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For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Warning: some violence, character death.

Dramatis Personae

Aubrey, Ansel, Jamie, Flicker, Polaris, Winona, Wendy, Rosalyn, Nandini, Maya, Leo, Hive

2019-08-17


"Let them all go safely." Set in the Blackburn Prometheus facility.

Location

<PRO> Blackburn Facility - Maine


It's midnight, and all is quiet.

The labrats are all secured in their cells, two hours into lights-out, though not all are yet asleep. Elsewhere, third shift personnel have settled in with their work assignments or their preferred forms of entertainment for the long night ahead. Owing to a flu outbreak, two of the four guards on duty are pulling double shifts and none too happy about the situation. One of them has just recently completed the hourly patrol of the sublevel where the labrats are housed, his footsteps fading away as he returns to his station.

Wendy has been quiet, but she hasn't been sleeping. In her cell, blanket wrapped around her shoulders, she's fully dressed, just tying her hair back into a ponytail. "You know what'll be great? A big cold glass of peanut punch. Probably not easy to find in Maine, though."

Leo is just lying on his bed. Staring at the ceiling, his hands folded over his chest. His lips are moving very faintly -- a barely discernible motion, though the quiet rote words they form aren't really audible at all.

Flicker might well be asleep. He's sitting against the wall, his arm folded across his chest and his eyes closed. It's been a while since he spoke -- longer, still, since he moved. His Book of Mormon is in his lap, regardless of the fact that after lights-out, now, it's too dark to read it.

Winona has been occupying her hands to keep awake, though she does not particularly need the help. She has anxiously been awaiting midnight despite not having any way of telling when exactly that will in the relatively empty cell. She leafs through the pages of The Firm by John Grisham without being able to actually see them, grip on the spine of the book forceful.

Polaris sits beside Wendy--also dressed, though sans blanket--surprisingly still, though she thrums with barely contained energy. "Not hard to make. All we gotta do is raid a grocery store and...someone's house, I guess. For a blender. I'm still holding out for that applejack, though."

Aubrey is rocking back and forth under his covers. His long hair hangs messily around his face, and he's hugging the tatty old Bible to his chest, his eyes fixed blankly ahead in the dark and a deep frown etched onto his face.

Nandini is, somehow, against all odds, actually sleeping -- though only in fits and starts. She starts awake now, though, as she's done a few times already. "C'mon," she mutters quietly. "Let's do this already."

Jamie is curled up on his side, completely still, his breathing slow and steady. Though no one can see and he isn't speaking the words loud enough to hear, he has been mouthing something, low and quick, for some time now.

Ansel has been here a long time already, but being short-handed means he's sticking around for a second shift after his first one has ended. Kind of sluggish -- maybe as much from lack of sleep as from whatever has him kind of pale, kind of sniffly -- he's slouched in his seat as the other guard circles back. His partner hasn't quite made it back to the station when he's -- very casually -- flicked several switches on the control panel in front of him. In the hallway behind them, the only outward indication of a change as the suppression grid lifts is the shift of lights from green to red. On the panel, a warning light starts to flash -- stops again with a turn of a key. Ansel leans back in his chair again. Stifles a yawn.

Ansel's partner slips back into the guard station with a perplexed frown between his brows. "Yo, Covey, what's up with the grid?" He jerks a thumb over his shoulder at the hallway. "Is it actually down? We gotta go into lockdown and get last shift back here." He's already reaching for the receiver of the emergency comms phone.

"Nah, it's all good. Just some fucking test. I'm sure it'll be done soon." Ansel glances to the switchboard and then up to the lights, shaking his head. He rubs knuckles against his temple and reaches for a cup of coffee, taking a large swig.

"That one might be easier. I'm sure Maine has liquor stores. Not that we have any cash, or IDs, or --" Wendy sits up straighter, dropping her hands to her lap. She sheds the blanket, shoulder bumping against Polaris's.

There is a soft glow that appears in Winona's eyes and on her fingertips where it contacts the book for just a couple of seconds. When the glow subsides she drops it on top of her covers and sits up. "It's down," she says, a tinge of hopefulness having crept into her voice. "You ready?"

Rosalyn has for the most part remained still for most of the last hour. Head against a pillow that's thin enough she can feel the re-assuring bulk of the paper shank she's so carefully made over the last few days.

Flicker's head snaps up the moment the grid goes down. What happens next would be difficult to track under optimal conditions -- in the darkness, even moreso. He tucks the book of Mormon into the waistband of his scrubs and blurs into motion -- grabbing Jamie, vanishing into and then back out of the hallway. Dropping Jamie in Polaris and Wendy's cell -- only to pick up Polaris a second later, disappearing back out to leave her in the hall. Vanish again. Yoink Wendy, do the same.

Maya looks like she may have been dozing, lying with her eyes closed on her bed. She opens them with a start, a quiet gasp, staring blankly through the darkness in Rosalyn's direction, in response to some invisible new feeling. "Oh. Oh oh, oh no, oh is it time? I can -- how do we know?"

Nandini sits up. Her wide, staring eyes are just barely visible in the eerie glow of Winona's powers. "Whoa!" she whispers. Then, "Hell no, I am so not ready, but we're going anyway. Come get me, Flicker the Swift."

How do they know? As quiet as things are outside -- for this few seconds, at least -- it's hard to say. But in the next instant there's another blur in the darkness of the cells. Ready or not, a quick touch to Winona's arm, a disorienting lurch -- and then she's out in the hall with the other women. It takes only a heartbeat, a slightly nauseating jerk, and Nandini joins them.

"Oh it's time all right," Rosalyn murmurs. "I can feel all the threads of people I fixed again." She sits up and rolls her shoulders. "Doubt the guards'll care but what say we start making a little trouble? It'll only take a thought and all those wounds will come back..."

Polaris gasps when the grid goes down. "Aw, yes." She slings an arm around Wendy, squeezing her friend's shoulders tight and pressing a fierce kiss to her cheek. Then she's gone, whisked away by Flicker, tense in his grasp and swaying on her feet in hallway a moment later. She staggers on her first step, and then steadies, unfazed by the seemingly random appearance of the others behind her. She starts walking toward the end of the hallway, lifting both hands up as she goes. The hinge pins of the cell doors that Flicker hasn't gotten to yet lift out of their places and she tears the doors out of their frames with little difficulty.

Maya sits up quickly as the hinges creak -- the concrete rumbles and cracks -- and the door comes crashing out of its frame. "OH -- oh I guess that's it. Oh this is happening, Rose, it's for real --" She scrambles up out of bed, hastening towards the door but hesitating a moment on the threshhold, wide-eyed. "Whose wounds? Have you healed any of the guards, can we slow them down? Are they going to shoot us?"

Flicker has vanished again. Just long enough to get Jamie out of the cell he's been left in, skirting them up along the ceiling and then back down to the floor. He squeezes at the other man's hand as he sets them down, looking one way and the other down the hallway. Starting to duck -- on foot, this time -- into the nearest of the doors of people they hadn't arranged this with, this time with a message: "Wake up. We're getting out of here. If you want to leave, come with us."

"We're going to need an exit. The stairwell, Polaris." Wendy points to the doors -- regrettably, right over near the guards' station, and a good deal heavier than the ones that were just broken.

Jamie stays near Polaris, though the reach of his power extends out uniformly to augment those around him, sensible to those whose abilities give them some manner of feedback. He keeps darting terrified glances to the hallway cameras.

In both guard stations, the security camera displays show the cellblock hallway filling with escaping subjects. "Oh shit!" cries Bell, Ansel's partner for the shift, right before he slams the lockdown button. Klaxons sound and emergency lighting floods the hallways, but the suppression grids, having been manually deactivated, stay off. "What the fuck?!" he picks up the phone and punches 0. "Dispatch, Station 2," he bellows into it, "we have a code red and the grid is malfunctioning, we need backup!"

"Heal the guards? Nah they know my power doesn't fix people," Rose points out as she slips her shiv out from under the pillow and tucks it into the waist band of her pants. "But I've healed a few people in other labs and some non-critical staff. Enough that reports of problems will start elsewhere. Divert attention."

A chunk of concrete liberated from the wall when the door broke goes into the pillowcase and she makes an experimental swing. "Like so." Upwards of two dozen people elsewhere in Prometheus suddenly find injuries springing back into existence.

Even after his door is torn open, Leo is slow to emerge. He sits up on his bed, his shoulders tense as the klaxons begin to wail. His head bows, his fingers curling against his knees. At length, though, he does stand, poking his head out into the hallway. Creeping out to join the others.

Polaris stretches out her powers for the door to the stairwell, hand outstretched, and sucks in a breath through her teeth. "That motherfucker is solid, I'm not sure I can..." She flexes her fingers anyway, and there's a terrible whine of warping metal as the thick security door caves outward and rips from the wall and falls to the ground with a thunderous crash. "Holy shit!" Her mouth falls open and she darts a glance at Jamie, and then the guard station, her hands curling into fists.

Winona stumbles as she finds herself suddenly outside of her cell, her eyes wide as she looks around to get her bearings. Her eyebrows quirk up at witnessing Polaris tearing through the cell doors and warping the security door, and she unconsciously moves in just the smallest bit closer to her at the sight.

Nandini finds her feet, then stares around at the chaos with open terror. She hurls herself at Maya as soon as her sister steps out of her cell, then loops an arm through hers as though afraid to lose her. "I think they're gonna try to shoot us. Hey, Magnet Girl, can you stop bullets?" Kind of hopeful, this, but regardless of the answer she's also queuing up behind Polaris.

Maya squeezes Nandini tight and hard, but then tugs her away to follow Flicker's lead, here -- poking her head into the cells of the labrats who are kind of dazed, kind of confused about what on earth is going on. Urging them with a good deal more confidence than she's currently feeling: "Come with us and we'll get you out. The stairs are this way --" Before ushering them towards the newly opened stairwell.

"Anyone need a little pick-me-up?" Rose asks, the singsong Irish accent gone for now. "Can't guarantee how long it'll last but if anyone's going to struggle to walk out of here speak now or feel free to get left behind."

"No, it's fine, it's just a test," Ansel is insisting again -- but this insistence crumbles in the face of the labrats actually out of their cages. His expression crumples into first confusion as he looks at the cameras -- then his switchboard -- then the actual hallway itself. Eyes narrowing, he gets to his feet, his sidearm already drawn and pointed out toward the hall. It's Polaris he's aiming for when he pulls the trigger.

A few chunks of the displaced rubble are vanishing as Flicker moves through them. Where they go isn't immediately obvious -- but even if they try to manually turn the grid back on they may find it more difficult, now, with the pieces of concrete embedded in the apparatus. "They're definitely going to try." Flicker sounds oddly blase about it. "Just get them to safety." He vanishes in another rapid blur of motion, heading straight for the guard station as Ansel draws his weapon, dropping down behind Ansel to reach for the man's gun right about the time he starts shooting.

Bell drops the receiver and draws his sidearm when the heavy security door goes down. "Shit, shit, shit," he chants, taking aim -- and then swinging his weapon toward Flicker when he appears. "Covey, behind you!" he roars as he fires.

Jamie strains his power to the limit and zeroes in on Ansel in an effort to suppress his ability while maintaining his augmentation on his fellow labrats.

"Jamie. Stay focused here." Wendy, in fairness, has no idea where Jamie is currently focused -- but the moment Flicker leaves their side she gives Jamie this reminder anyway. "Polaris, some cover."

Polaris doesn't even gesture this time, but the nearest two displaced cell doors flip into the air and levitate between the gathered labrats and the guards, shielding them from gunfire. "Flicker can handle himself, Num...uh, Jamie."

"Think people might need one soon," Leo mutters to Rose, on his way to the stairs. He stops before actually heading up, looking back to Wendy in uncertainty. "Where do we go next? There'll be reinforcements soon."

"Sorry," Jamie says, the focus of his power shifting back to the core group of labrats, though he's craning desperately to see what happening in the guard station beyond the cover of the floating doors.

Bell's first shot is wild and unlikely to find its mark, but he brings his other hand up to steady the pistol and fires again, surer this time.

Those who can discern people or movement outside the reach of baseline senses may be able tell, as they head up the stairs, that two guards are on the other side of the door leading to the ground floor, some distance back but probably covering it with their weapons.

Cover or no cover, Nandini flinches and shoves Maya behind herself when the firing starts. "Um, um. Sleep, right!" Her power wells up in a palpable wave of drowsiness that washes over -- everyone around her. "Oh crap, how do I even aim?!" But even as the words leave her mouth her soporific effect shifts even as it strengthens under Jamie's influence, encompassing the guard station...and, unfortunately, Flicker, as well.

"There's another door there." Maya is looking toward the top of the stairs. "Polaris can you --" She's frowning at the stairwell. "I guess people are kind of busy um."

Ansel's gun vanishes. Flicker shifts the both of them slightly to one side -- not quite quick enough or far enough in the tight confines of the guard station, though; the blossom of red that grows along his side is, at least, from a graze not... that deep. Within the small room he is -- a little easier to track than his usual, jittery quick hops of motion that are, perhaps, dragged down slightly slower by the current pall of somnolence that's washed over him. He grabs Bell by his gun hand -- when he releases the man he's left a good half of the guard's forearm buried in the ceiling. Drops back down to land beside the other guard again.

"Winona can get the code." Wendy's eyes are wide, her face pale, but she's determinedly Not Panicking in the face of the gunshots. "We're going to be okay, we're only one floor down."

Rose moves through the labrats struggling at the back. Each touch reverting people to their physical prime. All the aches and pains of Prometheus life gone for now. "Don't worry too much 'bout gettin' shot. I can have that patched up in a second."

Ansel is braced and waiting when Flicker lands. Tracking the teleporter's movements, winding back to slam his fist straight towards the man's ribs. It's hard to say if he's slower than usual; speed isn't his greatest attribute at the best of times. But the heavy crunch of force it comes with is as bone-crunchingly solid as ever, even as he blinks hard to fight the current wave of -- maybe unexpected sleepiness. Maybe not unexpected. Hard to say. It's been a long shift.

"I take it back," Leo is staring at the door uncertainly, "there are reinforcements now. Just on the other side here."

Aubrey has been hanging at the back of the pack but -- suddenly determined, still clutching his Bible to his chest, he pushes up to the front as they get the code to punch it open. "Drop your weapons," he's saying determinedly, even as the door starts to open, "don't shoot."

In the chaos of the sublevel guard station, Bell is screaming and clutching his ruined arm even as he collapses beside the emergency phone. "Medic!" he's yelling into the receiver, "we need medics!"

There's a heavy clatter beyond the door as the guards on the ground floor drop their sidearms. One of them, however, pulls a metal cylinder from his belt, yanks an o-ring at one end, and tosses it through the door at the oncoming labrats. The other throws his hand out toward Aubrey, and an invisible force seizes him by the throat, lifting him into the air.

Maya squeaks, hands flapping in front of her face. She makes a small shooing motion with her hands, kicking out at the canister as it comes through the door. "Ohgodsohgodswe'regoingtodie."

Flicker's teeth grit hard. The crack of Ansel's fist against him has, maybe, taken a couple ribs with it but -- that is evidently a worry for future Flicker. Currently he's grabbing at the guard's shirt in the wake of the blow. For a second as he looks into the other man's eyes his expression twists up -- the scarring on his face pulls this into an even harsher grimace than it otherwise might be. Ultimately he just shakes his head, releases again. Ansel hasn't shifted far; just enough to leave half his boots buried in the floor as Flicker vanishes again to rejoin the others.

The flashbang grenade detonates a split second after Maya kicks it, its blistering heat strong enough to cause severe burns to those closest to it. The change in its trajectory means it stays near the door rather than tumbling down into the main bulk of the pack below, though the bright flash of light and bone-rattling boom it emits has more than enough power to stun all the same.

Polaris is dragging Jamie with her up the stairs, the doors still trailing them, useless for the moment. At the outcry up near the landing, though, she waves the cover forward -- not nearly fast enough to shield the entire group from the flash and certainly helping not at all with the bang, but those toward the back are marginally less blinded, probably.

From her position somewhere in the middle back of the labrats Rosalyn is largely shielded from the worst of the flashbang and in the confusion that follows she pushes to the front. Brushing her fingers against anyone that seems to be pawing at their eyes or ears. Even the briefest touch resorting sight and sound. Although she can't do anything about the ringing in her own ears.

Leo's sharp hiss is short lived. His arm goes up in front of his face, a yelp escaping him at the burns that follow, seared along his arm. Probably those in his immediate vicinity will be developing an unpleasant cold in the next day or two. The welcome relief that comes soon after from Rose earns her a grateful smile. He hangs back closer to Polaris.

Flicker squeezes his eyes shut before the flashbang goes off. It doesn't stop the ringing in his ears, though, nor the singeing that's scorched his arm and cheek. He doesn't stop moving -- flitting straight toward the telekinetic who has Aubrey in their grip. Grabbing for the guard kind of heedless of the blisters on his arm.

The telekinetic guard diverts his attention from Aubrey -- not releasing him entirely, but enough to hurl a scattering of loose objects at Flicker as he approaches. The other guard draws his combat knife and lunges at Flicker's flank, probably too slow to reach the teleporter if he continues at speed.

"No!" Jamie cries, stumbling against Polaris, still stunned by the grenade and straining for the telekinetic far too late.

Aubrey's feet kick in panic, his face reddening as he's lifted off his feet. His mouth moves but there's only harsh choking noises that come out -- at least until Flicker moves and he draws in a shuddering breath. "Stop that." Aubrey's velvety voice is raspier, his hands clawing at his throat as though this will free him. "Don't hurt him -- let them all go safely."

The flying objects lose momentum abruptly as the telekinetic guard obeys Aubrey's command, and behind Flicker his partner stops short, his knife only skimming Flicker's back, glancing off of a rib. With a roar of frustration, the telekinetic turns his fury on Aubrey, his grip abruptly tightening again and then twisting. It's probably a blessing that those nearest Aubrey were deafened by the stun grenade and unable to hear the sickening snap of his neck.

In the same instant, Jamie's power slams down on the guard, shutting off his telekinesis, but not in time. "Aubrey!" Jamie's voice cracks with anguish.

Wendy has stopped frozen, her eyes wider and a shudder running through her. Her hand goes to her mouth, fingers pressing hard to her lips. The tiny whimper that rises in her throat is drowned out by the alarms that still sound. Her hand is still shaky when she drops it, curls her arm around her chest. "Oh -- oh. No -- oh. We -- we need to. Go. The exit's that way -- Polaris --" She's indicating the hall -- another door past a row of dark closed labs at the end of it. She's not moving, though. Just staring at Aubrey's body where he's fallen.

The two guards, still under Aubrey's compulsion, just stand where they stopped, staring blankly at the labrats, staring blankly at each other. From outside there's a crackle of a loudspeaker, and those whose ears have recovered sufficiently can hear a voice say distantly, "This is Commander Hoss of Company X. We have the facility surrounded. Stand down and you will not be harmed. Resist and you will be killed."

Jamie drops to his knees beside Aubrey, frantically checking for a pulse. "Aubrey, come on..." he whispers, his power fluctuates erratically, to those who can sense it, and he doesn't pay Wendy's directives any mind if he registers them at all.

The telekinetic shifts several feet down the hall, feet partially sunken in the floor. Flicker blinks to Aubrey's side, ignoring the scrape of knife against his side, just one more bloom of blood against his singed and stained scrubs. Despite the clearly unnatural angle of the man's neck he's still reaching to feel for a pulse. Staring down at the body after this, unmoving.

Polaris has just managed to work her way up to the door when Aubrey collapses. The wail that bursts from her is chilling in its intensity, her rage almost palpable. She rips the knife from the guard's grasp. It twists around in the air, wobbling unsteadily, but then points at the telekinetic guard, poised to skewer him.

The delay afford by Flicker's shift might well have saved the guard's life, because at that moment, Wendy's shaky words snap Polaris out of it, and with another raw cry she just pulls the knife to her hand. She looks to Jamie, then Flicker, reading Aubrey's fate in their reactions. "Let's go, let's go!" she shouts, taking hold of Wendy's arm and starts tugging her toward the exit, her power already reaching ahead to warp the door out of its frame, announcement be damned.

Rosalyn ducks down to brush her hand against Aubrey. "Nothin' I can do fer him," she admits with a shake of her head. "You on the other hand..." She offers Flicker her hand. "Could do with patchin' up." She eyes the two stationery guards. "And they could do with a few more holes in 'em."

Flicker stays frozen at Aubrey's side, his eyes locked on the man's unmoving face. It's only when Rosalyn approaches him that he actually looks up, staring somewhat blankly at the outstretched hand before taking it in his own burned one. "Right. Jamie, we --" He just shakes his head, pulling himself to his feet.

Maya is sticking close to Nandini's side. Her eyes are wide, her hand still covering her mouth. She can't help but look at Aubrey, aghast, eyes brimming with tears even as she's tugging her sister towards the opening hole in the wall.

Nandini starts to go to Aubrey, as well, but stops when Flicker does so and watches him closely, instead. Starts shaking her head firmly, as if denying what happened will undo it. Clutching Maya's arm tight, she is easily drawn along toward the exit.

As Rosalyn takes Flickers hand to help him to his feet she sends a surge of healing energy that knits the cut side, heals the burns and unexpectedly sprouts him a brand new arm in all of the blink of an eye. "Well that's somethin' yah don't see every day," she mutters. "Don't ah... get too attached. It's not... yah know... really your arm."

The guards outside -- in heavier tactical gear and with heavier weapons than they use normally -- take cover behind their impromptu barricades and take aim at the door as it begins to twist out of its frame, unaware that some of their number have already been compromised and the rest are ripe for the taking.

Jamie only stirs from his trance at the sound of Flicker's voice. "We can't leave him," he says, his voice small and pitiful. "We can't -- he -- they'll cut him up and --" He winces and looks up when Rosalyn heals Flicker, his teary eyes going very, very wide. at the sight of the newly re-grown arm.

For all Polaris's fury and desperation, she has the presence of mind to wave the others to either side of the door and out of the line of fire, taking cover herself, too, as she gives the security doors one final push. The heavy door panels rip off of their hinges with a scream of distressed steel to hurtle towards the barricades--and leave a wide gap in the facility's psi shielding.

As the door breaks open, there's a sudden -- well. It isn't much, nothing tangible, nothing immediately visible for the escaping labrats to see as the facility opens up to the night. But as the warm summer night air rushes in, so does a flood of psionic influence that very quietly insinuates itself into the minds of guards and labrats alike, a brief and briefly disorienting pressure that, nearly as quickly as it arrives, passes into an unobtrusive background presence.

For all of them except Flicker, at least. Where Hive's mind meets the teleporter's it pulls him in tight, a fierce and desperate grip. Holding close, sinking in deep; the rush of commingled thoughts and senses that follows is familiar. There's no real greeting to accompany this -- only a wave of relief and an almost possessive surge of love.

To all the labrats comes -- not an announcement but a sudden certain knowledge of the pair of vans, currently concealed but waiting not far to the side of the entrance.

Flicker's eyes widen -- at his side his newly grown fingers twitch a little spastically. "Wh -- you -- wh --" He looks down, paling -- then back up at Rosalyn. Blinks, shakes his head, and --

-- has very little time to process this sudden loss of disability, this sudden alien-and-yet-not limb hanging at his side. Whatever he had been thinking, feeling, is buried in an audible gasp. Insofar as he's able he presses back into the achingly familiar presence, his eyes welling with tears. He blinks hard, stoops to rest his hand on Aubrey's shoulder as he nods at Jamie. "Yeah," is soft, and shaky. "Let's go home."