From X-Men: rEvolution
Dramatis Personae

Hive, Shane, Dusk, B, Scramble, Jax, Flicker, Joshua, Daiki, Ryan, Ion


<< Who do we have to risk? >>



It blasts in loud and persistent alert, pushed to most all area phones this evening:


It's a while later -- and even then it starts at a slow trickle. Just a quiet stretching-out of tendrils that whispers first through the Lofts -- plenty, already, of what he's looking for there -- before unfurling further through the city. Worming from one brain into another into another until the growth speeds, snowballs, expanding rapidly -- and starting to contract again as Hive locates the far-flung members of the raid team, wrapping the ones he can reach up into his mind without preamble.

There's a vague sense of prickling that he brings with him, a quiet simmering tension that, for the moment, stays mostly-buried. Mostly. There's still some spillover, though, bleeding small drips of aggravation in among his comrades.

It doesn't quite sync with his oddly chipper mental greeting << -- ring ring ring ring ring ring ring banana phone. >>

<< Embleer frith. >> Someone is prickling right BACK, reflexively irascible with the intrusion. In the bright but barren expanse of Evolve's kitchen, there are ingredients set out for a lot of bagged dinners; tired and sluggish but determined, Shane is currently making slow but steady progress on packing them all up. << Tell me the isolation hasn't finally gotten to you. >>

<< We're all gonna snap eventually. >> Dusk's mind is only brightness. Sharp and alive with a searing pain that, regrettably, echoes now through their shared space. A gnawing desperate hunger from beyond which his thoughts struggle up -- a bit disjointed. A bit slow. In front of him there's a sewing machine, a neat pile of cheerfully coloured hand-sewn masks beside it though at the moment he is not working. Just leaned up against the desk staring balefully at the pile of fabric yet to be stitched.

<< {Oh Christ he's going to die.} >> B may have been irritated by the intrusion, too, but her thoughts are mostly derailed by this one, rising up with a sick pall of worry as Dusk pipes up.

Scramble's presence is all jangling discord even before she answers the call with an alien hunger of her own, straining for minds that she cannot actually reach with her powers. It's a struggle for her to put her thoughts together, but when her response finally comes it's perhaps unexpectedly soft, << You can shove that banana where the sun don't shine, friend. >>

The vividly painted mental scape of Jax's mind is carefully toned down, right now, thoughts shifting through hazily half-sketched pastel images -- Ryan's face (beard growing out thicker than his usual) (brows drawn with worry); Spencer reading in a beanbag; Leo walking a trio of dogs in the park; Flicker curled up snug on a couch with Hive. It takes a second longer before he collects himself into actual speech. << I'm sorry, y'all. Some of you may have seen the alert that went out a little bit ago. >> In his mind this is sharper and clearer than the other images, the NYPD's broadcast alert about Leo.

Flicker isn't talking. But he's very much present all the same: an exhausted and nauseated knot of worry roiling at the center of all of them. The flutter of images that echo off of him are shifting, rapid, but certainly centered on a theme; creatures with wings full of eyes, a red-blood moon among a sky of falling stars, incense burning on a golden altar, a quartet of horsemen riding towards a field of battle.

From somewhere -- similarly exhausted, pressing on, administering oxygen in the back of an ambulance. Joshua's very dry interjection: << Well. That's reassuring. >>

<< It was alarmingly descriptive. >> Daiki's mental voice is as calm and even as his speech tends to be. He's kneeling at the chabudai in his living room, a Skype call with Taylor open on the screen of the computer in front of him alongside a browser window displaying the Wikipedia entry for Bananaphone. << The APB, and also the...prophecying. >>

Ryan is keeping his heavy dose of worry firmly clamped down. His webcam is also on, his room carefully tidied and glammed up, and the exuberant energy coursing through his mind is partially sheer grit and only partially chemical assistance. "-- so glad to have joining us here at Couchella, New York's own Princess Nokia. Stay home, y'all, stay safe, stay happy."

The jolt of empathically-assistance buoyancy drops abruptly away as he switches the camera off. Rubs hard at his temples. Squeezes his eyes shut. << The world isn't ending, friends, but it may be getting a bit more precarious. It's not common for Prometheus to be so loud and open about trying to get us back. Leo's in a lot of danger right now -- >>

<< -- danger, >> Hive cuts in, swift and sharp, << that he'll be sharing with anyone who tries helping him. >>

<< What? >> Even with the shared mental connection Dusk is only following -- half of this, maybe. His confusion is palpable, as is his impatience with it; it takes no time at all for the confusion to segue straight into anger. << The fuck? Who's in danger? You want to just leave them? >> Is he certain who they're leaving? No. Will that stop him being cranky at Hive over it? Also no.

<< We aren't leaving anyone, >> Shane answers immediately. And just as quickly, rather less confident: << ... we aren't leaving anyone? >>

Jax is reminding himself to take deep breaths. He is not taking the deep breaths, but he's thinking strongly that he ought to as a crackling heat rises beneath his skin. << I ain't asking none of you to do nothin' you ain't comfortable with. It's very likely that without some kind of protection while we figure this out, Leo'll be killed or taken back. I ain't quite sure why they want him this bad, but I don't imagine it's nothing good. >>

<< I'll do it. >> There's no hesitation in Flicker's mind. Behind the words, though, the white horse and its rider are growing more prominent in his thoughts. The armies they ride towards are crumpling en masse before them, soldiers sprouting rashes and boils, withering to emaciated near-skeletons before they fall to the ground. << I'll do it. >>

<< The fuck happened? >> Scramble is still desperately trying to reel in her spiraling brain. The static of her delusions recedes just long enough for her to revise. << The fuck did he do? They ain't never gone this hard before. >>

<< Don't think he's done anything. But between this pandemic and his powers, I -- >> Ryan hesitates, drawn into a long pause by the vivid imagery from Flicker. << Think they're afraid of what he might do. >>

Unlike Jax, Joshua is taking deep breaths. It's a sharp contrast to the wet and rattling ones of the patient in his truck. His eyes have fixed on their pale and sweaty face while the others go back and forth. << Aren't you? >>

<< No. >> There's a sudden vehemence in Hive's voice, lashing whiplike through their minds at Flicker's offer.

Right on the heels of this objection, a memory, echoed from some borrowed-other-mind not long past. A telekinetic contractor at Rikers there to transport Leo, bored and impatient as he waits for their ride to be prepped. His restlessness is translating into something almost eager -- he and his partner have been prepped for a fight that doesn't seem to be coming, but to his mind an attack would be a welcome change from this monotony. After all, they trained special -- were outfitted special -- he's got several spring-loaded cartridges of ball-bearings nestled among his gear and is just dying to see if they're as effective as promised against the teleporter.

The fear that accompanies this recollection is thick, briefly cloying to each of them before Hive reels it back in. Softer but no less insistent: << No. >>

The rest of the colour bleeds out of Jax's shifting mental imagery. For only the briefest instant it leaves behind a stark greyscale picture -- it might be imagined or might be drawn up from the wells of his own memory, hard to really say. Flicker in his plain dark uniform, still and riddled through with ragged holes.

The next breath he takes dispels the image, if not the fear. His quiet words are not really meant for anyone but himself but -- in here, what is privacy? << Okay. Okay, they're learning, they're coming prepared -- >>

<< Prepared for him. >> The sharp snap has returned to Hive's voice; he doesn't seem to be making any especial allowances, tonight, for people taking time to collect themselves. << Kitting out those race traitor bastards to kill him. I've got this wild fucking idea I just -- came up with off the top of my head a half dozen fucking missions ago but why don't we kill them first? >>

<< Yah, let's kill 'em. >> Scramble's elation is abrupt and consuming and fixated on the image in her mind that she sees vividly, yet from a great distance: Peace lying in a twisted heap, her face slack and forever fixed into a cry of fear and pain. She presses her fingers into the the star sapphire ring that she hasn't taken off in all these years. << Kill 'em all. >>

Daiki's hand tightens fractionally around the mouse beneath it. He draws the same breath as Jax, shaky and slow. << Even given the circumstances, though -- they already knew what he could do before. The reason they only went into panic mode now might be..." Lifts his other hand to rub at his aching temple. << ...pretty important. But either way, this isn't a raid. We don't have to risk Flicker. >> A flush of guilt at the thought that risking himself here would just be counterproductive -- as always.

<< Do you want a war? >> Ryan is resisting, hard, the urge to rub at his eyes. No particular consideration of disease transmission behind this reluctance -- just a determination not to fuck up his makeup before he needs to appear onscreen once more. << And I'm not talking the way we've been at war. I mean tanks in the streets and people begging them to murder any random mutant they find because right when everyone's at a boiling point we've gone and shown just how much they should be scared of us. You want to get your murder on, I won't stop you. >> His own exasperation is, perhaps, outsized as it rises to aggressively tamp down the colder wash of fear he's trying to ignore. << But the National Guard probably fucking will and tear half the city apart doing it. >>

Dusk had been, briefly, getting excited at the idea of sinking his teeth into a few cops. The eager flare that Hive and Scramble lit in him is quashed just as quick with Ryan's words, and he subsides back into an increasingly cranky hunger.

B has been occupying herself with several of her drones, monitoring what kind of buzz is happening -- on the internet and police airwaves alike. << Just, uh, to be clear. We're sure he isn't going around sowing disease, right? I mean, not that Prometheus is ever on the right side of anything but helping him do that seems like -- also -- very much the wrong side. >>

<< What? >> Somewhere in the jumble -- the hunger, the fear, the anti-Flicker-murder-squads, Jax has entirely lost the thread of where this conversation began. It takes a second for him to place B's words into their proper context; the uncertainty that follows maaaybe answers for itself. << When has Prometheus ever told the truth about anything? >>

<< Who do we have to risk? >> Daiki's words are echoing in Shane's head. << If some cops really wanted a piece of him I don't think I could do jack or shit to stop them. Not really. And who here could? >> It's not a rhetorical question -- mentally he's taking stock of who does have the ability to face down not one or two but possibly many armed assailants, singlehanded. Flicker, obviously, is at the top of the list. Hive. Jax. Ryan? After this he's getting hazy. << They'll be gunning for anyone with him, right? So who... do we have to risk. >>

<< And it's not like we have a fucking second string team here, >> Hive adds onto Shane's conjecture. << You gonna throw yourself on that grenade, Jax? Ryan? Fuck. They take any of us out of commission and where the fuck does that leave everything we're working for here? You willing to risk everyone still in those labs on the off chance -- what? What's the end game? Can't hide him forever. >>

Through Flicker's vivid mental armageddon there is now a sharper edge of amusement. It rattles raw and nearly hysterical through the others' minds, accompanied by a clear memory of one of the Company X contractors, sprouting rashes before his eyes, stiffening, reddening, doubling over and crumpling in a pool of his own blood and sick.

More terrifying still than the memory, though -- the thought of returning Leo to Promethean hands. << We're risking the world either way. Kind of seems like a gamble as to which bet is -- safer. >>

Some part of Scramble -- nameless and vengeful and devil-may-care -- hisses a wordless agreement to Ryan's question and its qualification. But the rest of her pulls back from it, if only reluctantly. Quick, disorienting flashes of her birth family back in DC -- of Taylor's ma and siblings, Jax's parents, Matt's brothers... Snaps back from this spiraling panic at the image from Flicker's memory. Then starts spiraling in a different direction. << The fuck is that -- they right about him? -- don't matter, 'long as they think they right -- shit we dead -- >>

Even across the reaches of the shared mental connection, Ion's awareness comes with a crackle-jolt of energy. Running on several days of pure juice and no sleep his mind is a jarring and overbright place, ricocheting between the others' input, back to the full and overtaxed clinic he is working out of, desperately trying to keep ahead of needed supplies and who in the community is too sick to even make it there.

Somewhere along the way, though, he's found a less-fried braincell to spare for the unplanned call. << {Damn but some of you seem real ready to sell a brother out.} >> Somewhere in the background he is cleaning up the floor of their garage, readying it for an influx of spare cots. Letting his mind flit back, if only briefly, to Leo, healthy but exhausted after long hours with patients in their makeshift clinic. << {Y'all do know he can cure this shit too, yeah? He bout to have some drug lab big fucking mad if he unleash a vaccine without their name on. No idea if it change much but -- maybe you want to know.} >>