adam_icon.gif bao-wei_icon.gif devon_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

devon_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title HERV-K
Synopsis The blood is strong.
Date January 14,2019

Collateral damage. Acceptable losses.

These are the hallmarks of war, the ones that leave scars on leaders and soldiers alike.

"No," Elisabeth Harrison’s voice is tired, but understanding. "Under most conditions, he will simply be confined to one of the concentration camps. And while horrible… it's a life, Devon. And where there's life, there's hope. Hope that someday we'll be able to break their hold, and hope that someday people will realize the horribleness of what they're allowing to happen and be ashamed of themselves. They'll tear it down, and make it a better place. That is what I fight for. Wanting to help is more than admirable. Dying a death that accomplishes nothing, that is useless and in vain, is not."

It's a flaw of youth that Devon believes some difference in the man's fate could have been made. Hard evidence and understanding gained from Elisabeth's experience clashes with the teen's grasp of the situation, leaving the impulse to argue and second guesses for what his efforts of a different outcome could have been. Fingers rub over his forehead as he sighs. "I hope what we brought back, Jaiden's pictures and the spider-bot, are the last pieces we need to change things. That people slap their foreheads and realize what's happening in their backyards. Otherwise…" He might just go and blow up the capitol building.

Dropping his hand, but catching his lip between his teeth, the boy's head hangs just a little, thinking instead of depressed.

Eight Years Later

It’s cold.

That is the first thing Devon Clendaniel feels when darkness gives way to light. The illumination is dim, a flickering neon emitting from bars in the ceiling. There’s a hum everywhere, not unlike the sound of blood rushing in his ears from a head injury. But that’s not it, the sound is more mechanical, droning, constant. As Devon’s eyes open he finds himself in another unfamiliar room, one made of curving metal covered with — frost?

Panic kicks in and Devon reflexively twists, finding padded restraints on his wrists and ankles. He realizes he’s laying down, dressed in a medical gown, IV in one arm and electrodes attached to his chest and temples. There’s machinery everywhere, electronic displays and touch screens. He can feel his heart racing in his chest, hear the echo of his frantic breathing in the claustrophobic space of the lab.

He can see his breath.

He isn't alone.

He can hear footfalls, just outside of hearing, a sound that makes him strain to find it. The beep of a machine is nearer. A hiss of a pump. Knocking of pipes under cold. A pressure tingles at his eardrums.

Between the constant drone and tiny chirps of apparatus, the opening groan of a steely door, a thud of a spun deadbolt. Movement around the room just beyond this one indicates the presence of another; Devon will be able to pick out the clicking of a mechanical keyboard and chiming alarms like those on appliances.

The cold is not quite frigid enough to bite. The crisp smell of early winter nights, clear and cloudless.

For an instant, panic is all Devon can register. The noise, the room, the screens and chill, it's all captured in snapshots that have little hold on the gripping terror of restraints and confinement. His arms and legs thrash for freedom until the echoing of his own sounds breaks through the haze of instinct.

It isn't calming, but neither is a futile struggle going to get him free.

A ragged, shuddering breath is drawn in and he twists his head one way then the other. His neck strains and eyes push against natural barriers to see the monitors, the room, then whoever belongs to those footsteps.

Whatever is going on next door stops when Devon continues his attempts to wrestle loose. The monitors look largely to be taking biometric readings; some of them he can understand, like the state of his heart, the levels of his IV drip. The rest are not so familiar, jammed with numbers and lights and in some cases, symbols. Straining and training tells him that it is a script text- -

In the flat of the far wall a door lock clanks and slides, the crackle of metal against frost accompanying it. Dimness disappears with the slap of a switch. Light flares alive and blinds him, sending spots through his vision. As it wanes, Devon can see most of it. Though the lights aren't sterile, they have the spotlit yellow quality of a dental office. Something smells like antiseptic. A tang of bleachiness too.

It gets colder.

Devon may know intimately the feeling of eyes on him.

That is, just one. Twisting and turning against the bed does nothing to let him see who stands there. Watching. No sound.

Not even of breath.

His mind catches onto the scripts for a moment. Given enough time, given a starting point, Devon might be able to make sense of it. The thought of even giving an honest attempt at committing the strings of code to memory does come to him for a fleeting second, only to be chased away by a sudden and sharp light-blindness.

He cringes and turns his face from the light as far as he can. Shoulders rock with renewed effort, hands seeking to rub his eyes regardless of still being strapped in place.

The struggle doesn't last long, it's already proven useless once.

A shiver takes him as the chill grows deeper, but he digs for some defiance. “I know you're there.” Hopefully the tremor in his voice will be attributed to the cold and not fear. With eyes squinted against the glare, Devon stubbornly — desperately — tries to see who's watching.

When the Hound speaks, the response is a shift of weight, the beeping of buttons. Devon's bed lifts at the head, comfortable despite the fact he's been imprisoned. The controls dangle down against the frame again with a dull clank of plastic and metal.

Cold wisps against Devon's scalp and ear as a hand alights at the edge near his head.

Rather, it used to be a hand. Devon can see the frostbitten black of flesh below the surface of thick frost. The examination of the fingers scraping frost down the side of his bed likely does not last much longer; a more disturbing- - perhaps fascinating- - frame follows its wake.

"你看起來更好." Murmured, not to Devon. His captor's face is almost a mockery of one. Angles and jagged cracks, black skin and the ghost of bones under solid inches of ice. One socket is deep and hollow under heavy brow, the other swiveling to the young man, a shining golden eye of Sauron.

"Good morning." Long limbs clasp at his back, heft of body an amalgam of flesh, bone, and arctic cold, shoulders broad, features crystalline. Shaped like any man, yet still a crooked abomination.

Lips firm into a line that's meant to keep his reactions under control, but it doesn't entirely quell the wild-eyed look that falls on the hand. The increased cold is ignored, save for the unwanted shiver that rolls through his frame. Devon takes an intentionally slow breath when he follows the arm to the shoulders and then face of… something, someone.

There's a sort of grotesque interest often noted when people are faced with the unimaginable. Most often it's the horrified disbelief of witnesses to terrible accidents, for the young man it comes when facing the strange visage staring down at him.

Teeth clench together hard enough to make his jaw ache. Seconds pass before Devon pulls his eyes away, half turns his face away, but seconds still find his eyes slanted to stare at the being. “Who are you,” he challenges the golden-eye, though quietly and through his teeth. “Why'm I restrained?”

The stranger seems to instinctively know when he unsettles someone, and Devon even gives those visual cues. A tilt of head towards monitors, a profile of nose, chin, brow, the backwards hook of thick spines from skull. Nothing down his neck, just stalagmites. His back is the same, as he moves to examine a screen, flicking switches. Bones move under the frozen shell, cracking faintly at the joints.

Devon can see the way the breaks in the ice fuse themselves back together, practically as soon as they appear.

There are always sacrifices to finding a middle ground. The stranger always knew this to be true.

"Why do you think, Mister Clendaniel?" Bao-Wei Cong turns his head, eyeless socket aimed towards Devon. Still seeing, or sensing. Somehow. His question is clinical, inquisitive. "And it is not important who I am. You will not remember, regardless…" The IV drip slows in its own quiet, solemn way.

Knock, knock go the walls, humming like a tremor.

Metal groans idly around their heads, adjusting.

Instead of answering the question, the muscles in Devon's arms strain. Fingers curl into his hands to form fists, to give more leverage in pulling against the restraints. The effort dissolves onto a moment of bodily twisting until even that burst of energy is spent.

With his chest heaving, he stares up at the nameless stranger. “What do you mean,” he grates between breaths, “I won't remember. What's… what’re you doing? What is all of this?”

"I am taking biometrics." It is about a blunt an answer as one can get. Pointed hands tick down on keys, and a printout beeps its way free nearby. Bao-Wei snatches it up casually and moves past the end of the bed, the cold moving with him and prickling at Devon's skin. "I suppose since you won't remember…" He muses out loud, to himself, then followed by mumbling; it's a Chinese dialect, slurred and canted as if he were having a thorough conversation with himself. Whatever it is that he concludes with, he makes his decision.

"Doctor Cong. I would shake your hand, although…" Yellow-gold eye studies Devon a moment more, and it refocuses on fetching a plunger of clear liquid. "Restraints, frostbite, nobody wins." The plunger finds its way into the slow IV drip. "This won't kill you. Don't worry."

Don't worry, he says.

"Your particular skillset is impressive, for someone so young. Ah, that is what war does, isn't it?" Bedside manner was never his strong suit. Cong dumps the plunger in a bin, head swiveling , neck cracking. What serves as a mouth is moving, but not at all like it should be. Like a dub gone shifty. "Straddling the line between kineticism and the manipulation of gravitational forces, now that is fascinating."

“Why.” It's not so much a question as it is a demand for answers. Or a plea for understanding. Devon's voice wavers between both tones.

Stiffening against the chill, he closely follows the stranger’s movements, as wary as a cornered hound. There's no look of victory with gaining a name either, no spark of recognition, only desperation to keep it committed to memory and dread that the doctor is being truthful that he won't remember.

With his attention on Doctor Cong, the addition of another liquid to the feed into his arm isn't noticed until it's already added. Reactively, he jerks his arm in spite of previous attempts failing.

“What about it.” Devon pulls hard at the arm, even rolling toward the opposite side and twisting the limb against the restraint. Following a frustrated sound, he settles again. Somehow he needs to find a way free and that's going to require information. His eyes roll to fix the doctor with an uneasy look. “How do you know all that?” Not just his name, but about his ability.

"Refrain from wasting what energy you have." Work for the moment concluded, the doctor turns around and moves to sit. Where there is no chair a moment before, ice spreads from his frame and coalesces into a makeshift throne of ice. The air dries out, tingles against skin, only for the humidifier installed in the vents to regulate it with a distant hssss.

"They taught you what spies are in Wolfhound, yes?" A snap of voice, condescending at best. "In layman's terms, 'I know a guy who knows a guy'." The way that the doctor sinks into his seat tells Devon that he plans on lingering.

"I rather enjoy the study of people like you. Live studies, though. I have been known to head a vivisection or two. Not to say corpses are absolutely worthless…" Lingering turns into… rambling, the roving golden iris doing just that, pinpointing spaces in the room. Frost coats the edges of Devon's bed in a soft layer of crystal.

The swirl of gold darts back to the young Hound. "Whichever way my preferences lie, I am pressed to keep you alive. When you were brought in, you were a charred husk, like a pig fallen off of the spit. " Bao-Wei's skeletal underlayer snaps when the outer jaw does, clack clack. "You're welcome."

With his feet taking a turn at struggling against their bonds, Devon’s eyes swivel to keep track of the doctor’s location. He shivers again in the cold, tries to find some place of warmth within the limited confines of the bed. The idea of spies and charred husks battle for importance, and neither seems to be winning with the distraction of icy chill and heavy dread.

“Studying people like me?” He may not remember later, for all he knows this conversation may have been had already, but the question erupts anyway. He tries to lock onto that line of query, but others, only half related follow. “Looks like you’re people like me. This guy you know, who is it?”

With Devon able to find him, the doctor looks more like a man surveying than someone who wants to actively slice someone in half. Too casual for anyone. Waiting, perhaps.

"I won't go so detailed as to tell you names." Bao-Wei lifts a finger in a lazy gesture, as if swatting the question aside. Remembering or not. "I am not people like you." sayeth the Iceman, prideful. "I am something else. Not one side of the coin or the other. The story of my life, hff." A pump of air moves hollow up from his mouth, pluming in the air like breath. "Shunted from one thing to another. Now this is all I have left. Imagine that…" Another hollow sound, like air over a bottle. Another plume of white. The blackened bone in some places cracks, hairline fractures, clicking against ice from the inside. Whatever was holding him fully together begins to fade. Likely, he began his day flesh and bone. Now, the bone snaps under pressure, the rest of any flesh overtaken at a glacial pace.

Eventually, there isn't any scrap of a person left inside. Solid ice, reflecting lights in a glitter of spots on the walls, blues deepening as shadow settles in. Red and yellow on the monitors scatters sketchy colored lines through his frame. It might be pretty, in another place and time.

A knock disrupts the flow of conversation, knuckles on bare steel. Looking in the doorway is a figure whose face Devon has seen time and again in Wolfhound’s dossiers, a man whose shadow is cast long across history though one few can process to know many details of. Adam Monroe is dressed for the cold, in a parka with a fur-trimmed hood and thin cotton gloves.

“Knock, knock,” Adam calls after the rap on the steel doorframe. “Ah, you're awake.” When Adam’s attention fixes on Devon he steps carefully into the cramped space of the laboratory. He looks assessingly at the IV, then over to Bao-Wei with one raised brow.

“How's it going?” Adam asks, tone hushed. Not out of some need of confidence of conspiracy, but out of tension. He seems filled with anxious anticipation.

It isn't Bao-Wei’s conversational tones that Devon follows, but the steady encasement of ice. The transformation shouldn't be a thing to stare at, and yet he can't look away from it. His expression borders on timorous disgust. His own breath escapes as visible puffs that he barely notices now, in spite of the shivering that's replaced his efforts to break free.

Eyes slant to the door following the knock there. There's no relief for the interruption, only apprehension. It can't possibly get worse.

Except the man that enters after the knocking turns out to be Adam Monroe.

Panic flares anew at the familiar face and Devon bucks once against the restraints. They've offered little movement thus far, and his latest effort reminds him that he can't go anywhere. Instead of senseless thrashing, he pushes shoulders and hips against the bed. It does little, something he knows in the back of his mind, but actions are not always rational.

For a few seconds there is a blissfully unaware silence, the iceman sitting there, judging his ward. Then the knock, and a face. Bao-Wei's head turns on its axis, eye refocusing on his visitor. Devon reacts in a way similar to fight or flight, which, naturally, brings the doctor's look back. Jagged knuckles bend into a fist, jaw leaning against the fist, feigning his look of boredom.

"他比前一個好" Whether or not Devon can understand him, his language changes tracks; causing distress in the boy lets him record the reaction. Talking about someone when they can't understand you should earn a prick of anxiety. Bao-Wei's voice seems to carry with it a tone akin to his posture. Irritated yet patient, the airs of a science-minded man waiting for the fruits of his labours. "你沒有把他燒成煤渣是件好事…"

Whatever it is that Doctor Cong says to Adam Monroe, it bleeds profusely of scorn and dismissal, disapproval and a sneer at the crackle of ice around his face pulling into a crude expression of such. "粗心…" The ice splits away from his frame as he stands again, the cold coiling more closely to him, giving both a short reprieve. Adam doesn't get one for Bao-Wei's apparent displeasure, however. "不要燒毀建築物來殺死老鼠."

He angles his head, glaring noncommittally towards Devon and gesturing Adam towards the Hound.

"If you have questions for him, ask them now." A click of teeth, and Bao-Wei turns his attention to something amongst the idle clicks and hisses of the equipment.

“I don’t,” Adam says with a flippant wave of one hand, looking past Bao-Wei to where Devon struggles on the table. “I already know more than enough about him… and if he’s proving more resilient than the others that… just confirms a hypothesis of mine.” He turns blue eyes back to Bao-Wei, one brow raised.

“血液非常强壮,” Adam says with a somewhat frustrated tone. “我需要找到其余的.” Then, looking back to Devon, Adam smiles faintly and rolls his shoulders in a helpless shrug, turning away and walking toward the door to the lab. “If he survives the second round, call Yao and have her send a transport so we can move him to the mainland. Oh and— ” Adam pauses and turns around to look at Bao-Wei. “Get Joy to wipe him clean periodically.”

With that final instruction, Adam shows himself out.

Jaw clenching, Devon’s gaze remains on Adam, and he desperately tries to filter through all the information he might know about the man. He’s seen that face too many times, it’s impossible to not remember something. However, terror grips him tightly and whatever intel he has slips through his thoughts like clouds through fingers.

He takes a breath that’s intended to be steadying. It comes out as a shaky huff. His heart hammers against his chest. The use of Chinese prompts another single jerk of arms and legs. He doesn’t know what’s being said, but something in the tone, Bao-Wei and Adam’s expressions, tells him to escape.

It’s still useless, and Devon seems resigned after that last second of impulse. He breathes with the short gasps of anxiety. Eyes dart between the two, sparing a long second for Bao-Wei before returning to Adam again, and again his muscles go rigid. If he survives a second round? The pronouncement sends him into a frenzy of restrained thrashing. The soft cuffs at his wrists and ankles don’t allow him to move as far as he’d like, but he fights them anyway with fists and heels and torso jerking enough to rattle the table.

It becomes clear that even despite Adam's role as boogeyman, the doctor that Devon has been saddled with shows no such trepidation. As the British man lapses his way into Chinese, the iceman only appears to raise a brow, inasmuch as he can. Frosty air crusts the monitor in front of him, and he scrubs it free with the heel of a hand before swiveling back to look at Devon, now struggling once again.

"Mmm." The grumbling sound is probably a confirmation as Bao-Wei watches Adam start to jaunt his way out. "I had it charted out for her." ie, He's already done it. Cong doesn't even wait for Adam to be completely gone before he is at Devon's bed again, fingers blackening in the middle as he adjusts the drips.

As the young man falls back under, Bao-Wei shoots him an oddly confiding look, golden eye widening and narrowing.

"…She is usually better company than he is, anyway."

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