Dead End, Part III


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Scene Title Dead End, Part III
Synopsis An explosion leaves the crew of Doc trapped beneath a mountain of rubble.
Date July 5, 2021

A tinnitus ring and darkness, that’s all there is.

The explosion had been so loud it was deafening. A flash of light, a thunderous noise, and then total darkness. It’s impossible to know exactly what happened, but the muffled pop of distant gunfire tells enough of a story. The windshield of Doc is completely shattered, sagging in toward the vehicle under the weight of concrete debris, pinning Cat in her seat. She’s screaming for help, one arm wildly flailing.

In the back, Nova and Erin are battered and bruised but otherwise okay. The back door of the ambulance is both open and wedged shut, bent at a crooked angle. There’s nothing but darkness. All they can hear is muffled gunfire, all they can see is black.

Robyn jolts awake from a moment of unconsciousness to a world of monochromatic hues. Her vision is blurry, but the darkness is not impeding her. She can see Cat’s panicked expression, the blood on her face, the hand grasping for anyone or anything. It’s pitch black in here. Cat is pinned, suffocating, in total darkness.

Head pounding. Tinnitus flaring. Chest tight. Her arm hurting. Blood on her face. Darkness all around her.

For the briefest of potentially concussed moments, Quinn finds herself wondering if she's been drinking again. Where was she? Where is she now? What is happeni-

The sound of pained breathing and distant gunfire cuts through the haze and the swirling, monochrome world to drag her back to reality, aggressively and without mercy as her eyes snap open wider.

"Fuck! Fuck, Fuck!" One hand rises, brushing agianst the broken glass of the windshield as she rubs at her eyes, the pace of her breathing quickening as the memory of the last few moments before wipe out returns to her she looks down at superficial cuts on her arm, luminescent blood trickling down.

As she hears the sound of Cat's pained breathing and grasping about, her head snaps to her direction, eyes widening. "Oh shit," she whispers, before reaching over and taking Cat's hand, grasping it tightly as she begins unbuckling and attempting to shift and move in the cabin.

"I'm going to give us some light," she breathes out to the other woman, eyes alighting to the rubble has her pinned down. "Try not to move too much. You're pinned under- whatever the fuck fell on us, I think. Fuck, did someone-"

Blow the overpass?


"You're going to be fine. I'm going to make sure you're fine. But I need you to not panic."

With those words, barely issued in a steady manner, and even as she shakes, Quin raises one hand and snaps her fingers, flooding the ruined ambulance with light.

"Erin!" she calls out, keeping her attention on Cat. "Erin, are you awake? I need you right now!"

Erin responds with an extremely eloquent “FUCK,” rubbing a knee that got bashed with a metal gurney on wheels - or a tote - it could have been anything. It doesn’t matter now. Colin is astonishingly silent through all of this, sitting next to Nova looking ready to help but with an eye towards the driver’s cab and a tail wagging.

“Fuck, what-” she catches a glimpse at where the dog is indicating and bolts upright. “Fuck!”

“Fuck!” Erin’s first instinct is to crawl through, immediately, into the front. Then eyes catch the glittering constellations of hazardous allegedly-shatterproof auto glass, and she thinks better of it. She takes a breath, barely weighs consequences, and goes into a different part of her brain: people management skills. (Thank goodness for the lab, she dimly registers.)

“Robyn, here is what we are going to do. I am going to put my hands on the passenger side door. This will render a section of it thin enough to pass through. I’m not sure how big, but you’ll know it when you feel it, don’t worry about how right now. You and Nova come through the door. Try and get it open if you can. Grab the gurney if you can bring it with you, but don’t waste time if you can’t. I will stay in the car and do the same thinning with this concrete. I can’t lift it off of her, but I can make it virtually weightless. Use whatever means you can to get Cat out. We can deal with the whole ‘not moving a trauma victim’ thing once she’s free. If, by some chance, the passenger door does not open at all mechanically, I can try and render both things immaterial, but it may not work. In that case, I choose Cat, and we’ll think of another option.”

Without waiting for a response, she places her hand on the side of the van right behind Robyn’s seat, feels the molecules, and spreads them apart as fast and far as she can.

“OUT, COLIN.” The dog, well-practiced, obeys.

Nova had been napping and wakes with a start with the sudden explosion. She blinks in the darkness, and when she hears voices, it’s like she’s underwater and can only hear the shapes of words rather than the words themselves.

She shakes her head, glass falling around her, and then there’s the light coming from Robyn. Her wide blue eyes strain to make sense of what’s happened, of what Errin’s telling her to do. Lips trembling, she nods, and then jumps, startled, as Colin makes his way out. It might be that he’s the one she understands first, but then everything else begins to click into place.

Shaking hands reach for the gurney, to try to pull it out with her as she follows the little dog into that unrelenting darkness. It’s only when Nova feels the scrape of the rubble that she (sort of) understands what’s happened.

At the same time, there’s a crackling series of pops coming over the CB radio. The concrete is blocking most of the transmission, but it sounds like Gracie up in Katie.

«Co—y! Thi— —racie! —e’re —eing rai—d! Th— —e —oing to go fo— —our drivers first!»

The radio is backed by Cat’s panicked sounds of breathing and noises of pain. Tears roll out of the corners of her eyes and she struggles to move against the weight of the concrete and glass pressing down against her chest in the seat.

Please—please don’t leave me!” Cat breathlessly rasps, not having parsed or understood what Erin had said. Robyn has never seen Cat panic in her life, and seeing someone who is usually a stoic anchor absolutely break is gutting. With her one free hand she grabs Robyn by the sleeve, pleading. “Don’t leave me here.

«–hey w—l ki— any—e who doesn’t sur—nder!»

Nova, meanwhile, moves like a ghost through the passenger side of the van. It’s immaterial, but there isn’t much space on the other side. She has to crouch, struggling to twist and drag the gurney out. The entire overpass has collapsed on them, and there’s narrow pockets and tight tunnels of space, all accompanied by the perilous noise of grinding concrete and clattering rocks, like it could all shift and fall on them at any moment. Muffled pops of gunfire and shouting can be heard beyond. Colin, Erin’s dog, stares up at Nova with wide eyes and ears pinned back. He knows something is wrong.

«-o n— —ght back! I —peat: Do —ot fig— —ck!»

Seconds later from the Tinderbox, Marlowe's voice crackles through the radio against a backdrop of muffled gunfire. "«Ar— you fu—ing joking? Sur—nder and w— all DIE!» The transmission cuts out.

Between Cat and Erin, there's a brief moment where Robyn is herself - somehow - entirely frozen. Swallowing down a lump in her throat she takes a deep breath, again wrapping her hand around Cat's. "I'm not, Cat. I won't."

Her eyes flick over to Erin, a deep frown on her face. She is too arrogant to not be annoyed that she of all people is being told what to do by Erin, but not arrogant enough to start a fight about it right this moment. Still, she has thoughts.

"Erin, have you ever been shelled? In a cave in? In a vehicle that's been blown up?" Exhaling sharply, she doesn't make any movement away from Cat. She looks over at the other woman, tipping her head at her. "If I had to guess, whoever hit the Scout demolished the bridge over us, which means we're buried. One wrong move…" Which she imagines is not helping Cat feel better, but she's keeping her hands tight around the other woman's hand in an attempt to keep her centered.

"I like where your head is at, but we need to take this at a measured pace. Even once we get out of here, from the sound of it the moment we step out, there will be guns on us." Shaking some of the running light-blood off her arm, she shakes her head. "Cat is going to go into shock if we're not quick. I need you to help me do this now, then we figure out the next step." Her eyes scan around at broken and bent mechanicals, reaching as best as she can under the driver's chair.

"Do the- thing, with the rocks. I need to understand how your ability works better anyway, because-" She stops short of saying she doesn't know Erin where she comes from. "I'm going to see if the mechanisms that move the chair are still working. If we're lucky, three quick movements and we can just- pull her out and figure out what to do from there."

This is before getting to potential problems with air supply, but one thing at a time.

“I appreciate your heroic instincts but we can’t help her if we don’t help ourselves first.” Erin fixes Robyn with an unwavering stare. “We can’t help ourselves, and we can’t help Cat, by staying in this van. I can help us get to the surface if it is caved in. But you’re right.”

She puts her other hand on the concrete.

“It won’t make it lighter. I can phase things. You have to pull her out. Do not move the rock. It will destabilize everything and may cause that cave in you mentioned. You have to trust me here. We don’t know each other very well but we’re on the same damn team, Robyn.”

She breathes deeply.

“You have about ten seconds from when I tell you to do it until it resolidifies. Don’t move the rock. Get her clear before anything else.”

Her eyes close.


Nova’s brows draw together as she moves through the tight passage; she can’t hear the argument between the other two over the sound of the rubble shifting and scraping against itself. It’s a narrow path, but she’s slim, and holds the gurney upright, folded,as close to herself as she can.

Wie is de beste jongen? Jij bent het!” she tells Colin, before she says, more loudly, “I’m tapping into my medical skillset, but Doc – the other Doc, the other me – she is still a student. Hopefully someone has more than me.” Nova’s not sure if they can hear her; all she can really hear is the eerie muffled world of darkness and the constant trickle of bits of pebble and debris. Her eyes struggle to find any bit of light – a place for them to try to make their way out.

“Robyn, you’re in the network? Can… when they’re done fighting, maybe Captain Ryans can help?” Well, hopefully everyone can help. If anyone’s left.

Cat is still whisper-screaming, “Please—please don’t leave me in here—please—help me!” At the same time there’s a jumble of static and voices over the radio, at this point it’s impossible to tell who is talking and what they’re saying, it’s just shouting, crackling, and screams. The noise of gunfire outside is persistent, though muffled by the collapse of the overpass. The longer it goes on, the more it feels like this was an ambush, like the convoy had maneuvered directly into a trap.

"The network? Oh, merde, I-"

Robyn stops mid sentence when Erin says go. In as smooth a motion as she can manage,she pushes the seat back and reaches over as much of Cat as she can, counting the seconds to herself as tries to pull the woman free from under the now much lighter debris that had piled on her.

There's no verbal comment, no waste of time, she just acts, and hopes for the best.

Cat lets out a howl of pain as she’s moved, trying to wrap her arms around her chest as she’s dragged out of the seat. She practically collapses into Robyn’s arms, gasping for breath and making short, exasperated, pained sounds.

“Network? What-”

In all the adrenaline of getting Cat out from under the concrete, it just begins to dawn on Erin that this maybe isn’t an isolated incident, that what she had assumed was a bridge collapse might have been much, much worse. Those first moments were tunnel vision. I am a scientist, I got in over my head, I should not be here, I was just trying to help, come the panicked, rapid thoughts in her brain. She breathes deeply and tries to quell them, trembling from the release of chemicals into her bloodstream that is only now hitting her since the most urgent problem is handled for now.

“Tell me what to do and where to go. I can bring the medical supplies out, stay here with Cat, whatever. No telling how deeply we’re buried but I can try and get through. If the rest of what’s around us is the same depth as that concrete I stand a pretty good chance.”

Unsure what to do with the gurney in the narrow space she’s lugged it, Nova leans it against the ambulance, and tries to see what’s happening inside through the broken windows.

“Cat, can you feel your fingers and toes?” she asks. “She’s breathing but – my guess is she might have a collapsed lung. Is there oxygen back there? And actually for all of us, paper masks if they have them, so we’re not breathing in this rubble. Saline drip for her if we have it, oral electrolytes if not, but not anything with potassium, not even Gatorade.” The worst thing for crush injuries, but she doesn’t add that, letting the emphasis speak for itself.

She considers their situation and frowns – Cat’s health is important, but so are all of their lives. “We need to get out but we also don’t want a total collapse. Erin, if you phase up, can you see how far we are, without moving the rubble?” Nova asks, reaching down to pet the dog at her knee as she peers up at the blackness above her.

There’s two distant pops of explosions nearby, they reverberate through the collapse. As Nova is speaking another sound begins descending on them. Not the sound of gunfire, something else, barely audible through the rubble at first. It almost sounds like the ocean for all the white noise that it is.

Cat, hyperventilating, touches her chest and groans in pain, tears rolling down the sides of her cheeks. She has a hard time talking through the pain, reaching out and grasping one of Robyn’s hands for dear life, squeezing as tightly as she can. Her legs are moving, as if that was somehow a visual answer to Nova’s question. But now freed of the rubble she seems disinclined to speak. There’s not a lot of blood, nothing visual to explain what Cat’s injury is, but Nova may be right. Maybe a collapsed lung, punctured lung, Robyn has seen both. She—



Robyn has been here before.

Below Bannerman’s Castle, the sound of mortar rounds roll like thunder overhead and dislodge fine particles of brick and dirt from the low cellar ceilings, filling the air with a fine, smoky haze. Somewhere, something is on fire; those who have descended into the island’s bowels can hear it crackling through the castle’s ventilation system, or maybe that’s the just the sleet washing off the broken ruins above.

Outside, a maelstrom of birds wages war with Heller’s forces; Eileen had told Avi and Benji to run, and judging from the distant screams that echo through the cavernous underground, they may have made the right decision in heeding that warning.

The helicopter carves into the side of the castle and explodes on impact into a wash of light, heat, and sound that hurls those closest to the stairs off their feet. Chunks of broken stone and brick cascade down from the ceiling and plummet into the water like localized bombs, and in an instant the entryway leading back upstairs collapses.

They’re trapped.

The next thing Quinn knows she's face down in the dirty water. Blown off her feet and
back deeper into the flooding, crumbling room, she gasps for air as she pulls herself back up to her knees. She's shaking, noticing that a chunk of rock has fallen just short of crushing her hand.

Silently, she reaches up and pulls wet hair out of her eyes, looking back at the remains of the staircase, and then over to Colette and Avi with horror in her gray eyes. She doesn't pull herself to her feet just yet. She just stares for a moment.

"Well what th' fuck do we do now?!" she practically shrieks. She had been fine just moments ago, but this had brought her back to a dreadful reality.

Despite herself, Robyn freezes as so much comes back to her, things that adrenaline had kept her from dwelling on. Now, with Cat freed, her mind is left to wander. To Rue's fear, to Benji's horrific injury, to their attempts to keep Nat safe, and everything else that night. Eyes wide, hands shaking, her breathing becomes unsteady.

It takes everything not to let despondency sink into her like it had then, as she stares down at Cat, as the other woman squeezes her hand. Her other hand moves to Cat's cheek just like she had done to Rue all those years ago, though the rest of that motion doesn't follow through. Swallowing a lump in her throat, she exhales shakily as she tries to compose herself again.

"Wright," she breathes out, keeping her eyes on Cat save for a glance over to Nova. "I need your eyes. Medical is still, uh." She searches for the word, unable to initially drum it up in the moment. "Indexed, right?" And then she looks up, and towards the outside of the ambulance. "Squeaks, Asi, Elliot. Doc is trapped under the underpass. Cat is injured, possible chest injury, al-"

She stutters, closing her eyes to try and focus. "Almost definitely broken ribs." A glance is given up to Nova, whom she nods at. "Nova suspects lung damage," she says quietly.

Gathering supplies and figuring a way out will have to be someone else's responsibility for just a moment longer.

Wright doesn’t waste time giving Robyn a second opinion, the woman is already on the scene. Instead she pulls Robyn’s attention toward her compiled years of study and practice at emergency medicine, and then takes on all of the effort of streaming it across the link for the other woman.

Nova’s voice reaches Erin’s ears, and she takes the initiative. “I’m going to go out and see if I can get through,” she says, alternating her gaze on both Robyn and Cat, anticipating that neither would really be listening. “I don’t know what’s going on out there but we have to get out of here somehow.”

Awkwardly, she puts her full canteen next to Cat, and squats uncomfortably through the side of the ambulance, squeezing against the concrete and edging around to Nova.

“Can you let me back in?” Nova murmurs Erin, when the other comes around to her. “In case things slide up there,” her blue eyes up at the ceiling of dark rubble that’s threatening to crush them at any moment, “and so I can help Mevrouw Cat?”

The younger woman bites her lower lip, glancing into the ambulance. “I know what to do if it’s her ribs puncturing her lung, but…”

She trails off. There’s a lot of buts to consider, and none of them are good. The big one is that she only knows how theory from someone else who only knows it in theory.

The radio crackles producing long seconds of static, the voice indistinguishable, before struggling to broadcast the voice of Silas Mackenzie. «Prio— —inal! If y— —alie LeR— —ou can!— —e's near— —pass thon!»

Erin nods, phases the side of the ambulance she just came through so that Nova can return, vaguely notes to herself the absurd musical chairs game they are playing, and hopes that a collapse is not as imminent as it seems.

Nova makes a face as she re-enters the ambulance, then turns her attention to what medical supplies they have, and what Cat needs.

As Nova moves back into the ambulance and Erin moves out, the latter hears a noise that sounds like rubble scattering at first. It’s a clicking sound, but soon hones down to something that sounds like squeaking, like a rat or—

A bat.

Squeaks comes slithering out of a heap of rubble, moving on her back and pulling with her forearms. The echolocation sound is coming from her, and as she twists and squirms her way into the same space as Erin, she sees the other woman both silhouette in the faint light coming through gaps in the collapse, but also as an echo in her sonic map of the space.

Inside the ambulance, Robyn feels a direct stream of consciousness flow into her. Declarative memory, thoughts that aren’t hers and yet in this moment are. It comes right as Nova settles in beside her, and the two start assessing Cat’s condition. That Robyn is calm is helping make Cat calm, though she clings to one of Robyn’s hands as a tether to anything safe and hopeful.

Together, Nova and Robyn can confirm what they had suspected. Cat was partially compressed by the debris, several of her ribs are cracked and based on a deformity of her side one is broken, likely puncturing her lung. With Richard and Natalie in the Convoy—if they’re alive—it’s easily treatable. But otherwise… her odds are slim. Infection alone is such a tremendous risk here.

There's a sad smile on Robyn's face as Nova and her relay the diagnosis to Cat, never letting go of her hand throughout the whole process. It's only as she chokes back memories of the past that she lets out a long held breath. At least Cat would be better off than Benji had been - and Benji had lived, making her feel even better about Cat's chances.

And she's certainly not going to tell Cat otherwise. She barely wants to accept the bitter truth of situation herself, as it is.

Unfortunately, that still leaves getting out of here. The sound of chittering echolocation is familiar to her, enough so that it doesn't entirely startle her out of her task when she catches ear of the young woman's arrival on the scene. "I know that squeak," is offered to the outside of the ambulance in an attempt at mustering up a hint of amusement, of something lighter. "How bad is it looking, J- Squeaks?" That, though, is still taking some getting used to.

Turning away from Cat, she closes her eyes and shakes her head. "Thank you, Wright," is offered in a low, almost whispered voice. "I owe you a very expensive drink when we get back." It probably won't be the last, either.

Wright chuckles. "I appreciate the thought," she says, scratching at the back of her scalp, "but I'm a recovering alcoholic. Hence the no drinking in the network thing."

"Didn't say it had to be alcoholic," Robyn offers outloud with a chuckle. "But noted. And sorry."

“Oh.” Squeaks sounds surprised but not, when she recognizes that there’s space all around her head and shoulders, not just varying amounts of inches but actual real space. Her head tips over the ledge she’s found and she coughs at the dust, but for just one full second because after that she takes in her first view of the collapse, the half crushed ambulance, and Erin. “Hi.”

Blinking against the grit — she’s dusty and dirty, with tracks down her face that are sometimes just from watery eyes and sometimes from sweat — she shimmies her way out and twists as if to turn herself over. Right now she’s looking at things upside down. But that effort is put to rest after less than five seconds of trying and she settles for the inverted view. “I found a way through,” is such an obvious observation, but a very important one that she shares loud enough to carry at least to the vehicle and those people who are inside it. Probably for the benefit of those in the Network, too. “It’s Squeaks, there’s space to crawl!”

“I can lead the way out, it’s not very bad.” Squeaks tilts her head and looks down (up) at Erin as she pitches her voice more just for the phaser to hear. “It’s just… dark.” And kind of cramped goes unsaid. She flicks a look to what’s left of the ambulance, then circles back around to all the ruined concrete and jagged edges and things. “We can get everyone to the other side. The supplies too.”

“Oh, thank the lord,” Erin sighs deeply, and with relief. “I was about to just walk straight through these rocks and hope to not fuse with them or something. You have probably saved my skin. I don’t know how … deep? Wide? they are.” She pauses. “I’m a phaser, by the way. Erin. Anyway - give me a moment.”

She steps back through the van just in time to see a Moment in progress. “Squeaks is out there. We have a way out. I’ll grab the supplies. You come when you’re ready.”

Quickly, medical supplies are gathered into a rucksack - whose? Does it even matter any longer - and she exits the van, sets up the gurney, grabs Colin bodily with a good boy, good boy, please cooperate, this is going to be uncomfortable and I wuv you very much my bestest best boy, and steels herself to help phase the rest through the van and through the concrete and into what might be a long, long dark.

Nova’s words have been on the optimistic side – help’s coming, and we have healers!, so just stay with us! – and it does seem to be her nature to be just that. But even with the abilities the group has, she doesn’t know that the healers are all right, or if they can get to them before it’s too late.

Erin’s voice calling to them about Squeaks’ arrival draws Nova’s attention that way and the relief that alights on her face belies all that confidence she had just tried to evoke in the others. “Help’s here!” she says brightly, even as her mind tries to untangle the knot of the question of how to get Cat out of the very narrow space. Squeaks is small – Cat on a gurney is not so small, after all.

But the only way out is through. “Let’s get out of this dump!” is her decisive call to action, as she sets about getting herself out once again with Erin’s help, then working with Robyn to get Cat on the gurney to follow Squeaks up the rabbit hole.

It’s going to be a long road, but the optimism will make it traversable. Debris will need to be moved, space cleared, safe ways out scouted by Squeaks and Erin, but it’s possible. If nothing else, the gunfire has stopped.

Clutching Robyn’s hand as an anchor to something stable as Nova prepares the gurney, Cat asks a simple, if hopeful question: “Ev—Everything’s—okay?”

That much remains to be seen.

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