Words Are Weapons

Participants:

adam_icon.gif joy_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

adam_icon.gif broome_icon.gif joy2_icon.gif leroux_icon.gif ruby_icon.gif

Scene Title Words Are Weapons
Synopsis Words as weapons, sharper than knives / Makes you wonder how the other half die / How the other half die / Makes you wonder, wonder, wonder
Date August 27, 2019

The soft hum of an elevator is Adam Monroe's only company.

Eyes shut, he listens to the rhythmic hum, trying to block out other sounds more distressing than silence. When the elevator comes to a stop, blue eyes open and he considers the empty space of his private suite before stepping inside. Rain runs down the one angled wall of glass, rivulets of water tracing forking paths against a pale gray sky. The sound of the hammering rain goes unheard through the thick layers of reinforced glass. It allows Adam to hear the sounds of someone singing, softly, privately. He turns toward the sitting area where the Kensei sword rests in its scabbard on a rack atop the coffee table, like a keepsake from a foreign vacation. Joy sits there, singing to herself, holding a small mirror in her hands. Adam catches a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror.

"Have you even slept?" He asks, approaching the back of the couch she's sitting on. Joy grows quiet, sets down the mirror and turns to look up at Adam. No, she hasn't been sleeping, judging from the way in which her eyes are puffy and red, the tear-streaked quality of her cheeks. Adam's chest tightens as soon as he sees that look in her eyes. "Yaeko," he nearly stammers her name, "why are you— " With not but a furrow of her brows, Joy throws Adam off of his feet with her mind and sends him through the air. He impacts the wall by the elevator so hard it knocks a framed picture of the San Francisco countryside off of the wall to shatter on the floor. Adam doesn't drop with the picture, but instead stays pinned there. "Yaeko," he rasps out, grasping for the presence pinning him to the wall and not finding it.

Joy slowly rises up from her seat on the couch, taking the Kensei sword in hand as she does. Jaw trembling, Joy approaches Adam and unsheathes the sword, letting the scabbard fall to the ground with a clatter. There is nothing but regret in her eyes, regret and pain. Adam says nothing, staring down at that sword drawn in his presence, in her hands. She smiles, wearily, but the smile soon crumbles to an emotional expression of grief. "Yaeko— Joy— why are you— "

And she plunges the sword into his heart with all her strength.


Twenty-Nine Years Earlier

Waldo Lake

Crescent, Oregon

April 16th

1990


The rocky shoreline of Waldo Lake could be anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. Sagging boughs of deciduous trees laden with morning dew look like so many shadows in the fog rolling in off of the water. Standing on the banks of the lake, up to her ankles in the water, Joy looks out over the mirror still placidity and pulls her arms tightly around herself. It is, has been, silent here for longer than she ever expected. In these early spring months, at dawn hours, the rocky coast of this lake is hers and hers alone. If she closes her eyes just right, just so it almost feels like—

"I hope I'm not intruding."

The voice causes Joy to wheel around, wide-eyed as she watches a woman step out from the treeline in a royal blue North Face jacket. Her boots crunch loose rocks underfoot, gray hair pinned up and out of her face. Joy braces, then slowly relaxes and looks back to the water. "I was just leaving," she starts to say, but then hesitates when the older looking woman says nothing and just follows her with cool blue eyes.

“You don’t have to be alone,” she says, and Joy hesitates in her tracks, leveling a more intense look at her. “Go ahead, you can read my mind if that’ll help you. I wager you can, with all you’ve got upstairs.” Joy either doesn’t, or it isn’t obvious when she does. Instead she asks of the stranger:

“Who are you?”

To which the gray-haired woman replies with a warm smile. “You can call me Ruby. I’m just here to help… I come in peace.” She can’t help but smile at that remark, offering her hand out to Joy. Like a feral animal, Joy looks down at the offered hand, then up to Ruby.

Now she reads her mind.


Twenty-Nine Years Later

Praxis Ziggurat

Praxia, California Safe Zone

August 27th

2019


Elevator doors close with a soft clunk of metal, and bloodied fingers tap the button for Floor 42. Joy can see herself, a muted reflection of as much, in the metal doors. Her hands are shaking, eyes hurt from how much she’s cried. She doesn’t have any other way. Doesn’t know what else to do now.

Not when everything has come apart at the same.


Nine Years Earlier

Ojas Amargos Commune

Just Outside Ojas Amargos, Mexico

April 12th

2010


“You are a marvelous creation,” Joy whispers practically breathlessly. “But you have to be so careful,” her voice becomes a whisper, expression shifting from wonderment to fear. “If s —” Whatever it is Joy was going to say never comes. She crumples to her side, slouching against the fence beside Mateo. Blood is darkening the ground beneath her. Shouts come in the distance, and when he looks toward the noise, there is a boxy white van parked in the middle of the courtyard between buildings and fever-pitched gunfire.

No one is aiming Mateo’s way. No one meant to shoot Joy, whoever they are, but a panicked child is running in his direction. Short, black hair swishes across her brow, eyes reddened and tears streaming down her cheeks. She’s running away from the carnage, from what looks like a massacre in the making.

Mateo,” Joy gurgles, “run,” her eyes grow wide as she stares at him. “Quickly, run.” She’s afraid. For him.

That brief touch, the way she looks at him. Ruiz isn’t used to that. Most people who see his ability in action, even when he means it to happen, move away. No one’s ever, not even him, called him marvelous after seeing it. Even the Commune, the ones who lived upon it, sometimes looked at him with fear.

The ones who didn’t were the ones who didn’t know exactly what he could do. Had never seen it uproot a tree.

He nods against her hand at the first part of her words, but freezes at the sudden crumpling. He starts to kneel, as if trying to catch her, to help her up, but then he spots the girl running. A girl he knows from his visits. A girl who likes to listen to him play the guitar.

And a van. And gunfire.

Run.

He lets out a curse, even as he looks down at her, looks back at the commune. That van shouldn’t be there. If he could open the threshold… he could kill everyone in the commune, even if he did destroy the van.

There’s another curse and he looks down at Joy, “I’m sorry.”

It’s a simple phrase, one echoed in his eyes, before he’s standing and running. Away from the danger instead of to it.

Joy pushes herself up to her feet, sucking in a deep breath as she watches Mateo fleeing from the gunfire. She turns towards the white-clad men storming through the compound in the distance, the child running toward her.

LeRoux, no.

Then the sound of gunfire. Blood explodes out of LeRoux’s chest from a single tumbling round from a Retriever’s automatic rifle. The girl’s legs give way, scrape across the ground, and she tumbles to fall flat on her face. Mateo is already running, vaulting up over the fence and breaking away. Joy struggles up to her feet, presses one hand in the earth and launches herself forward.

One of the Retrievers that was firing at LeRoux’s back lifts up off of the ground. Joy’s teeth clench together, her eyes run gold like burning metal, and suspended in mid-air he twists like a soaked washcloth and is wrung out and then thrown bodily into the side of the white armored van so hard that it rocks up onto two wheels. More bullets come, tracing tracks through the air, and with a raise of her hand Joy sends them arcing away from her to pepper the ground. The Retrievers cry out over their comm systems, but all Joy can do is drop to one knee beside the girl drowning in her own blood on the sand.

No,” Joy whispers, stroking LeRoux’s hair back, leaving a swat of blood on her brow. “No you— sweet, innocent— ”

She forgets herself.

There is an immediate shock in Joy’s arm, a sizzling sensation of burning as her veins turn black and skin as pallid as milk. Gold eyes burn blue, and Joy exhales a breathless and ragged scream as she feels a tremendous sensation of pressure behind her eyes. LeRoux writhes, blood slithering back into the hole in her chest, lungs re-inflating. Flashes of white light and seething tendrils of black erupt from Joy’s arm at LeRoux’s brow.

No,” Joy screams in a hoarse whisper, “no, no!


Nine Years Later

Praxis Ziggurat

Praxia, California Safe Zone

August 27th

2019


The elevator doors slowly slide open and Joy leaves a drizzled, bloody trail across the floor as she steps out into the hall. There is a humming sound behind the walls on this floor, a subtle vibration just shy of a tuning fork. She can feel it in her bones, in her skin, in her teeth. Closing her eyes, Joy erupts into a burst of supersonic movement, one bare and bloody footprint every two hundred feet in her impossible strides. She moves from door to door, checking small suites and private rooms, searching for something

someone


Nine Years Earlier

Tucson, Arizona

April 12th

2010


The ratty trail of a tattered dress brushes along the asphalt. Joy’s bare feet scuff the pavement on her path to the graffiti-marked old pay phone clinging to the wall of a run-down Chevron gas station. In the dark of night, she casts a suspicious silhouette, blood dried on her arms and hands, hair soaked through with it, spatters on her cheeks and fingertips. A man in a camouflage baseball hat filling up gas on his truck watches Joy cross the parking lot with laser focus.

Stepping up to the pay phone, Joy presses her palm to it and closes her eyes. The dialtone on the other end is interrupted by a series of clicks and chirps, then the payment mechanism on the inside of the phone plinks in hollow acceptance of an imaginary quarter. Two more clicks, and then there’s ringing. Joy’s dark eyes open, angling to watch the man gassing up his truck watching her intently.

She doesn’t have time to focus on him.

«Who is this?» The old voice on the other end of the line asks aloud.

As soon as Joy hears Simon Broome’s voice, her hands start to tremble and tears well up in her eyes. Jaw unsteadied, Joy exhales a ragged sob and practically shouts into the receiver. “I told you to leave me alone!” The outburst has the man at his truck stopping what he’s doing, stepping away from the truck to get a better look at Joy. She doesn’t notice.

“They killed–” Joy sucks in a sharp breath, “your attack dogs killed people! I would have come if you asked me. You didn't have to–”

«Joy where are you? I didn't order anyone to find you.» Simon shakily explains, sounding as distraught and unnerved as she. «I don't even know where to look.»

Tears running down her cheeks, Joy cradles the phone in her hand and lowers her voice. “Simon. Simon, they survived.” Her heart breaks all over again as she whines softly into the receiver, legs bending and knees threatening to give out. “Simon I had both of them and– Simon, what did you do!?

By this point, the man gassing up his truck has started walking across the parking lot, looking between Joy and the gas station attendant inside who is unaware of the drama playing out in the lot.

«I haven’t ordered any retrievers to go after you. Where were— » Simon changes his mind. «Joy, tell me where you are. Stay where you are and I’ll come get you. I don’t know what happened, but we’ll make it right.»

Joy looks up at the sky and swallows audibly. “Simon, please Simon you have to remember. Please, I just need you to remember what we did. We needed them. We needed to keep them safe and you— your people— ”

«Joy you’re not making any sense. What did I forget? Tell me. I just want to help you.» Joy can hear Simon moving around on the other side of the phone, and a muffled woman’s voice. Joy shakes her head, slouching down to sit on the ground, barely able to keep the receiver to her ear as she sobs into the crook of her elbow. She feels so small right now, so helpless.

“Hey, ma’am, are you alright?” The truck driver asks, hesitantly approaching. “Do you need me t’call somebody? The cops? I— ” Joy looks up at him, her eyes glowing like hot-forged steel.

Go away,” she seethes, and the man’s eyes glaze over as he turns on his heels and just walks away from the gas station, his truck, and Joy.

Simon,” Joy croaks into the receiver, “where are you?” For a moment, there is silence on the other end of the receiver. But them, hesitantly, Broome replies.

«My house, in the mountains. You know the one.» Broome pauses, hearing nothing on the other end of the line. «Joy?»

The unattended receiver swings back and forth from the phone by its cord.

«Simon.» She is heard on the other side of the phone.


Nine Years Later

Praxis Ziggurat

Praxia, California Safe Zone

August 27th

2019


Bursting into a room, Joy sends a bamboo shinai toppling to the floor. Her attention moves to the bed, made and undisturbed, to the small workout clothes folded on a shelf with training pads and hand wrapping tape. Her dark eyes flick to where shoes would be and are missing. Those dark eyes widen as she hears footsteps behind herself, pivoting toward the noise of hard soled shoes and labored breathing.

Adam Monroe stands at the far end of the hall, sword in one hand, shirt and suit jacket stained with blood. “What the fuck?” He howls at her, taking the blade in a two handed grip. Reflexively, Joy disappears for a split second but reappears in the same spot and crumples to the floor, seething in pain. Adam’s stance softens, watching her hurt in such a fashion, brows rising up to his hairline.

What the hell is going on?” Adam asks in a shaky voice, lowering his guard. Joy looks up, her skin reddened from the experience of trying to teleport out of this floor. Little blood blisters bloom on her bare shoulders.

Talk to me!


Eight Years Earlier

The Ark

Below Cambridge, Massachusetts

November 8th

2011


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

Blood runs down the wall like someone splashed a bucket against the soft white color. The color pops, dark chunks of brownish black against brighter candy-apple red. The head of the black-clad figure in body armor below the bloodstain is split open like an unripened melon. Looming over him, Joy withdraws her hand from the inside of his head, dropping a palmful of cerebral tissue to the floor with a wet slap.

“You’re safe,” Joy says to the child standing behind her, offers a look down to LeRoux. “I won’t let anyone hurt you. You’re too important to— ”

«Chambers. Did you find the girl?»

A voice crackles over the radio clipped to the chest of the dead soldier’s tactical vest. Joy’s eyes turn toward the corpse, to the radio, and anger bubbles up inside of her like a sea foam whipped up by a hurricane. LeRoux tugs gently at the hem of Joy’s dress, looking toward one hallway red-lit by security lights. Joy lifts a hand, pressing her palm to LeRoux’s brow and brushing her hair from her face. “Soon,” Joy whispers, then steps over to the corpse and plucks the radio from it’s vest.

“Your man is dead. Who is this?” Joy says into the receiver.

«Y– Yaeko?»

Being called that sends a knife through Joy’s chest. Her blood runs cold and her hands shake, eyes grow wide, and a number of long cast-aside fears resurface. She sucks in a shuddering breath, her hand around the plastic receiver growing sweaty. Her voice cracks when she finally responds with, “…Kensei?

«What –»
«How —»

He can’t even form a complete sentence.

Joy looks over at LeRoux, her brows furrowed, then down to the dead soldier with an iciness coming over her tone. “Gomen-ne,” she whispers, closing her eyes. “Anata ni kanojo wo motasemasen.” Tears well up in her eyes, but the little life behind her is so much more important now that the long lost one on the other end of the phone.

«Onegaishimasu,» Adam pleads, «Kono agan o shinaide kudasai.»

“Gomen-ne…” Joy says, taking LeRoux’s hand in hers. “Kensei.” Both she and the child disappear into thin air, and the radio drops to the ground with a clatter.

«No. No!»

«Yaeko?»

<Yaeko!»


Eight Years Later

Praxis Ziggurat

Praxia, California Safe Zone

August 27th

2019


“You cannot have the girl.” Joy says, squaring her shoulders against Kensei’s silhouette, her hands curling into fists at her side. At first betrayal, then shame crosses Adam’s face when she stands against him. It is quickly replaced by anger, then nothing short of wrath.

I don’t //want the fucking girl!” Adam shouts at her, wildly gesturing with one hand. The assertion has Joy bracing again, this time in confusion. “I didn’t send for her! I didn’t ask after her, I didn’t have Zhao //track her down. She’s here of her own fucking choice! I told you as much!

Hands trembling at her side, Joy stares wild-eyed at Adam, at her own glint of a reflection in that sword’s blade. “What about LeRoux?” Adam lowers his sword in response to that question, closing his eyes and wiping a hand against his face too quickly to realize he’d left blood on his temple.

Christ, Joy. That was different. I…” Adam takes a step toward her, brows creased together. “I didn’t know then, what I know now. I didn’t remember you, us, what really happened. You’re safe here, Jac is safe here. No matter what happens anywhere else… I’m going to protect my family.”

Exhaling a ragged breath, Joy practically collapses to her knees, looking down at her hands in confusion. Tears stream down her face, her shoulders heave with sobs and she just wants more than anything else to curl up into a small ball and vanish. There’s a clatter of metal on tile as Adam just drops his sword and walks over to Joy’s side, kneeling down beside her and tentatively reaching out for her.

“It’s okay…” Adam whispers, “we— we’ll get through this.”


Eight Years Earlier

Cambridge, Massachusetts

December 15th

2011


A demolished cell phone sits crushed on the sidewalk, lit only by the firelight of a burned out Radio Shack. A shadow crosses the phone, slim and small, and one bare foot nudges the corner of the broken phone.

Gunshots and cries ring out across the city, distant from here, but close enough to be worrisome. Bending down, Joy picks up the phone and cradles it between her palms. Her eyes fall shut, green light spilling out from between her fingers as the phone’s personal timeline is wound backwards. Plastic fuses back together, circuits reconnect, glass smooths out and the battery’s charge returns. As motes of emerald light dance around the phone, Joy brings it up to her ear and without so much as dial-tone it begins to ring.

“It's… me.” She doesn’t wait for the man on the other end to even say hello before she speaks. The sudden suck of breath and wheezing exhalation comes as a surprise to Joy, who is used to hearing Simon in much better health.

«Jesus Christ. You're— you're alive?» After everything that happened in the last month, the fall of the arcology, the disappearance of the Mount Natazhat facility, Simon Broome never thought that he’d hear Joy’s voice ever again.

Joy swallows, tightly, her eyes rimmed with red and wet with tears. “I'm… things… have been…” she looks to her right, distracted by a sound that isn’t there. Her jaw unsteadies when she realizes that there is nothing but a street lamp where she thought she saw a person.

«Where are you?» Simon asks hastily.

Cambridge.” Joy’s voice cracks when she mentions the city, one that feels more like a spiritual labyrinth she cannot escape now more than an actual physical place.

«Aren't—» Simon coughs into the receiver, «isn't that a war zone right now? The riots!» She can hear him moving around, hadn’t considered how late at night it was when she called. She hadn’t even realized it was night. «Are you safe?» Simon asks, urgently.

“For now. I'm—” Joy cuts herself off, jumping back and away from thin air, and then exhaling a strangled, keening sound of frustration at her own reaction.

«Are you coping?» Simon realizes what death on that scale must be doing to her, and the worry in his voice is palpable. Joy nods, as if Simon could see her, then snorts frustratedly as she tries to form the words to answer him. «Can you get out of there?»

I'm overwhelmed,” is what Joy manages to cry into the receiver, struggling to maintain even that much sense. “It's— s-so much.” She closes her eyes, wrenches them shut and presses her back up against the wall of the burning building.

«Joy.» Simon pleads with her, helplessly. «You have to get out of there.» There’s depressingly little he can do for her in his current state, with the world spiraling into Armageddon all around.

“I don't think I can.” Joy croaks into the phone, sliding down the wall and pulling her knees to her chest. “I'm— having trouble concentrating…” she says, eyes still forced shut to hide herself from the unreal. “Everyone's voices,” she whispers, “all at once.” Her hands tremble, threatening to drop the phone as fresh tears cut clean tracks down her dirty cheeks. “They're so scared.

«Can you get to me?» Simon asks, his breath a wet wheeze. «I can put you to sleep again.»

“I don't…” Joy struggles to finish the sentence, “I don't know.” Her mind is a jumble of moments, broken puzzle pieces not yet properly aligned. “The— when the security alert went off, it… the door opened.”

«For your safety,» Broome says, trying to ground her mind. «You need to get as far away from there as possible, Joy.»

“Where?” Joy asks, wondering why he would recommend she go anywhere other than to him. He’d just asked if she could get there.

«There's only one place I can think you'd be safe,» Broome says shakily, realizing what is at stake. «Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Joy.» Her eyes snap open at that phrase, back straightens, and her breath is clutched in her chest.

“Y-you. Told me.” Joy whispers. “Not to.”

«He won't betray you.» Broome explains, worry evident in his voice. It’s only now that Joy understands what he means. He won’t betray you like the others. «I trust him. Implicitly.»

“I don't know if I can do it, Simon.” Joy says with a shaky, uneven voice. But Broome isn’t giving up on her, even if his body is giving up on him.

«You can,» Simon encourages her, «Find Richard.»

«Find the end of the Yellow Brick Road.»


Eight Years Later

Praxis Ziggurat

Praxia, California Safe Zone

August 27th

2019


Cradled in Adam’s arms, Joy shakes her head and presses her face against his shoulder. “They won’t stop,” she whispers into the blood-soaked fabric of his jacket, and in his arms she feels for a moment safe. Secure. Adam nods, running a hand over the top of her hair as he sits there on the floor as — finally — a security response team emerges from the elevator. Though they come around the corner with guns drawn, then all stand down when they see the Director embracing Joy, waving them off with his free hand, bloodied sword nearby. “I’m afraid,” Joy whispers.

“Of what?” Adam asks back into her hair, his voice felt on her scalp. She buries her face into the crook of his arm, fingers curling in the bloodied shirt he wears. At first, Joy doesn’t answer, and as the guards start to back off and look between one-another confusedly, Adam angles himself to be able to look down at Joy while tilting her chin up so he can look into her eyes.

“I’m afraid…” Joy’s dark eyes search Adam’s, struggling to hear his voice over the whispers in the back of her mind.

“Afraid that I made a terrible mistake.”

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