December 1, Orlando exploded all over his quarantine room. It took 2-3 more days before Nona and Langston deemed it “safe enough” for people to go in and start looking at the situation. With a full 5 days of science montage, Melody works out a fungicide to hose down that room yet again. Langston makes sure that the Council is alerted to blacklist the area in its entirety, publish the signs of the infection so that people can watch for it, and communicate the virus and its location, origins, and etiology (insofar as we understand it) to the other communities that we trade with.
Now, arriving on December 7, things have begun settling again.
There is a foot of snow on the ground, and Langston has been spending his time working on refining the nature of Power-activation triggers. He determines through his work that we will NOT just randomly trigger. His hypothesis is that the underlying trigger is the same regardless of the specifics of how the people who’ve regained their abilities actually manifested (drugs, being healed by Nat, lightning, etc.) — He believes that basically that people had natural blocks, put in place by their genes/Nature/whatever, that kept humans from reaching their full Powered potential — a self-limiter, if you will, to keep the population from killing itself. People whose limiter-gene or mechanism was malfunctioning would have died in the womb. The nanobots, he believes, are dampening or nullifying this natural block — D-Day ultimately destroyed it. This would explain why the people who get their powers back are initially without any controls at all. But all triggers thus far have been external and he does not believe we can activate ourselves.
Langston goes looking to have a conversation with Jared and invites him to Ang’s apartment to talk. The first thing he verifies is that Ang is armed before Jared arrives, because he’s not quite sure that Jared can be trusted. Once the man arrives, Langston bombshells him with the abrupt query, “How long was Mercator funding Franklin’s research?” Jared settles in to fill Langston in on what he does know: Mercator was involved in Project New Guardian, but Jared has no idea how. His own role, he states, was minimal. So far as he knows, Franklin is not still working with Mercator — until he came here, he had thought the man dead. Jared does assume some of the project is still ongoing, but no idea what parts. He has no idea what Powers other than perhaps Ryan were being used as guinea pigs. He does know there was an unsuccessful cloning project and a “superlove” project that never got off the ground.
In addition, he was able to list off some scientists’ names that Langston knew, so he could deduce what they were working on based on the fields those names were involved with. Jared tells him that the largest area of research, by far, was activating Powers, but this field was also being given (back then, at least) the least amount of attention and funding because it was the least likely to be under government control.
Langston went on to ask what Jared’s role in all of these programs was why was he involved in controlling Powered individuals or the research surrounding them? Jared continues to tell them that his job was simply to monitor for Homeland, but Ang knows that he’s hedging. Her suspicion is that he was a Power — he circles around explanations, leaving vague information about his involvement, who he knows and why, etc. She believes he’s far more involved than he’s led everyone to believe, and it would make sense if he were also a Power. She keeps this suspicion to herself for the time being, however.
Around the town, we’re all relatively confined and getting a little cabin fever. Elana has been a huge help, using her powers openly to help clear out paths in the snow, do recon, etc. Ed is still proclaiming his “Good Word.” Two more of his congregation go out and head west, and they come back with one person with a broken leg. So conversation is had about the fact that Natalie is not going to heal anyone if it’s not life-threatening (generally speaking) and certainly not if it’s their own stupidity that got them there.
A few hours after the two come back, Nona goes looking for Ang and finds her in the gym. She tells Ang that we’re short some medical supplies — and it’s becoming a regular problem. It’s mostly pain meds and opiates. It occurs to Ang as she listens that Judd had been acting somewhat ill during the Council meeting — she’d dismissed it at the time, but now she has to wonder if it’s more than illness and weariness. The signs of addiction are pretty similar. This, too, Ang keeps under her hat while considering what path to take.
Eric goes to see Maddy and brings coffee AND chocolate! Where the hell is he getting his supplies?? He tries to sweet-talk Maddy into helping him with something without really giving away what it is he wants her help with. There’s talk of how people are undermining his authority, mainly the preacher and his congregation, who keep going out without clearing it with Expedition first. She is beginning to get a little suspicious of him, because this is not the first time contraband has shown up in his possession. She goes first to Ang and then to Ida about it, but she is essentially brushed off.
Toby confronts Melody about the fact that she’s not sleeping. He’s worried about her, but he’s also distracted by his own thoughts. He gives Mel a nudge to get her to sleep.
The following day, although Ang doesn’t want to deal with the missing meds, she decides to confront Judd head-on with the fact that she knows what addiction looks like and she can see what’s happening to him. He tries to play it off, blustering and fuming, and ultimately tells her to do what she needs to do. Ang goes to get Haley, and while she’s gone Judd runs like hell to put everything he’s been hiding back in place. When Ang and Haley arrive, nothing seems to be missing… but Ang tells Haley that Nona has her books to back up the inventory discrepancies. At which point, Judd panics and bolts. Where he thinks he’ll go is anyone’s guess. He runs past where Nat and Jared sit (among many others) and he’s tackled by two of Haley’s security people. There is much staring.
Despite the craziness going on this day, Natalie asks the group to meet at lunchtime. In a surprise move, she tells the group that she and Jared are getting married. Right here, right now. There’s a bit of fumbling, don’t you want a big to-do or at least a celebration or something? Her answer is no — she wants to exchange just a few heartfelt words right here in front of her family. A party or whatever can happen some other time. Standing in this small group is everyone she loves, and that was what was most important to her. And so they do.
That evening, the Council has a meeting and deals with the situation surrounding Judd as well as the situation surrounding the preacher and his congregation’s tendency to get themselves into trouble. A decision is made — supposedly a temporary one — that anyone who goes out of Refuge Point without clearance from Expedition and gets hurt through their own stupidity is not necessarily entitled to use Refuge Point’s meager medical resources — emergency medical will of course still be provided, but not necessarily going to extreme lengths to save anyone while we’re so short on resources.
Natalie and Langston have a frank conversation about the risks of using her ability at all when she asks about the possibility of using it to help Judd — after all, if she takes the damage into herself, is she going to give the fetus a drug problem, etc? And he lays down to her that ANY use of her power, even to heal simple things, runs the risk of transferring harm not only to herself but to that developing body.
Toby decides that it’s time. He’s leaving to help his father, and he tells his mother and kisses her goodbye. It’s the hardest thing Melody has ever had to do, watching her boy go off and possibly not come back. She and Langston talk in the lab, and it is finally too much. It is time for the Guardians to have a good old-fashioned night of alcohol abuse. So Melody rounds up the group, we all hang out at Maddy’s because it has the still… and everyone but Natalie gets to drink! Ang proposes a game: What’s the best thing you can remember doing with your power?
Natalie: During a mudslide recovery operation in Mexico, she managed to bring a 2-year-old girl back from death itself (or the brink of).
Maddy: Remembers constantly setting off the fire alarms in third grade and how much fun it was to watch people be confused.
Langston: Misses his acrobatics. And being able to scratch that place on your back most people can’t reach.
Eric: Once, he got past this vault door by merging with a guard’s cell phone and having it text the guard that his girlfriend was pregnant. He had two of them.
Melody: Remembers vanishing a WHOLE BUILDING when Quake brought it down on top of civilians in the street. And she also remembers dulling 17 razor blades once when Ryan had a cute beard she wanted him to keep for a while.
Much laughter is had as we remember Ryan, who LOVE LOVE LOVED to throw buses. What was WITH that guy and the buses???
Ang: Remembers a girl named Krista. She spent a week working on a beautiful design and then used her power to carve it into a frozen lake for Krista. The women all melt and go ‘awwwww!’
And then Ang casually asks Jared what his was. Jared had deer-in-the-headlights face for a second and then slurred slightly about how he didn’t have one, but HYPOTHETICALLY if he did, there was this guy who phoned in a bomb threat. It was going to kill thousands of people. And he just looked in that bastard’s eyes and made him tell everything about the plan. Then he passes out.
In the cold light of the next morning, Natalie comes to wake them all up where they crashed on Maddy’s floor (except Ang. She was smart enough to get herself home first). The Hangover Wake-Up is quite amusing to Natalie… and there is some amount of discussion about the fact that Jared was still keeping one last secret. However, we will talk about it later. In the meantime, everyone go home. She brought oatmeal to tide them over and get something non-objectionable in their stomachs. She takes Jared back to their room and lets him sleep it off.