The Transition, Part II


aric_icon.gif damian_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

df_cardinal2_icon.gif maddox_icon.gif

Scene Title The Transition, Part II
Synopsis Aric Gibbs recovers some of the secrets of the last few weeks, but some things were better left forgotten.
Date January 18, 2011

Every city has its secrets, every civilization has its poor and downtrodden. Sometimes those two things go hand in hand, and in this brave new world the union is more common than it is not.

It isn't a long walk from where Aric Gibbs awoke face-up in a snowbank, led by a mysterious man calling himself Damian. A stranger capable of feeling, interpreting and perhaps awakening the dormant memories of others, Damian has seen fit to be a shepherd to Aric's lost sheep status. Leading him, eventually, to a place where secrets and sadness go hand in hand, a shanty town at the heart of the snow-laden parkland within the bustling Chicago cityscape.

Douglas Park has its share of the homeless and destitute, just as any city's parks might. But like New York City, they have begun to congregate and consolidate themselves during winter months. Without the threat of curfew like in New York, however, they are more free to roam as they will. Beneath the span of a footbridge, the walls of cardboard, corrugated metal, garbage bags and hanging blankets look like a refugee shelter from some far-flung future where civilization has collapsed entirely.

Dirty, cold and lonely people are huddled around fires burning in cinder-block framed pits and metal drums. Some families are here, young children bundled up in whatever second-hand winter clothing they can find while their parents suffer the cold so that their children can be warm.

Sparse meals are eaten out of tin cans heated over open fires, crinkling candy bar wrappers and soda cans a common sight. Lit by one fire, a bearded old man sucks down whiskey from a bottle, staring with one open eye towards Aric as Damian leads him through the shanty town and under the shelter of the bridge from the cold wind and falling snow.

"I do not have much," Damian admits in a humble tone, approaching what amounts to a lean-to made from the frames of metal lawn chairs, trash bags and newspapers. It is the most simple and primitive of shelters, and as Damian settles down beneath the lean-to's overhang on a sheet of cardboard, he gestures for Aric to join him on a square of cardboard torn from a large box, while he goes about preparing a fire in a still smoldering pit surrounded by bricks.

This is his home, this is his world.

Douglas Park

Chicago, Illinois

As he watches the man lead him to his "home", Aric shows no malice or distaste in his face as he shoves his hands into his pockets. He keeps his head down slightly as they get into the poor district a bit deeper and he gives the one eyed man a curt nod as he passes him making sure to not lose his pace behind Damian.

"Thank you for showing me this much kindness after… well, ya know." He looks down at the cardboard and begins to sit down slowly. The man is usually very limber and in shape yet groans as he moves to sit down still sore from god only knows what.

"Kindness isn't what I'm showing you, but it isn't pity either— so that's something." Damian's voice is cool and smooth as he shreds up strips of newspaper, tossing them into the pit before adding broken lengths of thin and flimsy wood atop, hunching forward and breathing on the still hot coals inside, trying to get the fire to light again. "All I'm doing… is what I've done most of my life." His cold, gray eyes alight from the embers to Aric, "show people what they need to see."

Looking back down and exhaling a breath into the embers, Damian begins to get the fire back up and going, burning faintly, then beginning to spread as the kindling starts to ignite. "You had said to me, before, that you wished to know more about where you were and what happened t'you before you were brought here, yes?" Damian keeps his eyes on the fire as he talks, though quick glances up at Aric is out of politeness more so than anything. "I can do this, for you, but I cannot promise that it will be pleasant…"

Sitting up straight, Damian reaches behind himself and pulls out a few lengths of broken boards, tossing them onto the fire. "Some times, the mind makes itself forget. Scars come in all shapes and sizes…"

Aric nods slowly as he says, "My mind is stronger than you know." The ex-telepath pulls his coat closed and begins to zip up the jacket. He moves a little bit closer to the man and says, "If I can see it, I need to know what happened to me. Why me? What did I do to be taken." He runs a hand through his matted hair and sighs, "Why was I attached to that machine…why don't I have any scars… who was that doctor… Zimmerman. I need to know." Aric extends his hand out for the man as it begins to tremble slightly. Is it the cold? Is it fear? Is it anger? Most likely it is all three.

Behind Damian inside of the lean-to, oddities hang from string and yarn, attached to the aluminum framework. A plastic doll dressed like a soldier, a tiny model airplane missing a wing. Nearby, a large piece of a broken mirror leans against the lean-to's frame on the floor, dirty and cracked, but still able to cast a reflection. Even as Aric is talking, there are odd shapes being reflected in that piece of broken glass that could not be here and now to be cast.

Shadows move, shift and turn in the glass, and as Damian closes his eyes, he breathes in deeply, folding his hands in his lap. "You are a troubled man, mister Gibbs," Damian asserts in a soft voice, as if just realizing that for himself as well. "Your life is leading you down a dark path, an'… there is much anger in you." Brows furrowing together, Damian's head tilts to the side, and as his eyes slowly begin to open to reveal gray irises and narrowed pupils, the reflection in the mirror can now also be seen between the dancing tongues of flame in the growing fire.

"They needed you," Damian suggests, eyes closing again, "wanted you for a purpose— a mission." His brows furrow, silence coming over him, and in the fire Aric can see glimpses of the same vision he had seen not long ago in his mind. Reflections of himself laid out on a table, impaled by metal rods connected to electrical equipment. Flashes of lightning and smoldering flesh — silent visions, but Aric can remember the screams.

Aric's eyes turn to look upon the glass. He cocks his head to the side as the images form before him. "That is… cool. I mean the ability not the… well." Aric shakes his head slowly as he watches his face growing a bit more somber as he listens to Damian, "We all have skeletons in our closets Damian. I do my best to bring light and happiness to the world." Aric's mind goes to Rupert for a moment as his eyes tear up slightly yet he loses that pain when his form shows in the reflection of him on the table.

"What type of mission? I never signed up for a mission."

"No…" Damian murmurs, shaking his head slowly.

"You were a substitute…"

The Natazhat Facility

Mount Natazhat, Alaska

Several Days Ago

«Occipital sensors are reading activity, he's coming to.»

The voice sounds as though it speaks from underwater, muffled and distant. But as light begins to penetrate the veil of coma-induced darkness, the blurry and indistinct shapes of shadows moving against a white background resemble a puppet show as if viewed through greasy glass. Shadows begin to take on form and shape as Aric's drugged vision starts to come clear, and that he is viewing scientists through a wrap-around window from the center of a large, round room becomes clearer and clearer after long moments. Aric himself is restrained, now, arms and legs shackled to what feels like some sort of Medieval torture device. His arms are held down at a 45-degree angle, legs strapped to the same metal frame that the rest of his body is. His head is left untended, save for a strap over his brow to keep it from falling too far forward.

Most horrifyingly are the prongs; three foot long lengths of metal rising up out of his chest and abdomen, connected to a spaghetti mess of wires that spill down the front of some sort of massive connection of turbines like that which run in power plants.

Cabling is bolted to the floor, and large mirrors are arranged around the ceiling on articulated arms. The room itself is freezing cold, so much so that frost has formed on the walls and on Aric's bare skin. Plugs run down the length of his arms, wires connected to input ports sticking out of his skin.

He has been connected to some sort of machine.

«Good morning, Aric,» is a voice that emanates from a wall-mounted speaker, and the man that is uttering those words is hunched over a computer console beyond the window, dressed in a dark, pin-striped suit. He isn't familiar looking, with his square jaw and short, brown hair and dark eyes.

«You'll want to not struggle, this will hurt more if you do.»

Aric's eyes turn in the direction of the voice as he whispers, "Where am I?" As he focuses his eyes down on his body, he is unable to move as his heart begins to race again, "What the fuck… who are you? What is going on?" He tries to move yet the pain just from an inch of moving wracks through his body and he does not move again.

«We've met before, Aric.» Crackling over the intercom, the stranger's voice only just resonates as familiar. The last time Aric heard it, the voice was being synthesized through the helmet of a suit of Horizon armor. «My name is Richard Cardinal, and while I may not look the part at the moment, I know that you know that I'm speaking the truth.»

A loud humming noise begins to build in the turbines as they start to spin up, and yellow lights begin flashing as warnings inside of the cylindrical chamber. «I apologize for what I'm about to put you through, Aric, but it isn't any worse than what would have happened to you in a couple months. It's just sooner, and will leave less scarring than what Humanis First would have done to you. We were friends, once, and I'm sorry it had to come to this…»

A steady vibration begins to build through the machine Aric is mounted into the heart of, and as electricity starts to flow from the turbines, it becomes clear that they're only starting the system. Inside of the observation room, Cardinal turns to a tall and thin man dressed in a winter jacket, his hair combed back nearly and a look of unsettled disconcertion on his face.

«Mister Maddox here is going to turn on your ability I gave you in a moment,» Cardinal explains, motioning to the man at his side. «He has the ability to control your power for you, so… I'm going to ask that you just bear with us. We need the amount of electricity you can output in order to power the laser array on this device. But I assure you, Aric, what you're going to do here will save the world… even if you can't understand how just yet.»

Cardinal pauses for a moment, tongue sliding across his lips before he adds, «Or why, either.»

A deep sigh escapes Aric as he knows the man is speaking the truth, "You're not Richard. You're an imprint of him placed in someone else's body… Tyler. As much of a hardass as the Richard I know is… he would never openly hurt his friends." As he slowly turns his head in the direction of the man and growls, "I would follow Richard because I have seen into his mind. He is a good man with a troubled soul."

"You," He hisses, "If he doesn't kill you Tyler, what I did to Rupert will seem like a picnic when I get my hands on you. You have harmed alot of my friends… I care for my friends." He huffs and then flinches in pain from the movement in his abs, "Whatever you're gonna do… I am gonna fight you from doing it ya bastard. So let's get on with this already." He sounds brave yet his heart is going a million miles a moment.

There's a moment of silence, a frown that slips down on Cardinal's borrowed face, and then the strained sound of a sigh audible over the speakers. "You aren't my friend anymore, Aric. I know what kind of traitor you become, to both me and our entire species. This? This isn't personal, but it is payment for the man you become and what you did to me. I am the Richard you know, Aric, and I know that he's going to wind up just like me… because that's how it happens. The future has inertia."

Looking up from the microphone, Cardinal shakes his head slowly, piteously. "You can disagree with my methods all you like, disagree with me as a person, but what you can't change are the facts. The facts— Aric— are that I am the only person capable of saving us all from the coming storm."

Dark eyes square on Aric, and Cardinal's throat works up and down in a dry swallow. "I don't expect you to understand, but… that's why you're on that side of the glass, and I'm here." Richard's expression sours some, and one hand moves up to his throat to feel with unfamiliar fingers on a scar that isn't there.

«One of the reasons, anyway.»

Turning to Maddox, Cardinal offers a curt nod, and then gestures towards the scientists sitting at their workstations. «Activate it.»

The verbal order elicits nothing from Maddox, not even so much as an errant furrow of his brows. One moment Aric is giving his speech, defiant as he is. The next he's alive with electricity, and painfully so. Humming turns into whining, turns into the howling screams as Aric's body surges with the electrical emission of his borrowed gift. Electricity isn't expelled into the air, though, it's channeled into those metal rods driven into his body, crackling like the prongs of a Jacob's ladder, sending raw voltage down to the power converters in the turbines, which hum loudly as the machine begins to move and seemingly come alive.

«Core temperature is stable at minus thirty-four Celsius

A voice of one of the scientists emits over the loudspeaker, even as millions of watts of power is channeled through Aric into this massive device. The articulated arms up above begin to move, unfolding to reveal gigantic laser emitters that turn around to point upwards at the mirrors overhead. Soon after, a loud clank sounds as security locks engage on the entrances to the chamber.

«CTC chamber sealed. Energy levels are normal.»

The pain is unbelievable, and as the electricity is thrown off of Aric's body and into the machine, steam rises up from his bare skin where frost melts and ice that had formed on the machine itself begins to burn away as steam. Radiating out so much heat from himself, Aric unleashes a horrible series of choking screams, able to feel the electricity inside of himself being siphoned away.

«Engaging laser rings.»

Up above, the articulated arms begin to spin slowly, accompanied by a high-pitched popping noise as bursts of bright light reflect in the mirrors. Blue-white radiance caught only in the steam rising up off of Aric's body makes the lasers visible to the naked eye, forming a series of lattice-like vertices that begin to narrow closer and closer as they turn, the air between the beams rippling and distorting.

«Laser rings at full oscillation. Evacuating air.»

A sudden rush of vacuum sucks upwards towards the roof of the cylindrical room as Aric feels pressure inside of his lungs and head begin to heighten. His breath is sucked out of his lungs, even as his blurring vision watches a rippling distortion beginning to form in the air above himself, the entire machine vibrating as though it were going to tear itself apart.

«Laser speed normalized in vacuum, oscillation at maximum. Increasing power output to fifty percent.»

Blood vessels begin to rupture in Aric's eyes, bruises start to appear on his skin in the vacuum and his ear drums throb with pain. The electrical output suddenly surges and lightning explodes from Aric's body, sending a cascading wave of electrical energy out into the machine, spinning the lasers at ever-increasing speeds.

«Laser intensity at fifty percent and holding.»

Beyond the pain, beyond the horrible sensation of being in a total vacuum, having the air ripped from his lungs and consciousness fading, Aric can find some semblance of peace in that haunting distortion in the air above him, between the lasers where his pain-addled mind perceives music instead of screaming, where he hears a lilting voice instead of the roar of machines.

«Increasing power output to seventy-five percent.»

The pain is gone now, and Aric's heartbeat begins to spike erratically. His body begins to convulse and go into shock, blood froths up from his mouth and tricks down from his ears, his eyes blur further, save for that focal point at the apex of the ceiling between the mirrors, where the spinning lasers create a cyclone of light and mirage haze.

«Power output stable, continuing to maximum output.»

He can hear it now, louder than the machine, louder than the sounds of his lungs filling with his blood. Louder than the screams that were filling his ears a moment ago. Louder than the pain, louder than the anger, louder than the fear. He hears a song.

«Power levels at one hundred percent and holding!»

La Mer…

A woman's voice fills Aric's senses, her song in a quaint French tongue a classic. Maybe he'd heard it once before, as a child, maybe somehow in the swirling blue-white light that looks so much like water, his dying brain cells are firing in such an odd way, that he perceives things differently.

«Electrical grid is fluctuating, I— Damnit Gibbs is flatlining! We need to turn it off!»

Qu'on voit danser le long des golfes clairs

«Critical power failure, we're losing him!»

A des reflets d'argent

Aric Gibbs' world begins to fade into darkness, and soon he will be gone. But in that passing from life to death, in that shimmering vortex of blue light, there was something that sounded like angels singing.

Des reflets changeants

Isaac Aasimov once said, "Life is pleasant…"

"Death is peaceful."

Sous la pluie

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

La Mer…

«We lost him.»

La Mer…

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License