Arkfall, Part IV

Participants:

darren_icon.gif doyle2_icon.gif graeme2_icon.gif julie_icon.gif liette_icon.gif

luis_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif remi2_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif ygraine2_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Arkfall, Part IV
Synopsis A simple extraction of Julie Fournier turns into a race against time when the nuclear reactor in the Commonwealth Arcology is set to meltdown.
Date November 8, 2011

The Commonwealth Arcology, B-Ring


«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

The Commonwealth Arcology lay in ruins. Fighting has spilled down through B-Ring and its research levels up into the residential ring above. The distant thump of explosions send debris rattling from the ceiling. Smoke hangs like ground-fog over the white-tiled floor, and bullet holes pockmark the sterile white walls of each corridor.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

For one extraction team within the arcology, their mission has not been an easy one. While security within the arcology has been low, thanks to the interference of Veronica Sawyer, the team’s target isn’t where Sawyer’s intel said she would be. But someone else is.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

Odessa Price has gone by many names, and stood on more sides of conflicts than most people get the opportunity to in all their lives. Right now, she’s standing in the medical containment room that is supposed to house Julie Fournier, one of the Ferrymen’s extraction targets. Instead, they find an open ACTS container and the blonde-haired and eyepatched Odessa standing by its side with a touch-screen tablet in one hand.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

On the other side of the door, Graeme Cormac is a tall and lean shadow against the blossoming red security light in the hall. Behind him Remi Davignon is his constant shadow, though not normally one holding a handgun. Today is different. The silhouette of Ygraine Fitzroy next to Remi rounds out the Deveaux Society’s completely coincidental strike team. For a moment, there is an awkward silence apart from the distant crack of gunfire and noise of alarms.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

No one is getting what they expect today.

"Son of a whore," Odessa is growling under her breath at the empty room. She's wasted no time dwelling on her failure however. The map on the screen in her hands shows a trail of breadcrumbs, and she intends to follow them. Tucking the tablet under her arm, she turns to exit the room—

But she isn't alone.

Her steps are halted as she comes face to face with the team on the other side of the door. Doctor Knutson Price swallows hard and stares defiantly up from where she's planted herself. The face of the woman who once ran the clinic in the basement of Gun Hill is almost unrecognizable today, behind the mask of scars and the patch that hides her ruined eye. And anyway, it feels like several lifetimes ago now.

"She isn't here." Odessa has no doubt that this band was sent to retrieve Julie Fournier, same as her.

For her own part, Ygraine might not be instantly recognisable… though perhaps Odessa remembers a motorcyclist who made occasional deliveries on behalf of the ‘Sailing Club’.  Now, she’s clad in a rather new-looking set of professional-grade leathers - midnight blue and black, with reinforced ridging over the joints.  A number of ‘field’ items are attached here and there about her person, most notably including a set of night vision goggles… and at least one visible handgun, of course.

After a moment’s hesitation, she peels off her opaque-visored motorcycle helmet, in the hope that her face and voice might combine to be at least marginally familiar to the woman she thinks might be familiar.

“You… were at Gun Hill, weren’t you?”, she ventures, her accent distinctly educated and British.  “Do you remember me?  And… do you know where she’s gone?”  Remi and Graeme, she doesn’t bother introducing, just in case she’s wrong - and aware that neither are likely to even know what Gun Hill might have been.  Of course, leading questions might help a nosily-inclined telepath…

Easier to let Ygraine do the talking; Graeme usually does anyway. While Ygraine talks, Graeme sets himself so that he can see down one side of the hallway, halfway see into the door, finger wrapped around the trigger of the handgun he's holding. In deference to the mission they're on the former teacher is wearing a body armor vest over his usual teeshirt, but aside from that dressed pretty much like usual.

And if the stress of the blaring and the gunshots and explosions in the distance is affecting him it's difficult to impossible to tell. "Then we'd better figure out where she is," Graeme says. Another glance at Odessa, a longer one, and he asks, "You were also at the photo exhibition opening… but we can figure all of that out later." His gaze turns back to Ygraine, and there's a moment of wondering about the other woman they've encountered. Graeme hopes she'll help, that she's on the same side as they are… and doesn't think too hard about what he'll have to do if she isn't.

Remi’s jaw sets as she hears the thoughts in sounding in French in the room they are heading toward, notifying the others of as much in their minds. Her gun is clenched rather tightly in her hands, mind open to ensure that she can tell when people are coming.

All the same, while the others talk, the former ballerina turned…whatever she is now, is listening, eyes intently watching Odessa’s face as she listens to whatever may be going on beneath the surface. For all intents and purposes, Remi is a mute — one who all but hides behind Graeme and Ygraine the entire time. This shit is way too scary for her not to cling close to those who are more…capable…than she is.

Elsewhere on B-level, a young woman stands before a bank of monitors, watching and yet not truly watching the tableaus playing out on their screens.  The room is small, stuffed with screens for this and switches for that, plus a chair and a desk and a lifeless body slumped on the floor.  The bullet-blown spatter that has lately been added to the room's lack of interior decor provides no impediment to the observer's vision, vision that the screens help greatly to focus and direct.

Tamara presses fingers against one particular monitor, the videoed glimpse of four recent arrivals in a particular small and otherwise abandoned space.  Her other hand seeks out the corresponding switch, toggles on; she leans down to bring her face closer to the microphone that would be more conveniently placed if she were sitting.

"«Brooke,»" comes over the room's loudspeakers, the speaking voice quite familiar to one listener and passingly so to another.  "«The way is not clean.»"  The sybil pauses briefly, continues. "«Go together. I will help where I can, but there are many to watch and only so long I could stay.»"

"A lifetime ago," is Odessa's reply to Ygraine. Whatever else she might have been about to say is cut short as a voice breaks in over the address system, speaking a name she hasn't heard in quite some time. Odessa goes very still, a slight tremor to her as she listens.

And understands.

Her brain kicks back into gear, then. Her dark blue eye narrows, focused. "Call me Brooke, then. You want to rescue that little girl? Then we do this together. I need you in order to reach her, and you need me once we do. She's very sick, and I know how to treat her." At five feet two inches in those flat boots of hers, she isn’t very impressive when she squares her shoulders and draws to her full height, but damned if she isn’t determined.

Ygraine shoots Graeme a surprised - and frankly rather impressed - look, before nodding thoughtfully at Odessa.  They never spoke to each other at the ‘Survivors’ event she organised as a showcase for Jaiden’s photojournalism in the Dome, but the eyepatch is familiar in that context.  Whatever she had been about to say is, however, resoundingly interrupted by that voice over the speakers.

~Tamara?!?~  Remi is likely to pick up the name that leaps into Ygraine’s thoughts - as well as the affection carried with it - though the Briton’s surprised delight is clearly evident to anyone able to see her face.  A warm smile curls her lips, and is audible in her voice as she addresses the loudspeakers.

“Try to make sure that you keep an eye on the right mirror-fragments to keep yourself safe, okay?”, she admonishes the unexpected observer.  “But thank you.  Oversight is very much appreciated.”

Internally, as well as in her spoken words, it seems that she has immediate faith in the good intentions of their unseen guide.  Indeed, she flashes a wry smile at Odessa.  “So… Brooke?  If you know where we need to go, it seems we’re following you.  If….”  She pauses, lips pursing and brow furrowing thoughtfully for a moment.  ~About to wall-walk briefly~ she inwardly warns Remi in their shared French, before stepping away from her companions and walking straight up onto a wall, to stand at right-angles to the rest of the room - though her attention is focused upon Odessa, as the one least exposed to her ability and the options it opens up.  “I can do this for all of you.  Walls, ceilings, vertical shafts, or whatever.  If there’s a shortcut you can think of that’ll bypass security….”  She steps down to the floor again.  “I already know that the ventilation shafts are tight, so if the best route’s a ‘normal’ one, pick that.”

Graeme glances at Odessa and nods to Ygraine's words. "Let's do it, then," he says. "Because the longer we stand around in this doorway the higher our chances of attracting unwanted attention." There's a breath, and then Graeme lets the fingers of his free hand rest on Remi's shoulder for a moment in silent assurance. "Whichever way it is, we need to move and soon."

A mental note is offered to Ygraine and Graeme from the telepath, noting that Odessa seems trustworthy enough for now, and that she’ll let them know if anything changes. Blue eyes turn up toward the speakers in the room, before the French woman nods quietly. “Yes,” Remi says, her accent much more European and much less obviously French these days. She could be from almost anywhere, really. “We should hurry. Please lead the way.”

Ygraine’s display of her ability prompts the ginger telepath to raise her eyebrows slightly. Yes, she was helped out of that unfortunate situation at her stage production, but it’s still rather impressive to watch. In turn, Graeme’s touch prompts just a little bit of the tension to melt out of her willowy frame — though only for a moment.

In her island of quiet surrounded by mayhem, Tamara squints at the keyboard before her.  Swallows her sigh and picks out a string of letters — an instruction, a direction.  Sends it off and glances away from the monitors, listening, counting.  

Do move,»" she says over the loudspeakers, with what may be a touch of dry humor.  "«More company slows everyone down too much.»"

In the pause that follows, Tamara leans her forehead against a screen, draws in a deep breath.  Ten minutes, eleven, twelve.  Or, looked at the other way: twenty-five, twenty-four, twenty-three.  That's not so much to ask for, to insist upon…  So she tells herself, yet again.

Straightening, the seer scrubs her hands over her face, flicks the speaker on again.  "«Stay right until you reach down.»"  A beat, and an addendum accompanied by a smile that can be heard, albeit not seen.  "«Conventional down, just now.»"

There was a time when Odessa would have marvelled at Ygraine’s ability - and deep down there is a part of her that still does - but that fascination went away when her own was taken from her. What’s there is a flash of contempt, but without any real malice to fuel it. At least she’s assured that, for the moment, no one is going to shoot her and leave her to bleed out on the floor, the shorter woman nods curtly and consults the tablet held in the crook of her arm. “This way.”

She doesn’t quite run once she’s out on the hall, but she’s definitely moving with urgency, and the confidence of someone who has traveled these corridors frequently. She’s certain the gunfire ahead of them is growing louder, leading them into a situation she cannot control. Odessa looks down at the tablet, and looks straight up into the electric eye of the camera as she passes. She hopes the seer knows what she’s doing.

Fortunately, Ygraine was only intending to show her ability rather than seeking to show off… so she interprets Odessa’s rapid, terse response as a sign of competent urgency rather than any sort of dismissal.

Still, her lips stay in a warmly amused smile for some little while - and she can’t help but broaden it into a grin as she intermittently glances up at elements of the Ark’s surveillance and security systems.  Remi, at least, can clearly hear “conventional” being repeated in her thoughts more than once, the word somehow connected with warm affection for Tamara… even while also being tangled up with some nightmarish glimpses of a night-time street viewed at a wildly impossible angle, while flailing electrical cables swipe and claw at the observer - and other strands wrap around a blonde teenager on the ground.

The closer they get to gunfire, however, the more she manages to focus her thoughts upon the here-and-now.  Her own pistol is tugged free, though her finger stays off the trigger.  She reminds herself once again that this time she’s wearing kevlar as well as her leathers… even if the bullet-proof protection does not actually guard where she’s previously been shot while trying to be heroic.  Still, she’s determined to keep herself between Remi and harm’s way; Graeme and ‘Brooke’, she seems to trust to take care of themselves.

Ygraine between Remi and harm's way on one side. Graeme takes the other, making sure that the telepath is in the middle of their little group as they proceed down the hallway. There's no room for questioning that in his thoughts, and it's protectiveness of the Frenchwoman as much as anything else that motivates him. He glances ahead of them every so often, but he's picking up the rear of the group and watching their back, gun held in an easy readiness that he's practised far too much these past weeks. And for now as they move, Graeme doesn't add to the noise of their movement with words, but there's a silent thought clearly meant for Remi. Can you hear anyone else nearby?

Nobody within 50 feet of us, at least. This is relayed into the minds of Ygraine and Graeme as Remi settles comfortably into her spot, protected by her more combat-capable companions. Still, her gun is out and ready to be used — though hopefully it won’t need to be

She follows close on their heels, mind casting about as far as she can to ensure that she can ‘hear’ anyone who may be coming before they can get the jump on the group. Otherwise, the telepath remains wordless.

Distant in more ways than one, Tamara meets the glance cast her way through electronic medium, though of course 'Brooke' can bear no witness to her regard.  Neither can she see the thin smile that crosses the watcher's face, sympathetic, strained.

Change builds like stormclouds on temporal horizon, the duration of a particular advantage shrinking with every breath.  That, too, is something beyond her control, events playing out on a level she cannot affect.  Instead, slim fingers walk across the control board, find the switch appropriate to the hall her audience now traverses.  "«Security systems go live… ssssoon.»"  She can be more precise than that, but values and units are elusive and slippery, costing more to pin down than they would yield in benefit.  'Soon' serves well enough.  "«Automatics.»"

Speaking of.  The sybil's hands hover over the keyboard, her gaze going to virtual distance beyond it, a space understood more by its implications than its actuality.  She picks out another command, instructs a certain security panel to lock and remain that way, sealing off the automatons hidden behind it; delaying their emergence at the very least, buying a little more time.

She pauses then, sparing a priceless, irreplaceable moment in consideration, weighing potential against possibility.  Blessing — however mixed — against bane.  Chooses not to outright disable the negation gas; keeping ongoing tabs on that system will cost her more, may cost them if she slips… but it may be useful, too.

With Tamara at the B-Ring security hub, the team attempting a rescue of Julie Fournier finds themselves armed with something better than perspective, something better than raw intelligence on the facility. They find themselves guided by foresight. But the gifts Tamara gives sometimes have invisible strings hanging from them, and this case may be no different.

With Odessa at the fore, Ygraine, Remi, and Graeme wind their way through identical-looking hallways within B-Ring. All around them are sounds of conflict, distant pops of gunfire, screams of panic and fright. A flood of children’s voices and the distant sound of doors opening and closing assemble an unseen portrait of the exodus happening nearby.

On their way through the hall, they find rooms with doors wide open. Bloodied boot-prints track across the white floor, and inside each of these numbered fifteen-by-fifteen cells are the coffin-like plastic and metal containment of more ACTS units. These ones aren’t empty, but there is no one to save in them. The people contained within are visible victims of close-range gunshot wounds. Someone is stalking the halls and executing unconscious prisoners.

But there’s no sign of that killer, their tracks are long-since cold, and there are no thinking minds in the direction Tamara leads them. Occasionally, they wander close to conflict. On their way past the B-Ring Medical wing entrance, Tamara seals an automatic door to their right, in time for Ygraine to get a clear sound of something alive — but not human — screaming in the distance, and the sound of crashing metal. Not that way, the closed door politely infers.

But ultimately, their paths do cross with something. Remi picks up thinking minds long after the sounds of a half-dozen frightened voices can be heard. At a four-way intersection just one junction down from the elevator they need to reach, they find a group of frightened children accompanied by none other than Eric Doyle. Eric isn’t alone, though. With him, and helping herd the children, is a tall blonde woman in newly pressed clothes all shades of white. She looks like she may have been a patient here.

Else Kjelstrom looks up from Eric, skidding to a halt with the children when they cross paths with Odessa, Ygraine, Graeme, and Remi. Her breath hitches in the back of her throat, then her posture eases when she recognizes vaguely familiar faces from the Rock Cellar and Catherine Chesterfield’s general orbit. “Fuck,” Else rasps in spite of the children. “Almost — goddamn.” One hand moves to her heart, still beating. Scared, but still beating.

"It's okay, kids, just keep moving, we'll get you out of here. Do— do any of you like puppets? I'll put on a show just for you all once we're safe and away from the bad men, and— " Eric Doyle's more focused on the children and keeping them calm right now, which is why when Else halts in her tracks he walks right into her with a startled little grunt. "Else, what— "

He looks up, and his eyes widen like saucers with a heart of absolute darkness beneath his cap's brim as he takes in the group. Well, that's not accurate. The others are recognized or dismissed, but the puppeteer's attention locks in on the woman that's joined up with the Ferry retrieval team like a falcon spotting a mouse in a field. One thick arm sweeps upward, fingers splaying out as his power flows through neural pathways all too familiar, like putting on an old and comfortable pair of shoes as he snatches motion away from the the woman in the lead.

"Brooke."

It's impossible to read the look in Eric's eyes, the tone in his voice. He's terrified. Or delighted.

Maybe he doesn’t know himself.

The horrifying things banging against the shut doors aren't entirely unexpected by Odessa. She knows what kinds of things the Institute has been up to, even though these were not her experiments. Kind recognizes kind, but it doesn't mean she wants to study the fruits of the Institute's labors up close. Not then, not now, not ever.

It keeps her footsteps quick as she swallows back the fear that creates a lump in her throat. Fear that comes bubbling back to the surface the moment she hears that familiar voice, knows who she's about to encounter.

Eric.

Odessa — Brooke stands stark still suddenly, tears already pricking at her eyes. This is the first time they've encountered one another since she's been powerless, and she is properly terrified. Fils de salop. She doesn't even think to look through the gaggle of children to see if any is the form of Julie Fournier.

Eric!”  Ygraine’s own exclamation is at least as surprised as that of ‘Brooke’, but there’s no fear in there: instead, Sudden Ceiling Woman is quite simply glad to see an ally from the Dome - someone who won her respect and amused affection for (what she saw of) his eccentricities as far back as her first visit to Gun Hill.  Her pleasure is all the more marked, after passing those terrible caskets and their bullet-holed victims.

The contrast between her delight and Odessa’s terror might provide Remi with a painfully clashing set of influences, but a clear commonality is the awareness of the puppeteer’s power.  Though Ygraine unthinkingly trusts his application of it, there’s a strong sense of him as someone who - even amidst the violent horrors of the Dome - counted as a heavy hitter.  Just one whom Ygraine absolutely trusted to protect those in his care.

Then she double-takes at Else: she saw the woman perform at Colette’s birthday party, interrupted one of her visionary writing-sessions, heard Quinn rave about her as an inspiration… listened to Quinn mourn her.  The Briton’s thoughts swirl into confusion, before settling upon the simple conclusion that reports of the singer’s demise were exaggerated.  It wouldn’t be the first time the ‘dead’ were found alive, after all.

“Else - Else Kjelstrom?  Rob-, ahh, Quinn will be so pleased you’re okay,” she enthuses warmly, before trying to regather her thoughts so that she can focus upon the fat puppeteer.  “We’re looking for someone called Julie, Eric.  Julie Fournier.  Twelve year-old blonde.  She wasn’t in her cell.”  There’s urgency in her voice, as she tries to convey to the child-protector how important this is.  “Have any of you” - her look encompasses the youngsters as well as their adult guardians - “seen her?”

With Remi present, she hopes that the need for coherently-spoken replies will be greatly reduced.

Blue eyes snap forward, first to the sound of the voices, then the thoughts that come in range, scared little ones following the fat man up ahead. As they come into view, Soleil Davignon watches the little events unfold with a far different perspective than anyone else here.

She hears the minds of the children, scared but hopeful thanks to the help of the fat man. She hears the mind of Odessa, panicking at the sight of said fat man. She hears the mind of the fat man, terrified and conflicted. She hears Ygraine’s mind, a woman who views the fat man much more favorably than their new acquaintance does.

The telepath rolls her eyes as the mini-drama unfurls between Odessa and Doyle, her eyes landing upon the fat man. To him, she sends him the telepathic equivalent of a feedback loop in the hopes of jarring him away from using that creepy power of his on Odessa. To both of them, she broadcasts, I’m just going to cut you two off here. Good reunion, no clue what it’s all about, but there’s not really the time for any of this. We’re all on the same side. Catch up while we find Julie, yes?

A harsh glance is cast to Doyle, before the telepath is turning her attention toward the youngsters as well as the puppet master, hopefully to get a snippet of where to find the woman they’ve been sent to rescue.

There's a glance from one to the next to the next at this reunion happening, but Graeme bounces on his toes a moment and repositions himself between Remi and the way that they've just came. The fact that Ygraine recognises the other man, the fact that there are a bunch of children, means that whatever harsh words might have accompanied the delay are bitten back, even silently apologised for. And without knowing what the telepath has said, he too reminds everyone else, a soft southwestern drawl that carries just enough down the hallway and is pitched with the same unflappable calm in the face of chaos: "We're all here on the same side, I think. So let's try to not let the past get in the way. We need to find Julie. And we need to get out of here."

Elsewhere, an observer and meddler weighs time, finds it wanting.  Her fingers dance one last time across the keyboard, opening a different, needed door — one for which others might quibble on the degree of need, but they are not here; she is.  Tamara flicks another switch, scans the monitors, nods to herself.  Her gaze, her attention, her vision centers once more on one particular group, and she draws from the balance of potentials one last set of statements.

"«The elevator,»" the sybil announces to the hall, "«I cannot affect.  Else, I can help you reach the others if you move now.»"

There, Tamara pauses, a beat of silence weighted with implications at least one of the group will emphatically not welcome.  And there is no explanation — no justification — she can give that does not also bring along its own suite of side effects… so she gives none.  Moves on instead to the other perhaps vitally important statement that needs to be made.

"«Remi… when I join you, stay away from me. Do you understand?»"

The seeress certainly hopes so, for all that she doesn't wait for a reply; no further explanation on that score can be given, even if the woman asks.  She switches the loudspeaker off once more, snatches up a remnant roll of duct tape that's been in her awareness since before she ever walked into the room.  Marks nonexistent grains of sand as they pass.

The time for waiting and watching is coming to an end.

The voice Else hears, the one that calls her by name, elicits a squint of one of the blonde’s eyes. She looks to Eric, looks back to the others, to Ygraine who spoke Quinn’s name. There’s a moment of uncertainty, of brief respite, but there are dozens of children here who need help. “Eric, stay or go, it doesn’t matter t’me. I’ll get the kids up, an’ I’ll be waiting for you, yeah?” Both of Else’s dark brows lift, a reassuringly painted smile crosses her face.

Else lays a hand on a frightened young girl’s back, looks to Eric, and then to the loudspeaker. “M’ready, help — help me get these poor kids out of here.” One of the children, a young, albino boy handed off to Eric earlier, looks up to Odessa and makes an unsettlingly long eye contact with her. Then, just faintly smiles, and takes Else’s hand in his.

“C’mon,” Else whispers to the boy. “Let’s get you home.”

There are voices shouting at Eric Doyle in his head and at his ears, his jaw tightening for a moment as he ignores them for several heartbeats as he stares at Brooke… and then his hand lowers slowly, her muscles losing their tension and returning to her conscious control. She can still feel the touch of his power, though, like a noose just slipped about her throat and ready to be jerked back.

She knows that feeling very, very well.

A deep breath, and then he gives his head a tight shake. "No," he says, breaking through that moment - whatever it was - and stepping forward, "No, we haven't found a Julie yet— " He flashes a quick, disarming smile to Else, "— I'll catch up, keep them moving. If there's another kid out there we need to get her out of here too."

"Brooke," he says, that smile lingering though the look in his eyes is harder to read as he looks to her, "Do you have any idea where she might be?" Somehow, he suspects she just might know this place well.

Odessa's blocks out the scene before her behind the darkness of lids. There's a voice in her mind; now she recognizes Remi for what she is (bitch), and she takes better care to shield her thoughts from the telepath. Despite her training, some things just can't be hidden. There's other noise around her – she doesn't care. Even as control returns to her body, it can't be told from the way she continues to stay frozen. She remembers this tension, quiet and insidious. Being made to sit perfectly still, eyes open until they burn. Marched through the corridors. The motions he made her go through.

The girl with one eye opens it again and a tear runs down her cheek. They've been through so much since then, not all of it bad. (Although her fingers twitch at her sides and it has nothing to do with the slowly forgotten instincts to wind threads of time around them.) But that was Odessa, or Joy. Brooke is someone very different.

Scarred lips that have gone dry part to speak, but still when she catches sight of a small boy looking at her. It's disconcerting, and she cannot begin to articulate why. But then Eric steps forward, and the moment is forgotten. He asks his question, and she doesn't hesitate – switches gears, and responds. "Yes."

Belatedly registering just how still ‘Brooke’ seems to be, Ygraine arches a brow at Eric.. then nods encouragingly as he starts to focus upon finding Julie.  She looks away long enough to offer Else and the children an encouraging smile, too happy on Quinn’s behalf to care that she herself is evidently impossible for the singer to place, and too clueless to have any real notion of why one particular girl might give ‘Brooke’ that sort of look.  “There are people ready to help you when you get out.  And everyone’ll be delighted to see you,” she assures the fugitives, optimistically and warmly sincere.  Remi might pick up a moment’s vague, happy daydreaming about how astonished Robyn will surely be when she discovers that her idol is alive and well.

Then the Briton pulls her thoughts back to the here-and-now.  She peripherally includes the puppeteer in the question that follows, since it seems that Brooke-in-motion will require Doyle’s permission - and that giving him a nudge might be needed.  “Can you lead us there, Brooke?  If that inoperative elevator is in our path, then I might well be able to circumvent the problem for us… so long as we can get into the shaft, at least.  But we do need to get moving.”  She glances to Graeme, nodding affirmation in his direction to link her words to his and add weight to the push for motion instead of impasse.

The tear on Odessa’s cheek, she pretends not to notice, hoping that doing so allows the woman to retain more dignity - and doesn’t count as callous cruelty.  Indeed, it’s partly the desire to find something else to focus upon that prompts her to direct an internal comment to Remi, employing her near-flawless translator’s French in her thoughts to increase the chance that they’ll be listened to.

~I trust our unseen guide, Tamara, with my life - and I’ve previously risked my neck to protect hers.  But thanks to her ability, her mind is… fragmented like no one else you’ll ever meet.  If you look inside, it could hurt you, I think.~  There’s an accompanying impression of a shattered mirror; a jumble of jagged, gleaming pieces beneath an almost-empty frame.  ~Your own mind could get pulled in impossible directions.  You’ll probably be able to tell it’s her as soon as she starts to come near your range.  Please, please take her advice and hold back from her as best you can.~

Graeme nods to Ygraine's spoken words. "We'll have to at least get the doors open," he says. There's a moment where it looks like Graeme may be about to say something else, but then he shakes it off, and just bounces on his toes once again as if it will make moving towards that elevator shaft happen quicker.

The Frenchwoman’s eyes linger on Doyle and Odessa for a moment longer, before turning toward the speaker on the wall at the warning from Tamara. Ygraine’s follow up prompts a curt nod from the woman, who keeps an eye out for just that — the moment she comes into range, Remi will definitely stay as far from Tamara’s mind as possible.

Then, she’s straightening up, wordlessly indicating that she’s ready to go whenever / wherever they are, blue eyes dancing over each child’s face briefly, before she turns expectantly toward Odessa.

As one group brings Doyle into their fold, he parts ways with Else and a gaggle of frightened and confused Evolved children. Doubt tugs at the back of Doyle’s mind as he leaves Else behind, but seeing Brooke there with the others leaves him with more doubt as to Julie’s safety. As the two groups part ways completely, there is only the distant sound of gunfire and shouting, of a future being crushed under heel.

There’s only one corridor they need to cross to get to the elevator, and it’s there they find that they’re not alone. Two Institute security officers are slumped over, P90 automatic rifles still at their sides. A slight, mop-haired figure stands at the elevator door, pounding on it with tiny bare hands. As she turns, Odessa recognizes the facial features instantly, if not the person herself. Wild and uncombed blonde hair is streaked with chunks of faded pink and powder blue. Her clothes look like they were dug out of a Salvation Army bin, and the flecks of dried blood on her cheeks likely aren’t hers.

It’s Julie’s twin, the one who escaped from the Institute, Liette.

Hey!” Liette shouts as the others reach the elevator door. “Can one of you teleport?” The Ferrymen and those adjacent know Liette better than reputation, she’s been smuggled from safehouse to safehouse for months now, usually in the care of Jensen Raith. She was brought along on this mission thanks to her knowledge of the Institute’s layout, and last anyone saw… she was with Raith.

Stomping over to the approaching group, Liette waves at the door. “It’s locked,” she explains, as Odessa casually slips past her “I can’t get it open, I— I can feel Julie that way. She’s — are one of you really strong? Maybe you could tear the door off its hinges or —”

Ding.

Odessa swiped her access card. Blonde brows raise, and the eyepatched woman slips into the spacious freight elevator with an expectant look. Liette backpedals, skip-hustles toward the elevator, shooting back a look to the others as they follow Tamara’s guidance. “I uh, ok so. Thanks, Odessa.” Liette offers on the side, amended with. “Again.

Eyeing the others, Liette raises a brow. “I think I recognize some of you, you're — “ she motions to Doyle. “Santa,” oh god. “And you,” she points at Ygraine, “Ceiling cat, right?” Blue eyes track over to Graeme, lips pursed to the side in thought. “I’ll come back to you,” a finger bobs from Graeme to Remi. “And you’re — “

Psychic feedback whines in Liette and Remi’s heads, and Liette winces, one hand up to her brow and face scrunched up. “You’re a telepath. Ok.

At the affirmative answer, Eric's head bobs slightly in approval, the hint of a smile curving to his lips. Then he turns to step along in the direction indicated…

…but he stops, along the way, glancing back to Odessa. The smile fades slowly from his lips and his eyes, and he swallows once, the apple of his throat rising and falling with the heavy motion. Fingers flick once and then curl back to his side, and he turns away, returns to walking in pursuit of the Fournier girl.

She can feel the light touch of those ephemeral strings gone, though, drawn away from her entirely as he dismisses his power.

"Liette?" The puppeteer's voice shocked at the sight of the girl, no less because she's on her own alone down here. And apparently incapacitated two security guards, at that.

The mention of his nickname amongst some of the children return that smile to his lips, and he approaches with the others, shaking his head, "Well, we're looking for Julie too. You say she's through here? Maybe— "

Oh, hey, someone has the access card. That'll make that easy. What a surprise.

There's a relief that seeps into her very bones. It's a familiar sensation she hasn't felt for some time. She hates him for reminding her, but finds some sort of solace in the memory all the same.

When they approach the elevator, she instantly recognizes the young girl attempting to gain passage. Her confidence begins to return. They have history, and it's not an unkind one, for once. The corners of Odessa's mouth turn upward in a fond smile in spite of herself. When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, she has the keys, and she strides along as though no one should be surprised. And should they? She works here, after all. Though she's likely going to need to seek new employment after today. That also makes her smile.

"Nice to see you too, mon biquet. Let's go find your sister." The fingers of one hand – slightly crooked – curl to beckon the others inside. "Off we go."

Ygraine had been expecting to break into the elevator shaft, then take the group down its walls.  Instead, a (lethally dangerous) Julie-clone is present, Odessa/Brooke has a key, and the elevator’s right there for them to use.

At least she can be glad that Eric and Brooke seem to have decided to behave around each other, for the time being.

Liette dubbing her ‘Ceiling Cat’ prompts a surprised laugh and a broad grin, and she’s still half-suppressing a chuckle and lightly shaking her head as she moves to follow Odessa into the elevator.  The unfortunate guards, she determinedly does not pay attention to.

She does, however, shoot Remi a sympathetic look.  ~Sorry about all the head-aches~ she projects to the telepath.

Well that’s convenient. Remi isn’t too horribly sad that she won’t have to walk on the walls of the elevator shaft — it’s not like she hates it or anything, but she does still have the occasional issue of discomfort when caught up in Ygraine’s ability.

As Liette’s mind promptly starts to feedback, the telepath turns the ‘volume’ down on that particular mind, effectively scrubbing the woman’s mind into a big old blank spot in her awareness. Ugh, way too much feedback today.

Graeme raises an eyebrow halfway at Liette's assessment of everyone, and the sets a hand gently on Remi's shoulder once more, just half a second. His gun remains trained on the hallway that they just left as he enters the elevator, and there's a slow and steady breath in and then out. It's only once the doors close that he relaxes a slight touch. I hate elevators, they feel like a trap. But he does a good job of not showing it. After a brief moment hate fades back into every other emotion that is endured, a vague shadow on the constant existence.

"How far down?" he asks, looking at Liette, and then Brooke, and then back to the young girl. One of them will have the answer. He hopes.

Liette doesn’t have an answer, that much is visible in the scrunch of her brows and the pucker of her lips as she tries to verbalize what is an intuitive sense of her twin sister’s spatial location. Odessa, however, knows the answer. “375 feet below us,” precisely. Roughly 37 stories down below the level they’re already at.

Liette reaches up and taps a button on the elevator marked reactor level, the lowest basement level of the arcology. The screen above the keypad turns red, indicating a prompt.

Please enter Executive Command passcode.

Liette’s brows furrow, looking to Odessa. While as an Institute employee, Odessa has access to some wings of the facility, none of them are the reactor level. But at that precise moment, a voice chimes in over the loudspeaker in the elevator.

«It was 314200936.»

The seer’s voice sounded different this time, though, as if she were calling in to the intercom system from somewhere else than where she was before. Tamara’s cue, right on time, prompts Liette to key in the numbers and tap the enter key. The screen above flashes from red to green, and the doors of the elevator slide shut with a heavy thud. A faint, tinny jazz instrumental rendition of the Girl From Ipanema begins chirping over the speakers. Then, the elevator jostles to life and begins a rapid downward descend.

In spite of the hundreds of feet it needs to clear, there are only two floors listed below B-Ring. The one upcoming, C-Ring is also indicated as the Machine Fabrication Level. Ygraine can feel the swiftness of the elevator’s descent velocity, gliding down a magnetized elevator shaft. As the elevator passes C-Ring, there’s a brief chime indicating such, and then once more Ygraine feels the inertial shift as the elevator begins to come to a steady and exponential deceleration.

What should have taken a handful of minutes was accomplished in less than thirty seconds, without noticeable discomfort on the part of the passengers. When the doors open, it is to a cavernous circular chamber that must rest below the entirety of the Commonwealth Arcology.

The space directly outside of the elevator is a raised platform with a metal railing some twenty feet up from the floor of the chamber. From here, the entire room can be seen at an advantageous angle. The reactor level has fifty foot high ceilings, interlaced with a system of conduits and pipes that spread out from the center of the room like the root system of a great tree. The reactor level itself is probably four hundred or five hundred feet across from one end to the other. The walls too are lined with this criss-crossing maze of conduits, all of which hum noisily. From the landing the elevator opens out onto, a pair of metal staircases descend in a switchback to the floor below.

On the opposite side of the reactor chamber from where the Ferrymen and their allies entered, there is a fifteen foot wide and twenty foot tall steel blast door framed with black and yellow banding. A curving pair of railway tracks leads from the door to a loading dock behind the reactor. A sign above the door clearly indicates Cargo Dock Access.

It is the center of the reactor level that draws attention, demands attention. A massive machine rises like a column from floor to ceiling here. More accurately, the machine is like a pair of thick pillars — one descending from the ceiling, and one rising from the floor — that nearly meet with one another, and in that gap between them is a sparking and guttering arc and snap of unearthly blue light. This reactor is surrounded by a transparent, cylindrical wall of what is presumably thick glass, but may be some other form of transparent and reinforced polymer or composite.

Outside of the reactor and its reinforced barrier are descending stairs down to command consoles, most of which do not appear to be actively staffed. There are half a dozen technicians in white and red lab uniforms laying across the floor, scattered from the stairs to the reactor. All of them appear to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Some still look to be alive, pawing at their injuries and murmuring pained, incoherent sounds.

Check the others!” The panicked scream comes from a broadly-framed gray-haired old man with a sagging, disappointed countenance hunched over the one occupied console. He is dressed in a white lab coat spattered with blood on the right sleeve, and is frantically keying into the console. He is immediately recognizable from the Ferrymen’s intelligence reports shared with everyone present — Doctor Jean-Martin Luis.

The man Luis is shouting at is kneeling on the floor nearby to the corpse of a nuclear technician with a gunshot wound to the head. He, too, is dressed in a blood-spattered lab coat, but is a decade or two Luis’ junior. Blonde-haired, clean-shaven, but looking harried and frantic as he paws at the corpse. Likewise recognized from the intelligence reports supplied to the Ferry, he is Doctor Darren Stevens.

But neither Doctor Luis, nor Doctor Stevens are what this team is here for. That target, Julie Fournier, stands silhouette by the shimmering blue light of the reactor inside the sealed glass chamber. Her sleeveless, white medical gown flutters in a thermal wind, blowing about her knees. Long, well-groomed blonde hair is whipped around by whatever horrible winds stirs within the machination she’s walked into. Her hands are raised, bones glowing white-hot through her skin, and shimmering arcs of cerulean energy waver from them. Julie looks weak, weary and fatigued. Her knees buckle, and her resolve seems shaken.

For the love of God, Darren, hurry!” Luis screams, looking up to where Julie stands beyond the glass containment wall of the reactor.

The elevator jolts and begins going down, leading to what may be one of the most awkward elevator rides that has been recorded in history. Eric Doyle stands beside Odessa Knutson, the brim of his baseball cap shadowing his eyes as he sneaks glances sidelong at her.

Oh, but he watches her so sadly…

How can he tell her he loves her?

There may be no lyrics to the song coming over the speakers, but the instrumental is of a song that he knows well. If nothing else, Eric has always been a man for the classics.

"H-how have you been, Odessa?" A tentative, quiet question, as in the middle of a daring raid on a clandestine facility the puppetmaster turns to small talk, "It's been, I mean it's been awhile, I was hoping you weren't too hurt when— " 'When I shot you' is a very awkward way to end that sentence, so he just lets it trail off.

Yes, he would give his heart gladly…

But instead when she walks to the sea… she looks straight ahead not at he…

It's a much shorter ride than anticipated, though, and then the door opens with a ding and a slide of the doors to the side. It's an impressive sight, his eyes widening as he steps slowly into the open. "Holy shit… there, Liette!" The words a hiss, as he points at the reactor. "What the hell is she doing in there?"

Tall and tan, and young and handsome…

The boy from Ipanema goes walking…

Manicured nails slide into colorless hair in a very practiced motion – she knows where exactly to reach, where the line is – parting it and pulling one section up easily so that Eric Doyle can see his handiwork. There's a mark that draws a white line across her scalp, still young and angry, unlike the rest of her scars. "Oh, you know… Same shit, different name on the paycheck," she tells him without bitterness, letting the locks fall back into place after he's had his chance to admire what he's added to her collection. Odessa expects he knows exactly what she means with that statement, finally sparing him a sidelong look from the corner of her only functioning eye. There's a spark there that he's not seen since…

And when he passes, I smile…

But he doesn't see. He just doesn't see…

The doors open and their little crew steps out onto the platform. Odessa has never seen the reactor before, and her gaze is wide with astonishment. That the little girl they're looking for is inside of the damn thing is slightly horrifying.

The bodies on the floor are their own horror. Death and corpses don't bother Odessa – she's performed her share of autopsies, and many of them on remains that no longer resembled something human – but the fact that the two men below are responsible is something of a surprise. Odessa has known Dr. Luis for a very long time, is intimately familiar with his fits of pique, especially when it comes to these twin girls. But this? This is something else entirely. He sent her on this mission to find Julie. What is happening? She tears her attention away from the doctors below and looks to Eric Doyle one long moment, holding his gaze as she weighs something in her mind. It's time to pick a side.

Like a deer taking off at the report of a rifle, Odessa breaks away from the group, making a mad dash down the staircase so that she might join with her Institute allies.

“What the fuck do we do here?”, Ygraine asks in a mutter as she tries to take it all in.  Then Odessa’s haring off, and the Briton is arching brows in surprise - which does at least succeed in distracting her from thoughts of carbon cooling rods and the probable (comparative) simplicity of an emergency shut-down procedure for any remotely conventional reactor.

How she tackles this, and if she even should pitch in just yet, she has no idea.  Memories of some first-year university classes in nuclear physics don’t exactly cover the madness of a Warren-Hector “it’d be really cool if we used one of the Evolved as a power source!” nightmare..

~Remi - can you pick up the intentions of the scientists?~  Then she glances to her remaining companions - both the Coincidental Deveaux Strike Team and Eric Doyle.  “I can take us up and into cover on the roof.”  She jerks a thumb to the clutter overhead, with its myriad hiding-spots.  “I know Eric can work at range, and we have guns, if need be.  But I suspect we need people down there if we’re to shut anything down safely.”

The elevator ride is…awkward, at best. Remi fidgets uncomfortably, making very certain to avoid physical contact with all involved. The last thing she wants is to actually see into the minds of Doyle or Odessa — or anyone present, really. Liette, especially, is given a wide berth. Because touching her would probably hurt both of them.

As Odessa takes off for the scientists, Remi narrows her eyes. “She wants to protect Julie,” the telepath murmurs in response to her fleeing. Then, at Ygraine’s questioning, she tips her head toward the men. I need to get closer to be able to hear them. This is sent to both Graeme and Ygraine.

Then, possibly taking for granted the protection that the two have been providing throughout their trip here, the ginger telepath begins walking toward the two, gun still held at the ready to shoot at…anyone who the group might have trouble with. She’ll find a place to hunker down when she’s close enough.

"What the f…" Graeme trails off as he steps out of the elevator, echoing the profanity and there's several more choice words muttered under his breath.

And all of that pales in comparison to the cursing that comes after as Odessa steps forward and then Remi saunters towards the scientists. "Really?" he asks. A glance back over his shoulder at Ygraine and Graeme shakes his head. "Take him and get up there and find some cover, I'll cover down here." And then shakes his head, a few quick steps to catch up. And put himself at least physically between them and her before they make it down the stairs, his own gun trained slightly off of anyone… but he's definitely ready to shoot if need be.

"Alright," a deep breath in, and then Graeme takes another step or two forward. And then the teacher-voice comes out. Whereas before the man's been quiet, letting others do the talking, when he speaks now he apparently expects to be listened to. It's a projection that could reach across a classroom and certainly at least carries somewhat in here. Rowdy highschoolers, traumatised scientists, no big difference, right? "What the hell is that machine, what are you trying to do, and how quickly can you stop it." It's not really a question. "Both of you — all of you," he includes Odessa in that, "Don't do anything more unless it's in the steps for getting her out of there."

And even as he speaks, Graeme continues to survey the room. The gun is shifted into a one-handed grip that he looks no less comfortable with, in order to enable him to fidget with the strap of the vest for a moment. While you're at it try to see if you can pick up on how to get her out of there. Above the usual thoughts, that one is deliberately at the surface for the telepath. Quickly, damn it.

Doctor Luis is both mortified and frustrated by the arrival of non-employees to the reactor level, though he hardly looks surprised. Darren scrambles back from the body on the floor, immediately surrendering and raising both of his hands. “I— I'm just following orders, please don't shoot,” he blurts out with practiced measure. Even at a distance Remi can feel a sense of self-preservation welling up in Darren, a sell everyone down the river attitude.

Luis, however, has a far more rigid backbone. Straightening up, the dour old doctor grips the sides of the reactor console to steady himself. “My name is Doctor Jean-Martin Luis,” his voice is weighted and grave, but steady and sure. “That,” he inclines his head to the reactor, “is the arcology’s reactor. A device I am woefully under-educated on how to properly handle.”

Glancing at Odessa, Luis’ eyes narrow at the key-card at her waist, then back up to Graeme. He seems to ignore Remi, as he approach feels less hostile. The others who have yet to approach don't yet warrant his attention. “Director Broome,” he eyes Odessa when he says this, “has — “ and then he notices Liette. All of Luis’ composure crumples when she comes into view from behind Graeme, and begins inching up the steps toward the glass barrier around the reactor.

My little girl. Good god what is she doing here? I have to get them out of here. We have to get out of here. Though Luis is silent, Remi can now clearly hear his thoughts.

“This reactor is currently in an uncontrolled state of meltdown,” Luis realigns his tactic for approaching this situation and explaining it to Graeme. “The only people who know how to operate the reactor are these technicians,” and he gestures with a weathered hand to the men laying on the floor. “All of whom were executed by the facility’s director before he initiated the meltdown.” Remi picks up the unspoken however it is he did that in frustrated internal monologue.

“I am trying to get access to the system. But my credentials are insufficient.” In spite of the danger this situation presents, Luis is posing as calm and in-control. Remi knows he is not. He is terrified.

“My colleague,” Luis’ eyes flick to Darren, “need to revive one of these technicians so that we can try their login, or have them reverse what was done before we — and every person above us in Cambridge — dies.” Though he sounds resolute in that grim finality, Remi picks up that Luis isn't actually sure what will happen if the reactor blows. She discovers he doesn't even know what kind of reactor it is.

It is Liette who fills in the unanswered question, pressing her hand up to the glass separating her from her twin. “Julie is absorbing the radiation, mitigating it somehow. I… I can feel the flow of power through her.”

Liette”, Luis snaps. “How did you even come into contact with such a dangerous power to give it to your sister!?” It's a parental tone, that. A don't play with sharp objects chastisement. Liette looks over her shoulder to Luis, brows furrowed. She doesn't look at him like a daughter, like a child, and the coldness she exudes emotionally shakes Luis.

“She didn't get it from me,” Liette snaps back, and both she and Luis share the same puzzled expression. Remi can hear it echoed in Luis’ mind. Then, where?

Eric Doyle returns the moment's long look with Odessa, and then she's running off, and he glances back towards Remi, brow scrunching up a bit as he thinks very hard in her direction. She might try posing as one of them still, but she's on our side… er… probably, she's probably on our side. I think. I hope. Sometimes she gets— carried away.

Of all the people that he might have faith in, the one that he shot in the head might be an unusual choice. But then, nobody ever said that Doyle's mind works logically. Deep down, he's a creature of emotion and instinct.

"Al… right," he says then, lumbering forward and bringing a hand up to twist his baseball cap back around like someone getting ready to do some serious work, clapping his hands together and rubbing them vigorously, "Well, Doc, you've got just the right people to save the world right here, it sounds like! Alright, do your little — Lazarus trick — and if the guy doesn't want to cooperate, I'll make him."

A look over to the woman who came with them, a brow lifting sharply at the mention of access, his gaze dropping to the card and then back up again in wordless question. Does she have sufficient credentials?

Odessa hurries to the side of the man she owes her very life to, gently guiding him to lower his arms. "It's okay," she assures Doctor Stevens in a soft voice. "They're not going to hurt you. They aren't those kinds of people." There's an apprehension about what he's proposing to do. She knows anyone revived by the man's ability is a dead man walking – that's a cruelty even she recoils from. When she found out about the truth of it, how it works, she had nightmares about it herself. Delusions of scars opening up to pour blood across her mouth and neck, her ruined eye weeping sanguine tears. But the clash of their abilities – hers to halt the flow of time and his to reverse it – caused his to work the opposite of how it should have. Rather than reverse her injuries, months of healing were accomplished in moments, sparing her from the disastrous consequences of the man's gift.

After all her years of mastery over it, Odessa knows one indelible thing about time: its greatest desire is to move ever forward.

Her fingers trail across the back of Darren's shoulders as she passes behind him on her way to the console where Dr. Luis is working to save them. The situation is heavy, so she speaks to him in his native tongue, as they have so often done in the past in tense moments like these. "«You sent me to rescue her. How did she get down here?»" Her tone is incredulous, but lacking in suspicion. He's likely wondering the very same thing about them. That key card he gave her doesn't allow her access to the reactor, and that reactor is now receiving a very wary look. If she still had her ability, she could hold it at bay while they figured out a solution.

It's better this way.

Moving closer, Ygraine sticks close to Doyle so that she can drag him up and away into cover among the ducts, if need be - but for the time being, it seems clear that combat’s not immediately on the table.  The betrayed-and-murdered technicians are perturbing… but she’s seen all too many corpses and fatally-wounded victims in the Dome and elsewhere.  She calls on her experiences of such horror, pretending that the sprawled and bloody figures are inconsequential so that she can focus upon the matter in hand.

“If it were a mundane reactor, then it would be cooled - even shut down - by inserting carbon rods into the reaction chamber, to absorb the energy generated.”  In the chamber’s acoustics, and in response to the pressure of the situation, the biker’s accent sounds even more crisply British and educated than usual, while her gaze runs over the two still-living scientists.  “This doesn’t look as if it even has that kind of reaction chamber, so the energy generation must - at least notionally - be something that can be turned down at source.  Surely even the insane designers of this thing didn’t simply build it to have no control at all.

That implies that there are specific components in there that could be removed to stop the process - perhaps akin to taking the lens out of a laser.  If a technician can’t stop it via the control panel, then maybe he - or one of you - can identify something that we can deal with to abort the process.  With the radiation being absorbed, it’s possible that we could get away with accessing areas and handling things that would normally be out of the question.

If something can be pointed out, and enough radiation can be absorbed that I have time, then I can get to it and remove or disable it.”

~Remi… I hate to ask.  But can you tell if any of the technicians are coherent enough to answer questions, even if only internally, or for you to lift memories from?  If contact with a dying mind’s dangerous to you, then be careful, please.~

A vague, almost imperceptible nod is offered Doyle’s way as Remi finishes closing the gap, finally settling down somewhere in the middle of the giant room. Blue eyes glance between him and Luis, and the telepath nods quietly. “As an added benefit, I can attempt to persuade whoever we choose. I think I can do that.” She still listens intently to Odessa, as well as Luis and Darren. She listens to everyone, really, excluding Liette.

Then, another vague nod is offered to Ygraine at her request, and the telepath casts her mind about, listening for any sort of coherent thoughts among the lab technicians, her blue eyes flitting about the room. She’s unsure if dying minds are bad for her — she’s never had an issue before, but she’s never really been that close to dying people either.

Once it's clear they're all on somewhat of the same side, Graeme lowers his gun, flips the safety back on, shoves it into a holster and hurries forward, coming to stand a few feet behind Liette. The harshness is gone from his voice when he speaks, too, but he does tilt his head to one side, pauses and then remarks, apropos of nothing that's been said. "There were a lot of those sarcophagus things with a lot of people with different abilities. Maybe it was from one of them."

He lets out a breath, with a half mumbled apology for something or other, probably the whole 'pointing a gun at them' part. Then to Ygraine, Graeme adds. "If whatever it is is something that we shouldn't usually touch I can probably do it. Or at least I can keep going even if it hurts me, and get treatment for whatever exposure… later." Assuming there is a later. He pauses. "This risk is worth that."

What fool machine did Simon allow to be constructed down here? What faustian Heart Machine is this? Luis’ thoughts echo off into the widely cast net of Remi’s ability.

Wonderful. Doctor Price. I’m sure she’ll stab one of us. I’ll — run — up? I wonder if my access card works on the railway door? Doctor Stevens’ mind is bare to Remi as well, thoughts of self-preservation dancing in his head.

Directing the attention of her telepathy down to the technicians not entirely dead, but suffering from their fatal injuries, Remi learns something else down in this reactor level. She learns that the minds of the dying are not playgrounds, but minefields. As she reaches out to tentatively touch the surface of one of those consciousnesses, she is bombarded by a jumble of confused and panicked thoughts; half remembered failures, loved-ones faces, doubts, remorse, guilt, moments of passion, moments of pride, moments of loss.

All of what Remi senses is accompanied by the drum-beat of survival instinct with no way to be used, the hopelessness and despair that comes at the panicked scramble of a life’s end. She’s never experienced anything like that before, and even the briefest brush with death’s mind chills her to the bone and leaves her recoiling from the telepathic connection. No, her body says in involuntary reactions, that’s not good.

Not far away from Remi’s discovery of what the dying think of, Doctor Luis and Odessa share a presumably clandestine moment. «Odessa, dear, things changed.» Luis’ brows furrow together and lips downturn into a deeper frown. «I thought I would need to be protecting her from,» he eyes Doyle and the others, «them, not Simon. Not…» one hand comes up to gesture to the reactor. «Not this. I had an opportunity to wake her from her containment. I had hoped to send her to A-Ring, to you, but…» His eyes search the room, hopelessly. «Then, this.» Luis’ English isn’t framed by much of a French accent at all, but when he speaks in his birth-language there’s a fluidity and comfort that is now recogizably absent when he’s pressing on in English.

Further away, Liette pounds a hand against the reactor’s thick, glass enclosure. “Julie!” Her twin doesn’t physically hear her, but the empathetic bond between the two causes the other to turn, regard her sister through the curving wall of glass with a smile that conceals worry. They share a silent moment of understanding, and then Julie turns back to the machine with her hands raised, waves of cobalt light arcing from her palms.

While this is all transpiring, and no one seems to be pointing a gun at him, Darren sidles back up to the side of the corpse he’d been kneeling at before. Pressing bare hands to the dead man’s chest. The bones of Darren’s hands begin to radiate light through his skin, undulating bands of vibrant green energy with a smoky quality wafts from his fingers, tinted lemon yellow at the center. As he touches the corpse, Darren's irises emit the same radiation.

There's a flash another snap of electrical current in the air, then green light swirls and whorls around the corpse, filling the holes where bullets perforated through the body. Another heartbeat later, and the gunshot victims’ entire circulatory system radiates light through flesh and cloth. Darren breathes deeply, exhales a ragged breath, and then one of the technicians rises up with back arched and mouth gaping open in a scream.

Director no!” But the technician’s scream is from the past, a scream for a moment before his life ebbed into the floor. Now, panicked and terrified, he looks around at a situation that has dramatically changed. Darren, one firm hand pressing to the technician’s shoulder, urges calm in the face of miracles.

“I know what you just experienced is beyond explanation,” Darren states firmly and urgently, “but please. We are in a dire situation.” The green glow at his eyes fades, flames of emerald light and smoke dissipating from his hands. “The reactor is in meltdown.”

«WARNING: REACTOR AT NEAR-CRITICAL LEVELS.»

An automated warning chimes over the arcology intercoms.

«BEGIN EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROTOCOLS»

Eric Doyle's head turns as if on a pivot, one brow lifting up above an eye as he gives Ygraine a startled look. "…huh," he mutters, "Didn't realize you were a scientist." Well, she might not be, but she certainly sounds like one to someone who never technically finished high school. Maybe when all this is over he'll go back and get his GED.

A long, steady look lingers upon Luis and Odessa as they have their quiet exchange, and then he's looking back to Darren, hands clapping together. "So! If he's uncooperative let me oh there he goes— "

The technician starts screaming, and the puppeteer wrings his hands a bit, glancing up as the warning starts to chime. "— yeah so, uh, you think you can hurry this up a bit before we're all background radiation? I've got kids waiting on me."

Odessa lays a reassuring hand on Luis' arm. "«The director has deceived us all,»" she murmurs, a rare case of empathy coloring her voice. The things they've all done for The Institute, some in the name of what they thought was good… Her hand gives a small squeeze, then she continues on in English. "We have to face the possibility that we may not be able to stop this," she gestures to the reactor. "Can we get that door open? If we can get clear before…"

There's a horrified fascination that curls inside her chest as Odessa watches Darren's ability at work – the same ability that saved her life. There was a time where she would have found it not just impressive, but felt herself envious. This time it leaves her feeling slightly ill, almost hollow. This is wrong. She thinks about the familiar weight of her phone in her pocket, and about a favor she could call in. Maybe if she went back top side she could get a signal through and –

No. Odessa has no intention of running from this. Not this time. There's too much at stake. And besides, it wouldn't be the first time she's narrowly avoided death at the hands of an explosion. Why not see how long that streak can be extended? A worried look is cast toward Doyle. Can he really work his magic on the terrified technician?

“The mathematics of a nuclear reactor in operation are pleasingly simple,” Ygraine mutters to Doyle, in large part to try to distract herself from the horrific suffering of the traumatised technician.

Building even a ‘normal’ one is on a whole other plane from my level of knowledge.  And this… this one isn’t at all normal.  We need to find something to break or remove to abort the reaction.  It sounds like Julie’s unable to absorb enough to shut down the reaction herself.

If we don’t come up with a better option, and quickly, I’ll have to take Graeme in there, and start trying to dismantle it.”

Not that she sounds at all enthused about it as an option… but the woman who can grant secure footing on any part of the structure, and the man with near-endless resilience might be the team’s best bet for a dismantling job.  At least, if something more subtle than bullets or destructive Evolved abilities is to be employed.

Not that she’s yet giving up hope on Darren opening the rail-line doors being relevant to them all.  Escape from this place will be decidedly welcome even if they can shut down the reactor.

The telepath isn’t entirely new to death. She has relived every moment, every emotion, and every sensation as Elizabeth Harrison was shot in the head by Emile Danko. That was pretty horrible, feeling everything turn black and feeling the endless void of nothing open beneath you.

But the thing is, that was a memory. Memories are fuzzy — especially when they are particularly traumatic. The brain does things to gloss over such horrifying experiences after the fact, simply because remembering such things too vividly could cause far too many problems.

«OHSHITFUCKOHFUCKNOICAN’TDOIT.» The frantic thought is yelled, in French, into the minds of all present as Remi briefly loses the ability to keep her thoughts to herself.

The real deal? Now that’s far too much to handle. Her eyes go wide first, before the telepath turns, hands slapping to her knees as she doubles over, and the contents of her stomach rather violently empty themselves upon the ground, combined with an uncomfortable groan. She puts up a mental barrier, then, between herself and the dying, shaking her head.

After a moment of recovery, the telepath, visibly shaken, straightens up and turns, pale faced, toward Darren and his revived tech. While still spitting out the remainder of her lunch, the telepath takes a few steps forward, putting one hand up to her temple. “Can’t read the dying,” she informs Ygraine, as if her sudden fit of vomit wasn’t enough of an indication of this fact.

“But I can help him.” She gestures wildly toward Darren, taking a few steps closer to the radioactive healer type dude. One hand reaches up, mostly for the sake of focus, and points toward the revived tech. You will be okay. You are fine. Help us stop this. Behind those words, projected only into the mind of the tech as they are, Remi puts as much of her own willpower as she can muster.

She flinches as a trickle of blood escapes her nose, but dammit, Remi is going to do some kind of good here, even if her head splits open in the process — which is what it’s starting to feel like.

Thankfully, she is finished with this by the time she feels yet another mind entering her range, this one prompting her to cry out and clap her hands to each side of her head as she once again has to draw more focus into actively blocking out said new mind.

Remi’s going to be sore for a few days…

Graeme has had rather a lot of experience with telepaths, overall. And this one, in particular. He is distracted from his search for an exit, his analysis of the reactor structure, his position where he was Liette's shadow, by Remi's broadcast. But it's a number of steps across the room for the former teacher to sprint over to his former roommate. Her hands are over her ears by the time he reaches her. The rest of the room is vaguely gestured to, a glance cast to Eric and then Ygraine and then Darren and then Luis, then Liette and Julie. "Just get that thing off," he says, "I'll…" He shakes his head, trails off, and closes the now small distance between him and Remi.

And then he wraps one arm around Remi in a hug, sets his other hand, bare skin, against her face. Without asking, and fully conscious of her ability it's something he'd usually never do. But even in the midst of all this chaos, Graeme's mind right now is disciplined. Ordered. All of his own pain and nightmares hidden carefully away from the surface, away from anything he's thinking of, and it's that which he is hoping to give to her to focus on.

Instead, he's focused on happy memories and calm thoughts. A birthday cake, with ten candles on it. Scoring a goal in soccer, and the triumphant feeling of that success. Sitting in the sunshine in a park somewhere doing nothing at all. Sitting on the couch of Remi's old apartment in Dorchester towers with her curled up against him and how happy he felt, at that moment. And above it all, he has a constant thought. I'm here, mon cher. The fondness for her that although platonic is thoroughly a part of his view of the world, embedded in the use of the French term of affection that has otherwise been spoken only in dreams, only by a different version of himself. You're okay, you're going to be okay. Over and over again.

Seven adults, two children, one revenant, an assortment of corpses, and an arcane device on the precipice of incipient self-destruction. Such is the tableau into which Tamara enters, now present in the flesh rather than merely by prescience and voice.  She pauses at the top of the stairs to survey the room, not that she hasn't seen it all already; and for that moment, the seeress leans on the length of scavenged rebar that has pressed into use as an ersatz walking stick, its upper ten inches or so thickly padded with duct tape to provide a more comfortable grip.  The beleaguered telepath and her supporter are given a sympathetic glance; blood trickles unregarded down past Tamara's lips as well, outward mark of strain that has left an intermittent trail behind her.  Her expression is pinched, her features shadowed — but the sybil is not done yet, and purpose shapes every strikingly self-collected line of her posture.

Drawing in a breath, Tamara picks herself up and keeps moving.

On her way to join Drs. Luis and Price, the young woman casts a look to Ygraine, a smile; taps one hand to where the collar of a certain jacket would be, on another, better day.  She nods and smiles to Doyle as well, familiar face that he is; Darren and his unfortunate victim are given only a shadowed, dubious glance.  The (sometimes) good doctors are granted the same genial acknowledgement, but no more words than anyone else as Tamara steps up to the console and turns her dark gaze upon its interface. She once again folds her hands around tape-padded metal, leaning slightly into its support.

Doctor Luis regards Tamara’s approach with delight. His eyes light up, his expression lightens, and for a moment there is a glimmer of hope in the old man’s eyes. “Yes, yes of course! You can determine the correct sequence of keystrokes, you’ve — “ Luis reaches up and rests a hand on Odessa’s shoulder reassuringly. “This delightful marvel will save us all.”

The console's demand for credentials is nothing more than a coded lock, and far from the first Tamara has broken today.  She can see the steps required, the one possibility out of millions that will open the electronic gates and save them all from incandescent oblivion.

Following those steps is the obvious thing to do — if all one is concerned with are the short-term consequences.

When Tamara snaps from stillness into sudden motion, it is not to reach down but to straighten up, driving that length of rebar into the console just so.  Conductive metal spans circuits never meant to be crossed; a single blue-white, actinic spark snaps out like baby lightning, accompanied by a stunningly loud pop that echoes off concrete walls.

The entire interface goes forbiddingly, despairingly, fatally dark.

Taking a step back, abandoning the tool she no longer requires, the sybil regards Doyle levelly.  "You need to get Julie out."

No!” Luis and Darren scream almost in unison. Another shower of sparks explode from the console, raining down on the floor and dancing in the satin reflection of the white tile surface. “What — “ Luis stammers, his grip on Odessa’s sleeve becoming vice-like. “You— what have you done!?” Luis pushes Odessa aside, disbelief and rage welling in the old man’s eyes.

Darren scrambles back, hands and heels, gets to his knees and just starts running for the elevator up and back to C-Ring and above. His hard-soles shoes slip-clap across the smooth floor, and he holds no regard to the lives of anyone on his path to escape. The technician he reanimated lets out a frightened and confused squeal and is held backboard rigid, staring at Doyle, and then Remi with abject confusion.

“I— I can’t— I can’t without — the c-console! I— the— the machine’s— the host isn’t— I— I— ” The panicked technician’s stammering doesn’t really produce anything worthwhile. Though her persists, because he believes (and perhaps not incorrectly) that his life depends on it. “M-manual override, in— inside. Y-you can— o-open the containment ACTS unit. A— about— f-four locks?”

At the glass wall enclosure of the reactor, Liette looks back. She only had noticed Graeme when he made his hasty retreat back to Remi’s side, and on seeing the console sparking and guttering with smoke, Liette turns a wild-eyed look to her twin. “Julie!” She screams, pounding on the glass. “Please! Come out! Please come out!” Julie looks back, brows furrowed, and then turns around and steps closer to the reactor. A strangled, confused scream escapes Liette as she begins to panic.

“You sybillic iconoclast!” Luis screams at Tamara, reaching inside of his jacket and producing a very small revolver. “All of my research! All of — everything I’ve worked for!” For all that he cares about Julie, about Liette, Luis’ life work melting before his eyes in the atomic destruction of the arcology unhinges him like a Ferris wheel rolling toward the sea.

"T-Tamara?" One surprise after the other, it seems, Eric's brow furrowing as he looks to the oracle with a aren't we supposed to be rescuing you sort of look. He evidently didn't recognize her voice over the intercom earlier, which isn't too surprising. The distortion there's always a killer. Just one surprise after another, today!

Then she gives him a look, and an order, and in the shower of sparks from the console he has a decision to make. Julie steps closer to the reactor, and Liette panics, children endangered…

"…alright, then," he declares, lacing his fingers together and cracking them  outwards, "It's showtime — Odessa, be a love and handle Uncle Touchy from the Puzzle Basement before he shoots someone, would you?"

The human motor control system is an easy thing to manipulate, when it comes right down to it, for the puppetmaster. A muscle pulled this way, that. The neural channels of an ability are trickier, but when it comes right down to it, Doyle is very, very good at what he does.

Controlling someone with God knows how many abilities active, currently walking into a radiation field, while their mimicry ability tries to copy yours? That's less puppetry and more of a one-man variety show.

Broad shoulders lift thick arms, fingers splaying out and crooking downwards as he brings the full force of the ability that he was imprisoned in Moab just for possessing down upon Julie Fournier to make her turn back from the heart of nuclear destruction.

"I hope you've got a plan here, Tamara," he says tightly, gaze locked on the girl in the reactor chamber, "Because right now I think she's the only thing keeping that thing from going boom…"

The appearance of the sybil has Odessa tilting her head, slightly birdlike in manner, her eye narrowing. Curiouser and curiouser… Their roles have reversed after all this time, and she can't help but find amusement in that. She offers a reassuring smile to Luis when he places his hand on her shoulder, in agreement with his assessment. If anyone can save them from this, it's the girl who managed to dart and dash her way through Moab without being seen by anyone. Anyone except Brooke, of course, and that was their little secret.

But then Tamara is disabling the console and sparks are flying. Darren takes off running and Odessa's arm snaps out toward him on instinct to hold him in place. She gasps aloud when it does nothing. Sometimes she forgets. "Stop him!" she cries out. Now Eric Doyle, if he's had time to notice beyond his own orchestrations, knows the terrible truth of her situation. She is truly powerless here.

The shove from Luis is all the encouragement Odessa needs to drop into a crouch to shield herself from the chaos of the sparking console. Luis has lost it. There's so precious little time to act, and she now makes a difficult decision. "Tamara, get down!" With one swift movement, Odessa withdraws a knife from her boot and rockets back up to her feet, and plunging the weapon into Luis' back, between his ribs, locking her other arm around his neck to hold him still. "Je suis tellement désolé, mon bon ami," she murmurs, truly remorseful, "I cannot let you hurt them anymore."

As she struggles with him, what the doomed technician says makes sense. "Eric! The core is a person! Turn off his power!" There are some very educated guesses as to who it could be.

Remi’s mental shout made full sense to Ygraine, who couldn’t help but cringe in response.  Even so, after observing the telepath’s distress with a mixture of profound guilt and deep relief that she gave that warning to be cautious, and then her own worry-tinged delight at the appearance of the evidently-wounded Tamara (a swift, bashful smile appearing on her lips as she mirrors the seer’s touching of a phantom lapel), it would be safe to say that Ygraine is more than a little surprised by quite how events have unfolded…  But her long competitive career of risking her neck at crazy speeds means that the easiest and most instinctive thing for her to do when adrenaline surges is to move.  It certainly might not be the best of plans, but rather than freezing she springs into action - attempting to tackle and roll with Tamara, trying to turn them both as they fall so that her leathers (and the kevlar beneath) might offer some protection against stray bullets.

The process is enhanced and made somewhat safer by a quick flip of Tamara’s gravity to orient to Ygraine, to avoid the risk of weight and momentum working against each other.  With the seer quite literally falling into her arms, Tamara should be almost entirely safe from having joints overtaxed or bones bent the wrong way.

Of course, Tamara does get to experience having every organ in her body try to flip orientation as gravity abruptly pulls in a wholly new direction.  Meanwhile, the spinning tumble is profoundly weird for the senses: once in contact with Ygraine, ‘down’ feels wholly stationary - yet her vision swirls wildly amidst the tackle-and-roll.

Dimly, Ygraine registers Brooke’s shout… and spares a moment to mentally kick herself for ever thinking that this would not be a chamber of horrors.  Of course the sick, mad bastards would use a person as a power-source if they possibly could.

Then she focuses on the rather more urgent task of working out if she or Tamara have been shot, or if she has had the wind knocked out of her by nothing more than landing with both their weight wholly resting upon her.

Oh, motherfucker. Graeme would stop in the middle of a mission to save the world (or something to that effect) to take Remi to a happy place. Granted, it does help the telepath immensely to have someone who isn’t being hit by the insanity that is Tamara’s mind helping to ground her while she fumbles for that mental volume dial for the precog’s brain.

Once that is managed, however, the telepath with the bloodied nose grits her teeth, ripping herself away from happy brain land both mentally and physically, pushing away from Graeme. She curses at him in a long string of French, something to the effect of calling him a stupid imbecile. “Get off of me!” She promptly aims a firm slap at his shoulder, while shoving against him. She jabs a finger toward the Julie/Liette kids. “Go do…whatever you’re doing right now that isn’t this!

It was a sweet way to be grounded, and she’ll probably thank him later for going out of his way to help her, despite her anger toward him in the moment.

That distraction handled, Remi turns her mind toward the room, ignoring the minds of the dying and Tamara in favor of keeping tabs on those present. The tech is glanced to. Please, help us open it. We need to stop this now. You have a second chance at life, here — please make it count. There’s no forced will there now, simply a pleading request.

Then, blue eyes catch on Darren as he begins to flee. Oh hell no. You don’t get to run away, little man! The former ballerina takes off after the man, using those years of dancing and the physical training involved to take a (very graceful) flying leap at him, with the intent of driving her knees into the small of his back in a tackle, while simultaneously latching onto him and maybe even hitting him somewhere on his body with the butt of her gun.

Sure, she’s likely to get a good amount of skin-to-skin contact with this action, which is not ideal in such a situation, but she’s not about to let him leave. You don’t get to take part in horrible things and then run away, at least not if Remi can help it.

Once there's resistance, Graeme lets himself be pushed away and just grins a bit at Remi. Doesn't even seem fazed by being slapped. Yeah yeah I know. We'll talk later. When they're not in the middle of all this.

And then the rest of what's happening around them sinks in, a grimace as Odessa stabs Luis in the back, but a further glance towards Ygraine and Tamara.

"Just to clarify," Graeme says, thinking aloud in that soft drawl of his, "They turned a person into a motherfucking nuclear reactor." He climbs back up the steps two at a time until he's back behind Liette. "We're gonna get her out of there," he says to the girl, with a confidence out loud  that's only slightly forced. And he's near the door to the chamber, ready to go in and grab Julie and drag her out of there if need be, or whenever the others get the thing to shut down.

Doctor Luis' rage and denial slides off the sybil's profile like proverbial water.  The look she casts his way is resolutely determined.  "This place," she tells him, tells them all, "cast nothing but a long shadow."  She can say that, now that the need for surprise has passed. Tamara turns and starts to walk away from the console, that task complete; she's aware of the pistol drawn out behind her, but does not respond to it save to set her feet –

— and that, only because someone else's decision overwhelms alternatives.  Not all of them, but the seeress makes her own choice to obviate rest.  In the moment before Ygraine tackles her, Tamara's hand presses to the gun in her vest pocket, not to bring it out, but to keep it secure in its place during the disruption that follows.  She accedes to altered gravity, anticipating it before it arrives; offers no resistance to the roll, or to the willful imposition of the Brit between herself and perceived danger.

So, too, when they come to rest; Tamara sets her head briefly against Ygraine's shoulder, draws in and releases a heavy, weary breath.  Swallows against nausea, because anticipation is just not the same as physically experiencing the effects of such sudden transition, not even for her.  And… waits a moment, her own potential next steps held in abeyance as the current constellation of possibilities refines itself through comprehension, choice, and action on the parts of others.

There is so much happening at once. For a moment, it feels as though a single grain dropping through an hourglass takes an eternity.

A gun goes off.

Ygraine and Tamara spin through the air, the tackle defying gravity, defying fate. Dribbling droplets of blood trickling through the air in their wake.

Luis screams, then gurgles as his lung collapses, blood bursting from his mouth.

Nuclear fire glints in Odessa’s eye.

Liette looks back to see Luis bleeding.

Odessa is hurled off of her feet, plucked out of the air by an invisible hook of force. She slams into the wall as though she fell from a second story window. Her shoulder dislocates with a pop.

A staggering, puppeteer-jerky technician is marched up to the reactor.

Remi tackles Darren to the ground; the two roll over one another, and Remi feels an instantaneous contact with his mind. She sees him, she sees his regrets flooding his thoughts as he flees, she sees –

When Doctor Stevens' hand brushes over Odessa's skin, it's as if he breaks through the barrier her own ability seems to have put up reflexively and she begins breathing again, shallow at best. Fresh blood beads up from wounds that hadn't quite scabbed over, it seeps from a shallow cut in her neck. Too close to an artery to spell anything other than trouble, but it seems to happen slower than it should. To Darren, at least.

Why did I let Odessa live?

While Elle seems perfectly willing to assist Darren, Harper either knows something she doesn't or isn't willing to take the risk. Walking backwards, he quickly moves to the other side of the foyer where Eldridge is waiting with brows furrowed and head bobbed down. Darren lays one hand down at the center of Odessa's chest, then lifts his other hand out for Elle, curling his fingers in a gimme motion before taking the petite blonde's hand in his. Just a few months ago, this procedure would have killed Elle, now with both the Company and the Institute having taken turns training Doctor Stevens, she at least has a chance of making it through.

Why did I help her?

A chance is better than nothing.

Why am I doing any of this?

What happens next is a spectacle only made possible by the Evolved. Darren's hand holding Elle's begins to shed a green light, even as his bones radiate a brief yellowish glow within. Radiating bands of fibrous lime-green light surge outward in clouds from where he holds Elle, and the blonde is abruptly struck by a palpitation of her heart and a pain down her right arm.

I just wanted to help people!

The second that tug at her chest comes, there's a loud humming sound that emanates from Darren as his irises burn green and the hand on Odessa's chest begins emitting the same sickly yellow-green radiation. The humming sound throbs from both of his palms, crackling eventually when it sounds like some sort of nuclear reactor charging up. All around Odessa' body, dust is unstilled and her muscles begin to twitch. "Here…" Darren whispers as the sounds of vibration grow louder and Elle begins to feel tired, "we…" and then in a riotous explosion of light, Darren releases the build up energy as his face flushes lime green and bones shed a sunlight yellow, "go."

I didn’t want to be a monster!

The room is flooded with light and Odessa's body looks like a black silhouette thrashing on the ground. Darren's hand gripping Elle's squeezes painfully against her wrist, and Elle can feel significant sleep and drowsiness coming over her. Her metabolism slows, even her ability seems to be little more than a faint static tickle at the back of her mind.

I should have let her die!

There's a scream that soon joins the loud noise of Darren's power, that buzzing hum. The scream is Odessa's, first sounding hoarse and dry, then gurgling and wet, then crystal clear. Her back arches, toes curl and fingers scrape against the floor tiles as waves of green radiance nearly drown her out. When the light begins to dim, when Darren's grasp on Elle falters and he slouches down onto his backside and then falls to one side to rest his palm on the floor, Odessa looks…

I should have let her die!

Well, different is a good word for it.

I should have let them all die!

Alive as well, but…

What have I become!?

Laying there on the floor, it's evident that whatever Odessa's ability is it interacted poorly with Darren's. Her eye is mangled, a disgusting and scarred ball of knotted flesh closed behind one eyelid. Cuts and abrasions on her body have scarred over and healed in gruesome fashion across her throat, looking like a woman who has a story to tell from a knife fight.

What will they do when their time runs out?

Furthermore, her hair has bleached entirely white, chalky and pale, devoid of pigmentation and five inches longer than it was a moment ago. A few more tiny creases and wrinkles adorn Odessa's face as well, and her clothing looks tattered and frayed.

Will they come for me!?

Darren exhales a shuddering breath, wavers, an then falls flat on his back.

I just wanted to help people!

Darren skids across the floor, coming into a crumpled heap with Remi on top of him. He scrambles, paws, pushes, presses his palm against her face and drags fingers down her cheek trying to get her off. “Are you out of your mind!? We have to get out of here! Let— let me go! I don’t want to die down here!

Luis falls onto his side, knife wedged in his back, blood seeping out of his mouth and the knife wound. Odessa is dragged up to the ceiling, smashing into pipes as she goes. Liette stares, wildly at him. “Why did you hurt him!?” Odessa’s projection of her own trauma is revealed to not match — piece for piece — that of Julie and Liette’s. Not yet, anyway.

Tamara and Ygraine land softly on whatever is down for them. The bullet was a low caliber, grazed Tamara’s right bicep, flew past her, slammed into the vest Ygraine is wearing. The ferromagnetic fluid in the vest granted to her by Liz hardened instantly on impact, and she feels as though she was merely punched firmly in the chest. No bruised ribs, no broken bones, no blood. No death. The ceiling cat owes that life to Warren Ray.

Julie, torn away from her concentration by Doyle’s puppeteer strings is immediately faced by the visceral sight of Odessa’s swift — but inevitable — betrayal. She releases her hold on the radiation filling the reactor and is forced to limp to the glass wall beside the door. Doyle can feel her pulling against his strings, not realizing that she’s resisting through fabrication of her own inherently mirroring ability. She presses her hands against the glass and lets out a scream that cannot be heard. Waves of blue-white radiation scour off of her body, arc like tiny solar flares into the air and dissipate from the visible spectrum.

The technician bubbles out a panicked response, looking to Doyle, to Graeme, to whoever will listen to ensure he isn’t the next one stabbed in the back. “I— w-we — wwww,” his lip trembles, mind reels. Was he dead a moment ago? “Th— the l-locks,” tears roll down his cheeks, snot drips from his nose. He doesn’t want to die here. “W-we can’t— without the console, w— we’d have to ma-manually remove the locking bolts. W— we don’t have time.

The weight of the situation starts pressing down on the technician. “Th— the s-security overrides w-will start triggering soon. B-blast doors will go down, w-we’ll be locked inside,” except for the hole the Ferrymen blew in the wall of B-Ring to get in. Except for the railway access here — if they’re quick enough. “We— we can’t s-stop th-the reactor. I— I’m s-sorry. P-please — puh-please don’t k-kill me…”

Luis, bleeding out on the floor, reaches out one weathered hand in Liette’s direction. She stares, wide-eyed, still holding Odessa to the ceiling with a telekinetic force. Tears well up in her eyes, her throat tightens, jaw trembling.

And she lets Odessa drop.

"I'd love to but I need to see him first! Someone needs to open the damned — chamber that he's locked in — "

Doyle's jaw tenses, his fingers twitching as if they were actually bound to a marionette as he tries to force Julie to the airlock, sweat beading upon his brow as he struggles to maintain control. "— she's fighting me, come on, girl, just let me get you out of there. Odessa,  I need — "

He turns his head just enough to catch sight of the doctor in question, just in time to see her flying up the wall, crashing into the ceiling.

There aren’t many people in the world that the puppeteer cares about. The kids. A few of the Ferrymen, young enough to be kids themselves, for the most part.

Odessa Gale Price is one of the only adults on that list.

He should be focusing on stopping the reactor. On getting Julie out of it.

"ODESSA!"

Instead, he panics at the sight of Odessa in danger.

Those strings that exist only in the puppeteer's mind's eye separate, half of them unweaving from Julie Fournier… and the other half reaching for Liette, desperate to force her to catch the falling woman.

The cry of pain that tears from Odessa's throat as she's thrown into the wall like a rag doll and her shoulder dislocates could have come from the mouth of hell. There's no way to explain why she's hurt – killed – the man who cared for Julie and Liette all their lives. Odessa can't articulate that Luis was doing to them what was done to her. That they deserve better than that life of captivity and observation. Even if she had the chance, she wouldn't have tried. They'll never understand. She would never have understood it when she was their age.

There's barely time to process what's just happened to her when she goes careening off toward the ceiling, crashing through pipes and support beams all the way up. Her piercing shriek echoes off the walls and her mind fills with incoherent thoughts. When her back slams against the ceiling, she falls quiet, and stares down, down, down…

It isn't the pain that brings on the gasping breaths, the desperation for air. Odessa is utterly terrified of heights.

That wide blue gaze shuts tightly and that panicked breathing slows again under the force of her own will.

After all the wrong I've done…

Acceptance.

Odessa is silent as she begins to fall.

Some might assume that this is precisely the sort of situation that would suit Ygraine and her ability - that she could, with no more than a thought or at most the wave of a hand, save Odessa and rearrange peoples’ placement to suit herself.

In reality, her Evolved talent is a great more subtle… and very short in range.  However much she has been pushing herself to develop, there is no way that she can extend her reach to dozens of times its normal extent - and thus she is as helpless as most others present when she sees Odessa detach from the ceiling.

Struggling to her feet, with arms around Tamara and the freshly-bleeding seer now rejoining her in having the ground feel like “down”, Ygraine has only an instant to work out if there is some way she can leap to intercept Odessa mid-air.  Momentum would be preserved, but perhaps a fatal plummet could be turned into merely a crunchingly horrible tangle of a rolling landing.

Tamara receives a light shove to try to ensure that the pair are disentangled, then Ygraine starts to lunge forward, in faint hope of being able to save the plummeting woman’s life with another dive, grab, and roll… preferably without breaking anything vital in herself.

And she’s still not even had time to be quite sure that the vest worked, or that Tamara’s going to survive.

Dropped from a height of 50 feet, a human body falls at 44 feet per second.

Odessa is silent in her plummet.

The average reaction time for humans is 0.25 seconds to a visual stimulus, 0.17 seconds for an audio stimulus.

Doyle lashes out, puppeteer strings tugging at Liette's abilities as he watches Odessa free-fall. Liette's power thrums through her, but even as Doyle raises his hand and she mimics his movement.

The delay time, in this instance, is roughly 11 feet of distance.

A knot of tension churns at the back of Ygraine's mind, and she feels a welling pressure build behind her eyes. Small, unattended objects begin to skitter around. Luis' gun drifts a few inches off of the ground, his blood begins to drip upward.

The nominal "average" value for gravity at the Earth's surface, known as standard gravity is, by definition, 9.80665 m/s squared.

Calculations aside, Odessa's body strikes the floor of the reactor at a speed of roughly 25 miles per hour, thanks to the gravitic manipulation Ygraine was able to manifest during that mitigating time. She bounces, subtly, and there is a smack of blood on the ground where her brow struck the floor. She isn't moving, blood is already pooling out from her forehead, nose, and ears.

Remi hears Odessa's psychic entanglement before she hits the ground and — faintly — still hears her now. Dying, but not dead. Possibilities behind Tamara's eyes blossom, paths severed, new paths opening.

What Liette just did hits her.

The telepath's eyes glaze over slightly as she is pulled into Darren's mind, reliving his last encounter with Odessa. Reliving his grief over his actions for the Institute. For a moment, Remi stays still, tangled with Darren as he is, his hand pushed against her face. For a moment, the telepath can't respond, even despite the fact that those strong dancer legs of hers are  wrapped around the temporal manipulator's waist. Memories can be overwhelming, and this one is certainly a doozy.

She remains attached to Darren; perfect white teeth pull one of her gloves off, and her bare hand clamps on the back of his neck, all the better to keep her mind linked with his. You aren't a monster. You aren't! You have been played, just like everyone else here. Used. Just like Odessa, just like Julie and Liette, just like Doyle…that's what we are. We are the used and abused. We are the taken advantage of. Remi's blue eyes meet Darren's green eyes. You aren't a monster, Darren Stevens. Not yet. And you can keep yourself from becoming one. Help us. We can stop this…and if not, I will do everything that I can to help you find your own freedom when we escape. I promise you that.

Lucky Darren, getting to go along for the ride with the telepath that is rather firmly latched onto him. Blue eyes turn, and he can feel the telepath's mind moving toward the situation with Odessa. He can hear her thoughts just as well as the telepath can, those final 'words', the acceptance of what is happening. He can feel Remi's revulsion as she hits the ground, as that horrible, sickening sound rings through the lab. He can hear those dim thoughts leading into death. "She's still alive, someone help her!" The telepath shrieks this at nobody in particular, frantically waving her free hand in Odessa's direction.

Then, Darren can feel Remi’s mind suddenly expand, casting about wildly and desperately reaching out in search of the person contained within the heart of the reactor. She's not even fully aware that she's bringing him along for the ride at this point, or possibly she just doesn't care. Shit shit shit…maybe…just maybe I can…if I can find them… Either she can talk to the poor person, or she and Darren are going to have a pretty shitty time of things.

Graeme's still turning and moving towards Odessa but well. Gravity, even when slowed down somewhat, is faster than he is. Superhuman endurance, not superhuman speed, and he watches, not quite helplessly — but helplessly enough that he curses and kicks the ground and glares, and that glare settles on Darren Stevens. Who has Remi halfway attached to him, something that Graeme half-registers and discards in the moment as not necessarily a useful and immediate course of action.

"Aren't you a doctor?!" he shouts over everything else happening. "Stop running and grow a pair of balls for fuck's sake or we're all going to motherfucking die here, and you'll have to live with that for the rest of your life. Short as it probably will be." He looks from Odessa, to Luis, and to Darren again. "Help him," he points to where Luis lays, "or whatever it is you do!" Presumably referencing the man's ability, since at this point it's beyond standard doctor-ing.

But all of that is over there and the former teacher is over here, and it becomes clear there's really only one choice left. "Let's get out of here," he mutters, setting his hand on the outside of the airlock door. The tech gets a brief look, and a nod. "I'll be right back out, and then we're going to need a way out of here before those overrides happen." He opens the airlock door, and looks at Liette, "I'm gonna get her out of there, okay? And then we're going to run." Because then there's going to be a nuclear reactor powered by a person on the way to melting down and the very real fear that they might all die here sets in even through the buffer of Graeme's ability.

Takes a deep breath, and goes through it. Shuts it behind him, to go inside and get Julie out of there, physically since she kept fighting Doyle's attempts to do so.

"Hey, I'm Graeme. Your sister's real worried about you," he says, "You did great but there's nothing more to do," comes the reassuring words once he's inside. But he's going to take her out of there even if it means picking her up and fireman's-carrying her out of there.

There are no other choices left.

Released from Ygraine's grasp in more ways than one, Tamara sets her feet, closes her eyes, and breathes.  She disregards the newly acquired bullet graze on her arm, the ache that seems fit to shatter her skull, the slow yet steady drip of blood across her lips.  The seeress will pay for them all — later.  For now…

Now, she looks not at the dramatic tragedies playing out within the room, but at the way that possibilities pivot, align, group together.  At the tenors of the actions her companions might take, would take, would want to take.  The pattern of cross-purposes now made manifest, the way they tangle… and the way they align.

Yes.  The sybil can work with this.  

…Probably.

Tamara raises a hand to Darren even as Graeme yells towards the doctor, contradicting that direction.  "I can help him.  Not her."  Dark eyes open to focus on him.  "You're the doctor that's left.  Running doesn't go far."

Her attention turns to Doyle.  "Five minutes," she says, and while the number is not actually precise, the sybil allows none of that qualification to be expressed in her tone.  "And then we go.  Long enough to bring everyone if we work together."

Tamara pauses, her eyes sliding closed.  Wavers, but keeps her feet, pressing one hand to her face.  A moment later, she turns towards Ygraine without reopening her eyes.  "The aid kit.  Behind you."  Shorter directions now, terse, the words a bit too carefully enunciated.

Finally, the sybil walks back over to where Dr. Luis lies, kneels beside the man's injured form. She looks across him, across the ruined console, to where Liette stands at the reactor, looking on.  "I will help him.  I promise."  She pauses, braces one hand against the floor, draws in a deep breath.  "You have to go up," Tamara continues, putting every conviction she has into the words — and they are many.  "You cannot be near me."

There's another pause, a check that the directives she needs to give have been given.  Then Tamara sets herself to addressing the knife in Dr. Luis' back, leaving the others to do as they deem fit in light of her words.

Remi can feel something, someone inside of the reactor. As she reaches out, pushing past the feedback loop from Liette, there’s a screaming voice inside that machine. Her mind is flooded with a repetitious loop of language which she cannot understand, yet recognizes through cultural exposure as some dialect of Arabic.

Allaho Akbar, Allaho Akbar, la illaha illaha illalaho, wa Allaho Akbar, Allaho Akbar wa lillahil hamd. The scream is desperate, terrified, and hopeless. Fee amaan Allah. Alaiaihissalaam. Fee amaan Allah. Alaiaihissalaam. It is the voice of someone who has been trapped, used, and made into little more than a living battery.

Remi is exposed to the unending torment of a man who knows he is about to die, and can do nothing to control himself. She can feel sensations of euphoria, something chemical altering his senses, altering his mind. He is terrified, he is spiraling out of control, and the Institute did this to him. That could be her in there, could be any number of innocent people. Atrocity is laid before her, and there is no way to undo it.

Nearby to the reactor, Liette’s attention is drawn two ways. First to Graeme, watching his insane heroics as he unlocks the hatch to the reactor airlock and steps inside, then to Tamara as her instruction is shouted across the reactor room floor. Up doesn’t make sense at first, the only thing that’s above them is the manufacturing ring, the medical w— oh.

Eyes wide, Liette spins around and looks to the glass, watching as Graeme steps inside. She turns her eyes to Doyle, tear-filled and horrified at the violence she just committed. She mouths, I’m sorry to him, and reaches up to rest a hand on his arm.

Inside the reactor, Graeme can feel a wind blowing against him from the direction of the machine throbbing with radiant blue energy at its center. The tiny blonde girl on the ground beside him raises one hand, weakly, and she begins siphoning the blue energy towards her palm. Bones on her hand glow brightly, and the ionized air crackles with an ozone quality. Two pale blue eyes look up to Graeme.

“You can’t… survive this?” Brows knit together, Julie doesn’t yet understand what Graeme can do, and that he is perhaps the only person qualified to survive what is to come. Though Julie draws in some of the radiation, Graeme can feel it as a metallic tang in the back of his throat, as a prickling on his fingertips and toes, as a tingling behind his eyes. He can see Julie is injured, see a seeping red wound at her side, and he does exactly what he’d said.

He bends down, picks her up, and carries her on his shoulder. On his way back to the exit from the reactor, Julie charges her hands and the brilliant blue glow sheds a chill through Graeme, as she tries to harmlessly absorb the radiation he is exposed to and convert it to light.

Darren Stevens, however, finds himself pressed between a number of opposing pulls. Graeme’s shout did little to inspire him, fleeing is still a solid option. Remi is crying for help with Odessa, and she seems — feels — important in the back of his mind, a lingering sense of familiarity and bond that is entirely an artificial remnant of their momentary, and yet strikingly intimate, psychic connection.
Then Tamara calls for his aid. Tamara who destroyed the control console. Tamara who Luis wrote a thirty-seven page paper about her ability. Tamara who unequivocally sees the future in ways no other precognitive on record can. Darren’s lips press into a thin line. His hands clench. Why Odessa? Why him? Why?

Fine,” Darren growls to no one but himself as he strides across the floor toward the dying woman, for the second time in his life. At least this time she is without an ability, this time there won’t be any interruption. Tamara is the trustworthy one in the room, she’s helping Luis, she’s — the reactor must make sense eventually, right? — Darren comes to Odessa’s side, looks to Doyle, then takes a knee and closes his eyes.

As the outer reactor door opens, Graeme and Julie emerge from within and Graeme can feel a twisting knot in the pit of his stomach as a wave of nausea washes over him. Liette is there, by her sister’s side with an unshakeable look of worry plastered across her face.

Julie’s sick,” Liette explains urgently to both Doyle and Graeme. “She’s— supposed to be on a machine that cycles her blood. There’s one upstairs, and some of the special blood she’s supposed to get.” The blood of Claire Bennet, but that’s a detail neither of the young woman are wholly cognizant of.

“We have to get upstairs. There’s a way out through the Commonwealth Institute’s primary elevator,” Liette looks to Doyle, then Graeme. “The elevator to the surface there will be unlocked by the evacuation protocol, but— but we have to go. If she doesn’t have this medication she’ll die,” and Liette isn’t letting her sister go. Not after she almost lost Doctor Luis.

But Liette is asking something of Graeme and Doyle. Can one of you come with me? Her eyes plead. She’s scared.

But she isn’t the only person who is scared. Doctor Luis looks up from where he’d fallen, looking to Tamara, a quavering but warm smile crossing his face. He seems so torn, so broken, he’d tried to kill her a moment ago, and now she’s patching his wound. The old man reaches up one weathered hand to hers, and in his deep and rough voice muses, “You will always be an enigma.” But in a way, he understands now. Tamara sees the future, and is willing to let the past die for it. Simon Broome saw it too, when he set about this chain of events, in his own way. They — the Institute — were the ones in the wrong. He can’t see the full picture, yet, but inside he understands.

That’s when he sees Darren kneeling next to Odessa. Luis’ eyes grow wide, and he opens his mouth to shout a warning of — green fire ignites around Darren’s hand.

It’s too late.

In his brief stint in the captivity of the Company, Doctor Darren Stevens' ability was studied by the brightest minds of the time. This research continued forward during his time at the Institute. The best scientific minds only loosely understand how Doctor Stevens' power works, theorizing that he is somehow able to rewind the quantum state of molecules to previously expressed past states. The exact how of his ability lies somewhere in the understanding of time itself, of the subatomic world, and perhaps scientific realms not yet discovered.

The one constant in analysis of Darren's power, is that it involves radioactive particles. Areas where Darren has brought back the dead are mildly irradiated and curiously visible under ultra-violet light, phosphorescing as a vibrant green scatter pattern of emitted particles. Largely harmless, the same kind of alpha ray radiation most people are exposed to on a daily basis. But when the alpha waves from Darren's ability wash over Liette, her ability reflexively kicks in.

Suddenly, she is absorbing the radiation emitted by Darren. Sparking motes of emerald light tinted with lime green and yellow spark around her body. But that transference is not an equal sharing, it is reflexively pulled from Julie, who struggles to retain it to continue her aid of Graeme. In that momentary will versus instinct tug of war, there’s a chromatic pop of radiation that floods the outer area of the reactor room. Not enough to severely harm the occupants, but enough for other disasters to come.

Radioactivity is the process by which the nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting radiation, including alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and conversion electrons. Although radioactivity is observed as a natural occurring process, it can also be artificially induced typically via the bombarding atoms of a specific element by radiating particles, thus creating new atoms.

It is this chain reaction that takes place within the arcology today.

A brief gamma burst interacts with Darren's ability, causes the green flames coursing up his arms and into Odessa's body to gutter as though they were hit by a strong wind. He yelps — fear and pain combined — and Remi can hear the panic in his mind. The energizing arcs of green light leap and flare from Darren's arms, crawl up his shoulders as though he'd simply caught fire. He screams, now, even as Odessa's body is bathed in that hellish light.

He's lost control of his power.

As Odessa's back arches, as Darren rewinds her time against his will, there is a catastrophic collision of temporal possibilities. Tamara feels it, all other pathways crumbling, one road ahead now open to her. She sees it, and the moment of impossibilities is seized.

With a primal, agonized scream, Darren throws his head back and tries to disengage from Odessa. But one of her hands grasps up and takes him by the necktie. Her fingers curl in the fabric, time spools backwards and Odessa's cells are restored to a previous state. But there are fish hooks in Darren's ability now, entangled with something that was not extant in Odessa's November 8th, 2011 state, but was existent prior to the genetic manipulation performed by Richard Cardinal with Tyler Case's ability.

Darren is completely engulfed in green flames, a thrashing silhouette of a man screaming in abject agony and horror. Odessa watches, atomic fire reflecting in her eyes, as Darren rapidly ages before her eyes. His eyes cataract white, hair grows and grays, skin wrinkles, and then decomposes. In a matter of seconds Doctor Stevens collapses into a pile of ashen bones centuries old and Odessa –

Green fire crackles around her hands, flickers in her eyes. Her scars are gone, though she looks subtly older, not younger. There's a crackle-pop of lime green embers that dance around her fingertips as the last of Darren's ability fades from her. She isn't just alive, she isn't just healed.

Odessa has her ability back.

The second that Odessa hits the floor, the very moment that sickening crunch reaches Eric Doyle's ears… he loses his grasp on both of the twins, his concentration completely flatlining as he stares at her body in dumb horror.

It can't be because someone's died. He's seen many people die. Killed many people himself. And yet… he's frozen there, trapped in a moment where only Remi can hear his mind screaming NononononoNONONONO!

Perhaps Liette can, too. She may have mimicked Remi's power by now, after all.

The girl beside him gets a look as she touches his arm, as she mouths her apology for her moment's rage — and are those tears in the big man's eyes? — and he turns away. There's no forgiveness there, but no anger, either. She's just a kid.

He did worse with his powers, when he was a kid. The first time he ever used them.

Dimly he's aware of the five precious minutes that the oracle has offered him, as he steps away from Liette, haltingly towards where Odessa's fallen. He reaches her just after the doctor does, and he drops down to one knee, giving Stevens a look of flat, animal anger and fear. "Help. Her," he tells him. Orders him. His power isn't used, though his fingers twitch — Darren can surely use his ability with more finesse of his own free will.

And then the world is green flame.

He can do nothing other than stare, open mouthed, as the process plays out. As Odessa's time is rewound… and as Darren's time is spent, all at once, in a matter of moments. And she's there, breathing, her eyes open, her scars gone.

And the puppeteer lunges to wrap his arms around her, a sob wracking his heavy frame — weight lost from his time with the Ferrymen, but he'll never be a small man. "I'm sorry," he whispers into her hair, "I'm sorry. For everything. For Moab, for your hand, for the gun, for— for all of it, oh God, Odessa, I'm so sorry."

Odessa takes a gasping breath, pulling air and life into her lungs. Her eye goes wide and terrified as she realizes what's happened to her. As she realizes what is currently happening to her. "No! No!!" This isn't what she wanted! She had been prepared to die! She doesn't want the awful consequences of Darren's brand of healing. Then, there's enough life in her to sustain her, but she feels the threads now, achingly familiar. Again, her eyes close. Terror melts away as the embrace she'd been bereft of for so long enfolds her once more, pulling her under, into its terrible comfort again. A shuddering breath escapes her lips.

Surrender.

That singular eye snaps open once more, blazing in the light her savior has created. "What's your rush?" she purrs as her crooked fingers curl into his tie, and dragging herself up to sit, staring into his eyes. As Darren burns and gives to her everything that he is, her lips curl into a wicked grin. The ravine across her mouth fills in, all the pits and pockmarks smooth out, leaving her beautiful again. When Doctor Stevens finally crumbles away to nothing, the newly restored woman rolls her shoulders slowly, letting out a deeply contented sigh.

Time has always belonged to the Nightingale.


odessa3_icon.gif


Odessa watches the dazzling green flames on the ends of her fingers with a wide eyed curiosity. Her gaze half-lids as she takes the tip of her finger into her mouth, tastes the raw power there – if such a thing is even possible – and withdraws it again slowly, wiping at the corner of her mouth absently. “Oops.”

Darren Stevens' greatest regret, and his greatest success.

When Doyle crushes her to him, she doesn't fight it, but she does not return the embrace immediately. "I forgive you," she whispers against his ear, sultry and full of dark promise. Then she wriggles free of him. Those fingers – each of them straight again – reach up and find the band of the patch over her eye. She digs her nails under it and yanks it free, throwing it over her shoulder. Odessa Price looks upon Eric Doyle with both her cobalt blue eyes and dries his tears with the pads of her thumbs. Then, she draws him in for a kiss.

This.. this is new.  Ygraine’s ability doesn’t do this.  A significant portion of her brain is throbbing with the aching denial that it doesn’t do that… even as things skitter and scatter across the floor in confirmation that it really did, while the field she put on Odessa collapses, and the eye-patched woman’s life slithers away and….

Gagging, she struggles back to all fours as chaos continues to manifest new forms and branches of possibility around her.  The residual sensation of sending her talent wild, of affecting multiple things at once over a range of a dozen yards or more - rather than one, over a dozen inches - has the world swaying in the sort of manner she thought she had left behind years ago.

Then Tamara’s instructions start to penetrate her fuzzy awareness, and with a mental kick she forces her ability to reactivate: linking herself to the ground won’t do much to physically stabilise her, but it will at least add an extra layer of (super-)sensory confirmation that that way really is down.

Graeme’s heroics dimly register - but are no great surprise, since both he and she had expected to have to get at least one of them into the sealed chamber.  Her own task is the more prosaic one of rising, turning, and moving to locate the first aid kit.  By the time she has reached it, she’s moving with more confidence, and the return trip with it to Tamara is accomplished in the sort of scurrying run she employs when moving at speed on an ‘impossible’ surface.

Dropping to one knee by Doctor Luis, she flips open the box, then half-turns it so that Tamara can grab whatever she needs, should the sybil have that kind of precise foresight regarding appropriate courses of action.  “I’ve experience” - is as far as she gets, before Odessa and Darren immolate in green fire, and the room floods with all-too-visible energy.

Wasn’t being nuked once enough for me?, she dazedly wonders, while staring into the light-show.  It makes her aching head throb all the more, but frankly she doesn’t care.

The resulting display is likely to be seared into her memory for life… along with its incongruous addendum of a suddenly-gorgeous and two-eyed Odessa kissing Eric Doyle, while her benefactor’s shrivelled corpse collapses next to them.

As Darren departs, Remi lets him go, that link not nearly as intimate now, but still vaguely there. She even smiles at the man's back, while replacing her glove. Thank you, Darren. I promise, when we get out of here, I'll help you as much as I can.

She moves closer to the reactor, now, watching as Graeme, the man she loves but can never truly be with (a fact she has come to accept, mind), does his heroic thing. She smiles to him, too, even despite the fact that she is going to fucking slap the shit out of him for being so ballsy.

Things are going good. They're totally all going to get out of here alive, and it's all going to be awesome.

But then…things happen. All of the shitty, shitty things happen.

First, she touches that mind inside of the reactor. The color drains from Remi's face as the screams of the man within. She falters slightly before doubling over, her hands clasping her knees. What little was left of her lunch, combined with a good amount of bile this time, evacuates the telepath's mouth, followed by a few coughs. "The man in there…the man, we have to help him, we have to –"

Her link to Darren lingers, though not nearly as strong as it was when she was touching the back of his neck. That panic overtakes her first, the fear and pain of the control over his ability smacking her in the face right after, and Remi lets out a scream alongside of Darren. She turns, attempting to reach the man who she just promised to help, only to find her knees buckling under her, sending her to the ground. Another scream to match Darren’s as he withers, and then…

And then he’s gone. Remi lets out a pained sob, clapping her hand over her mouth as tears stream down her cheeks. No…no no no no no, that’s not how it was supposed to happen. She was supposed to walk out of here with him, she was supposed to help him…she promised.

Tears still streaming down her cheeks, Remi turns her mind back toward that mind within the reactor. With a cough, she struggles back up to her feet, one hand clamped to the side of her head as she walks toward the reactor. She can still try to help him, at least. “We need to help that man…he’s stuck in there, they’ve drugged him, they turned him…they turned him into a battery.”

Blue eyes turn toward Doyle and Odessa, disgust briefly registering on the telepath’s features, and one hand points a finger at Doyle. “You can turn off abilities. Can you turn his off?” She points to the reactor, a look of desperation shining in her eyes.

I don’t know if you can understand me, but…I’m here. You’re not alone. I’m…I’m so sorry that they did this to you. Despite the discomfort that comes from touching the man’s mind, she forces herself to do it. She doesn’t know if they can save him…so the very least she can do is offer him some small comfort before he goes, right? You’re not alone any more.

A voice resonates in Remi’s mind, all she gets over and over again is a name and a request in English. Find Lucine! Find Lucine! Find her! Find Lucine! It rattles over and over again, but there is no one named Lucine in the Institute’s containment records that Veronica Sawyer fed to the Ferrymen. She isn’t on any list. Remi entertains the possibility that Lucine may be someone outside of the Institute, perhaps a family member.

Graeme swallows hard against the tang in the back of his throat, and Julie gets that same reassuring smile. "Sure I can," he says. Not that he knows whether he can or not, but it doesn't help to show the doubt, and it's soon enough again buried in the back of his mind. Outside the reactor, he leans against the glass for a moment, but carefully. "We'll get it," he says to Liette as he straightens up — right into the sight of Doyle kissing Odessa, and there's a grumbled mutter of a moment. "Whatever it is, can't you do it later," except it's not loud enough to be aimed at either of them.

Instead, he comes down the stairs, and to no one in particular, asks, "So how the hell are we getting out of here, again?"

Kneeling beside Dr. Luis, Tamara meets his reaching hand, albeit only briefly.  Meets his wondering gaze, watches as his expression shifts to alarm; her own is shadowed, her lips drawing into a thin, lopsided, rueful curve.  She does not look up as the room is rendered spectacularly green, as one small corner of time folds in upon itself and is turned inside out; Darren's fate was sealed the moment he decided how to act upon the sybil's request.

"Can't help them all," she murmurs regretfully, just loud enough to carry to the doctor's ear.

As Darren is consumed by temporal fire, as Luis looks on in informed horror, as Ygraine is dazzled and shocked — Tamara works.  They do not have that much time to spare… and the seeress can do enough herself to get them out of the room.  Someone else can follow up later.  For now, she carefully adjusts Luis' position, draws out the damaging knife, uses it to cut open the layers of clothes in her way.  Pauses then, inhaling deeply, inwardly taking firm hold of the possibility that yields the end she desires.  

"Almost done," Tamara breathes wearily, balm and reassurance not directed at anyone save herself; she reaches into the kit.  Sanitizing wipe.  Gauze.  Tape to secure the bandage over the wound, but only on three sides.  Her patient, as much as anyone, knows that first aid is not in her skillset — it cannot be.  And yet her actions are sure, swift, unhesitating as they follow the guidance of her ability.  That the sybil can cheat in active as well as reactive ways was an aspect concealed — even obfuscated — during her stay in the ark.  And yet, the underlying principle is consistent with what Luis knows: a sequence is a sequence, whether of action or sigil.

By the time Tamara has finished, most surrounding events have resolved — Odessa hale and whole, Julie and Graeme emerged from the reactor.  They can move on.

Bracing one bloodied hand against the floor, she fumbles at closing the kit with her other.  Fails — that act is not important enough to be worth effort — and pushes the box towards Ygraine instead.  Take it.  Then holds a hand up, implicitly requesting the Brit's support.

How do we get out, Grame asks, to which the sybil offers no verbal answer, only a jerk of her head in the direction of the railway access.

Good god,” Luis murmurs as he watches the chain of events unfold. His voice is a trembling sound, but one full of understanding — grim through it may be. Levering himself up into a standing position, Luis looks at Ygraine with unknowing distance, unable to parse identity or possibility to her, but knowing full-well that if she accompanies the seer, there must be reason yet. Even if that reason is just familiarity, kindness, and hope. Otherwise, it is none of those things. Luis affords Darren’s ashen remains that Odessa now stands in with a final look of disapproval and awe.

Inside the reactor, Remi found nothing other than tragedy and pain. The voice, screaming to her from within a column of atomic fire can not be helped. His death, his fate, sealed so long ago that it might as well seem like divine intervention from this close up. He continues to scream for Lucine, with desperate plea mixed between hopeless prayer. She will never know who he was, not truly, and his cries will haunt her mind for the remainder of her days.

Looking to the elevator doors, Liette furrows her brows and looks to Graeme, then nods with resolute certainty. “Eric,” she plucks from his mind, directed to Doyle. Odessa is assessed like a viper, coiled around the too-kind older man. “We need to go,” this time it isn’t a question of whether Doyle will be leaving with them, it’s an order. Something about Odessa, something about her whole being gives Liette chills. But there is victory, in Julie, in her safety in Graeme’s arms.

Liette regards Luis, once, with a piteous expression older than her years should afford. Luis’ heart sinks, and he looks away. There is no healing that which is broken between them, not yet, at any rate. As Liette and Graeme head toward the elevator they’d arrived on this floor from. “Up,” Liette far belatedly answers Graeme. “The four of us,” a telekinetic tug pulls on Doyle’s collar at that, “will hit the lab. We can exit through the hole we made to get in, that won’t close up ahead of us.”

Across the reactor room, Luis limps alongside Tamara and Ygraine to the rail freight entrance. Standing in the tracks, the old map flips open the keypad and enters the sequence of his passcode. A klaxon begins to blare, orange lights flash, and the three foot thick steel door begins to rise off of the recessed tracks in the floor, opening to a yawning and damp subway tunnel far below Cambridge.

Luis pauses, shakily, and looks back at Odessa with furrowed brows. “That harpy is not coming with us.” Luis murmurs to Tamara, perhaps more as a hope than an assertion. He is in no place to assert a single thing, and may never be again. “We must hurry,” he adds, “even if Mister Halebi,” and there’s Luis’ fuller knowledge of the situation, “is rendered critical, the facility is designed to lock down and implode, after a set evacuation period, on a reactor meltdown. We would be buried under the weight of the university district above us, entombed in steel and stone.” Luis coughs a rasping breath, then looks to the open doorway.

“Where are you taking me?” the doctor asks, as if either of his captors know, or care to tell him.

It's not, perhaps, the couple anyone would expect to be having a romantic moment in the middle of all this madness, and all this death.

Then again, perhaps Odessa and Doyle are the only people capable of that. One hesitates to call them a couple. It's just one kiss after all.

"Odessa— " The kiss breaks, and people are urging them to leave, but he's loathe to pull too far away. His gaze searching hers, a smile tremblingly hesitant on his lips, "— god, I— you. There's no words. I—"

A glance back to Liette's order and back to Odessa.

"I know," Odessa is quick to assure Doyle, her gaze softening finally. The madness that gripped her in her moment of Lazarus-like resurrection seems to abate. "Me too." She swallows hard and slowly gets to her feet, pulling him with her. "You have to go. You have to get Julie and Liette out of here, and make sure they're safe. Julie needs the dialysis machine and Claire Bennet's blood. You understand?"

She looks toward the reactor, apprehension fading to resolve. "I can buy you time."

One hand grasps Odessa's shoulder as Eric Doyle pushes himself up to his feet, looking at her — then back — then at her, "Wait, you… that's not fair." A furrowing of his brow. It's not. This revelation, and now to be sent away? It's not fair.

But life rarely is, and the one person who can buy them time - literally - is Odessa Price.

He chews the inside of his cheek for a moment, then nods curtly, a hand coming up to tug down the brim of his hat, "Okay. I'll — when we're both out of here, we have a lot to talk about, I think. I'll get the kids out."

A faint smile.

"See? We don't have to be monsters after all, love."

Tears spill forth from Odessa's eyes. She holds his hands tightly, not wanting to let him go. "I'm sorry. This isn't… I never wanted it to be like this." She laughs in spite of herself when he tells her that they don't have to be monsters after all. "I hope you're right about that."

Lips tremble as she tries to form the next words. Odessa lets go of his hands. "Now go. Before I cannot let you." Her eyes shut against the onslaught of emotion, tears flowing faster and more freely. "I'll see you on the other side. Good luck, Eric."

Eric's hands grasp hers securely, and that crooked smile of his that he always gets before he says something he thinks is clever curves his lips.

"I might be leaving," he tells her, "Doesn't mean you're letting go. Don't get blown up with Nick the Nuclear Reactor over there. I…"

A squeeze of her hands, wordless, and then he pulls away sharply and turns, "Alright! Let's go, let's go, come on - Julie, where's your, uh, your dial-system, your machine, we gotta get out of here."

Only the telepaths hear the wordless, …love you, I think.

The reactor — Halebi, as she suspected — doesn't wait for anyone to process their feelings. She has to make good on her promise to Doyle. To Julie and Liette. Odessa and her chosen champion have always been similar monsters for many reasons. One of these is the way they both tug and pull at invisible strings. One delicate hand lifts in the air, feeling at something that no one else can perceive (except, perhaps, the precognitive among them), but that she understands by instinct. Slowly, she begins to gather one of those invisible threads, winding it around her fingers with a flick of a finger and a pivot of the wrist. She begins to pull, as if to test if she's found the right one.

"I'm not giving you a choice, Jean-Martin," that harpy grinds out between her teeth, finding it easier to focus on her anger than sorrow. "Someone has to fix that lung I collapsed." So, she intends to follow them, and rectify the some of the wrong she's caused.

Maybe she knows what's waiting for the Ferrymen at their extraction point. She moves in the right circles to hear things. To know she needed to secure a different way out. She could have followed him. But Eric's people are most likely to greet her with a bullet to the head, and her people are likely to do the same to him. She has to hope that he can escape. Odessa watches him go, and when he's out of earshot, whispers:

"Goodbye, Eric."

Perhaps paranoia and romanticism go hand in hand, at least among the Evolved - but even with everything going on, Ygraine can’t help but be touched by the glimpses she gets of Odessa and Eric’s unexpected tenderness.  The fractured Briton even has a slight smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, truly pleased to glimpse some (spiritual) light amidst the disastrous fall of the Ark.

Still, she quite literally has her hands full: the first-aid kit is snapped shut, securely closed, then casually placed on her back - where it remains without any apparent means of support.  Tamara, she gladly helps to regain her feet, before the pair of them work on getting the one-lunged and elderly Luis up as well.

“Graeme - the rendezvous.  We meet there, right?”, she calls to her fellow Totally Coincidental Deveaux Society Strike Team member, forcing herself to enunciate clearly and project her voice in spite of the protests of her head.

Ygraine slips one arm around Tamara, but focuses chiefly upon Luis as far as the keypad and the gate - Remi receiving a warmly grateful smile when the telepath moves to assist the wounded doctor.  The technician receives a less kind, but hopefully still welcome, “Come on if you want to get out of here!”

She can’t help but wince sharply in response to the flashing and the klaxon and the resonances they both set off in her aching brain… but averting her gaze from the sensory assault does bring Tamara directly into view.

Luis finds himself passed fully to Remi - Ygraine carefully letting go of him, turning to Tamara, and scooping the now-swaying (and still bleeding) blonde into her arms.  A little rearranging, her expression concerned at how easy it is, and the seer is draped over one shoulder… her hair pooling onto Ygraine’s shoulder and back, as the leather-clad woman uses both hands to quickly pat down her array of kit and survey the chamber they’re about to depart.

Quite apart from anything else, she wants to be sure that everyone still capable of movement is heading for one exit or the other.

“I can carry Tamara as far as required,” she informs Remi and the technician.  “If you or the Doctor need my help, tell me.  And let me help with stairs or other climbing.  A moment’s discomfort, and I can turn a stairwell into an easy stroll along a flat surface, rather than endless stairs.  It’ll be faster by far, for all of us.”

Luis then receives a direct look.  “If there are any defences out there, tell me now.  ‘Cause we’re all about to step out.  And if you can, you’re going to seal this behind us to help contain the blast.  Then we get to the surface.”  In spite of the certainty of her words, she hesitates a moment, before glowering at the injured old man.

“The whole university district?  Did I hear that right?  Have you people even sent them an evacuation warning or anything?  Christ.  One way or another, though, we’re getting out of here if we can.  All of us.”

"Lucine," is the all but inaudible whisper that comes as a result of touching Amid's mind, the telepath staring sadly at the glow of the reactor as large tears roll down her cheeks. I'll find her. I'll find her and I'll keep her safe for you, I promise you that. I won't stop until I find her. She reaches up a hand, wiping tears off on her sleeve. I am so sorry. For as long as she can, Soleil Remi Davignon stays with the man in the reactor, offering him as much of a comforting presence as she can from afar, despite how horrifying all of this is. For as long as she can, she listens to him, because nobody else has — because nobody else can.

Because nobody else will.

Amid Halebi deserves at least that much in his final moments.

Finally, she turns away, tears freely flowing, and moves to Ygraine's side. Wordlessly, she reaches out and takes one of Luis' hands, moving to drape his arm over her shoulder so she can help him to walk. Sure, she'll probably form a mindlink with him, but what's another one of those in the face of all that she's seen? She's completely uninjured, but she's also mentally exhausted.

Red-rimmed blue eyes turn to regard Graeme as he moves off with the others. You better come back to me, mon cher. Stay alive. She nods toward the man, before turning to Ygraine, nodding quietly in agreement to her instructions.

Graeme takes the stairs back to the elevator one at a time but no less quickly for doing so, letting Liette set the pace they move at, and there's a reassuring hand on her shoulder, briefly, quiet whispered reassurance to Julie. Halfway up he pauses and nods to Ygraine. "We meet there. If you're not there by two days from now, I'm gonna come searching," he calls out.

He somehow manages to entirely leave out the inverse possibility, what if he isn't there in time. Or perhaps it's something that Graeme's simply not willing to acknowledge at the moment.

Doyle gets a nod as he joins them, another once-over appraisal that Graeme just didn't have the time to do the first time around. "Let's get them out of here," he agrees. "

Just get out of here in one piece, Graeme's thoughts echo, that meant for Remi. Because… but whatever that thought was leading to trails off, back into the disciplined near-silence and focus on the mission. Graeme swallows hard once more against the lingering effect of exposure to the radiation, and turns to climb the rest of the stairs, to go in to the elevator. There's another moment of inner turmoil at leaving his friends when there is a human nuclear reactor about to explode, and only a brief look over his shoulder when the elevator doors close behind them.

Helped up by Ygraine, Tamara leans against the Brit, keeping one hand securely wrapped about her arm.  As they make their slow way across the room, as Luis enters his code and a new alarm blares, as words fly regarding who is and is not departing by which route — through all of these things, the seer remains silent.  She offers no resistance as Ygraine scoops her up, and in fact simply pillows her head on the woman's shoulder, breathing out a weary sigh and letting everything go — focus, insight, awareness.

The rest of them can take care of matters from here.

Alarms blare, a warning that no one can ignore.

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

The automatic voice crackling over the intercom, speaking level and tense, speaks of the coming end. As Ygraine, Luis, Remi, and Tamara make their way beneath the yawning blast door of the railway access, Graeme, Liette, Julie, and Doyle step into the elevator to the upper levels of the arcology.

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

In the back of her mind, Remi hears Amid’s voice not only getting distant as she moves out of range, but also slower as Odessa begins to wind time in slower circles. His screams are inescapable, until they are little more than an echo in the back of her mind. She will not forget this day for many days to come, and now is possessed with a new obsession that will follow her sleeping moments. Who is Lucine?

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

At the reactor, Odessa stands with arms up, fingers curled, tugging at the invisible threads of time and space that were once stolen from her, now restored. She is lit by the blue glow of radiation swelling in Halebi’s containment cell, her shadow is cast long and dark against the wall, arms moving in arcane patterns and fingers twisting around something no one but she can feel.

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

Tamara sees it differently, threads are currents, and the river pushes inexorably on. When Liette hits the button for B-Ring, the elevator doors slowly shut, and the last Eric Doyle sees of Odessa, is her delicate movements, the twist of her fingers, and an ever-thinning thread of hope. As the klaxons blare, the railway access blast door grinds back into movement, lowering down to seal off the reactor room.

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

Odessa offers one side-long look, meeting Luis’ eyes, and her promise haunts the back of his mind. Someone has to fix that lung. Jean-Martin Luis has much to fear, as the light of the reactor room turns into a narrowing rectangle at his feet. Most of all, that Odessa keeps her promises.

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

In a short matter of time, the Institute will cease to exist. Physically, and as a concept. Its history of possibility, its history of violence, its history of secrets, all will vanish in radioactive heat and beneath thousands of pounds of concrete and steel. After the near meltdown at Pinehearst, this failsafe was intended to prevent a Chernobyl-like incident, intended to protect the lives of those around the Institute, the lives of those within the Institute. Now, it will turn it all into a tomb.

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

There is a journal, written by the man who would create the Institute, and in it is a line:

There’s always blood in the end.

This time is no different.


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