Scene Title Triangulate
Synopsis Daphne returns from her long, long journey.
Date April 2, 2011

Staten Island: Eltingville Blocks

Moonlight falls on Daphne Millbrook's face, the night coming in through the windows of the cab of the truck and divided further by the mesh wire that divides prisoners from the soldiers driving the vehicle. She's woken by the sudden growl of the engine, the truck cleared to leave the ferry now aligned with the docks, and past the fumes of the vehicle, she can make out the smell of the ocean. It's been a long (slow) journey from the north, and the familiar, distinctive scent of Staten Island is it's own—

Welcome home.

What light comes in soaks into pale skin, and glints off the silver chain wrapped around her trim waist, clasped on her wrists. Chain extends down, and when she stands, it will force her arms straight unless she pulls taut the chains that keep her ankles close together. Another metallic thing, bound thick around her ankle, an anklet with a singular gleaming red eye. Next to here is a man, nearly twice her size, and bound in the same configuration of chains, his head bowed. A woman and a skinnier, younger man sit on the opposite side of the truck, making no eye contact. Dried blood smears a crescent around the boy's mouth.

She isn't negated, is the thing. Her heart thunders but does not push around any poison in her veins, perhaps for medical reasons, perhaps that's just the way they do things here. One injection on the beginning of her journey, the sting of the scar at her throat, but currently, the world could be her's by the time they push open the doors. But the chains tug and pull in each movement.

As do healing wounds and scarring beneath her shirt.

Dark eyes blink slowly, and her head dips down so that she can rub at her eyes with chained hands, before her brows furrow while she strains to find a glimpse out the windows, to see what little she can of the familiar world that she has begrudgingly called her home. She's avoided the island for months now, and seeing (and smelling it) brings with it a bittersweetness.

Home, and yet not home. If home is where the heart is, she's close, but still far away, and for her, there is no home where there is no freedom.

She feels like a caged bird once more.

She bends to scrutinize that anklet, squinting at it, then to the feet of those in the van with her, to see if they've gotten any such adornments, her mind thrumming like a hummingbird's wings with possible plans, possible escape routes that the sinking feeling in her stomach tells her are wishful thinking.

Only one other has the same kind of anklet around his leg — the narrow faced youth who shuts his eyes again as if to accomplish a little more sleep. The other two have a similar device, but no red light — a band of plastic and metal, a pared down version of her own device, but it's tricky to see the particulars in the dark. Up ahead, orange light washes from street lamps, and the truck cruises to a halt at something that looks familiar to her.

A checkpoint, all orange lights, yellow tape, soldiers and electric gate. Men with clipboards, wielding the power of paperwork. Mere bureaucracy doesn't always work, though. Which is why the men have guns, too, and the fences have razor wire wrapping spirals on top of fences.

"Scarsdale Street?"

"Negative, take 'em to corner of Beth and Montvale. We had an influx since February."

"Makes no difference to me."

And the truck drives on, taking them past the checkpoint station, the razor wire, the clipboards.

This is not the Staten that Daphne knows — despite the fact that the street names register, confirming the location if the obstructed view could not. It's not a neighborhood she's spent a lot of time in, but there's not many places she hasn't been in the New York area. The guns bring back that sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, and she focuses on staring at the anklets on the feet of the people across from her — easier to see than her own.

The metal chain jangles slightly as Daphne shifts her feet, testing them a bit by shifting her weight forward off of the seat she's perched on. How many more minutes before the doors open? The change in posture pulls at still healing flesh. How many days has it been since she has been a captive? Time, relative in all things, is hard for her to gauge when pinioned as she is, unable to move, unable to run.

However long it's been, it feels like eternity.

Alaska, Lake Hope

February 6, 2011

A blur crosses the patchwork quilt of the United States of America. Churns sea into white froth in a trajectory aimed for one piece detached. When Daphne stops, the frosted winter air assaults her skin in pinches and smacking wind, tingles the tips of her fingers that grip the device she was entrusted with. It spins wild in the wake of the sudden superspeed, reacting like a whirlpool to her own electrical field as an Evolved human being, mysterious attractions and— science in general.

Still spinning. It make take a little bit of time to reorient herself.

Icy wind blows cold off an immense lake an incline of hill down the way from where she stands in a forest patch of empty ground, the sky grey-blue above her, and snow white beneath her feet. It turns the body of water into molten lead reflecting the sky's moody disposition, and it hasn't iced all the way over, but she can see where it opaque sheets of frosts are collecting over the black water. Through the trees, across the other side, she can see configurations of buildings, and the biggest one being blocky and grey, a fenced in yard, and twin watch towers. It squats on the landscape on the other side of the lake, with a fair amount of land between it and the water to begin with, unreadable signs staked into the ground.

The needle on the compass begins to stabilise, but it still swings wildly, infuriatingly so. The clouds above collect like bruises, but don't rain down snow or sleet just yet. It's quiet out here, not like the city, with birds in the trees and the steady silence of mountainous Alaskan country.

The speedster's lips screw up to the side as she glares down at the device, impatiently shaking it for a moment, as if that's more likely to get that erratic needle to pick a point and stick to it. Bending down, she reaches to rub her still-sore knee, wrapped in an ace bandage under the snowboard pants she wears.

Glancing down at the compass, she begins to walk rather than speed, hoping that moving away or toward whatever the compass is reacting to, and at a slow pace, might give her a better reading. She watches the compass as she begins to move down the hill, toward the shore of the lake.

Finally, the point stops, giving one last tremble before staying true to its chosen direction, even if she shakes it, turns it, it swings to this point as faithfully as a dog following its master. Directly west. Or to be more explanatory—

Across the lake, to the buildings and signage.

"I'm paying, yes. I've got a— tracking device, for lack've a better term, but all it does is point in straight lines. I need you to take it up there, triangulate and find the location of what it's pointing at." He pauses, then glances sharply to her, "Just the location. Don't go anywhere the fuck near that location, or you'll probably get caught, speed or no speed."

Richard Cardinal's words from two days ago echo in Daphne's ears. "And if you get me four or five points around Alaska, with GPS coordinates and degrees the compass is showing, we can draw the lines on the map and pinpoint the place pretty securely."

Chewing her lower lip for a moment, she squints across, trying to make out the signage but it's just too far. She should have brought binoculars. She reaches into her snow parka to pull out a wrinkled map and a Sharpie, then the GPS unit to check the coordinates, marking them with the marker on the map.

But curiosity raises its ugly head, and a moment later, the space Daphne was standing is empty as the speedster blurs around the perimeter of the lake to get closer to the signs — Cardinal's words forgotten and/or ignored.

There's a strange mechanical hiss that she fails to catch by the time ice-cold wind rushes passed her ears, and she's gone in the time it takes to blink. The eyes that watch her go don't, though. Blink. They have no reason to and no function to, except for the mechanical transition of go-green into stop-red as it peers out through the thick-trunk trees in its insectile jerking steps down the hill incline, steam expelled from the its metal ribcage to plume thick white into the frosty air, with thinner steam already rising from its superheated metal flanks, snow melting beneath its narrow feet.

But she's out of range as fast as the intelligence that works the robot can register. It pauses.

Snow and dirt kick up behind her as she zooms around the wide circumferance, its size and spread of little consequence to someone as far as her. A main road snakes in view, and she catches the tail lights of a vehicle headed off where the map tells her is a small town nearby, Lake Hope, but not the subject of her interest as she speeds across the flat plain and into the territory of signage. Words blur into focus around when something that sounds like an angry wasp whines by her ear.


There are a lot of things she can outrun. Bullets aren't necessarily among them.

What feels like a sledgehammer catches her between the shoulderblades as rubber bullet finds it mark neatly and with the kind of precision that is not human, something more super than that.

The hit sends her sprawling, GPS and compass and map and marker all flying out of her hands as she skids into the snow. The wind knocked out of her, lungs and nerves shocked alike, she gasps for breath but none comes for a terrifying moment that would be too long for anyone, but is torturously, hellishly long for Daphne.

Finally oxygen makes its way into her lungs. She moans in pain, back arching — the seconds tick by and she knows she needs to get away. Feet scrabble for purchase on snowy ground but find none, the shock rendering limbs useless for the time being.

It happens again.

Bullet slamming into her side, now, knocking the breath out of her as if it were something solid to be ejected. It tumbles her through the snow, and out the corner of her eye, she can see— nothing. It's coming from nowhere. Until flashing red registers in her vision, and the strange, turret-like thing blooming out of the snow forms its shape in her scope of vision. A laser pointer that writes across the snow and settles on her body, but doesn't shoot again. Yet.

Beyond the pounding blood in her ears, sirens are going off, and suddenly, this empty, serene place has movement. The truck up ahead is wheeling back around, for instance, as horns blare from the building she was headed for itself. Gates set into it pull back, and response vehicles come rumbling out through the portals, military green and black. A red alert has been triggered.

And Daphne is at the heart of it.

She cries out this time, her hand going to her side as she rolls through the snow like a rag doll, finally coming to a stop and looking up at that thing, wondering how quickly she can move, bruised and battered as she is, before it could shoot again.

The answer, she knows, is not fast enough.

Tears trickle from her eyes as she stares down the machinery. She lifts shaking hands in the air in surrender. Everything is in slow motion for Daphne, in a cruel paradox that her mind has the time to mull over — everything moves painfully slowly, at the pace of a death march, it feels, and yet she isn't fast enough to carry herself to safety.

Trucks stop in a broken semi-circle around her, automatic rifles leveled on the woman on her knees and her splayed hands and the items of her guilt scattered on the snow. Three in total, snow packed into the rivets of black wheels, two to three men per vehicle all of which are looking at her and dressed in plainclothes, save for the kevlar they wear, Stillwater Security on their vests — who else could possibly be authorised to wield the rifles that they do now?

"On your stomach!" barks the command of the nearest one, uncaring that they're asking her to essentially lay down in the snow. "Hands on your head!"

Another is wasting no time at pulling something from his vest, unclipping a silver canister that is already trickling yellow vapour by the time he pitches it overhand for it to land a few feet from where Daphne is situated. She, of course, sees it a little differently, tumbling in a slow arc, glinting silver, blooming yellow in a continuous, barely audible hiss.

Surrounded, Daphne's mind has resigned to her fate, whatever it might be, at the hands of the security team, but instinct trumps logic. As her dark eyes catch sight of that canister turning in the air, she pushes off of the ground, ignoring the protest of her ribs and spine, and she darts for the space between two of the vehicles, away from that cloud and hiss of yellow.

The instantaneous concussive percussion of rifle fire sets the air alight. Red hangs in a spray in the air like a swarm of tiny, glittering insects, then paints the ground where Daphne used to be.

She's some hundred feet away before her body registers damage and shock steals everything she has out from under her. Legs buckle and momentum drives a long, bloody trench in the snow when her mind and body catch up to the injury, with the former realising that for once in her life, she wasn't fast enough. The sky spins before her eyes as blood pumps hot beneath her clothing, on her back and feeling it trickle up to her throat from where bullets are buried or have dug clean tracks through her body in lethal exit wounds.

The growl of an engine rumbles beneath the sound of sirens, and the last thing her swimming gaze sees are the running of limbs coming towards her. They're going too slowly, might be an ironic thought, before unconsciousness comes down like a cage.

Alaska, Lake Hope, Jane Borrell Memorial Clinic

February 21, 2011

The treadmill whirrs beneath her feet as she moves, watching the snow come down outside her barred window. Pain wracks her body, still healing injuries twinging a merry symphony in her torso, stitches sliced across her ribs and her soft stomach beneath the loose cotton T-shirt she wears (to match the loose cotton drawstring pants) and it's a good thing this thing has something she can grip. Slow steps, the shifting rotating ground under her bare feet putting up no resistence, as slick as ice, as good as running.

Well. Maybe not. She has a few of an iced over lake— the one named for hope— as she undergoes her physical therapy. Thirty-eight hours off her last negation dose, the effects worn away. The nice black doctor watches and times her. Crutches and braces set aside.

"Don't overwork yourself."

They have the room to themselves, other tools of physical therapy lying around the place, some she's had the privilege to enjoy. It's her first time on the treadmill.

The slow pace — slower than she ever walks by choice when well — is not only tedious but tiring, and Daphne chuckles with a shake of her head. "I'd say fat chance of that at this pace," she says, "except I already want to crawl back into bed."

It's only partially true. She's ecstatic to be off of negation drugs, but her body is weak, and there's nowhere to go even if she could. The bars on the window tell her as much.

She glances to the doctor, tipping her head curiously at him. "Are they letting me go? It seems a lot of time and money to spend on therapy if not," she asks, lips curving as if she's joking.

"Your circumstance is unique."

Not to put too fine a point on it. The doctor moves closer, but not invasive — simply gaining a more thorough visual scope of the woman taking her prescribed strides. His glance to meet her gaze is evasive at best, fleeting, before finding comfort in watching the time instead, his own note taking. "There's a trend towards Evolved ability that offers the subject a degree of psychological support, although it's inconclusive about whether the ability manifested like it did to— fill a hole, in some way, or if it's the subject's own rationalisation, fitted around the power they get. Depressives gaining empathy, obsessive compulsives getting super pattern interpretation, illiterates with cognition powers, that kind of thing. Most people in the field would laugh at you if you tried to debate the connection. The research hasn't been done.

"But in your case, well — it's a physiological need. You're not the first of your kind or anything, but probably the most direct link between a long-term genetic physical condition being compensated by an Evolved ability, that I've ever seen. Anyway, you can thank my business case and the Commonwealth Institute for the complimentary therapy. But no. No one's letting you go.

"You can stop." The doctor presses a button on the timer, and turns his back to her as he writes something down, fills in some checkpoints.

Stupid questions yield undesirable answers most of the time, and Daphne sets her jaw angrily despite hearing only what she expected. Her feet come to a stop on the circling sheet of rubber she walks on, and she grips the handles, knuckles blanching. For a few slight moments, she considers flight — irrationally, knowing that in her state she won’t get far, and even if she did, there are mechanical beasts with red eyes that lie in wait in the wilderness.

Instead of running, she steps off of the machine and looks gloomily out to the lake outside. “So happy to serve as your specimen,” the speedster says, running a hand through her platinum locks, the dark roots far too outgrown after so long without a touch up. “You’ll understand if I don’t send the Institute a thank you note.”

That gets a small, rough chuckle from the doctor, albeit a distracted one. "Maybe you should," he comments, even as he starts to walk away from her and leave her to her own devices within the rehabilitation clinic. Despite her speed, her capability, he seems confident that the girl that can go anywhere will be going nowhere, whether from fences, things that shoot with mechanical accuracy, or the glowing red eyes in the black forests. "There are worse fates.

"Your presence has also inspired a few more security measures, so even if you meet one— " A worse fate. "— your legacy'll live on. I'll see you for your afternoon session, Miss Millbrook."

And he's out the door, leaving her to the empty gym room, the grey square windows and the rain that trickles down them from the outside.

Alaska, Lake Hope

March 30, 2011

It comes down torrential and silver. Does the rain.

The platinum blonde dreads, all dark at the roots, are turning to dripping rats tails that trail ice rainwater down the back of her neck, invading the warmth of her sweater beneath otherwise waterproofed jacketwear. There's little choice in this, in that water is the world's best infiltrator and that there is no shelter available to duck beneath as she and the others hide out. "They've got Bernard," a woman is saying, her voice scraping over a harsh whisper. Olive skin save for where it gets marred into a rough V-shape on her cheek, a burn scar that seems like it was planted there by scolding iron. Her name is Elena.

"And two others."

"What do they look like?" says the third party, a man who can't be any older than Daphne. His name is Dez. Or so he introduced himself, some couple of weeks back.

"An old guy and a girl. My age."

"Old guy might be Bruce, lemme see."

It's a mirror being used to discreetly peek around the corner of concrete, and as Elena and Dez trade places, Daphne catches a glimpse of what they're viewing. A group of three being unloaded from a truck that sits out on the land so known for its deadly sniper turrets, the negation gas perimeter bombs and the site she was taken down, grey lake stretching out beyond, and then the thick forest. But more immediately is the truck, the prisoners, and the men with guns who kick feet out from beneath them to make them kneel.

Dez hisses a curse under his breath as he tilts the little mirror. "Hard to make out but that has to be him. That's two precogs at least, along with the other one that disappeared last month. What the fuck?"

"Let's focus and be ready. We have to move fast and remember, if we have to split up, we head for the town and wait for the truck tomorrow morning. Don't assume they won't reactivate the turrets just because they got some grunts out there." There's that unspoken notion, about leaving the victims behind while they guarantee their stealthy escape out of Lake Hope with Dez's brother, into Canada, but if anyone's capable of doing both, being the hero as well as the escape artist, it's the speedster crouched with them.

They both look to her.

The small woman’s eyes are flicking from the view, obstructed as it is, and the two sets of eyes watching her as she calculates time and risk and speed in her head until it’s a complicated equation that not even Einstein would be able to solve — and Daphne never made it past Algebra 2.

“When I let go, you’ll be right in front of them — you’ll be dizzy but you have the element of surprise. Grab a gun. I should be able to do the rest but be prepared for anything,” Daphne says; whether this was the plan or not, it seems to be the plan now, and without much more warning or time for rebuttals, Daphne’s on her feet, one hand grabbing Elena’s wrist and the other Dez’s before the trio becomes a blur, streaking for the truck in a wavy line that stops and separates into the three separate bodies, Daphne’s still a blur as she moves to disarm and — her gut twisting inside of her — shoot.

Bullet impacts the soldier's torso and flattens hard against kevlar, sending him careening to his back with a gust of air expelled harsh from his lungs. A second blam whines in her ear from where Dez has wrangled the soldier's sidearm, and she glances just in time to see it go off in their joined hands, and watch a bullet tear wet through the jaw of the soldier, up through the top of his head. The woman of the three victims is the first to snap out of her shock, flinging herself on the ground to ram both feet into the hip of the soldier who was turning to execute Elena.
Dez does it first in three panicky shots fired.

A fourth spiderweb cracks the windshield of the truck, and murders the man inside, with the kind of preternatural accuracy that only comes natural to some people.

"Get them," Elena breathes, preoccupied with lifting her arms, eyes glazed over. The air instantly smells like both seweage and bog, the unpleasant aspects of water, although it can't quite be seen. Not until silver puddles are bubbling up through the soil between where they stand and the facilities, and by the time the immediate response truck is roaring out the gate, it's nose is diving into deep liquefaction. The soldiers that come running will have the same issue.

And the group of six is headed in the other direction.

Daphne’s head jostles in a quick nod, and two hands are grabbed blindly — two of the prisoners, leaving Dez and Elena with the third. The disjointed and crooked blur of three, a high-speed version of “crack the whip,” tears out of sight, and it’s only moments before Daphne returns, having deposited the two prisoners in a barn near town.

She grabs another pair of hands, but that means she has to leave the third behind. “I’ll be right back,” she promises, out of breath from adrenaline rather than exertion of the flight, though her body is not as strong as it once was, still healing from the bullets that ripped her body weeks before. The two fellow prisoners are left in the barn, and she flies out the door once again.

Third time’s the charm, right?

Her flight kicks up dust on the rural tracks from the secluded buildings of prison and rehab centre both, otherwise spatters mud where the ground is damper and dirtier. A vortex of leaves and twigs, and it's a matter of moments before security ramps back up into the red zone. Zooming over the perimeter with her hands out stretched for Dez, the sound of his pistol emptying his clip for the soldiers across the liquefied field, firing wild with his run for escape and echoing loud as thunder off the distant mountains.

Daphne's hands find his, slick with sweat, but not blood. One last run, and they're free.

Small explosions go off around the perimeter, concussive instead of fire, and she can whip her head around in time to see the plumes of foggy yellow vapour rising from spattered, ruined ground in the distance, establishing that invisible circle where fences and checkpoints did not exist. A hazy line of yellow, rising high and settling heavy.

"T-take me to the edges," Dez asks, seeing it and already knowing. "Near the treeline. We'll— we'll come back for you."

Her bid for freedom is over. Daphne knows this. And she knows that the odds of the others saving her aren’t in her — or their — favor. Holding her breath out of instinct (she knows better, having been negated while wearing a useless gas mask in the attack on Gregor), she nods, squeezing his hand as she does what he asks, using the last seconds before that gas makes contact with her skin to get him as far away as possible.

Even as she feels her legs begin to fail her, she pushes him forward, the last bit of speed lent to him for momentum. “Don’t come back for me,” she gasps out, finally needing to take a breath as she tumbles to the ground.

Dez ruins the momentum given in the effort of a stumble and turning back to her, looking briefly distraught before he does what he can, which is drop the pistol within her reach, to take or to surrender as she chooses — lend her some kind of decision should she want one — before he finally breaks away. It's the last she ever does see of him, disappearing into thick Alaskan forest, a flip of blue flannel and the soles of his sneakers kicking up damp dirt.

Behind her, the yellow smog is a veil, obscuring her from the distant facilities, but she can hear the growls of approaching vehicles. And she can hear, too, a sudden mechanical whirring and a hiss of ejected steam.

Moving more like an insect than a feeling, the robot shows itself as hot metal through the trunks of trees, a clearing of patchy snow and dead leaves. It snakes down an incline of hill, needle jutting long from its metal maw and eyes gone red in alert. Angled to chase Dez, it stops as it senses another presence in closer range, and slowly, turns for Daphne.

The gun is clutched like a talisman — it won’t save her, but it might allow her to escape in another way altogether. It’s a brief thought, as fleeting as she usually is.

Suicide is not her style.

The robot turning for her draws a mixture of emotions — fear, most dominant, but also relief. She can be the diversion that keeps the beast from tracking Dez and the others. Daphne scuttles backward the best as she is able, arms pulling the dead weight of her lower half along, to get further away from the treeline Dez has disappeared into — hoping a few more feet might make the difference.

Her hands come up after setting the gun down. Surrender isn’t really her style, either, but there is a depressing lack of options.

Daphne closes her eyes and waits.

New York City, Staten Island, Eltingville Blocks

April 2, 2011

A wrenching open of a door tugs Daphne from recollection.

"You," a man says, mostly just a shadow in the doorway of the truck, but his shape roughly approximates to soldier. She is alone, by now, in the van, with those last three taken away to their respective corners, and now it's her turn. While it isn't raining, fog settles on the ground as oppressive as negation gas, but pure and white, refreshing instead of oily, making halos out of the streetlamp light and vagueness out of a distance. "Come on, we don't have all night."

Scowling, Daphne moves out of the vehicle; for once, slower than she is able, deliberately, in the smallest bit of defiance for the shadowy man giving her orders. Slower for her is fast enough, however, approximating normal. Dark eyes narrow at the plain faces of the humble brick buildings of the street that’s to be her home — no elegant penthouse nor open free space. It already feels like a prison, no matter what they call it.

For Daphne, it may as well be; for someone who can move through the vastness of space as swiftly as she, it may as well be a ten by ten cell.

“Home sweet home,” she murmurs wryly.

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