Antares The door opens with a poorly-oiled groan and Antares is pushed in, staggering against the wall and half-sliding, half-falling down. She sits blinking, blood trickling down from a gash on her temple with a livid bruise forming beneath it.
Furud is slumped against the opposite wall, wrists raw and bleeding, and trickles of blood coming from his nose and mouth. A few smaller scratches decorate his arms and chest. He looks pale, and his eyes are closed.
Antares After a few seconds, Antares' eyes clear a bit. "Furud?" she croaks, crawling over to him and grabbing at his arm.
Furud doesn't respond at first, then suddenly his eyes snap open and he tries to pull away, "Let me go! Stop it, the music is too loud...I can't..." He slowly focuses on her face and stops moving. He grabs her arm in turn, and whispers, slowly growing in volume, "Antares? Oh, no. No no no NO!"
Antares "Easy, easy!" Antares says, gripping his arm and lifting her other hand to gently touch the blood on his face. "Are you okay? Talk to me, baby."
Furud "I'm... I'm fine," he says, softly, his normal bravado gone, aside from an obviously forced attempt at it. "How did you find me?" He touches her temple, "You shouldn't have come..."
Furud Antares, having moved ahead to look for Maia, hears Furud call her name - but it is cut short.
Antares "Furud?" she calls back, standing still for a few seconds and listening. As no answer comes, she scowls and begins to move back in his direction, quietly rather than stomping this time.
stryck The sounds of a brief struggle reach her ears, and she reaches the small clearing just in time to see the wounded swaying of the topiary someone has just shouldered aside. From the looks of it, a couple of someones. Two light furrows in the immaculately tended wood chips mar the scene.
Antares Rather than sensibly heading back to the house or yelling for help, Antares follows the tracks, trying to stay quiet.
stryck Ahead, as she reaches the edge of the bushes, she can see a large white van, the kind with no windows and a cheerful slogan regarding electrical repair. Sandaled feet disappear into it as a limp body is loaded into the back. One of the two men gets in the back with him, and the other moves around to the driver's seat. The engine rumbles to life
Antares barely hesitates before running forward, hopping on the rear bumper and grabbing an equipment rack on the roof to keep her balance. She can't take two guys by herself, she figures, so she'll call for help as soon as they stop wherever they're going.
stryck The Electrical repair shop looks friendly enough, lots of lights in the window, unlike much of the rest of the street, which consists largely of warehouses in various states of nonactivity, and an ice cream shop.
Antares carefully climbs down from the rear bumper, flexing her cramped hands and then quickly patting her jacket pockets. She mouths something vicious when her phone isn't there and crouches against the van, peering around the edge.
stryck The driver walks around to the back of the van to open it, humming something under his breath.
Antares bites back another curse and rolls underneath the van, hoping his footsteps cover the scuffing.
Antares Her eyes dart around, looking for the other guy or maybe for a miracle.
stryck Antares can see his feet come around, and hear the noise of the doors opening. "You got him?" Shuffling noises. "Yeah, come on, grab his other shoulder." A second pair of feet join the first, and then a third. Furud's, judging by the footwear, and the fact that they're being dragged. Neither of them seems to notice Antares beneath the van. "This one should be interesting, "I hear."
Antares Antares' hands clench and unclench, waiting until they've moved away before rolling back out from under the van. She moves away to circle the building, looking for a way in that won't get her caught immediately.
stryck No obvious routes present themselves. The brightly lit storefront, well, has people in it. The doors the two men went through are locked and seemingly deadbolted. Around the back, the store fronts up against another warehouse that looks quite well-maintained. The only entrance seems to be a loading dock, sealed shut. Small windows contain glazed glass that are all but impossible to see through, and they look thick.
Antares prowls the back and side several times, restlessly, before hunkering down behind a dumpster near the deadbolted door to wait. In one hand she grips an empty forty-ounce, the best weapon she can find right now.
stryck After what seems like an interminable wait, featuring a cockroach crawling over her foot, Antares slowly becomes aware of something in the air. It is muted by the thick walls, but a sense of unease, and a bone-deep vibration come over her. Through the window, she can dimly see the warehouse lights flare and go abruptly dark. A rumble grows louder until a crack splits the wall several yards from where she is hiding.
Antares Scowling, Antares pushes herself up, limping a bit on the knee she twisted at the basketball game that now seems years ago. She stays against the wall and slides over to the crack, peeking in and pulling at the cracked bricks.
Antares Her other hand holds the bottle neck tight, and she tilts her head to catch a faint thread of music.
stryck It takes some doing, but she pulls enough of the brick away from the hole to see in. The room is dark until the men with flashlights and arcane medical equipment enter, shining the lights around to show the cement floor, littered with finely pulverized broken glass from a twisted spotlight, lying on the floor next to them. ...
stryck Chunks of fallen cement from the once-soundproof ceiling litter the ground in various states of dissolution, some near the center, marked with bright red. The cold blue-white light of the flashlights finish surveying the state of the room, and turn on the figure slumped in the chair. The handcuffs glitter silver and red, and one of the figures moves in to check his pulse in a businesslike fashion.
Antares spins back to press against the wall, closing her eyes and gritting her teeth and counting breaths until she can think past the roaring in her ears again. She opens her eyes and looks at the hole, trying to gauge whether she can squirm in through it once they've left the room.
stryck The crack is only wide enough to peek through, but the brick around it is not exactly in good shape anymore. Some of it seems to have melted.
stryck Inside the room, a couple of the men grumble while the sounds of broken glass and cement being swept up filter through. Still others are chatting animatedly about how they could harness Furud's talent for their projects. There is a mechanical hiss as yet more drugs are injected into Furud's neck. After a few more minutes, the cuffs are unlocked, and he is removed from the room.
Antares After one last glance in the room, Antares puts her hands on the damaged brick and closes her eyes again, this time chasing the thread of the music instead of pushing it away.
stryck The music is wild, elusive, but Antares slips around it and grasps it. Its seductive song flows through her, tugging in its own direction, and the world fades away a little as the light within her grows.
Antares lets herself drift into it, spreading her fingers against the wall and thinking of the red gleaming under the flashlight beams.
stryck The brick begins to glow around her fingers, subtly at first, then growing white hot in a flash, spreading out over a section of the brick that was larger than she intended. The mortar liquefies, and the bricks turn ash-white and begin to fall into the room, where they shatter like porcelain.
Antares Opening her eyes at the noise, Antares pulls herself through the gap without giving herself time to think about what she's doing.
stryck Aside from the light from the gaping hole in the wall she just created, the room is dark, and empty aside from the bare metal chair which, on closer inspection, is rather warped. The door is closed, but not locked. She can't hear anything through it, although... someone is shouting outside.
Antares bends to pick up the twisted pole of the spotlight, crossing quickly to the door and flinging it open. She figures the shouting outside means she's out of time, so she might as well grab any surprise that's left.
stryck As she opens the door, she spots a very surprised looking janitor heading back down to the room with a mop. Unlike most janitors, this one has a radio on his belt, and he grabs it immediately.
Antares Without hesitating for a second, Antares swings the pole at his head as hard as she can.
stryck As he is about to speak into it, it crackles to life, and a woman's voice rings out, no longer bored-sounding, "There have been reports of a further disturbance from roo..." Crack! The pole hits the janitor, and the radio flies out of his hands, skittering across the floor.
Antares "Where is he?" snarls Antares. If she has the leverage, she'll pin the janitor against the wall, pressing the pole across his throat.
stryck The janitor chokes, "Jesus Christ, get off me you freak!"
Antares "Tell me." She pushes harder for emphasis, not even noticing that the pole is starting to heat up.
stryck The janitor cries out in pain as the pole crushes his windpipe. "Down the hall, third right."
Antares bares her teeth in a grin and pulls back, pausing only to drive her knee up into his gut before sprinting down the hall.
stryck The man falls into a groaning heap behind her as she sprints down the hallway. First... second... third right. She skids around the corner and runs right into the break room, currently filled with everyone who wasn't checking out the noise she made.
Antares "Fuck!" Antares skids backwards, yelling, "FURUD!" She hefts the pole and hopelessly gets ready to swing.
stryck Her response is met with a rather confused silence for a second, before someone yells "Don't just sit there, grab her!" and white-coated personnel jump into action. Most of them do not look like the fighting type, and these sort of hang back while the younger, more gung-ho members run towards her.
Antares ducks back around the corner and swings the pole at what she hopes is neck height for the first person to come around after her, then starts backing up along the wall, hand feeling behind her for one of the doors she passed.
stryck The pole connects with a meaty thud, crossing the throat and shoulder of the first man to come around the corner after her. He curses, and throws a wild punch as he staggers back into the others. Her hand closes on a door handle, and turns. The door opens as a young woman comes for her. "Just calm down, miss! Come with us, there's no need to fight!" Despite her words, she throws a disabling strike towards Antares' pole-arm
Antares The man's punch catches Antares on the arm and she yelps but hangs on to the pole. "Fuck you," she snarls at the woman as she's hit a second time and the pole goes clattering. She tries to throw herself past the woman, hoping Furud will be in the room beyond and that she'll think of a good plan then.
stryck She pushes herself halfway into the room before the real guards catch up, and one of them gives her a solid rap on the temple that sends her reeling. As hands grab for her arms and pull them behind her, one of the more cautious ones comes up with some vaguely gun-shapped tool with a needle coming out the end. As it presses against her neck, there is a sharp pain, and the hissing noise from before. ...
stryck As her vision starts to swim and the music recedes, from her mind, she sees that the room is not Furud's cell, but an extremely neat, well-organized laboratory. The pole hisses on the concrete as it cools.
Antares "Worst rescue ever," Antares mumbles, shrugging out of her jacket and wrapping it around Furud.
Furud leans into Antares shoulder, and slips his arms around her, hugging her tightly. "You came for me... " His voice wavers. "How? I don't even know where we are. You shouldn't have come here..."
Antares "Electric parts store, near... fuck, I dunno what street. The van was bouncing a lot." She leans against him, slipping an arm around his shoulders and trying to keep her voice steady. "They hurt you."
Furud "They didn't touch me... I did it to myself. I couldn't control it anymore. They put some shit in me, and I wish it was just that."
Antares looks sideways at Furud, a little unnerved that his usual cool is missing. "I saw them carry you off, and I couldn't stop it." Her fists clench. "What do you mean, you wish it was just that?"
Furud is silent. Then finaly he admits "I lost my temper. I swore to myself that I would never do that again."
Antares "Is that all?" Antares tries to grin at him. "They had it coming."
Furud stiffens in her arms, drawing back a little. "I could have killed someone. Maybe I did... It was different this time, the music was wrong, and I couldn't control what I did. Maybe they had it coming, yeah." He lowers his voice to a whisper, speaking more to himself than to her. "Just like dad did,"
Antares "What?" Antares keeps her arm around him when he pulls back, turning her head to look him directly in the face.
Furud A hunted look crosses his face, and he avoids her gaze. "Nothing. It's just the past right? Turn eighteen and it's all gone."
Antares swallows several responses, finally saying quietly, "You don't gotta tell me about it, but the past doesn't go anywhere."
Furud looks up into her eyes, gathers himself and says softly, "It was the week you went away. Dad was drinking again, he'd brought some girl over, like he always did. Mom was away, playing bridge or something. She used to pretend she didn't know, like everything was fine."
Antares "Bad week," Antares observes in a neutral tone, her hand squeezing his shoulder briefly.
Furud "He said some shit about mom lying for me, about the flu, called her names. I couldn't take it anymore, and I just... started to fight back. the girl decided she had better places to be pretty quick. First it was just words. I'll never forget what he said to me... " He clenches his fists in remembered anger, but his voice is flat and emotionless. "He said I should've been on the bus so he wouldn't have to deal with me ruining his life anymore."
Antares sucks in a breath, her hands fisting, but keeps quiet.
Furud continues mechanically, his eyes looking into hers, but unseeing. "He took off his belt, and told me to take off my shirt so I wouldn't ruin it. Something in me snapped, and the music came to me like a flood. It filled me, and I couldn't feel anything but ...a connection, a light. It was so strong. And I closed my eyes and imagined the look on his face, as the belt wrapped around his neck."
Furud "He never hit me. I opened my eyes, and it was happening. He wasn't even touching the ground anymore.
Furud "I thought I wanted him to die, but... he was my father. I couldn't do it, so I ran and called 911." Here the narrative pauses as he looks at her.
Antares "I'm so sorry." Antares reaches up to touch his face, lightly. "And there I was, getting in your face about all that. I'm lucky you got a better hold on your temper than I do."
Antares "What... I mean, where is he now?"
Furud closes his eyes, focusing on her touch, relieved that she hasn't turned away from him yet. "I told the cops he... started seeing things that weren't there, and then tried to hang himself. I lied to every single one of them, and they believed me," he whispers. "Who were they going to believe? Me or the man who claimed his belt came alive and tried to kill him, and he was sure it was all my fault?"
Antares rests her head against his, fingers stroking his hair in an absent gesture of comfort. "Guess they believed you," she says, trying to keep her voice level.
Furud "Yeah... Maybe you were right. We're not destined for beautiful things." He leans into her arms.
Antares "Don't..." her voice trails off as she searches for the right words. "Don't say that about yourself." She holds him tighter, as if she could push back the past with her arms and a jacket.
Furud hangs on tightly, like she's the only thing keeping him from breaking completely, and mumrurs, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
Antares "Ssh, baby. You got nothing to be sorry for." Still stroking his hair, she looks over his shoulder at the door. So low it's barely audible, even to him, she says, "They're gonna wish they'd never laid eyes on us."