Logs:Of Buddies and Bait (Or, The Very Devout Members of the Lassiter Chapel Youth Group)

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Of Buddies and Bait (Or, The Very Devout Members of the Lassiter Chapel Youth Group)
Dramatis Personae

Avi, Echo, Gaétan, Kavalam, Nahida, Nanami, Naomi, Roscoe, Spencer, Sriyani


"I am not leaving any of you behind."


<PRO> Library Chapel E 12, Lassiter Research Facility - Ohio

The sign by the door reads "Library", and rumor has it that used to be a loosely accurate way of describing it, but now it contains only a small selection of sacred texts, most of them various iterations of the Christian Bible. Most of the shelves have been removed, and the remaining ones have been pressed into service as ad hoc room dividers, sectioning the space now referred to as the "Chapel" into three areas. The largest one houses the Christian texts, roughly and often inaccurately sorted into sects. A few long benches have been dragged in here to serve as pews, and a low bookshelf turned on its side stands in for a podium. The two smaller ones have been claimed by Jewish and Muslim inmates, but they clearly didn't have much to work with, neither of them blessed with enough scripture to fill even one shelf. The few non-Abrahamic texts that passed muster as "religious" and haven't been destroyed yet are all shoved into one corner without any kind of organization or partitioning, largely ignored except when some Christians think they're making a very original point by moving some other Christians' scriptures there.

How often do these damn kids need to pray, anyway? The chapel has been dutifully cleared (and the facilitator of such dutifully paid off at the Māhoes rec room court) for a teenaged prayer meeting -- or, well, some sort of meeting, anyway.

In the centre of the front pew, Naomi is taking haphazard "notes" across the pages of a New Living Translation Bible -- Leviticus 18 probably did not include a flowchart of (slightly-obscured by a simple cipher of shapes and initials) Jailbreak planning when she propped the volume open on her lap, but now some of the more hateful words are barely legible under the thick blue ink of Roscoe's stolen pen. She's frowning at it now, at the one big circle around the letter E. "... We get outside, then steal a bus? What is with us and buses." This is a half-hearted grumble, but her expression, mouth pulled sharp to one side, is more serious. "How many of us can drive? What happens if we get split up in all this --" Naomi circles a little explosive BAM symbol, middle of the page, "-- and folks can't find us? I ain't got enough hands to hang onto everybody through a whole damn riot."

Kavalam has been somewhere in the back. Not in a pew, not really in the group, at the moment; he's set himself apart off in The Muslim Corner poking through an aged translation of the Quran with an idle curiosity. Though clearly he's also been listening, because now he adjusts his glasses from where they sit slightly crooked on his nose (likely because he's been scrunching it heavily up) and volunteers, (albeit a bit absently, without looking up,) "I can drive." And then amends, unreassuringly, "technically."

"Oh! You don't need to hang on to everybody, you just gotta hang on to your buddy. Buddies. Only ever as many buddies as you have hands," Sriyani volunteers with the reflexive and to Spence very familiar cadence of someone who has sat through a NYCAM-influenced Protest Safety Training. But after this a frown flits brief across their round face. "How do we make sure every buddy pair gets ... how do we even know we get a bus. Oh! Do we just have a driver in every buddy pair, we can..." they're growing less certain here, slowing just slightly. "umm... caravan?"

"I live in Harlem, y'all," Avi says with a dismissive click of his cheek against his teeth, like this should definitively answer the question of whether he has bothered to learn something like driving. "Tried driving a lil tank once? Think we'll find a tank out there?" He's been perched on the back of one of the pews, right at its end, with one foot planted on the bench and one swinging down over the side. He's glancing to Their (Fearless?) Leader now with brows raised curiously. "So how do we get errybody out in one piece? This place big. Don't think one of those toddler-ropes gon cut it."

"We all climb up onto Beau's back. He'll run at the walls like the Kool-Aid man," suggests Nahida, deadpan. She's also been at the back -- the opposite side from Kavalam, off in a rear pew, though she's been studying him intently through just faintly narrowed eyes as he pokes through the Quran. Maybe just in case the Sacred Text Defacement in the room starts spreading. She presses a knuckle into a hollow of her eyes, and continues, just as flat but more serious: "Lassiter is big. We're small. They have almost a thousand people to keep track of. We just have us."

To the left of and in the pew behind Naomi, Echo has been bent far out over her knees, fists propping up her chin beneath a deeply furrowed brow. Her voice is just loud enough to be heard when she speaks up uneasily. "Yeah, if we assign groups and know where we're headed," her head turns in Roscoe's direction, a faint question at the end of that sentence, "Maybe we can keep track. But we have to plan for getting split up regardless, right? Like dealing with any trouble would slow some of us down." Her unfocused gaze jitters around the room. "But then...I mean, I don't know that we can steal six cars, but waiting to meet up somewhere seems risky too."

After setting the agenda and pitching the plan (complete with disclaimers and jokes), Spence has kept quiet while the others react. He fidgets ceaselessly but unobtrusively with a handful of magnetic balls in rainbow colors. He peels one hand away and flutters it briefly at Sriyani's clarification on buddies, then stills at Avi's question. Mooshes the magnets together tight. Frowns down at them. "I'm a good driver," he begins, sounding confident enough though his brows do not unfurrow. "I think our chances are better if we stay together and we should plan to, but we can't count on it. Unless we go the --" He indicates Nahida vaguely. "-- oh yeah route. I don't think we can liberate the whole facility. But if we make it out..." He sits up straighter and looks around at the gathered teens, speaking faster. "If even just some of us make it out, we can get help. Even if none of us do, if this makes enough noise -- if word reaches my pa, or Gae's brother, or --" He takes a deep breath and lets it out, and his words come at a more reasonable pace again. "If they find out we're here, the raid team will come."

"Make enough noise like what, we yell so much they hear from New York?" Nanami is scoffing, but then sits up a little straighter in her pew beside Naomi. She's twisting back over her shoulder now to Echo. "How loud you can --" But then she subsides with a huff, "Na-na-na-na okay that's probably dumb. How your pa gonna hear, the shitfucks ring him up? We just gotta get out. Blow the grid, stick together, run like hell, ya?" She bites her lip, her brow starting to crease, and makes a visibly determined effort to smooth out the frown that's forming. "When."

"I can drive," Gaétan volunteers, from Nanami's other side. He does not volunteer anything else.

"Yo, Roscoe, what kinda rides we working with?" Naomi has doodled a car bus rectangle with wheels over the words driving out before you, making a neat list underneath it -- kv, sp, ll, as and a little h in the center of a lopsided heart is the entirety of it so far, shorter than the one growing under a stick figure next to it: nm, nn, kw, nv, nh, av, sy so far, and she's still adding to it. "Can you drive? The math ain't mathing yet." She glances over her shoulder at Echo, frowns, and adds a doodle of glasses to the list of children who cannot drive before jotting gt down under the car. Frowns more still at Nanami's additions. "We gonna get a better shot at whole-class-escape if we wait for a day Mouse ain't on the floor. How many schedules can we get, how long can we wait before --" This comes with a nervous glance, again, to Roscoe, then fleetingly to her brother. "-- they actually split us all up," is quieter.

Roscoe is sitting toward the back, at the very end of a pew, at the periphery of the group, with his feet pulled onto the bench in front of him. As Naomi addresses him, he unfolds his arms to wave vaguely with one hand -- "Employee parking's that way. Lots of nice cars, some the labcoats make bank here. Lots of trucks too. SUVs. Prisoner transport vans --" he waves in another direction -- "are in another lot. Closer to this wing. Prob'ly harder to steal though." He gnaws on his lip; he does not answer if he can drive. His arms wrap back over his knees. "I can find out -- some schedules. I can try and guess some too." He looks less certain about these assertions, and even less certain when he adds, "Could be anytime. I'm surprised it didn't happen already."

"The fourth of July," Spence supplies without hesitation. "They'll be at minimal staff for a federal holiday." He starts to rock, then immediately catches himself and redoubles his efforts to turn line the magnets up into a chain, one ball at a time. "For sure we stick together and run like hell! But if things go sideways -- if only some of us make it out, and don't know if we can get far enough without support? At least try to find a phone." He's wrapped his magnetic chain around one wrist in order to trace figures across the inside of his forearm with one fingertip. "Before we go we write down the numbers to call, though..." He chews his lower lip thoughtfully. "I only have my pa's and the jail support line memorized."

Echo's lip twists up in a shadow of a laugh when Nanami turns to her, but it fades quickly after she gives a single shake of her head, brow re-creasing. Her left leg starts to bounce as she turns her head from Nanami to Spence. "Plan A we all get out. If things go wrong..." She sits up straight, pressing her lips hard together. "Sorry, I'm just trying to figure out -- if everyone trying to get out makes it less likely anyone gets out." Her speaking tempo accelerates. "Like, some guards are catching up. Should some of us scatter to slow them down? I can't blow out ears next to you guys unless I blow yours too, it kinda makes sense if I..." She trails off, clearly weighing the implication of staying behind, swallows. "I mean, whatever we decide. In advance would be good. We didn't have a concrete plan B coming in and..." She makes a gesture to the room they're in.

"Rather be deaf than dead," Nanami says with a small shrug. "Rather be deaf than you be dead." Though she's inadvertently shuddering (at the mention of Mouse or splitting them up?), a small-quick grin crosses her face. "'kaybut, you know Ansel he drive the most bigass truck for no reason."

"You seen the haircuts on these guys? Vets alla'em." Avi's nodding towards Roscoe. "Guards all gon have bigass trucks for no reason. If we get out we can squish a few hours, I think." His foot is bouncing, rapid, where it sits on the bench. "Guess the trick is, how we make sure we got the best chances. We try real hard to stick together, right? That's the plan. Plan B --" He's looking to Echo with a small crease of brows. "We -- pair up -- smarter?" This sounds kinda uncertain.

"You're right." Gaétan's flicking quick, staccato, thumb against one forefinger. "Pair up so every buddy pair's got a fighting chance if we get split up. Any of us make it out, priorities are get a phone, call for help -- Jax, not 911 -- then book it for New York. Hopefully, we're doing that together."

"So we do an assessment, no? Take stock of what skills do we have between us. Who can likely get out. Knows the facility. Who an actually start a car, stop a drone, mind control a guard who is in the way, and who --" Kavalam's eyes have been skipping between some, here -- The Māhoes, Naomi, Roscoe -- and now is shifting to others. Gaétan, Sriyani, Spencer -- "will need a partner who has some utility."

Naomi rips out the defaced pages -- flips forwards to Corinthians -- holds her list out in front of her -- begins to write again, drawing lines between a circle of initials now. "None o' Lael, Kavalam, Spence, Asva, Harm. or Gae can be together. Remi and Harm should be split up -- should y'all be together," is a quick aside to Nanami, bumping her once and hopfeully-future roommate with her shoulder, "to do your combo attack thing, we could do threes? Might not have enough drivers to not do trios." She's chewing on the end of the pen now (sorry, Roscoe!) and looking around the room. "...Nevaeh should be with Lael, he gon be the only one who can hear the future-vision and he strong." There's pride in her voice, the worry underneath probably not clear to most of the group. "Me'n Gae. Roscoe with anyone who can't memorize maps for shit, Echo -- someone with working eyes, or someone who also ready to do a Final Stand ass distraction." Her green eyes flick up to Beau, then back down to her page. "Who else."

"Wayminit, how do we gon start the car. If we all stick with the Wonder Twins we good but otherwise --?" Avi's looking to Spencer like he's about to produce a rabbit out of a hat. "Drivers aren't going to help us 'less you all got careers boosting cars you been hiding or Gae's mom finna lend us her -- well, she don't seem like a minivan driving type."

Gaétan chuffs, eyebrows bouncing up quick and back down just as quick, accepting, at the mention of his uselessness. "Future-vision's going to be a nightmare in chaos, won't it? Will it be helpful or --" The pause here is small; the furrow in his brow is small. Vague, fleeting; only Lael can hear the mixture of mostly-faded irritation that has dwindled down from contempt after these past two months << if you'd all just stayed THE FUCK HOME >>; can see Brendan's face (smiling, snarky, hilarious on YouTube); can feel the guilt that lingers beneath it (if I'd just stayed the fuck home); and a deep skepticism of some dubious Gift Of Prophesy (-- we don't pay attention to now we won't have a damn future --) "-- disorienting? Wouldn't want to jam him up. Roscoe should stick with Kavalam. If the rest of us forget he was ever even here, he needs to have a buddy who can find the damn door." It's almost an afterthought, distracted: "I can start some cars."

"Will that happen?" Nahida's eyes are wider. "If we -- if he. How does his -- If we all get out -- if he gets separated -- will you all forget that he --" She's sat up straight in her seat, the tips of her fingers light against her lips, staring over at Kavalam.

Kavalam lowers his eyes back to the Quran, and says nothing.

"It's not hard," says Roscoe. "Stealing cars. Driving, that's harder. I don't…" he pauses, for just a moment, before barrelling on: "If you wanna act like this's an all-or-nothing game, you gotta be prepared for all-or-nothing odds. Way more likely none youse get out than all of you."

Nanami bumps Naomi's shoulder back, nodding. "'Ae, we stay together, we take down them spiders, we start cars -- fo real? You, rich boy? Who wen teach you go boost cars ovah that high makamaka neighborhood you stay at?" Nanami sounds both skeptical and impressed at once. "You tell 'em they should come teach at our school we clearly not focusing enough on life skills we are not gonna expository writing ourselves out of this place." It's her sister she looks to at the exchange about Kavalam, and slumps just a little in her seat, knees propping against the pew in front of her. "We tough. Start a car. Who's not, we take 'um? One you up-north kids?" Her chin is lifting to Nahida. "Need a driver too."

"Starting to sound like one of those stupid logic grid puzzles," Echo mutters as she cranes her neck (pointlessly) over Naomi's shoulder, though perhaps only Naomi and Nanami can hear. She looks abashed at Naomi's characterization, but her jaw sets a second later, and she gives a sharp, tight nod toward Roscoe's comment. "Maybe Miami has a key somewhere...?" she offers. "That'd bring us to four carjacking possibilities." Twisting the hem of her scrubs, she adds, quieter, looking first toward the healers and then towards the Winterses, "If we think anyone is more likely to get out...maybe we also prioritize who testing and all's been worst for. I mean," she gives Nanami a wan smile, "odds are staying back just means more jail, right?"

Naomi was going back to the first torn page, putting stars next to people who can jump cars -- has stopped writing, somewhere around Gae's reminder and Nahida's reaction. Her lean into Nanami's shoulder this time is not a bump but something heavier. "Echo ain't hockey-buff no more, y'all take her too --Will Mr. Jackson come back here if he think we all got out?" She's staring down at the thick line between Kavalam and Roscoe in her notes, her scales grinding lightly together. "Will they just -- leave. Everyone else. Maybe," is quieter -- "we should leave people behind."

"What," Avi says flatly, his foot stopping its swing and just thumping heavily against the side of the pew, "the fuck."

Nanami is sitting up, turning to give her once-and-hopefully-future roommate a wide eyed look. "He aha ka fuck?"

"Yes, Mr. Jackson he has a strong track record of only caring about these causes for selfish personal reasons." Kavalam doesn't seem half as startled as the others by this suggestion, though he is carefully closing the book and setting it down. He looks at Naomi with a very small lift of brows. "Which of them are you volunteering we abandon here to get chucked off to another lab and vivisected so that Spencer's father might come back and save Rainy Ogden and his Nazis? I assume not you. You are very much useful, nobody would agree to it."

"And if you don't make it?" Naomi's mouth has scrunched hard to one side. She's still staring at that thick line between Kavalam and Roscoe's names, feathering thin ballpoint lines off it now without writing any more initials. "You got best shot of getting out, sure -- and best shot at getting left behind since we ain't gon' know. Nahida'n me can't be the only folks who don't like that." Her eyes lift to Spence, now. "You been saying he'll come for us. Which us? His students? Or us, Lassiter?"

A sharp frown crosses Nahida's face like wooooah, how is she getting dragged into this, now. "You didn't answer the question, though. Which of us did you want to leave? Brave Suicide there?" She's waggling the end of her headscarf toward Echo. "Certified Useless?" Sriyani, Gaétan. "Tug his heartstrings?" Now she's looking straight at the youngest of them, her skinny foster sister Nevaeh, as her fingers clench tight and drop to his lap. "Or of course he'd come for his kid, ya? Who were you volunteering?"

"Yo." Roscoe was watching this exchange with widening eyes, but his expression has slammed back into flat, flinty cynicism. "Five minutes ago your plan was to screw off in a bus. What are you even talking about, us, Lassiter? I'm the only 'Us, Lassiter' you invited to the meeting."

Gae's eyes go wiiiide at Us, Lassiter. Flatten back when Roscoe speaks. He settles back in the pew, one arm crossed over his chest, fingers squeezing down at the crook of his elbow and his teeth worrying at the edge of a thumbnail. For now he is giving an aged splotch of stain on the ceiling a long and intent scrutiny.

"You keep my pa name out your mouth, Naomi," Spencer says flatly to his ball of magnets. Is that a faint spark of Appalachian fire in his Queens (New York) English? "His team been fighting and dying to break total strangers out these cages longer than some of us been alive. Whether it's for us or the people who've been brutalizing us here or anyone in between, attacking the biggest Prometheus facility on short notice is liable to get them killed or locked up for life. You do not get to judge him or Matt or any of them if they'd risk that for us, their kids and not for everyone else here, and you sure as hell don't get to bait them into it." The magnets click angrily where his fist closes around them hard. "We should buddy up and make contingency plans and be ready to improvise. We don't know what's gonna happen once the grid goes down, but we'll deal with it as a team." He looks up at the others, his eyes wide and intense. "And I am not leaving any of you behind."