A Heartbeat Away


colette_icon.gif bella_icon.gif

Scene Title A Heartbeat Away
Synopsis Colette takes her chances on rescuing Joseph, modeled after the only real heroes she knows— the fake kind.
Date February 4, 2010

Ruins of Midtown

Refrain Study Center

Through the cracks of light filtering in through the boarded windows, pale lances illuminating gently wafting motes, it's possible to discern that the sun has risen, though only just recently. It's cold in the warehouse, bordering on frigid, since no one in their right mind would spend money heating up a space this large. The perch, wherein Colette has spent the night, is equipped with a space heater, doubtless used by the spider who keeps watch over her web from here. Similar heaters are set up by the table where the guards keep their constant, if somewhat bored, vigil. Climate control units can be seen, chrome and gleaming, from the side of the concrete structure in the warehouse's center. Whoever's in there are likely the most comfortable people in this space, and their inaccesable. The structure, like the perch, is off limits to the guards, as far as the stowaway can tell. She's passed the night unmolested and alone.

Shortly after those first rays of light creep through the gaps in the boarding, the sound rumbling issues from below, metal grinding against metal, and the hiss of hydraulics. Something's going on.

Almost having succumbed to the temptation of sleep, that industrial screech jolts Colette from her dozing. Bolting up from the floor, bracing herself against the wall with one splayed ahdn and frantically aiming her flare gun around the perch's interior, Colette breathes in and out with sharp breaths until she considers her surroundings. Mottled patches of her body have become visible in that half-conscious state, and she's managed to pull that shorud of bent light back over herself once consciousness has finally returned. Her head is throbbing, tension at the back of her neck and up to the base of her skull causing the light of day to be a spited thing that only adds to her migraine.

Swallowing dryly, she focuses on the sound, and slowly creeping towards one of the perch's windows, concentrates on peeling the invisibility away from a band around her eyes, a fleshy strip almost like paint peeled away from wood, with flakes of invisibility ragged at the edges. Traditional sight allows her much more detail and information, and she needs to know what's going on downstairs.

The loading dock's doors are rolling open, peeling up off the ground and letting in the light of early morning. There are trucks lined outside, two of them from the angle Colette gazes from, and they have large slabs of concrete lashed to their beds. The guards are finally active, slinging their rifles onto their backs and moving to the back of the trucks, conversing with the men who've just arrived, men in simple utility suits, bland blue with no markers. Dollies with air cushioned bottoms, used for moving very heavy objects, are rolled in from outside and the men begin to load the slabs of concrete, along with pieces of angled metal, onto the dollies and over towards the structure. It doesn't take long to see, when put side by side, what the relationship between this cargo and the facility is - it's materials for expansion. They're going to be building more of the structure, building out or maybe up. It's bound to be noisy work, but somewhat less so since the whole of the construction is contained within the warehouse's walls.

Colette's eyes disappear in a dappled haze of bleeding colors until her desaturated strip of revealed flesh is wholly unseen. She tucks her flare gun into the back of her jeans, phone into the pouch at the front of her sweatshirt, and moves towards the open door to the perch. Peering out from the stairs, the noise of the trucks, voices of the soldiers and the moving of those gigantic concrete slabs means that Colette has an opening to figure out what's going on. Revealing the lens of her phone's camera, she starts creeping down the stairs, visible only as a tiny black dot as she snaps a few pictures of the concrete pieces being moved and the men in utility jumpsuits.

Once at the bottom of the metal stairs, she sweeps around beneath them, following the wall on her way, covering up the lens of the camera again as she moves closer to that squad concrete structure inside the warehouse. With the guards busy with moving heavy equipment, Colette is working to move the perimeter of that curious concrete building, trying to find a point of entry.

A full circuit around the structure reveals only one entrance. The place is, appropriately, built like a prison. The expansion supplies are lined up to the left of the only entrance, and one of the tables is cleared off to make room for a blueprint, which one of the men in the jumpsuits examines, either being the leader or taking the lead. It's hard to tell without formal markers of rank. Orders are given, though, and one man jogs over to a raised platform on the far side of the structure, opposite the foreman's perch, where there are some controls. A key is inserted, turned, and a generator hums to life. Overhead, a small crane jerks into imperfect life, then goes still, though it is now at the ready. By all appearances, they'll be doing the expansion soon, if not straight away. And that might just afford Colette a chance to get entry.

Rolling her tongue over the inside of her cheek, Colette backs up and away from the central structure, crouching down at the far end of the warehouse interior, revealing the screen of her phoen to herself to check its battery life, then quickly transfer those photographs she had just taken to Kaylee's phone. Then, once done, she powers down the phone and tucks it int the back pocket of her jeans. Following that, her free hand turns up the volume on her two-way radio again, just in case Jensen and the others make their way back.

From here, she's back up on her feet, dusting off the back of her jeans and creeping across the concrete floor towards the central structure. The teen stays far enough back not to be underfoot, but is paying special attention to the sealed entrance and the area the construction crews are working, less so on their comings and goings. She's just waiting for the right opportunity, that moment where she can try and get inside.

The work proceeds slowly, each step taken carefully, likely because any mistakes might mean danger not just for the guards and the workers, but for whoever is inside the structure. Prisoner though Joseph might be, he appears valuable enough to demand all this security, and likely his continued life, if not his health and welfare, are of no small importance to his captors.

The structure's first opening is not one Colette can easily take advantage of. A section of the structure's roof is removed, an entrance it would be hard to get to without clambering over the man on the ladder who helped lash the slab to the crane. No further opportunities present themselves for some time, as what looks like a second story expansion is constructed, first with metal joiners, then with slabs slid into place to form walls. It's maybe interesting to watch for the first little while, but once Colette sees how it all fits together, it becomes a matter of waiting. And waiting.

The sound of another vehicle arriving draws attention - a white van. And, sure enough, out from the back of it steps the woman in black, the red-haired one, though her veil is in place. She's got her cane resting over one shoulder, walking without any trace of a limp, seeming to be totally recovered. She lifts her hands to press against her ears, a delicate flower bothered by the loudness of the construction.

A delicate flower with a flare gun aimed at her. Admittedly the unseen motion is entirely fruitless, it just makes Colette happier — more at ease — to think that she's got Bella in her sights, even if she couldn't do anything with this right now. The flare gun is tucked bach in the waist of her jeans again, even if reluctantly, and Colette is circling like a hungry dog around the construction site, watching Bella's movements. Her phoen doesn't have enough charge left to risk taking more pictures, she has to conserve the meager battery life left for an emergency.

Close enough that she feels uneasy, Colette comes to a halt, stepping back and watching a jumpsuit adorned worker walk past. Eyes closed, she feels the movements of colors all around her, but the range of that sight is limited out to thirty feet, beyond there she's blind, so some far off elements of what is happening are unfelt, undetected, which is why she uses Bella as a point of focus, orbits her like some skulking satellite, mindful of the terrain and bodies closer to her more so than far away.

Bella makes her way immediately to the stairs from whence Colette originally came, heading to what is, apparently, her favorite place. She pauses at the bottom and calls out to the guards and workers, but her words are initially drowned by the sound of the construction. Making a face, the woman strides over to the men and taps one on the shoulder, thumbs at the stairs and then turns back around, now followed by two armed men. They take their places at either side of the stairway as she ascends, satisfied as to her own protection.

Doctor Sheridan is less what Colette's impressed with the need of, especially now that she has a pair of heavily armed thugs with assault rifles waiting in the wings. What she needs is that door to open, what she needs is a few good hours of sleep. Once this adrenaline high ends, once all the fear ebbs out off her, Colette's going to sleep so soundly. Looking back to the bay doors, the teen is anxious, unable to stay still, creeping back and forth on her heels ass he winds her way carefully around the workers, giving them a wide berth. No need to repeat the close call of Dema's approach from the night before.

Instead, Colette eventually finds herself taking up residence beside the stairwell that leads into the concrete housing, out of an area of normal traffic, and close enough that she can jump up onto the stairs and get a good sprint into the doorway should it open. She'll— figure out how to leave once she's made it to that point in the plan.

But who's Colette kidding, there's no plan. She's making this up as she goes along.

And, at last, her moment comes. Two workers are carrying a metal ladder between them, one with fixings of the sort meant to be riveted into a wall. No room for a staircase, so this must be the means by which the new second floor will be reached. They pause, and one of the guards moves over and swipes a card through the mag lock, unlocking the door and then pushing it open for the workers, his legs dangerously close to Colette. But there it is… a proper entrance, and a long pause while the ladder is borne inside.

Untucking the flare gun from inside of her pants, Colette focuses on the distance between the men hauling the ladder and the man holding open the door. Colette makes her break, circling around the front of the stairs right in front of the ladder carrying workers, precariously close to them. It's not until she hits the stairs that she has to turn sideway, crab-walking up the steps and thorugh that open doorway. The teen's breath is held the entire time, not out of some misguided sense of stealth with all this noise going on, but out of fear.

Once on the other side of the door, she's frantically searching for a place to duck into and hide and get her bearings, or better yet a big neon sign that proclaims Joseph, this way with a flashing arrow. Unfortunately the latter won't be something she comes across, the former…

The structure reaches out in three directions from where Colette stands. To her left is the passage the men with the ladder are turning towards, navigating the space with the care and precision of true professionals, which is great since it reduces the chance that Colette will get blundered into. To the right is a passage leading towards a door with a maglock on it, and straight ahead is a long corridor lined with doors, set staggered into the walls, six to each side, twelve in all. This last corridor hooks off to the left after the last pair of doors, hiding whatever lies at its end from sight.

Not wanting to be pinned ahead of the men carrying the ladder or trapped at a door she won't be able to open, Colette heads straight down the hall with the rows of doors. Once she's confident that she's placed enough space between herself and the men moving the ladders, she's creeping up to each one of those doors as she goes down the hall, pressing her hand up against them, trying to feel vibrations in the surface, the kind that voices in tight, cramped quarters make. She's forced to peel away the invisibility around her eyes again, revealing that strip of flesh hanging in the air, trying to see if the doors have writing on them, something she can't discern with her color sense.

One by one down the hall, she's careful not to turn around. With her back still bending lght around it, that strip of visibility on her face shouldn't be a problem, unless someone comes from the opposite direction. Joseph has to be in here somewhere.

The facility is blank, featureless, and would be quiet except for the sounds of construction, where are /very/ loud, and cause vibrations to run through the whole structure. If anyone is talking, it's currently impossible to tell. All lesser sounds and vibrations (the difference between them being only the medium in which they travel) are stamped out by the very construction that gave Colette entrance. Always like this: you get a cake, but woe betide you if you try and eat it too. That would just be too convenient.

The doors are unmarked, all of them, and short of actually knocking and calling in (both likely bad ideas), it'll be difficult bordering on impossible to figure out who or what's behind them without a keycard. The left turn leads to yet /another/ locked door, similarly unmarked. Pity to those trapped in this place. Their world is tiny and hideous in the way only featureless things can be.

Huffing out an exasperated breath at the end of the locked hall, Colette's eyes reflexively go wide. She quickly takes a step back, looking down the hall towards the door she'd come into this horrible building from; it's shut. Colette can feel her heart lurching up her throat, the feeling of nausea and fear prickling at the back of her mind. Her heart races, beating so hard against the inside of her chest she's almost fearful that it'll burst right out of her. Pinned like a rat that took a wrong corner in the maze, Colette starts creeping back down that hall of doors, fading her eyes away again now that she's facing the direction people are in.

She turns, towards the only direction she can where there might be a way out, where the workers went with the ladder. She doesn't take the corner, just crouches at the four-way junction in case the main door opens. Then, considering something, she looks back at the workers — none of them have radios. The teen furrows her brows, looks back towards the door, and starts making her way to the entrance she'd come in through.

Up against the steel door, her gloved palm of one hand smooths over the metal. Then, curling her fingers tightly around the flare gun, she moves to step to the side of the door so that she's right next to the side that swings open. Then, with what she can only assume is the same manner in which the workers would open the door to get out—

She knocks. Twice.

A pause, a span of a few heartbeats, and then the lock makes an audible click, the light blinking green. The door swings open inwardly, hinged as it is, and a kevlar suited guard stands, arm looped to keep the door open, standing to one side of the steps. He waits for a moment, then frowns, moving to step inside, to see what the knock could have been for if they're not coming right out.

For all her worth Colette wishes she'd paid attention to Grace's self-defense classes more, she wishes she was calmer, she wishes she wasn't so terrified right now. When the door opens and the armored guard steps in, Colette is quick to reach up and grab him by the front of his shirt, the unexpected jerk forward accompanied by his sight immediately cutting out as invisibility folds over him like it does for her— unlike for COlette though, it renders the guard suffocatingly blind. In that same motion, the teen is leveraging her weight like Grace had taught her to, how to use her small size to effectively manipulate a larger target. What she accomplishes is pinning herself between the confused guard, and slamming her back into the half open door, forcing it shut.

The flaregun is pressed unmistakably to the underside of the guard's neck and the gun's hammer clicking back. "Do exactly what I say." Colette manages to hiss out like a cornered housecat, "if you speak so much as one word I shoot. If you move without me telling you to I shoot. If you do anything other than what I instruct I shoot." Sure, it's Dialogue from the 1993 action movie The Punisher with Dolph Lungdren, but she really doesn't have much else to pull from in terms of frame of reference. She's never held a man at gunpoint before. She's also praying that no one saw him disappear inside. She's not normally the praying kind.

The guard's understanding must be communicated tacitly, since even one word, as Colette has /very/ clearly outlined, and she'll shoot. He's not a very tall man, but stocky and in excellent shape, dense and powerful, but she's the one who's got the weapon to his neck, and the pressure of the broad muzzle makes it clear who gets to call the shots. The clamor of the construction effectively covers Colette's words from anyone who isn't being gripped in a cloak of blindness by her.

The slam of the door, however, carries enough to draw eyes, and these men spend enough time around another to notice when someone's gone. No one gets to sneak an extra smoking break. Not long after Colette takes her hostage, a sharp knocking comes on the door, from the outside this time.

"Hey! Osmond! What the fuck are you doing in there, you know that shit's off-limits. Do /not/ make me extract your sorry ass." The voice Colette and the unlucky Osmond here is an authoritative one, not the voice of a man used to making idle threats. Some sort of direct superior, one might guess.


"Move." Colette orders, slipping behind the blinded guard and urging him forward, one hand curled into the fabric of his vest as his back. Pushing him to the right, the shorter distance of the two hallways she's seen clearly. It's that immediate right where she comes up to the mag-locked door. It's a short enough push that his fumbling and stumbling can get her far enough to make her next order. "Unlock the door." The sharp whisper comes with a grind of the barrel to the side of his jaw, because that's how the guys in Resivoir Dogs got their points across, uncomfortable pressing of firearms to soft places.

In order to facilitate this, Colette peels away the invisibility around his face, making the guard look much like a disembodied flesh mask hovering in the air. He can't admittedly see his hands, but with a proximity badge she shouldn't need to give him that extra coordination. "Unlock the door now."

Osmond's arm moves slowly down across his unseen body, not terribly hard to navigate since he's had it all his life. His movement is slow, deliberate, obviously meant to reassure his captor that he is /just/ going to get his card, and there is /no/ need to fire what feels like an ungodly caliber weapon into his head. His arm halts, and Colette can feel his hand close, presumably grabbing the card from its lanyard.

Only then things don't go quite that way. See, Osmond knows his guns, and he can't think of many guns that have a muzzle that feels quite like that. Not to say he's had many weapons shoved into his soft places - though what a man does during his R&R is his business - but the pressure allows him to make a fairly accurate picture of what such a hand cannon would look like. Like no actual ballistics he's used, except maybe a flare gun, but who in their right mind would fire a flare gun at point blank?

And point blank is, often times, not the best place to hold someone up from. Because at point blank range, the time it takes for an elbow to strike very hard back up and over his shoulder towards his captor's face, ideally stunning them, is too little time for the startled captor to first pull the trigger of whatever weapon they're using. Always maintain distance to factor in reaction time. That's what the professionals do.

So out his elbow goes, in a vicious strike that would do a self-defense coach proud, were it not for the fact it's a paid killer trying to pummel a young woman.

The hit strikes Colette square in the face, sending her back and toppling to the ground. She lands flat on her back, fingers coiled in a death grip around the handle of the flare gun as she impacts with the ground, coming visible in a shimmering ripple of peeling invisibility that strips away like layers of paint from both herself and Osmond. Her vision is blurred, eyes are watering, she can taste blood and she's in incredible pain. So, of course, she shoots the flare gun.

Not at Osawald, but at the ceiling.

From the outside of the concrete building, it looks like a nuclear explosion went off inside, from the rays of light that flare through the spaces around the singular entrance and out the ventillation ports. On the inside, it may as well be like staring at that nuclear flash when the crimson flare goes up, and then all of Comette's unchecked photokinetic power does what it does best— amplifies light. The flare is magnified over and over, becoming like a flashbang… without the bang. The light is blinding to anyone without the ability to selectively channel the visible spectrum, a flood of searing red that turns a bright colorless white when she amplifies it.

It doesn't help Colette from the floor, and it probably doesn't help the workers she unintentionally blinded down the hall working on the ladder. But it does help blind Osmond for what will likely be several hours. "Son of a bitch!//" She's like that cornered housecat again, all hissing and claws as she drops the now spent flaregun and rushes towards the blinded man, grabbing at his magnetic card, yanking it from the lariat around his neck with a snap of the clip that holds it in place.

This time, she reaches for his taser, because she doesn't have the heart to pull the trigger on a normal gun, and she knows it. The close range stun gun is lifted up as she presses her weight against him, slamming Oswald against the door once he's off his feet. The scrappy teen depresses the trigger bringing it up to his neck, expecting the crackling snap of electricity between the prongs— but that's not the kind of taser this is.

The irony is that Osmond was reaching for his own taser when the flare goes off, and while this is already a blinding experience, what follows sears his corneas and sends him reeling backwards into the door, slamming against it and covering his eyes with his arms as he slides into a sit. Fuck this, what's active in his conscious mind says, fuck this, I'm taking a breather.

The taser, therefore, that Colette pulls out of his holster, is loaded with its gas charge, and when she fires pulls the trigger it doesn't make the painful arc of an unloaded stun gun. Instead it fires a pair of electrified prongs into the neck of the unfortunate Osmond, whose muscles spasm and then go limp, rendering him temporarily immobile /and/ blind.

Outside, things have gone into high alert. The massive flash, Osmond's cry of pain, the discharge of the taser, all these things are able to overcome the distractions of the building, and in moments there are orders being barked. How many ready guns are out there, Colette, sadly, knows too well. There's a silence, then a shout. "Osmond! Osmond, what the fuck happened in there? Report!"

Osmond, whose central nervous system is currently flashing all reds, does not have the muscular control necessary to reply. This will only last so long, though.

Looking down at the taser with wide eyes, Colette's expression turns into a horrified grimace — that did not work as planned. Throwing the expended gun to the ground, she drops into a quick crouch and pulls the actual sidearm from Osmond's side, hands trembling once she picks the handgun out of the holster. Brian had at least showed her how to check the safety before she'd gone after Danko, and her thumb flicks it down to engage the magazine. Her other hand is bringing the mag-lock key up to the door, furiously trying to get inside, praying that this was the right goddamned door to take.

She turns to look back towards the men who were fixing the ladder, then back to the door, turning the card around in her hand, slapping it near the key reader frantically. Her eyes are still watering, for wholly different reasons now. She's in a complete panic.

She plunged through the door, into a large room that seems oddly familiar. Well, maybe not /so/ oddly. She's just never seen it from this angle before. Its one of the rooms she viewed on the monitors up in the foreman's perch, with the absurdly easy looking obstacle course and the bed in one corner. And… the camera that feeds to the monitor she saw.

Smile, you're on Bella-cam.

The shock and alarm has Bella glued to her monitors, cursing herself for not putting a camera in each hallway, a stupid act of meaningless thrift. It's all pocket change next to the cost of the MRI, the salaries of the guards and the huge quantities of drugs she's purchasing. Classic bougie mistake, to skimp on the little things. And, in an instant, an unfamiliar and armed girl shows up on the monitor in the new testing chamber. Bella's eyes go wide, then narrow. She flicks on the radio she uses to communicate into the facility, and with the head of the guards, which last function she rarely employs but now engages immediately. "Girl. Got a gun. Pistol. There's a man on the ground. Down." Bella is not familiar with actual combat shorthand, so just contents herself with short sentences. No sooner is this said, however, and Osmond regains use of his limbs, and begins feeling around, trying to figure out what just happened. "Wait. The guy is moving."

A literal rat's maze. "Sss— Som of a bitch." Colette hisses, turning around and away from the labyrinth, one hand shakily holding the pistol out and down towards Osmond's groaning form. She looks up to the security camera, scowling before passing beneath it and back out to the hall. She can hear movement outside of the door she'd come in from, there really isn't many other places for her to go. She steps around Osmond, gun trained on him as if she expects him to do more than blindly fumble around at the floor. Then she's sprinting towards the back end of the far hall past all the smaller doors.

Halfway down the hall, Colette begins sinking back into invisibility, letting light peel away from her figure and bend around her body. Pausing here, she wheels around and looks at the doors, trying one with the proximity badge, seeing if she can get the thing unlocked and open, even if it's just somewhere to hide.

"She's gone! Somewhere in the hallway. Get her! But alive!" Bella barks from her perch, voice shivering via radio wave and calling out from the guard leader's radio. The leader passes on the orders, and the electrode-fitted shotguns and lifted and readied. One guard moves forward towards the door.

The badge presses flat against one of the many doors, but in a final insult the light on the pad flashes red. No dice. Looks like these areas are off limits to the guards. Bella had no interest in letting guns for hire have any possible access to captives - all the violations of human rights performed in this facility will be for /science/, dammit. The exit door swings open, and Colette can see a armored guard with a shotgun in hand step through, head darting to check the periphery. He spots Osmond, and calls out the fact to the men behind him, then begins to advance down the hallway in Colette's direction, alert… but unseeing. He is followed by more armed men, one of whom heads in the direction of the construction, another who moves to the left, presumably to recover the blinded Osmond.

Shit, shit, shit, shit.

The last ditch Colette has is at the end of the hall, put some distance between herself and the security team. She makes a quick dash down past the rows of doors, tucking the handgun into the back of her pants and retrieving her phone in the same motion. Colette isn't turning on her phonem but rather slipping the back plate off with a clatter of plastic to the floor, her thumbnail working under the SIM card to pop it out. She shoulders up to the door at the end of the hall, moving with a frantic press of the mag-lock badge up against the card reader. With the SIM card in hand, Colette squeezes the plastic chip, flexes it, tries to— why won't the goddamned thing break!?

Frustrated, she tucks the tiny chip into the coin pocket of her jeans and slides the phone back into her pants pocket, one hand shakily fumbling for the gun at the back of her jeans. Maybe she heard Bella say alive, odds are she didn't. She's more scared now than she has been at any other point in her life.

The last door swings open as she turns the knob, and she steps into a chamber that is dominated by a glistening white MRI machine, with a large slab affixed with restraints and a halo. Next to it is a tray, on which is set a series of three glowing blue hypodermics, all ready for use. There's only one other thing in this room… another camera.

"She's in the MRI room. She's cornered. And armed," Bella informs in clipped tones. Her leg throbs with pain, a symptom of what must be acute stress. She's embarrassed to have such an out of fashion disorder. Conversion. Ridiculous.

The word is passed along, and soon three armed men are at the door. They stick to the sides, not wanting to risk getting shot through the door. They exchange looks, then one tags the lock. The but of a shotgun presses down the handle and shoves the door open, and the men press back against the wall, ready to be fired on, staying clear of the most obvious line of fire.

Trapped in the MRI room Colette is backed into a literal corner. Fear builds adrenaline, adrenaline builds energy, and COlette is practically hyperventillating as she backs up past the MRI machine, gun shaking in her hand. None of the exhaust vents for ventillation are in here, there's no doors to view from, no closets to hide in, nothing but the door right in front of her and the cyclopean eye of the security camera that saw the door open.

Raith was right, they didn't have the manpower to pull this off.

Circling around behind the MRI, Colette crouches down, breathing sharply through clenched teeth. Invisibility in here won't help, hiding in here won't help. Colette lays the gun down on the floor, her hands are trembling. She doesn't know how to shoot her way out of these situations like Ethan or Raith, she doesn't know how to do much of anything right it seems.

"Stop!" Colette croaks out, her voice sounding less authoratative and more pleading. "Don't— don't come any further in!" She moves her foot down atop the gun, muscles in her arms twitching from the adrenaline, causing her to shake and shiver. She kicks the gun forward, sending it skidding across the tile floor to click harmlessly against the doorjam. Raising her arms, Colette very slowly rises up from behind the MRI. "I— I give up. I— I give up, j— ju— just stop!"

Three men enter the room, three guns are trained on the girl. One of them has the good manners to look surprised at finding this frightened young woman at the heart of all this trouble. But its one of the others, who don't even blink, who inclines his head. "Get down on the ground, with your hands on top of your head," he instructs her. The camera makes a small whirring sound as it swivels and the lens turns, zooming in.

What happens next isn't nearly as bright as what Colette managed thanks to the flare gun. The immediate production of a pair of whirling discs of light in each of her hands is punctuated by an audible crackling snap like a camera lens flashing as all of the ambient light in the room is concentrated into a single photokinetic pop that deadens vision in a muted haze of blindness for only a few seconds.

It's all Colette needs with the men's focus so carefully trained on her. She bolts, and she bolts with all the speed her matchstick thin legs can muster. Color peels away from Colette again, an invisible streak blurring the lines of her body into nothingness as she passes by the only momentarily blinded guards and comes skidding out into the hall, shoulder slamming into the opposite wall. There's a half dozen other armed men just waiting to get their hands on her, she has to try and run, she can't just give up.

Who'd she pick up the false surrender tactic from? Die Hard, John McClane.

The men cry out, and one of them fires his shotgun, launching the electrodes into the tray and sending it spinning. Up in her perch, Bella recoils, though the monitor cannot translate the brightness at a level that can blind her. As the camera recovers, the doctor manages to catch the streaks of color darting out of the room. Bella grips the radio. "She's photokenetic!" Of course. Only an Evolved would be able to pull something like this off. That or an action film protagonist.

Colette is out in the hallway, and three more men are waiting, including the group leader with the radio. Colette, therefore, gets to hear Bella's shouted order: "Shoot!" One of the men hesitates, but the leader, who has done work for the Company before and has tangled with unusual abilities, fires from the hip, straight down the hall, his shotgun booming as the taser-tipped round strikes out in Colette's direction.

Sprinting towards the door, Colette holds out her hand towards the security guard standing silhouette in the doorway. The invisibility peels back from her fingertips and flakes away to reveal her gloved hand, and a whirling disc of concentrated light surrounded by a nebula of tiny firefly motes. The disc swells at the middle and the corners of the hall grow dark as she moves light around, turning it into a lance of searing radiance that flashes across the man's eyes, causing him to scream as he falls back and away from the doorway, back hitting the stairs, tumbling head over heels out of the way.

Colette can feel the floor slam beneath her boots, feel her leg muscles ache, her hands trembling, invisibility peeling away from her in thin strips that reveal colors starting at blue and working their way up to yellows and reds.

Ten feet from the door, she blows past the staggered cells of the detainees, she can hear her heart racing in her chest. Light peels away from her arm, the disc dissipates from between her fingers, and she's close enough to the open door to the concrete room that she can see the construction workers pulling back and away from the structure at the demand of the security detail.

Then the crackling snap of electricity sounds out mixed with her piercing scream through the hallway. Her legs give out, fingers curl to her palms, and Colette falls forward with a smash of her cheek against the tile floor, skidding with a squeak against the ground as her arms and legs curl up against her chest, back arches and another strangled scream of pain escapes her lips as tears roll back from the corners of her eyes.

She becomes completely visible now, unable to maintain any focus on her power when under the crackling pop of the taser's charge. She can't hear the thundering slam of booted feet moving in around her, can't see the darkly silhouetted frames of the security team moving in around her, weapons trained down as she writhes on the floor in pain.

All she can hear is her heartbeat.

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