2010-01-26: Fault Lines



Guest Starring: Agent Hamm (NPC'd by Serotonin)

Date: January 26, 2010


Agent Hamm discovers where Alexandra's fault lines lie, and what it takes to provoke geological instability.

"Fault Lines"

Building 27, Governor's Island

Nine Months Ago…

The auditorium was packed full of people. Friends, family, siblings, colleagues fill every seat, a low din audible through the whole place, even as the names are called and robed students cross the stage to shake the hands of their professors and administrators. Today's ceremony is for the big boys and girls, the ones in the robes with the long hoods and the stripes on the sleeves. The hum of AC is audible in the mid-May heat of Austin, Texas, combating both the heat from the outside and the inside, to keep it slightly-less-than sweltering inside. Student after student is called, the rolled degree handed to them, their picture taken. Finally, it's her time. "Dr. Alexandra Lambert, Ph.D., chemical engineering," the emcee, the dean of the College of Engineering, calls out. A short, brunette woman crosses the stage in the black and blue robe, happy to accept the degree and the accolades that come with…

Two Weeks Ago…

Wake up…doctor. Look at what you've gotten yourself into. So driven…driven by what you can do. And where's it gotten you? LOOK. Open your eyes and look around. You're alone. Nobody is coming for you this time Alex. They've even taken away what makes you who you are…

The figure in the middle of the lonesome, sterile room finally stirs. A low mumble, a grumble, maybe something she's trying to say escapes her lips, but it's totally unintelligible. Drugged and restrained, her head rolls about limply, strands of loose, unkempt brown hair falling into her eyes. Barely able to blink them open, she's forced to keep them squinted as she looks toward the single, sad window there in the cell. It's quite clear how high up she is. And that's just the start. The tube in her nose keeps the drugs flowing, the box on her chest the source of the sedatives. She's long since given up struggling against the cuffs that hold her tiny arms and legs bound fast to the chair. But worst of all…she IS separated from what she's grown used to; her power is gone for the moment, and that's the most unsettling part.

The door opens with a buzz as the security keeping unauthorized personnel out lets one member of the authorized personnel in.

"Dr. Alexandra Lambert, Ph.D., chemical engineering," a gruff voice dictates as heavy boot steps enter the room. Like his boots, worn, heavy, utilitarian, and military-issue, the man they belong to is strongly built, no hassle and bears the deportment and scars of someone who's led a life of service, extending now into his fifties. Greying buzz cut, broad-shouldered suit. The door is held open by a guard while Agent Hamm begins to stroll around the small figure shackled to the chair. "You awake in there?"

Look at you. Is this all it takes? Separate the girl from her element and watch her wither? You're not a plant. You don't NEED earth to live, Alex. This isn't your fault…you can't help what you are! Why should they keep you prisoner when you were just using your power for good? You need to fight them…don't let them win, Doctor Lambert.

"P….petroleum engineering…" she attempts to clarify vehemently. Unfortunately, she's sedated enough that it comes out as a sputtering, stuttering whimper. Drugged though she might be, she at least has the presence of mind, and the physical ability to lift her head and stare at him. Obscured by those loose strands, once-vibrant eyes look dulled by the sedatives. "I-I don't have anything to tell you….bastard."

Stoic, the man looks at Alexandra, pausing his stroll only for a second before he resumes walking around the chair in a slow circle. "It's not my job to question you… but sooner or later someone's going to come in here to interrogate you. I've seen it happen, and our boys 'n' girls can get a little carried away when they see people like you in here… freaks, they call you… can't say as I disagree, but I can live without dealing with the paperwork 'crops up in the aftermath. So I recommend you be civil with me. Doctor. Are you aware of anyone else with an ability?"

So this is what it comes down to…doubly damned, as a woman, and as a special. All your life you've worked your butt off, lived with the support of your parents and friends, paid your dues. Hours of work, hours buried in the books, in the library, offset by a few moments of bliss digging around in the dirt. And now, you're all alone here. Cold metal. It's not natural…not like this at least. You have no strength here…not in that sense. But you are strong, Alex. You NEED to be strong. They have you…they don't need to know about any others.

"I know plenty of folks with…abilities. Special folks." In the chair, her slender shoulders and chest rises and falls as she takes a deep breath. "You know, I once TA'd for a student who could balance almost anything on a pen. Another student was so limber…it makes me think she was part rubber…" She's playing him, of course. He has to know. Even so, she can't help it as an amused little giggle escapes her lips. Nothing uncivil about how she says anything, just in WHAT she's saying.

"Oh yeah, and what were their names?" He knows she's playing him, so he'll play, too. Unfortunately, Agent Hamm does not look like a very playful guy. He looks like a General. He moseys to the window, clasping strong hands behind his back in a military pose. The day is grey outside, a bland view of freedom via a small rectangle. Unlike Alexandra, he can walk outside on the earth any time he wants.

"I think…Seymour Butts, and Amanda Hugginkiss. Maybe you should go look them up." If that's how it has to be…well, she'd trade her freedom for the safety of others.

The train. Don't forget that train. There were KIDS in there, Alex. BABIES. They hadn't done anything wrong, yet men like this captured and drugged them, locked them away, kept them prisoner. You have to be strong for them. You let the Earth give you power…now it's your turn to give that power back, Alex. Make the Earth better. Keep them safe. You can do this.

If that's the way she's going to be, then…

New question. The man by the window doesn't move, only stares out instead of at the prisoner. "Have you ever used that earth-shakin' ability of yours to hurt your fellow man? Or… well, I reckon they're not your fellow man. Normal people. Have you ever used it for destruction? Must be easy, power like yours…"

"No…never. Not on purpose." There was one or two incidents, but those aren't her fault. One was brought on by another girl, a sort of super-charging, rage-inducing thing she did, the details of which are lost in some drug-haze of that night. "I'm not out to hurt anyone! I want to help people!" The change in her tone is apparent; she's pleading, almost a bit frantic.

Something…starts to crack inside her then. The dawning realization that no matter what she says, how she pleads, this agency likely knows more than they're letting on. If they want to keep her here, there's not much she can do. But this is the same group of people responsible for those trains, the same people that came at the rescuers with machine guns. Does she want to help people…all people? Or just people that aren't like him? "If it weren't for these chains and these drugs, you'd be dead already," she hisses…something she's swallowed and hidden away for weeks now suddenly boiling up. "I hate you! You kidnapped KIDS, goddamnit! KIDS!" she screams out. "Let me out of here, and I'll show you what I can do!" Normally placid and unmoving in these little sessions, she becomes a woman possessed. Those cuffs slide and clang on the chair, as she squirms and struggles against the restraints. Animal sounds escape her lips, eyes watering, wide and wild, as she fights against the cuffs.

Agent Hamm looks over his broad shoulder. There's no doubt he sees her wild eyes. His stern face seems to grow thoughtful and decisive, and gradually he nods, as if confirming something unannounced. He strolls back to face Alexandra in front of her chair. "You got passion, kid." He walks to the door, where the guard opens it further to let him out. "Simmer it down, you're just gonna hurt yourself. You're not goin' anywhere yet." The door begins on the forlorn little room.

When the door shuts, the heavy steel slamming shut, echoing out in the room, Alex lets out a little sigh. Her straining body collapses, shrinks down in a little heap in the chair. Her head is hung low. The sounds of her outburst are replaced by quiet sobs, as tears begin to roll down her cheeks. Something isn't right…she shouldn't feel this way. She shouldn't want to kill these people, but yet…

Six Months Ago…

The house is quiet. Sunlight streams in through the windows, curtains opened wide. Only a few of her possessions lay out, the ones she intends to leave here when she movies; the rest are packed away for the move to New York City, the Big Apple. Alexandra sits at the dining room table she's shared with her parents for years and years. A happy smile is on her face, as she idly plays with dirt from a potted plant. Rough shapes are made out of the little mound of soil, rough approximations of mountains that she can make grow and shrink at will. Her whole career is in front of her, this just a layover between her schooling and her new job. But no matter where she goes, there will always be dirt.

Two Weeks Ago…

The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. It has 5.97e24 kg of mass, Alex. It has survived. It is eternal. You will survive too.

…the sobbing continues.

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