ignacio_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif

Scene Title Samnite
Synopsis It's matter versus force in this match-up. Nacho and Marlowe have no grudges against one another but find themselves in a battle that's not meant to be to the death… but comes close.
Date September 1, 2019

Location Unknown

“…to be done quickly, given her ability. Get in, get out, drop the cages.”

“Got it.”

The two voices sound distorted as Marlowe and Nacho come out of their chemically-induced slumber. It takes a moment to get their bearings. Marlowe still has that hollow feeling that comes from being negated — Nacho perhaps doesn’t recognize that feeling, but it’s there too. Whatever he felt when his ability came alive is missing again.

Perhaps it was a dream.

As eyes open, the two can see they’re both in cages — close to one another, but not enough to touch. The room is dark but feels large, even if the far walls can’t be seen. Somewhere below them is the dull roar of a large crowd.

The owners of the two voices step closer — one wears the mask of a white cat, the other of a panda bear. They would be cute, perhaps, in another setting. The figure of the cat seems to be feminine; the panda, male.

“Ready?” asks the cat-masked woman.

The panda-masked man nods and they approach the cages, panda toward Marlowe, and cat toward Nacho. In their hands gleam syringes.

“What the fuck.” That’s the first thing out of Nacho’s mouth before he’s even opened his eyes, but it probably stands to reason. After all, he’s been kidnapped and maybe manifested an ability that he never thought he would but maybe he didn’t and he honestly has no clue what’s going on right now.

One eye opens with a wince, but when he manages to get a look at what’s coming his way, his eyes open wider and he scrambles back. His back bumps against cold metal, and too soon to get him any semblance of ‘away’ from whatever’s coming at him. “What the fuck, man?!” This time it’s more exclaimed than said, even though he’s still a little groggy. “Look, if you want me to perform at some kid’s party, maybe ask nicer!” He squeezes himself back as far as he can in the cage, looking quickly over at Marlowe. “Hey, hey! Wake up!” How is that going to help?

Well, at least he won’t be alone.

She’s had worse hangovers. But that’s not quite the same as being drugged, kidnapped, caged, and… negated. Marlowe groans under the heavy, hollow feeling as she comes to, groggily uttering an unflattering curse in Japanese. Her hand slowly reaches up to press at her face where she feels a throbbing. It almost pulses in time with Nacho’s shout to wake her.

Only when she opens her eyes to see the approach of the panda man through the bars does she blink and stare, first in surprise, then in a jolt of confusion and fear once her thoughts kick in and she realizes… she’s in a cage. A short glance to Nacho in the other cage shoots another cold stab of alarm. And she echoes the other captive’s swear. “Whoever you are, you stay the fuck away from me,” her words try to snap but come out in a hostile slurry. Marlowe tries to will her body into cooperation. Her reach for her power, a desperate but futile endeavor at the moment.

When she sees the cat-woman heading for Nacho’s cage, she swallows thickly. They might be complete strangers but they’re at the moment with a common enemy.

“Why does the acquisition team get pew-pew guns and we have to get up close and personal?” the panda says grumpily. The bars are thin enough for the long, lethal-looking syringes to make it through but not much else — a finger maybe can poke out at the two delivering the chemicals into their body, but not much else. Still, it’s harder to hit a moving target.

“They’re awake,” he complains — as if that’s not obvious from the swearing from Nacho and Marlowe. “Why can’t we do it while they’re still knocked out?”

“Acquisition team doesn’t have them in cages. There’s nothing they can do to you in here.” The cat-masked woman is clearly the panda’s superior. Marlowe and Nacho can see her hazel eyes roll as she taps out any bubbles in the syringe. “Timing,” she adds, for the answer to the second question.

There’s nowhere to get away from the long needle — the cage is just big enough to hold their seated bodies without much room on either side. “Relax. It’ll only hurt a moment. Can’t say the same for what’s next,” she says sweetly to Nacho as she suddenly plunges the needle into Nacho’s shoulder, and waits for Panda to do the same.

“Look, we can talk about this,” Nacho says, his eyes widening as the needle comes closer. “You can just let us go, okay? There must be something you want that we can get you.” If he could get through the cage bars through osmosis, he would be doing that right now, but alas, he cannot, and whatever else he was going to say is stopped with a hiss as the needle sinks into his shoulder. It hurts, yes, but there’s more fear there then pain.


His head whips to Marlowe, and the look on his face is relatively clear — he’s pretty sure he’s about to die.

With a single glance at the long needle, Marlowe bucks at the side of the cage opposite the approaching panda man. She's pretty damn sure that this is super unsanitary, for one. For two, her eyes swivel between staring at the cat-woman sticking Nacho with whatever concoction is in the syringe and back to the panda man.

She's not bargaining, nor complaining. But a smoldering look challenges his approach, almost daring him to try and shove the needle in. Despite the cramped cage, her body and her fist are readied, waiting for the opportunity to smack the pointy end down and bend it out of shape the moment the syringe is inserted.

She's not going out without a fight, for sure.

“My job pays more than what you can get me, bodega boy,” says the Cat, and while he can’t see her mouth beneath the ceramic cover of the mask, he can tell she’s smiling, and in a mean way.

Panda on the other hand has stopped as Marlowe prepares for the incoming shot. “Trainees, am I right?” she mutters, and swiftly stalks toward the cage, pulling a second syringe out of her lab coat — totally sanitary. They’re professionals.

No matter which way Marlowe sits, her back is exposed to one of them.

Eventually the plunger finds flesh.

The two assistants back away. Cat moves to push a button and there’s a whirr of sound before the two captives can feel something beneath them give way, as their cages are lowered down into what lies below.

At the same time, they can feel the glimmer of their abilities returning to them — with an edge of something else. Something making them angrier. Meaner. Stronger.

As they descend, the source of the dull roar becomes visible — there’s what could be described as an arena below, ringed by bleachers full of spectators. All wearing animal masks as well.

It’s like a Black Mirror episode minus the technology.

“Yeah, you’re a regular Jhon Vásquez,” Nacho retorts, slamming his hand against the cage as the syringe is pulled away, though it isn’t like he can hit the Cat in any way. Soon enough, he can’t even see her, and it’s cold comfort, since now they’re descending somewhere that feels distinctly like the lions’ den.

If all the lions were on top watching, anyway.

”Madre de Dios, que me han hecho?”

Nacho’s eyes widen as the crowd of masks comes into view, even as he starts to feel that new power coming back to him. And something else, too, that he can’t quite name. He’s not a violent man by nature — oh, sure, he’s done a lot of shit that isn’t great. No one’s saying he hasn’t. And he’s hurt people before, too. But he doesn’t crave it like some people do, and so this feeling, the sudden urge to do something that involves bloodshed about his predicament, is a novel experience. That, coupled with the new feeling of a power that he never thought he’d have, is a heady combination.

He slams his fists against the bars again, and there’s a little glimmer of something in the air outside the cage, the visual equivalent of bzzt before it’s gone again, but just for now.

Not without a fight. That's what Marlowe tells herself, twisting as much as she can in the cramped cage. But eventually one of the needles sticks and she gasps with the pinch of point in flesh, going still with eyes squeezed shut for a scant few seconds the way one can only do in focusing upon the sensation that spreads throughout her system.

She opens her eyes again as the cages start to lower, turning her gaze to the only other maybe friendly face in this whole predicament, Nacho. Except, not. When he slams his fists against his cage bars, Marlowe tenses. The fight or flight instinct pushes hard into the extreme within her and she 'retaliates' at his display by grabbing and digging in her fingers into the slim holes between. Brown eyes fleck into a golden color, and around the metal bars crackles blue-white sparks. She pulls at the material, willing - wanting - it to give way under her slowly returning power.

As the cage descends, a man wearing a baboon mask steps into the ring, lifting his hands at either side to encourage the crowd to get excited. “Ladies and Gentlemen!” his voice rings out. “Today for Team Priscus, we have a Matter Manipulator,” he gestures to Marlowe, “while Team Verus presents a Forcefield Generator! Shall we see how they do mano a mano? Will our gentleman have a field day? Will it be mind over matter? Let’s find out!”

The cages reach floor. A mechanism whines and the doors unlock as the Baboon backs out of the ring. Armed guards stand every few yards around the perimeter — some carry assault rifles, some dart rifles, some gas grenades that no doubt hold negation gas.

The crowd is shouting in excitement, a nightmarish crowd of animal masks clashing with business suits and evening gowns. At the top of one section of benches, more plush seating seems to be for the elite — their masks are higher quality than those in the “cheap seats.”

“There’s no rules except you have to fight,” the baboon says to the two gladiators without the use of his mic. “Try not to die. It’s not to the death, but it’s not against the rules, either.”

He brings the mic back up to his mouth, and his arm raises into the air. “Fight!”

That direction to fight seems to echo deep down in Nacho’s soul right now. His head whips toward Marlowe, his hands clenching into fists. His jaw clenches, his whole body tensing as though for a spring, though he manages with a very great effort to suppress it, or at least hold out a little longer.

“Are we really gonna do this?”

The words that come out are quite forced, as well, and they certainly don’t sound very nice, but the effort he’s making not to just start trying to land a punch wherever he can is obvious. “I got no problem with you,” he continues, despite the growl in his voice that is trying very hard to suggest otherwise. Down, boy. “Think if we just decided we weren’t gonna play, they’d let us go?”

The roar of the crowd, the glimmering sight of formal wear and oddly dehumanizing animal masks, is overwhelmingly coupled with the amped up rage factor coursing in Marlowe. Her wild eyed attention spins from one source to another, from the armed guards to the bleachers, the baboon and finally to Nacho.

“Fuck…” The word comes out a strangled growl, distanced from calm composure. And then more emphatically, “FUCK YOU!” Her stance drops to a single knee in the thin layer of sand and as she touches the dirt beneath, it’s like the sand itself comes alive. The granules warp and shift around her, blue-white sparks cresting on the waves rippling out in the direction towards Nacho as he stands there with fists clenched. The sand itself around his feet starts to move, to grab at his footing and threatens to drag him down into the ground.

The crowd leans forward in anticipation as the two fighters emerge from their cages — or rather their cages simply collapse around them. This is blood sport, and they want to see blood spilled. The energy of the crowd is almost palpable.

“Manipulator’s come to play, it seems,” cries out the Baboon emcee. “How will Team Verus respond?” He gestures to Nacho, who can feel that connection to his power growing — now that it’s been lost and regained, the feeling the new power gives him is like something filling a hole in him he never knew was there.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he knows how to control it.

Suddenly a wall slams up between himself and Marlowe, the displaced air ruffling hair and fabric of clothing. It’s like looking through faint blue glass for him — invisible for her. And then, just as quickly, it disappears again altogether, leaving nothing between himself and the moving sand waves.

“Shit!” Well, so much for diplomacy. Apparently they’re doing this.

Nacho stumbles as the sand underneath his feet starts to shift, a grunt escaping him as he struggles to maintain his balance. That wall, though, has his head snapping up toward it, his eyes widening as the new feeling of power starts to rise in his chest. He isn’t defenseless now, and while he might not know how to use it, he’s not going to go down without a fight.

That particular wall disappears, but he throws out a hand and another one appears above him, this one parallel to the ground. Not that anyone but him can see it, but still. He grabs the edge, and it’s enough to haul himself out of the shifting sands. As soon as he’s on more solid ground, he thrusts his hand out again, and another one appears. He jumps up onto it, then places another, and another. As he places them he jumps forward onto the next one, until he jumps off to land behind Marlowe instead. There’s some vague surprise that it even worked, but it’s being overridden by what that injection is doing. He throws up another one then, in between her and him. Despite that feeling of rage and desire to hurt welling up, though, he’s still on the defensive. For how long is anyone’s guess.

Marlowe's control of the sand in the pit echoes the unbridled anger, both the sand smashing up on unseen barriers and lightning-like energies leaping off in showers of sparks tying the manipulated matter to her will. She grits her teeth, heartbeat pounding in her ears the way Nacho's feet press against those invisible fields that take him over and behind her. Golden eyes track his movement.

But it's like she's not entirely under her own control. A war-like wordless scream rips from her and she pivots, feet sweeping roughly over the ground. Hands pressed into the sand, she clenches her fists tightly and the material lifts and crawls up her hands to wrap around like armored gauntlets. Then, Marlowe launches herself at her opponent again in another aggressive attack as she boldly aims a barrage of grit and sand-covered punches at Nacho and his protective fields.

“Team Verus is footloose and fancy free! Walking on air! That’s some fancy footwork,” calls out the Baboon. The crowd is cheering, enjoying the acrobats of seeing a person seeming to walk in mid-air.

Up at the top of the spectator seating, a woman in a red gown and a White Rabbit mask jumps up to her feet, spilling her glass of red wine on the folks below. The Black Stag beside her seems to laugh, given the shake of shoulders, before applauding politely — he looks like he might be at a golf tournament cheering Tiger Woods.

“But Team Prsicus is bringing it! Look at this sandblasting!” the emcee’s voice booms. “Bet she’d be useful at the Home Depot!”

Nacho barely manages to throw up a field to block those punches — and Marlowe herself, because she comes at him like a bat out of hell and it’s all he can do to defend himself. Each one of those sand blasts has his forcefield flickering under the strain, though he’s the only one who can see it. One of them has it failing completely, and he’s knocked off-balance from getting clipped on the shoulder.

He lets out a yell of pain mingled with rage, but before he falls completely he throws a hand out again. This time, the field that appears is at an angle, bursting out of the sand right in front of Marlowe’s feet. It’s clearly intended to make her fall, too, or at least give him a chance to right himself again before she’s right on top of him.

Everything the Babboon calls out, the dull roar of the crowd, is lost upon Marlowe. Even she feels disconnected from herself as she slams sand-covered fists against some invisible field that stops her from truly damaging Nacho as much as the adrenaline pumped drug-induced action drives her to do so. Her eyes widened to golden circles on white, dark, dilated pupils stare at her opponent almost without sentience.

The all out attack leaves her vulnerable, open, and caught off guard when the floor field bursts up at her. The forward leaning movement from Marlowe means she slams up against it roughly, chin first. Her head snaps back as she staggers, focus lost and sand-gauntlets sloughing off her unclenching fists.

The crowd is evenly split; some roar when Nacho gets clipped in the shoulder while the other half crows and yells in appreciation when his forcefield sends Marlowe to the ground.

All of the sand’s movement on the manipulator’s part reveals more metal in the spots the sand cover has grown thin. Somewhere below is a dull thrum.

“Get up and fight!” calls out an agitated looking racoon-masked man in the front row closest to the fighters. “I have money on this, you evo bitch!”

If the fighters hope anyone’s on their side — and not just for the sake of their bets — those hopes are quickly dashed when everyone around the racoon laughs before picking up the chant. “Get up and fight!”

Even through the haze of pain and rage, Nacho manages not to just go at her while she’s down. He takes a few quick steps backward, throwing up another shield between them while he catches his breath. “Chinga tu madre, mapache de mierda hijo de puta!” he screams back at the racoon mask dude, and for a moment it looks like he might turn on him instead of Marlowe, but those guns stop him from doing that.


If Marlowe feels the pain throbbing in her rattled skull, she hasn’t been too affected beyond a cut that’s bound to bruise. The calling din of the audience goads her back up partially, as she plants a hand down in support of a defensive linebacker’s stance. She remains that way, staring at Nacho, at their surroundings and the masked spectators.

Golden eyes shift away from the force field wielder and down to the stable ground beneath her palm. More sparks fly as the flooring - sand and metal both - start to liquefy into a malleable substance. Her hands starts to sink before it begins to rise when she looks as if she’s pulling the arena’s materials along like silly putty.

The spectators howl for a show. They’re certainly getting one as Marlowe gets up again. The flooring itself is made to shudder and shiver as the will of the matter manipulator gathers the substances to her.

The angry screaming from Nacho draws the guards closest to him to attention — not that they weren’t already. But their hands on their weapons — guns with bullets and negation gas alike — tighten and raise the weapons to aim them in his direction. He’s already backing up, though, and the guards’ muscles relax very slightly.

Closer to Marlowe, the guards glance to one among them, clearly a superior; their questioning look is visible through the plexiglass of their visored helmets. The superior holds a gloved hand out in a hold gesture. Wait and see seems to be the direction there as Marlowe begins to redecorate the arena with her ability.

Nacho jumps back when those sparks start flying, his eyes widening as he watches for a second or two. He looks around quickly for something to do — anything to do. He is obviously not as familiar with his powers as Marlowe is, having literally just discovered them.

His eyes move across the masked faces, his expression contorting as he looks back to his opponent. There’s another split second of thought, before he throws his hands out, his eyes narrowing with concentration. This time, the shield envelopes Marlowe, as though she’s in an invisible egg.

With her focus on her ability gripping the matter, Marlowe barely registers the motions of the guards at all. The metal flooring groans in protest as it pulls away in sticky chunks, strung out like melting mozzarella.

An incoherent yell of fury rips out of Marlowe as she grasps the material and swings out a handful of it to hurl towards Nacho.

The metal hardens as it sails through the air and leaves her touch, but doesn’t get far due to the invisible field. Undeterred, she strips another piece of metal and sand out of the floor and throws it against the field too, only to watch it clang down onto the arena floor. A third time, and the floor's got some irreparable holes that will take some fancy patchwork or another Evolved to put back together.

Seeing her projectiles rendered useless, Marlowe finally rushes at Nacho, slamming on the field with an abrupt stop. Her fists smack at the seemingly empty air. Without noticing it, her breaths get faster and harder as she also fights against the dizzying feeling circling her.

The lead guard seems content to keep holding for the time being, though he keeps an eye on the damage being wrought to the metal of the floor — and where the fighters move in correlation to those new holes. Whatever is below, it’s too dark to see, but it’s apparent that they’re not on a ground floor; there’s something beneath.

To the audience, Marlowe appears like the stereotypical mime trying to get through an invisible door. They can’t see the shield any better than she can. Those who have been cheering for Team Verus can see that this is good for their contestant, and their roars begin to crescendo. The Black Stag masked man above sits, taking a sip now and then of his drink; it’s hard to see his expression to know how disappointed he might be, but the White Rabbit woman is all but jumping up and down and pounding his shoulder in glee.

Marlowe alone can feel that her oxygen is gone after a few seconds of that quick breathing. She’s sucked out the little bit of air from the pocket left in the shield enveloping her. Those closest to her can see something is wrong — but not what.

Nacho can see what he’s done, of course, and for a moment there’s a triumphant look — considering the fact that he believes he’s won, maybe it’s not surprising. However, that triumph is short-lived. Despite the haze of drugs heightening the rage that he’s already feeling from having been kidnapped and forced to fight some random person he’d never met before, he does notice Marlowe’s breathing getting faster. As soon as he does, something seems to click for him. He frowns, squinting and furrowing his brow; anyone who’s close enough to see can probably identify the look of concentration, of someone trying to do something.

But nothing happens.

When nothing happens, his eyes widen, and some of the color drains from his face as he tries again, starting to look a little more frantic. The field is still up, but he’s the only one who can see it. He lunges forward, pounding on the other side, but the look on his face isn’t rage anymore. It’s definitely fear.

“Help!” he cries, jerking his head toward one of the guards with wide eyes. “Help her!” Help me.

Marlowe slams a shoulder against the invisible wall, and then after a few more seconds of struggling against the feeling of losing more than just a fight, it evolves into losing focus and drooping eyelids. Finally, Marlowe collapses. The golden color of her irises fades away to brown.

The metal solidifies in its reaching, rictus yawn against the side of invisible field. The sand drizzles down loosely, harmlessly, back down to the arena floor. The matter manipulator joins both elements.

Her face pales as if to match her opponent's draining color, and she stares blankly up at Nacho as he calls for the guards' help.

Then her eyes roll back, and she's lost consciousness.

The slamming of Nacho’s body against the invisible shield gives the audience some insight into what’s going on. Those closest to Marlowe can see the blue shade of lips. A few eyes behind the masks widen, and one man has the decency to call out, “She’s suffocating!”

Others around him cheer at his cry.

The guards on the periphery look to their captain who points to one of the men carrying the mixture of tranquilizer and negation in their dart rifles. He in turn shoots at Nacho; the dart finds its way into the thin fabric of the shirt he’s wearing, its sting dull but palpable.

The cocktail in the dart works fast, but maybe not fast enough for the woman who isn’t getting any oxygen. The captain himself kicks open a small door in the perimeter barrier. He strides swiftly but there’s no mistaking the efficiency for anything as sentimental as compassion in his posture or expression. The guards lift their rifles to cover their captain, clearly prepared for whatever is coming.

Every rifle is aimed at Nacho.

Suddenly the captain’s rifle swings, its butt aimed for Nacho’s head. The lack of consciousness that accompanies the blow will beat out the drug’s effects by a precious thirty seconds at most.

But those thirty seconds might save Marlowe’s life.

Nacho slams his fist against the wall over and over again, the anger dissipating into abject horror. ”No!” he screams as Marlowe slumps to the ground. “Please!” The dart hits him, but he barely feels it. It doesn’t immediately knock him out, and so he sees the captain coming over out of the corner of his eye, even as the edges of his vision start to become dark.

He sees him, and he sees the guns.

His eyes squeeze shut, a quiet sound of despair escaping him just before the rifle hits its target. That sound is lost amongst the cheers as he crumples to the ground in an unconscious heap. As he does, the air returns to Marlowe’s space.

The announcer baboon has been too caught up in watching to comment but after the tense few seconds of the guards turning on Nacho, returns to his job. His voice booms out as what looks like a medical team hurries forward, one administering something to Marlowe in a syringe just as the woman’s lids begin to flutter in response to the oxygen returning to her body. She grows still once again, but the color has returned to her lips, at least. They fit her with an oxygen mask to help her recover what was lost.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, what a finish! We certainly didn’t know what to expect with our two contenders today! Despite the fact we have two unconscious bodies, we do have a winner! Our forcefield manipulator turns out to have some offense up his sleeves, as our poor lady of the matter manipulation has discovered. This one goes to Verus, so we’re all tied up! Cocktails will precede dinner in the dining room in thirty minutes.”

The White Rabbit is hopping up and down as she claps, before the Stag rises and offers his arm for to take.

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