The Transition, Part III


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Scene Title The Transition, Part III
Synopsis Aric Gibbs discovers that there is life after death, in a sense.
Date January 18, 2011

Isaac Aasimov was right.

Pain redefines Aric Gibbs' world, gives it a level of contrast and sharpness that he had never once before seen or witnessed in his life. Torture is an apt way to describe the process of returning to life from death itself, and it seems to happen in the blink of an eye. Time passes, the world moves on, and people forget after you are dead and gone. But some memories fade faster than others, and Aric Gibbs was not dead long enough to be forgotten, only missed.

His rebirth is heralded by a hellish vision, of fire. Green tongues of what resembles flames rising up off of his body, surging clouds of crackling greenish-yellow particles surging outwards from his glowing bones. The entire room in which he awakens is bathed in the radiant glow, along with the man dragging him back from beyond. Doctor Darren Stevens looks gaunt in this lightning, looks like something from a nightmare with his skin cast a shade of green by his ability's glow. His hands are held out in front of himself, bones radiating yellow-white, skin mottled shades of vibrant lime that hurts to look at, like staring into the sun. Blonde hair is swept back away from his face, and his white lab coat is buttoned all the way to the top collar.

Aric breathes, but it is a breath that feels like both his last and his first all in one. His back arches without his say-so as atrophied muscles begin to return to the state in which they were prior to death over a day ago. Holes in his torso seal shut seamlessly, burning at the core with greenish light as time itself is rewound on his body, regressing him to a prior state of existence.

The room hums, metal objects sparks and rattle with purple glow, and as Aric begins to black out from the agonizing sensation of his dried and atrophied muscles stretching back into position, he can feel his heart begin to beat again in his chest.

As unconsciousness swallows Aric again, he can hear voices in the dark, see flickering shapes of moving shadows and too-bright lights giving them definition and contrast, like a camera out of focus.

"Call in Rene, we'll send him to the Chicago facility for…"

"This was an unmitigated disaster, the machine is damaged more than…"

"We didn't receive any signal, but we were at full power for over a minute. This could only…"

"We'll rebuild, and start over…"

"Elle is next."

Douglas Park

Chicago, Illinois

Present Day

In that, the images fade from the fire Aric sits in front of. It is far less invasive than the original memories that Damian had unlocked in him. These images, this manner of seeing his past, as a casual third-party observer outside of his body is less real, less painful, less personal. But still the facts are aligned there, that Aric Gibbs was dead for however long a time had passed between his connection to the Device and his eventual awakening.

Damian sits and watches impassively, hands folded in his lap, gray eyes down on the fire. He and Aric shared that vision, shared that image of what once was. Now, however, is the more difficult part of Aric's journey.

Living with what he knows.

As he sits back, Aric lets out a soft sigh looking away from the mirror. His face is dark and somber as he does not hide the tear rolling down his left cheek. "I have more questions than answers at this point." He runs a hand through his disgusting hair and looks back at Damian, "Who was that man who brought me back. Do you know him? I think I was dead… and that man brought me back."

"The Devil?" Damian offers helplessly, both brows lifted at his own something theological thought for who the man in the lab coat could be. "Whoever he is, whatever it is he did, know that you're here now, and that is what matters most to you. What should matter most." Leaning forward, Damian rubs his hands together, holding his palms up towards the heat and flames. His gray eyes square back on Aric, one brow lifting in query.

"What will you do now?" It's an honest enough question, because for all that he is comfortable with his life here, Aric may not be able to find home and happiness among the homeless of Chicago. "It is getting dark, and getting colder. You are welcome to stay here, but… I know that your heart wishes you to go elsewhere. I will help, though, however I can."

Aric shakes his head, "No… I need to get back. Elle is not my favorite person but I will be damned if she has to go through that. I will find Tyler and kill him before I allow that poor girl to suffer what I did." As he stands, he flinches in pain, "I am gonna get myself home. Some people are gonna wanna know what happened to me and where I have been."

"With what money?" is a question that doesn't come from Damian, but rather a sickly looking stranger standing with his back to one of the burning barrels the other homeless are using for heat. Pale eyes are ringed with dark circles and fair skin only makes them stand out more. Dark clothing is bundled up tight, and the fingerless gloves the stranger wears are cupped up to his mouth for a moment as he breaths a steaming breath onto his cold digits. "'Cause from where I was standin' it looks like they just up an' fuckin' left you somewhere, bro."

Damian seems surprised, but not worried by the stranger's arrival. Offering a hand up in both direction and greeting, the memory manipulator introduces Aric to his older accomplice. "This is Eli, he's a friend. One that brings up a very valid point, too. If you're going to go home, go chase these demons of yours… you might want to do it with your head square on your shoulders."

"Otherwise," Eli interjects over Damian, flicking a finger in Aric's direction. "The Institute is going to put you back in some dark fucking home sooner'n you can say oops." Eli's lips purse into a smug smile at that, one brow lifting expectantly.

Aric jumps at the new voice, as he looks over in Eli's direction. Aric takes a step back from the man as he cocks his head slightly looking him up and down, "I am going to try and get to a phone and call someone to help me get there. I need to get back… these people can protect me. They can help me as much as I can help them." He looks between Damian and Eli, "No disrespect man…
you helped me remember everything."

"No offense taken," Damian admits as he twists at the waist, reaching behind himself to grab a can of preserved pear halves in syrup and a small can opener. "But consider where you are now, son. This place, this city? The people at the Factory, they didn't let you go without good reason. Whatever it is, they had a reason t'let you live rather than just leave you dead. I can't imagine they did that sort of thing on a whim, yeah?" The can-opened clanks into the top of the can, key-twist turned as it starts to cut open the top.

Eli shrugs helplessly and rolls his eyes as if dealing with someone younger than Aric looks. "Look— alright. So you wanna' call your buddies. You sure you aren't gonna' get eavesdropped on? Maybe they're lettin' you out like a fox, y'know? Run back to your hidey hole, see where you scurry an' follow you there? Just— calm down and slow your roll for a second, Mr. Flowing Locks."

Sweeping one gloved hand over his head, Eli offers a look down to Damian, then back to Aric. "I know a couple of guys, they work down at the cannery on the water. Trucks go in and out of there every day. You wanna' get in touch with your friends, fine. But you need to lay low for a little bit; disappear."

Looking out past the entrance of the bridge's underpass, Eli points to the snowy night beyond. "You go out there half-clocked looking for a payphone, and you're gonna get in trouble. Or mugged, which-fucking-ever. It's Chicago." Taking a few leisurely steps towards Aric, Eli quirks a brow. "Crash here in hobo-town for the night," he cracks a smile, "tomorrow I'll introduce you to my, uh, brother…" he says with a shifty look, "and we'll get you stowed away on a truck headed out east. Nobody'll know where you went, and you'll have a couple days t'just lie low. Yeah?"

Aric takes a step back from Eli. This guy gives off a creepy feeling to Aric yet it could be the fact he was kidnaped, strapped to a machine, and died within the last few days. He does not trust anyone, "All due respect sir. I can take care of myself." He brings a hand up and a small pulse of electricity flows down his arm and crackles into nothing in the air. "Your right I can't go anywhere tonight yet I need a phone. I need to at least call someone collect and let them know I am ok and in Chicago. They will be looking for me."

"Yeah, well, if Spooky McDreadlocks' little puppet show there," Eli notes with a wave of one hand toward Damian, "was accurate, you took care of yourself right into the goddamned grave. Look, buddy, chill the fuck out and wait. You call anybody and you're putting them in as much danger as you're in. Your friends've missed you however long they have, another couple days ain't gonna kill anybody— er, any more than they've already presumably been killed, I guess."

Scratching at the underside of his scruffily unshaven jaw, Eli casts an askance look to Damian, then back to Aric. "You wanna run off into that cold ass blizzard, freeze your balls off looking for a pay phone, then be my guest. But I ain't hauling your ass to the emergency room when you get hypo-fucking-thermia." Waving one hand in the air, Eli turns around and walks away from Aric, back towards Damian's fire.

"Aric," Damian implores with a little less pugnacious tone than Eli had. "My friend may have a harsh way with words, but he's right. Right now, we don't know why you were left behind. You could endanger yourself or your friends more, just by calling them. Let's wait a day or so, see how things are. Play it safe. Eli and I have been on the run for a good, long time…" Damian admits with a sad tone of voice. "We know how to stay hidden when we need to."

Aric turns and looks out into the darkness of "Hobo-town" and lets out a frustrated sigh. He wants to call Liz. He wants to tell her he is alive and where he is but as the snow begins to fall a bit thicker Aric can see what the men mean and turns back towards the fire. He shoves his hands into his jacket and moves back to the fire, "Fine… two days and that is it. I need to warn them about Elle and get her safe." As he sits down on the cardboard once again he looks back in Damian's direction, "Two days."

Eli flashes Damian a look, lips pursed and head bobbing in an approving nod. "I can work with two days," Eli admits, arms crossed over his chest. "I'll get in touch with my, uh, brother tomorrow. We'll figure out a way to get your ass out of Chicago where the people at the Factory won't know. You all Registered n'shit, or is that part of the reason why you got your ass picked up by strangers and their candy-vans?"

While Eli questions Aric, Damian pops the lid of the can off, setting it aside before picking up a spork from on his cardboard sitting mat, stirring the syrup-preserved peach halves around in the can. "Two days is a good time, we'll find you some warmer clothes, and you can borrow my sleeping bag. I have enough blankets for myself. We take care of our own, Aric, and while maybe you're not from the same place me and Eli came from… never the less, we watch out for our own."

Eli offers a look down to Damian, then shakes his head slowly. "So, buddy. Aric was it?" One of Eli's brows lift slowly, looking to Damian, then back to Aric. "How's it feel t'be one of the recently deceased?"

Aric 's eyes look over at Damian as he nods slowly pulling his arms closer to him. As he closes his eyes he lets out a sigh listening to the two for a moment. He says with his eyes closed, "I was attacked by a man who gave me an ability. I was registered as an non-evo yet when I went to the police to file the report." As he opens his eyes, pain showing on his face as he looks into the fire, "The rest is history as he rubs his arms as they begin to get really sore." He looks in Eli's direction and answers his last question with mild humor in his tone, "You can call me Beetlejuice."

"Well, BJ," Eli notes without skipping a beat, "pull up a rug, grab yourself a plastic fork-spoon-thing, cause it looks like it's canned fruit tonight." The replicator offers an askance look back to Aric, cracking a teasing smile. "In a couple of days, we'll have you outta' here an' back in whatever cesspool you got black-bagged out of, so don't you worry your mop-head none."

Crouching down and folding his legs beneath himself, Eli offers a gruff laugh and looks to Damian, then back up to Aric. "Come two days from now, the Juice will be loose." Both of Eli's brows raise, lips part and a hopeful smile crosses his lips. "Huh? Huh? Get it? Juice?" He flicks a look back to Damian, who's expression can be described as flat and humorless.

"Fine, be that way. I'm hilarious, though."

Whatever happened to Aric Gibbs after he was taken by the Institute, whatever comes next, in two days he'll be able to tell it all to his friends. Hopefully by that time, he'll have a better idea of how to explain what it is that happened.

Hopefully by then, it'll make more sense.

But it's doubtful.

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