Paved With Good Intentions, Part III


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Paved With Good Intentions, Part III
Synopsis Asi Tetsuyama seeks her path out of PISEC, but she isn't the only resident taking flight into uncharted territory.
Date February 2, 2020

"This way."

Asi directs Bruce Maddox ahead of her by steering him with her offhand, gun clutched in the other. While he moves toward the emergency exit, she follows at a slower pace, turning to look over her shoulder at where they've come from. Behind her, she can see the body of the guard she'd shot on her way in to the server room.

With a flash of blue sparking in her dark eyes, an explosion ignites in the room they left half a minute earlier, blowing the door out across the hall. What was formerly the server room belches black smoke out into the hall, lights flickering. The screech of the klaxons inside the building is a sound muted when the emergency exit swings shut behind them, though there’s little time to appreciate the shift in scenery.

“Keep moving. Go for the trees. Keep close to the building.”

The small drone she’d produced from her jacket before going in zips in the direction opposite of them both, flying quietly and at roof-height. It slows as it nears the corner of the building, and Asi turns her head in its direction while it hovers in place, adjusting its angle to peer for any persons who’ve evacuated out the front. She looks where she’s going again, then checks to her left for signs of security who might’ve wandered too far north of the burning outbuilding.

Breathlessly, she redirects: “Break east now.”

East? Which way is—”

To your right. To the trees.” Asi snaps, blue in her eyes as she turns back to consider the drone. It’s less than a hundred yards away, and through it, she can see a small cluster of PISEC employees heading out of the main entrance, evacuating after that second explosion. It puts spirit in Asi’s step, encouraging her— and by proxy Maddox— to find their way to the cover of the trees faster, before that group swung wide enough to possibly see them. “Go, go,” she hisses to him, and lifts her gun arm, swinging it through the air in an obvious ‘follow me’ gesture.

The drone rotates again and begins to beeline after them, peeling away from the building without following the same cautious cling to its side that they had.

Minutes Earlier

“Can anyone read me? This is Osprey-77, calling on all channels. We have an immediate security emergency at the PISEC on Plum Island, over!”

Seated in the pilot’s seat of a gray and blue Bell 206A JetRanger helicopter, a single PISEC security officer frantically broadcasts across all available channels, getting little more than static back for his distance. Beyond the windscreen of the helicopter, a portion of PISEC is wreathed in flames and belching forth a plume of black smoke high into the air. He curses to himself, slamming his hand against the console. No one was listening.

Movement caught out of the corner of his eye causes his heart to skip. But when the helicopter door is hauled open and a bare hand grabs him by the chest and yanks him out he screams in fright. The security officer lands on his back in the empty field the helicopter is parked in, staring up at a man in a leather jacket with a gun in his face.

“Can you fly a helicopter?” Silas Redd asks the guard on his back. His answer is a quick shake of his head in the negative, because if he could he’d already be gone. Redd’s response is a single pop of gunfire into the guard’s forehead. “Sucks t’be you then,” he adds, followed by a wave to the pair approaching over the open ground.

Pete Varlane isn’t much of a runner. He’s too old, too out of shape, too fed up with everything to run. But, when motivated by death and imprisonment, Pete can hustle with the best of them. The young and long-legged figure of Kyla Renautas at his side is quick to outpace him. There is fear in her eyes as she comes up on Redd, and he senses that fear like the way people say animals can. “Get in,” Redd orders with a motion to the door, not really watching Kyla or Pete. Redd’s attention is on the brunette woman making her way out of the treeline, the only other person with a gun at present.

Donna Dunlap relieved a member of PISEC security of their firearm the first moment she could. As she crosses the open field, her attention is first on her former captor Pete and then on the more immediate threat of Silas Redd. She watches Pete get to the helicopter and climb inside, then slows her pace as she closes in on Redd.

“Did you shoot the pilot?” Donna asks Redd, who in turn kicks the corpse at his feet and shrugs.

“He said he couldn’t fly,” Redd notes, looking up to Donna. “Guess I’m gonna give it a whirl. How different can it be from a prop plane, yeah? I just gotta get us,” he says with a turn toward the coastline, “across the water.”

Donnna looks down to the dead guard, then up to Redd. “Get in the copilot seat,” she asserts, “I can fly this.” Redd’s expression turns from smug certainty to suspicion the moment she reveals that, angling his head to the side and partly lidding his eyes. He hesitates from asking Donna precisely why she didn’t reveal that until now, instead motioning gallantly to the helicopter as if he were her valet.

“Your chariot awaits,” Redd says through his teeth. Whatever it takes to get off this island.

Whatever it takes to put a bullet in Asi Tetsuyama’s head.


Asi and Bruce make it to the first belt of green, and from behind them, no sounds of alarm rise. No telltale shouts of hey you or over there to indicate they’ve been spotted. It’s not to say that they or the drone might not have been, it’s just that they aren’t afforded the luxury of knowing they have.

Asi catches sight of how her breath flows from her in thin, vaporous streams every time she looks back. Once they clear the second intersection of concrete road and forest, she stops checking behind them. Ahead, the path would not afford her that luxury.

Sticking close to the road is a risk she doesn’t feel they can take, even though any bodies coming to them from Fort Terry on the other side of the island were more likely to have taken the southern route. They could clip a patrol having pulled a U-Turn. Any number of things could happen.

Such as the helicopter which suddenly appears overhead, flying from the east. Asi swears aloud and pulls Maddox back roughly closer to the treeline and stopping, for all the good the bundle of leafless trunks in their immediate vicinity might do them in this case… but the helicopter keeps on going, veering north and leaving the island entirely. The technopath’s brow furrows in silence as she watches the drab green shape fly further and further away from Plum Island, her grip on Maddox’s collar slowly releasing.

What the hell was that?

“Whoever that was,” Asi says more for her benefit than for Maddox’s, “I’m thinking we follow their lead.” She pats him on the shoulder before nudging him ahead, unwilling to let him get too far behind her. Before she takes off, she looks up to the drone that’s caught up with them, opening her free hand to catch it as it flies lower and closer to her before cutting its rotors entirely. It lands with a clatter in her palm and stays there as she walks through the brush after Maddox toward the shoreline.

She’d told Masika to head stateside if she heard the sound of a helicopter, but as they break out through the trees and onto the shore, she still half-hopes to see her and the scientist they’d collectively kidnapped somewhere up the rocky beach. There’s no one but them and the breeze, however.

Which makes it all the more important that Nabu’s escape route he’d offered actually pans out… that his word meant something after all.

Shoving the drone away into the pocket on the inside of her leather jacket, Asi pulls free the flip phone that had been palmed to her almost two months ago and flicks it open with her thumb. The screen blinks on. The message sends.

All other ways off the island lost to her now, she prays silently she’s not been swindled about this lifeline out.

“Do you actually get signal out here?” Bruce shakily asks, as if it were small-talk. He regrets saying anything a moment later, wrapping his arms around himself against the cold. Asi can hear his teeth chattering, palms scrubbing up and down his biceps as if that’ll do anything against the chill wind whipping in off of the ocean.


She does, in fact, get service out here.

A beat after Asi receives that text, there is a shimmering snap of distorted space seventeen feet to her right, slightly off from where the proposed rendezvous location would be, but close enough to make all the difference in the world right now. Maddox takes a step back from the distortion, watching a darkly-dressed woman manifest from it before his eyes. Lanhua Chen looks around herself to get her bearings, then fixes a gold-eyed stare in Asi’s direction, only slipping past her to Maddox a moment later.

“The data, now,” is the first thing out of Lanhua’s mouth as she makes an aggressive approach toward Asi and Maddox.

"I retrieved it in multiple formats," Asi replies, pushing Maddox a step in front of her indicatively. She keeps a grip on his bicep, studying Chen from afar. The last time they'd been face to face, Lanhua had been wearing such a different expression. Now's not the time for this, she has to tell herself sternly.

"The details come once we leave. Security may have sighted and be following us," she points out at an equally terse clip. "There's not a lot of time."

Asi juts her chin northward, toward Connecticut. Her eyes stick to Lanhua. "If you can take us as far as the other shore, I'll explain there."

Narrowing her eyes, Lanhua extends a hand out toward Maddox and he is sucked off of his feet and yanked toward her as though he were lassoed. Maddox stops with a sudden jerk and a yelp a few inches in front of her palm, then is swung around to her side like meat on a hook. When Maddox is swept out of Asi’s field of vision, she sees Lanhua’s eyes glowing a brilliant gold, like hot steel.

Lanhua walks toward Asi, with Maddox’s gently rotating form bobbing along beside her like a balloon tied to her outstretched hand. The closer Lanhua gets the more Asi can feel a low vibration in the air all around her, sees the pebbles on the ground rising up nearby. Lanhua furrows her brows, gold eyes brightening, and there is a sudden and horrifying sensation of falling


Confederated States of Iraq

until forever suddenly ends.

The world disappeared in a vertical blur when that wave of vertigo and the sensation of falling hit. It slams to a stop with a wall of dry heat as Asi’s world changes around her in an instant. She, Lanhua, and the telekinetically held Maddox appear on the rooftop of a twelve-story tall building overlooking a densely packed city of sandstone-ten buildings and gridded streets along a winding, green river. The temperature difference is nearly fifty degrees and the sky cloudless. The terrain that expands out beyond the sprawling city is mostly flat, but rises up into a dark horizon of mountains in one direction.

“Oh my god,” Maddox whispers, pitching his head to and fro to try and get a better look at his surroundings. Lanhua, eyes cooling only somewhat from that flare of gold, spreads her unoccupied hand out to her side and kicks up her eyebrows.

“Welcome to Nasiriyah,” Lanhua says with a crooked smile, “the other shore.”

Asi's expression gives away little at all as she turns her head to observe her surroundings after falling to a knee, her heart pounding. It'll be a while before it stops. When Maddox had been pulled away from her and Lanhua began her stalk in her direction, she had expected the worst. She'd expected to find herself disposable. The feeling of the world falling away—

She'd found herself questioning if that was what death felt like.

Her breathing evens as she focuses on the moment, on the new details. The weather, the river, the city. "Nasiriyah," she echoes back calmly. "Iraq." Eyes leaving the river, she looks back to Lanhua as she comes to her feet slowly. "Lovely."

Asi stands tall, squaring her posture despite warring sensations in her head and gut. She inclines her head slightly to acknowledge Lanhua, an uncomfortable shift that warns of another bout of vertigo. "Good to meet you, formally," she asides, since there's no longer danger at their backs. Her gaze flits to floating Maddox before returning to Lanhua, to business, and what she had promised to convey. "A second scientist was taken from the lab as well. All data we could extract was put on a device that should be surfacing with them on the shore of Connecticut about now, escorted by one of the agents Mazdak loaned to me. Masika, the hydrokinetic. The demolitions expert didn't make it." She says nothing of the two others she had brought with her, not provided by Mazdak, the same as she'd not indicated use of them in communicating her plan and her needs.

"Suresh indicated he had been intentionally sabotaging the research efforts, so I have no idea what integrity of data we'll find on the device when it arrives. But, he described their work as research for a biological weapon intended to kill Adam Monroe."

Her visual attention on Lanhua is unerring, taking in her reaction. "What now, then?"

Lanhua’s eyes narrow slowly. “Fascinating.”

Excuse me,” is a small interjection from the bobbing form of Bruce Maddox, who is unceremoniously allowed to drop to the ground at a curl of one of Lanhua’s fingers, turning her burning gold eyes a cool and dark brown. Maddox grunts, rolls onto his side, and thinks better of sitting up. He glances over his shoulder, first to Lanhua and then to Asi, and stays hunched over on the roof.

“We will recover the data from Masika,” Lanhua states flatly, “and we are to assume that Mohinder Suresh is dead?” Her eyes narrow subtly. They don’t change color from brown to gold, so perhaps that’s a blessing that she can’t hide the use of her suite of abilities afforded through the Gemini process. “Unfortunately your word is not a currency Mazdak deals in, which means that you will be kept as collateral while we determine the veracity of your claim.” Lanhua takes a step closer to Asi. “Will you come as a guest? Or would you prefer to stay with Bruce?

Asi waits for the follow-up to Lanhua’s question. Because of course there is one.

She exhales a breath from her nose and looks away, unable to keep from allowing herself at least that. Her head shakes to herself as she wonders at it. All that she’s done, and she’s still treated like this. But turning back to Lanhua, the dark of her eyes sharpens, and her look hardens. “I wasn’t aware you represented Mazdak now, Chen,” she replies coolly, closing what distance there still is between them by stepping into it.

“Yes, I’ll hold,” she says, like the exchange is a phone call. Her head angles as she looks upon Lanhua, one arm lifting at the elbow to offer her hand out. “But I was told I would be put through to discuss my future once I verified what was being worked on at PISEC. I did what I was asked, what I was capable of.”

Asi muses deadpan, “I would hope keeping its word is a currency Mazdak does deal in.”

“Mazdak most certainly does,” Lanhua says coldly, taking one more step toward Asi. “They’ll determine which word they’ll keep will depend on if your data delivery goes off without a hitch. Until then,” she extends her hand toward Bruce and yanks the power augmentor towards her and up to his feet on that invisible thread of kinetic force, “you’re going to be Mazdak’s guest.”

“One way or another.”

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