Freedom Or Death


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Also starring:

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Scene Title Freedom or Death
Synopsis Some get freedom, others get death when an escape from a camp is staged.
Date Septmeber 3, 2011

Evolved Camp in Chicago

The first casualty of any major encounter is always the same. It never bleeds, or falls to give the appearance of death, but it dies just the same.

A good plan.

Once first contact with the enemy starts, the best plan unravels and falls apart in the panics and screams and actions of everyone else. No scenerio can take everything in account. The fires weren't in the plan, for example, and that alone changes everything.

But the best plans need to adjust, need to change. The best plans react to damage, rather than unravel. But that only works if there's good men behind the plan.

Coughing, the young teen waves a hand in front of his face, trying to disperse the smoke that's collected in the air. The fires are further off, now, but there's screams and gunfire and chaos echo through the tunnels leading out of the building. Still a lot of an escape left to be had. Dressed in orange jumpers, the prisoners stand out perfect targets for the men with guns, who unfortunately have little regard for the lives of those in their charge.

They'd rather see them dead than escape.

"They're going to kill everyone still in there," the boy says, in a voice deepened by the smoke and the coughing. Kincaid Russo has been here long enough to know that they don't intend anyone in orange to get out alive. The best plans know when to make sacrifices, even the hardest ones. Their group used to be bigger. Now it's down to a little over half dozen, making their way through the smoke.

The smoke hampers breathing, but masks movement, and unfortunately visibility. None are armed. The teen isn't the only one who feels the need to talk. A tall older woman with far away eyes mumbles to herself as she stumbles along, periodically laughing or crying between breaths. The camps aren't good for the body or the mind.

"Devon— how much further?" Kincaid stops to ask, as reaches to help the stumbling old woman.

In and out, forward and rear, Devon has been a constant presence amongst the group of escaping prisoners, herding and seeming to be in three places at once. Though in the confusion and chaos it's easy to lose track of where he's been and where he's going, though the intention is to get as many out of the prison as possible. Each loss has been counted, tallied away to be mourned for later, but for now he's working with those still alive.

Squinting against the haze of smoke, an arm drawn over mouth and nose to act as a mask against the filthy air, Devon pauses as his name is spoken. Eyes scour over the group as a couple continue past, guided by a finger that still points the way. When he picks Kincaid out of the group, he moves to help the teen, a hand going to the woman's elbow to turn her after the others.

"Not too far now," the young man answers, muffled and hoarse. "Just keep moving, we'll be out." Soon. Always soon. In the din it's difficult to determine just how much further it is, but Devon's trying to stay positive.

"Escape is impossible— just a shepard leading us to a new slaughter house," the crazy old woman laughs under her breath as she stumbles along. It's so soft that only Devon and Kincaid are close enough to hear it, luckily, but the teen shudders, the hope that showed in his eyes the first minute of the escape already failing.

"Please be quiet, ma'am," the teen whispers in response, still waving at the smoke with his free hand as he pushes her along. She does quiet, at least in coherent words, becoming far more broken and difficult to understand, more whispered. But still sounds.

The sounds from down the tunnel are just as loud. The sounds and the smells. It's not just wood and sheets and paper burning.

A shift in the smoke from different directions is the only signal of danger, one of the guards having found the tunnel, possibly led on by the voices and the coughing. The coughing is something no one can fight for long.

You never think you'll see something like it outside of the television. The long metal muzzle of a gun as it pierces the swirling smoke, followed by a figure in fatigues and a gasmask. When it happens it's like slow motion.

Then it swings towards the prisoners and freezes where it is held at the ready. "Halt right there," is muffled by the mask. The soldier turns his head, to speak into his radio, "Contr—"

He never gets the words out as the tunnel is deafened by the sound of gun fire. Some of the prisoners start to scream, thinking that it's them being shot, but it's the soldier that slumps to the ground and falls over dead.

"We need to go." The gruff and growling voice proceeds a tall man in hat and brown duster. "You're lucky I was here Devon." Benjamin Ryans comes out of the shadows, only to crouch by the body stripping it of guns and ammo and anything of use. "Others are not far behind," he adds standing again. There is a slight turn of his hat as he looks over what he can see of the group. He's looking for someone.

When he focus' on Kincaid there is some relief there. "You founds him." He claps Devon on the shoulder, before motioning him on. "Good Man. Now lets get these people safe."

"Hey." Devon's voice cuts over the laughing and mumbling, a pointed look directed at Kincaid. "We'll get out soon. Just keep—" The hand on the woman's elbow turns into a push to the side, to move both her and the teen closer to the edge of the tunnel with himself as a shield, the report from weapons echoing loudly. His head turns away from where he believes the end of the tunnel to be, eyes squeezing closed, body braced for an inevitable that doesn't come.

The voice that follows is familiar enough, and he still feels as whole as he had just moments before. Devon lets out his breath slowly and turns his head to look at Ryans. "Yeah, I owe you one," he replies, straightening to give Kincaid a gentle push toward the mouth of the tunnel. "C'mon, we're nearly out."

"Who is…" Kincaid asks in the smoke that seems thicker, once he's straightened up from his instinctive ducking flinch at least. The woman didn't duck, she actually looked toward it, as if expecting to take the bullets face on. They never came that way, even if Devon would have gotten in the way of any anyway.

"Hi…" he manages weakly, the blue in his eyes matching that of the in the brown duster. The clothes place him outside the prison even more than the weapon.

Someone from outside seems to have returned hope to his eyes, even if he doesn't quite understand who the man is.

It also bolsters the remaining half dozen, one of whom actually starts smiling as they hurry faster down the tunnel. If someone could get down from outside, it must actually lead out, after all.

The small greeting from the teen, manages to get a small smile out of the man, "Hello, Kincaid." A hand moves to grip the boy's elbow and pull him along. Benjamin made a promise to his wife and daughter that he'd get this kid out unharmed. So Kincaid will have to get use to the tall man staying close, at least till he needs to scout ahead. "There will be time later for questions, but you are safe and you'll be with family soon."

A shuffling sound up ahead has Ben moving forward at a faster speed. "Devon stick with him. Anything happens and Delia will have both our hides. And Nicole will have me sleeping on the couch for weeks." That said he hurries forward, with a snap of his jacket, to scout ahead.

There's little need left to encourage the remaining escapees along, even the old woman is moving in at least the right direction. Devon looks over his shoulder, relieved to be letting Ryans take the lead from here on out. "His name's Ryans," he fills in, giving the older man a name at least. "Best man they could've sent down here." His head bobs a nod to the request, hand grasping Kincaid's shoulder to keep him moving along.

When Ryan's takes off to check out the way ahead, Devon looks behind, keeping his hand on the teenager's shoulder and himself between the way back and the boy. There's not much to see through the smoke, the thickness of it continues to obscure anything he might make out, stinging the eyes and scratching the throat. Then, head turning forward again, he directs himself, Kincaid, and the other escapees onward.

The boy looks at the older man with a kid of wide-eyed surprise. "Aunt Lucille mentioned… you… him," Kincaid says quietly, still moving along, and not minding the idea of having a family again soon. The boy saw both his parents, as well as a dozen others, die in an explosion. Sharpnel and fire and debris. He hadn't come out entirely unscathed, physically, and that haunted look only got replaced by the haunted look gained in this camp.

The boy's no longer paying attention to much else besides the man in front of him, but he'd been without real family for so long…

A guilty grimace can be felt where Devon's hand touches his shoulder, before he nods and continues on, a little faster. He can ponder over the potential of a new life once they're all out of this horrible place.

From behind there's a rumbling sound, like a small explosion, deeper in the building. Maybe one of the escaping prisoners managed to get the fire near one of the kitchens…

Or that's the nicer version of what it could also be.

Ahead of them, Benjamin Ryans comes to a corner, rifle ready he slips around it. He disappears for a moment, only to show up again quickly and motion them onward.

When Kincaid and Devon come close, Ryans moves along side them. He shifts his rifle in his arm so that he can fish in a pocket. Extracted from an inner pocket is some folded news paper clippings, they are offered to the teen. "I've known about you for some time, too." The words are gruff, softly spoken. A rumble like a big cats purr. "Of course, those are the only pictures of you I had." He glances at the clipping, but then almost guiltily looks away and back the way they came from. "I would have come for you sooner, but locating you was… hard."
ORDER: It is now your pose.

It's almost like he's apologizing to the boy for taking so long. Probably, some guilt for leaving him there so long.

A look over his shoulder continues to prove fruitless, though worry creases Devon's brow. He doesn't voice his concern, only prodding Kincaid and the others forward until they've caught up with Ryans again. He doesn't speak up for the teenager in regards to the older man's words, not his place. "He had someone looking out for him," the younger man says in aside. He'd already been in the camp for some months when the boy arrived, and since had been looking out for him.

Another look heads down the tunnel from whence they'd come, eyes staring hard then flicking upward as though to see through the ground above for clues of the explosion. "Not to interrupt the reunion," he says a little more quietly, turning to the pair, "but I think we should keep moving. I'd like to get some distance between us and this place."

"Yeah," Kincaid says quietly, trying to focus on the escape more than the reunion. Even if he would very much like to take a break from said escape to have reunion, if the look in his eyes says anything. He's old enough to know better— and has had a tough life. Everyone in this group would probably be dead in a few years if they'd stayed inside. His cheeks are hollower than a kid's should be, making him look older than his actual age, but his aren't nearly as bad as some of the others.

A timid woman, younger than Devon, moves over to assist the older woman who keeps talking to herself. She's practically skin and bones. And scared shifting eyes. "If we had our abilities we could do more," she says in a soft murmur. But they'd all got their injections. There was no avoiding that. Escape relies on their human need for freedom.

Which Kincaid at least is grateful for. From the grimace, he doesn't think his ability would be of much use even if he could use it.

"We'll be out soon," the boy repeats to himself.

The old woman laughs softly under her breath, but there's tears streaking down smoke stained cheeks as she adds, "But for how long?"

"Quiet, woman," one of the men snaps, pushing the others along.

As if to punctuate the worries of the woman, there's a sound from the south, reverberating through the earth. The sound of a klaxon roar. A many of them are all too familiar with.

They've released the hunters. But for the moment, it sounds quite far away. Maybe another groups trying to escape is down there— If that's the case, it would be fortunate for this one— though not for that.
You paged Devon with 'You can mention this in your pose— you'd organized multiple escape attempts tonight to raise the chances that even one would get out.'

The sound of the hunters has Ryans slowing up, letting the others flow around him in the escape. He glances at the old woman who is probably younger then him, but still older in body. Suddenly, his joints seem to faintly ache. But he does have one advantage that they don't…

He's human.

But he's still old. With more gray in his head then brown, eye sight fading. How much longer can he keep all this up. For as long as he needs to comes straight to mind, hand patting his pockets to locate some of the explosives he brought with him. Only a few, but he still has them.

"Keep going." With the robots behind them, it's time he takes up the rear. "Devon scout ahead. I'm dropping back a little. I don't smell like you all." Meaning he doesn't come across as evolved. Might give him a moment or two before they realize he's a threat.

The sound is enough to set hearts hammering, Devon's own pounding in his chest as one worry becomes realized. "One of the other groups," he states, turning toward the source though at the moment he can't see it. "Wish there'd been more time to set this up." Organizing and initiating the escapes weren't easy, done under the hateful and ever-present eyes of the guards and soldiers. He can't help but feel responsible for those lost and the operation in general, after he'd risked himself to put it into motion on the hope that they'd all get out.

It's an effort, but Devon stamps down on the fear, keeping positive while facing Kincaid and the other prisoners.

"Stay close," the younger man says to Kincaid, a nod acknowledging Ryans. Devon absently counts heads as he passes as quickened pace, the number of those still with his group of escaping prisoners, the small hope left of those who might yet breathe the fresher air beyond the fences. He breaks away from the others, and in several long strides he's left them behind. Soon he's dropped into a crouch to edge his way forward and glimpse what lays ahead.
ORDER: It is now your pose.

The reminder that they're leaving behind what amounts to a death camp might make the bitter taste of losing groups a little less bitter. They always knew they'd lose people, but they would have died as prisoners anyway— At least they'll die somewhat free. Most who agreed to the plan agreed to that.

As they inch closer, Devon sees the shape of a person crouching behind what amounts as foliage. There's a small rustle as a head peaks up, blond hair slipping out from a hood that's hiding most of it. "Oh thank God, Mister Ryans— The robots are out, I was starting to get worried— Joe's group reports two sets of robots, but they found some of the escaped groups and brought them along. I already sent them to the check point. Lee's group too. You're the last— and I can manage one more gate tonight," the woman says, younger than Devon but still old enough to be called a woman. Even if Ryans remembers when young Lucy was only a child living among the Ferry.

A shift in the light draws attention to a man crouching nearby as well, someone who stayed behind to help Lucy in case she got into trouble. A young man with a gun. One of the many unpowered people in the group.

It's hard to see that Ben is pleased by the news as he catches up with the rest and makes his way through the group. Stopping near the girls, he gives her a snort nod. "Good job, Lucy, and good news." He glances back over the head of his group. "We heard the robots, doubt it'll be long before they home in on us, so lets get out and get home. Then you can get some rest and a good meal into you." Or as good as the Ferry get these days, but probably better then the prisoners have had.

"Lord know you deserve it, kid." And yes… most of them are still kids in the old man's eyes. That will never change.

A grin cracks across Devon's expression, tired and faint, it's been a trying time between imprisonment and escape, but it looks as though his group of escapees has made it. Eyes move from Lucy and the other young man, the sight of a world that is no longer out of reach. No longer obscured by chain link and the threat of death. The relief is temporary, excitement abated as he returns to his responsibilities.

"C'mon everyone," Devon calls to the group, shepherding Kincaid and the others toward the scraggly brush. Toward freedom. While he hangs back to make sure everyone else makes it out alright. "The hard part's over, we made it." Hands go out to help propel other prisoners, a hand on a shoulder or elbow, clasping a wrist in aid for the last steps in the tunnel and the first steps in fresher air.

Once they're all in the fresher air, the blonde woman smiles warmly, stepping out of her hiding place to make gestures with her hands. Leading them onward. "With the other two groups we got ten people out of this place," Lucy she adds to the leader of the mission, so he knows the numbers. As each person steps out of the tunnel, she counts them, adding to the amount, raising it to seventeen. Seventeen Evolved. It's a small percentage of what the camp holds, but it's better than would have been free days before.

Turning her back to them, she gestures at the air. A slit appears, the height of a doorframe, letting off a glimmer of light. The slit in the air seems to turn as it widens, like a mirror being turned from it's flat plane to the surface. It even shimmers faintly, almost like a mirror, before the gateway becomes a window. The checkpoint, as they call it, is a hundred miles away. No single gate could take them the whole way home— but it cuts a journey that would take weeks in hiding to a few days.

"Hurry, I can't hold it open too long," she says with quick motions. The first escapee hurries through, then a second, then the older woman followed by the younger. Kincaid hesitates, looking at Ryans, as if unsure whether to go or not. Or maybe unsure who to go with, as his gaze switches to Devon. During his hesitation many other feet pass through toward freedom. Including the younger man with the gun.

The hesitation is noted bye the teens grandfather. With a small private smile, Ben moves alongside Kincaid. A large hand moves to rest on his shoulder. "Come on, kiddo." His tone is gentle and understanding. "We have a bit of a trip left yet, but I promise you… You come with me and you will have a family. Their waiting for you, ready to welcome you. Excited to meet you.

"More importantly, you'll be free to be you." There is a gentle push of his hand towards the gate. "Not to mention, your grandmother will make sure you get some meat back on those bones." Ben can hear Nicole in the back of his mind making noise about how thin that poor kid is. Even if she's technically his step-granma, the woman has embraced the Ryans clan fully.

He doesn't have time to wait for the kid to make the decision, as he talks about the people waiting for Kincaid, he gently guides him through it.

Understanding that questioning look, Devon nods for Kincaid to go along with Ryans. "Go," he says, brows arching as he nods again, toward the gate. "Ryans'll watch your back, and I'll be right behind." He watches for a moment longer, assuring himself that the older man has everything well in hand and that the teenager goes with his grandfather.

Turning again, the younger man helps the last one from the tunnel and directs him toward the gate before joining the line himself, slower. A final look behind is riddled with concern, feet turning to walk backward for several steps. Worry for those left behind, alive and dead both. Though he couldn't have saved them all and would like to return to convince others to leave, there will be time to mourn later. Devon turns again, picking up his pace to a brief jog to cover the distance and catch up to the others.

"I look forward to meeting her," Kincaid says honestly, looking a little sheepish as he ducks into the doorway in the air with his grandfather, hand clasping firmly around the sleeve of the duster. The other side is warmer than the chilly air they'd left behind, a house not too far off. An old farm, likely. The home looks as if it may fall apart any minute from the way the paint is pealing and the way the roof sags in places. But it's been deamed safe. A check point. Where they can clear all those they got out, both health-wise— and other things.

There's still a lot of work til they can get home to the meat on the table.

And not all of them are going to make it.

On the other side of the gate, the tunnel is still visible, the folliage Lucy hid in. And Devon. The gate may show what's on the other side, but Ryans knows it's strictly one way.

Which may cause some regrets as the last of the group through, leaving just Lucy and Devon— when a pair of flashing eyes jumps out of the darkness and into sight, metal teeth and claws reaching toward Devon. A second lands right next to it. Lucy screams, and on the other side, so does Kincaid, as he tries to move back toward the gate.


Lucy's scream snaps the old man around, and it's instinct that has him grabbing Kincaid. "No!" he growls out roughly. He'll wrap arms around the younger man if he has too to keep him from the gate. "It's no use. You'll only bounce off and hurt yourself."

But he doesn't shield Kincaid from what's on the other side either. It's a hard realization of the life they live. None of the Ferry's kids stay kids long. "Nothing we can do," Ben's own voice gruff with his pain of realization. He didn't stay behind… he always is the last through. This time was different.

"Nothing we can do," Ryans whispers as he watches the hunters on the other side.

Eyes slanting toward the flicker of glowing eyes, Devon has just time enough to put himself between Lucy and the hunter. Time seems to stretch and slow as teeth and claws cut through orange fabric and skin alike. For the young man, the screams go unheard, drowned by the sound of metal tearing through flesh and muscle and more. The ground below and young woman behind spatters with red when the cat-like robot rears for another strike.

The second strike comes more glancing but just as fatal as the first for the man, the force of it knocking Devon backward into Lucy. Both tumble, falling through the gateway to land near Ryans' and Kincaid's feet. Hitting the ground, the young man rolls once, limp, coming to a rest facedown in the grass.

As soon as Devon hits the ground, blood staining his jump suit and spilling out onto the ground, Kincaid moves away from the grip of his grandfather, somehow strong enough to break out, and tries to lay his hands on the man laying there. To turn him over, to try and staunch the bleeding with his bare hands

Time seems to be slowed down, as Lucy sits up from where she landed not too far. The gateway is still open on the other side, and the flashing eyes of bleeding metal turn toward it. With a bounding leap, metal mouth wide, it follows after.

Lucy raises a hand, twists her wrist, and the doorway collapses on itself. There's a slicing sound, a breaking of metal, and half of the beats lands on one side, while the rest no doubt lands hundreds of miles away. The shining robot eyes flicker out.

And life has left Devon's by the time Kincaid gets him turned around. Though it may take a while before he accepts that, by the way he holds onto bloody jumpsuit.

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