Cellblock, Hero HQ, Setalite City, 11:47 AM.
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022.
“She won’t speak to anyone,” Alana said simply. “It’s highly unlikely that she would speak to you either, but you do have a habit of surprising us.”
“I didn’t think she could talk at all; her mouth was stitched shut the last time I saw her.” Loren said quietly, “I thought we were bringing in Haunt for this?”
“She broke the embedded metal holding her mouth shut when she bit Untold,” Alana nodded, gesturing to the door. “Threadbreaker and Haunt are due here in two hours, but anything we gain now will make it easier in the long run.”
“I don’t even have access to the pheromones anymore,” Loren pointed out awkwardly. “I don’t think I’ll be surprising anyone.”
“I am aware,” Alana said dryly—well, she had set it up after all. “I think you are far more persuasive than you give yourself credit for—keep in mind I haven’t been exposed to those pheromones, so I would consider myself an accurate gauge in this instance.”
“So you want me to get her to talk about what exactly?” Loren mumbled.
“Anything,” Alana said simply, “Once somebody breaks their silence, they are far more likely to open up in summary conversations. Establishing a connection with her now can only benefit us in future interrogations.”
Loren gripped the back of his neck for a moment, uncomfortable. Just getting her to speak to him, it wasn’t like that was wrong, surely? If it was just to get her to open up…
The room looks like the cell he’d been kept in when he’d had the time stop power, and Taker was practically mummified in restraints, mostly designed to keep her claws and teeth away from any of the others.
Loren picked his way up to the cage and stood in front of it; Taker looked up, then went back to looking at the floor. The patterned scales could almost be mistaken for a tattoo, and the yellow skin seemed almost pink without direct sunlight.
Her eyes were glowing, a far more vivid yellow that drew his gaze than anything else about her.
“Hey, Evelynn,” Loren said quietly. “It’s good to see you again.”
Evelynn looked up again, studying him without expression—Loren knew from her perspective she’d never seen him before, so it had probably caused some confusion. They’d place a blanket around her in an attempt at modesty, but it was starting to slip down her gaunt shoulders and exposing her neckline.
Even sitting down, she was intimidatingly tall, and he used his hand to brace himself against the ground as he sat down on the floor. Evelyn Miller was far too thin for someone so physically powerful—stretched to the degree that would have perhaps been cartoonish if it wasn’t so horrifying.
The shape of her face remained remarkably unchanged, and she still looked like the photos he’d seen of her before they’d done this to her. The two sharp and pronounced canines drew his eye for a moment—the metal stitching that had once held her mouth shut was snapped at the corners of her mouth.
“You wouldn’t remember me, but we’ve spoken before.” Loren admitted, “Well, I spoke to you anyway—My name is Loren.”
Evelynn continued to watch him, no longer looking away. Loren studied the black fur that seemed to emerge from her wrists, surrounding them not unlike a lion’s mane. Her legs were hidden beneath the blanket, but he knew there was matching fur around her ankles.
Loren decided to act while he still had her attention.
“I’d just killed Naomi at the time when you caught up to me,” Loren said, squashing the sick feeling building inside him at the memory. “I like to think you and I bonded over that.”
Evelynn twisted slightly, sending the chains and restraints rattling against each other, but her gaze remained locked on his face. He needed to break the silence, to get her to respond to his words in some way.
“That probably doesn’t make much sense to you,” Loren commented, leaning back on his hands.
One of her claws scraped lightly against the ground, drawing his gaze, the ground remained undamaged.
“I can explain it for you if you would like.” Loren wondered. “You’ll have to nod if you’re up for it.”
Loren fell silent, and the two of them stared at each other through the cage. Almost ten seconds passed before Evelynn slowly nodded her head. Loren forced a smile onto his face, feeling awful that he was manipulating her.
“Okay,” Loren nodded back, “I’ll tell you something really interesting, but I’ll need you to do something in return—you’ll need to call me by my name. Sound like a deal, Evelynn?”
There was another long pause before Evelynn ducked her head slightly in agreement. Loren swallowed at her compliance; maybe Alana was right about him after all. He leaned all the way forward until his forehead rested against the bars—lucky for him, there was no current.
“I’m a time traveler,” Loren whispered. “I’ve seen a lot of things that I shouldn’t have, and I can always go back again, you know? That’s how I knew you were in the sewers and where Naomi was hiding.”
Evelynn stared at him, so he kept speaking.
“One of the times I went back, I tracked Naomi down and killed her,” Loren continued, fudging the actual events in the purpose of persuasion, “That’s where I met you—I’m sorry to say that you got hurt pretty badly during the fighting.”
They fell into silence again, and Loren sat back, letting her think about that for a moment.
He tilted his head back enough that he could stare up at the lightbulb on the ceiling above him. For a moment, he wondered if simply observing it might cause it to shatter—Loren had recognized something about himself these last few loops, something that he wasn’t sure how he should feel about it.
He was changing.
If someone had told him at the beginning of this mess, he would have been horrified at some of the things he would go on to do. Treating people, even enemies, without mercy was something he’d never thought himself capable of—breaking Arret’s shoulder was a recent example that immediately came to mind—putting Vapid in the hospital because he hadn’t wanted to let her walk all over him.
Killing Naomi in the middle of a fight. Fighting Reset with the intent to kill because he knew the villain would survive it. Killing Beat while he was helpless in a fit of anger—he’d lost pieces of himself, and it hadn’t been an even process.
His tight grip on his morals had begun to slip, sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot. It wasn’t always fighting and killing either—he’d begun to lie to people for the sake of speeding things along like he just had with Evelynn. He’d stopped completely explaining things to these living, breathing people because it had grown exhausting, having to catch them all up, again and again.
He’d begun to misrepresent things because he knew it would evoke certain reactions, fast track them towards more useful conversational places. White lies, manipulations, broken promises, to himself and others, all the things he’d hated growing up. Somewhere along the line, he’d begun to use those same methods.
It was even worse because he was able to justify it—To think that for all of his stubbornness, all of his promises, and all of his spiteful adherence to his morals… All of that meant nothing in the face of a reason that had reached the threshold of ‘good enough.’
He’d braced himself to avoid falling, only to dive straight off the cliff anyway.
“To be fair, Naomi’s managed to kill me a few times as well,” Loren allowed because he knew it would draw her interest. “I’m not sure on the exact score, but it’s a few on either side, you know? I’ve got a bunch of stories if you want to hear some, but it’s your turn first.”
Surprisingly enough, Evelynn spoke.
“I am not supposed to speak, Loren,” Evelynn murmured, barely audible.
Evelynn’s voice didn’t rasp or sound at all strange, despite the fact that it had remained unused for so long—it was the voice of a woman and not the amalgamation they’d made her into. It didn’t at all match her appearance.
“I figured it was something like that,” Loren said eventually, “I wouldn’t worry about following those orders right now—I plan on going back again pretty soon, so all of this will be erased. So feel free to ask me anything you want to know—everyone’s going to forget it anyway.”
Another twisted truth, spoken with confidence and aimed to show her that he wasn’t at all worried about consequences.
“If she killed you several times,” Evelynn murmured, “How are you still alive?”
Loren answered, keeping her speaking was the main goal here.
“I’m kind of like that teammate of yours, Reset,” Loren responded. “If I die, I just come back to life again. I’ve also met most of Epilogue, if you were wondering how I knew about him, more than once in the majority of cases. I know how I feel about them, but I’m more curious about how you feel—do you like any of them?”
Evelynn stared at him for a long while.
“Reset,” Evelynn mumbled.
A one-word answer wasn’t the best sign to give her previous sentences.
“Really? I thought you were going to say Mara,” Loren said, genuinely surprised. “Reset seemed a bit angry—maybe he’s not always like that, though.”
Something about his appearance had set the villain off; he’d been almost at ease before Loren had turned around.
“No. He is always angry,” Evelynn murmured. “I understand him.”
Loren wondered what exactly it was about Reset’s anger that made him so relatable to her. Naomi was an incredibly anger person, but it wasn’t like he could expect Evelynn to like her.
“What about Tiamat?” Loren wondered. “Do you like her?”
“No,” Evelynn said flatly.
Another step backward, but the reaction was more potent.
“The Researcher?” Loren pressed.
Evelynn didn’t respond, and her mouth formed into a thin line, lips pressed together tightly. Reset was relatable to her, and there hadn’t been any response he could gauge when he’d mentioned Mara. Tiamat and The Researcher seemed to be off the table entirely; either she was too angry to talk about them or too scared.
“I don’t know enough about either of those last two to have formed an opinion honestly,” Loren admitted, “I’ll run into them eventually though, it’s bound to happen at some point. I guess I’ll have a chat with them then, see if we hit it off.”
“You should avoid them,” Evelynn murmured. “Unless you wish to become like I am.”
That was a piece of information that held some hidden facets—they’d done this to her, something that had already been speculated about to some extent. This was confirmation, though, and it also outlined to some extent what they could expect from them.
“Those two were the ones who did this to you? I’d come to the conclusion that they were the ones who switched Paragon out with the fake, so it makes sense.” Loren said, taking a stab in the dark.
Evelynn just stared at him, eyes glowing—and it took him a moment to understand that she was confused and then what it actually meant.
“You didn’t know about that?” Loren said, surprised. “Naomi didn’t either?”
“No,” Evelynn responded, still staring. “Paragon is gone?”
If she truly didn’t know, what did that mean exactly? Was Epilogue actually not involved in the whole Paragon situation? Or were they the type to compartmentalize their plans? Why would they keep something like that from Evelynn—why would they keep it from Naomi? Her stated goal was to kill the man and take his powers before moving onto the other Peacekeepers—if it had been Tiamat and The Researcher that had switched them out, why wouldn’t they have told her?
“I’ll admit that doesn’t make much sense to me,” Loren said slowly, “Do your teammates not share information or plans with each other?”
There was a small pause before Evelynn started to laugh quietly, and it was filled with so many horrible things Loren probably shouldn’t have called It such.
“You know so much,” Evelynn murmured, “But you don’t know this? Epilogue isn’t a team, Loren.”
Seeing how Lecture and Reset had interacted in the subway had shown him that there was some tension there, obviously, but he’d spent enough time around other teams to know that was pretty much universal—Everyone had bad days, even serial killers.
“You all work together towards shared goals,” Loren said lightly, “That says team to me; dysfunctional doesn’t equate to non-existent.”
Evelynn shook her head, and the heavy blanket slipped off her shoulders entirely, exposing the entirety of her gaunt and still naked form.
“I am pointed in the same direction as the other weapons,” Evelynn said, watching him. “I had a team once, and this is not that.”
Loren nodded in understanding, trying to unpack what that meant exactly. ‘Weapons’ was a loaded term if he’d ever heard one, and it didn’t sound like she was speaking poetically about it. It came across more like a title that had been assigned to her—and possibly the other members.
“I suppose that means Tiamat is the one aiming you?” Loren wondered, paying careful attention to her expression.
“Yes,” Evelynn said tightly.
Then that made her the one that Loren needed to be aimed at; cut off the head, and the body will die held a certain amount of irony given what the woman had named herself—but it should be effective either way.
There was a noise from the door, something heavy and metal striking against concrete, and he took that to indicate it was Alana’s method of informing him that his time was over. Evelynn had clearly heard the noise as well, and it served as a reminder to them both that they didn’t exist in a vacuum; her glowing eyes trailed away from the door and landed back on him, considering.
“Well, she spoke to me,” Loren admitted, shaking his head. “I guess that means my real superpower was making friends with villains all along.”
Alana cupped her armored fingers together on the desktop, knuckles down and thumbs interlocked.
“Yes, It seemed to go well. I apologize for interrupting you; it wasn’t my choice.” Alana apologized, “I had a difficult time getting permission for a complete unknown to speak with her, and that permission was quickly revoked once the information reached those in higher positions—I imagine this was something my other selves must have dealt with to some extent.”
“Yeah, we never spoke about that in the previous loop.” Loren admitted, “I ended up getting assassinated by Naomi before we had a chance to talk about that.”
Alana bowed her head fractionally before removing her hands from the desk, but Loren’s thoughts were pulling away from the current discussion despite himself. He couldn’t help his thoughts looping back around to the fact that in the past, he would have handled that conversation with far more empathy.
Loren hesitated before it all came pouring out of him.
“I’m changing,” Loren said, voicing his concerns. “I knew I would, right from the start. It’s happening in ways that I don’t notice right away, but it’s also getting harder to ignore.”
Alana took the complete topic change in stride and seemed completely unbothered by his expectation that she keep up.
“It is not unusual or even unexpected for situations as difficult as this to have an effect on you,” Alana responded. “Our frame of reference is vastly different, Loren. You are as I have always known you to be, and we only met yesterday. If you were to elaborate, I would be able to give you more constructive feedback.”
He wasn’t at all the same person, and the words were like an unexpected spike to the chest. Once again, he was made aware that all of their previous interactions were entirely one-sided. Alana had forgotten all of the previous struggles they’d gone through, the discussions, the battles, and everything else they’d shared.
He regretted speaking up because now he was confused, hurt, and angry.
“I keep noticing myself doing things that I wouldn’t ever have done before,” Loren murmured, “Taking the quick route when I know I shouldn’t, putting things off to deal with later because I know the other person will forget… It’s just…. Did you know that we used to argue about everything, Alana? Tactics, morality, how to deal with all of this? Now it barely happens anymore…. I just follow your lead—even when I think it’s wrong.”
Alana’s helmet stared back at him, revealing nothing—was she surprised? Had she already come to that conclusion somewhere in the back of her mind? She took a moment too long to respond, and it fed into his growing anger.
“There was a time where you locked me in a room and forced me to watch the death of Setalite City,” Loren said challengingly. “Because I refused to let a single person die, and I kept getting involved, trying to save everyone. Running around like an idiot and dying before the end of the city—it wasn’t the optimal course to take; it was a lesson and a punishment.”
Alana didn’t speak, and they stared at each other, the featureless helmet weathering the mixture of hurt and fury on his face. The silence grew strained, but instead of snapping, it just kept on growing, along with the rest of his bottled-up anger.
“You killed me once, you know?” Loren said, aiming to get some kind of response.
“Put your hand right through my face and out the other side.” Loren continued, “Murdered me out of a mistaken revenge because the pain of losing all of your friends got the better of you—then a few loops later, you turned around and forced me to watch all of mine die in turn.”
“Loren…” Alana said softly, but he was too far in it to stop.
“I have to give you a pass, though, because it’s not the present you that did it, is it?—You’ve hurt me, jailed me, saved me, taught me, killed me—fucked me,” Loren spat, taking an awful pleasure in seeing her flinch, visible even within her armor. “We’ve been through so much, Alana—and you don’t remember any of it. What constructive criticism do you have for me? How am I supposed to feel about this?”
Alana didn’t have a response for him, and the chair clattered backward as he surged to his feet. Loren spun away from her, heading for the door—angry, hurt, and entirely disgusted with himself for taking it out on her.
Another one down my dudes.
We’re getting close to the end of season 2, which probably lands about chapter 70ish, give or take a few chapters. Were also at 180k words, which always blows my mind every time I see it. After this, we’re onto the final season. If you’re enjoying reading Reroll so far, leave a review, comment, or check out some of my other stories and do the same!
Reroll – Chapter 63 – Updated
Ameliorate – Chapter 8.