Arkfall, Part I

Participants:

avi_icon.gif dcrypt_icon.gif broome_icon.gif darren_icon.gif doc_icon.gif doyle2_icon.gif edward_icon.gif else_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif kathleen_icon.gif lene_icon.gif luis_icon.gif odessa2_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Arkfall, Part I
Synopsis Below the streets of Cambridge, the Institute faces down the inexorable arrow of time, and the inertia of history.
Date November 8, 2017

«WARNING: REACTOR AT CRITICAL. EVACUATE ALL PERSONNEL.»

Alarm klaxons blare in the dark, interspersed by moments of bright orange glow as emergency lights stutter and flicker. The brief illumination of massive, track-laid cylindrical tunnels belies the danger of this place. This is not a subway tunnel, hasn't been for decades. The steel rings reinforcing the tunnel reveal that, the carbon-fiber weave in the concrete. This place was designed to resist an atomic blast. One would suppose that would have to be tested eventually.

«WARNING: REACTOR AT CRITICAL. EVACUATE ALL PERSONNEL.»

Hurried footsteps clatter down the hall, through puddles of standing water, past inert construction equipment peppered with bullet holes. SPent shell casings clink and clatter across the concrete underfoot. Dozens of people rush down the hall, briefly illuminated in silhouettes of frightened, huddled masses. Most of these figures are children, teary-eyed and red-faced, running as fast as they can in the intermittent darkness at the behest of a single man leading the fray. In the orange light, Eric Doyle looks particularly haunting. Dark circles shadow his eyes, stubble on his chin, sweat beads everywhere in the intense, humid heat of the tunnel. He looks back, making sure not a single one of his ducklings is unaccounted for.

«WARNING: REACTOR AT CRITICAL. EVACUATE ALL PERSONNEL.»

Behind the flock of children, there's a blood-curdling scream. Eric skids to a stop, eyes wide and dozens of tiny bodies rushing past him. Over the tops of their heads, he sees it in the dark, a pair of glowing green eyes and the scraping sound of metal-on-metal. The orange flash of the emergency lighting illuminates it for only a moment, a hulking form of exposed carbon-fiber in the shape of a grizzly bear, broad-faced and whirring with hydraulics and synthetic muscle. It shoulders construction equipment out of the way with its broad head, jaws opening to reveal not teeth, but rows of angled grinding blades used to dig through solid rock and steel. The noise it makes isn't a roar, it's a mechanical scream of industrial tools. Blood drips down its jaws.

«WARNING: REACTOR AT CRITICAL. EVACUATE ALL PERSONNEL.»

"Go!" The mechanical bear is slammed to the side, crashes into the reinforced concrete tunnel wall and spiderwebs the rock. Beside it, Jolene Chevalier stands with both hands out, her jacket torn and quilted scarf fluttering behind her. In the orange light her red hair looks like fire, and to Doyle, he just saw her shoulder-check fifteen hundred pounds of steel and death into a wall. She looks back to Eric, blood dripping from a gash across her face that splits brow and cheek. "I said run!" Behind her, he can see more green eyes glowing in the dark.

«WARNING: REACTOR AT CRITICAL. EVACUATE ALL PERSONNEL.»

The beasts roar in the dark.


Thirty-Five Minutes Earlier

Below the Streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts


Dozens of booted feet rumble down a tunnel in the dark. Flashlights sweep across dusty old subway tunnel walls. The Ferrymen Special Activities Division has split into two teams, divided by the width of the entire country. But at the head of this team stand Jensen Raith and Avi Epstein, two of the most seasoned operatives the Ferrymen has at their disposal. With assault rifles readied, the pair move on point, sweeping from tunnel to tunnel. Behind them, a small army of the most powerful Evolved ever to walk the face of the Earth in one place are poised for a confrontation that could be the end of everything. Literally, and figuratively.

"Are we lost?" Avi whispers to Raith, looking down one of the tunnels. Water drips in a slow, steady stream from overhead. Raith fires a look at Avi and jerks his head in the opposite direction, leading both Avi and the team behind them down another snaking, concrete tunnel. "Because if we're lost you can tell me. I won't judge." Jensen slows down, just enough to slam his shoulder into Avi, who kilters off balance and grimaces. The pair come to a concrete walled dead end not long after, and the footsteps of other Ferry operatives and their allies behind them are drawing closer. Jensen nods, motioning to the wall while he pivots around to go back and inform the others what Avi failed to realize.

They've reached their destination.

As Jensen goes back to inform the others, Avi drops to one knee to a few inches of standing water. Leaning his rifle up against the concrete wall, he swings a pack off of his shoulder and sets it down across his thigh. One by one, compressed bricks of C4 are unloaded from the bag, placed at even intervals along the base of the wall. Priming charges and det cord are woven between the bricks, and Avi looks back to ensure everything is going according to plan. He can see Jensen talking to the others, gesturing, instructing them to get back. Retrieving a flip-phone from his pants pocket, Avi texts slowly and laboriously to someone that he can't possibly be getting signal down her to actually message. And yet —

c4 down remote triggr is urs

D.Crypt: Have some dignity. Let me know when you're clear. It's boom-time.

Snarling, Avi drops the now empty pack into the water, grabs his rifle, and hustles back to the others. He waves them back a little more, just to be safe, and comes to a stop a few hundred feet away. "You're up, kids," Avi explains to the crowd. From in the group, two women emerge at the same time. One, red-haired and bundled for the cold — Jolene Chevalier. The other, dark-haired and holding her time-spanned daughter's hand — Gillian Childs. They walk past Avi, to a distance of about ten feet. Then, Lene closes her eyes and extends one hand. Small rocks on the ground skitter and rumble aside, and Gillian squeezes her grip on Lene's hand tighter as a violet glow exchanges between their palms.

Avi watches, as best as he can with one good eye, as a shimmering field of force raises between the end of the tunnel where the C4 is planted and the remainder of the group. "Thanks, Hannah," Lene whispers as she focuses on the ability borrowed from her friend and peer. The forcefield ripples to life, shimmering like frosted glass and reinforced by the ability augmentation from Gillian. Everything is distorted through the field, looks warped in the way a funhouse mirror does. Avi takes a moment to find himself after the spectacle, then keys in a message on his phone.

bombs awy

D.Crypt: I'm going to get you a speech to text app or, something. Anything.

A moment later.

D.Crypt: Fire in the hole.

An explosion shakes the ground, fills the tunnel with a sudden and explosive blast of heat and flames. Stone debris collides with the forcefield, flames roar across its surface. Water and steam mains break on both sides of the tunnel, spraying ice cold water and scalding steam in a torrent that joins collapsing stone and shorn metal. The forcefield is cracked, like thick glass, but remains mercifully intact. Avi quickly pushes up to the others, claps a hand on Jolene's shoulder and firmly states. "We gotta go, now!" Jerked back into awareness of her full situation, Jolene relaxes her mind and drops the forcefield into so many dissolving shards of ethereal glass. Her hand unwinds from Gillian, and Avi looks back to the others.

"We've got breach! Stick to your strike teams! Go! Go! Go!"


Meanwhile

The Commonwealth Arcology, A-Ring Park


Birds chirp noisily in the high boughs of the trees below the warm radiance of artificial sunlight. The arcology park is busy at this hour of day, with shift changes bringing tired medical staff back to the A-Ring from their B-Ring labs, and security team swaps. Conversation echoes up through the high ceilings, past the rings of balcony walkways wrapping around the residential floors. Within the garden, two move hastily along a snaking walkway. "Miss Sawyer is already on her way down to the security hub…" Doctor Jean-Martin Luis speaks in a hushed, shaky timbre that belies his nervousness and fear. "If she can disable the automatic response codes, she should be able to delay the activation of automated defenses in the event of an intrusion." At Doctor Luis' side is a short and scarred woman who once called the arcology home. Odessa Knutson has seen a lot in her time, probably too much for one life or even two. But the Institute is known to her, the layout of its halls, the position of its labs. The Institute, likewise, should have discovered her treachery. How she helped Tania Kozlow escape from their custody. But, because of one guardian angle with an ulterior motive, they didn't.

"I may have been able to get you White-level security access, but the moment these camera pick up on your facial recognition it's going to trigger a security alert." Luis looks nervously to Odessa, her face partly covered by a surgeon's mask. A leather folio of surgical tools is held under one arm; an assortment of scalpels, pliers, and the like, to complete her outfit. "You won't have long, but I need you to get to Julie. She's being held in cell 0064." Luis steps ahead of Odessa and firmly grasps her shoulder. "0064," he repeats with urgency. "The ACTS she's contained in is modified to run her through a dialysis process that cycles surplus blood from Claire Bennet into her system. You cannot unhook her from that under any circumstances. There's a portable recycler in the room, hook that up to the shunt on her side, then disconnect her from the device. Otherwise the malarial strain she's suffering from will — "

An explosion rocks the A-Ring, distant enough to only be a powerful vibration. The second after it happens, the false sunlight is disrupted and the pale white ambient lights immediately flicker off, replaced by a bright red, interspersed by intermittent orange flashing from warning lights in the walls. All the color drains from Luis' face as he hears alarms beginning to blare. His eyes go wide, the hand on Odessa's shoulder curls tightly into a fist. "Miss Price," he looks down from the ceiling to Odessa. "Please, please save her. She's all that matters."

Behind Luis, security personnel charge out from their stations, readying sleek and customized P90 TR assault rifles. The noise of shouts and screams erupts from the residential tiers, and Luis' eyes desperately demand from Odessa a service he has no right to ask her.


Meanwhile

The Commonwealth Arcology, B-Ring Offices


"I'm telling you, something's wrong." Arms crossed over his chest and head bowed, Doctor Darren Stevens paces back and forth across a break room floor. Nursing a cup of coffee between his hands, the time-manipulator looks like a caged animal, nervous and wanting more room to move. "They pulled me from my shift without notice, told me to stay in my quarters. I tried to ask Luis, and he just hung up on me. Security doesn't seem to be acting weird, but — I looked at the medical schedule? Luis cancelled all research for the day, reorganized everything and put placeholders in. Something's not right, it's like he's — "

"Hiding something, yeah." Elijah Carpenter is ostensibly a prisoner of the Institute, but one with considerable lateral movement within his guided cage. The mind-manipulator known often only as Doc rises up from the plastic chair he was seated in. "I was scheduled to do a cognitive duplication of Tamara Brooks today, into one of the vegetables from cold storage. But then her sister comes waltzing into my office," Doc walks over to the coffee maker, picking up a mug and pouring himself a cup. Steam rises up from the top, and Doc watches the way it steadily swirls in the recycled air. "Her sister hands me this order from Luis," Doc's eyes lift to meet Darren's as he takes a sip of black coffee. "The cognition duplication was postponed, and he put me on some redundancy busy-work down in the brain labs." Squinting, Doc looks incredulously at Darren.

Darren is silent for a moment, contemplatively sipping his coffee. "We should take this to Director Broome." One of Doc's brows raise at the escalation that represents. "After what he had to do to Julie, I don't think he's — " The entire break room shudders violently, lights flicker, gutter, and then go out in a pop-snap. Doc exhales a sharp rush of profanity, clutching his sloshing coffee cup. When the lights come back on, danger-red in coloration, he and Darren meet each others eyes with an expression of abject horror.


Meanwhile

The Commonwealth Arcology, Broome's Office


"Richard," Simon Broome's voice is rough and full of tension. Leaning over his desk, he trembles in nervous anticipation. "Repeat, I didn't get your message!" A voice crackles over the integrated speakers in the office's ceiling.

«We're un— ttack — Harper's — perimeter breac — pylons are — emergency failsa — »

The line goes dead. Simon's jaws tense, brows knit together and his weathered hands curl into fists. Swallowing noisily, Broome looks up to the photographs on the walls of his office, around to everything he worked so hard to put in place. Sweeping one hand down over his mouth, Simon Broome sits in abject silence for a few moments. Then, pressing two fingers to the touch surface of his desk, he draws up a diagram of a mountainside building surrounded by a subterranean ring. Tapping two fingers on the image, he pulls up an authorization screen.

"Broome, Thirty-Six, Twenty, Nineteen." At the voice authorization, the panel goes from red to green. Simon exhales a sigh through his nose, closing his eyes and pressing the panel.

Authorized: Broome, Simon
Access Level: Black Bishop
Nuclear Failsafe Initiated
Accessing Department of Defense Security Overrides
Tunneling …
Tunnel Achieved
Strategic Command Backdoor In-Play
Nuclear Failsafe Targets Identified
Coordinates Loaded
Initiate Failsafe? Y/N

A sudden shockwave of an explosion rocks Broome's office. The lights flicker off and on briefly, before being replaced by the red glow of security lighting. He had hoped there'd be more time, that there would be more options at his disposal. But it would seem that this proves one thing for certain. If you try to shortcut history by starting things sooner, time just catches up to you faster.

Simon flexes his hand open and closed, one finger hovering over the touch pad. His teeth bite down gently into his bottom lip, and then a moment later he hesitates. His eyes sweep back up to the black and white images on the walls. He looks around, at the photographs of migrant workers in the desert, happy families in crowded bodegas, classic nude photography in stark black and white contrast. He remembers those words Richard said to him the last time they spoke in this office. "What is it that separates us from God?" Simon whispers the words to himself, again. Then presses his finger down on the table. "Compassion."

N
Failsafe Disengaged

"I'm sorry, old friend."


Meanwhile

The Commonwealth Arcology, Cell 0101


The rhythmic beep of an EEG chirps off of the soundproofed walls of this medical containment cell. The sole occupant is an immobile machine, partway between the design of an ACTS device and an iron lung. Nearly all of Edward Ray's body is contained inside of the device, though his head, resting on a soft pillow, remains exposed. A halo back brace connects to Edward's body in several places, from the shoulder mounts to the braces that are screwed in around his head to keep his neck and back straight. A display on the side of the device prints out Edward Ray's vital signs, low and weak as always. The fact that he survived what happened at Pinehearst is nothing short of a miracle.

Kathleen Brooks stands behind Edward, both hands on either side of his head and her brows furrowed. Sweat runs down the side of her face, and an empty syringe labeled amphodynamine sits on a wheeled tray next to her. She tenses, nostrils flaring, a vein in her brow bulging. There's a look of pain that crosses her face, followed by a small trickle of blood running from each nostril as blood vessels begin to rupture from the strain. When the entire room quakes, Kathleen is thrown off of Edward and falls back against the nearby wall. The wheeled cart with the empty syringe wobbles back and forth across the floor, and her heart races as dark eyes focus down to narrower pupils.

Breathing heavily, Kathleen stares wildly ahead as if she'd seen something. She had, though, she'd seen something she could never have imagined. The lights in the cell shift from white to red, and a panel on the wall displays the words shelter in place, followed by the magnetic snap-click of the door locks activating. Exasperated, Kathleen rushes to the door, but it doesn't automatically open. She grabs her keycard lanyard from around her neck, swings it in front of the magnetic lock. Access Denied pops up and is reiterated by a mechanical voice. She lets out a strained cry in the back of her throat and slaps her palms against the door.

"No! No, no, no, no!"


Meanwhile

The Commonwealth Arcology, Cell 0133


Calloused fingers sweep over the strings of an acoustic guitar. Blonde hair hangs down, forming a curtain over one brown eye. As the chords are plucked, a rough voice joins the guitar's melodies. "But I can feel it in the air, everyone's arms are around me. I can feel it in the air, the winds… the winds are a-changing." Else's head tilts to the side, eyes halfway lidded to reveal only blindness beneath. "Every time we rise, they're right there beside us, the loves and lives that were just cast away. I can feel it in time, the hope of their past echoing forward to today. But I can feel it in the air, there's nothing left to do but march straight on!" She strums harder now, fingertips slamming against the strings.

"I can feel it in the air, the winds… the winds are a-changing! When we move up ahead, they're just there behind, hands linked together in amazement! All you people we loved, all you people we left! When the winds do a-change, we'll see that you were just always there! Nobody's ever gone for good, nothing's ever too far gone, there's just the choices we make and the lines they cross!" Else leans her head back, staring blindly up at the ceiling as she sings as loud as she can. "But I can feel it in the air! Everyone's arms are around me! I can feel it in the air, the winds… the winds are a-changing! Every time we rise, they're right there beside us, the loves and the lives — that were just cast away!" Tears well in her eyes. "I can feel it in time, the hopes of the past echoing forward to today! But I can feel it in the air! I can feel it in the air! We're the hope that they've passed on ahead! Passed on ahead!"

The entire room rumbles, the simulated rainy day scene outside of Else's window flickers in digital noise and then goes black. When it returns, the screen is read and reads shelter in place in block font. She hears a snap from the magnetic locks of her cell door, and her eyes uncloud. Wiping tears away from her cheeks, Else pulls her legs up to her chest and slinks back into the window, cradling her guitar to her chest. Screams echo down in the halls, alarms begin to sound, and she whispers to herself.

"The winds, they are a-changing."


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