Obstacle, I


colette_icon.gif greg_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

limerick_icon.gif lucille2_icon.gif

Scene Title Obstacle, I
Synopsis Colette's journey beyond the first step reaches its first obstacle.
Date March 15, 2018

The ground shudders, dirt thrown up into the air against the backdrop of roaring flames. Gunfire pops loudly in staccato rhythm. Muzzle flash blooms in the dark, starless night. A threaded wisp of neon light zips through the air, accompanied by an almost electrical sizzle-crackle. Screams then, the gunfire stops but the explosions don't.

Move! Everybody fucking move now!” Booted feet rush across the hard-packed earth, no dust kicked up because the soil is soaked with blood. Seven pairs of boots charge across the ground, past severed limbs still smoking from the laser that cauterize them. The ground shakes with an explosion again, flinging dirt into the air. The seven pairs of boots move from dirt to pockmarked concrete.

Through the blown-out doorway they press on, gunfire ricocheting off of the doorway. The last one through the door, black-clad and skidding across the stone, levels an assault rifle up at an angle behind herself as she turns around. Two quick bursts of gunfire rip into the sky. “//Limerick! Limerick I need something to block the entrance!”

Another rattle of gunfire pops off, blind eyes targeting something moving through the air. Sleek and streamlined, metallic and matte black, one glowing red light. The AETOS drone fires into the doorway, and Colette Demsky ducks back behind the concrete wall for cover. “Ryans! Cover fire!

Gunfire pops from a window, Lucille is covering. Colette isn't focusing on the drone anymore, she scans the small stone-walled room, six people other than her. Limerick is picking up a half ton slab of concrete. “When I move, block the fucking door!

The drone fires again, the light bending to Colette’s eyes goes under the drone, to a man laying on his side in the dirt missing an arm. Moving, still alive. The drone fires again, eighth burst. There's a high-pitched whirring click as it cycles magazines. “Now!” Colette pushes away from the door, but not deeper inside. She goes out into the rubble-strewn street. As she moves, her body ripples and distorts like a heat mirage as she fades out of sight. Behind her, a dark-haired and muscular man lays a slab of concrete over the doorway, and it immediately catches fire from the reloaded drone.

Colette runs, feverish pace, rifle clutched to her chest as she does. Each footfall shakes her body, each one leaves a brown-red smudge in the dirt. The drone pivots in the air, scanning the footprints. It can't see Colette, but it's internal logic understands that it's tracking a target. Sixteen seconds to predict a course.

Skidding to a stop by the body, Colette drops to one knee and aims up at the drone with one open palm. The invisibility peels away from her like strips of dissolving paint. Light blossoms in her hand, focuses to a point, and a concentrated beam of blue-white light lances up through the middle of the drone. Flames erupt out of both sides, blood drops from both of her nostrils, veins bulging in her neck.

“Captain!” Colette lays a hand down on the wounded man as another mortar round slams into the rubble nearby. “Captain I've got you!” Her fingers wind into the straps of his body armor, she struggles to try and haul him up off the ground. He's screaming, blood is everywhere. There's a whistle, another mortar coming in.

I've got you!

Four Years Later

Farkas Psychiatric

NYC Safe Zone

“How long were you in Utah for? After the EMP?”

The light in the office of Farkas Psychiatric is dim and comforting. Tall windows allow pale morning light through to reflect off of hardwood floors. Seated across from one another, Greg Farkas and Colette Demsky are equally relaxed down into low-backed leather chairs. Greg with his notebook in his lap, Colette with a mug of tea.

“We got out just after Christmas,” Colette quietly explains, staring into her mug. “Crossed over into Colorado, the seven of us. We were supposed to keep headed east…” blind eyes shift to the windows. “We— found a refugee camp. All civilians, all scared. There were… we knew there were enemies past the mountains.”

Greg makes a noise in the back of his throat, folding his hands in his lap over his notebook. “Last time, you said you stayed in Colorado until after the war was over. What made you decide to do that?”

“I had to.” Colette’s voice is quiet, fingers straining around the mug. “The— I couldn't leave a camp of civilian refugees that close to enemy territory unprotected. We stayed until they could be evacuated to Boulder. We held the west line.”

Greg nods, flipping to another page in the notebook. “Do you still think about what happened to Captain Smith?” She doesn't immediately answer Greg’s question, taking another sip of her tea to formulate an answer.

“Yeah.” Colette closes her eyes. She hears the noise of acknowledgement that Greg makes. The silence that follows, a void left for her to fill. “Yeah, I do,” comes out on an unsteady exhalation of breath. “I know I did all I could…”

“But you still hold yourself accountable for his death.” Greg flips to another page in the notebook. Colette shifts in her seat, a hand coming up to sweep fingers at the corners of her eyes. “War is… complicated, Colette. Now, I never fought. But I've treated many soldiers with PTSD like you. Perfectly functional people, who are fighting their own battles not entirely different from yours.”

Hiding her mouth behind her tea, Colette takes a sip and looks back to the windows. “I— don't blame myself.”

“Maybe not consciously,” Greg replies. “But subconsciously, what happened with Captain Smith isn't really any different than what happened with your father.” Colette tenses at that. “You've told me before you blame yourself for what happened to Judah. Captain Smith might not be a surrogate, but he was a commanding officer and someone you couldn't save.”

Squirming, Colette wrings her hands around her mug. “I… know you've chosen not to talk about the war with others. Not to your partners, not to your squadmates in Wolfhound.” Greg looks up from his notes. “You've led a very challenging life, and it's good that you have partners who love you and support you, it's good that you have friends and coworkers that look out for you. But,” Greg’s brows furrow and he adjusts his glasses. “From the age of sixteen you've lived a life where you’ve had to compartmentalize your trauma.”

Greg moves his notes aside to a table. “Now, I can help you work through what you're dealing with. I can help you understand the things you're feeling and experiencing. I can help you build a strong foundation to be healthy. But, there is some support that I and your immediate circle aren't able to help you with.”

“What’re you saying?” Colette looks up from her tea, shoulders tense. There's a glaze to her eyes, theist tight and voice uneven.

“I'm saying that talking about some of your experiences from the war, in the right environment, might be helpful.” Greg tucks a card out of his pocket and sets it down on the table beside himself. “There's a veterans support group, meets weekly at the American Legion in Williamsburg, not far from your home. I think it might do you good to go down… you don't have to talk, but maybe just listen. See what other people like you have to say.”

Slouching further into her chair, Colette exhales a steady sigh. “I… don't really want— ” Cutting herself off, Colette scrubs a hand over her mouth and then rests it against her knuckles as she stares at the windows. Greg is silent, as is Colette.

He's right, without needing to say it. It doesn't matter what she wants.

What matters is what she needs.

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