Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind


clara_icon.gif paulo_icon.gif steyr_icon.gif wagner_icon.gif

Scene Title Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Synopsis One saboteur narrowly avoids capture while hiding underfoot of the Vanguard.
Date January 3, 2009

Amundsen-Scott Antarctic Research Facility

Have you ever wondered what a snow globe would look like, if all the flakes stopped in mid air and never moved? That is the world looks like to one Clara Francis.

Snow hangs in perpetual stillness amidst the freezing cold of the Antarctic plains. The cold is still bitter here, but in a state of suspended animation the wind chill is non-existent, making the endless night at least somewhat bearable. Out here in the snow fields, within the glow of the vehicle hangar's yellow lights, Clara Francis does as she has for the last eighteen weeks; break something.

Today it happens to be a transfer relay at the west face power station. Settling down a red toolbox into the snow, the hooded woman takes a knee. The fabric of her winterized jacket is that same fire-engine red of the toolbox, standing out like a spot of blood in the snow. But no one notices her, no one can. Opening the toolbox flap, she carefully fingers through the tool tray with thickly gloved digits, eventually finding a socket wrench used to ratchet off the access panel for the transfer relay.

What is a transfer relay? Damned is Clara knows, but she saw it on the list of necessary external systems, and today she's just checking off one more thing that she can make go wrong on her list. After the ice-crusted metal plate is unbolted, a sound clang of her wrench to the panel causes it to pop off and reveal a spaghetti-string mess of colored wires. Clearly all of them equally important and necessary to doing whatever the hell the relay does.

The wrench is replaced for a pair of wire cutters, and Clara goes to town, snipping through each corded bundle, revealing copper insides — she was expecting fiber-optic — wrapped in multicolored flexible plastic. Each bundle is cut carefully, and then the wire cutters are replaced into the tray. Fumbling around for another tool, she finds a mini butane blowtorch. It's held in hand for a moment, and there's a brief vibrating sensation as she brings its molecules up to the same speed she's operating at. A few click-click-flicks of the ignition and a short jet of blue flame roars out the front.

Thoughtfully scorching the interior of the wired mess and melting the plastic down into an unrecognizable lump, Clara exhales a tired sigh and turns off the torch, setting it back into the toolbox. The lid is flipped shut, handle lifted, and she rights herself to stand by the relay, brows furrowed looking along the length of it, then up to the transmitter antenna rising some sixty feet above the relay. Red-clad shoulders rise and fall in a shrug as she turns her back on whatever it is she just dismantled, and begins making her way through the knee-deep snow back to the research station.

While outside, in the bitter cold that numbs her extremities, Clara marvels at the frozen flakes of snow, nose wrinkled and cheeks red. She rises up on her toes, tilting her head up, mouth open and touch reaching out for a single snowflake. The moment she makes prolonged contact, if vibrates and tingles on the tip of her tongue, then immediately melts. Science is amazing.

Back down on the flats of her feet, Clara approaches the western entrance of the research station, carefully wrenching the door open and poking her head inside. Pale eyes wander the open corridor, snow drifting in through the breezeway. As the door is shut, she passes beneath stalled thermal vents; fan blades stilled and hot air merely a hopeful idea as she walks to the next door. Crouching, Clara lays down the toolbox where she always does, then straightens out her jacket, dusts off what little snow managed to collect on her shoulders from contact, and opens the door to the interior of the facility.

Peeking around the door, Clara spots a bearded man holding a walkie-talkie up to one ear. His back is to her, frozen in mid-stride like a snapshot of a moment in time. She offers a hesitant smile to his back, then scowls as she retreats towards the door he looks to have emerged from. Just a few more paces down the concrete-floored hall, she can feel the pangs of hunger attacking her stomach again. Clara swallows, noisily, painfully, and tries to remember the last time she ate. With time frozen so often, it's hard to keep an accurate estimate of its passage; Her digital watch is useless.

Turning back around, Clare looks at the bearded man's back. Creeping up behind him, she is careful on approaching his periphery. The blonde draws back her hook, shaking out her hair before crawling down on the floor, moving on her hands and knees in front of him like a child playing hide and seek. She scoots back on her behind, pushing towards a door, trying to stay out of line of sight.

It's a difficult, slow and precise process to avoid where Paulo is watching. Paulo. Thinking about him, here with her back up against a wall, sitting on the hard floor like a misbehaving toddler at Thanksgiving, she's reminded of the years that she worked with him here. Paulo; the dopey and hopeless Argentinean meteorologist. Paulo; the only man she's ever known to fail at making a pot of coffee that not even someone in Antarctica would drink. Paulo; the dead-eyed murderer who shot sixteen lab researchers dead without blinking. Paulo; the man who brought communications officer Kreiger onto his knees and shot him in the back of the head as an example to the others.

Fuck him.

Squirming out of sight, Clara gets back up onto her feet, making headway for the galley to grab a quick meal before finding a place to hide and sleep. With everything in the research station compartmentalized and sealed off behind vacuum-locking doors for heat retention, sneaking with her unique ability is a mercifully easy thing. Through the kitchen and past a security camera, Clara keeps eye contact with it at all times, her muscles tensing and fingers tapping up and down inside of her too-long sleeves.

No alarms sound, no one must have been watching.

Opening the door to the stock room, Clara steps inside and closes the door, locking it behind herself. A deep breath is taken, circling over to the shelves, gathering up a few cans of preserved pear halves, some pineapple rings, a can of tuna, and the last uneaten bagel. It's a miserable meal, but it keeps her healthy, keeps starvation from setting in and ripping her apart mentally and physically. She swallows, noticing something out of the corner of her eyes. A small, round, plastic sphere attached by a twist-tie to the corner of one of the shelving units.

Clara's eyes track a cord from it, down to the floor, across to the wall, into an outlet— it's a webcam. Immediately her eyes dart around the room, up towards the ventilation ducts. Thin strips of paper on the vents are blowing freely in the air, moving, someone is watching her. As soon as that realization hits home, Clara is moving as fast as she can, shoulder slamming into the stock room door, fingers fumbling to unlock it. Cans tumble out from her arms, one bounces and rolls across the floor, the bagel is lost in the shuffle of the door opening.

She rushes across the kitchen, picking up a knife from the butcher's block, swinging it around to hold underhanded. The moment she rounds a corner, there's a brunette woman with an MP5 machine run gaised from a shoulder strap to the waist position. Clara exhales a sharp, hot breath and screams, her feet sliding across the concrete. The gun erupts into a hail of bullets, screaming hot metal across the walls in a shower of sparks. Clara's feet slip-slip-slip-grip in a kicking frenzy of steps, finally getting traction as she charges the gun-wielding woman.

That kitchen knife is raised, and as Clara rushes her brunette assailant she plunges the knife down into her shoulder, sending the woman crumpling to the ground. Her orange vest has a name-tag on it, ID card flapping around her neck — Steyr, Julia — Clara considers her old friend for a moment as she twists the knife in her shoulder to make her scream. One boot comes up, a swift kick to Julia's chin, and the brunette goes sailing backwards, gun sliding from her grip.

Julia; the plucky doctor who took care of Clara's frostbite the day the team recovered that strange man who had somehow wandered all on his own into the snowfield. Julia; the quirky woman who re-uses old calendars to save paper. Julia; the woman Clara held in her arms the night she miscarried in the bathroom. Julia; the woman who cried her eyes out when she discovered she suffered from Friedreich's Ataxia and would likely be wheelchair bound for the latter part of her life from the incurable degenerative brain disorder. Julia; the woman who cut the communication lines to the outside for a week. Julia; the woman who confirmed all is well over restored communications while Paulo massacred the rest of the staff. Julia; who pretends to still be a captive to the others.

Fuck her.

Leaping over Julia's screaming form, Clara runs at full speed around the corner, past a confused Paulo who is too busy fishing for his revolver in his jacket to stop her. She bolts through the open door behind him, using all her body weight to slam it shut as he tries to get his own weight against it. Clara screams a frustrated, defiant howl as she wrestles the door shut, twisting the vacuum lock before breaking away from the door and taking down the hall.

As she runs, Julia can feel the eyes aren't on her anymore. Out one of the windows, the snow has stopped falling. She dropped everything but the pear halves. Collapsing to her knees in that moment, the blonde woman lets out a ragged, horrified sob as she drops the can of pears down onto the concrete. Gloved fingers cover her eyes, muffle her cries, and for just a little while, she lets herself go. Halfway through wiping her eyes, she finally looks up into the office at her side.

A tall, thin man with gray hair stands there, weathered face sagging in perpetual frown. Julia's heart skips a beat in her chest. Wagner. Wagner; the man who arrived with a contingent of armed soldiers in the middle of a blizzard. Wagner; the man who murdered all of the Chinese scientists and took over the drilling platform. Wagner; the murderer. Wagner; the manipulator. Wagner; power thief.


She can see his eyes, focused down at a walkie in his hand. A hasty, shuddering breath comes over her, another sob, and she's grabbing her can of pear halves, running down that hall as fast as her feet can carry her. She runs until the hall ends, until her legs ache, until she can't see the catwalks and elevated walkways any longer. Until all that's left are bay doors where ice-traversing vehicles should be parked.

Clara staggers, moving to crouch in a small alcove beneath a set of metal stairs, cradling her can of pear halves…

Wishing she remembered a can opener.

But at least she's safe.

Out of sight, out of mind.

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