The Twist


aria2_icon.gif darren_icon.gif broome_icon.gif luis_icon.gif

Scene Title The Twist
Synopsis You knew one was coming.
Date October 17, 2011

The Commonwealth Arcology

Located hundreds of feet below the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts the Commonwealth Arcology was once known as the Indigo Plain Government Continuity Facility. The foundations for what would become a self-sustained underground community were built in the 1950s during Cold War hysteria, initially intended to be a continuity of government facility similar to Cheyenne Mountain and Raven Rock. Abandoned halfway through construction, the facility lay dormant for nearly forty years before being appropriated by the Commonwealth Institute after its purchase by the Department of Defense.

Secretly developed over the last three years, the Commonwealth Arcology is based off of the designs by renowned futurist and architect Paolo Soleri and his "Babel" arcology design, though at a diminished scale to his grand design of the future.

«ACTS Suspension stats 57% and falling»

Four figures in white biohazard suits stride down a brightly lit white-walled corridor. Each Institute Retriever is masked by a black respirator helmet, and between the four — as though they were pall-bearers — an ACTS suspension system glides like a floating casket. The four wheels on the bottom of the mechanical containment device glide effortlessly over the floor. Fluorescent lights shine in rhythmic fashion over the top of the case. A digital serial number on the side of the ACTS displays 000002-0000656.

«52% and falling, she's waking up.»

At the end of the hall, a pair of automated double doors hiss open. The Retrievers swiftly move through the doorway with the ACTS gliding between them, and into the bright light of a spacious circular room with a domed ceiling of frosted glass. Light shines from behind the glass dome, faux-sunlight, down onto a white tile floor and sterile medical equipment and surgical tools. The Retrievers move the operating equipment aside as they wheel the container in. One moves behind the ACTS, ratcheting up a crank on the back that soon pivots the case into a standing position like some kind of horror-movie sarcophagus ready to spring forth with a mummy.

«50% and falling, she's dropped out of REM sleep.»

Briskly walking through the door into the operating room, the blonde-haired and fatigued Doctor Darren Stevens seems hurried and impatient. His shoes click with measured strides across the floor, followed by a blonde woman in an immaculate black suit jacket and skirt. "Ms. Baumgartner," Darren calls back to the woman at his heels. "Can you get me a reading of what she's experiencing? I need to be certain her cerebral tissue didn't degrade during stasis." Aria steps to the side of the ACTS, offering an askance look to the Retrievers who wordlessly excuse themselves now that the professionals have arrived. With a furrow of her brows, Aria dips her head down and runs one hand along the side of the ACTS, then tilts her head to the side, then looks at Darren pointedly.

"She's half-awake. Frightened, but understandably so." Aria looks back to the case, drumming fingernails on one hand on the glass window, fogged as it is. "How long have you been keeping her in torpor?" Pale eyes alight back to Darren, who retrieves a small handheld device from his lab coat, flicking through screens with a swift of a finger. Darren half-heartedly answers as he reads.

"Less than a year," Darren notes, then flicks something on the screen. "Sort of." He looks up to Aria, who is attentively focusing herself on the ACTS and finds the opportunity to divert the discussion away from the complicated nature of this Institute guest's timeline. "What's she thinking?" Aria squints at the question, shakes her head more to herself than Darren, and looks back to the physician.

"Nothing good," comes from Aria with an imperceptible frown. But her attention is soon swiftly snatched up by the looming and dark silhouette of Simon Broome in the doorway. The dour old man walks with a purposeful stride, hands folded behind his back. At his heels, Doctor Jean-Martin Luis seems haggard and affected. He too has his attention locked on the glowing screen of a handheld device. "Director," Aria greets Broome with a practiced deference to which Broome manages only the barest of smiles.

Darren moves aside from the ACTS, looking to Aria and then Broome. "Director, I don't know if it's wise to remove her from stasis. We still don't have an accurate assessment of timetables for the tempo — " Darren's words hitch in his throat as Broome levels a steady stare at him. Those dark eyes seem to steal Darren's voice away, and the doctor relents. Stepping away from the ACTS, Darren offers a pleading look to Luis, as if the older physician could perhaps persuade Broome in another direction. Luis, instead, averts his eyes down to the screen in his hand in defeated measure.

"Aria, dear," Broome murmurs, "can you ease our guest's return to the waking world?" Aria looks momentarily concerned, then nods and rests one hand on the ACTS case again. The display on the side reads 33% stasis. Shutting her eyes, Aria drowns out the conversations around herself and focuses on the mind contained with the ACTS. Luis, in turn, looks up as Darren walks past him and offers an apologetic frown as the blonde doctor swiftly excuses himself. Once he's stepped out of the door, Luis looks back up to Broome with one brow subtly raised.

"He seems upset," is Luis' off-handed observation, before he returns his attention to the device in hand, monitoring the container and the life-signs within. Broome closes his eyes, stepping around Luis and resting a hand on his shoulder. There's an awkward tiredness in Broome's expression, a weariness that has only grown over the last several months. Broome doesn't need to say anything to steer Luis back to work. The firm clasp on his shoulder is direction enough. "She ah, appears to be doing well. No signs of cerebral degredation, vitals are within normal parameters. We'll need to do a full psychological exam in order to — "

"Open it," Broome interjects, eliciting a shocked look from Luis.

"With all due respect, Director, we can't be certain that there won't be severe long-term side effects from — " Luis feels Broome's hand squeeze harder on his shoulder.

"Jean," Broome states flatly, slowly removing his hand from Luis' shoulder. "You and I are standing on the edge of a yawning precipice, which threatens to swallow us all." Stepping away from Luis, Broome walks over to the ACTS container and presses a series of buttons on the right side of the container, beginning a beeping countdown and a series of green and red lines on the display to life. "We have the benefit of seven precognitives here in the Ark. Each one specializing in a different media, and each one — save for one — indicating the same intersection of our futures." Broome's dark eyes narrow at Luis, who quickly moves to the ACTS and begins monitoring the life-sign changes on the display and his handheld device. "I need to know what the darkness means," Broome states with a grave importance.

"The work Doctor Sheridan performed with Ms. Brooks was exemplary, if only in its nascent state." Luis notes, looking up from the display to Broome. "If we can understand the nature of her psychological experience, we may be able to make neurological adjustments to the other precognitives. With Zimmerman's aid we could — "

"We have a matter of weeks," Broome interjects forcibly. "We do not have the time for someone else to pick up the pieces of Doctor Sheridan's work to complete her research, no matter how high-minded it is. We cannot rely on the sibyl's visions, and we have no means of understanding why she has full clarity, while all of the others see nothing but darkness beyond the 8th of November. We need more data points, Jean. We're up against a wall, and everything is riding on our ability to be one step ahead of the people who would destroy their own future." Tilting his head to the side, Broome approaches Luis and looms over him, emphasizing the difference in their heights. Luis shrinks, in turn, slouching down into his jacket and thumbing a few buttons on his handheld device.

Everyone finds a moment of quiet, there. The beeping report of the ACTS carries through the domed room, and after a moment of monitoring Luis looks back up to Director Broome. "We don't even know if this will work. The strain of using her ability could kill her, given the state we found her in after…" Luis trails off, exhaling a sigh when he notices the dispassionate expression on Broome's face. It is the same steely countenance that has spoken of the "greater good" on so many occasions. That has reiterated the mission statement of "at any cost" time and again.

"She's fully awake." Aria's announcement draws Broome and Luis' attention away from one-another. Nodding to Luis, Broome gives the indication to open the ACTS container. Initializing the unlocking procedure, Luis keys in his personal code. Magnetic bolts pop noisily, unlocking from the case, followed by the hydraulic hiss of metal actuators. A pressure change in the ACTS comes with an expulsion of heavy gasses that pool down from the coffin-like device's interior, pooling around everyone's ankles. Aria takes a cautious step back, brows furrowed and her mind projected outward to the figure contained inside the case. Luis looks up to Simon as the lid opens fully, and Director Broome steps past the two to stand in front of the open door. He raises one weathered hand, reaching up inside of the ACTS, brushing a careful hand over the jawline of the figure restrained within.

There's a gasp of breath, a shocked shriek, and the woman contained within the ACTS case thrashes against her restraints. Eyes grow wide, parched lips purse, and a hoarse cry of horror exhales from the back of her throat. Luis makes a soft shushing sound and presses his palm to the side of her face. In the same moment, Aria urges calm through telepathic impulse. Broome's expression changes to one of curiosity and uncertainty, removing his hand from his new guest's neck. The woman swallows loudly, looking wide-eyed at Broome. She tries to talk, but finds herself unable to speak from the dryness in her throat. It's as though she'd been asleep for ages. A Sleeping Beauty story, roused from her glass coffin. She finds no similarities of Princeliness in the weary old man that awoke her from a too-long nightmare.

"You're safe now," Broome intones, folding his hands behind his back. The blonde woman in the ACTS exhales a shuddering breath, looking around and trying to exhale words as her bound extremities tremble in suppressed fear. "Save your voice," Broome suggests, "we have a great deal to talk about in the coming days…"

"…miss Kjelstrom."


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