Salt & Rust


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Salt & Rust
Synopsis Director Kenner is thrown into an out of body experience.
Date October 24, 2018

Fort Jay

Governor's Island

"Madame Secretary, I assure you we're on top of it."

Hard-soled shoes click loudly down the busy corridors of SESA's New York headquarters at Fort Jay. Field agents coming out of meetings converse noisily and excitedly with field technicians checking tablets and coordinating operation schedules. They zip left and right, parting for the gray-suited man storming in the opposite direction of their flow.

"What time does your plane from Kansas City land?"

Director Donald Kenner has barely slept in the last 48-hours since the first reported vision ripped across New York along with a vibrant aurora appearing over the city. Hurried in his pace, Kenner shoulders past junior agents and representatives from other federal branches pouring out of a conference center. Phone pressed to his ear, Kenner can't help but look frustrated with each passing step.

"Alright, I'll have a report ready for you once you're on the ground."

Finally getting through the thick crowd from the meeting, Kenner spots Deputy-Director Choi heading to the elevator from the conference room. "Madeline!" Kenner calls out to her, moving the phone subtly away from his mouth as he does. Choi turns around, clutching a tablet to her chest. As Kenner catches up, the two start walking together toward the elevator.

"Alright, I'll let you go." Kenner says as he dismisses the call, glancing over to Choi as they reach the elevators. "Zimmerman is up my ass sideways about this. Please tell me the meeting went well?" Choi nods in response, angling her tablet away from her chest and swiping the screen into active mode. She flips through a few documents, then hands it off to Kenner after he pockets his phone.

On the tablet screen, there's a heat map of the United States with blooming green spots across most of the eastern side of the country. "Jesus Christ," Kenner whispers as he brings a hand up to his mouth, looking from the screen to Choi as she calls the elevator. "How many reports are we talking? What's the—"

"One thousand and sixty eight," is Choi's conservative estimate. "That's a wildy innacurate figure though, given that we don't have SESA offices in every state and god knows what's happening in the Dead Zone. We've been trying to coordinate conversation with Praxis Heavy and Yamagato, but it's been inconclusive. I think they're trying to field this situation themselves."

Kenner hands her back the tablet when the elevator doors open, and he's the first to step in. "What about international?" He asks as Choi joins him. They press a button for the basement level, and Choi looks up at Kenner with a slow shake of her head.

"Smaller figures. International reports are in the hundreds right now. Our analyists think there's an epicenter and that the effect is tapering off exponentially. We've kicked analysis up to KC to see if they can figure out the epicenter. I contacted Divination and they suggest that it may be the solar activity causing this event, screwing with someone's ability like the visions that came before the riots."

Kenner nods, scrubbing a hand over his mouth. "So, this is the future? What people are seeing?" Choi's expression becomes visibly apologetic, and she looks down to the tablet and switches to another display with a deposed testinony from one eye-witness.

"It's unclear," Choi says with a furrow of her brows. "We're still collecting reports, trying to weed out what's actually these forced visions, what's triggered and unrelated abilities, and what's horseshit. We've—"

Old, rusting metal creaks with the strained groans out exterior pressure. The stink of rust and salt water clings heavily to the air, mixing with the agonized coughs of more than a dozen people spread out among grimy cots. Running a hand thorugh his scraggly beard, Donald Kenner walks through the room with halfway lidded eyes, shoulders slouched and knit cap pulled low to help feld off the bone-chilling cold in the room. "How many more is this today?" Kenner asks of a younger man walking at his side. West Rosen, his right hand.

"Nine," West indicates, pointing to the people curled up on the cots. "This isn't going to get any better, either," he says with furrowed brows. "This structure wasn't really ever meant to endure the ocean pressure it is now. The major leaks were sealed years ago, but the collapsed ring has been seeping in to maintenance tunnels and air gaps for years. The entire arcology is rusting on the inside, and Doctor Ford thinks that's what's causing the brown lung."

Kenner makes a frustrated noise in the back of his throat and scrubs one hand over his face. "So why are we seeing it now instead of last year, or the year before that? If this tub's been rusting since the flood people should've been getting sick…" His expression scrunches up, weary eyes flicking to west. "Is this sabotage?"

Sucking in a slow breath, West is silent for a moment before he exhales that held breath as a sigh and shrugs. "It's not out of the realm of possibility," he admits, reluctantly. "We still don't know where Rianna is. She could have damaged the air filtration systems up on the sealed level. But if she's up there…" West trails off, shaking his head as he looks back to Kenner.

"Alright." Kenner scratches at his beard again. "Get a team together, some of your people who're already showing signs of brown lung. Have them breach the seal and—"

"Don." West steps in front of him, eyes wide. "The— we can't open that floor we don't know if the virus is still present! That could kill us all!" Kenner nearly bumps into West when he cuts in front of him, and he's just as quick to unholster his sidearm and press the barrel square to the middle of West's chest. He stares up at the younger man, grinding the edge of the barrel into his sternum.

"Then send Hawkins." Kenner growls, one brow raised slowly. West looks momentarily shaken, then slowly nods in the affirmative. "Have him go up there, deliver a report, and when he gets back gas him and put a bullet in his head and eject him out a fucking airlock." Kenner withdraws the gun from West's sternum. "Just to be safe, if you're so fucking concerned."

Swallowing audibly, West nods and looks over at the coughing people on the cots, then back to Kenner. "Affirmative, sir."

Kenner smiles, holstering his sidearm at his hip. "If he finds Rianna, he has orders to ki—

" — enner! Come on, come on talk to me!" The next thing Kenner experiences is waking up on the floor of the elevator, doors open and a few junior agents crouched around him with Deputy-Director Choi kneeling over him with a hand on his chest. Kenner gasps for air, blinking and looking around bewildered. His breaths are short and shallow; panicked things.

"Don? Don do you know where you are?" Choi asks, then looks to one of the technicians. "For god's sake get medical!" She looks back to Kenner, whose eyes wander the ceiling of the elevator, mouth working open and closed as his fumbling hands find one of Choi's and he meets her gaze with a horrified, confused look in them.

"I saw it," Kenner gasps breathlessly.

"What?" Choi asks, squeezing his hand. "Don, what did you see?"


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