open to hit Chloe, Kate and Vic.

            “Look out!” Victoria pushes her friends out of the way and is instead hit by the blast, pushing her to the ground. She sits up, soaking wet, as Kate runs to her aid. “I-I’m okay. What the hell, Storm Man?!”

            Max waves and tells her, “Sorry, Vic!”

            Rachel adds, “I’m not!” Victoria grimaces at her while standing up with Kate. Kate wipes some hair away from Vic's face while caressing her cheek. Kate then pulls her away to Chloe.

            “Yeah, me neith-” Rachel slaps her hands, summoning two walls of wind that slam into the Singer, pushing him to the ground.

            The Singer aims his staff at the sands beneath the pier and a tornado picks up a bunch of it. It flies back onto the pier and aims it at the crowd fleeing the area. The Singer snarls aggressively as a show of victory. Suddenly, a filter catches it, turning the sandnado into a tornado. Rachel crushes the mini-nado with her fist from afar. Rachel looks around for the source of the light construct but fails to spot Kate as she is still running away with the others. Rachel is also unable to notice the firenado flying for her. She turns around to notice it and she punches it, causing it to form around her fist. It’s a bit shaky but she’s in control of the oxygen and thus in control of the firenado.

            The Singer drops his shoulders and spitefully screams, “Oh, no fair!” He slams his staff to the ground again, turning the firenado into a midair waterspout. It flies into Rachel’s face, knocking her to the ground. As the Singer smiles and walks over to her, Max grabs his staff and fights with him for it. He begs, “Get offa me!” while trying to throw her away.

            Suddenly, Max detects a third party’s presence and a sniper nearby. A silenced shot goes off, aimed at Max’s neck, and she dodges, letting the Singer get hit instead. Max looks around and spots a soldier clad in black reloading on a nearby rooftop. She grabs Rachel and tells her, “You know Chloe’s place. Come on down when you can.”

            “I’ll see if I can. If not, tell Chloe I said ‘hi’.” Rachel melts into the air while Max turns into a blue butterfly and flies over to the town.

            The Singer grows drowsy as he looks around at his work. He has instilled the fear of Mother Nature into Arcadia Bay’s veins. A job well done, to him at least. And a job well done to the Agency of Metahuman Containment as they approach him with cuffs and sights trained on him. They pick him up and restrain him before dragging him over to a dark van that speeds off into the night.

            A metallic claw from a metallic body cloaked in a white lab coat grabs the discarded staff and taps the end of it. The lab coat lady, the creepy (now-)cyborg scientist Dr. Wanda Court of the Agency, looks at it through her glasses and turns her human head in amazement at the power that can be felt flowing through it just right now. She taps an earpiece and speaks into it: “Good news, Mr. Prescott, we retrieved the target and his weapon. No sight of any accomplices, or Maxine and Rachel for that matter.”

            “Your job is done here. Good work. Report back to base when you can.”

            “Oh, it is my pleasure.” Court walks away with the staff into another dark van where more black-clad troopers are awaiting her presence. This dark van drives off too, leading a pack of other dark vans into the night.

Chapter Text

            In her apartment’s bedroom, Kate talks to Max on the phone while Alice, her pet rabbit, sits on her lap. She’s still wearing her jumpsuit from the party. Max tells her, “Kate, I told you I could’ve handled the situation.”

            Kate retorts, “If I didn’t do anything, that sandnado would’ve killed someone.”

            “But you could’ve exposed yourself to the Agency back there! Of course you didn’t, but you don’t want to get involved with them as an enemy, trust me!”

            “I know but… I was given these powers to help people, not to sit on the sidelines. You told me as much yourself. The fact that me and Vic are training with Master Gohdo and the other monks tells me that much.”

            Max sighs and speaks, “Okay, I’m sorry.”

            “It’s okay, Max. You’re all about the ‘best ending’ and I know you’re doing your best for the best, but please be careful that it doesn’t mean bad things must happen when they don’t need to.”

            “Yes, Kate. I’ll do my best. Have a good night and tell Vic I said that too.”

            “Okay, good night.” Kate hangs up the call and looks over to Victoria as she steps out of the bathroom in her black silk pajamas with a towel wrapped over her hair. She asks her, “You’re all washed up?”

            “Only for the third time today. Is everything alright?” Victoria tussles her hair with the towel before setting it down on a towel rack.

            “Max told me about the Agency and how they swooped by the party while the Storm Singer was talking. And also for me to tell you she said ‘good night’.”

            “Great. Another threat to look out for.”

            “Not us. Only Max, and the Storm guy who they got. And Max told me that, even though I used my powers, no one really noticed anything. Especially not the Agency.”

            Victoria walks over to Kate and sits beside her on the bed. “Good. You’re good, y’know that?”

            Kate takes Victoria’s hand, kneading at her palm with her fingers, and tells her, “Of course I do. I mean, not to brag or anything.”

            “You saved people’s lives today! Brag all you can!” Alice shakes her head a bit and Victoria adds, “See, Alice agrees!”

            “I did, and I’m glad you and…” Kate giggles, tickling behind Alice’s ears, before continuing, “Alice feel that way, but Max said something weird… That I shouldn’t have used my powers.”

            “Max is always on about that whole ‘greater good’ futurist talk. ‘Things have to go exactly like this or butterfly effect will summon an even bigger tornado than our nightmare one’. I don’t buy into it too much. What I do know is that, as long as we do the right thing, we’re good.”

            “That’s true. Let me go put Alice in her cage and then we’ll try getting some sleep.” Kate gets up, carrying Alice comfortably in her arms. She lightly kicks the cage open with her foot before kneeling down to let Alice in. With the little rabbit inside, she tosses her a carrot and closes the cage. “Good night, Alice.” She walks back to bed with Victoria and pulls the sheets over the two of them. “Good night, Vic.”

            Victoria wraps her arms around Kate’s stomach and pulls her closer. “Good night, Katie. I love you.”

            “I love you too.”


 

            Down by the docks of Culmination, along the Nehalem River, Rachel paces back and forth with her phone to her ear. DEEEET . DEEEET. "C'mon, pick up, asshole." The phone goes quiet and Rachel's face grows worried… she thinks to herself " Oh no. No, sir, you are not an asshol -" DEEEET . Rachel drops her tense look and glares at the phone in aggravation. DEE -

            A grovely old man's voice comes through the phone: "Good evening, Rachel."

            "Hi, Mister Iris. I'm here to report the delivery as a success."

            "Excellent. I’ll have my boy, Eric, send you a check by Friday morning… I'm seeing a lot of positive reports, a lot of happy customers on social media. But I'm also seeing a local report of you and a friend being involved in a scuffle by the party. A big one. With a su-u-u-upervillain. Oooh."

            Rachel jitters a bit and shoots back, "I didn't know anything about that Storm guy."

            "Noted. But guess who else was there? None other than Sean Prescott and his little Agency. They’re onto you just a bit. Not a lot, of course. My informants tell me that they’re primarily after some girl named Max Caulfield."

            “And whatever should I do about that?”

            “Stay out of the limelight, little lady. That grubby geezer’s on a warpath  Of course, that means smaller jobs and smaller payments. Sucks but that’s a sacrifice you gotta take. And a direct order from yours truly. Capisce?”

            Rachel nods, telling him, “I hear you.”

            “Good. I’ll keep in touch. Farewell for now.”

            “Okay, bye bye.” Rachel hangs up the call and stuffs the phone in her black and red satchel before looking off at the river.


 

            At the lighthouse, Max walks around in amazement at her combat prowess. She counts the Agency stormtroopers she has had to deal with: “Forty-five… Forty-six… Forty-sev-” Her phone rings.

            Chloe’s calling from her bedroom. She worriedly asks, “Max are you okay?”

            “I’m perfectly fine,'' she says as she steps over an Agency soldier. She kneels before his head and looks at his body, shivering as she does so. “Just had to deal with a fight at the lighthouse. I counted twenty Agency stormtroopers at my doorstep.”

            Chloe’s eyes widen and she almost shrieks, “Oh my God!”

            “Yeah. It was crazy, I just went on autopilot and got out unscathed.”

            “You scared them ALL off?”

            Max closes her eyes and steps away from the death around her. “No…”

            Chloe’s heart sinks as she realizes the only other alternative to “scaring them off”: “Oh, Jesus, Max. You… You killed them all?”

            Max nods to herself, feeling the guilt of her actions strike her in her gut and in her lungs. “I did.” Chloe goes silent and she starts heaving in shock. Max quickly asks her, “You’re not alright with that, hm?”

            Chloe swallows and claims, “I- I mean, I killed a person or two in the past, but… it’s just… That’s twenty people you killed.”

            Max coldly tells her, “It was them or me. And they’re the Agency too. It had to be done.”

            “I get that, but… please be careful, Max. Please don’t become the OmniMax. You’re a goddess, and a damn better one than she was. What I’m trying to say is… don’t go Doctor Manhattan on us please.”

            “Oh, Chloe… “I’ll be careful, I know. God, this whole situation is fucked up, I am so, so sorry, Chloe.”

            “I believe you. I trust you, Max. And, you know, I love you. Just be careful out there.”

            “I will, Chloe. Sleep well. I love you too.” Max hangs up the call and walks back into her shack, drained from everything that has just happened. She summons a butterfly from the top of her right hand and whispers into it: “Find Dolly. I… I think I need her help.” With the message in the butterfly’s tiny brain, she shoos it away as it flies into the air.

            As the butterfly flies away, headed eastward, a pigeon wearing a headset dives for it. As he opens his mouth to eat it, it flies through him like a spirit, causing him to glide away in confusion. He looks at Max and she smirks at him menacingly, freaking him out further. He flies away, moving down south. Down to the Three Seals Motel along the coast…


 

            Sitting in a motel room, all tied up and with a plastic bag over his helmeted head, the Storm Singer asks his captors, “What more do you think can you take from me?”

            Dr. Court, eyes focused on the television as it airs a new episode of “ Hawt Dawg Man: The Animated Series ”, turns her gaze to the Singer. She stomps over to him, allowing three Agency soldiers lying on the bed to get a better view of the show, and promptly tells the Singer, “Your family.”

            “Oh, the Children? The punks who bailed on me? In favor of being reunited with their living quote-loving-families-unquote? I wish them well, but not well enough to be a bargaining chip.”

            Court raises an eyebrow and taps the Singer on his forehead with her metal pointer finger: “Or perhaps your… other family.”

            The Storm Singer’s voice seemingly grows worried. Frantically, he begs, “Oh, no, not my wife and daughter. You mustn’t hurt them, please don’t hurt or kill them. They’re innocent!”

            “We can kill them if you choose that path. Or you can help us.”

            The Singer begins sobbing almost violently, “Oh, no, not them! Please don’t kill them! Please, please, please, anyone but THEM!”

            “Then, work with us here.”

            The Singer looks away, impressed at his own acting skills. He looks back to Court, telling her, “Um… Never?”

            Court scoffs before telling the Agency goons on the bed, “Find them. Kill them.”

            One of the soldiers annoyedly tells her, “But Doctor, it’s a new episode!”

            Court turns around and yells, “I don’t care for your children shows! Do as I say, or the Jumper will take you on a flight you won’t return from.”

            Another soldier tells his brothers in arms, while picking up his rifle from the floor, “Alright, boys, pack it up. Let’s go killin’.”

            The Singer kicks it into overdrive with a frantic and desperate, “Oh, no, please no! Not my loving, adoring, endearing, uh, uh, beautiful? Nice? Fashionable? Erm, family!”

            Court begins laughing, howling with as many hoots as she can muster in her robotic lungs. She even begins tearing up a bit from laughter. “Wow, you really wanted us to go and do that, didn’t you?”

            “Hah. Yeah. Say, can you kill them for me?” Court walks over to the Singer and pulls the bag away from his head, smiling at him.

            The pigeon softly kicks the door open, tired and with a can of soda at his feet. He snarkily adds, “Talk about a cult of personality with this guy.”, before rolling the can of soda in and walking behind it. He salutes his brothers in arms and they salute back.

            Court crosses her arms and asks, “So, Rog, did we recapture Maxine?”

            The pigeon, Rog, tells her, “About that… You know that twenty man squad we deployed? All dead.”

            Court, the Singer and the three soldiers all ask at the same time, “WHAT?!”

            One of the soldiers falls to his knees and screams, “NOOOOOO!”, up to the heavens with his fists balled up at his sides.

            “Yeah, it’s wild. Max went hogwild on them, just tearing them apart with ferocious fire in her eyes. Also, her eyes were, like, pearly white. She looked like the Undertaker or something.”

            “That’s not quite the Max who I fought earlier today.”

            “What, did she only kill ten of you?”

            “No, she just pulled a shotgun on us. Weird, I know, but it was full of blanks. And she saved my life… after trying to throw me into the ocean.”

            “Hmm… Intriguing. A Maxine that’s growing madder. I suppose that’s what time travel does to you. Say, what else happened during your last meeting with her?”

            “She came out of a portal with two friends of hers. One of them seemed worried about something but the other didn’t really care. Or didn’t know. And they were dressed like they came back from a martial arts thing.”

            “Probably nothing to worry about then. Did you recognize them?”

            “A bit, yeah. Kate Marsh and Victoria Chase. Blackwell kids, both dead in my time - a suicide and the storm respectively.”

            “Those two…” Court opens her palm, revealing security footage of the two exiting the Helper Shelter after Dolly’s possession of Daniel Diaz and her subsequent attempt on their lives back in March. In it, they’re holding hands and they’re both walking like a weight has been lifted off of their shoulders. “I remember. Dolly tried to attack them back when she worked for us. Something about them being a bargaining chip to get Maxine under our control again.”

            “Whatever it is, they’re close with Maxine. We’d best keep an eye on them.”

            “Or better yet, we decide to try again. Contain them and use them as bargaining chips.”

            “That might work, except for that fact that those two took down the Wolf all on their own.” The Singer recoils in surprise, considering his own troubles with the boy several months back. Rog asks, “Who else can we send?”

            The Singer interjects, “You mentioned the Jumper earlier. Who is that?”

            “A younger asset, with the ability to bounce from Point A to Point B in the blink of an eye. He helped Mr. Prescott get out of a jam back in November.”

            The Singer rolls his eyes: “Ugh, Sean Prescott.”

            “He pays good, that’s all that matters to me and my research. Now, about that Jumper, he’s a bit out of our reach. Him and Mr. Prescott are close like that. He’s only available in crisis situations.”

            “Quite frankly, it was nice talking to you people, but I’m not all that interested in the matters of Max. It’s Rachel Amber I’m personally hunting.”

            “Rachel Amber? Okay, Mr. Prescott will be pleased.”

            "As will I. I'll help you all out on one condition. I get to end Arcadia Bay. With a big storm, courtesy of Ms. Amber and yours truly. That, and it might hurt Max emotionally, making it that much easier to capture her. I mean, it worked for me."

            "Hmm… I'll have to consult with Mr. Prescott. But I'll give you the update ASAP." Court shrugs and walks over to the Singer. She grabs a knife and cuts him free of his restraints. With a smile, she tells him, “Welcome to the team.”

            “Can I get my staff back please?”

            “Of course.” Court tosses the Singer his staff and he catches it casually.

            Rog advises, “Miss, that’s a dangerous weapon.”

            Court laughs and adds, “And so is he.”, while pointing at the Singer.

            The three soldiers giddily and quietly shriek in joy at their field leader. Rog buries his beaked face in his wings in embarrassment, muttering, “Oh my god, they’re in love. Save it for the honeymoon, will ya?”

Chapter Text

            The sun shines through Chloe’s bedroom windows. A new day is here. One where her search for Rachel Amber begins anew.

            She sits up, grabs her beanie and sets it on top of her long blue head of hair. 

            “Good morning, guys!”she says to her parents, even though they’re asleep with their door closed. Chloe shrugs and marches into the bathroom where she brushes her teeth and rinses her face.

            All that said and done, she walks downstairs and pours herself a bowl of fruited loop cereal. She tirelessly eats the bowl of grub and walks over to the kitchen sink to wash it clean.

            With her morning done and her mission ready, she puts on a pair of sneakers and texts Max:

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Ready to look for Rachel Amber, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes?

Helloooooo

Max

Max

Max

 

             Chloe sighs before rolling her eyes, and she flicks over to another contact.

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Hey, Rach

How are you doing today

 

TEXT FROM RACHEL

I’m good

My delivery went well

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Neato, burrito

And good job taking down the Singer

 

TEXT FROM RACHEL

I wasnt at the Piers yesterday!!!

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

I didnt meantion the piers

mention*

 

TEXT FROM RACHEL

Whoops

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Hahahha

 

            Chloe walks out of the house to her beat-up pickup truck just outside the garage. When this timeline’s Chloe died, the truck instead went back home - to the American Rust junkyard. The new Chloe picked it up once her adventure to Idaho, Seattle and the Transect ended back in March. Max was surprised to see it at first considering its origins as the old Pricemobile, but Chloe knew it well as her lovely little beast.

            Sitting in the driver’s seat, she texts another familiar number.

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Benjamin Franklin! I summon you!

 

TEXT FROM FRANK

Wha

What does that even mean

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

I’m in a punny mood today

I’m sure you know you-know-who is back

 

TEXT FROM FRANK

Shes not my Rach

And shes not urs

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Pal, this is ur chance to make things right

you know about her new line of work

Plus I’m not ur Chloe and we’re still bestest buds

also I gotta say hi to Pomps and cop some bud

So Im coming over

Get REDDY for BLUE hair

 

TEXT FROM FRANK

Ugh

Fine

And he’s not Pomps

Only his friends call that

Call him that*

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

I tickled him as a baby doggy

We’re bros dude

 

            Chloe fastens her seatbelt and clicks the clicker of the garage door. With the sun shining high as it opens up, she spots David standing in the way, waving at her with a smug smirk on his face. Chloe looks out of her window and asks, “David? What’s up?” 

            “I take it you’re gonna go look for Rachel today?”

            “How’d you know?”

            “You don’t wake up this early unless you’re going on a mission of some kind, as you… the other you used to. Plus, you mentioned it yesterday and you kinda woke me up already.”

            Chloe nods her head before asking, “Does Mom know?”

            “Of course. Check your phone, she texted you.” Chloe checks her phone to see a new text message from her mom.

 

TEXT FROM JOYCE

Be careful on your adventure, Chloe!

Also David is coming. Please wait for him!

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Thx mom

Hes coming with me, no worries

 

TEXT FROM JOYCE

Good

Love you both! <3

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Luv u too

 

            David steps into the front passenger seat, putting on his seatbelt, and asks, “Where to first?”

            “I’m thinking Frank first, since he might know something about Rachel’s new job and he’s in town by the beach. Then, we’ve gotta go find Rose. She can be a good emotional person for her or something like that. Plus, she’s nice.”

            David shrugs, “I suppose you’re right.”

            Chloe steps on the gas and her truck drives out into and down the street.


 

            From the skies, Rog descends upon Overlook Avenue on the hunt for Victoria and Kate. He flies up to Victoria’s apartment and looks into her window to find… no one.

            Dr. Court asks him over the comms, “Any sight of Miss Chase or Miss Marsh?”

            “Dammit, I must too late!”

           The Singer asks, “‘Too late’? It’s 7 AM, you bird!”

            Dr. Court adds, “Now, Sing-Sing, be nice. He’s a pigeon, not a falcon or a hawk or anything like that.”

            “Hah. Yeah, screw you too. Then again, I’m not a big fan of sloppy seconds…” He peers in more, taking notice of how clean and tidy everything is. “It’s so pristine in there! What, does she have a butler or something?”

            Suddenly, a new voice, older than everyone else, takes hold with a hearty laugh: “She did have a butler, I bought him out when I caught her and Nathan drinking on a road trip to Mount Rushmore. But for now, we leave the girl and her friend alone.”

            Rog recognizes it: “Mr. Prescott? What are you doing on these comms?”

            “Leaving a family friend out of this grand hunt. I’m a little bit ‘in’ with the Chases, lest you’ve forgotten.”

            Rog crosses his wings, informing Prescott that “I didn’t forget- I don’t even know who Victoria Chase or Kate Marsh or whoever the hell else there is… is. I’m not from around here!”

            “That makes two of us. The point of the matter is she’s certainly not a threat to any of our operations. Now, go find our actual targets - Maxine Caulfield and Rachel Amber.”

            Court chimes in, “Oh, we found Maxine alright. Just didn’t capture her. Didn’t you hear Rog’s report?”

            “What happened?” Someone whispers the report of the attempt to capture Max over to Sean, causing him to proclaim, “Holy mackerel, twenty guys?! What the hell, how is she so strong now? Let’s just focus our efforts on the little firestarter herself! Rachel Amber, where is she?”

            Rog taps on his headset a bit, responding, “Hmm… I’m hearing from a text conversation she had with one Chloe Price that she is in Culmination.”

            Sean groans, “That hole? It’s even worse than Arcadia Bay!”

            Rog shrugs, “I guess? I dunno.”

            “Take a look around there instead. Keep an eye and an ear out for her.”

            “Aye, aye, sir!” And with that, Rog takes off for Culmination, a determined look on his face.


 

            Meanwhile, in Kate’s apartment just a few feet away, the two lovers are looking out their open window in astonishment. Kate asks, while holding Alice in her arms, “Did that pigeon just talk about the two of us?”

            “Between the Storm Sucker, zombie Rachel and an evil cult, that’s probably the least weird thing we’ve seen. Best to just roll with it.”

            Kate passes Alice to Victoria and plops a kiss on her cheek before asking her, “You mind if I roll you some breakfast?”

            Vic’s face lights up happily, “Of course! What’s on the menu?”

            Kate walks over to her kitchen and opens the fridge, seeing the treasures inside: “Eggs, waffles, breakfast sausages, and yogurt.”

            “That’s a good little line-up. I'd like eggs, sausage and juice.”

            “Oh my Gosh.” Kate grabs four eggs and six sausages, intended to be evenly split between the two. “How would you like your eggs?”

            “I love scrambled, and I know you can do them really well.”

            Kate cracks the yolks into a bowl and spins them swiftly with a fork. At the same time, she also turns on the stove, leaving a pan to heat up.

            On the bed, Victoria lightly scratches Alice's back while she rests between her crossed legs. She also looks up at Kate, smiling as the sun shines on her. She asks the chef, “Any plans for today?”

            “No. What do you want to do?”

            “Anything, really. Just something fun, and not focused on superheroing.”

            “Okay. Let’s look at the news.” Kate turns on the television to a local news report before pouring the egg yolks onto the pan.

            “Earlier, twenty government agents were found murdered by the Lighthouse. It all occurred some time after eleven last night when a masked terrorist known as the Storm Singer was apprehended at the Piers during a party. He was incapacitated by federal agents who were called to the scene.”

            “Wha-?”

            The report continues: “Another metahuman - eighteen year old Maxine Caulfield - was to be brought in for questioning and she was cornered by federal agents by the Lighthouse. That is when authorities say she viciously killed the agents with her bare hands in a scene described as a bloodbath. Caulfield is believed to be armed and dangerous.”

            Kate furrows her brow and proclaims, “No! That’s not right! Max is innocent, she wouldn’t do that!” Seeing Kate act so upset provokes Victoria to jump to her feet and run up behind her. She puts one hand on her shoulder and caresses her cheek with the other hand. “What is going on?”

            To reassure and comfort her, Victoria tells her, “Something odd. Something… someone is behind this. And we should probably try finding out.”

            “We? We’re not detectives.”

            “... You’re right. It just sounded cooler in my head. How about we stay home and watch some movies or something? And you can choose.”

            Kate flips the eggs on the pan and tells her, “Okay. I’d like that.”


 

            At a newsstand on Arcadia Bay Avenue, a lady in a giant trench coat and sunglasses over a white mask with a black cartoony smile reads the front page of the town's local newspaper, the Arcadia Bay Beacon, scoffing at the written report of Max’s murders. The blue butterfly rests on her hand, occasionally flapping its wings. “What a load of hogwash… ‘Bare hands’. Hah. Gimme a break.”

            The vendor at the register angrily spits, “If you’re gonna read, miss, you’re gonna pay too. So pay up before I call someone.”

            Dolly looks at the vendor with a shocked expression to her white eyes. She tells him, “Relax, Chief, here’s your cold hard cash.” Dolly winks at the vendor and hands him some plastic tokens and Monopoly money, which he oh-so-graciously accepts with a wide grin. “Now, little Butterfree, to find your return address.”

            The butterfly takes flight and soars down the street into an alleyway. Dolly skips after it, gleefully ready for whatever comes next.

            The butterfly stops at a dead end where a mangy man sits in the shadows of the morning. Dolly looks at him and hums the Flintstones themes to herself.

            The mangy man steps out of the shadows, revealing his massive and hairy frame, dirty brown mane, and leather loincloths. He speaks with next to no nuance: “Me Naton of Arkaba.”

            Dolly offers her hand to him for a handshake: “Me Dolly of Carlin. Why are you here? Need some help getting to your summer home in Bedrock?”

            Naton looks at Dolly and demands, “Bring me queen!”

            “Odd request for a caveman. Okay, here goes…” Dolly clears her throat and starts singing creakily again:

            “ Is this the reeeeal life?

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landsliiiide,

No escape from realit-

            Naton grabs the lid of a nearby trashcan and slams it onto the floor, failing to startle Dolly into anything more than silence. He screams, “MY QUEEN! NEED ME! SPEAKS OF HER!”

            “‘Her’. Okay, lemme look into that.” Dolly rubs her forehead a bit to enter Naton's entangled and barbaric mind. She sees what he means and adds, “Your queen would be… Yeah, that makes sense. Overlook Avenue, pal.”

            Naton scratches his head, asking, “Over… look?”

            “The place with choo choo and the hills. Y’know…” Dolly raises her hand and moves it in a motion mimicking a train going up a small hill. “You’ll know when you see it.” Naton roars and speeds out of the alleyway, pushing past Dolly. The butterfly leaves the alleyway to flutter back on the path to Max and Dolly chases after it in a mad dash.


 

            Chloe's truck pulls up to the Arcadia Bay Beaches where a dirty little RV is resting on the edge of the nearby parking lot. David asks his stepdaughter, "What's your plan?"

            "I'm gonna talk to him and make sure he's up to date. And hopefully not dead either."

            "What about his attack dog?"

            "Me and Pomps are cool, I can work with him. You, on the other hand… he might be apprehensive about."

            "Why?" Chloe looks at David and he relents, "Okay, so I kicked him off Blackwell a few times. But I didn't like it!"

            "Really?"

            "... Is there a wrong answer?"

            "Just let me do all the talking. I'm a smooth talker." Chloe steps out of her truck and marches over to the RV.

            "If you say so." David steps out of the truck as well and walks up to the RV.

            Chloe knocks on the door three times. "Frank, it's me! Chloe!" David catches up and looks at the door in a little worry. Chloe knocks a fourth time, "Dude, open u-" The door opens and Frank is standing in the doorway.

            Frank crosses his arms and slyly smiles. “Well, well, well, if it ain’t the Ghost of the Bay… and her dad.”

            David extends a hand to Frank: “Step-dad. Name’s David Mads-”

            “I know who you are.”

            “You… do. That’s right.” David keeps his hand suspended in the air.

            Frank looks down at it, looks back up at David, looks down again and sighs before finally shaking his hand. “I take it you’re here for Rachel?”

            “Yeah, dude, you can give us info on her job. According to what Vic saw last night, she’s running drugs int-”

            Frank interjects, “‘Vic’?”

            Chloe pauses her explanation and adds, “Victoria Chase. You know, queen of Blackwell.”

            “Why are you hanging out with her? Isn’t she evil?”

            “She’s a bit off, yeah, but she’s not so evil nowadays. She’s changed.”

            Frank crosses his arms, adding, “Cool. Does that mean she can finally pay off her debt?”

            Chloe darkly chuckles before asking, “Oh, she’s got a debt to pay?”

            “Yeah, from all the way back in September! She better be lucky everything went to shit like it did, or unlucky now that you’ve reminded me.”

            Chloe shrugs, telling him, “She can pay, or someone will pay. Maybe Max can pay. But for now, we need to focus on Rachel. What do you know?”

            “About? Does her boss have a name? Where is she based? Does… she have a boyfriend?”

            “I don’t know if she has a boss, she’s in Culmination, and no.”

            Frank strokes his beard and says, “If she’s here on the Coast, then that probably means she’s in with my old supplier, Merrill. He’s a hardass, one who can be cool once you get to know him. But his boss, Teddy, he’s a reeeeal fuckin’ piece of shit.”

            David asks, “Can you give us a rundown?”

            “Sure.” Frank walks over to a chair and sits in it. “So, Teddy Iris. He’s the biggest drug boss on this side of the country, maybe even beyond that. Maybe a bit further out beyond that. He gets his shit from across the border, sends it to Merrill and his ghost crews to trim, then sends it out to wherever demand is in. Places like here, Santa Monica, Culmination, Seattle. He’s connected.”

            Chloe triumphantly crosses her arms and says, “Ah, can’t wait to meet this guy when the world's going tits up in a few years."

            “Good luck trying, the man’s a ghost. The way people talk about him, sounds like he just showed up one day and made himself the boss. No one’s seen him in person, no one claims to be his family, no one even knows if he has any family or close friends.”

            “Weird, but I’ve seen weirder.” Chloe points to her left arm, prompting Frank to raise an eyebrow. “Now, one more thing… Where’s Pomps?”

            Frank’s bedroom door opens and Pompidou, a bit bigger than before, charges out up to Chloe’s legs. He barks at her and she kneels down to rub his back. “Hiya, Pompy! How’ve you been?” Pompidou rolls over onto his back and Chloe rubs his belly. “Look at how big you’ve grown! D’awww!”

            Frank walks over to David and asks him, “Yo, Mustache, is she this soft at home?”

            David chuckles and tells him, “Oh yeah. Hah.”

            Chloe asks, “So, you’re in for Rachel?”

            Frank sighs as Pompidou walks up next to him. “Sure. She may not be mine, but she’s a reminder of a better time. And that’s all I need.”

            “Good. Next stop: her step-mom!”

            Frank’s eyes widen and he asks Chloe, “Wait, what?! You’re going for her too?!”

            “Um? Obviously? Is there some reason why I shouldn’t?”

            “She’s been busy. REALLY busy.”


 

SANTA MONICA

 

            Gunfire consumes the morning air of the West Coast as three local drug runners - two guys and one girl - frantically pace down an alley, protected by their armed bodyguards as they fire into the air. Suddenly, a figure clad in black swoops by, taking them above. Punches fly and the gunfire ceases.

            The lady runner asks her large male associate, "Why’s she here?"

            A mellow woman’s voice echoes throughout the alleyway: "I'm here because you've all been bad."

            An assault rifle goes flying at the lady runner’s head, knocking her out cold. Her two male associates, one big and one not, look up and see a woman clad in black combat gear adorned with small rose petals, and she wears a giant rose flower over her face.

            The two runners hold one another, deathly afraid, as the female assailant descends upon them.

Chapter Text

TEXT FROM MAX

Good morning Chloe

Sorry I couldnt talk to you earlier

Busy being on the run for now

I am going to make it right

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Okay awesome

How so?

 

TEXT FROM MAX

Ive got Dolly coming to help me

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Dolly?! Her?!

 

TEXT FROM MAX

I’m not proud, but trust me, it will work out

Oh and good luck on Rachel

I’ll try and catch up if I’m not too busy

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

Why u gotta be so controversal?!?!?!

 

TEXT FROM MAX

Im very very sorry ;( I still love you

 

TEXT FROM CHLOE

EMOJIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSS

Kidding, I cant stay mad at you

See you in a bit, I love you too

 

            Sitting on one of the trains moving around the edge of town, Max dials the number of a young metahuman living down South - Daniel Diaz. He picks up and Max asks, “Hi, Daniel. How are you?”

            “Hola, Max! I’m doing awesome, and so is everyone else. How ‘bout you?”

            “Yeah, just being hunted again. No big deal.”

            He asks, worried, “You’re on the run? Is there any way I can help?”

            Max casually shakes her head, telling him, “No way am I dragging you into this! You have your family and new friends to take care.”

            “That’s true. By the way, they really like it here! But since they’re all teenagers, did we change the timeline?”

            “They’re from an alternate universe. Think ‘Muppet Babies’. Anyways, your aid isn’t needed, but I’m happy you offered. I know someone who can help with my problem in specific.”

            “Who?”

            “Let’s just say we both know them well. But trust me, everything is going as planned… well, except for your brother. I heard him and Finn didn’t hit it off the way I thought?”

            “No. I’m happy he is around, and that he is more me and Sean’s age, but they weren’t very… compatible? Yeah. We’re all still friends though. But- You know Jacob?”

            “Yeah. The Christian drifter. He sounds like a really nice guy. Like someone Kate would hang out with.”

            “Him and Sean are going out! It’s so cool! My dad’s super supportive and so is everyone else!”
            Max smiles and adds, “Ah! I’m happy to hear that!”

            “Me too! So what now?”

            “I…” Max looks up to see Dolly trying and failing to climb onto the top of the train. She tells Daniel, “... see who I need to talk to. I’ll talk to you later. Bye, Daniel!”

            “Bye, Max!” Max hangs up the call and puts her phone away in her pocket so that she can help Dolly onto the top of the train.

            Upon getting up to the top of the train, Dolly throws away her disguise and waves violently, “Hiya, Maxie!”

            “Hi, Dolly. How have you been?”

            “I’ve been busy. Recruiting, plotting, brushing, flossing. What brings you to me? You’ve got some mind goblins running wild? Okay… You want to screw all of your friends?”

            “No.”

            “You want to kill all of your friends?”

            “I- No!”

            “You’ve got an evil Max running amok in your mind palace and you want me to get rid of the little pest before she takes control and screws things up even more than she already has.”

            Max draws a blank face and says, “Wow, you must’ve read my mind.”

            “Duh! Okay, let me get to work here. Take my hand.” Dolly holds her hand out and Max cautiously reaches for it. "Think back to your headspace when you- er, evil you - committed those murders and those almost-murders."

            “I can try.” Max closes her eyes and tries focusing really hard while Dolly waits for something to happen, her eyes darting around in anticipation. Max begins to shake.

            Suddenly, the world around them grows dark before a white light overtakes the darkness. The void turns into a rectangle, a room, with a camera and a plethora of photographs resting on a desk in one corner, a bed in another with an acoustic guitar lying on top of it, and a carpet in the center. Dolly steps on it and her mask smiles. In the air, music from Max’s more youthful days - Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” - plays:

In the suburbs, I

I learned to drive

And you told me we’d never survive

Grab your mother’s keys, we’re leaving

            Dolly nods in approval, adding, “Hey, this is a lot nicer than that last OmniMax’s mind palace.”

            Max nods and tells her, “This is how I want things.”

            “Simple and clean. I bet that’s what you tell Chloe every night, ah? Ah?” Dolly chuckles while lightly elbowing Max in the shoulder.

            The music abruptly pauses and Max groans. She facepalms and mutters under her breath, “Oh my God.”

            The music resumes and Dolly says, “What? I’m still evil. Speaking of evil, where’s-”

            From behind them, Max’s voice informs them, “I’m right here.” The two turn around and see a regular Max standing in front of a door, her arms stretched to block it.

            She charges at the two but they step out of the way, causing her to fall into her desk. She gets back up and puts up her fists. “C’mon, let’s go!”

            “Who are you and what do you want?”

            The doppelganger walks over to the guitar in the room and grabs it to wield as a weapon: “I’m you, and I want revenge.”

           Our Max jolts back and confusedly asks, “Me?”

            “Of course! You screwed me over, remember? Remember your last encounter with Tangi?” Our Max pauses and thinks back to what she could be referring to…


 

TWO MONTHS EARLIER

 

            David leads Kate and Victoria down Overlook Avenue to the nearby bus stop, hopeful at the prospect of fighting supervillains. Kate expresses her joy as well while Victoria rolls her eyes, still following of course.

            From a distance, the Cloak - Max’s temporary alias - stares at them through nearby bushes. Her smiles continues, seeing these old friends of her. She wants to see them again, not as the Cloak, but as Max Caulfield. But Max’s enemies too are arriving in the Bay. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees a clown handing out balloons to kids. His innocence is a mask, not to hurt others but to hurt Max.

            “Goddamn you, Tangi.” she whispers in reference to the clown. She looks left to right, seeking an escape from him. She takes her moment and dips out of the bushes, only to loudly fall into the back right blinker of a parked car down the street.

            The clown, Tangi, looks at his enemy and screams, “There you are! RARGH!”

            “Oh, dangit.” Max raises her hand and escapes from this point in time to an earlier one, leaving behind a Max without any recollection of the past few moments.

            “What happ-” This doppelganger looks over to see Tangi hop on top of the car and jump off to elbow drop her. “OH, NOOOO!”


 

PRESENT DAY

 

            Our Max tells her delirious double, with sincerity from the bottom of her heart, “Oh, my god, I am so, so sorry. I didn’t know! Is there anything I can do?”

            “You can die. You can suffer. You can burn. All that matters to me now is getting back at you with every fiber of my being.”

            Max scoffs and tells her devious doppelganger, “Oh, fine. If it has to come to it, I’ll stop you!”

            The doppelganger swings at Max with her guitar, screaming, “Good luck, Tarp-Girl!” She jumps at Max with the guitar, still trying to hit her with it. Our Max looks at Dolly and says, “Dolly, do something!”

            “Fine.” Dolly snaps her fingers and the doppelganger is frozen in place.

            Our Max asks, “Why didn’t you start off with that?” Max walks over to the door and opens it.

            “If you need my help now, I’d hate to see you when we have to fight.” Dolly grabs the doppelganger, still frozen in place, and carries her out of the door. Our Max follows after her.

            Upon walking out, the two return to the top of the train as it passes between the outskirts of the Bay and Culmination.

            “Rachel’s out there. And so are the people looking for her. The people looking for me.”

            Dolly walks over to the two Maxes and says, “Cool. Out there, I’m needed at my nine-to-five.”

            Max chuckles before asking, “What are you working as?”

            “A waitress at my local Denny’s.”

            “You’ve got the whole doll getup on?”, Max asks while waving her hand around her face in reference to her visage.

            “Yes. But I can show the world anything else…” Dolly snaps her fingers, turning her into United States President Barack Obama. She tells her, in his voice, “I’m very pleased to meet you, Miss Caulfield.”

            “That’s so rad!” Max shakes Dolly-Obama’s hand firmly.

            “I know. Check this out.” Dolly snaps her fingers again, turning her into Spider-Man. “It’s me, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man! Or, ooh, look at me now!” She snaps her fingers once more, transforming her back into Dolly. “And, just for one last thing…” Dolly claps three times, entangling the doppelganger in a big mess of rope.

            She unfreezes just to realize her predicament as she shakes around, trying to escape. Our Max adds, “That was easy. Now for you to face the consequences of your actions.”

            The doppelganger gulps and curses under her breath.

            Dolly curtsies for Max and says, “Ta-ta, Maxie! Team Dolly's blasting off again!”

            “Take care, Dolly.” Dolly flaps her arms gently and flies away. Max turns to look at her terrifying twin and smiles at her smugly before pulling out a photograph of the streets of Culmination. She stares intently at it and the two teleport into the photograph.


 

            Back in Kate’s apartment, the two blonde lovers are sitting on their bed, sipping on orange juice in wine glasses. An empty plate rests next to Victoria’s thigh as she looks at Kate. She burps and covers her mouth, lightly adding, “Excuse me!” She puts the cup down on a nearby nightstand and adds, “Katie, you know the usual. That breakfast was delicious.”

            "Thank you for the compliment. It means a lot." Victoria leans in to plop a kiss on Kate’s cheek.

            "Y'know, I've been thinking - what should we do for college? I mean, we're gonna have to go sometime.”

            “We should stay local, for Max’s sake. And for the Bay’s sake too.”

            “Yeah… We should… but do we have to?”

             Kate looks into Victoria's eyes and asks her, "You don't want to stay in the Bay?"

             "Not if we'd be dragged into the armageddon. We can do great things, especially together, so let's do them elsewhere. Right? Max could probably take her enemies and the storm on."

            “As they say, ‘all roads lead to Rome’. And with Max and her influence around the town, that's doubly true.”

            “I know, if it's coming, it's coming and we have to prepare. But does that mean we have to be there? Like absolutely have to be there?"

            Kate smiles and says “We’re superheroes. Of course!”

            Victoria shrugs and says, “Maybe we can be superheroes in LA, or Seattle, or San Fran, or New York, or just somewhere that isn’t here.” Victoria sighs and Kate wraps her arms around her in an understanding hug. “I’m just a little scared. It's supposed to be a big battle, the big one, and I don’t want you to get hurt or anything worse when that big battle comes around.”

            “Me too. But we can handle it. It’s no different from Dolly, Daniel, Paul, the Clown, or-”

            Several knocks emanate from behind the front door, continuing non-stop. Victoria looks at it and senses, from the future, who is standing behind it. “I’ll go get it. You sit right here, dear.” She slides out of bed, walks up to the door and opens it, coming face to face with Naton the caveman.

            Naton bellows, “Queeeeeeen! Yarsss!”

            “Uh… I beg your pardon?”

            Naton points at her and says, “Vikta! You am queen! Of ME!”

            A befuddled smile crosses Victoria’s face and she says, “You must have me mistaken. I don’t think we’ve… Oh my god.”

            Kate looks over and asks, “Vic, you know him?”

            “I mean, if my future knowledge is right, I think I do. But no, me and him - this guy - have never met be-”

            “Hriesus!” Naton walks in, past Vic, and kneels before Kate. He raises his open hands to hers and primally adds, “Good sun to day!”

            “I… Yeah. Vic, who is this guy?”

            “Me am Naton of Arkaba!”

            Kate’s face droops and grows pale. She says, “What? No, no way. Vic, he needs to get out o-”

            Victoria runs up to her and tells her, “No, no, Katie, don’t worry. Nathan’s still locked up upstate, he can’t hurt you. And I'll never let him. This is… Naton. And he’s a caveman.”

            Naton spots Alice as she minds her own business on Kate's bed. He screams, “GRUB!”

            “No! Alice is not grub, you!” Kate rushes over to Alice, picking her up and shielding her from Naton’s view.

            Triumphantly, the caveman yells, “Huh! She am grub!”

            Victoria hops in, adding, “She is our totem, my… subject. We pray to her. And we must protect her.”

            “Totem.” Naton falls to his knees again and bows before Kate and Alice. He grumbles absolute gibberish, praising her existence.

            "Vic. What do we do with this guy?"

            "I have no idea. I… do we keep him?"

            "He's not a pet!” Kate pulls Victoria by her arm and whispers coldly, “And he certainly isn’t ours!"

            "I know, just an idea I had. But are you okay?" Victoria combs through Kate’s hair with her fingers to soothe her.

            Kate crosses her arms and says, "I'm fine. It's just weird, seeing… him, but not… him. He seems nicer though." As she says this, Naton grabs a pillow and softly hugs it, shocked by its texture.

            "He does. I'd say we should probably call Max. But she seems busy, and when I tried earlier, she didn't pick up."

            "So we're stuck with the caveman. Great."

            "He can stay at my place. I'll manage…" Naton falls onto Kate's bed, still clutching the pillow. Victoria sighs and tiredly adds, "I hope."


 

            Police sirens blare along the streets of Santa Monica as the vigilante watches from afar. She smiles upon her work, defeating drug runners in broad daylight. Then, her cell phone rings. She reads out the caller's name to herself: “Chloe Price?” She picks up the phone and confusedly asks, “Hello?”

            The voice on the other end earnestly says, “Hi, Rose. Or is it 'Flower Child' now? It’s… been forever.”

            The vigilante removes her mask, revealing the forlorn face of Rose Amber: “Oh my God. Chloe? You’re alive?”

            “Yes, but not like a zombie. I’m from an alternate universe. It’s strange, but here I am. I’m here to talk to you about Rachel. We know where she is and we need you to help her out.”

            "Who is 'we'?"

            "Me and some friends of hers, of course. We're all very concerned for her, since she's working as what appears to be a dru-"

            "I know about her job. I've been trying to get her to safety too, just in my own way."

            "So I've heard. We're waiting around for now to see if you'll come. So… will you come?"

            Rose smiles and says, "Without a doubt. For Rachel."

            Chloe replies, "For Rachel."

             On Chloe's end of the call, Frank jumps in with his own, "For Rachel!"

            Rose, startled, asks through gritted teeth, "Is that Frank Bow-"

             "Gotta go, bye, see ya later!" Chloe hurriedly hangs up.

             Rose puts away her phone and laughs to herself. "Chloe Price. You never cease to amaze."

Chapter Text

            Culmination: a more metropolitan town than its little brother, Arcadia Bay. Based on its industrial power, it opened the path to brick and mortar apartment complexes and shipping by way of the rivers along the northernmost edge of the United States. The shipping spirit is still strong along the small town, as seen in Rachel Amber.

            As of now, she’s resting in a tree with a lit blunt between her fingers courtesy of Teddy. But while she relaxes, she senses the winds intensifying, focused solely on her. She puts down the blunt and looks around, not seeing any threats on the ground or in the air, save for a pigeon hovering in the air, flapping his wings and staring her down. She doesn’t know any better. The pigeon flies away and Rachel goes back to her break, minding her own business.


 

            On the streets below, inside a black van, the Storm Singer aims his staff to the sky through a small window. A small whirlwind forms out of the staff, tracked to Rachel Amber’s current location. Next to him is a television showing corresponding CCTV footage of her at this very moment.

            Rog flies up to the van and opens the side door, hopping in and closing it behind him.

            The Singer tells him and the Doctor, “I think I’ve got her.”

            Court giddily claps and says, “Good. Now, if you can just reel her in, we’ll be on our way back to base, with promotions to go around! Then, it’ll just be Maxine to find!”

            The Singer smiles behind his helmet and asks, “And then you’ll let me go free?”

            Rog awkwardly stares at the Singer before telling him, “Yeah, uh-huh.” Suddenly, a knock is heard at the side door. “Now, who could that be?”

            Court opens the door and sees the doppelganger Max, still tied up with duct tape strapped to her mouth. “My, my. Maxine Caulfield, tied up in a neat little bow.”

            The Singer walks over and looks at this Max. “Might just be me, but she looks… different from when I last saw her.”

            Court shrugs and tells him, “Hey, a Max is a Max. Just focus on Rachel Amber.”

            The Singer shrugs and tells them, “Okay…” He walks back to his staff and notices it shaking violently. He grabs it and says, “Uh. We’ve got a problem.”

            Rog flies onto the Singer’s shoulder and looks at the television: “What is i- What the?!”

            The television displays our Max pointing at the camera while Rachel stands next to her. Court adds, “Now, hang on, if our Max is up there, then who the hell are YOU?!”

            Rog flies on top of the doppelganger’s head and grabs her hair while flying away, causing her to wince in pain. He says to his compatriots, “It’s not a wig.”

            The doppelganger explains, with her voice muffled by the duct tape, “Mm ma mst Mx. Mne mffa mckmne.”

            Court looks at this other Max and asks, “I’m sorry, what?” She rips the duct tape off her mouth.

            The doppelganger looks at Court coldly, saying, “Ow. I’m the best Max. One with a backbone.”

            “Uh, okay? Elaborate.”

            The doppelganger laughs evilly and says, “I killed your guys just to get you to find her and break her again.”

            Court grabs her by the throat and screams, “You did WHAT?!”

            The doppelganger grins and adds, “It didn’t really work out the way I hoped. I mean, it did when I killed them, but not right now.”

            “Give us one reason not to kill you.”

            “If I die, you lose your best shot at researching time travel, alternate universes, all that jazz. You lose your best shot at taking down Little Miss Time God.”

            Court sighs and concedes, “Dammit. She’s got a point. Rog, fulton her back to HQ.”

            Rog salutes her and says, “Yes, ma’am!”

            The doppelganger says, “Trust me, you won’t regret it.” Rog flies onto her ropes and attaches a fulton to her back.

            “I’ll trust you when you show me I can.” Court opens the side door and tosses the doppelganger out onto the street. The fulton inflates and pulls Max into the air. Rog flies away from it in a haste.

             Court crosses her arms and turns her attention to Rog and the Singer. She yells, “What are you two waiting for? Stop the two metas!”

            Rog says, “Of course!” He hops onto the Singer’s shoulder and tells him, “Let’s rock, Singer!” The two run out of the van and into the street. Rog flies up to the rooftop while the Singer summons a small tornado around his legs to propel him into the air.

            “I- Wait, what’s thi-” The fulton jumps to full power and violently jettisons Max into the skies above, prompting her to scream, “AAAAAAAAAAAAH!”


 

            The girls - Max and Rachel - are hidden near a set of air conditioning vents on the building next to the one Rachel rested on. They hear the Singer and Rog searching for them on the rooftop they just abandoned.

            Rachel looks up to the sky as she sees the doppelganger Max fly into the air, screaming. She asks our Max, “Who was that?”
            “That was my other me. She killed twenty people. You might have heard about it on the news.”

            “I might have. I’m glad to see Chloe’s not dating a killer.”

            Max modestly nods her head and adds, “I try my best.” The two girls chuckle amongst one another, perhaps a bit too loudly.

            The Singer looks down on them and yells, “And yet, you’re still screwed!”

            Max pats Rachel’s shoulder, telling her, “Oh, it’s that jerk again! Run!”

            The two get up and run to the edge of the building to a fire escape on the side of it. They dash down the steps until Rachel is suddenly stopped in her tracks. The Storm Singer is keeping her in place with his staff controlling her body and the wind that moves around it. “Max! Help me!”

            Max looks through her jacket and pulls out a small blue vacuum cleaner. She turns it on, sucking Rachel inside. She then turns it off, puts a lid on it and stashes it back into her jacket. From within, Rachel asks, “Why do you keep a vacuum cleaner on you?”

            “I keep a lot of things on me. Helps to be prepared.” Max looks around and says to herself, “Okay, time to teleport.” She pulls out a photograph of Chloe’s truck and begins to stare intently at it.

            Max prepares to open a portal to this area but Rog descends upon her and tries clawing at her face. He screeches, “You’re not going anywhere!”

            “Same for you!” Max turns to face Rog and punches him in the beak, sending him flying through a window into an elderly woman’s bedroom.

            He looks around and spots the apartment owner. “Well, lookie there! Sorry for the mess, mi-”

            The elderly woman grabs a broom and begins beating down Rog with it, yelling, “OUT OF MY APARTMENT! GET OUT!”

            Rog covers his beak with his wings, begging and pleading, “I wi- Ow! Stop th- OW!”

            Max looks at her photograph again and stares at it, creating a small wormhole. She falls into it with Rachel before it vanishes, leaving both the Singer and Rog in the dust.


 

            In the driver’s seat of her truck, Chloe scrolls through the Arcadia Bay Beacon for news on Max and her whereabouts. She misses her dearly, even if it has only been a few hours since she last saw her. Suddenly, a crashing sound is heard in the truck’s bed.

            Chloe turns around and smiles a joyous grin at who she sees. “Max! You’re alright?”

            “I’m fine. Sorry for not texting back earlier. Didn’t want you to get dragged into this whole Agency mess. But, bad news, it’ll happen anyways.”

            Chloe asks, “Why?”

            “I brought someone who is also being targeted. And no, it’s not Dolly.”

            Suddenly, Rachel pops her head out, looking around at her surroundings. She asks, “Why are we here? Wait…”

            Chloe is stunned.

            She happily whimpers, “Rachel.”

            Rachel smirks and starts to say, “Hi, Chlo-”, only to get cut off by Chloe enwrapping her in her arms in a strong bear hug. Max can only smile at her girlfriend’s heartfelt reunion with her other old friend. “Chloe, I don’t know if things were the same for you, but I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry about not being a good fri-”

            “You’re forgiven.” Chloe releases Rachel and pats her down, an action motivated by a need to just feel her old friend sitting before her. “You seem healthy. What’s been up with you? If you’re… okay to talk about it. I understand if you’re not.”

            “I can talk about it. You deserve to know.” Rachel helps Chloe onto the truck’s bed. She sits next to Max, holding her hand firmly.

            Rachel sighs and recounts her tale: “Back in - what was it, last… April? - I went to a Vortex Club party, and I was making a lot of bad decisions. I was motivated by my mission to get to LA, or just anywhere out of town, ASAP. My stepmom was fighting with my dad about my birth mom, how he tried to kill her using Damon Merrick. It broke them apart, and I couldn’t take it. That and you - my old you. Sorry, alternate timelines - hid the truth about it from me. It made my mission all the more dire. Everything was coming down on me. Enter: Mark Jefferson and Nathan Prescott. I’d thought they’d help me. And my mistake, trusting these two, nearly killed me. I was drugged at that April VC party. Those bastards took me to a weird bunker underneath some old barn on the edge of town. They took pictures of me, doped up. Or so they thought. At some point, I had woken up and they were pissed. Jefferson told Nathan to hit me with another dose, but I wasn’t gonna let that happen. I had powers, after all. And so, I ripped the wind from their lungs and killed them there. After that, I got out and ran into a nearby road. Where a car almost hit me! That’s when something strange happened. I fell into a wormhole, to an alternate dimension. One where everything… was, in a realm of light.”

            Max interjects, “The Transect!”

            Rachel nods and adds, “Yeah. That. I saw crazy shit. Androids from the future, costumed superpeople, other universes where my fate was different. Universes where I was dead or alive, single or… not. Where I had found lifelong love in the people around me. They were nice, but not what I was looking for. All I wanted was a way home. And I thought I’d found it… and I wasn’t too far off. I’d ended up in this Arcadia Bay, in what was, to me, the future. And what I found… wasn’t great. Sure, both Nathan and Jefferson were headed up the river. Sure, my murder was avenged. Sure, Sean Prescott got what was coming to him and was kicked out of town. But I was dead. You were dead. My parents were separated and in bad wares. My mom was out of the country. Frank was a mess. Everything was a mess. I left the Bay, finally, for Culmination, and I looked for a job. Soon, I found one in the form of Teddy and his men. He’d heard of me and revealed his knowledge that I had powers. I didn’t know how he knew, but I’m sure he had a history with this Agency of Metahuman Containment that he kept warning me about. He offered protection from them and a lot of payment for my services. I took it, not knowing what else to do. And it worked, but not in a way that made me happy. But now? I don’t care about the Agency, or Teddy, or anyone else who can hurt me. Now, I have you again.”

            Chloe falls back in her seat, taken aback by what she’d just been told. Lightly, she says, “Oh my God. Rachel. I- I promise I will do everything in my power to keep you safe. I won’t lose you ever again.”

            Rachel puts a hand on Chloe’s shoulder and tells her, “It wasn’t you. It was never you. It was me. And I promise the same thing to you.” The two hug again and Max joins in the hug rather awkwardly. Rachel smirks at Max and tells her, “Hey, don’t be shy. Get in here, you!” The three hug and let the tears rain down.

            Chloe says, “Okay. This is good. Also, just to let you know, I called your step-mom to let her know that I’m going to try saving you.”

            “Yeah, she’s been busy. Trying to get me out of this life by tearing it down from the ground up. I can’t blame her, it’s messy. But now, we can do it together. All of us. And, if what Max said is true, we’ll need her help.”

            “And she’ll bring it! By tonight, I think.”

            David and Frank run out of the RV in a hurry. David asks, “Chloe, what happened? We heard you talking to som-”

            The two see Rachel and she smiles at them.

            Frank steps forward and asks, with a bewildered look on his face, “Rachel?”

            Rachel says, “Hi, Frank. It’s been a while.”

            “Yeah… It has.” Suddenly, Pompidou dashes out of the RV and charges up to Rachel, pacing around her in a circle. He’s overjoyed to see her again, and so is Rachel. She gets down on one knee and scratches Pompidou’s back and belly. “Hi, Pompie! How have you been? Have you been a good boy? Yes, you have! Yes, you have!”

            Back in the truck, Chloe asks, with an arm around Max’s shoulder, “So, Max, about that whole thing at the Lighthouse?”

            Max snaps her fingers and tells Chloe, “Oh! So it turned out that there was an evil Max in my head. She made me do it.”

            Chloe lightly nods her head and says, “Huh.” She chuckles and raises her hands, adding, “Hey, it’s not my first time dealing with one of those. What’d you do to her?”

            “With Dolly’s help, I ripped her out and handed her over to the Agency to clear my name.”

            A blank crosses Chloe’s face as she says, “Oh… Isn’t that… bad?”

            “It might be. But hey, ‘all roads lead to Rome’. Plus, it brought me this much closer to you.”

            Chloe smiles at Max and tells her, “It did, didn’t it?” The two kiss and hold one another.


 

            Victoria walks into her apartment with shopping bags full of English textbooks, markers, pencils and whiteboards. She takes a seat on her bed as Naton stands idly in the middle of the room. She says, “I’m no teacher, Nate, so bear with me. I’m gonna ask you some questions. That sound good?” “Cool. Where are you from?”

            “Arkaba!”

            Victoria pulls out a globe and shows it to Naton, asking him, “And where is that?” She spins it around for him to see but he can only stare at it blankly. “Yeah, I figured you wouldn’t know how a globe works. Draw Arkaba for me.” She hands him a small whiteboard and a marker.

            Naton sketches a rough image of a mountainous town by a bay facing a massive river. He says crudely, "Arkaba is end of world. Nothing beyond!"

            Victoria looks at the drawing and asks, “So it’s just here?” Naton scratches his head in confusion. She walks over to her apartment’s window and opens it, allowing him to see the rest of the Bay and the Pacific Ocean it faces. “See?” Naton walks to the window, almost climbing out of it to view the town. Victoria worriedly tells him, “Don’t fall out!”, before grabbing his wrist to keep him anchored inside.

            Naton looks around, taking in the sight of cars, planes, people, streets, civilization, birds, butterflies, bikes, and of course the bay. His primitive mind pieces together his knowledge of Arkaba with this new experience of Arcadia. He exclaims, “Yes! Arkaba is here! Is just as pretty!”

            Victoria pulls him back inside, telling him, “Yeah. It is.” She closes the window a bit, allowing fresh air to come in. “Next couple of questions: What do you do? Are you, like, strong? Do you hunt? Are you allergic to peanuts, like Nathan was?” Victoria eyes Naton’s beard and asks, “You mind getting a trim? Possibly with a lawnmower?”

            “Slow down, slow down!” Naton scratches at his big beard and thinks on the questions. Finally, he answers: “Me am strong hunter. Naton best of Arkaba. Hunt brings crops and good for you and Arkaba!”

            A smirk crosses Victoria’s mouth: “I appreciate that. Are you allergic to peanuts?”

            “Pea-nut?”

            Victoria shrugs and says to herself, “I’ll have to just keep an eye out for that. Now, about that beard…”

            Naton tells her harshly, “NO.”

            Victoria drops her hands to her side and says, “You’re gonna have to at least trim it a bit. We don’t have to get rid of the whole thing but we can’t have you walking around looking like some wild beast.”

            “I AM beast!”

            “Keep your voice down!” She pinches her nose in frustration and says, “Why is this so hard to do? I’m just trying to help you.”

            Naton takes a seat next to Victoria and pats her on the back several times, confusing her. She’s not upset about it, and she’s even less upset about his earnest apology: “Me am sorry, Queen.”

            Victoria smiles and tells him, “It’s okay. And please, call me Vic.”

            Naton nods blankly and adds, “Yes Vic!”

            Victoria gets up and walks over to the bathroom door. She asks him, “So. Would you like a beastly haircut? And maybe a shower too?”

            Naton grins primally and grunts, “Okay.”

Chapter Text

            The doppelganger Max wakes up, strapped to a chair in a bright room. Sitting in front of her is Sean Prescott himself. He says, “Good evening, Miss Caulfield. I hope your travel here was comfortable.”

            The doppelganger nods and says, “Evening? How long was I-”

            “Five minutes. I had the Jumper teleport you here from the plane. He is one of my most respected agents. A loyal meta if I’ve ever seen one.” Prescott adjusts his glasses and adds, “Now, onto you. What is your game?”

            The doppelganger thinks over the question. “Revenge.” She laughs wickedly, prompting Prescott to raise an eyebrow. “Lemme give you the long-ass rundown.” The doppelganger takes a deep, deep breath and begins her tale…

            “Back when the OmniMax rolled around and screwed with time to sacrifice Chloe Price’s life, a whole bunch of us were dragged into her mind. When she rewinds time, she leaves behind that bad or worse timeline for a prime one, or prime enough for her. Perhaps that was just her punishment. I dunno. Time travel is weird. I first made contact with this knowledge when, stupidly, she and Chloe decided to play the Guessing Game in the Two Whales Diner. So that Chloe could learn how time travel works. She rewound time, having not gained her Chloe’s confidence. And I was abandoned, just one of the many Maxes left behind in the service of a greater timeline. Thankfully, I took it up with her when she was having a little nightmare as a big storm was about to destroy the Bay. I got to mock her until… Chloe arrived to move the nightmare forward. Away from me and my wrath. I was stuck there, still.”

            The doppelganger pauses to catch her breath and asks, “Water?” Prescott gets up and walks over to Max with a water bottle, helping her drink through a bendy straw. She continues…

            “But then, time sent me into the OmniMax’s mind, when she fixed the Bay. Got rid of you. And she left behind this other Max you had in captivity. You know the rest, up until she had to sneak away from a clown. She failed and rewound time. Leaving me behind. AGAIN. But then, I found a way to get into the new OmniMax’s mind - the one you captured - and I made her try to kill the Storm Singer, and actually kill your men. Just to pin it on her. My best shot at revenge. But then, she beat me up and made me corporeal. Her and that joker named Dolly.”

            Prescott gets to his feet and says, “Quite the story you have. Thank you for your cooperation. We may enlist your services in the future, but know that you are highly welcome amongst our ranks.”

            The doppelganger nods happily and says, “See ya later, Mr. Prescott!” She glares at him with a cold smile devoid of our Max’s light. Prescott waves goodbye to her and turns away just as quickly as he had coldly glared at her.

            Prescott steps out of the doppelganger’s cell and the door closes behind him. He mutters to himself, “My god, what is it with all these faux supervillains in my service?” Suddenly, his ringtone - a MIDI rendition of Naught By Nature’s “Here Comes the Money” - plays in his pocket. He picks up his phone and, upon seeing the Caller ID, answers, “Yes, Doctor?”

            “According to the Singer’s sources, Maxine and Rachel have been spotted by the beaches of Arcadia Bay. But they also have several associates accompanying them.”

            “Apprehend Miss Amber and Miss Caulfield with extreme prejudice. Regarding their friends, incapacitate them. They are not targets. Keep collateral to an absolute minimum.”

            “Yes, sir!”

            “And one more thing. Keep an eye on that Singer of yours. I don’t trust him much.”

            “As you wish!” Court hangs up and Prescott strolls away to some other area in the Agency’s Missouri Base of Operations.


 

             Snip. Snip.

            Sitting in a big bubbly bath, Naton looks around in confusion. His hair is growing shorter as Victoria cuts it and he tells her, “Feels tingly! On head!” He clasps his scalp in response to this new sensation of beautification, getting in Victoria’s way.

            “Beauty hurts, Nate, but it’s the price we have to pay. Also, please don’t put your fingers in the way, I’m not sure I can afford a prosthesis.”

            Naton lowers his hands into the water and says, “Sorry.” A laugh escapes his lungs. It’s a day for new things with this new caveman.

            “What hairstyle do you want?” Naton grabs a bunch of bubbles and tries spiking his hair up into a mohawk. “A mohawk? What is it with you boys and your mohawks?” The doorbell rings, and Victoria looks over to it. She says, “Oh, that must be Katie!” She gets to her feet and walks out of the bathroom to her front door.

            She opens the door and happily says to Kate, with an air of glee, “Hey, you.”

            “Hi, Vic. I came around to see you and… the caveman.” Victoria opens the door for her, allowing her to step inside. She peers into the bathroom and sees Naton, drenched and perhaps a little bit bored in the tub. She asks Vic, “Giving him a haircut?”

            “Yeah. He needs it.” Naton nods as he sees the two agreeing on something.

            “Can I watch?”

            “Of course. Talk to me here.” Victoria walks back into the bathroom and snips some more hair off of Naton’s head.

            “Okay.” Kate takes a seat on Victoria’s bed where she can see the two in the bathroom. More snips . “Oh, did you hear about Max and Rachel?”

            “No. What about them?”

            “They had a fight in Culmination with Paul and that weird pigeon.”

            “Did they win?”

            “They seemed to. I don’t see anything about them being arrested.” Ding. “Hey, and Max just sent me a text message!”

 

TEXT FROM MAX

Hi Kate! Sorry for not talking earlier, I had an evil Max in my head

 

TEXT FROM KATE

You didn’t kill those people?

 

TEXT FROM MAX

No it was the evil Max

I’ve never met her personally before

Shes got a grudge tho

But we dont have to worry about here

Agency has her now

 

TEXT FROM KATE

I guess that’s good. What now?

 

TEXT FROM MAX

The Agency will likely attack us next

Were ready though

 

TEXT FROM KATE

Cool! Keep me… updated?

Is that the right word?

 

TEXT FROM MAX

Ill try lol

TTYL

 

            Kate tells Victoria, “Max and Rachel are doing great. They’re also getting ready to fight the Agency.”

            “That sounds bad. But then again, it’s Max, so she’ll be fine.”

            Naton asks the girls, “Max?”

            Victoria tells him, “She’s a good friend of ours.”

            Naton starts to get up to his feet. “Max need help?”

            Victoria stops him and sets him down again. “No, no, she’s okay. I hope.”


 

            An hour later, the haircut is done. Victoria steps out of the bathroom and stands in front of the door. “Quick question, Katie.”

            “Shoot.”

            “What did you think of the haircut I gave Max back in March?”

            “The bob? It looked really lovely.”

            Victoria smiles. “Thank you. Now, for my second ‘do, give it up for Naton of Arkaba!”

            Naton steps out of the bathroom looking like a new man. He is neither a caveman nor an emotional mess. He’s got himself a mohawk and a radically long goatee with scrunchies keeping it collected. Of course, his body is as hairy as a wild animal and his leather loincloths are just as drenched from the bath, but it is to be expected.

            Kate says, “Wowee, Vic! Really good work!”

            With a smile, Victoria responds, “Thanks!” Victoria walks over to Kate and gives her a soft hug and a kiss of appreciation. "How do you feel, Nate?"

            Naton stretches and triumphantly bellows, “Me feel like new warrior!”

            The two girls take a seat on the bed and Victoria says, “Good. Now, tell us a bit about yourself.”

            Naton pulls out a whiteboard and draws images relating to his story on it with a black marker:

            “Me come from Arkaba. Like Bay but not.” Naton sketches a rough village facing the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean.

            “Me was great warrior, born of noble family. Me hunt whale, bear, creature big and small.” Naton sketches himself with a family of other cavemen. One of whom is wearing stone glasses on his face. “That is Papa. He am scarry, but he am far away now.”

            “Me was praised by Queen and Hi-Riestus.” Naton points at the two girls, and gives them a shaky thumbs up.

            “Me great enemy is Lord of Death. Monster of tar and blood.” Naton sketches some sort of Grim Reaper, his body loose and flowing over the village. People run in fear at the sight of it. “Me fought Death. Me beat him. Me save village, but he keep coming.”

            Victoria focuses on the drawing and whispers, “Wait… Oh my God. Katie, you remember the powers dream?”

            “Yeah, I think I do. And I remember Dolly mentioning some ‘ugly skull face’ boss.”

            “This seems big. Let’s look into it more later.” “Sorry, Nate, go on.”

            “Me was fighting Death. Me fall into hole. Me end up in snow. But snow not cold. And snow not empty.” Naton sketches himself falling into a hole where strange ships, characters, landmarks are floating against the white void of the Transect.

            “Me wake up in forest. Like Arkaba Forest, but not. Me walk to beach, me see party. Me see future, and me see you- Queen and Hi-Riestus.” Naton sketches himself at the piers where Kate and Victoria are.

            “Me hide, me try to learn about new world. But me am feared.” Naton draws people running away from him as he walks down the street.

            “Me was hiding when Dolly of Carlin led me here.” Naton draws himself in an alleyway with Dolly.

            Victoria interjects, asking, “Wait, Dolly sent you?!” Naton nods his head with an oblivious smile. She strokes her chin and says to Kate, “Things are starting to connect here. Dolly, this skull-faced ‘Lord of Death’, the Clown, Jeffershit, ‘Mr. Iris’ - whoever that is - now Naton.”

            “What if he is one of the bad guys?”

            “You’re not wrong to think that, but I doubt it. At least he hasn’t been evil to us. We need to stay on top of this whole thing though.”

            “Agreed.” Kate turns to Naton and gives him a soft round of applause. “That was a phenomenal story, Nate!”

            A grin crosses the caveman’s face and he says, “Tanks!”

Outside, winds begin to pick up. And people start screaming. And running. From something...


 

            The winds grow stronger by the beaches of Arcadia Bay. A wormhole of wind opens on the sand. The Storm Singer, staff in hand, steps out with Rog on his shoulder and a small platoon of Agency soldiers behind them. The wormhole closes behind them all and the Singer looks around the area. The few townsfolk present run away at the sight of the villain’s return.

            Rog says, with the top of his head bandaged up, “Her last few messages were recorded around her. Now, let’s nab ‘em and get ‘em to Mr. Prescott.”

            Schluuuuuuuurp.

            The baddies turn around to see Max sitting in a lounge chair while drinking a can of soda with a blue bendy straw. She waves at them, still slurping away.

            The Storm Singer slowly marches towards Max. “Maxine Caulfield. Time for-”

            Max puts a hand up to stop his speech. There have been enough of those as is. “I get that you guys are mad at me about killing your agents, and I am sorry that that happened. But that wasn’t me. It was an alternate evil Max. I handed her over to you.”

            Rog asks, “And is that supposed to mean we’re even stevens?”

            Max shrugs. “I hope so.”

            The Singer tells her, “You hoped wrong. You’re still a fugitive of the Agency, and we’re here to bring you and your friend, Rachel, into our custody.”

            Max shakes her head. “Rachel’s far away from here. It’s just me.”

            “You expect us to believe those LIES?! Hand yourselves over and we can make this a whole lot easier.”

            Max looks away from her enemies to catch a glimpse of the Pacific. The soldiers tilt their head to the Ocean in curiosity. In the distance, she spots a small plane flying up North. Calmly, she tells him, “No.”

            “Fine. You’ve made your choice. Soldiers, take her down!”

            Max sighs and pulls out a black scimitar. She looks at it and melts it into a circular shield.

            She throws it at a soldier, causing him to dodge it and fall on his butt. Max smiles as the shield returns to her grip. And she top it off, she starts to sing:

            “ When Max of Arcadia throws her mighty shiiiiield

            The Singer aims a concentrated tornado at Max and fires. As it flies at her, she deflects it with her shield, causing it to hit a flying Rog.

            “ All those who choose to oppose her shield must yiiiiield

            Rog starts falling to the ground but Max sprouts her blue butterfly wings and flies over to him. In mid-air, she catches him in her hands. She sets him down on the sand as two more soldiers charge her.

            “ If she’s led to a fight and a duel is due

Then the girl with the wings, shiny and blue, will come through

            Max flies at the soldiers, spinning past them. The spin confuses them, causing them to fall over their own feet onto the sand.

            “ When Max of Arcadia throws her mighty shiiiiield

            The downed soldiers look around, amazed at their defeat and their survival. They look to Max in curiosity. The last standing soldier asks, “Is that legal?”

            “No. I’m a fugitive, remember?” Max smiles at the soldier and he drops his gun. The soldiers stand together and one grabs Rog.

            Rog wakes up, rubbing his head. “Wha- what happened?” He looks at his troops, then at Max, then at the Singer. “What’s going on here?”

            Max says, “I’m not going to kill you guys. I never was. I mean, I kinda hurt you. Falling hurts. But I’m no murderer.”

            The soldiers look at one another and, amidst a cacophony of whispers, the soldiers agree: “She did spare us.” “So nice of her.” “I… Is there a code for this?”

            “Please. Lay down your weapons and leave me and Rachel Amber alone. I don’t want to fight.”

            The Singer laughs and asks, “You think mercy is going to save you?”

            “It won’t save you, that’s for sure. I know what you are planning.”

            The Singer is taken aback. “What do you mean?”

            “For you, this is a distraction. This attack on me would have diverted Agency attention away from your plot to destroy the Bay again.”

            “And what sense would that ma-” A small tornado flies harmlessly overhead to the Ocean. As it reaches the water, it poofs into thin air.

            Max crosses her arms and tells the Singer, “Explain that.”

            The Singer scoffs, smugly adding, “Hm. You’ve got me.”

            The soldiers grab their guns and aim them at the Singer. Rog angrily yells, “Get on the ground!”

            “If you insist.” A sinkhole opens beneath the Singer, sucking him in. It closes just as he goes in, leaving the soldiers shocked.

            Max grabs her phone and calls Chloe, asking her, “Chloe, you got all that?”

            Hiding in some nearby bushes, Chloe tells Max over the phone, “Yep. I’m gonna send it to the Agency’s email in a bit.” She hangs up and runs over to Max. “So what are we going to do about this guy?”

            An unseen woman coldly tells them, “We’re gonna stop him. Together.”

            Max, Chloe and the soldiers turn to face the ocean, spotting the Flower Child herself, Rose, walking along the beach with a parachute attached to her back.

            “Rose?”

            “Hello, Chloe. I’m here to see my little girl.”

            “As you wish. C’mon, guys!” Chloe escorts the team away from the beach to the parking lot where Frank’s RV, and the Battle for the Bay up ahead, awaits...

Chapter Text

            Victoria, Kate and Naton gather around the windows and look down at the streets as people panic and scream. They are being picked up in mini tornadoes and getting whisked away before the tornadoes dissipate, causing the townsfolk to fall on their butts.

            One screaming townsperson runs away from a mini tornado chasing them: “Get away from meeeee!”

            Another is being dragged slowly across the sidewalk, their ankle caught in the storm. They scream, “HALPPPP!”

            “Dammit. Must be that Singer screwing things up again!”

            Naton scratches his head and asks, “Singer?”

            “He’s a supervillain.” Naton looks at Victoria with a confused look still on his face. “We have to beat him up. Uh, you have permission to knock him around. A lot. Maybe kill him. You’ll know when you see him. Let’s get dressed. See you downstairs in fifteen?”

            “Of course!” Kate and Victoria quickly kiss one another.

            “Good. Nate, wait for us downstairs please.” Naton grunts with an essence of happiness in his voice and he leaves with Kate out the front door.


 

            With her two friends gone for now, Victoria pulls off her pajamas and grabs a pair of gray sweatpants, a green t-shirt with the head of an anime mech on the front, and a pair of white sneakers. She puts them on, topping it all off with her classic pearly necklace and gold-rim sunglasses with a smile on her face.


 

            Kate puts on a black sweater over a gray shirt, jeans and black boots. With her outfit ready, she looks to the window and kneels down. She does the Sign of the Cross and prays:

            “Lord, please let this fight not be bloody and violent. Please grant me, Victoria, Nate, and our friends protection against this current predicament. We fight for the people we love! Amen.”

            Kate raises her cross to the window, allowing sunlight to gleam onto it. The light then travels around her body before coursing into the palms of her hands. She smiles and opens her eyes, now glowing bright. Suddenly, her phone vibrates.

 

TEXT FROM MAX

If you and Vic are thinking of fighting the Singer with us, please be careful with your powers! The Agency is around, I don’t want you to be in their sights!

 

            Kate sighs and mutters to herself, “Dangit.”

 

TEXT FROM KATE

Okay! Thanks for the heads up! Also, stay safe too!

 

TEXT FROM MAX

Will do!


 

            Watching a live news broadcast of the Singer’s rampage while in the RV, David asks Frank, “Oh my God, why would someone do this?”

            Max barges in with Chloe, Rose and the soldiers. “Because they’re sick, that’s what… I assume you’re talking about the Singer.”

            Frank crosses his arms and glares at the Agency soldiers. “Sorry, officers, you’re not allowed to step on these premises. Now, back out before I shove my foot up your collective asses.” The Agency soldiers collectively laugh.

            Rose walks up to the front of the group while removing her flower mask. “Frank, first of all, it’s a pleasure to meet you face-to-face.” She puts up an offer for a handshake and Frank takes it, confused and a bit nervous at seeing his ex’s stepmom. “Secondly, we’re all on the same team here.”
            Rachel pushes past David and happily exclaims, “Mom!” She hugs Rose and Rose returns the hug without a second to pause. Smiles cross both of their faces.

            “Hi, honey. I’ve missed you so much. I’ve spent many days trying to find a way to save you, ever since I heard whispers of your return, and now, here we are.”

            “Once this is all over, I’ll get out of being Teddy’s toy. All for you, and all my friends here.”

            Max says, “I hate to break up the moment, but we need to coordinate a plan. The Singer can’t be allowed to continue his reign of terror.”

            “And he won’t. Not when we all work together.” Max smiles at Rose for her optimistic response.

            “Good. Also, expect some reinforcements. I’ve got Vic and Kate coming along too at some point.”

            Rose exclaims, with a finger pointed up in optimism, “Then, let’s get to work, team!”


 

            People run down Arcadia Bay Avenue, deathly terrified by the might of the small storms threatening them. The Singer marches down the middle of the street, arms splayed out gloriously. In his hand is his staff, loosely yet viciously summoning the wind for more tornadoes.

            The Agency troops from the beach run onto the street, guns drawn, and yell, “Surrender or we will open fire!”

            The Singer screams, “Bring it on!”

            The soldiers fire but the Singer summons a mini tornado to deflect the bullets away from him into the sky. The Singer begins to laugh until another bullet hits him in the back of the head. The shooter: David Madsen.

            The Singer shakes his head and aims his staff at David, unleashing a firenado on him. He jumps out of the way and escapes behind an idle car.

            A car comes barreling for him from behind. He aims his staff at it, distorting the vehicle into a metal spiral. The driver steps out of the wreckage and gets whisked away by another tornado. The Singer screams, “Look upon my works, Arcadia, and DESPAIR!”

            “I think we need to look into shutting you up.” Max flies into the Singer, knocking him to the ground. His staff falls out of his hand but it stays attached as a result of a strap wrapped around his left wrist. He swats his hand at Max, missing as she takes a step back. He tries to kick at her but she again evades his reach.

            “Enough of you, Ma- Ow!” A tranquilizer dart enters the back of his neck, causing him to recoil. He looks around and spots Rose, armed with a black blowgun, and Rachel, armed with a lighter, standing across the street. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t you. Lost little Rachel Amber.”

            “I’ve found what I was looking for.” Rachel looks at her stepmom with a smile and a nod. “Now, I’m gonna stop you.”

            Amidst a chuckle, the Singer asks, “With what? A cigarette or two?”

            “No.” Rachel ignites the lighter and blows on the flame, sending an explosion of flame in the Singer’s direction. He jumps out of the way and rolls to safety. “With my friends, and my family… And this here lighter.” He isn’t too safe though as his arm is on fire. He aims his staff at the flames and summons a waternado to extinguish the flames. Three more darts are fired into the Singer’s chest, knocking him to the ground.

            “Damn you two.” The two charge at the Singer but he summons a mini dust devil to keep them at bay. He also summons another waterspout aimed at his wounds to flush out the tranquilizer successfully. He gets back to his feet and aims his staff at the Amber women.

            Suddenly, a ray of light hits him in the eyes, distracting him. He covers his eyes with his hands. The light begins to distort and wrap around him, entangling him in light. “What is this?”

            “DIE!” Naton charges at the Singer, knocking him to the ground. He then begins pummeling the villain in the face with a barrage of fists.

            “Is that all you’ve got, Flintstone?” The Singer rips through his light-based restraints and kicks Naton away. He hops back to his feet and stares down the caveman.

            Suddenly, a switchblade is plunged into the Singer’s left shoulder. The stabber: Frank Bowers. He recoils in pain as Frank begins twisting the knife. Angrily, the Singer pushes him away and tries to smack him in the chest with his staff. Out of nowhere, a thorny vine with a red ribbon and roses grabs the staff, keeping it away from Frank who rushes to Naton’s aid and helps him get away. Naton and Frank join everyone else as they stand against the Singer.

            “Your crimes against the people of Arcadia Bay are wrong, Singer!”, says Bedlam as he lifts the staff over the Singer’s head. This also pulls the Singer into the air.

            “And you’re a living tattoo. Talk about a crime against nature.” A tornado blasts into Bedlam’s face, knocking him to the ground and enthralling him in its vortex. He goes flying into a gas station, causing it to collapse. Finally, the Singer turns his attention to his known opponents - Max, Chloe, Rachel, Rose, Frank, David, Naton, and the Agency soldiers.

            “Ah, hahaha! Look at all of you, desperately trying to save a town not worth saving.”

            Chloe tells him, “Yeah, I kinda already went down that route. It only brought me back here. Maybe it’s magnetic.”

            “Touche. And yet, the storm still comes.”

            Rachel asks, “You think baby storms will be enough to end the Bay?”

            “Maxine knows exactly what I mean. It’s only a matter of time until the big one comes. When my master, Death himself, arrives to deliver the killing blow to this dismal town and all those who stupidly wish to protect it, I shall stand with my brothers and sisters as a survivor and a ruler! What do you say to that?”

            Max smirks, spotting something behind him, and says, “Three words.”

            A whisper enters the Singer’s ear: “Go fuck yourself.” Victoria appears from behind the Singer and grabs his wrist to remove the strap keeping the staff in his grasp. As she removes it, he swats at her with it, but she ducks and a beam of light blasts the Singer in the chest, knocking him down on his back. Victoria grabs the staff out of his hands and hits him in the helmet with it.

            Max yells at the top of her lungs, “CHARGE!” Everyone descends upon the Singer, kicking and punching him relentlessly as he attempts to protect himself with his arms.

            “Get off of-” A kick to his face cracks his helmet. “Agh! Damn- OW!” A foot stomping on his stomach knocks the air out of his body. “S-stop this!”

            Victoria looks at the wind energy being propelled from the staff’s tip. Worriedly, she asks,  “Guys, how do I turn this thing off?!”

            Chloe asks, “Have you tried breaking it over your knee?” Victoria shrugs.

            Bedlam interjects, “Don’t! It may trigger an actual tornado or something of that ilk! Plus, Victoria might not be strong enough for that. Look at her.”

            Victoria glares at Bedlam and tiredly says, “Oh, for the love of- fuck you tattoo, first of all. Second- Someone, help me with this!” The energy begins to grow stronger, slowly pulling Victoria into the air.

            The Singer wheezes, “Click the off but-”

            Rog swats his wings at the Singer’s now-exposed face: “Shut it, Singer-boy! Your ass is going away for a long time!”

            From out of the blue, Kate appears and grabs Victoria by her ankles to keep her grounded. “I’m here to help, Vic!” She pulls herself up to the staff and the two meet hands.

            “Thanks, Katie!” The wind energy surging out of the staff begins to dissipate and the girls begin to slowly float to the ground. And just like that, the energy stops. “Think we’ve got it?”

            A cloud beam shoots into the skies of Arcadia Bay, knocking Kate and Victoria to the floor. The grayness of storm clouds consumes the sky and a THA-DOOM rings across the sky before fading out.

            Victoria tells Kate, “I… think we got it.”

            Suddenly, a raindrop falls from the sky and lands on Victoria’s nose, causing her to rub her nose in response to the funny sensation that ensues. Then another, landing on Kate’s cheek. And another. All of a sudden, a small shower rains down on Arcadia Bay.

            A citizen trapped in a mini tornado just outside of the Two Whales Diner screams, “Oh my god, help… me?” The tornado dissipates and the citizen floats to the ground safely. The same goes for every other tornado in town. The afflicted realize what is going on. And, on instinct, they cheer for their unseen hero.

            Kate gets up to her feet and helps Victoria stand up again. The two hold each other close and look into one another’s eyes. “We did good today, Vic.”

            “We did.” Victoria pulls Kate in for a kiss. Their friends cheer them on triumphantly. Even Rachel can’t help but smile and clap for her old archenemy.

            On the ground, the battered and bloodied Singer spits, “What? No. I was supposed to- to be the storm. I am the Storm…”

            Victoria turns her gaze to the Singer and shrugs, telling him, “Nah. You’re just a tit. But you can always reflect on your life choices in prison.”

            An Arcadia Bay police officer - Officer Anderson Berry - grabs him by the collar of his robes and carries him to a police cruiser. The Singer, dazed, says, “Ah… you. I want my lawyer.”

            Berry tells him, “Yeah, no. We don’t do that for terrorists, You do get read your Miranda Rights. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Berry tosses him into the back seat and drives off to the town precinct.

            As the cop car disappears further into town, Victoria asks Kate, with love in her eyes, “Now what?”

            “Now, you pay me my debt!”

            Victoria facepalms and murmurs to herself, “Oh shi- hi, Frank! Long time, no see!”

            “Yeah, long time, no give money. Just because you saved the town don’t mean you get any discounts.”

            “Okay. You’re right. What’s the amount again?”

            “Five hundred dollars.”

            Kate jolts back in shock: “My goodness! Vic!”

            Victoria starts to pull out her phone, swiping around on it. “I was a stupid kid. I admit it. Frank, what’s your Venmo?”

            Frank crosses his arms and tells her, “It’s ‘BeanBowersActivate’. Remember?”

            “Yeah, yeah. Ah, here it is.” Victoria taps a bit on her phone, sending her dues to Frank in a matter of seconds. “And there’s your money.”

            Frank checks his phone to see a confirmation email. He smiles and says, “A pleasure doing business with you, Chase.” Frank turns his attention to Kate and tells her, “And you. Stay safe out there, okay?”

            “You and Katie know each other?”

            Frank sighs and tells her, “No. But I was the town drug dealer, and I made some fucked-up deals with fucked-up people.” Both girls realize who he is referring to and nod sadly. “And I’m sorry I went through with those deals. I’m not about that life anymore. Not when I’ve got Rachel with me. And hope. Lots of hope.”

            Victoria shoots a hopeful smirk at Frank, “That’s good. You take care of yourself!”

            “Yeah… Yeah, you too.” And with that, Frank walks over to Rachel as she is striking up a conversation with Naton, Max and Chloe.

            At the same time, the townsfolk once bedeviled by the mini tornadoes crowd around our heroes. "Look, it's the heroes who saved us from the weird babynadoes!" The crowd settles on cheering them on for a second time.

            Victoria turns to Kate and asks her, “So… again. Now, what?”

Chapter Text

            In the Price household, the sound of Hippo Campus’ “Way It Goes” moves magically through the air. And in celebration of the Singer’s defeat, everyone who helped bring him down is there. Even Rog, although he’s busy with a phone call to Sean Prescott and the Agency bigwigs.

Wisconsin pines, colla-borating with the day-glow vibes

An al-truistic breed of tra-vel guide

It’s chill, but lord knows you’re trying

            Sitting on the couch, Rog speaks with Sean Prescott via phone. “Sir, I get that we had our orders, but she-”

            “But nothing! You had one job! And you blew it!”

            A frown grows on Rog’s brow and he interjects, “To save this little town, you big baby!”

            “Enough! You and your crew are fired!”

            “The hell, man? What about Court?”

            “She’s still working here. She brought us Max, remember?”

            “So di- I- Ah, fuck you!” Rog hangs up on his former employer and nervously rubs his forehead with his wings.

            Max and Chloe walk over to Rog with two other Agency soldiers. Max asks him, worriedly, “Rog, what happened?”

            “Sean Prescott fired us.”

            One soldier asks, with a slice of pizza in his hands, “He what?!”

            Another soldier falls to his knees and again screams to the heavens, “NOOOOOO!”

            “Christ, now what do we do? I need a drink.” Rog grabs a discarded beer can and gulps down the remaining alcohol within.

            Max looks down to her feet and thinks of a solution. Suddenly, one hits her: “I may have a job for you guys. Objectively speaking, what is your take on metahumans?”

            “I mean, I kinda had to hate ‘em for the job, but they’re not too bad, all things considered.”

            Max pulls out a flashcard and a pen. On the flashcard, she writes down her number and tells him,  “Here’s my number. I’ll call when I’ve got a bit of a clearer goal in mind. But just know that, if you need me, a friend I’ll be.” She hands him the card and walks away with her blue-haired love.

            “Nice rhymes. And hey!” Max stops and turns back around to see the pigeon once more. “Thanks for sparing my boys and I back there on the beach. You’re a good kid.” Max gives him a thumbs up and keeps on walking with Chloe to the stairs.

            Chloe smiles at Max, “Look at you, out here making connections.”

            “The Agency’s still out there, and so are people with powers. I’ve met a few, not in this timeline, who I believe can be of help for when the big end of days rolls around. And they’ve got some cool powers too - high durability, tracking, intangibility.”

            “Bet they can’t beat living tattoos.”

            “I know for sure they can’t beat you.” Max nestles her head on Chloe’s shoulder.

            A sly smile grows on Chloe’s face and she tells Max, “Let’s go to my room for a bit.” The two walk up the stairs to Chloe’s room, holding one another’s hands tightly.

Zom-bie kids love to hear that easy-going shit

Grab a gui-tar and just moan and shit

It’s cool, but Lord knows you’re trying

            Sitting by the counter in the kitchen, Rose talks with David and Joyce with glasses full of wine, water and milk respectively: “So we’re expecting him in August, and he seems healthy.”

            “That’s good, that’s really good. You said you’re thinking of ‘Clarence’?”

            Joyce nods, “Yeah.”
            “Sounds lovely.” Rose sips on her wine with a smile.

            “It does. Thank you. I’m sure he’ll grow up to do great things.” Joyce drinks a bit from her glass of milk and adds, “Y’know, we’ve all come a long way since that giant forest fire. And there have been ups and downs. But I like to think that this is our big break. All of our big breaks.”

            Rose tells her, “I hear you, sister.” The three toast and drink their respective drinks.

That’s the way it gooooes

That’s the way it go-o-o-o-oes

It’s so sat-is-fying

            In the backyard, Naton viciously tears open a box of pizza with his bare hands. As he stares at the gooey cheese and the steam exiting it, he can’t help but lick his lips. As he prepares to devour the thing, Victoria puts a hand up to stop him. With his compliance, both she and Kate grab slices for themselves and walk over to a bench by the garage.

            “You’re a good hero, you know that?”

            “I didn’t do it alone. I had you. And I had our friends.” Kate leans on Victoria’s chest and Victoria strokes her cheeks as they grow rosy and warm. She wraps her arms around Kate and leans her head up to see the stars with her. “Besides, I’m no hero. I’m just trying to live. And I like having you there every step of the way.”

            “Is there some way we can keep this moment?”

            “You know it.” Victoria pulls out her phone and holds it over the two of them. She snaps a selfie of the two of them together, smiling in the moment. Victoria saves the photo and puts her phone away to continue holding onto Kate.

            Suddenly, Rachel appears and says cautiously, “Hi, Victoria.”

            Victoria glares at her and responds, “Oh. Hey.”

            “I guess it’s been a while.”

            “It has.”

            Kate turns to see Victoria and rubs her cheek, assuring her, “It’s okay, Vic. I’m here for you.”

            Rachel nervously tells the two, “I- I don’t want to fight. I get it. We’re not friends.”

            Victoria raises an eyebrow and asks, “Is this some sort of apology?”

            Rachel scratches the back of her head and explains, “I know you’re upset about… the things I did. And the way I-”

            Victoria cuts her off: “Don’t. You shouldn’t apologize. I mean, you did some messed up stuff, but so did I. If anyone deserves the apology, it’s you. I’m sorry that I hurt you. I truly am. I was a stupid kid and I did stupid things. I am sorry.”

            “I’m also sorry. Can we try and do things over?” Rachel extends a hand to Victoria and asks politely, “Friends?”

            “Okay.” Victoria takes her hand and shakes it. The handshake breaks apart and Victoria goes back to holding Kate. She asks Rachel, “So how have you been?”

            “While I was the whole drug running business with Mister Iris, I’ve been okay. But things are looking up now. When Max brought me here, I almost immediately felt things change. Things feel better now.”

            “Yeah. Max has that effect. I’m glad we can all be here to celebrate what we have. Who we have.”

            “Preach, girl.” Rachel turns her attention to Kate and says, “Oh, speaking of, I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced. I’m Rachel. What’s your name?”

            “Kate Marsh. I’ve heard about you.” Kate and Rachel shake hands quickly.

            “Lovely to meet you. How’d you and Victoria hit it off?”

            “We weren’t great friends, but after Jefferson and Nathan were arrested, we got to know each other. Ever since, I’ve felt nothing but love and understanding for her. And it’s been growing every day.”

            Rachel nods in approval, “I’m… proud of you, Vic.”

            Victoria adds, “And I’m not stopping either. We both had a dream, back in March, after drinking some weird champagne. And in it, there was a storm surrounding Arcadia Bay. It sucked but we saw something good. Wedding rings on our hands. And they matched. I hope to spend every day with Katie. Even if it’s the end of the world.”

            “Hey, they’re trying to make it legal. Only a matter of days until it is. I’m sure you two will do great together.”

            Both Victoria and Kate grin at one another and Victoria says, “Thank you.” She turns her attention back to Kate until she realizes something: “Wait, did you say ‘Mr. Iris’?”

            “Uh huh. He’s a douchebag drug lord. You know him?”

            Victoria shrugs lightly: “We’ll have a history, according to our dream. It’s nothing to worry too deeply about. For now anyways.”

            “Hey, if my stepmom is thinking of taking him down, which I’m sure she is, I’ll be there to help her.”

            “And to that, I tell you good luck. Stay safe out there.”

            Rachel gives Victoria a hopeful smile and pats her on the shoulder, before walking inside as Victoria holds Kate tightly. The two look up to the starry night skies and rest.


 

            In the Agency’s Missouri Headquarters, Sean Prescott sits in his office, watching a news report from the Arcadia Bay Beacon discussing the victory, so to speak, of Victoria Chase and Kate Marsh: “ Blackwell alumnus and heir to the Chase name, she saved this town at a time when all hope seemed lost. She was not alone as Kate Marsh, star student and town local, aided her in controlling the Storm Singer’s staff and bringing an end to his brief reign. A festival is to be held on Saturday in their honor. This is Juliet Watson, AB-

            Prescott turns off the television and, with a smug smirk on his face. He pulls out his phone and contacts a family friend: “Good evening, Zara. Congratulations on your photo tour through Milan.”

            Harshly, Zara Chase answers, “What do you want, Sean?”

            Prescott checks his nails and asks her, “Have you checked the breaking news out of Arcadia Bay?”

            “No, wifi here’s not great.”

            Prescott puts his feet upon on his desk and tells her, “Check when you can. Your daughter and her girlfriend are making it big out there.”

            “Oh god, what did Victoria do this time?” A pause comes across the line and Zara proudly exclaims, “What?!”

            Prescott chuckles, “Yeah. Crazy how the kids grow up these days, right?”

            “We need to see her A-S-A-P.”

            Sean nods, “Indeed. Happy travels to you and Colin.” He hangs up and says to himself, amazed at this turn of events, “What a hero.”

            Suddenly, the door to his office opens and Dr. Court walks in. “Mr. Prescott?”

            Sean spins around in his chair to face her. “Ah, Doctor. How has your research been?”

            “Absolutely great. This other Maxine has been nothing but supportive in my work and, quite frankly, I think we’ve cracked the code.”

            “Excellent! Bring in your findings by tomorrow morning. It’s time to test out time.” Court turns away from him to leave and Prescott harshly adds, “Oh, and one more thing. Don’t let another one of these metafreaks get into your head again. Or you’ll be off this project without a penny to your name. And you’ll be sent to the Dawgs as a snack. I mean it.”

            Almost automatically, Court says, “Yes, si-” She freezes mid-sentence.

            Prescott reveals a controller to her with his thumb on the “PAUSE” button. “Say it. Like you mean it.”

            Court’s head shakes in fear. “Yes, Mr. Prescott. It will not happen again.”

            Prescott releases his grip on the “PAUSE” button and places it in his desk. Calmly, as if the tension were never there, he smiles and adds, “Good. See you tomorrow.”

            Court steps out of his office and down the hallway to the other Max’s cell. Inside, she drinks hot tea out of a ceramic cup as if it were nothing.

            The other Max looks up at the Doctor and smugly asks, “What’s up, doc?”

            Court smiles grimly and tells her, “I want you to know that your work will do wonders for this country, Maxine.”

            The other Max puts her cup down and applauds the Doctor. “Lovely. Hey, make sure to snag a photo for me. I want it framed n’ shit.”

            “What? So you can escape?”

            The other Max shakes her head, laughing as she does. “I don’t wanna escape. Been there, done that. Besides, the universe has grander plans for me, and that means I have to stay here. Ya' dig?”

            Court scowls at her and tells her, “Fine. I’ll snap a pic for you.”

            Max grins, her eyes full of evil, and says, “Fantastic. See you around.” Court continues down the hall away from the cell as the other Max continues sipping her tea.

Chapter Text

            The party at the Prices has died down as midnight approached. Victoria, Kate and Naton left together back to their apartment complex on Overlook Avenue while Frank took Pompidou back to his RV. Now, it was just the Prices, the Ambers, Max, Bedlam and the ex-Agency soldiers.

            In the backyard, Rachel calls her boss with bad news in mind. “Sorry, Teddy, but I can’t keep working for you. Things have changed.”

            Shocked, Teddy asks, “Ah. Is that so? Then, I suppose you don’t need that paycheck anymore, do you?”

            “No. I don’t.” A smug smile crosses her face and Teddy can only respond with silence.

            He breaks this silence by asking her, “What? Oh, you think it’ll be that easy, hm? Just getting away from me and my empire, riding into the sunset with your stepmom? No one escapes the grasp of Theodore Iris! No one!”

            Rachel rolls her eyes and tells him, “I just did. See ya later, chump.”

            “Yes. We shall meet again, Rachel Amb-” She hangs up on him with zero hesitation. She then summons a mini whirlwind and tosses the burner phone into it. It gets sucked up and crushed by the winds before being tossed out into the woods.

            “Fucking asshole.”

            Rose steps outside and asks her stepdaughter, “You’re out of that whole gig?”

            “Yep.” Rachel sighs, “Did I make the right decision, you think?”

            Rose shrugs her shoulders and pats her gently on the back before telling her, “All that matters is that we make things right. And trust me, we’ll make things right. Together.”

            “Damn right. It’s good to see you, mom.”

            “Right back at you, kid.” Rose turns around to open the door into the house. “Come now. Let’s go get a room at the Motel. The pigeon and the others are waiting for us.” Rachel follows after her and closes the door once they are inside.


 

            Chloe sits at the edge of her bed, smoking a cigarette. “Max. That was great. We need to do that more often.”

            Max sits up from bed and tiredly tells her, “I know. It’s just that I’m so busy nowadays. But hey, we now have a rockin’ Star Destroyer.” Max holds out the LEGO Star Destroyer that the two built while they were upstairs.

            Chloe adds, “And we’ve gotta thank Bedlam for his help here. Thanks, Beds.” She gives her tattoo a thumbs up as he idly stands by Chloe’s computer.

            He gives her a thumbs up and tells the two, “You’re welcome.”

            Max moves closer to Chloe and asks her, “So you’re game for Saturday?”

            “It’s short notice, but what the hell, it’ll be fun. For a while. Then, it might get boring.”

            “It’s never boring with you around.”

            Chloe smiles and tells her, “You know it.” Chloe lays down on her back, resting her head near Max. As she lays, she notices the Storm Singer’s staff resting on her closet. “Hey, what are you thinking of doing with that thing?”

            “I can’t just hand it over to anyone, nor can I just dump it somewhere. I’ll have to hold onto it until I get a better idea.”

            “Cool. And what about your superteam?”

            “Like I’ve said, I’ve met more than a few potential candidates across the multiverse. And I’m not going on this journey without you, so you’ll be my co-leader. And certainly not my second-in-command. You’re better than that.”

            “Aww…” Chloe eyes Max and adds, “Now, since we’re here in bed…”

            Max recoils in a bit of shock, asking with red cheeks, “Oh, we’re doing this right now?”

            Chloe chuckles a bit and asks, “You didn’t sense it from any rewinds or nothing?”

            “Hey, I know I wouldn’t rewind out of this for a second!” Max moves closer to Chloe and allows herself to be taken by her… until she remembers Bedlam standing in the room. “Wait… Um.” The two girls turn to see Bedlam whistling and trying to look away. Chloe clears her throat.

            Bedlam jolts back a bit and tells them, “I’ll… leave you two to it.” Bedlam slides out of the room through Chloe’s door, leaving the two lovers to their own devices. They kiss and smile at one another.


 

TWO DAYS LATER

 

            Saturday arrives and Arcadia Bay Avenue is crowded with happy, grateful faces. Free meals courtesy of Two Whales Diner and some of the other local restaurants, face painting, dancing and music, and a speech to be given by Victoria Chase on a big stage.

            Behind the scenes, she prepares for her big - well, not so big; Victoria only started work on it thirty minutes ago - speech with Kate by her side. Both are dressed business casual and as fashionable as ever: Victoria is wearing her pearly necklace with a black dress with a red sweater and flats, while Kate is wearing her golden cross with a brown blazer over a white button-up shirt, jeans and sneakers.

            Victoria holds a small black bow in one hand and her speech in the other. She asks Kate, moving the bow onto the right side of her head, “You think the bow is overdoing it?”

            “Ehh… It certainly doesn’t look bad, but it might be… overdoing it.”

            Victoria puts the bow in her jacket and tells her, “Thanks. Okay, makeup?”

            Kate smirks and tells Victoria, “On point.” Kate gives her girlfriend a closer inspection and adds, “Oh, you missed a spot.”

            “I did?” Kate leans in and plants a kiss on Victoria’s cheek, spurning a heartful giggle out of Victoria. “Oh. Aww.” As she tenderly rubs her cheek, making sure not to smudge the lipstick Kate left behind, she feels a vibration from her pocket. She checks her phone and sees a text.

 

TEXT FROM ZARA CHASE

Make sure to keep an eye out for us in the crowd!

 

            Victoria sighs and grumbles, “Ah, man.”

            Kate asks, “What?”

            “My parents are in the crowd. I mean, not to complain, but… feels weird.”

            Kate puts her hand over Victoria’s phone, moving it out of her view. “Don’t worry. Mine are too.”

            “I’m praying that yours can work that Marsh magic and make them lighten up.”

            “Amen to that.” The two fistbump and chuckle.

            Outside, the announcer proclaims, “And now, please welcome…”

            “Aha, here we go! Let’s roll.” Victoria grabs Kate’s hand and the two jog out into the sunlight.

            “… Victoria Chase and Kate Marsh! Our everyday heroes!”

            As the couple takes in all the cheering, Victoria and Kate spot their parents and Kate’s sisters among the crowd, standing up front. The two walk forward to a podium with a microphone and Victoria grabs it, holding it close to both of them. “Thank you for the introduction. Just a few days ago, we were all threatened by the evil villain that is the Storm Singer and his now-defunct cult, the Children of Nature’s Winds.” Victoria looks at her speech, seeing that she only got that far into writing.

            “I tried writing this speech a few hours ago and that’s about as far as I got… I’ll just have to speak to all of you with whatever comes off the top of my head.” Victoria takes the microphone and walks close to the edge of the stage before taking a seat near her and Kate’s families. Kate slowly follows but Victoria smiles at her and says, “Come along, Katie.” Kate steps forward and sits with her.

            “Let me tell you just a bit about myself. Besides what I’m sure a lot of you already know and have, unfortunately, had to deal with. I’ve screwed up a lot of things, and I’m probably not done doing that. I’m young. But what I’m doing is making things right. That’s what we all have to do. The Singer wanted to hurt people to make his family grow. But what he missed is that pain doesn’t bring people together. It’s love.” Victoria turns to Kate and smiles at her. Kate smiles back and moves a bit closer to her.

            “Sure, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but what heals you is compassion. And that’s what we all need. Of course, while today’s a good day for Arcadia Bay, with plenty more to follow, there will be bad days. Days where bad people are at their worst. It’s why we need to stick together and look to the light for solutions.” Victoria stands back up and helps Kate to her feet. She ends her speech with, “So, um, have fun today, eat well, and let’s all have some fun living in this town!”

            Silence befalls the crowd… until Victoria’s parents begin clapping. As does Kate’s parents and sisters. Max, Chloe and Naton, deep within the crowd, join in. Soon enough, the crowd erupts into applause. Victoria puts an arm around Kate’s shoulders and Kate rests her head with Victoria.

            Richard exclaims happily, “That’s our girl, AND her girl! Haha!”

            Colin Chase, Victoria’s father, asks, “You’re Vic’s girlfriend’s parents?”

            “Uh huh. The name’s Richard.” He extends his hand to Colin.

            Colin shakes it, saying, “Nice to meet you. I’m Colin. This is my wife, Zara.”

            “Pleased to meet you both. My name’s Sandra. These are my youngest daughters, Lynn and Josie.”

            Zara Chase, Victoria’s mother, waves and says, “Hello to all of you young ladies. Now, where’s Vic and Kate?”

            “Up here!” Victoria peers over the edge of the stage and starts climbing down with Kate helping her. As she reaches the ground, Kate jumps down and lands in her arms. The two look into each other’s eyes for a few seconds before Kate is let down on her feet.

            Richard gives the girls two thumbs up. “You did great up there, girls!”

            Victoria nods graciously. “Thanks, Rich. I see you’ve met my parents.”

            Rich shrugs and adds, “They seem like nice folk.”

            “They are. On most days.” Zara and Colin are taken a bit aback by this. Victoria chuckles and adds, with arms up, “Kidding!” The two scoff.

            Zara explains, “When we heard about your heroics, we couldn’t wait to come around and see you! We’re so proud of you!”

            Victoria glares at them with a hint of scorn amidst a mild smile of appreciation. “Thank you. But I didn’t do it alone.” Victoria turns to Kate and the two smile. “I had my friends.”

            “What are you two thinking of doing after this?”

            “Probably gonna grab lunch and then head home.”

            Zara nods her head and says. “Ah, cool, cool. Can we come too?”

            Victoria raises an eyebrow and asks, “You guys aren’t busy? I mean, you guys are always suuuper busy.”

            Colin sighs and tells her, “Vic, we… we’re not busy right now. Besides, we’ve got these new friends of ours to meet.”

            Victoria smiles. “Fair enough.” She looks past her parents and sees some familiar faces walking behind them. “And speaking of friends…”

            Max and Chloe work their way through the crowd. Max, amazed to meet the legendary photographers, says, “Holy moly, are those your parents?”

            “Yep. Guys, this is Max Caulfield and Chloe Price.”

            Colin points out about Chloe with an eyebrow raised, “Wait, didn’t you die?”

            Chloe raises her arms Frankenstein-style, sticks out her tongue and grumbles, “Braaains!”

            Kate, Max and Victoria laugh at her shenanigans. Victoria explains, “She’s the village idiot. And we love her for it.”

            Naton - wearing a button-up around his neck like a cape, pushes through the crowd before asking, “Zombs?!”

            Sandra asks in shock, “Now, who’s this character?”

            Kate introduces him, “Oh. It’s Naton.”

            Sandra recoils and pulls Kate close. “Prescott? Kate, step away from him. How’d he get out of jail?”

            Kate explains, “No, mom, not Nathan. Na-ton. He’s a caveman. And a cool one at that.” Sandra lets her go and Kate smiles at her, nodding. “It’s okay.”

            Lynn and Josie rush up to him and ask in astonishment, “Wow, a real caveman?” Naton smiles and waves at the two girls.

            Naton sets his sights on Victoria’s parents and asks, “Vic parents?”

            Colin answers, “Yes.” He looks at his daughter and asks, “Vic, is this guy housebroken?”

            “House good. Me am Naton of Arkab- Arkada Bay. Arkada Bay am new home.”

            Colin sighs and puts out his hand to shake Naton’s. “Ah. Question answered.” Naton takes his hand and grips it tightly, shaking it wildly.

            Victoria excitedly exclaims, “Now, to the Two Whales Diner!” Everyone within the group cheers, except for Victoria’s parents.

            Zara asks, “It’ll be pretty packed, wouldn’t it? All of us?”

            Victoria laughs as she wraps an arm around Kate’s stomach. Kate leans in to her as Victoria asks, “C’mon! While you’re still ‘not busy’! Live a little!” She leads the charge into the Two Whales Diner with Kate. Max, Chloe and Naton follow after them quickly. The Marshes follow suit and accompany them too.

            Zara and Colin look at each other and say to one another, “Oh, Victoria.” They smile and follow the crew into the Diner.

            In the skies of Arcadia Bay, a blue butterfly enjoys the calm winds at hand, soaring around with a natural graciousness. It lives.