Amazing Grace


kaylee_icon.gif kimberly_icon.gif luther_icon.gif

Scene Title Amazing Grace
Synopsis Following their encounter with the Entity, three survivors struggle to make it home and find the Atlantic ocean home to unexpected predators.
Date March 3, 2020

Amazing Grace… How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…

“Hon. You need to come.”

“Come? Where?”

“To confession.”

“Why? What’s the point?”

“What do you mean?”

“You go to confession to seek forgiveness.”

“Yes, Luther. That’s kind of the point… so.”

“So? What did I do, that I should seek forgiveness?”

Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean

March 3rd

7:12 am

The skies are clear and the weather is fine, not a grey or ominous cloud in sight. A constant lapping of ocean waves drones in semi-steady beat against drifting hull of a burnt out boat bobbing along the surface. All is still, for a moment.

The calm interrupts with a startled gasp of breath, a flailed limb, a dull thud when Luther catches himself asleep at the proverbial wheel. Only, there’s barely the shred of a steering lever and a piece of metal welded to it giving the crumbling carcass a method of navigating and direction. Not that it has any mechanical power left.

The man stumbles out of the makeshift sleeping spot, unties the rope tied around his waist, and immediately pats the brown furred head of an awakened canine waiting patiently for the bit of casual affection. A thump of a tail indicates: affection received. Luther exhales slowly, grimacing as sore muscles and bones protest against movement, but movement is a necessity. With a squint he peers upwards to the bright, blue sky, gauging fruitlessly where they might be.

They’ve been adrift for days. While thirst was temporarily solved by rainfall, it was hunger, lack of shade, and injuries that were slowly doing what the pitched battle - if that is what it could be called, the conflict which rendered the boat into its battered, broken state and stole away two of the five that started upon it - couldn’t do in killing them. Memories flush fresh color into his cheeks to war with the deceptively lively, pink hued, sunburnt skin. Luther dips a hand down, cupping a mouthful of life-giving liquid into it and no more does he dare drink from the makeshift reservoir that’s used torn off pieces of the legs of remaining AEGIS armor to funnel and shade the supply from evaporating too quickly.

Then he turns, blearily scanning for the remaining pair of women aboard their pathetic vessel.

Currently, the telepath was asleep, curled into a tight ball under her worn brown leather jacket - her mother's old jacket - which had somehow survived yet again. Luther had been a gentleman when he had fished it out of the sea. Her head twitched and brows furrowing, until…. with a strangled cry, Kaylee jolts awake, hands clawing at her stomach, until the cobwebs finally clear enough to realize there wasn't a rod of steel pierced through her or sea water rushing around her head.

This is followed quickly by a moan of pain as the sudden movement had tweaked potential broken ribs. Grimacing Kaylee pushes herself up to rest her back against the cold hull and gingerly pulls up the side of her black long sleeved spandex top - only thing she had on under the heavy AEGIS chest armor - exposing a long gnarled scar, but more concerning a large rather nasty dark purple and black bruise that covered most of her side. At least the very edges were finally starting to tip toward yellow.

It had been a long few days for the telepath. Not even sleep was an escape from the situation they found themselves in, but it was better than the pain and biting cold that Kaylee faced now that she was awake, not to mention the guilt and sorrow over what was lost. The self-doubt over what she had done consumed many of her waking thought. What if… what if

Her encounter with the Entity had left her drained and with a feeling that a piece was missing from her soul. The moments after she had mentally attacked it were a blur. Golden eyes staring down at her from a familiar face and a glimpse of an inferno were all she remembered; only to wake up marooned on a broken and burnt out vessel, with her ability completely burned out. While the hums of the others were back, it hurt if she tried to focus. Not that she wanted too, she feared what they thought of her and what she caused.

Eve. Silas.

When Kaylee was awake, she’d often be found staring into nothingness, tears dampening her eyes. The memories of the dead were still too fresh and raw, invading her waking thoughts. It left her feeling so… broken.

Pushing the shirt down she gives a teeth chattering sigh and huddles under the jacket. Her body hurt all over, today it felt especially weak and the chill made her body shiver. Her pale skin felt tight and stung from the decent sunburn. She must look a sight. Spotting Luther just beyond her, Kaylee feels a twist of guilt and she almost buries herself back under the jacket again. She doesn’t. Instead, she licks cracked lips and swallows a few times so that she can speak. “H-h-hey, big guy,” the words rasped through a parched throat, still managing a touch of affection through the exhaustion and light chattering of teeth. “See anything good out there?” It’s probably the first time she’s really spoken except to answer questions leveled at her.

What remains of Silas’ boat doesn’t provide much space. The noise that comes from Kimberly indicates she’d heard the conversation and roused herself awake. Von was the only one who’d not been sleeping. The dog offers a soft, sad whine as he looks up to Luther, ears folded back. Kimberly nearly mimics the noise as she pulls her jacket she’d been sleeping under off of her face, draping it over her lap. She squints against the morning light, looking out in a southerly direction. Something about the horizon seems off to her, but perhaps it’s just how tired she is.

“What’s the police rule on cannibalism?” Kimberly asks in a frustrated whisper, leaning back against the heel of her palm, brushing her forearm against her brow. “Because I think Kaylee, Von, and I can take you Luther.” She says with her eyes closed. “Like a big ham hock.”

"Easy there," Luther first responds to Kaylee's wakefulness with a reach for the empty beer bottle - yes, that one he had tucked into a receptacle, which is perhaps how the item survived - to clean off the mouth and dip into shallow basin of potable water for more than a few sips' worth. Trundling over, he passes the drinking vessel to the telepath and carefully levers himself down between the pair of women. Von receives another cheek scratch more out of a subconscious reach for solace.

Luther squints at Kimberly, his response a grumbled, "You just gotta go and mention ham, huh." The man sucks dryly on a tooth, hunches his shoulders and looks back out over the horizon line. But his true answer comes with less complaint, more guilt wrapped in admission. "I'm sorry, Kim, I don't… I don't know. I don't know where we are compared to yesterday, don't know how we're going to get back, and… and I'm sorry we got you into this mess." He swallows, his hand lifting from Von's fur to scrub through his own, picking at his beard.

"I'll try and have a look at the engine again," he thus proclaims. But halfway to standing, he cranes his head up in time to look in the same general direction as Kimberly had, and also finds something odd off the horizon line. He squints.

A short snort of laughter escapes Kaylee, which she regrets immediately as she lets out a groan of pain. “Don’t make me laugh,” she grumbled, even if there is an edge of laughter to the words. Kaylee shifts a look Kimberly’s way with a weary smirk. “Pretty sure it’s illegal, but I’m willing to turn a blind eye. You go high? I’ll go low, and Von,” she looks at the dog, who looks back at the sound of his name, “go for his feet.” That is followed with another - somewhat concerning - giggle and a groan of pain.

Fuck. Remind me never to crack my ribs again,” Kaylee grouses, head thumping lightly against the bit of scorched hull behind her. It was amazing how many things she does tweaks her side. Including when she takes the bottle of water from her man.

The telepath is quiet when he apologizes to the other woman, unconsciously leaning closer to the radiant warmth Luther gives off, taking a quiet sip of the water. Only a sip is taken, before she reaches across him to offer the bottle to Kimberly, only to be jostled by Luther starting to get up. His sudden freezing has her looking where he is… but what she sees doesn’t register.

What does register is the sudden thump and scramble of a seagull landing on the scorched hull not far from her head. It gives off a shriek and flaps its wings before settling again, Kaylee leans away from it, pressing closer to the others. There is a very small voice in the back of her brain wondering… Eileen? It’s head tips a look at her out of one eye, like it heard her, but it settles lazily with fluffed feathers. Kaylee gives a small shake of her head, and asks uncertainty, “That’s a seagull right? I’m not seeing things?” They had been at sea for a few very long days, but if movies told her anything, it was a good sign. Right?

Kimberly looks at the sea bird, squints, but doesn’t comment on it. Instead sit sits forward and rests her head in her hands. “The engine’s fucked, Luth’.” She shuts her eyes and grinds the heels of her palms against them. “It was running when a piece of shrapnel broke the engine housing, it rattled around inside for fifteen or thirty seconds, deformed the cam heads. There ain’t nothing that’ll get it running.” She’s exhausted in spite of sleep, hungry in ways she’s never experienced before.

Lifting her head, Kimberly squints angrily against the sky. “It’s a bird,” she finally acknowledges. “So what? You thinkin’ chicken dinner?”

Seagulls were good omens, right? The bold seabird doesn't appear to realize how much danger it might be in with the hungry foursome well within catching and cooking range. Squinting some more, Luther turns more fully in the direction of the horizon and ignores the hopelessness of engine repairs listed off because there's something else that makes his dry throat sputter. His vocalization lost to the squawking arrival of the seagull, followed by Von's tongue lolled panting.

Blinking several more times, Luther realizes what he's looking at.


The word tumbles out of him onto the burnt up deckboards. "It's land," he repeats, daring finally to tear his eyes away from the faint but jagged appearance of a coastline and look back to the women. And for the first time in a few days, he's seen a glimmer return to his gaze. Hope.

“What? No… “ Kaylee looks at the bird precariously perched on the bit of hull, clearly resting. She suddenly finds herself reconsidering. “I mean… I could eat chicken.” A side-eyed glance goes to Kimberly. “Think it tastes like — ?” The thought is interrupted by Luther’s proclamation, the seagull is startled into flight with a shriek of displeasure. Kaylee only has a flicker of regret as it wings away in the direction Luther is looking, because now she sees it too.

The telepath sits up a little straighter seeing the disruption of the horizon line, not even the sharp twist of pain can stop her. “Thank god,” Kaylee whispers out in a sigh under her breath. Then practicality worms doubt through her own freshly blossomed hope. “What now?” she asks the others looking between them. “Doing nothing isn’t going to get us there?” The oceans currents don’t exactly pull up to the land.

Kimberly whips around at the mention of land, rocking what little is left of the boat when she rises to her knees and squints against the light. “That could be— are there mirages on the ocean? A searage?” She thinks that sounds stupid the moment it leaves her mouth. “What do we do!?” She asks, frantically. “Don’t they— don’t they shoot a flare in the movies? Call a helicopter? M-make a sign of out— out of— ” Kimberly starts rummaging around the debris on the deck, trying to find something to spell help with because she’s seen that in movies too.

Over the course of their days at sea, Luther has been trying to get the engine fixed. But without the proper tools and clearly busted parts of the drive train, there was little they could do but make sure the steering wheel was turned in an approximated direction. And some hope that the navigation by old ways, picked up by books or random factoids over the course of survival, led them true.

So far, so good. He continues to hope.

Now with a true direction and a sightline to safety, he kicks into gear. "The sign and flare works if someone's looking," Luther replies to Kimberly with a sudden turn of his head this way and that, mental cogs slowly grinding. He assesses the boat's shape and leftover parts available to them.

Inspiration strikes as he lays his hand on one of the bent and broken pipe railings along the boat's battered hull. There's an uncharacteristic, breathless laugh from the man as he comes to realize the idea that pops into his mind's eye might be crazy, but possible. Luther shoots a glance to Kaylee and Von, brow knitting as motivation wells up the energy he needs to act.

"I'm going to age myself by asking but, any of you made a pop-pop boat when you were a kid? The kind that had a steam powered system." His fingers close around the hollow grab rail, giving it a hard pull to dislodge the hardware from explosion weakened decking. "Because that's what we're going to try… before I get in the water and try kickin' us all the way there." Face pulling into a grimace under stinging sunburnt sensations, he plants a foot for stability and growls through gritted teeth in effort.

For her part, Kaylee shoves her jacket off and moves to get to her feet. She grimaces and pales, but the telepath is determined to help him injured or not. “I remember those, the fire heats up the water until it is forced out and it is replaced by cooler water and starts over,” she doesn’t say she knows because of her Granny, but… “That’s brilliant if you can get it to work.”

One arm clutching her side, Kaylee moves next to him to grab the bar with her free hand, using her weight to help put stress on the hardware. “But what do we use for a boiler for the water?” she asks between clenched teeth, shifting her feet to put more weight into it.

“Sorry I wasn’t born in nineteen aught six,” Kimberly says with exasperation. “But if you’re lookin’ to start a fire, Big Daddy here is all the tinderbox we need.” Though Kimberly makes that assertion about Luther clear with a gesture of both hands toward him, it’s the more subtle concern for his well being that Luther catches in her eyes and Kaylee catches in obvious surface thoughts.

Rising up to stand, Kimberly carefully walks across the wrecked deck of the boat and takes Von by the collar and helpfully guides him over to the one corner of the boat with some railing left. “Stay here boy, in case this becomes a light show.” She says with a gentle scratch at the top of Von’s head.

“Can you do that? With your old timey steam boat or whatever?” Kimberly asks, nervously.

"Yeah I'm old-fashioned too," Luther snorts at Kimberly's gesture. If there's any offense taken about having age-old sensibilities the sensation is glossed over in favor of proving that he's nowhere near physically decrepit. But when Kaylee reaches over to grab the bar too, he pauses in the tugging to turn a look at the telepath. He's partly surprised at her knowledge and starts to protest her choice to participate in the physical labor. "It'll work," he firmly states, "if we get enough of a bend in this piping… But you need to sit." There's not enough snappy-ness in his tone but a high level concern for her injuries. He doesn't try to stop her yet, though, as more pressing urgency in enacting the idea takes over. A few more hefty yanks tears off the busted railing, and Luther peers into its hollow core. He decides it'll do.

"We need something we can prop up this pipe on so we can bend it… there." He lays the pipe down under the prongs of a mooring bollard. To Kaylee and Kimberly, there's a direction of, "Grab the other end of this." There may be precious energy to be spent in this endeavor, but Luther stubbornly puts himself to the effort.

Once they have the rail pipe bent into a single loop and the pair of ends stuck down into the water, he takes hold of the loop and breathes to calm, recover, and focus. His hands grip the metal piping, but this time it's to heat the looped end where the ocean water they've partially filled in sits. "Kim, once this momentum gets started, y'might be able to help us along with a push in the right direction. Kaylee, grab that steering and hold the rudder steady."

"It'll work," he echoes of the plan to take them to shore. It has to.

“I’ll rest when we’re safe,” Kaylee fires right back at Luther, brushing off his concern, even if her words sound strained. By time the bar is bent into shape, sweat beads on her brow, making strands of tangled hair cling to pasty skin. Brushing the back of her hand across her brow she looks at the other two with pride.

When Luther lays out his plan, words don’t want to form in her tired and achy mind, leaving Kaylee only able to bob her head in acknowledgement. Even that small movement edges her vision with black, her ability induced migraine throbbing sharply from all her physical exertion. It doesn’t deter her, years of working through them has taught her the ability to cope.

A slender hand rests briefly on the man’s shoulder, a note of confidence that Luther’s plan will work, before the telepath moves to take on the rudder. Once she is in place, she croaks out a tired, “Ready.”

Kimberley spreads her hands in a gesture of exasperation, then hurries over to the rear of the boat and settles down onto her knees, opening her arms to encourage Von to come over. The dog comes ambling by, sitting down in front of Kimberly and leaning back against her. One arm around the dog, she looks up to Luther. “You do remember I ain’t Chess, right?” Big eyes, brows kicked up, awkward smile. “You want me to give a push I’m only gonna be able to…” she trails off, mumbling to herself.

As if curious about the proceedings, a seagull comes to land beside Luther, looking up at him with wide eyes and a shrill cry. The bird stalks around on the deck, rooting through debris, looking for something that might be food; or at least food adjacent. At the moment it isn’t considering the wayward passengers. But maybe it’s also just patient.

Luther looks up from the focus on the metal pipe in hand at Kimberly, lips parting to argue for a moment. But then he blinks, brows furrowed as if struck by an invisible slap that leaves his sun-tanned cheeks a slight bit redder. "Transference, right," he rumbles quietly with the reminder. "Just hold 'er steady, then. Maybe jump in, in case we start drifting some wrong way. And keep an eye out when we get closer, maybe someone'll be around who can give us a tow."

He eyeballs the seagull. Patience, Steven. They're all hungry.

Turning back to the task of heating the metal pipe, Luther goes quiet again to put his focus on his ability. Slowly but surely, the power of the sun beating down upon them soaks through his being and into his palms. The gurgling starts soft, progressively deepening in sound as the bubbling seawater inside turns to churning steam.

Onward, forward, it takes patience to pause and let the water fill in then heat it up again and piston-push them ever-so-slowly closer toward the looming shoreline. The excitement builds too, when there’s visible progress, but Luther doesn’t stop in his steady ebb and flow of his hot hands on the rail pipe.

Despite the chilly late-February air, sweat beads on Kaylee’s forehead as she works to hold them on a steady course. Luther was right, she needed to rest. Still, blue eyes are focused on the slowly growing view of land. For the first time in days, she allows herself a flutter of excitement over the fact that they might actually make it home.

Right now, she just wanted to hug her children.

“Doing good, big guy,” Kaylee offers up as encouragement. “You got this. We get home, I’m cooking your favorite meal and ice cream.”

Kimberly brushes an errant, wind-driven lock of hair from her face as she looks to the distant shore gradually getting closer. Her back tenses, jaw sets, and she looks to the seagull that has decided to hitch a ride on this makeshift raft with a worried stare. Though the progress is slow, the boat is able to move against the receding tide, and though the waves push it back some, it makes more forward progress than not.

The coastline coming into view is mostly trees and beach, probably a mile out at this point. The buildings seen past the trees look to be in varying states of disrepair, probably small office buildings or hotels from their shape, five or six stories with eviscerated sides and collapsed roofs. Virginia is a desolate place these days, especially the coast. That makes spotting a boat all the more alarming. It isn’t a large one, not much bigger than Silas’ was before most of it was blown apart. But the rust-streaked white sides and the small cabin looks like a personal fishing boat. Probably a local, someone who still plies the coastal waters to survive.

Kimberly makes a noise, shrill and anxious, and scrambles over to her backpack that had mostly been a pillow. She nearly shakes the thing inside out, before retrieving a bright orange handgun from inside. It’s a flare gun. Kimberly makes sure it’s loaded, then with her jaw clenched she says, “Please God,” before firing the flare into the air.

The pop of the flare gun causes the seagull to alight, and when the round reaches its maximum elevation it pops a second time, blooming with a vibrant pink-red light and a trail of smoke. Kimberly nearly bounces in place, arms shaking, watching the fishing boat for signs of movement.

Luther mostly represses a low, starving groan at the mention of food and ice cream. The encouragement serves its purpose though, and the bubbling of the softly popping simple engine matches his gut as he pours on heat. Their progress is also encouraging. The boat that comes bobbing into view sends a spike of alert through Luther too as his attention turns to Kimberly scrambling for and firing the flare gun. Grey eyes turn up to watch the trail of smoke and flickering light, then back down to the sea vessel. "Let's hope whoever's there is some good church-goin' folk," remarks Luther as he pushes on the proverbial gas. The man spares a glance to the dog and then Kaylee. Between the pair of dog and telepathic mom, he trusts them as good judges of character or at the very least decent readers of intentions.

Kimberly’s sudden reaction startles the telepath from her focused stare at the shore. Looking over at the other woman in time to watch the flare arch into the air. It only takes a moment to find what she saw and Kaylee can’t help but feel a sharp pain of hope in her chest.

Normally, Kaylee’d be able to keep them safe with just a thought, but she was burnt. It had taken everything to fight the Entity. So his glance her way is met with uncertainty. Not that she was helpless without her ability, Luther and others had made sure of that. Fingers tighten on the rudder control as she watches the other boat, sending up a silent prayer, but also preparing for the worst.

The fishing boat comes rumbling on a slow course around toward the raft. At first it’s hard to tell how many people are board the trawler, but as it comes closer, there’s four men on board. Two slowly standing from bench seats at the back deck, two inside the cabin. The fishing trawler comes up toward the raft, then slows as its engine rumbles loudly. The two men on the back of the ship look like they’ve seen a rough life; grimy, old, ratty clothes, but Luther notices one of them — a broad shouldered man with scraggly brown hair — has a tattoo on his forearm of a sword with three lightning bolts across the blade, a special forces airborne division tattoo.

“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” comes a whistling drawl from inside the cabin, “looks like we got ourselves a rescue effort!” Another man comes ambling out of the cabin, squinting against the sun, hair clipped in a short crew cut, baggo camo pants torn at the knees, olive drab tanktop stained with sweat.

“Now how’d y’all all go’n get yourselves in a pre-dicament like this here?”


"Didn't think there'd be anybody out here," admits Luther as the fishing boat gets closer to theirs. Once their beat up life-boat is close enough for hailing range, Luther releases his hold of the makeshift steam pipe and sets it down, moving to the side closer to the approaching vessel. He waves in standard greetings, then shades his gaze with the hailing hand. "Long story. There was a fire, and our engine's shot to hell," he calls back to the emerging man. "Could you give us a tow to shore?" There's a brief glance back over his shoulder at the pair of women and the dog, and then he's back to watching over the activity on the fishing boat.

What she wouldn’t give to have her ability in working order right now. Kaylee felt unease settling into her stomach. While she didn’t know who these people were, she didn’t like the look of them. Which is probably unfair of her, the three of them looked like hell too, but… it didn’t help the growing paranoia that came with her ability burnout.

Climbing to her feet, trying to hide the fact that she’s injured, Kaylee stays back and lets Luther do the talking for the moment. She keeps the others in view, watching them quietly. She wanted to feel hope, but they were not in the Safe Zone.

Sure,” Eugene says with a whistle between his teeth. “I can get y’all fixed up right good.” The other men; one in the cabin and two at the back of the trawler, stare out at the boat with inscrutable and tense expressions as Eugene’s boat pulls up alongside the raft.

Slowly, Kimberly moves to stand beside Kaylee, resting a hand on her shoulder. Von, not far away, starts angrily barking. Kimberly bends down to take him by the scruff, raking her fingers through his fur. “Sssh,” she whispers.

“We jus’ got one little issue,” Eugene says with an incline of his head to the side, eyes tracking from Luther to Kimberly and Kaylee. “We’re gonna have to take the girls.” He says in what sounds like a genuine apology, grimacing and shrugging helplessly.

Luther quiets as he evaluates the "proposal" offered by Eugene. With the angry barks from Von echoing behind him and the fishing boat pulling alongside, he feels the palpable tension ratcheting up a few levels by the tension of his shoulders. "You've got plenty of room on deck for the dog too," he observes with an idle scratch of his beard. He dares to turn his back to Eugene and the men, facing the pair of women and dog.

Which one is the fox, which the chicken, and which the grain? And to toss them all into the mercy of wolves?

"Alright," calls Luther after a pause and a significant look to both Kimberly and Kaylee. "Ladies first." He shuffles closer to the women, reaches down to pet Von briefly and in the quietest tone he can manage adds to them, "Don't worry. We'll go together one way or another."

Eugene’s proposal gets a slow arch of Kaylee’s brow. Did he just?!? Finger’s of one hand curl into a fist, nails biting into her palm as she tries not to say something she might regret. Because, of course, they can’t get a break…. and all she can do is imagine the ways she would make him her bitch.

However, she can’t… so…. Eugene gets a confused smile instead. Completely, fake… Tapping into all those skills she had developed while working for Raytech and all those years before that. As Luther bends down, he feels her hand on his shoulder. She heard him…

“I’d say that our prayers have been answered,” Kaylee says brightly, eyes rolling skyward to give the almighty thanks. Hand moving to her chest.

Luther knows that tone, Kaylee is playing a part. Or she hopes he does. Her normally faint southern accent thickens, as she channel’s her Granny, in hopes of coming off as someone that is no threat. At least it sounds natural. “Y’all came along at the right time. Not sure how much longer we all coulda lasted floatin’ on this here death trap. Pretty sure, I’m gonna need a spa day after this nightmare.”

Luther might have his back to Eugene, but Kaylee doesn’t take her eyes off of the men on the boat. Though she does it with wide eyes, like she’s seeing her saviors. Without any question, she steps towards the edge of the boat, a bit more swing to her hip, while looking up at the men like they were her heroes. “I don’t know what y’all boys got planned, but honey, I’ll go wherever you want. Just get me and mine off this fuckin’ boat and back on solid ground.”

Kaylee has never felt so uncomfortable in her life, but she needs them to think she wasn’t a threat.

Kimberly mouths a what the fuck at Luther, with her back to the other boat. But she struggles to keep Von from jumping around, fingers wound into his collar, and it distracts her from what is going on in her immediate vicinity. Eugene’s wheezing laugh draws her focus back; clear and sharp.

Eugene looks over at Kaylee approaching the side of the boat and taking her hand by the wrist, helping draw her across the gap of the ships onto his side. He smells of sweat and gasoline and the dark stains on the deck of the ship look too much like blood to be a coincidence. It’s right when she notices that when Eugene produces a bundle of plastic zip-ties from his back pocket. “Go’n an’ be a good girl and don’t make me haf’ta kneel on ya.”

In the same moment, the two men at the back of Eugene’s boat retrieve automatic rifles from bench seats, leveling them up at Luther. The man inside the cabin looks tense, but doesn’t arm himself.

“Oh… you brought the party with you,” Kaylee gives Eugene a coy smile, even as the beat of her heart rises. Anxiety and fear works hard to push adrenaline through her veins, numbing the pain in her ribs. She’d need a scalding hot shower to wash away the disgust she’s feeling. When she hears the sound of guns being produced, Kaylee turns an equally fake look of surprise at them. “What…?”

Luther echoes a what the fuck style sentiment as Kaylee moves forward with her natural accent and faked sentiments. Color the man momentarily disturbed to hear those words come from her that way, but he shakes it off in the moments he sees Eugene pull out the plastic ties… and the men at the back drawing weapons. He draws in a deep breath to focus and dampen the rising alarm. Plans form on the fly.

He turns to Kimberly next, although Luther keeps the riflemen in his periphery and readies for attack. "I'll take Von," he says, reaching down to scruff the dog just enough to hold. "Go on," he adds, heavily intoning with just those two words that he's got something in the works. "Up to the rail, ready to board."

Then it's back to Eugene and the men aboard the fishing boat, and in a louder more audible voice Luther continues the 'conversation', "You know this all reminds me of a joke I told a good buddy of mine, Samson. Old fella, greyin' everywhere." The name should be warning enough to Kaylee and Kimberly of what comes next.

The warning from Luther is enough for Kaylee to know what is coming. “I don’t want no trouble. I just wanna go home.” she whines at Eugene looking ready to cry. As if realizing the situation she was really in, she cowers, slightly crouching, with arms in front of her face protectively. What she’s really doing is closing her eyes against the flash she knows is coming.

A tick of another couple seconds pass. Then, a sudden burst of bright, blinding light erupts spontaneously among those on the boat.

While Kaylee didn’t really have a plan going into this, it's the moment she’s been waiting for: a chance to act. As soon as the flash goes off, Kaylee tries to take advantage of the distraction. Twisting her body and throwing an elbow out, Kaylee surges to her feet, driving it and her into Eugene’s gut in an attempt to bowl him over to his back. He was about to find out that this clueless southern gal’s ain’t no push over even without her ability, which gives sharp little snaps as it tries to work.

Eugene doubles over with a grunt of pain and confusion as he’s both blinded and shoved into by Kaylee’s shoulder. He’s thrown off balance, hits the back of his legs against the side rail of the fishing boat, and goes overboard with a splash. There’s other screams amid all of this — the other men on the boat, all dazed by the blinding light; kimberly, who doesn’t know the story of Samson and Luther to have reacted quick enough — and they rise up into the sky in unison.

There was something satisfying in that look of surprised and subsequent falling overboard. Kaylee feels a sense of power, even as she grimaces and flinches at the sharp stab of pain in her ribs. With hope, by time this activity catches up to her, they will be on land where painkillers exist.

“Asshole,” Kaylee hisses at the space Eugene once occupied and turns back to see how Luther is doing.

Von, eyes shielded by Luther, immediately breaks into a sprint when he’s released and makes a beeline toward the nearest armed figure. The dog leaps up and bites onto the gunman’s arm and drags him to the ground with the proficiency of an animal that was trained for this. Von snarls, shaking the gunman who had been in the cabin back and forth by his forearm, gun dropped to the wayside.

What the fuck is going on!?” Kimberly screams, hands rubbing at her eyes.

During the years of the Second Civil War, Luther Bellamy proved he was a beast of a man to deal with in battle. There was a ruthlessness to the extremities the rebellion against President Mitchell possessed. The war is years past now, but time and again, situations seem to call for a dredging up of those old ways. But there is always one unerring code at the core of Luther's actions.

He would protect his own.

"Kim, hang on!" he shouts as a precursor to action. Ignoring Kimberly's panicked cry, Luther wraps his arms around her waist and hoists her up and along with him as he boards the fishing boat. The shortened distance cleared, he quickly gauges the men left. Eugene falling overboard is a boon, an opportunity he doesn't miss. Unceremoniously, he drops Kimberly down on deck, leaving her to rub the spots from her eyes.

A virtual snarl that matches Von's curls Luther's lip as he then rounds upon the remaining men. The man follows the dog's path, stalking forth. He only pauses once, dips down to grab the dropped gun, and turns to underarm toss the newly acquired firearm to Kaylee. "Heads up," he calls to the telepath and nothing more needed for the NYPD SCOUT-trained officer.

The heads up manages to focus Kaylee’s attention through the hazy edges of pain. The telepath looks up in time to see the weapon coming at her. With a step forward and a bit of a flinch, the rifle is caught in the cradle of her arms. There might be a look of surprise on Kaylee’s face that she actually caught it.

There is no time to really think about it, however, as Kaylee takes control of the rifle quickly and leveled on the man in the cabin. “Howdy,” Kaylee purrs out at the man with Von gnawing on his arm. Seeing that dog acting so protective is still a shocker. His siblings were lay about doing-nothing senior citizens, yet he was acting like a spry young man.

In truth, the other blinded riflemen could have interpreted Luther’s shout as all the warning they would get as well. Because once Luther turns to them, his focus locks upon their presence. He lifts a hand, fingers outstretched. Electricity blasts outward, sending a crackling boom of lightning bolts zipping towards his targets. Luther's head pounds angrily, his features twisted into a murderous grimace born from the adrenaline rush of energy coursing from him.

The effect of lightning on a human being is a horrifying thing to behold. Both men practically explode when struck by the bolts of energy Luther discharges, their clothes torn from their bodies as all of the sweat on their skin and in the fabric vaporizes in an instant. They are covered in spiderweb burns and sent spasming backward to the deck of the small trawler. Their bodies are smoking and twitching and what little clothing remains on them is on fire. Neither man makes so much as a move that isn’t an involuntary spasm.

The only man left alive on the ship — the sweaty, bearded man who was in the cabin with Eugene — struggles with Von on his arm, blood rolling down his forearm and bicep from the dog’s sharp teeth. This is the first thing Kimberly sees as her vision starts to clear. That and something he’s laying on that has him twisting his back uncomfortable.

“Good boy, Von,” Kaylee croons at the good pup. “But don’t injure him too much, we need him to get us home.” Leaning down a bit closer to the man, but still out of reach of a good swipe, the Scout officer gives him a vicious smile. “You ain’t gonna give us any trouble. Are you, sweetheart?” she asks in the same thick drawl she used on Eugene. “Just gonna be a good boy and tell us how many more of you assholes are on this ship and then drive this baby back to shore for us.”

There’s a dead-eyed look in that man’s eyes when Von is pulled off of him. Fear, absolutely, but also something Kaylee hasn’t seen in a long time. Not since the war. The look of a man who has nothing but hate fueling his actions, nothing but blind rage and needless desperation behind his drives. Kaylee can see how much he hates her, because she also sees recognition in his eyes. He knows her.

Thatcher?” He calls her by an older name, though also one Kaylee has recently returned to. When Kaylee hears that come from the man on the deck of the ship, she knows he isn’t up on her recent divorce. His recognition is purely old. “Shoulda’ hung you with Sumter back when!” Is the last thing Kaylee remembers him saying as he rolls off a fucking grenade he’s been laying on. The pin is on the deck of the ship, the lever only flips off when his weight is no longer on it.

Kaylee recognizes that look in crystal clarity now. It’s the look of a man who would rather die than let her live.

No!” Kimberly comes out of nowhere, right as Luther is turning to the sound of the man’s voice. There's little time to dwell upon his killing bolts, though the tinnitus ringing of the booms start to fade immediately while wispy smoke from Luther's hands rises. He hears the man on the deck too late to do little else but turn and stutter through a breath. Kimberly charging forth spikes the man's inner alarms up again. "Wait—!"

Luther watches Kimberly throw herself down on top of the man and the grenade in the split seconds before the device explodes with a riotous cacophony. But what happens next is not the horror show that should have happened. There is an explosion, but there is no force directed down toward the deck, out toward the sides, or into Kimberly.

The explosion is directed up into the air, blows the roof off the cabin and sends flinders of wood soaring high into the sky and shreds the back of Kimberly’s jacket but otherwise leaves her unscathed. She rolls off the bleeding, screaming man hissing “Human is First! Human is First!” Like some sort of prayer. There are fragments of the grenade in her hands, clattering down onto the deck with not so much as a scratch on her palms.

Before the last fragment can hit the deck, there is a deafening crack and the man’s head suddenly kicks back violently. As the body slumps to the deck of the boat, twitching in its death throes, they can see both the deck and wall behind him are splattered with the contents of his cranial cavity… maybe a few teeth too.

It’s like some gruesome impressionist painting by Jackson Pollock.

The upwards explosion of the cabin roof draws a surprised swear. Luther covers his brow from the shattering splinters dropping around them. "What the fucking hell?" he starts to say, but is still taking in the screamed mantra of Humanis First when the gunshot makes him flinch.

When he looks to the source, he finds Kaylee standing there with the rifle trained on the corpse. Her whole body is trembling and her breathing is ragged, but her eyes…… her eyes stare at the mess she’s created with the same dead-eyed cold look he had given her.

There isn't an ounce of remorse in Kaylee for killing the men that had helped hang her ex-husband and probably killed so many of her people.

Then, the silence presses in. Luther blinks several times in processing all of what just happened. His nose wrinkles, not from disgust of the brainy mess and scattered skull, but from the feeling of a trickle of blood - his own - dripping from a nostril. He knuckles it away.

"Kim? Kaylee? Von?" The first steps he takes towards them are shakier than he likes and not because of sea legs. Luther takes it slower. His sniff is loud. His hand reaches for a jagged edge of what was formerly the cabin wall, now spattered with reddish grey matter. That still steadies him, somewhat. His next words come out grim. "We gotta go. Get the engine going." Whatever Eugene might be doing besides treading water against the side of the boat bubbles up as a possibility it's not yet over. But, there's not one inkling to toss the man in the water a life ring.

"I'll check if anybody's below waiting with another fucking grenade." That said, Luther holds a hand out for the gun in Kaylee's hands.

Kaylee still doesn’t take her eyes off the dead man, only gives the weapon over to Luther. “Sure,” she says with a bland voice devoid of emotions. “Kimberly and I’ll look at getting the engine running and get us moving…” There is a blink before she shifts her focus to Luther, quickly noticing the blood he’s tried to knuckle away. Reaching up, she brushes at a bit smeared on his cheek with her thumb, like she would Carl if he had a smudge of dirt.

“Then we can work on dumping the dead weight.” Yes, Kaylee means the bodies littering the deck that is.

M’fine?” Kimberly says with a hint of disbelief, paying at her chest and stomach. She’s surprised the blast didn’t kill her. It’s only then that the weight of the situation starts to hit her, but before she can break down in ragged, terrified sobs she hastily pulls herself together and struggles to stand up straight, hands absolutely shaking.

Von comes out from behind the cabin, ears flattened down onto his head and tail down. He hurries over to Kimberly and sniff-licks at her hand, then forces his head up against her palm. His nose presses against her hip, tail wagging slowly. Von is a distraction for Kimberly, fingers raking through his fur. He’s had to do this before, judging from the ease at which he came to take care of her.

There will be time to wash the blood away later. Time to hurl bodies overboard. Time to process what happened and time to sink into the comforting embrace of denial. There is no one left on the boat to delay their flight from this place. It does not take long to get the trawler moving. It doesn’t take long for bodies to splash overboard, for their blood to swirl in the wake of the retreating vessel.

There is so much blood in the water that it would be fit for sharks. As the ship departs toward the coast, one such predator rises from the watery depths.

Eugene Arrowood’s eyes rise above the surface, beads of water pink with blood rolling down his brow.

There is a time to run and a time to fight. Even sharks know this.

Today, everyone runs.

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