Escape Velocity


elisabeth_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title Escape Velocity
Synopsis You can't really outrun yourself, but you sure can try.
Date March 4, 2011

Jaiden's Garage, and out on the road

It's a little past two in the afternoon in Jaiden's Garage. A little cool, as far as things go - just a bit above freezing, which keeps most people bundled up, inside, or out of the weather. Jaiden is no different. Downstairs in his little apartment, he's busy going through papers, organizing things, making things look proper and in order. Sheafs of records are spread across the countertop, Able to be referenced with a minimum of bother. He's dressed simply - shirt, pants, and house shoes - comfortable and light, considering the apartment is nice and warm. Yay for solar heating.

Lunch…. was not nearly as nice as it could have been. Elisabeth's mood is carefully pent up and on her way back to the Textile Factory she detours to Jaiden's. The mechanic upstairs told her he was doing paperwork. So she took herself down the steps to the apartment and knocks twice in a perfunctory fashion before letting herself in. She's dressed in semi-casual clothes instead of her black-on-black uniform — a pair of heavy gray slacks and as her black coat comes off it reveals a navy blue cardigan set that gives her eyes a deeper shade than her usual crystalline color. Her brows are pulled together faintly, but she smiles at the sight of him. "Hey there," she greets as she lays her jacket over the back of a chair. "How goes the paperwork?"

When Elisabeth enters, Jaiden looks up, a ballpoint pen clasped between his teeth, Registration Paperwork filled out in his neat, precise handwriting. "God above, Lizzie, you don't realize how many documents you can accumulate being in the military…well, wait, I guess you would know." He flips from page A to page B-41 to make sure the numbers match up before straightening and stretching. "The second and third opinions came in…I'm going to register." He tilts his head slightly to the right when he looks her over. "You look….tense. Everything okay?"

"Not me," Elisabeth denies mildly. "I wasn't in the military." Though she's accumulating a hell of a lot of paperwork now. Her lips twist into a smirk. "Tense? Mmm. Or something. When do you go for Registration?" she asks, keeping her attention on what he is doing.

"Whenever I bite the bullet, I guess." Jaiden gives a one-shouldered shrug, tossing his pen to the counter, watching it roll to a stop against the back edge of the counter before turning his attention back to Elisabeth. "I figured I'd ask you if you had a place you'd suggest I go. I'm going to play down my powers, of course….no sense in them thinking I'm more than I am."

She purses her lips and considers. "No, actually," Elisabeth replies. "I don't have one place over another that I would suggest." As to playing down his powers, that's an absolute given. "Just be careful and very, very observant when you go. Make sure nothing looks off."

"That's why I'm spending so much time with my records. The last thing I want is some kind of inadequacy or error that puts a big blinking spotlight on me for extra testing. Luckily most of my abilities showed after I was in the military, so…" Jaiden closes a file, one at least an inch thick with multicolored papers, snagging a cup of coffee and nodding toward Elisabeth. "You want a cup?"

"Yes, actually." Elisabeth's tension doesn't seem to be abating but whatever it is also appears to have little to do with Jaiden. She pivots on a heel to go and help herself. "You need a refill while I'm pouring?" she asks.

"yeah, allright." Jaiden shuffles a few more pages, checking off bits on a checklist. His packet is growing in size - what with him being in transition between countries and all. He's here legally, but isn't a citizen just yet, which is why he's documenting everything. He is watching Elisabeth too, the tension she has built up, almost like a bow wound too tight. "So…." he says, once he has his cup of coffee, holding it both hands after adding a bit of sugar and cream. "What's wrong."

She pours her coffee and a ridiculous amount of sugar and milk go into it before Elisabeth decides to give him some answer. "I'm pretty certain you do not want to be in the middle of this one, Jaiden," she finally says. She brings the coffee pot over to fill his cup and in looking up at him and trying to force a smile for him, the expression is far more of a grimace than she'd have liked. The trust is enough between them that she couldn't maintain the facade. Slowly lowering the carafe to carry it back, she bites out quietly, "There are days when I would seriously like the throttle the men of my acquaintance. So far, you're not on that list."

The only other man that Jaiden knows in Elisabeth's life is Cardinal, so by process of elimination that makes the determination of who to blame rather simple, or, at least, who the frustration is directed at. "No, I probably don't want to get into the middle of it, but I am a bloody good listener and might help you calm down a bit. You don't need to put on airs for me…" Jaiden walks around the counter, putting a hand on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "What's wrong?"

Her jaw clenches and she's literally grinding her teeth. Elisabeth debates the situation — this is her private business, and she rarely shares those. Her problems are her own, and no one else needs to know. But there is a serious rage on a slow simmer in her gut. And she chooses her words carefully for the most…. gracious way of saying this. "It turns out to be a good thing Richard wants children," she finally states. "His little vacation from our chess club seems to have come with some unforeseen consequences." There's a gentle vibration through the coffee in her hand, and she carefully replaces the carafe into the maker.

He's never heard of such things as Elisabeth's relationship defined as a Chess Club, but that is a rather gracious way of putting it, and it does take a moment or two of figuring before realization dawns on him, his eyes widening a little. "So….um…." How to put this to not cause damage to his hearing or his apartment. "In his travels he….um…." This isn't working. "He wasn't as careful as he should have been?"

"That would be a good summary of the situation, yes," Elisabeth informs him tightly. She picks up her cup to drink from it before turning to look up at him. "And I find…. that I don't particularly like the side of me that has suddenly come to the fore. I'm not a possessive woman." Jaiden had to have figured that out already. "We are not a monogamous couple — we probably never will be. And I think we both like it that way. White picket fences, minivans… eh, what the fuck ever. But fuck, Jaiden…." She slams the cup back down harder than she meant to. "I'm so mad right now."

To his credit, Jaiden doesn't flinch when she slams her cup down, the silverware in the counter beneath jingling from the impact. Luckily it's a heavy cup, so the chances of her breaking it will probably end up with a divot in the counter that could be used as a storage for spices filled with shards of broken crockery. "You deserve to be angry at him. Kids….that's a discussion that you and he should have had and the fact that one of his encounters ended up as such doesn't speak very well for his judgement, in this case." hasn't the bastard ever heard of using protection?

"We already had that conversation," Elisabeth retorts. In point of fact, she had told Jaiden about his answer. "We're planning on it. When things settle some." She shakes her head. "And at the bottom of it all, it's not really my business. I don't have words for all of this." She shakes her head, turning to look at him. Even now, she's concealing most of the effects of this. She's telling him, her tone showing emotion but not to the level she's feeling it. "I have never in my life been so goddamn mad about something. I don't know how to be this mad without … just …. God." She blows out a breath, struggling to maintain some semblance of calm. "It's like a volcano right now. I can feel it there. And I know… I need to do something with it before it literally explodes, but I don't know what."

"I know what helps me." Jaiden gets to his feet and vanishes into his bedroom, returning a few moments later wearing jeans, boots, and a t-shirt, carrying a jacket and a pair of motorcycle helmets to throw over it all. "Come on. We're going for a drive. Don't question. Let's go. High speed often has a way of clearing the head."

When he comes back, Elisabeth tilts her head. Both brows shoot up. "I … didn't know you rode," she admits quietly. And she doesn't question it — instead, she simply reaches for the helmet and follows him out of the apartment. She's a bit subdued but some spark of anticipation lights her features. Alec took her once… it was incredible.

"I don't…my one motorcycle is built for one person, and it doesn't get the speed we need." They mount the stairs to the garage where a covered something rests in it's own little bay. The canvas comes off and, resting beneath, is an evil-looking vehicle with four wheels, two seats, a minimum of bodywork, and a racing harness for each of them. "Work on this for a mate of mine….here to get the wheels aligned and he let's me take it out for test drives, now and again." Looking over the car, there appear to be all the bits to make it absolutely legal to drive on the road with nothing else. "If you know anything about cars, this has a power to weight ratio more than a ferrari….come on. Let's get some wind in our hair." Through a helmet. Shut up.

Jaiden moves next to the passenger seat to help Elisaabeth in and get her harness situated properly, over her chest, round her waist and shoulders, cinching her in tightly once she's seated, climbing in to the driver's seat himself and starting it with the push of a red starter button. The engine, mounted directly behind them, rumbles to life with a high-pitched growl, the whine of a supercharger evident in the relative stillness of the garage.

Elisabeth is duly confused. She's never seen a vehicle like it. She's skeptical that it's even legal on the roads, frankly. But she takes the proffered hand and slides into the harness, chuckling as he helps her get situated. She glances at him as he slides in. "Am I going to regret this?" she wonders aloud. The helmet is slid over her braided hair with the ease of long practice — it's not much different than her armor. The engine startles the hell out of her and there's a peculiar expression on Elisabeth's face behind the helmet. Her blue eyes go somewhat out of focus as she seems to be listening to something.

It's road legal - barely. Just that. It has turn signals, brake lights and a horn….and that's about it. Jaiden slides in to the seat next to her - it's a rather snug fit for the pair of them, but once Jaiden cinches himself in he plugs two twisted cables in to the dash. The crackle of static comes into the helmets. "Okay, now we can talk without the wind getting too terribly bad." He turns, his eyes crinkling a little as he smiles beneath the helmet, hitting the garage door opener, allowing them into the street. "Now then…."

The engine revs, the tachometer bouncing off the red before Jaiden drops the clutch, the rear wheels exploding into smoke, the two darting forward like a bow from an arrow.

The sound of the crackle distorts whatever it was that she was paying attention to. But she turns her head toward the street as they rocket out of the garage, her head thrown back against the headrest! "Oh shit," she gasps, shocked!

The tires shriek as Jaiden steers, the harnesses doing their job, keeping the pair attached to the chassis as they hit the vacant streets of Red Hook. It was just that initial jolt that shook her - once it hits the road, the little car calms down, allowing the pair to drive carefully through traffic, through a tunnel, and out of the city in less than 30 minutes. When his hands aren't on the shifter or wheel, Jaiden's left hand (it's a right-hand drive car, after all) is resting on Lizzie's knee, patting it, just letting her know he's there. After a bit of driving he finds a deserted country road and pulls over, killing the engine. "Can you drive a stick?" and without waiting for an answer, unbuckles himself and gets out, leaving the driver's seat open for Elisabeth.

He wants her to drive this insane thing.

The ride through the city has her silent in the headset. Something about the vehicle has her attention entirely on it and Elisabeth isn't feeling terribly chatty to start with. When they escape the city limits and he shuts the vehicle — it can't be called a car — down, she looks up at him curiously. And then with a flabbergasted expression. "Your friend won't mind?" she asks with a grin behind the helmet.

Releasing the harness, she scrambles out of her side of the thing and over the seat to the driver's side. "I've never driven on this side before. Does it still shift in the usual order?" she asks, sort of intrigued.

Jaiden crawls into the passenger seat and cinches himself in, pulling the straps tight, wiggling a little to give him some breathing room before plugging the headset back in to give conversation between the two. "He said he wanted a shakedown, so I figure this will be the best thing for it." Jaiden grins and points. "It's got two ways to shift; the stick, or the paddles on the steering wheel. If you use the stick, yeah, same normal pattern. Six speeds. Shift at about 6500. Hit the red button to start it and make sure the clutch is down." Jaiden grins and braces himself, waiting for the car to kick over….

She is so not going to push the car too hard. Not until she's got a feel for it anyway. Elisabeth winces, but she starts the engine, the clutch to the floor. Her hands on the controls are a little uncertain — and their first lurching starts may not seem auspicious. She goes slowly with the roaring engine, shifting up and up. By the time she hits third, it's smooth enough. And then she chuckles softly. "Lord, I'm gonna get us killed." And then she floors it.

There's that scene in The Fast and the Furious where the lead actor floors his car and it seems like the world stretches out farther due to the power in the engine. This launch is kind of like that. The car kicks to the side slightly as the rear tires search for grip, and once they do bite, the pair are off like a rocket, screaming to 60…80…110….130….without a sign of stopping until she lets her foot off the gas. "Wooo-hoo!" Jaiden yells, the crinkle in his eyes showing the grin.

Elisabeth actually laughs out loud into the headset, though when the speedometer tops 130, she does in fact let off. She doesn't have the confidence to control something moving that fast. "Damn," she agrees. 85-ish up the country road seems a perfectly adequate speed to her mind, and that's about where she keeps it. Reckless enough for fun but not suicidal.

She was in 5th when it hit 130. She still had another gear and about 2500 rpm to play wtih, so if she wanted to go faster, she could have. "If I had the money to get me one of these, I would….god it's quick." The road Jaiden chose is a fairly open one - two lanes, blacktop with large shoulders to pull off on, trees here and there, and lots and lots of curves. "Turn the headlights on with that knob to your left so people can see us coming, and just drive until that light in the middle of the steering wheel comes on." That's when it's time to fill up. The supercharger intake next to their head sucks in air, making a pressure difference when she accellerates hard. "What were you listening to on the drive up here? Just the sound of the motor?"

Following the instructions he's given, Elisabeth settles into a fast — though not ludicrous — ride through rural New York. She hesitates to answer him and then admits, "Not listening. Feeling it. Sensing it. There's….." She grimaces behind the faceplate where he can't see it. "It's only been the past few weeks that I could feel sound again." It's been months since the raids. "I spent most of the time feeling…. oppressed. Muffled most of the time. Almost … deaf in a lot of ways. Like everything was muted and I had to listen so much harder just to hear normal things." She pauses, taking a turn carefully. "There are harmonic frequencies in every sound, subtle nuances that really aren't detectable. Unless you're me."

Jaiden nods slightly, hanging on as Liz takes a right-hand turn at speed, the back tire sending up a shower of gravel and annoying a few cows close to the road with the car noise. "It must have been like watching television with the sound off and closed captioning. You could get the message but not the whole message." He glances to her, a bit worried. "you're just now getting back to 100%? Christ, Lizzie….any chance of you going on leave any time soon?"

"Something like that," Elisabeth agrees to his comparison. And she glances at him. "Right… like we haven't had our hands full and been drowning in shit and time travelers and domes of uncertain origin ever since the raids?" she asks, tongue in cheek. "Seems to me that you'd already know the answer to that." Hence why she hasn't. Her eyes are back on the road immediately after the glance. They're traveling too fast for her not to keep her eyes there. "I overextended it at the Christmas thing and set my recovery back some. But…. During the Zombie Apocalypse, Jaiden…. I wasn't kidding when I said I blew out my ability. I've never reached so deep into it before without augmentation. Felix…. called it a tsunami, and I guess he wasn't far wrong. It threw people some hundred or so yards, I think."

He knew the answer before asking it, but he still asked it in the vague hope that, yes, someone would give Elisabeth 48 hours to do nothing and to get her head straight. Jaiden lets out a breath, the microphone broadcasting it perfectly, his head shaking side to side. "Hell, I might just join FRONTLINE to give you a break…"

That makes her go tense again. The noise level doesn't bump up, there's just the sensation of buzzing, like the hum a subwoofer makes when there's sound just below the human hearing threshold that thumps through your chest or fizzes across the skin. "Jaiden…. I can't tell you what to do. I won't tell you what to do. But …. FRONTLINE is not a fun way of life. And I don't want you attempting to join up just to watch my back. If you want in because it's something you want to do? Then do it. But if you're thinking to come on board just for me…. think long and hard."

The car slows as she talks, her knuckles gripping the wheel hard. And her tone has a grim edge to it. When she shuts her mouth, Elisabeth hits the gas again, a bit more reckless with the speed again. It's on a straightaway, though.

Thank god it's on a straightaway. The back wheels chirp as Elisabeth downshifts, rocketing the pair to just shy of 100 in less than two seconds from about 45. Very cool to feel. The addition to the road noise, though, is something that Jaiden didn't expect. Reaching over, he rests a hand on her knee, patting it lightly. "I have been thinking about it, Elisabeth. I know it's not all fun and games….hell, it's not even 5% fun and games. It's a job, and I'm afraid that as soon as I register, whoever's in charge will see my dossier and figure, hey…he'd be good for our little crew of armoured misfits."

He removes his hand after a moment, leaning back into the seat, his eyes ahead on the road. "It's not because of you, but because of the good I could do. You do factor into it, Lizzie….you're a right proper bloke. Like peas and carrots, us. We'd do good, I think, amd be able to help folk out. I won't bring it up in the registration unless they do."

"You do what you need to, Jaiden," Elisabeth says softly into the microphone. "You're old enough to make your own choices. Just…. understand that I'm not convinced that you'd be placed with me in the first place, and I'm not…. sure what I'd do if you were placed with OS out on Staten. Not knowing that Heller is working for Humanis First and executing innocents."

"If it comes up." Jaiden restates. "I'll mention it. They'll have employment history and they'll check my records, so chances are they'll see you and I have a bit of a past together. It's a hope, but not much of one." The microphone clicks off, Jaiden looking away for a moment. "And if I do join up with FRONTLINE? If I'm given the option and I'm not placed under your command? And I get placed with Heller?"

He's silent, but that silence speaks volumes.

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