Logs:From There To Here
|From There To Here|
"Oh. That." (Set in the Blackburn Prometheus facility.)
<PRO> Wreck Room - Blackburn Research Facility
The sign by the door says "Rec Room", but someone with a permanent marker bookended the first word with "W" and "k" at some point, and the subsequent effort to undo the vandalism was lackluster. Inside it is not usually that much of a wreck, though it might be more interesting if it were. One corner is dedicated to the reasonably sized flatscreen television mounted on the wall, with several rows of folding chairs arrayed before it. Another is centered around a set of tacky vinyl sofas bracketed by two bookshelves largely stocked with supermarket checkout paperbacks (about half James Patterson by volume, with Danielle Steel heavily represented, and there are at least six copies of Fifty Shades of Gray at any given time). The rest of the space is more modular, but usually plays host to several card tables ringed with folding chairs, supplied by a shelf of games, from playing cards to chess (with a couple of improvised pieces) to three different flavors of Monopoly.
It's rare, these days, to find Jamie downstairs in the middle of the day, but perhaps someone wanted to take off early for the weekend. And so, here he is, with a paper cup of tepid coffee in one hand and a book of chess puzzles in the other, tucked into an armchair by the bookshelves. He's absconded with one of the chess sets and is staring at a sparsely populated end game, with only the two kings, the black queen, the white knight, and a scattering of pawns in both colors. Hesitantly, he picks up the knight, but doesn't immediately set it down.
Wendy has just entered the rec room; she crosses it directly, pulling out the seat opposite Jamie and setting herself down in it. She eyes the board thoughtfully a moment before looking up at Jamie, her hands folding. "How did you two get here?"
Jamie's eyes dart surreptitiously to the door when Wendy enters, and he looks up when it becomes obvious she's headed for him. The question, though, seems to throw him. "How?" he echoes. "I was unconscious the whole time, but considering how quickly it happened, it was probably either airlift or teleportation."
"I don't mean --" Wendy shakes her head quickly. "When I first saw him I thought one of their raids went wrong but that makes no sense. They wouldn't have left him. And then the first day we saw you he said they took down Messer's lab nearly two months ago but that he didn't get caught till later. I'm guessing they brought the both of you here because of catching him but -- how?"
"Oh. That." Jamie looks down, fidgeting with the chess piece in his hand. "He tried to break me out of Lassiter -- the huge transfer facility in Ohio. By himself." His shoulders hunch in tight. "I was in the minimum security wing, so...I don't know. Maybe it would have worked, but." He swallows, blinking hard. "She made me stop him."
"He tried what?" Wendy's eyes widen. Her fingers unlace and fold together again. She pushes out a slow hard breath, closing her eyes through it. Then looking at the chess board again. "You know anything we try here -- it's going to be more risk for him than all the rest of us, right?"
"He tried so hard to save me when they raided Hofstadter, and after...he came back for me." Jamie draws a shaky breath, his fingers slowly unclenching around the knight. "I know. If there's any way I can keep him safe..." He reaches out and sets the piece down, putting the black king in check but also exposing it to the black queen's attack. "But if we don't try, I think that might be even more dangerous. For him."
"Of course he is. Nobody seems interested in --" Wendy's lips compress, her fingers squeezing together, "Studying him, and the risk he poses? They're certainly going to kill him." She studies Jamie's face as he plays. "You're the best chance we have at keeping him safe when the time comes. Just -- also maybe the biggest chance it all goes sideways. You do want this, right?"
"I'm not sure it's that nobody's interested," Jamie says thoughtfully, taking the knight off the board with the queen. "I think she -- Dr. Messer -- might not be letting them. Because of me. And if I talk to her and tell her they're hurting him down here -- she'll listen, you know how she is about..." The corner of his mouth twitches up mirthlessly. "Abuse." He lifts his eyes from the board, studying Wendy back. "I want this, more than anything. But that's not going to stop her getting in my head."
"She just got here. Do you think she has that kind of sway? It's not Hofstadter, she doesn't run this place." Wendy sounds uncertain, moreso than challenging. "But it would be a help. If he got upstairs." Her mouth twists to the side, eyes meeting Jamie's steadily. "I didn't imagine the power of love would be enough. What do you know about what she did to you?"
Jamie sinks further into his seat a little. "Probably not. I really don't know, but she's good at getting her way, so." He averts his eyes, cheeks flushing. "It's not..." His head shakes. "She says things, and it kind of switches my mind...off? Apparently? And I do what she asks. I have no memory of it, though. Maybe she had telepathic help putting the commands in. She specializes in psionics."
"Whoever may have helped her mess with your head then, at least we know they're not likely here now. And psionics -- they're insidious, but they're not magic. You can work around them. Think around them. Learn to think around them." Wendy leans back in the chair, exhaling a long slow breath. She lifts her hand, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "I'm not saying it'll be easy. But if you're serious about this, I think we can help you."
When Jamie looks up at Wendy again, there's fear written in the dilation of his pupils. He opens his mouth and struggles for a moment without speaking. Then replies, "I'm serious. I expect it to be hard, I don't mind -- I just...also don't know where to start. It's not just for Flicker, but..." He bites his lower lip hard. Moves one of the white pawns up to black's now unprotected home rank and replaces it with the queen captured earlier. Checkmate. Much more quietly than before, "Please help me."