There was a party in full swing on the viewscreen in the Waverider's main cabin. The women were all in expensive-looking gowns and the men were all in tuxedos and Kendra, Jax, Professor Stein, and Rip were watching in relative comfort while Sara and Ray made their way through the crowd.
"When you see him, make sure you turn towards him so we can see too," Rip reminded Sara, who was wearing the camera in her necklace.
"I know," Sara said softly. "We went over it a million times."
"Well, twice," Rip corrected her. "But yes, yes. I know you know what you're doing. I'm just not at all certain that this is the right place or time."
Gideon had only given it a 70% likelihood that it was a correct match. All they had to go on were some blurry photos, a mysterious man with no past managing to consolidate power and money before disappearing from the timeline a few years later, and a strange energy signature that might or might not mean Savage's stolen and stockpiled lifeforce. He was even using a similar name to one Savage had used in the past, but then that wasn't really Savage's style, so maybe it wasn't him after all.
"He just walked in," Sara said as she turned around. When she settled, they got a clear view of the party's host, one Carl Sable.
"That's not Savage," Kendra said at the same time as Sara and Ray.
There was indeed a man with dark hair and a dangerous air about him, and from what they'd been able to gather from local reports, he did seem to be quietly gaining control over the city's monied elite, which was right in his wheelhouse. But it definitely wasn't Savage. Everything had seemed right enough to be worth the trip, but seeing him in person made it clear that no. This was some other asshole.
"I knew it was too good to be true," Kendra muttered.
"How were we supposed to know?" Jax asked. "I mean, he was doing shit Savage would do. He looked like him. Gideon said we know he's used the last name Sable before. And we picked up a weird energy signature from him." He sighed. "Maybe Sable's just a metahuman?"
"Here? Now?" Professor Stein asked. "Gideon? Is that possible?"
There was a pause before Gideon replied. "Yes, Professor, it is possible. While rare in northern California in 1990, metahumans have existed for some time. The S.T.A.R. Labs incident which precipitated your and Mr. Jackson's powers produced a large number of metahumans in a small area, however, there have been reports of metahumans throughout history and all over Earth."
"And this Carl Sable?" Rip asked. "We don't know anything about him?"
Another pause. "It appears, with a clearer image of him, that Carl Sable can be found under other names. The most commonly used is Carlo Sendaro, born in 1498, in Portugal. He periodically disappears from any records I have access to, then reappears for between five and ten years before disappearing again."
"He could be a rogue time traveler," Jax offered. "Sort of like us?"
"He could be a metahuman with some other type of long life," Professor Stein added.
"Or he could be like Savage, exposed to something alien or able to absorb lives of others," Kendra said.
"Or he could be none of our business," Rip said firmly. "We came here because we thought he might be Savage and he's not, so let's get Sara and Ray back to the ship and take off. We don't want to linger."
"We can't leave yet," Sara said quietly. "We just got here. Someone will notice."
"What do you care if someone notices?" Jax told her. "I mean, it's not like these guys are your friends or anything. Just get back here and let's take off."
Sara turned to Ray and he shrugged. "They've got a point," he told her. "If anyone asks, we left the stove on."
"And our butler can't just turn it off?" Sara muttered as she turned around and they made their way out of the ballroom.
They left the camera on as they left the house and headed back to the ship. The mansion had some extensive grounds and they'd managed to land not too far away from the house so it wasn't long before the crew inside could see them approaching. And then there was someone else coming up behind them just as Ray stuck a hand in his pocket and stopped.
"Sara! Sara, there's a man coming up behind you," Rip warned, but Sara was already turning, poised to attack. The man stopped, taking a step back, hands up.
"Woah!" he said, smiling disarmingly at them. Except Sara was tough to disarm and kept her position. "Hey, I'm a friend! I promise!" he called out. "You dropped something on your way out and I figured, you know, being in such a hurry, you might not notice it. But then you didn't get in a car, and you left so quickly, I got to wondering just what was up. And then I looked at what it was you dropped…" He held up the little case that Ray kept his suit in. "Pretty fancy."
"I didn't drop it," Ray said to Sara. "I didn't!"
"What do you want?" Sara asked. "Who are you?"
The man was still smiling as gave her a little bow. "Cory Raines, at your service. All I'm looking for is a ride, if you've got a car stashed somewhere around here that Sable doesn't know about."
"No car," Rip's voice called back from the ship - which was still invisible. "Mr. Raines, I do believe I last saw you in 1948. It is now 1990. Just how did you get here?"
"Rip?" Cory laughed and tossed the little case to Ray, who caught it and stashed it in an inner pocket this time. "Rip Hunter, how the hell are you? Where the hell are you?"
The ship materialized in front of them and Cory froze when he saw Rip. "Nice spaceship. You haven't aged much," he commented.
"Neither have you," Rip pointed out.
The two of them stood there, Sara and Ray watching them. Eventually, Rip sighed. "Let's discuss it in private." He stepped to the side and Cory jogged past Sara and Ray to board the ship, grinning at both of them as he went by.
"Who the hell is he?" Snart asked. He and Mick had been on guard duty by the door, but Rip had taken Cory directly to his office and they were now behind a shield raised by Gideon and had been deep in conversation for the past ten minutes.
"We have no idea," Ray told him.
"He picked Ray's pocket, and he knows Rip," Sara said. "That's all we know."
"Ah, no, we also know they last saw each other in 1948. And they each said they looked the same. So somehow he's not aging?" Ray said.
They all glanced over at the office.
Inside, Rip was seated at his desk watching Cory examine the various artifacts on the shelves. Cory glanced back at him a few times, smiling and waving his fingers as if to make it clear he hadn't stolen anything.
"So this Sable, or Sendaro, he's like you?" Rip asked.
"Yup, sure is," Cory said, nodding. "Immortal. It's kind of like old money: You've got to be born into it. I was, he was. There's a whole bunch of us running around these days. Running around, fighting each other, avoiding fighting each other."
Rip continued to watch him as Cory finally seemed to exhaust all of the odds and ends on display and settled into a seat.
"And you need a ride?" he asked.
Cory shrugged. "Wouldn't mind one. I've got to admit, this is pretty impressive, man. I had no idea you were from outer space or whatever."
"You don't seem particularly fazed by it," Rip noted.
Another shrug from Cory, and a grin. "Rip, I was born in 1256. I'm Immortal. I've seen some amazing things in my time. A spaceship? I always figured I'd see one if I lived long enough." He tipped his chair back, managing to ignore Rip's disapproving look as he did so. "Didn't expect it to be a time traveling spaceship, but that's even better!"
On one hand, Cory had been very helpful the last time Rip had seen him. The man was very charming and very talented at getting into places that were supposedly impossible to infiltrate. On the other hand, he had probably already managed to steal something from the ship and goodness only knew what he was running from.
"What, precisely, do you need to get away from? The law?"
"Naaaaaaah." Cory smiled. "It's just that guy back there. Sendaro. He screwed over a friend of mine, so I figured I'd screw him back. Buuuuuut, he might have caught a sense of me being there and he's a lot better with a sword than I am and I'd like to outlive him."
"There's a lot you're not telling me," Rip said, standing up and releasing the shield on the office. "But so long as you're not asking us to meddle with the timeline, I think we can at least get you physically away from here. I do owe you, after all."
Cory let the chair drop and Rip kept a wince off his face.
"Great! Thanks! I mean, meddling would be cool too, but I'd never ask for something like that. Never know what it'd do, right?" Cory said as he got up and sauntered out of Rip's office, turning his smile on the rest of the crew. No one smiled back.
"Hey! I'm Cory. Nice to meet you all," he said to the group. "Sorry about picking your pocket," he added to Ray. "Now, where can a guy get a drink on this time traveling spaceship from the future?"
"Don't get comfortable," Rip said as he passed Cory and went up to the main console. "We're just talking a little jaunt to the East Coast to drop off Mr. Raines. Gideon?"
"Let's set a course for…" Rip glanced at Cory.
"Boston," Cory said. "Haven't been there in about thirty years. I should be good."
"Right then, Gideon, we're going to Boston."
"Of course, Captain," Gideon replied. "But you should know that another time-ship has just arrived nearby. They will be able to track us if we stay in this time."
The whole crew turned to look at Rip, who rubbed at his temples and let out a heavy sigh. "Right. Then let's do a quick jump away, just a few years, and back."
"Yes, Captain," Gideon said.
The crew all scrambled into their seats, Cory following suit and looking to the others to see what to do.
"They are firing on us," Gideon noted just as two blasts rocked the ship.
"Here I was thinking I was getting away from trouble," Cory muttered.
"Yes, well, we're in rather a lot of it ourselves," Rip informed him. "Gideon, let's go."
Another blast hit them just before they jumped forward in time. It took longer than it usually did, the blasts having clearly damaged something critical. When they finally arrived it looked as though they hadn't gone anywhere at all. The view outside on the screen was almost identical to what it had looked like when they'd left. Except no one was firing at them.
"Gideon?" Rip asked. "What happened?"
"It appears that several key systems were damaged just prior to our departure," Gideon told them. "We have traveled precisely five years ahead to 1995. According to current records, this estate is no longer owned by Carl Sable, but by someone named Grace Chandel. She purchased the estate after Mr. Sable's death four years ago."
Cory had been looking rather ill, thanks to the rough trip through time, but he perked up at that.
"He's dead? Dead dead? Or dead-but-really-just-took-another-name dead?"
"His decapitated body was found on the train tracks in Paris," Gideon said.
"Oh, oh he's dead," Cory said, laughing. "He is well and truly dead. That is as dead as we get. Great!" He unbuckled himself from his seat and stood up. "Anyone want to show me where to get that drink?"
"Gideon, can we jump back now? To Boston, 1990?" Rip said, sounding pained.
"I'm afraid not, Captain," Gideon said. "I have started repairs on several systems, but there is some physical damage that must be taken care of by the crew."
"So he picks Ray's pocket, catches up with the captain, and now we're fixing the ship so we can give him a lift to Boston?" Jax asked Ray as they went over the physical repairs Gideon had tasked them with.
Ray unlatched a panel and peered inside before reaching in to tweak something. "Well, we're fixing the ship because we do kind of need it to work," he said, quickly pulling back his hand when something sparked. "Dang."
Kendra was seated behind them, trying to follow Gideon's directions on fixing one of the modules that had blown during the brief attack. "I wonder how he knows Rip?" she commented, pausing to go back over the schematics on the screen. "He said he owes him one."
"He does," Cory said from the doorway to the engine room. "I helped him steal something a few decades back. Great guy, your captain, but not very good at breaking into places. Or he wasn't back then. I mean, it's been a few decades for me. The way he explained it, I guess it could have been last week for him, or more? Do time travelers age like regular people or what?"
"We haven't been doing it for very long," Kendra told him. "The captain has, so maybe not?"
"It's kind of confusing," Jax admitted. "We try not to think too much about it."
Cory nodded and meandered around the engines, taking stock of them. "Sensible," he told them. "Sensible and wise. So how long do you guys think this is going to take?"
Kendra glanced at Jax, who glanced at Ray, who glanced at Kendra. "Gideon?" Kendra asked. "How long should these repairs take?"
"At the rate you are working, six hours and twenty-three minutes," Gideon said.
Cory clapped his hands together. "Not bad at all! Let me know when it's all done!" And then he was gone out of the engine room.
While Kendra, Jax and Ray worked on the engines and Rip and Professor Stein were working on some of the computer systems, Sara, Mick and Snart were killing time in the mess, which was where Cory found them a few minutes later.
"So, what else is there to do on this ship?" he asked them sliding into a seat next to Sara.
"Nothing," Mick grumbled. "It's boring as hell."
"We could always spar," Sara told him, but Mick just shook his head. "Fine. He's right. It is boring when we're stuck somewhere. Usually we like a little more action."
"No mission, no action," Snart explained. "And since your buddy back in 1990 was a bust, we're a little short on missions."
"Oh, he wasn't my buddy," Cory hastened to explain. "He would have tried to chop my head off if we'd stayed. But it looks like someone chopped his off first. Couldn't happen to a better sack of crap. We get back to 1990, I kick around Boston for a few years, steer clear of Paris until he's dead and all is right with the world. Well, within reason. There's always something going on somewhere."
"Don't we know it," Sara muttered. "Look, we probably shouldn't tell you this? But the world's going to hell in a handbasket pretty quick. We've seen it."
"Ms. Lance," Rip said from the doorway. "That does rather violate the whole idea of not influencing the timeline."
Sara frowned and got up to leave and Snart stood too. Mick grabbed a donut from the tray on the table and shoved it in his mouth before following the others out, leaving Rip and Cory in private.
"That true?" Cory asked Rip.
Rip sighed and went to pour himself a cup of coffee, then slammed a fist against a panel in the ceiling. It popped open and he took out an unlabeled bottle and uncapped it, pouring a slug of it into the coffee and handing it to Cory.
"It is, unfortunately, quite true. We've been attempting to stop it, but the odds are not in our favor, I'm sorry to say." He made another cup of coffee for himself and added an equal amount of liquor before replacing the bottle in the hidden compartment and shutting the panel.
Cory took his and sipped, then sipped again when he liked what he tasted. They both sat at the table for a while, staring at their cups.
"If that's true," Cory said slowly, after he'd taken another two sips and thought for a while. "And if you don't change it, the nastier guys like me are going to get a lot more powerful. I mean, I don't normally get too involved with the whole in-fighting thing, but maybe I'll have to. I guess there's no chance you can tell me if I get my head chopped off any time soon?"
Rip shook his head. "At the moment, you're removed from the timeline as of 1990. Unless we drop you back into it, we won't know for certain. We really should put you back where we got you, temporally speaking, I mean."
Cory nodded and considered Rip for a minute or two. "Well. You could just let me off here. It's only been a couple of years. I've got friends who were in the Pacific Northwest last I checked. They might still be around."
"You can't tell them about this," Rip said quickly. "I shouldn't have told you anything myself." He finished off his coffee and stood. "I need to get back to Gideon. I left Professor Stein working on the system repairs but it goes faster with two. Just sit tight, we'll have you home in no time. Literally."
After Rip left the mess, Cory took his time finishing his own coffee, then left the mess as well to wander the corridors of the ship.
"Status, Gideon?" Rip asked.
"All systems fully functional, Captain," Gideon replied as Kendra, Jax, and Ray walked in, having just completed the engine repairs. They took their seats as Sara, Mick, Snart, and Professor Stein buckled in.
"Right. Let's get Mr. Raines in his seat and take him back when he belongs," Rip said. "Gideon? Please locate our guest?"
"Mr. Raines is not on board the Waverider," Gideon said after a short pause. "It appears that the rear hatch has been opened and closed again. One of the systems being repaired was tracking of the entrances. I apologize, Captain Hunter. I do assure you that there are no unwanted guests on board."
Rip wasn't listening. He was already out of the control room and down the corridor, heading for the rear hatch. When he got there, he found a coffee cup on the floor, holding down a napkin from the mess.
Rip - Sorry but I figured you've got enough trouble without me on board. I'm Immortal, but I'd rather not take my chances on coming back if I get killed while time traveling. Besides, I can't pass up the opportunity to just pop five years into the future. It'll be fine, I promise. I'll keep my lips sealed and see if I can just do as much good as possible until things go south. Good luck with that, by the way. If everything comes up roses, I'll know you succeeded. If not, well, it was fun while it lasted. - Cory
"Gideon?" Rip asked. "Do we have a timeline for Cory Raines now?"
"Yes, Captain," Gideon said as Rip headed back towards the control room. "Would you like the details?"
"No. I think I'll leave well enough alone," Rip said after a moment's thought. "Let's see if we can get back on track. Scan for any possible signs of Vandal Savage and set a course. We still have work to do."