And Yet

Participants:

aria2_icon.gif

Also Featuring

unknown_icon.gif claudia_icon.gif corbin_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif magnes2_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title And Yet
Synopsis Aria Baumgartner is transferred to the Mount Natazhat Complex, and yet…
Date October 18, 2011

The skyline of Massachusetts looks nothing like that of New York City. While both are respective metropolitan hubs, Boston has seen a surge in economic growth in the last five years. Since New York's continued slide into a militarized war zone, major financial institutions have either moved or contemplated their move northward. Across that skyline, lined with scaffolding-framed skyscrapers going up, a single unmarked helicopter makes its way over the city, bound for Boston-Logan International Airport. Within the helicopter, Aria Baumgartner sits with her elbow propped up on a window and chin in her palm, watching the city zip by below. Two Institute security operatives sit in the back cabin of the helicopter with her, each armed with a rifle and all three passengers outfitted with headsets and microphones should they need to communicate with one-another. The pilot in the front, likewise, is wired for sound.

The skyline of Boston looks wholly unfamiliar to Aria, and her focus is glassy and distant as she regards the buildings with the passing familiarity of someone who has heard stories of the city. That contrary fact is lost on her handlers, the secrets inside of her head kept wound up like a vault. A vibration in Aria's pocket stirs her from her observations of the northeast coast. She offers a furtive look to her handlers, then pulls the phone out of her pocket and checks the incoming call number.

01101101011100100111001100100000011101110110100001101111

Aria's brows furrow, and she carefully accepts the call and raises the phone to her ear. "Baumgartner," she greets in her usual manicured Institute-corporate tone. The voice on the other end of the line is almost impossible to hear, and Aria strains to pick up what is being said. "Repeat," she asks over the chop of the helicopter blades. Neither security officer seems particularly concerned about her call, and that allows her to relax slightly. The voice on the other end speaks up, loudly, and Aria winces at the noise in her ear. But what she hears is as clear as day, concise, and abruptly terminates the call. With a single look, Aria raises her attention to the handlers in the helicopter with her. Then, with one furrow of her brows she recognizes the one benefit of air-travel. No cameras.

With a furrow of her brows, Aria wrests control of the helicopter by way of the pilot's mind. As the vehicle makes a sudden and unexpected turn away from the airport, the handlers inside get antsy. Aria's brows tense again, and both return to their seats in silence. She crosses her legs, leans back against her seat, and watches the skyline disappear from view as the helicopter makes an unscheduled landing on the roof of a nearby parking garage. As the vehicle settles to a stop, Aria pulls open the bay door at its side and steps out onto the concrete. Her heels clack on the ground, and over the whirring sound of helicopter blades she can hear the engine of an approaching car moving up to the parking garage's roof. A silver-gray Dodge van rolls up, coming to a stop ten feet from the parked helicopter. Knowing she has to move quickly, Aria hustles across the parking lot to greet the vehicle.


Amundsen-Scott Antarctic Research Facility

Antarctica

January 16, 2010


In the dim, flickering fluorescent light of a server room, the sound of fingers clicking on a keyboard match the staccato rhythm of distant gunfire. Hunched over the keyboard of a Linux box, a young woman with berry-blue hair tied back into a pony-tail works quickly and diligently.

cp -R research09/ F:/external drive/

Clicking the enter key, Aria watches a percentage slowly begin to count up from zero. The sounds of gunfire draw closer, and Aria takes a step back away from the computer and reaches out with her ability. Eyes shut, telepathic senses project through solid surfaces, skimming the minds of those engaged with the Vanguard operatives nearby. Then, to another group of individuals in an adjacent room. One of Aria's brows raise, her head tilts to the side, and she quickly retrieves a satellite phone from her parka's pocket. A single button push calls a designated receiver tens of thousands of miles away.

"Almost done here, but belay the extraction." Aria looks down to the computer, then in the direction she senses a particular mind. "I've got another way out. They're moving on the Vanguard. No, I don't think this has anything to do with that." Then, rolling one shoulder into a shrug, Aria shakes her head. "When will we ever get this opportunity to do any recon with them? While their attention is focused elsewhere?" Aria's brows furrow, followed by a smile and a slow nod. "Affirmative. I'll rendezvous in six weeks, roughly. I won't be reachable at this device again." A pause, and then Aria ends the transmission and hurls the phone down to the ground and stomps on it soundly with a booted foot until all that is left is mangled plastic and wires.

Looking back to the computer, Aria sees 100% on the transfer. With a startling haste, she quickly ejects the thumb drive from within and tucks it inside an internal pocket of her parka. Then, grabbing a handful of zip-ties used to bundle wires together, Aria hurries off out of the server room and down the corridor. She takes two rights, moving into the back of a kitchen. Ahead, steel doors with magnetic locks bar the way, and the sound of popping gunfire rattles from beyond. It isn't Shield Three that Aria needs to reach, though. She needs to appear like someone, something less threatening. Knowing there's minds beyond the door to the kitchen's freezer, she proceeds to open the freezer door from the outside, and step in to a room of bound and restrained researchers. They scramble, momentarily, before a telepathic wave of calm eases their minds and replaces their unfamiliarity with a series of plausible lies about the new Internet Technologies girl. Aria shuts the door with her heel, selling the illusion by jamming the interior lock with a fork, preventing it from being easily opened — even from the outside. Then, she quickly draws the stolen zip ties around her wrists and kneels down on the floor, as if she'd always been here. Always been locked inside.

It's several more minutes before Shield Three arrives, and a few more before they're able to find their way in. In the interim, Aria relaxes her mind and lowers her psychic defenses, and in that instant a slithering tendril of white light penetrates the wall and glides into her spine, connecting her to Mikhail Wagner's parasitic ability. Aria shudders as she feels her telepathy co-opted, but it's the only way to be safe. As the lock is cracked apart and Magnes Varlane tugs the door open, they're treated to the sight within. Even if anyone would attack, they can't— about ten or so people huddle in the room, lining around the left wall and the far wall. Metal shelving is cleared of anything, and the freezer hasn't been deliberately cold in a long time. The light blinks on as soon as the door opens, and ten sets of eyes stare across at the rescuers.

Duct tape binds their hands and their ankles, clothing marking them as civilian staff members of the research facility. One's ethnicity identifies her reasonably easily, though none of them say anything, but Elisabeth's eyes will track to what might be a familiar face — hair that's been dyed, a long time ago, sky blue is bound back from Aria's face, the telepath staring at the audiokinetic and letting only steam leave her mouth in sharp breaths.

Huddled among the others, amore vocal prisoner exhales a ragged breath when the door is forced open. Chocolate brown eyes stare up from the darkness of the room, and kneeling on the floor, bound like all the others, it looks as though the brunette is in considerable pain. Her shoulder is bandaged, and likely her arm should be in a sling, for the red color bleeding through the front of her shirt indicates an old wound that has since been re-opened. "Oh— Oh my God."

Inching forward, her jaw trembles as she squints against the silhouettes in the doorway, looking back to the others. In this chamber, some of the prisoners have a very visible, very obvious cue about them, a slithering tendril of blueish-purple light snaking off of their bodies for about a foot in length, pointing almost like a compass away from them, the same tendrils of light were seen radiating off of Mikhail Wagner when they first arrived at Amundsen-Scott.

But there's three people in here with this visual effect, and Aria is among them.

"Oh my God who— who are you?" The wounded brunette in question has no such energy tether coming off of her. "I— My name's Julia Steyr— " she hastily splutters out, "I'm the chief medical officer for the station. I— w— we have wounded people here. Oh my God please tell me you're getting us out of here."

In the moment or so that it takes Elisabeth to register Aria Baumgarten's presence, her blue eyes skim across the whole group and she grimaces. They're bound. Goddamn it. And then Aria's presence hits her, and she goes wide-eyed. "Oh, FUCK." Whipping her head around to Veronica, she says, "Sawyer, then tranq her first." She turns back and stares at Aria, another half second, and then throws her rifle over her shoulder and pulls her boot knife to start slicing duct tape off people in a hurry.

"~Listen to me, all of you. The man holding you here can take and use any Evo ability you may have. I know some of you don't want that status known, but we have no time if we're going to beat him and stop the nuclear weapon that he has in his possession from exploding. I need to know which of you are Evos so that we can tranquilize you and negate his use of your abilities.~" She cuts people's bonds even as she talks. And she's talking fast, infusing her plea with every bit of hypnotic suggestion that she muster, soothing and beseeching them to cooperate. "~We have helicopters inbound to get all of you out of here, but this man has every intention of detonating this warhead. Please, help us save your lives and the lives of everyone you love back home, and …. just raise your hands if you're Evolved.~" In truth, Elisabeth is actually wondering if they're going to have to tranq everyone in the room — because why the hell else would Wagner be bothered to keep them alive — but the tendril seems to be a giveaway.

"The one's with the glow," Veronica says softly, nodding to the three with the purple tendrils snaking around them. "Unless there is someone who is Evolved and Wagner isn't leaching from." To those beyond, she holds her gun to show that it is loaded with tranq darts. "We'll get you out," she says, apology for the incoming unconsciousness tacit in her dark eyes. She aims the gun at Aria first, then Cho, then the third prisoner who seems to be feeding Wagner with Evolved power.

She then speaks into her headpiece, "Shield Three finds ten prisoners, Shen is not among them, was taken from group previously." The agent turns back to the group. "Anyone know their powers? And is anyone else Evolved?" she says with a nod toward the two prisoners that are now no doubt beginning to slump from the darts. She glances at Magnes. "Make them light, float them out."

Magnes holds his hand out, causing the two to begin floating. "I can move a few of them, but it's probably safer if I just focus on two or three. I can make others light and physically carry them though…" Magnes looks everyone over, clearing his throat. "We're with the United States government, also here on behalf of the People's Republic of China. You'll be fine."

The tranquilizer is quick — merciful in that way. Aria seems to stunned to protest, going out like a light, and the other two are simply helpless as the darts find flesh and inject the numbing unconsciousness into their systems.


Cambridge Massachusetts

October 18, 2011


Staring into the tinted glass of the SUV's driver side window, Aria can only see her muted reflection. She's reminded that blonde has replaced berry-blue, that the past is only so much prologue for a future yet to come. With a soft whirr, the driver's side window of the silver-gray vehicle slides down, revealing an older blonde woman in a black pea coat. Claudia Zimmerman offers a look at Aria, then extends one hand out the window. The two exchange only fleeting glances before Aria retrieves a thumb drive from her blazer and hands it over to Claudia in one swift motion. Claudia examines the USB, then hands it back to someone unseen in the rear of the SUV.

"That should be the last of the files," Aria explains, looking briefly to the helicopter and its mind-controlled security team. Claudia nods, once, and looks back to Aria with a level expression and a stern brow. "Ma'am," Aria intones, leaning towards the window. "Can — can I ask what you're intending to do with all that information? I — " Claudia says nothing, merely furrows her brows again and shakes her head slowly and apologetically. The window slowly rises shut, leaving Aria staring back at her own reflection again. She tenses, considers extending her mind into the vehicle, and then relents. Some questions are better left unanswered. And yet…

Stepping away from the SUV, Aria watches it as it begins to turn, and she lashes out with a brief stab into the minds in the car. In one, brief attempt at understanding her place in the larger and more complicated world she's been entangled in for years. What comes, isn't what she expected.


The Memorial Ampitheater

Arlington National Cemetary

Arlington, Virginia

February 14, 2011


"Miss Milbrook?" Claudia asks without really asking, one hand withdrawn from inside of her jacket, another Deveaux Society business card pinched between two fingers, held up at face-level to Corbin. "Mister Thompson may not have been very cooperative with his secrets, but his relationship with Daphne wasn't a terribly discrete one. It would be a boon to us to have someone like Milbrook working for us, but she doesn't get carte blanche like you do, Ayers." That much sounds more like a warning than anything, coming from Claudia's husky voice.

"Tell Daphne that if she's interested, she can show up at the address on the card. Alice will give her an interview, and if she passes, then there'll be some opportunities for you two to work together in the future."

This second buisness card is taken and pocketed next to the first one after a customary glance over. The name of Alice is not one Corbin recognizes offhand from the files, but it's a common enough name, and could be a nickname. "She's a fairly good asset, and I'm sure she'll pass." Though there's a hint of a smile, as if he wishes he could be there to make sure.

He's quite fond of the speedster— more than fond really, but he knows there are some people who would find her mouth troublesome.

Sometimes.

"Anything that I need to be doing in the meantime? I'm guessing you guys are the ones who ended up with the files I helped Dalton… move."

"Actually, we've agreed that you should get directly into work." Corbin only notices as he pockets the business card that it's a neatly arranged stack of three, presumably something to do with his feet first entry into the Deveaux Society. Reaching inside of her jacket, Claudia withdraws a leather-bound organizer with a small notepad, buckled closed. On the front, the initials C.D. are written in gold cursive script.

"There's a list of names written in that ledger, I need you to deliver cards to the two that I highlighted in orange." Nodding to the ledger, Claudia looks back up to Corbin, brown eyes intent on his fairer ones. "There's written instructions on what to do with them when you find them, we'd like you to initiate contact as soon as possible and push them in the directions listed without drawing too much suspicion to yourself. They're not potential candidates," she clarifies with one brow lifted, "but they'd be better served elsewheres than what life is offering them right now."

The ledger handed over, Claudia feels fit to offer a warning up as well. "Don't lose it."

"I wasn't the one who would lose files," Corbin says with a grin, even as he looks it over quietly, eyebrows knitting. There's only so much discreteness he can manage, especially with some people, but he's sure he can come up with a way to nudge people in certain directions. "Except once or twice," he adds after a moment. Part of him wonders, if, maybe, he could use a certain other asset of his to plant hints more discretely. For a moment he wishes a certain ghost was hanging out on the corner of his vision. Dreams are much more discrete than the Tom Sellick act. "It was nice to meet you, Ms. Zimmerman. I'll get to work as soon as possible."

Claudia offers a mile smile to Corbin, then watches him retreat with the ledger in hand. Once Corbin has disappeared among the field of white headstones, Claudia reaches inside of her jacket and withdraws her phone, dialing a number from memory before bringing it to her ear. "Ayers is aligned," Claudia explains over the line, listening to a voice on the other end. There's silence from her side for a long while, either contemplating what was said, or perhaps listening to something far more detailed. "Very well, we'll move to the next phase. Get me aligned with Raymond Praeger, that thread is going to take a lot of work to untangle."

A moment later, Claudia ends the call, and looks to the headstones in the distance from the ampitheater. The wind plays at her hair, and her phone vibrates in her hand. She looks down at the incoming call.

01101101011100100111001100100000011101110110100001101111

Lips pursing, Claudia answers the call with measured grace. "Hello, Director. I have good news."


Cambridge Massachusetts

October 18, 2011


Aria is shocked back to the present, looking at the disappearing SUV return down the ramp to the parking garage's lower levels. She tenses, then looks to the helicopter. "What the fuck," Aria whispers, brows tense and eyes wide. She stares at the ground for a few moments longer, then begins her return to the helicopter. Climbing up inside, she shuts the sliding door and instructs the pilot to resume course with a telepathic urge. As the helicopter returns to its planned course, Aria releases everyone within from her psychic control, and turns her gaze out the window again. She'd found a part of the puzzle, something she thought would offer her more answers…

And yet…


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License