Difference between revisions of "Logs:I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt, and make you a gazingstock."

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Latest revision as of 16:14, 28 June 2020

I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt, and make you a gazingstock.

cn: prison, graphic sickness, violence, death, racial slurs

Dramatis Personae

Flicker, Hive, Leo, Polaris

2020-03-23


<< Get in Loser we're going jailbreaking -- >>

Location

Around the city things are -- maybe not as quiet as they ought to be. Across from the Lofts there are quite a lot of people enjoying the pleasant evening in Tompkins Square; the streets are busy as people head to and from what jobs they still have or enjoy their enforced time off even amid the odd background air of stress and worry.

It's an air of stress and worry that is rapidly expanding. Across several neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan there is a ballooning invisible presence rippling outward, bringing with it a heavy pall of exhaustion, grief, anxiety -- but buried, suppressed under a forefront of gritted determination. Bright anger. Intense focus. Flit-flit-flitting from one cluster of minds to the next in near-unnoticeable searching.

Polaris is dancing in front of the stove, stirring a pot of chili with a wooden spoon and singing loudly. "Yeah you're fucked alright, and all for spite, you can kiss your sorry ass goodbye." She spins around and snags up a jar of paprika, sprinkling--not nearly enough of it into the chili. Beneath the exuberant singing is her ever-present fury and a frenetic pressure to act that she's determinedly focusing into the task at hand. "Totally fucked, will they mess you up? Well you know they're gonna try!" Her internal monologue is a steady and nearly incoherent stream of profanity.

The expanding web does not stop casting its filaments outward but one of those does pause. Hover, twine itself around Polaris, touching light and curious on that agitation. When Hive's voice slips into Polaris's mind it -- does not sound quite like him at all. Not his usual painful-stabbing force, just a whisper-soft susurration. Beneath it, rustling like wind through so many leaves, is a feeling of presence; many other minds, many other feelings, many other experiences, not quite reaching Polaris's own mind but hovering just out of reach. << You been on Twitter? >>

Up close, Polaris's mind is even more chaotic than usual, all the daily worries for the health of her sick friends and the whole world's rapid spiral into authoritarianism amplified by her impotence in the face of the reminder that Leo was back in the government's clutch. Startled by the disembodied voice, she suddenly dumps--probably the right amount of paprika into her chili, then sets it down, leans against the stove. << Hive. It's just Hive. (He sounds weird?) >> She shakes her head as if to clear it. << Fucking Twitter. >> Reaches for the phone in her pocket but doesn't pull it out. "Yeah. Yeah I..." << ...maybe shouldn't talk about this out loud? You and Jax putting together a team to go get him? >> All her suppressed urgency comes surging back up, her breath coming short and fast. << I can help. Fuck, I will tear Rikers Island apart if that's what it takes. God knows what they're gonna do to him... >>

<< Do you want to tear it apart? We could do that. >> It's still Hive's voice -- nominally. In pitch and accent, but this time comes with a distinctive sharp bright fervor. Clear and intent and suddenly fixed keen and hard on Polaris, the previous gentle touch gripping harder. Eager. << We're ready -- >>

-- that former gentle touch carefully, quietly, slides in to pry itself back off where that eager grip has begun to squeeze down. << No team. No time. Labs could be coming for him any minute for all we know. How quick can you be ready to go? Rikers is no Prometheus. Should be able to be in and out. >> << (we hope) >> isn't quite voiced -- but it's nestled somewhere in the thought all the same.

<< Can you tell Wendy? >> A light flex of Polaris's power pulls the pile of steel jewelry and two wrist cuffs from the end of the counter to her hands. She's still strapping the latter in place as she strides away from the stove--before she doubles back to turn off the heat. Her agitation becomes something more like excitement, tempered with intense focus as she steps into her boots and stoops to lace them up. Two entirely steel boot knives and one full tang hunting knife fly across the room to her. << I'm ready. Let's go. >>

The thought has barely finished when there is a rapid knock-knock-knock on the fire escape window. Outside, Flicker is dressed still in rumpled seafoam-green scrubs; there are deep red-purple bruise marks pressed in wide halo around his eyes that only accentuate the underslept raccoonish look. His hair, at least, is neatly combed. << Let's go let's go let's go -- >> once more this agreement comes in Hive's voice and yet not. He starts to rest his hands on the railing, wraps his arms tight around his chest instead. Bounces on his toes.

Polaris jumps at the knock but gamely stomps her way across the room even as she settles the sheath of the hunting knife at the small of her back. << Fuck, I'm tracking dirt everywhere, >> the thought is giddy and surreal, part of her genuinely committing to sweeping when she returns and another wordlessly screaming that it's really not the time to worry about the floor. The window slides open before she even reaches it and she hops out onto the fire escape easily. "Dude, you look like shit." Her concern is real, but quickly sidelined by a vivid memory of Leo's face, pale and sickly from a grueling round of experimentation. << I'll look out for him. >> "Do your thing."

"It's the Rona," Flicker tells Polaris solemnly. Fluttering up against her mind there is -- something far less solemn. A crackling sharp amusement that skitterjumps across the surface of Polaris's mind. It's tinged with memory flashes -- a hospital hallway crowded with beds pushed up against the walls. A young woman struggling to breathe even with the aid of a ventilator. A heavily overcrowded waiting room. Trash can full of Red Bull. A nurse taking a nap beneath a desk. Joshua's grim smile (visible! with no mask!) as he hands off a patient, the gallows sort of amusement echoed secondhand from the paramedic's mind: << Hey, if they don't test any of us we still technically have no cases, right? >>

None of this coalesces into anything as concrete as words. Just that lightningflash of thoughts that resolve into a sort of apology that settles up against Polaris, resigned and regretful as Flicker rests his hand up against her shoulder.

Below them, the city distorts. Jerks. Blurs and blends together.

Polaris sucks in a sharp breath at the flood of images and impressions. << Oh God what the fuck I had no idea it was *that* bad and he's fucking asthmatic oh God oh God-- >> She does not have time to respond or even breath out before Flicker teleports them both away. "How are--we gonna--find him?" she asks, her words stutter-stop with the unaccustomed way of moving, trying to ignore the nausea. "Can Hive...?"

<< We're not. >> Hive's voice is unbroken by the stuttering method of travel. << Jax and Ryan have made some noise for us. The pigs will find him from here. I'm just listening to them. >> There's a brief echo that skates across the surface of Polaris's mind. A clamor of worried -- guilty -- stressed -- furious -- thoughts. << They let what in here? >> << Didn't even fucking tell us. >> << Just like the fucking DOC >> << Which one is it? >> << Why are we even -- >> << Nobody's gonna miss one fucking mutie. >> << Put us all in danger. >> << Think it's that new guy he looked sick as fuck. >> << Swear to god this job is not worth a plague -- >>

The clamor fades back into the background. Hive's own worry does not, quite, manage to fade. Somewhere beneath them the East River is glittering. << I'll get you there. Just -- get him home. >>

The jerky stomach-churning ride soon comes to a stop. They have lighted on the barren cement rooftop of a vaguely X-shaped building; around them the complex stretches wide in all directions. Parking garages, ugly imposing prison buildings, squat administrative offices, a steady trickle of cars passing up and down the maze of roads throughout. Prison life, it seems, has not stopped for plague either. Flicker wobbles a little unsteadily on his feet once they have landed, leaning up against a tall antenna and closing his eyes. "There'll be cameras."

Polaris gasps when the world stops strobing around them. She hadn't held her breath for the entire trip, but she's started and stopped breathing several times on reflex. With the sudden cessation of momentum her vertigo surges and she manages to turn away from Flicker before retching, though nothing actually comes up. "I can take care of the cameras." Her power stretches out beneath them, the alien sense that is always at the back of her head flaring into brighter focus to feel out the electrical systems until she finds the network of cameras. She returns to Flicker's side, reaching out though not quite touching him. Her mind is screaming for them to get moving, but what she says instead is, "It'll tip them off, though. You need a minute, friend?"

Down beneath them in a solitary confinement wing, two COs at their security station haven't been tipped off, just yet. They are, however, anxiously discussing one of their inmates and wishing they were drunk. Both are wearing surgical masks and one is wearing nitrile gloves uncomfortably adhering to his hands from the accumulation of sweat, while the other has shucked his gloves in favor of scrolling on his phone. "See?" He holds the phone out for his partner to review. "That's got to be him, right? I don't even know why we have to stay here, they already sent those two feds ahead."

"They're not feds," says the gloved one, "they're PMC. Mutie mercenaries, you know? Motherfuckers think they're in Star Wars or some shit. Guess they could only scrounge up two on short notice and that wasn't enough to transport the chink?"

"I don't think he's a chink," says the twitter user, scrolling anxiously through his timeline. << Korean, probably? What the fuck kinda name is Conception anyway, sounds dirty. >> "But he definitely has the corona, and we shoudn't have to be here with him and whatever freaky mutant powers he's got going on..."

At the other end of the hallway, crammed into the smaller and less comfortable check point, the two "mutie mercenaries" are in full tactical gear plus N90 masks. They're silent and less anxious than just bored and irritated, ready to get their prisoner transport underway so they can go home. The time-and-a-half is certainly nice, though...

The mutant in question is, at the moment, lying on a cot in a bare cell halfway down the hall between the two checkpoints. Leo's plain khaki shirt and pants are loose on him, his skin sallow, hair strawlike and brittle, his frame thinner than it was this time last month. His long fingers have laced together on his stomach, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. There is an extremely steady determination in his mind not to think too much about the past weeks (though flashes of needles and bright lights and cold dark cell walls keep creeping back in), not to think about what might come next. Instead, tracing quiet and steady and familiar-worn paths through his thoughts: << Aba Ginoong Maria, napupuno ka ng grasiya, ang Panginoong Diyos ay sumasaiyo. Bukod kang pinagpala sa babaeng lahat at pinagpala naman ang iyong Anak na si Hesus... >>

All of this is reflected back up to the pair on the rooftop. The guards and their exchange. The mercenaries waiting at the end of the hallway. Leo's quiet prayer. As much layout as Hive can glean between the web of minds.

He's flexing out even as he shares this, quietly touching up against the minds of guards and mercenaries alike before attempting to twine them into the wide net he has cast across the city.

Flicker doesn't immediately answer. Slumps further against the antenna, eyes still closed and some part of his mind leaning (curious) (comforted) into the unfamiliar-familiar cadence of prayer. "Oh -- no, I'm." He shakes his head hard. Pulls up to his feet, blinks. "I'm good. We're good. Let's do this."

Polaris reaches a hand to pull Flicker the rest of the way to his feet, her own stance sure and strong. Her power, poised with laser focus, clamps down on the camera grid without any finesse, shorting out the whole system and probably fusing the more delicate components in the process. "Cameras are toast."

The COs' minds are easy enough for Hive to enfold with the vastness of his current reach, as is one of the two mercenaries. The other's mind is resistant to his initial overture, perhaps a telepath himself, though his thoughts are still accessible (presently more or less in the vein of finding his mask itchy). The COs notice at once when the cameras go out, since the monitors before them start throwing errors, but hived as they are they do not react.

The guards are folded easily into the vastness of Hive's collective mind. The mercenary, too. Settled in and immediately set to ignoring any peculiarity in their surroundings.

At the feel of another psionic mind Hive reflexively pulls back, immediate and cautious. Hesitates just long enough for Flicker to start moving again before collecting the force of his gathered minds for a more determined push into the initially resistant mental space.

<< Leo. >> Hive still doesn't sound much like himself, the overlapping echoes of his voice soft and alien. But, somehow, in the mental space, he feels like himself, immediately identifiable even with the strangeness of his touch. << You want to get out of here? Like, now? >>

Long enough for Flicker to start moving is no time at all, really. In the same moment that the guards are being absorbed, he is leaning back into Polaris's grip. Leaning into Hive's, too, eyes closing as he lets the others' senses guide him instead.

Once more the world shifts. Flutters, distorts. The reflexive (nauseated) (panicky) hesitation that normally has him balking at jumping past walls he cannot see beyond -- at the moment he does not even *need* Hive's bolstering support to push him past it, an almost painfully sharp rush of energy << do this we can do this we can do anything go let's go -- >> pulling them along without much second thought. Past the uncaring guards, into Leo's cell. He sets Polaris down, starts to lift his hand to his eyes -- pauses short of digging his knuckles against his eyes << don't touch don't touch >> despite somewhere in the back of his head knowing the futility of these precautions by now.

<< Do I say something? >> << What do we say? >> << He looks awful >> << don'tsaythat>> << -- probably been through hell. >> << 'Sorry we let them torture you?' >> << worst hallmark card >> << Get in Loser we're going jailbreaking -- >> << does he even know how bad it's gotten >> << Hey Leo want to stop the apocalypse >> << Probably could use a nap first >> << a decent meal >> << *not* that chili Hive please cook >> << I should be more charitable >> << no no no we don't have time for this >> << no it's fine we're fine we're kind of fast we're FINE >>

Somewhere in this rapidfire flutter of thought he has forgotten himself, slumped against the wall, dug his knuckles into itchy-exhausted eyes after all. Quietly: "Hey."

The lone unhived mercenary jerks upright at Hive's second attempt. His mind gropes back along the connection Hive tried to make even while aloud he barks "Teep incoming!" at his partner, who does not respond. << Shit >> is the last coherent thought Hive can pick up from him before his psionic senses are flooded with a shrieking agony that claws, blindly but rapidly, up and into the pathways of his network.

Unfortunately, the mercenary himself doesn't seem affected, and he bursts out into the hallway at a dead run towards Leo cell, assault rifle at the ready.

Leo's breath catches at the quiet mental voice. His eyes close; there's a brief sting of tears that never materialize. A wave of relief that is mixed equal parts with fury -- and both these things tamped down behind a duller kind of doubt. << {No, I love it here.} >> Sharp and unbidden and just a little guilty. He pushes this back down, pushes the litany of prayer back down -- by the time he's drawn a second breath Flicker and Polaris are there and the doubt is giving way to a reluctant hope, that relief let back in, if not quite as strong as before. "You look terrible." There's a worried edge to Leo's voice. He struggles upright, trying to stop the world from swimming as he sits up on the cot. << They shouldn't have come -- they'll just take me back. Take them both back. >> His lips press tightly together. "Please. I mean, thank you. I mean, yes. I want to go."

The clawing agony blazes along the vast rooted network of Hive's farflung mind. Screaming harsh and sudden -- through Flicker, yes, but in that same instant through the other merc in the hall, the guards at the other station, several dozen other guards and inmates in the building -- dozens more throughout the complex -- hundreds more across Queens and Brooklyn -- thousands more across lower Manhattan. All simultaneously gripped with the same rending pain that momentarily stops them in their tracks. Echoed panicked and hollow through several hundred thousand more unconnected minds in that same instant, a hollow flutter of panic. Ephemeral, likely not all that out of place given the surrounding calamity, just a brief wash of dread that comes in with a sudden cold thought: << Fuck. >>

Flicker starts to stand. Almost immediately crumples back against the wall, the space between these two motions quick enough to look horror-movie jerky as he stutters.Twitches. Slumps back with a hitch of breath, a whispered -- "Fuck," his palm clapping to his temple. Though his teeth are gritted and he is doubled over, when he speaks it comes out oddly calm. "Polaris, we have incoming."

Polaris sways in place, only briefly disoriented this time by the journey. "Leo!" she whispers, going to his side as he starts to sit up, slipping an arm behind his shoulders to steady him. The horror and rage that wells up inside her at seeing his emaciated state is only strengthened by the sudden realization that this is how she was most used to seeing Leo. She looks back at Flicker just in time to see him slump against the wall. << God, they're both about to drop dead we have to get out -- >> Her eyebrows hike up and her adrenaline even higher at hearing profanity from Flicker's lips, but when his actual warning comes she just shifts her focus back to her powers, sensing beyond the cell door to assess the source of the threat.

The mercenary is outfitted with so much electronic and ferromagnetic gear -- from comms equipment to reinforced boots to the steel barrel of his AR-15 -- that his bioelectric field looks dim to Polaris's senses by comparison. He skids to a stop at Leo's door and presses his face to the narrow reinforced glass slot, his eyes going wide. Whether it's happenstance or some actual ability to sense the psionic web he's attacking, he shifts his attention away from the rest and squarely onto Flicker even as he unlocks the door and hurls it open with unnecessary force, rifle leveled and safety off. "Gotcha, motherfucker!" his triumphant roar, too, is directed at Flicker.

Tied in with the pain there is a sick sense of anxious dread. The fierce protective flare that curls up and around Flicker hardens, tightens, then pulls reluctantly back. Drops away entirely as Hive's grip tears itself away, leaving the teleporter abruptly singular once more as he faces down the barrel of the rifle.

"Flicker's sick..." Not that Leo sounds much better, his words rasped low and hoarse. His attention has shot to the door even before it opens. If Hive is still around, it's possible that through his current plight he can feel the flare of Leo's fury, cold and exhausted and several weeks past caring about restraint. The sight of the rifle -- the sight of the rifle aimed at Flicker -- and a sudden spill of power surges up through and then out of him.

It doesn't look like much of anything. Not at first. But through the mercenary's body new life is not just growing but rioting, blooming, growing wild and rampant and bringing with it a surging chaos of changes. A sudden spiking fever; an abrupt intestinal churning that tries to empty itself out both ends at once; a dull ache pulsing through the joints, a racing of his pulse, a weakening of his muscles. Somewhere internally, cells are swelling and bleeding. The speckled rashes spreading across the man's skin are doing so alarmingly fast. The fluid building up in his lungs isn't growing at quite the same rate but his breathing is getting that much harder.

"... gotcha, motherfucker." It's not a triumphant roar; it's a soft breath as Leo slumps back against Polaris's side, his head lolling against her shoulder.

Polaris does not lift a hand, as she habitually does when using her powers, but the rifle flies out of the mercenary's hands all the same, admittedly not meeting much resistance from the abruptly sickened man. Taking hold of the various metal components on him, she shoves the man bodily back out of the room. Even so, she saw enough of the what was happening to him that her face drains of color and her eyes open wide. But even in the midst of her horror she's slinging Leo's arm over her shoulder and hoisting him up. "C'mon, we gotta--we gotta go." She's hyperventilating just a little as she crosses the room to Flicker, reaching a badly trembling hand for him. "Can you get us outta here?"

One moment the mercenary's finger is on the trigger, the next he is disarmed and doubling over in pain. His psionic screech ends abruptly and any resistance he had offered to telepathic intrusion shortly thereafter. He crumbles and does not even have a chance to hit the ground before being unceremoniously dumped out into the hallway, soiled with bloody vomit and diarrhea, twitching uncontrollably as he drowns in his own sick.

Flicker has just gotten back to his feet, shaking off the residual mental pain and starting to reach for -- a rifle that is no longer there. A man who is no longer there. The pain he shook off just fine, but the ensuing debilitation of the guard freezes him, briefly, in place, his face paling and a blank horror draining the jangle of cluttered thoughts from his mind to leave only a stark mental image of Leo astride a white horse as bony as he currently is, cantering through the (not-yet) abandoned streets of Manhattan. His eyes follow the messed and bloodied body sliding out into the hallway, and even after Polaris reaches for him he does not move.

As the screeching psionic interference clears up, Hive's touch folds back around Flicker, into Flicker, wrapping him up close without a word. << I'll put soup on. Plenty of spices. >> Where Flicker does not he does, lifting their hand to meet Polaris's trembling one. Leaving the cell behind them in a swift and stomach-churning blur.