Civil Blood


odessa4_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif tania_icon.gif

Scene Title Civil Blood
Synopsis A transfer turns into reclamation within hours of an unseen destruction.
Date August 29, 2011

Massachusetts: A Motorway

Rain is sheeting silver down the windshield, displaying the long stretch of motorway through the filmy water before its discarded with a sweeping arm of the wiper. For Tania Kozlow and Odessa Price, this is seen through the cage-like grill that separates the cab from the back of the van, between the back of the heads of the two security contractors, as the back itself has no windows and no light, thrown into darkness. They aren't alone — a young man in a labcoat that has some fleeting familiarity for Odessa as yet another intern researcher at the arcology, someone she'd passed down the hallway once the explosive device had been planted. She had probably assumed he was meeting certain doom.

But maybe he took a detour, because the worst that can be said about him is an arm injury that's been treated, bruises swelling half his face, and a frightened rabbit look in his eye as he sits straight and tall just next to her.

Across from her, directly, is Tania, wearing the soft cotton pyjamas of the Institute's other inmates, her slim wrists bound in ziptie plastic in front of her, and a heavy blanket over her shoulders to compensate for the air that is harsh and cold against her skin, after remaining so long in the monitored temperatures of the Arcology. Sitting next to her is another contractor, looking almost bored but still alert. He hasn't made eye contact with Odessa remotely, not presenting himself as any sort of mysterious ally. None of them are. Valentin hadn't briefed her in detail, when it comes to this point.

But so far she hasn't failed.

"Up ahead, is that our pick up?" says a voice from the front. The radio crackles.

«You're approaching our security team. They'll take it from here.»

Outside, the entire motorway has been closed, save for the inbound side, which continues humming with traffic. But the van is very much alone as it begins to slow, where the military truck ahead awaits. If only cranes their neck and peers out, they can see two figures encased entirely in black, the shape of rifles in their hands.

Tania sits hunched over, as if the blanket on her shoulders weighs her down too much to sit up straight. She lacks the scared rabbit look of the intern or the boredom of the man next to her, but in their place is a sort of haunted, distant look. Out, but hardly free, it isn't what she hoped for. And with her emotions running the gamut of anger and depression since the miscarriage and the excitement of the explosion and evacuation, she's just so very tired by this point.

And she's cold. Bound hands do the best they can to hold the blanket close around her and her legs are curled up on the seat with her, instead of dangling below. Her eyes are red and bloodshot; lack of sleep and periodic bouts of crying leave them in that state more often than not, these days.

This is about the time where Odessa will discover if she's been set up, or if everything's gone according to plan the way she actually understood it. It's her instinct to keep her gaze cast down, but good sense that has her alert and glancing between the occupants of the van, both in the back of the cab where she sits, and the two on the other side of the cage. She's reached across to adjust the lay of the blanket across Tania's form once for something to do with her hands.

Some habits die hard. She keeps catching her bony fingers twitching. Feeling for metaphorical threads of time she no longer has control over. No matter how she claims she doesn't miss it, she hasn't quite unlearned not to try and tap into it.

As their transport slows, Odessa meets Tania's eye and tilts her chin just slightly downward. For the sake of protecting the both of them, all she promised as that she would do her best to keep her safe in the evacuation. She didn't expose her part in the raid, or tell the young girl to expect any sort of daring rescue.

The van stops.

Water rolls off the front windows, distorting the driver's view of the world outside. Shapes and colours bleed together, and in the gray gloom of the storm, it's difficult to separate the vehicles passing the other direction on the opposite lane. They are streaks of light that leave a residual glow in their wake like a camera's flash, but close your eyes and it's gone.

The military truck is still, its headlamps dimmed to conserve battery power. Whoever is behind the vehicle would turn them off if turning them off wasn't against protocol. Ambushes led by pro-Evolved terrorists, partisans, freedom fighters— whatever you want to call them— are a real danger in this type of weather, but so are run-of-the-mill accidents, and the two uniformed soldiers playing Doberman Pinscher have to be on guard against both.

"Bit much, don't you think?" is commentary from the front, a trace of confusion in the voice of the driver, but he isn't going to question this any further than that. There are only so many FRONTLINE suits in the world, and the silhouette of the OS officer standing by that of 00 is unmistakeable.

The doctor gets out first, declining help. "If you can just drop me off at the next exit way, I really don't need— "

"Just keep walking, sir," invites the contractor from the back, his handgun put away so that he can take Tania by the arm, his other wrapped around her shoulders to matter-of-factly steer her out of the van. Her bare feet find wet, harsh asphalt, and the blanket is used to cover the fact that her arms are tied together at her front. "You too," is directed at Odessa, before he starts steering the young Russian woman the necessary distance between van and truck. The driver in the truck glances at the rearview mirror, evaluating their pickups without much in the way of interest.

The FRONTLINE-00 soldier is the first to move, having taken point of command while OS is used to flesh out their ranks in this case of dire emergency. For all he cares, his partner is a formality, and he'll take it from here.

Tania lets Odessa fuss with her blanket, not shooing her away verbally or otherwise, but her gaze does meet the doctor's. It's pretty clear she's not counting on the grand rescue, nor is she planning to make a break for it. She wouldn't know where to run to.

But she does seem jarred as the man gets her out of the van and onto the road. She doesn't look down at her feet, but the way she starts shivering gives away that it isn't exactly a comfortable situation for the girl. Where she does look is back at Odessa, a sort of resigned look about her as she walks that distance. As much as she's compliant, she's also slow about getting there. Soldiers have never made her very comfortable, and more recent events have made it all the worse. But she straightens up, lifts her chin and goes along as directed.

The 00 designation makes Odessa's stomach drop. She knows some of them by first name, if only she could remember who was assigned to which number. What she does remember quite vividly is that the one who stole her ability threatened to put a bullet in her head if she stepped out of line.

Planting a briefcase with an explosive device likely qualifies as stepping out of line.

Despite the screaming fear making her pulse race and her already pale face blanch further, Doctor Price wastes no time in moving out of the van, trailing purposefully after Tania. She pulls her unbuttoned labcoat shut around her frame with one hand, shoulders hunched up seemingly in protest to the rain.

She's really just bracing for all hell to break loose.

The soldier in the OS uniform hangs back. Unlike his more heavily-armoured companion, he is dressed in dark clothes and flak jacket made of some sort of synthetic leather with guards on his arms and legs like a lightweight exoskeleton, making him resemble some sort of glossy black insect gleaming in the rain, or maybe an as of yet undiscovered sea creature, sleek and ready to sting.

«Is this everything?»

The slightly modified voice from the FRONTLINE-00 officer— not a number that Odessa recognises, as she moves closer— manages to sound a little aggravated. It's impossible to tell, through the visor of his helmet, where he's looking, but perhaps Tania can sense his stare as his helmet tilts just a little to regard the 'luggage' coming up on them. The contractor hesitates, as if vaguely intimidated by the presence of the Evolved soldier — or irritated. "It's a mess back there, and these were the ones we could move quickly. We'll take them off your hands if you have better things to do."

«We do. But these are our orders.» The FRONTLINE-00 soldier tilts to look towards the two employees, before his radio crackles in the helmet of his partner, «Escort the two doctors, the guy is looking squirrely. We don't need anyone bolting.» Out loud: «Can she walk on her own»? He makes to escort Tania the rest of the way, as rain continues to patter off his helmet and run down the humanless visor.

The girl looks up at that helmet, not exactly defiant, but not hesitant like the contractor. She only looks irritated at the question about her, worded as if she weren't present. "I am walking, yes?" If her tone doesn't give off her fear disguised as anger, her next word is in rough, graveled Russian that anyone who speaks the language would recognize as something akin to bastard in English. But despite her obvious displeasure, she climbs into the truck, her restraints becoming clear as they make the task a bit difficult. But she gets into a seat, eyeing her escort a little as she pulls the blanket tighter around her.

Odessa is quick to utter back in Russian an order for Tania to hold her tongue. It sounds harsh, but the language has a tendency to for those who don't speak it. "She's my patient," she clarifies, careful to keep her voice steady, "I can look after her." Without hesitation, she follows after Tania. Follows the orders given to stay with her.

The OS soldier does not verbally respond to the order given by the other man. Instead, he raises his hand in a two-fingered salute that bounces off his helmet as he moves forward to close the distance between himself, Odessa and her fellow doctor, but not before he tips a glance at Tania being loaded into their truck. His boots leave oily tracks on the pavement that the rain washes away in the time it takes his leading foot to find the ground again. Rumbling traffic and splashing water dampen the sound of his steps and the noise his pistol makes when he unclips it from its holster at his hip.

He brings his arm up and levels the weapon with Odessa when she disobeys instruction and steps out of line, or seems to. No pain erupts in her chest in the instant that follows the gunshot, and her legs do not go out from under her, but this is exactly what happens to the contractor behind her. He hasn't hit the road before the soldier snaps off a second shot and the remaining contractor staggers back into the van's siding with a loud boom, then drops.

The 00 soldier's reaction is immediate, slamming shut the truck door with Tania inside it, his sidearm up and out as he tries to assess what threat his colleague is firing upon. His aim jerks towards the sight of the van driver suddenly clambouring out of the vehicle and taking up his own sidearm, maybe leaping to the assessment that these are terrorists or something— but they have the girl, so why—

«PUT YOUR WEAPON AWAY, SOLDIER,» blisters through the radio as well as his voice modulator, turning his gun towards the other FRONTLINE officer. Around him, raindrops are shifting, almost moving at a whirl around him — although whether his own ability speaks to them directly or what buffets them is up for guesswork. The second doctor, he with the injured arm, is already on the ground with his hands planted on the asphalt and whites showing all round his eyes. The van driver isn't getting into harms way, crouched round the cab of his vehicle and peeking through windows.

Blood soaks out onto the road from the second down contractor, whose shaking hands go to unholster his own sidearm.

It seems that Tania is listening to Odessa, as she doesn't say anything else, but she folds her arms, mood flipped from vaguely hopeless to not-so-vaguely angry and apparently sticking there for a while.

Or would have.

As shots ring out, Tania ducks down, not really noticing who is firing at who as she's a little more concerned with herself not getting in the line of fire. She ends up crouched on the floor in front of the seats, wide-eyed and all too willing to keep her mouth shut.

To her credit, Odessa doesn't scream when the shots are fired. Her visible eye does shut and her entire frame judder from the shock of the moment, and she has to force herself to relearn how to breathe, however. What she does then is turn to the downed man behind her under the guise of tending to him. (Trust me, I'm a doctor. Also, I want your gun.) Hoping her movements go unnoticed in the commotion, she makes a move for the first contractor's sidearm.

That's good, because the OS soldier wasn't going to toss her his. He needs it, or at least prefers to keep it on him as he turns to face his fellow FRONTLINE officer. There's not much that will punch through that armour, and he isn't equipped with it besides; instead of pointing his pistol at the other man, he lifts his opposite hand, gloved fingers splayed, and holds it where he imagines his heart and lungs should be beneath his chest plate.

The gesture isn't strictly necessary, but it helps him concentrate on what he's doing. That hand balls into a fist, which he rotates in the air like he's turning a door knob, then brings back toward his body.

A shot goes off when the pistol in the 00 soldier's hand is twitched upon compulsively. A bullet flattens into the armor at the OS soldier's shoulder, but it only drives him back by a stumble, armor made to withstand such assault, and the pistol clatters to the ground as gloved hands go to tear at his own armor-plated chest.

The whirlwind of movement around him steadily begins to pick up, whipping rain in a silver haze beneath a wind becoming ferocious, expanding. Rain bullets inside the windows of the truck Tania is huddled inside, turning the light summer rainfall into a storm, howling even louder than the traffic breezing on by on the other side of the centre way. The whorling wind suddenly changes direction, and in an invisible, roaring blast, it pushes on forward, sending the OS soldier off his feet. The van groans, skidding back on its wheels and near crushing the ducking and hiding driver, who grips onto the open door compulsively and lets out a yell drowned out by the wind.

Down low, the assault passes over Odessa's head, just barely, turning her platinum hair into a writhing nest of snakes as her hands close around the pistol. She almost has it free when the contractor suddenly comes to life, his features distorting in aggression as his gloved hands close harsh around her's, looking to pry it away in struggle.

The change in the weather has Tania lifting up enough to look out a window, a hand pressed against the glass. She doesn't get out, seeing as how things look unpleasant out there, but she looks on, confusion mixing with fear. Whatever is going on between the soldiers, she's not at all convinced it'll end well for her and Odessa, so it's the doctor she looks for, as if finding her might keep her from getting hurt.

She hadn't counted on needing to fight for the gun. In that, the man has the advantage of precious seconds before she registers the resistance for what it is. "Let go," Odessa demands. If only it were so simple.

Her advantage is that the man is injured. With one hand still wrapped around the gun and struggling to maintain her grip, her free hand lashes out. Fingers clawed and digging at the gunshot wound. Odessa's scarred mouth curls in a sneer as she means to inflict pain enough to gain control of the weapon.

The OS soldier's collision with the pavement has enough force behind it that it splinters the visor in his helmet, which would be more of a problem if his immediate concern was being able to see, but it's knocked the breath out of his lungs, too. Rolling onto his side and filling the cavity of his chest with a wheezy mouthful of air is his first priority — only when he's able to breathe again does he recognize that there's situation with the visor and find the most straightforward solution.

Sasha decides to just take the helmet off, exposing his head of greasy red-brown hair to the rain, and he blinks water from his eyes while he's still gathering his bearings.

The howl of the downed contractor is just feral enough to cut through the roaring wind. But by then, it's already dying down.

And the aerokinetic who created it is too, collapsing to a knee hard enough to crack his patella before his body spasms in pain that has little to do with that, spilling over onto his side as hydraulic joints battle with the fits and starts of death. His armor makes an ugly scraping sound on the asphalt as his limbs and head twitch, a wound up tin soldier flicked off his feet, but he's still soon enough. Dead, soon enough.

Rain patters and greases down the lax face of the contractor as the shock of pain sets in, his chest and throat making an ugly hitching sound as if he were about to vomit, but never does. His hands loosen on the gun.

The one left standing— the driver— is sneaking off towards the sparse forest that lines the motor way, using the van as cover, back bent.

Tania stares as Odessa goes past aggressive and right into fatal. She might have been concerned for the doctor moments before, but it only takes that one event for her to have to revaluate her judgment of the woman. Sometime later. After the shock wears off. There's a hard swallow and the girl has to look away as the man starts to visibly die, and it's only then that she notices the missing helmet.

Or rather, the familiar face that was beneath it.

There's no move to get out of the truck, but she perks up, suddenly alert and aware and, more importantly, wanting to be either of those things. She hadn't been expecting a rescue, and suddenly finding herself in the middle of one is more than a little surprising.

"Thank you," Odessa growls, taking her prize in bloody hands. Watching the death throes of the FRONTLINE soldier, she climbs to her feet. She acknowledges Sasha with a nod of her head before she raises her gun and fires a single shot at the prone contractor opposite her before he can manage to make himself a threat.

The woman jerks her chin toward the man retreating for the treeline. Like she's requesting orders, Odessa asks simply, "The driver?"

Sasha counts the bodies on the ground, excluding his own. Three dead men, one cowering man and one man unaccounted for. He squints through the haze in search of the missing driver, and apparently seeing nothing shakes his shaggy head at Odessa. Not worth the effort. He levers himself back up, fighting exhaustion, and braces one hand on his knee as he stands. The other, still clutching his pistol, he uses to smear some blood from the corner of his mouth. "You want to take the next exit," he hisses at the male doctor in a creaky voice. "A good time is now."

This done, he limps toward the truck, stooping to pick up the 00 soldier's weapon along the way. It isn't often that he has the emotional fuel required to use his ability without physical contact, and on the rare occasions he does it drains so much from him that it's another battle not to immediately pass out afterward. An autopsy will show a lump of malformed scar tissue where the dead aerokinetic's heart used to be, but that is all.

The doctor does not look up when someone talks to him, happy to remain flat as a pancake on the ground even as accented English directs him with what he wants to hear. It takes a few crunches of Sasha's boots along the wet ground before he sucks in a breath and peels himself up off the road, gripping injured arm and glancing around at those left alive with wide eyes.

And then takes off at a run, white coat flapping in the wind, disappearing into the forest with a stumble.

With the fighting over, Tania gets up off the floor and opens the truck door to climb out again. All sort of hitched and awkward with her wrists stuck together. But she gets out, her blanket left behind in a lump on the seat as she makes her barefooted way through the rain. "Sasha," is not really called out, but surprise and relief are clear all the same. When she reaches him, her hands reach up to touch either side of his face. "I did not think I would see you," she admits quietly and with a slight smile. The expression passes after the moment, though, and her brow furrows instead. "You are alright?"

Odessa only watches the last men standing disappear into the brush out of a paranoia that one of them may suddenly retaliate. When she turns her attention back to the two Russians, she slides the gun she's acquired into the waistband of her pants so she can retrieve the knife she carries on her instead. "Let me get that for you," she murmurs, nodding to indicate Tania's bindings. "Nice to see you again, Sasha."

Sasha feels like he's going to vomit, if he's being honest. He is not all right, and has to decide whether to use the last of his energy to force a smile for his little sister or make sure she gets back to the truck safely.

And that's not really much of a choice. His arms loop around her tiny waist and scoop Tania up off the pavement, crushing her to him in a hug that has him burying his face against her neck. There is the temptation to just stand here like this with her forever, but his quaking legs won't allow it; long strides carry them back to the vehicle, and Sasha swings up into the passenger's side of the truck, pulling himself and Tania across the seat. One of his arms leaves her long enough to reach for the radio, which he clumsily tunes to another channel with knob pinched between rain-slick fingers. He can't be sure it's the right one, but he knows that if it isn't then the person he's attempting to reach will figure it out and make contact regardless.

He looks over the top of Tania's head at the steering wheel and the keys left in the truck's ignition like he's seriously considering it, except that he can't. Odessa will just have to drive. After— she cuts Tania's bindings. She was going to do that, wasn't she? Right. Okay. Maybe he should have waited for her to do that first.

Maybe. His head droops into Tania's lap and a low grunt of gratitude directed at Odessa is the last thing either of the two women hear from him because he isn't conscious anymore.

Tania's been working hard at not crying with all the doctors and transporters and soldiers around today, but it only takes that simple gesture from her brother to get her sobbing softly as he gets them into the truck. She does manage a faint thank you to Odessa when her bonds are eventually cut, but once they are, her fingers move to brush Sasha's hair away from his face. Tears may fall for a while longer, but at least this time it's for good reason.

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