The Transition, Part I


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title The Transition, Part I
Synopsis Aric Gibbs awakens from his capture a free man… with more questions than answers.
Date January 18, 2011

"Life is pleasant…"

"Death is peaceful…."

"It's the transition that's troublesome."

Isaac Aasimov

For Aric Gibbs, life has been one long and successive string of coincidental events leading to a singular and defining moment in his life, one predestined in a manner unlike most prophecies. That it happened once before is truth only to those who have lived their lifetimes once over before, and to the doppleganger of one Richard Cardinal, the fate of Aric Gibbs — both in this life and another — is unavoidably tragic.

Fleeting moments of unconsciousness combined with the suffocating silence and painfully isolating state of drugged unconsciousness has been the standard of the day. From fleeting glimpses of white-walled rooms, concrete cells, and the enclosing lid of a metallic coffin padded with vynil and laden with tubes and hoses. Ever since the day that black bag was pulled over his head at the Suresh Center, Aric has not had a sense of equilibrium, time, or awareness.

None of that matters now.

Ice cold air is the first thing that Aric Gibbs feels coursing through his lungs as his eyes snap open, a feeling of tingling numbness spread out all over his body. His back arches involuntarily, fingers curl against the air and the cloudy sky overhead shifts with thick cloud cover. The air burns his lungs, snowflakes melt on cold cheeks, stinging with each touch. It's either becoming morning or night from the way the sky is near dark, everything else remains blurry and indistinct.

Choking violently, there is a sense of disorientation and confusion that swims in Aric's mind, his vision fades in and out and his stomach turns, making it feel as though he'll vomit at a moment's notice. It might be welcomed, as his throat feels dry, as if a century of dust has setled in the back of his throat.

The noise of a city begins to fill Aric's senses, distant yellow lights are recognizable as streetlights. Snow rests in drifts, and it becomes evident as Aric rolls onto his side that he was not on even ground. He falls, sliding down cold, wet snow and onto an icy sidewalk with a hard crash. Bare hands scrape chill across icy concrete decked with sand and salt that whitens the sleeves of an unfamiliar brown jacket.

Everything is cold, and the sensation of freezing from the inside out is evident once the numbness begins to fade. Aric's long hair is caked with melted snow and ice, frosted locks of hair swaying in front of his eyes that still struggle to focus. He's on a walkway, flanked by snowbanks, in what feels like a park from the stick-bare trees in the distance.

His stomach churns again, nausea sets in and a throbbing migraine wracks the young man's head. His neck is sore on one side, painfully so, and bare fingers feel the smooth texture of an adhesive bandage just beneath his jaw on the right side.

City lights are indistinct from far away, snow is falling; thick and heavy flakes in hauntly slow progress.

He's alone.

Alone and unable to recall how he got here, or worse yet…

Where here is.

As he begins to work the muscles in his jaw, Aric makes an attempt to speak and the hoarse croaking sound escapes his lips like he was a Jewish mother clearing his throat. His eyes slowly moving around he makes an attempt to see anything he knows or markings that can reveal where he is as he begins to slowly make an attempt to stand.

When he stands his left knee gives out from under him as if he hasn't use them in days and he stays in that knelt position.

"The men… are gone." The voice isn't a familiar one, though that it comes from someone who wasn't even there a moment ago is jarring. The suddenness of the sound makes Aric's muscles tense, should elicit an electrical charge from his newfound ability — but instead reveals nothing of the sort.

As Aric's blurry vision begins to clear, the darkly dressed shape headed towards him down the winding and slick path emerges through the snow. Tall and lanky in both build and mannerisms, skin darker than the shade of gray that his buttoned-up wool coat has, though not as much as the black scarf wound around his throat. "Do you hurt?" The stranger asks as he stops several feet away, hesitant to move too close to the disoriented young man.

As he stops, the stranger lifts his hands up to draw back a sweatshirt hood covering his head, alowing snaking tendrils of dreadlocks to spill down his shoulders and his weathered, old face to be revealed. He isn't someone Aric recognizes, though with his foggy his memory seems at the moment, he wonders if he'd recognize his own reflection.

As he looks down at his hands, Aric does hurt as he looks bact at the stranger. He does not like being down a level from him as he stands up slowly and almost loses his balance again but catches himself grabbing onto a nearby street light. He looks back at the man and down at his hands and then back at the man.

As he is finally able to get the word form in his throat a whisper escapes him, "Yes." He looks back at the man and cocks his head to the side, "Where…" Aric coughs bring a hand to his chest and steadies himself, "Where am I… who are you?"

One dark brow on the dreadlocked stranger's head rises, followed by a slow tilt of the stranger's head. "You are on a street, in a park…" seems like a sarcastic answer, though the look that the stranger offers is a haunted one, as if troubled by Aric's question and putting up a front of humor. "This is Douglas park," he clarifies, but the name doesn't seem familiar. New York has hundreds of parks, some large and some sprawling — this could be anywhere in the city.

"As for who I am," the man begins, resting a gloved hand at his chest, then upwards as he loosens his scarf and pulls it slowly out from around his throat. "My name is Damian, an' I am a friend." Taking a slow step forward, Damian offers out the scarf in one gloved hand, his brows lifting slowly in hopeful anticipation.

"You seem like you could use a friend," Damian opines with a toothy smile, motioning out with the scarf towards Aric.

As he looks down at the scarf, Aric does not take it as he takes a step back and looks around again. His head arcing backwards as he makes an attempt to breath and stops in mid stretch. His hand coming to his jaw and looks back at the man, "Damian… I am a bit low on trust right now. Where is this park? Where exactly am I?" He brings a hand to his head and groans softly, a cough escaping him in a painful wheeze.

"Trust best be earned, not given away, so you're good on that…" Damian agrees, managing something of a hesitant smile. "But you aren't going t'be able t'do much if you freeze yourself t'death, you can have my gloves too, if you'd like." Gray eyes stare across the icy divide between he and Aric, watching the younger man's posture and state of being.

"This is Chicago, Illinois." Thousands of miles away from New York City, halfway across the entire country. "I know that you have had yourself a bad spot, I understand. Usually, when I see the white vans that come from the old factory," he notes while waving a hand behind himself as if to indicate its direction. "They be picking people up… not dropping people off. You've found yourself in a bad situation… and a fine man once taught me, that to help others in need ensures that there will always be others to help when you need it."

Arching one brow, Damian takes a slow step forward and offers out the scarf again. "I'll listen, son, if y'want t'tell me why it is the men what kidnap people wanted you? Or…" His brow lifts a little higher. "Why they didn't want you."

"Chicago!" Aric says a bit to forcefully and begins to cough again as he looks at the man's scarf. As he takes the scarf he nods slowly in thanks and begins to wrap it around him slowly, "Thank you." He does not take the gloves but shoves his hands into his jacket pocket and looks in the direction "old factory" and then back at Damian, "I don't remember much. I am not sure you would understand either Damian… I am not sure I still understand myself." He wavers in the place he stands and sighs, "I need to find a phone."

"Chicago," Damian parrots back at Aric, "like the musical, but with less singin' and dancing. So… perhaps not much like the musical at all?" The direction Damian had motioned in is just more empty park, stickbare trees decked in ice and snow and the distant lights of the city. Wherever he was indicating, it's likely more figurative than indicative of any one place. Whatever it is he knows, though, it involves Aric's former captors.

"No phones here," Damian admits with a pat of his own pockets, "never much had use for them…" Easing closer a little bit more, Damian arches a brow hesitantly and considers Aric again. "But if you have someone y'need t'call, I can walk you down to where there's a pay phone that works. Don't much have change on me, but I think that they still have collect calls these days…" Hesitantly offering another smile, Damian lays his hand down on Aric's shoulder, offering a squeeze to the damp suede of his jacket.

"Do y'remember how y'got here?" The dreadlocked man asks hesitantly, lifting a brow in query. Right now, y'need t'come t'your senses before — "

Whatever Damian was going to say next is lost in a haze of pain as Aric's mind swims and his equilibrium wavers. A sudden eruption of pain throbs at the back of his head and his vision blurs as a torrent of images begins to pass before his eyes, like watching a movie on fast forward.

Some parts, though, are clearer than others…

The Natazhat Facility


Several days ago…

"…essure is steady, we've received contact and conduction from all six nodes, ready to begin testing."

Muffled, a voice hums in Aric's ears as his vision fades from black to the painful glow of white. A ring of light is blinding, a halo shadowing the masked face of an elderly man with round spectacles and shoulder length gray hair, holding a scalpel covered with slick red fluid.

Shallow breathing is awkward, evidenced by the tube slid down Aric's throat that his body reflexively tries to eject. Tape around his mouth sticks tackily and numbness extends from neck downward, as if he'd been paralyzed.

The soft beep of a heart rate meter only then begins to increase as the doctor turns his back on where Aric lays on the operation table. Other blurry, half-visible men in medical scrubs look focused on monitors and displays.

Something is buzzing nearby, loudly, like an angry bee.

A muffled scream attempts to escape Aric's lips as he can not doing anything against his captors. He can't scream but guttural growls escape him unable to move as he senses his environment. His eyes wide with fear, anger, and pain….mostly fear at this point unknowing what is going to happen to him or why this is happening to him right now.

"He's awake!" The noise alerts the other doctors, spinning the old man around at their alerted cries along with Aric's frustrated sound. The surgical lamp's light reflects brightly off of the old surgeon's glasses, causing him to seem as though his eyes were ablaze when he turns to face Aric. Feeling in the former telepath's extremities refuses to return, that helpless sense of paralysis seems as suffocating as the prior unconsciousness had.

"You imbecile!" The German-accented old man cries out, "I told you we needed a proper anesthesiologist! Restrain him!" Through his hazy vision, Aric can see a security badge hanging on a lanyard around the doctor's neck, showing a photo of the old man. His bolded last name is printed larger than his first name, easier to read: Zimmerman.

Swiftly the other doctors move to pin Aric's shoulders down in the event that he does regain mobility, their rubber-gloved hands feeling oddly dull when they touch prickling numbness of paralyzed flesh.

As Aric's eyes wander his predicament, something else begins to come into focus; Rods — six of them — bristling up from his torso as if he were a skewered olive. Each of them nearly a meter long, two inches thick and beveled like the leg of a fancy chair. Wires and coppery nodes bristle off of the robs that stick up down the middle of Aric's body, from sternum to pelvis, right into bare and scarred flesh below and — quite likely — out the other side as well.

Electricity arcs between the metal rods, along with a few sparks flickering to life on Aric's arms and legs. He may be paralyzed, but he's not helpless.

When his eyes move down his muscular body, Aric's eyes widen in fear and pain as he looks upon the rods in his torso. Another growl escapes his muscled throat as he is able to move his head just ever so slightly. What the fuck is going on Aric screams in his mind. His emotions flowing to new levels of fear and anger which in the past has caused him to lose control of his power in the past. He can only imagine what it is gonna do now with him half drugged, with rods sticking out of him.

It causes people to die.

Blinding light explodes from Aric, outwards in an uncontrolled spidery mass of electrical arcs seeking the fastest path to the ground. Two of those paths happen to be through the bodies of the doctors trying to restrain Aric. Electricity surges through their bodies, causes their flesh to smolder and hair to ignite into a puff of smoky flames. Screams last only seconds before their eyes boil in their sockets and blisters welt up across their hands. They're thrown backwards by the overwhelming surge of unbridled electrical discharge,

Doctor Zimmerman finds himself struck as well, but his distance affords him a shock from the floor rather than a direct hit by one of the bolts. He falls backwards, a choking noise of pain wracking his old body as he reaches out for a tray of tools to brace his fall, only succeeding to knock it over in the process. Electrical equipment is fried by the power surge, the heart rate monitors — screaming with Aric's increased adrenaline causing his heart to pound — pop and smoke and catch fire internally. Smoke alarms trigger, sprinklers overhead click on as Zimmerman struggles up from the floor.

"No! No!" Zimmerman shouts as water begins to spray downwards onto Aric's electrified body. The moment the water hits him, Aric feels the intense electrical outpouring of his own ability in every inch of his being. Everything that was numb now burns with intense pain, electricity courses through his muscles, arcs upwards between the Jacob's Ladder rods rising up out of his body and crackle towards the ceiling.

Pain turns to nausea, nausea turns to choking, and when the lights go dark, so too does Aric's consciousness.

Douglas Park

Chicago, Illinois

Present Day

The memory comes flooding back in an instant, surging like a tidal wave that crashes against the fore of Aric's mind. It was like the time he tried to read deep into Rupert Carmichael's thoughts and experienced some things that the now dead leader of Messiah had experienced.

This was terribly more intimate.

As Aric pushes himself violently away from Damian, he falls down to his knees and lets out a blood cuddling scream. The memories are all so clear as he pulls up his shirt and jacket frantically, to see if it is true. As tears begin to flow down his face his hands feeling his now exposed torso.

Damian recoils when Aric does, backing away in confusion and disconcerted surprise, his gray eyes wide. Aric, though, is more focused on discovering the reality of his situation. Heedlessly tugging up the front of his jacket and the loose sweater beneath, he exposes bare skin to the chill air of winter and finds…


Not a scar, not a scratch, not a single blemish that wasn't there before. "Are… what did you see?" It's all too telling, what Damian says in that moment. What did you see is not a normal person's reaction to Aric's situation, nor is Damian's convenient appearance anything shy of pure serendipity or conspiracy, depending on how one looks at it.

Are you okay doesn't get asked. Instead, Daman opts to keep his distance, one hand over his mouth and brows tensed. For all that he looks concerned, he also looks wary. Taking care of unpredictable strays has always been a dangerous line of work. No less now than before.

Aric looks up at Damian, "I don't understand…" He lowers his shirt and takes a deep breath, "I was taken… I was taken by someone. I had nightmares of a cell. I was in a cell. I saw me on a table with rods in me…" Aric wipes his eyes and he looks over at Damian, "You're a telepath of some sort? You were in my mind— My memories." The man knows when his mind has been touch having done it many times himself as he feels his sides again for comfort through the material as he says, "Power— blinding power…" He is confused as he lets out a frustrated breath. His hand coming to his throat, is that why it hurts so much?

Aric's assertion is met by a frown from Damian, one gloved hand held out in dismissal. "I am no telepath, but… I am different. Special, some might say. I can show people… things. What they have forgotten, or what they want to see." Damian's pale eyes scan Aric, only on seeing that he seems less apt to leap into some sort of frenzy does he take a hesitant step forward, then slowly crouches down to kneel beside the distraught man.

"You're not the first person to come back from their captivity, but the first in a long time. They took my… friend, Eli. I helped him remember after he came back…" Damian looks up and down Aric, considering something in momentary silence. "They did something to you… and I'm sorry for that. But… if you'd have it, I can help you remember what it was. Some of it, anyway. It's never a perfect science… nothing in this life ever is."

Those cold gray eyes look up to the dark sky, then back down to Aric. "Unless you'd rather not know," he finally offers in alternative. "I would not argue, given what it seems a glimpse has done to you. I… apologize."

Aric slowly makes his way to his feet as he runs a hand through his disgusting hair. He looks at Damian and says, "I am… special too. It's hard to explain, but I can make electricity." He brings his left hand up and nothing happens, "Well I used to." As he lowers his hand and takes a deep breath, "I am sorry… it was a bit of a shock and— I was not expecting it to open like a damn like that but…" He pauses his face showing the turmoil of does he look and learn or leave it be. Aric takes a deep breath and nods, "Show me what they did if you can. I need to know." He extends his left hand to the man and Damian might notice he is trembling slightly with fear.

"Not here," Damian disagrees, offering a slow shake of his head as he eases up to his feet when Aric does. "If what happened to you is as bad as it seemed, we shouldn't have you screaming out in the open like this. I have a place… nearby. It isn't much, but it's home, and for what it's worth I'm willing to share it with you." Damian's gray eyes sweep up and down Aric again, and the dreadlocked man lifts his gloved hands up to raise his hood again, sheltering himself from the slowly falling snow.

"If nothing else, I can get you warmed up and put some food in you." An eyebrow slowly raises as Damian begins to walk away, then pauses and turns to look back over his shoulder to Aric expectantly. "With any luck, Eli is around. He might be able to help you get your bearings a little better and…" Taking a pause, Damian watches Aric inquisitively.

"Where's home?" It's a difficult question to ask, though not because Aric's forgotten anything about New York. But rather, home is where the heart is. Whether New York qualifies as that is difficult to say.

As he nods slowly, Aric takes a deep breath and shoves his hands into his jacket again. As he begins to slowly walk with Damian, he says in a near whisper, "The Blue Moon… it's my business and home." He follows Damian yet has an aura of fear around him and mistrust, "I have some friends there…. well, I hope they are my friends and did not get me sent to whatever I saw on purpose." Aric looks down at the ground as he walks and says in grumble, "I am not hungry right now."

"You are a moon man, then?" Damian offers with a touch of humor, trying to lighten the mood as he turns to walk ahead of Aric. "Well then, Moon Man, you will be at ease for now. Whatever troubles are awaiting you back home, they are far away at the moment. For now, you are with me, and you will find your appetite as easily as you will find your past…"

The dreadlocked man turns around, walking backwards across the icy path so as to look at Aric when he's speaking to him. "Come whatever may, know that you have a friend you can trust here, in Chicago. It may not be home, but few places are these days." Dark brows furrow as Damian watches Aric beginning to follow, even if hesitantly.

"Life has a way of showing you where t'go, even if it isn't always where you want to." Turning around with that, Damian leads Aric towards the distant city lights under the heavily falling snow, long dreadlocks swaying from side to side as he walks, gloved hands in his jacket pockets.

As the pair fade away into the dark of night and the haze of snow, a lone figure emerges from behind a hill of plowed snow, his dark, leather jacket buttoned up to the upturned collar, face hidden down towards his scarf and brows furrowed. Withdrawing a phone from his pocket, the stranger watches the direction Aric and Damian left in, running his gloved thumb over a single speed dial key.

Patiently, he waits for the other end to pick up, watching his breath rise as a cloud of steam. A voice on the other end makes the man's back straighten and shoulders square. Suspicious eyes scan left and right, and then as he ducks away back behind the high snowbank, his voice remains hushed.

"It's Eli," those suspicious eyes turn back in the direction of Aric's departure. "We've made contact with Gibbs, he seems to be holding up better than expected." Eli's tongue slides across the inside of his teeth, shoulders rolling slowly as the man on the other end explains the next course of action, heard only as a tinny noise away from Eli's ear. "Whatever you say, boss."

Another man, identical to Eli walks up from an ajoining path through the path, baseball hat pulled down and a smile smug across his lips. He offers a nod of recognition to his duplicate, who assuages his superiors fears as best as he can.

"We won't let him out of our sight."

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