2010-01-17: Not Fast Enough



Date: January 17, 2010


Sometimes even a Speedster can't get away.

"Not Fast Enough"

Building 27 — Governor's Island

At first, she felt like she was floating. Disconnected from her body, from all feeling, she just exists as a thought, a tiny representation of her personality that no one cares about and so no one will notice. She can go anywhere.

Then, there's a twinge of consciousness. It feels far away. Her mind rebels; she doesn't want to go towards whatever that hazy gray blur in front of her represents. She's been avoiding it for so long — just a little longer… but she can't float forever and that blurriness is getting stronger. Now, there's a twinge. She thinks maybe her eyelids have fluttered. That means the rest of her body is there somewhere, and she wants that, she wants to be able to run. A sickening fear of something yet unknown has boiled away all those fluttering imaginations of flying, and she needs to run— her heart is beating so fast now, she can hear it in her ears and it's turned into a high-pitched whine that she doesn't recognize as her own voice as all she can process is that she needs to—


Daphne's eyes shoot open. That gray blur unhelpfully becomes just a hard gray wall of color, leaving her momentarily disoriented as to how she's even turned until her body arches uncontrollably against the cold metal table she's been laid on. There's only seconds of this wavering grogginess but it feels like she's swimming through uncertainty for hours. The worst part is that, as soon as its gone, she might wish it back.

Once her brain clears, begins to register her situation, the speedster becomes keenly aware of nothing but pain. Lancing through both of her legs in jolts like fire, she can't tell if one hurts more than the other. She can barely even tell that there's something shoved in her nose, contributing even more to the weak sensation, her lack of coordination. Not that she's going anywhere.

This cell is exactly that. Small, devoid of all color, it has room for only the one table that holds the injured speedster. Equipment near her head allows for the dribble of whatever drug modifications those in charge feel like administering — though clearly something to ease discomfort is not one of those currently flowing. No one felt like wasting more on her when she was unconscious from her own injuries… it's still not likely pity will be dolled out now that she's awake.

The sound of leather soled high heels clapping against the concrete floors of Building 27 echo down the hall, long before Jo is anywhere in sight. Her walk itself sounds authoritative. Its assertive, yet even rhythmed. The woman herself has her brown hair slicked back in a tight ponytail. She's dressed in a well-tailored black Armani suit paired with a crisp white dress shirt — her general attire. Two inch black high heels peer out from beneath her pant legs.

With a loud clink, the door to Daphne's cell opens, revealing the Ex-Navy SEAL. She steps into the room rather lightly, but before she enters into Daphne's periphery, she circles the edges of the room, examining the cell itself before even looking at the prisoner herself. She's seen Daphne before. Finally after taking a deep breath, she steps up towards the prisoner so Daphne can actually see her. "Ms. Millbrook. Our medical staff told me you'd wake today, but I had my doubts. Welcome." Her tone is mirthless, yet a disconnected smile plays on her lips — a strange juxtaposition when paired with her otherwise authoritative appearance.

The prisoner is comparatively less put together. Her always wild bleached hair lies limply around her head, sometimes clinging to a forehead that's beginning to sweat even in the controlled chill of the room. Someone has stripped away her outfit, leaving just a regulation gray hospital gown that generously reveals the wounds giving her so much trouble. Her thin legs have been somewhat bandaged, but it seems like an obligation someone dealt with a while ago and never concerned themselves with again, as the gauze-y material has since soaked through with new blood.

There's already moisture at the corners of her eyes when Daphne rolls her head to look at the source of the voice. She doesn't know the woman. Can't quite remember what happened. And it still hurts. "Who… are you?" She gurgles out after a false start from an unused voice. "I-I don't want to be here."

Tilting her head and examining her prisoner, Jo's lips flicker into a slightly broader smile, but only for an instant before they reposition themselves to their earlier expression. She studies Daphne's expressions, her wounds, essentially the prisoner's entire being. Finally she responds to Daphne's words, although not with an introduction. Bitterly she observes, "No one ever does. Not even some of our staff."

She stares at the bleeding wounds and shakes her head. The medics clearly haven't done their job well. "Your legs should have healed by now. I'll speak to our doctors again…" It's not really compassion, it's negotiation, "…if you give me information." It's Jo's currency these days. She's not officially interrogating the prisoner. Not yet.

Really, no one bothered to check if anything was getting infected. Or if they did, it became a convenient source for victim softening, when questions such as Jo's were planned. Daphne writhes a bit more under the investigation, toes pushing at table and knees awkwardly bent inwards. She doesn't seem to have a very good grasp of her own motor skills. Fingers and mouth give reflexive twitches as she's watched. The sound of staff, unwillingly at that, resonates in that part of her mind that can concentrate, though. Peter. Her lips mouth the name.

"Oh yeah?" The speedster stammers some yet, "W-What kind of information would that be?" She isn't unreasonable, she's been in these kinds of situations before. Survival has always been top shelf for Daphne, working for Arthur— to avoid the kind of trouble she's in right now, even.

"Information about people like you," Jo answers simply, still-smiling at Daphne. "Names. Locations. Who you're connected with. People you've worked with. Anything about your kind, really." She folds her arms over her chest as she examines Daphne's body. "I'm sure you're familiar with negotiation tactics, aren't you Ms. Millbrook? For every piece of information, I do something for you."

"For example. For one piece of information I'll have our medical staff change your dressings and try their hand at your wounds again. For more you might get a shot of morphine. And I am open to your requests assuming you cooperate."

An expression of conflict flickers over Daphne's features, hard to quite pick out amongst her otherwise constant grimacing. She jerks her head to the other side, looking away from her questioner. Her eyes squeeze shut. The mere thought of never being able to run again swirls depressively around, almost more painful than the actual physical side. No one else could understand her motives, don't know what it's like to not have that freedom… what really running feels like… no one but— Swallowing hard, Daphne gathers up strength.

When she's looking back at Jo, her eyes are wide with real desperation but her jaw is a jutted out, cynical line of determination. "Anyone I worked with went down… with Pinehearst. Never did trust another employer after that— But! I'm so handy… I can be. I can get information. That's what I do. Just don't keep me here." Yeah, she's familiar.

Jo hrms quietly. "I'm not about to release you, Ms. Millbrook. Not until we've cured you permanently." At this she offers a very small fleeting shrug. "Our intel indicates that you were attempting to lure one of our agents away from our mission, and my superiors don't take that as a friendly action."

"So. Give me names. Even if they aren't connected with your former employer any longer and you don't know where they are, names are useful to me. You'd be amazed at what a good tracker I am."

The word 'cured' is bittersweet and Daphne has to force through the fear to keep her brave face on, causing a slight hiccup from her. They don't know. There is no cure, not without what makes her special. "Peter…" she finally breathes out, her head rolling back on the table so she can stare the ceiling. From here, she can almost see his smile as he admired their private sunset… but how long ago was that? "Really, I… I didn't know he was an agent." She keeps from sounding bitter; he isn't theirs.

But even as she says it, that moisture that's been threatening her eyes is released. She makes herself heave against the table in a few broken sobs, even though movement is difficult. "Please, I don't know what you think! I just ran errands! I'm not a good at this…" Not good enough. She can remember quite distinctly what happened now — and she doesn't need to be told Jo's talent at tracking.

* * * * Back in Late Fall * * * *

The industrial setting of Building 26 means that the cool darkness of the night shields the Alpha Protocol from civilian onlookers in general. Normally the outside of the building is relatively unguarded this time of day save for four — one on all sides of the building. Quietly, an extra guard, a Hunter, dressed entirely in black, lingers on the rooftop. She's been mandated to spend her nights up here, waiting for her prey.

Through the help of technology — including red light cameras, and the like — the AP knew that a particular woman was after one of their own; after a member they had managed to recruit through a work of wonder.

Quietly, Jo waits, sniper rifles set up along all four sides of the building. She doesn't dare make a sound.

It's been a few weeks now of snooping out Ivory Wynn's various places of work, and Daphne's particularly proud of the blueprints she finally managed to procure after a change in ownership of a lazy agent's computer files. Papers of other less importance were already dumped off with Cass, the bookstore owner, but the handling of this gem the speedster left to herself. It was, after all, personal.

On this night, she's dressed down, but not necessarily for the occasion, with a green and cream striped sweater, some jeans. Her worn tennis shoes are what really matters when it comes to the blur she makes as she runs the perimeter around Building 26. She knows just where to stake out in order to see those people who swipe through their various security measures, and she's prepared to wait for a particular one, even if it means hovering in one spot longer than someone on a speedster's internal clock would like.

Half a minute passes like an hour. Biting her lip in anticipation, Daphne wonders what to even say. If they're right and he's brainwashed, it's not like he's gonna just skip off with her all of the sudden.

And the hovering in the one spot is enough to push Jo into action. Gotcha she thinks to herself as she lines up the sniper rifle. Her lips curl upwards into a sadistic kind of smile as she lines up the shot. She focuses and takes a deep breath before — just like Teddy — had taught her before she hits the fire button.

There are several moment-like pauses for the speedster before Jo's actions catch up to her. They are ones where she still entertains how to entice Peter, to gauge his reactions; she's had experience appealing to people before, but not out of her better nature. But she's been trying for him, when she's around him she wants to be a better person. For him, she'll try.

A little smile curls Daphne's lip, so different from the one on the sniper above pulling the trigger. This one is breathless, hopeful. She's got it— she's going to tell him how she—

Shlick. A strange, indescribable sound precedes the feeling that her leg is suddenly buckling underneath her. Daphne's smile escapes her with a gasp. Run her brain and instinct scream. She picks up the leg and jolts forward a few blurry yards before she comes stuttering out of superspeed.

On the ground, two of guards patrolling the area approach Daphne's body, one of which shoots a dart towards the stuttering speedster (one that should eliminate her ability altogether). With a grin, Jo can feel her own satisfaction mounting. She walks over to the side of the roof that houses a ladder. Silently, she climbs down it and cracks a smile at her prey. She's done her job well today.

Her steps are silent along the ground as she glances between the guards. She clucks her tongue as she peers down at Daphne, "Well, well, well. What do we have here?"

Daphne spots the guards, causing her to attempt to double-back, but her body doesn't quite want to respond. Nerves and muscles on fire, she can't work up to a good pace. Blood darkens her pants leg, dripping onto dependable white jogging shoes. With a last desperate look around for a route, she notices the entrance to Building 26. And a familiar face as he strolls out the doors.

It's her last sight, because the dart has found its resting place in her shoulder — and there'll be no more relays after that. The handicapped speedster twirls and hits the hard ground, rolling slightly, and morbidly up to Jo's feet as the woman approaches. Even now, Daphne's vision is becoming the darkness she'll know for so long, but the mocking voice rings just as clear in her head.

Run, run…

* * * * Present Day * * * *

"What I think is simply that people like you congregate with other people like you. Perhaps they organize. Perhaps they plan assaults against the rest of humanity. I think people like you are no different than any other people on this planet — your likeness draws you together."

She hmmms as she allows Peter's name to roll over her thoughts. "Agent Petrelli does his tasks dutifully as any true American patriot ought. I informed him that I'd be speaking to you today and he had no desire to connect." The words are said factually. Emotionlessly. They aren't sarcastic, angry, or aggressive.

"While under captivity, I am your only ally here, Ms. Millbrook." Beat. "My superiors wanted me to let you bleed out immediately. I want you to outlive your time with us. I suggest you cooperate with me. You'd hate to find yourself in here without a lifeboat of any form."

"He is a… pretty big boyscout." Daphne has gotten her sobs back down to the kind of hysterical gulps people use to contain them. She shakes her head in visible embarrassment, probably at that she'd be caught searching for a guy who doesn't even want to look at her. Her face steels into a barrier but information doesn't come spilling out yet. She has some shaky sense of solidarity, though it circles the drain without her moral pillar there to give it foundation.

Her fingers struggle to make a fist, balling up part of that gown in her hand. She takes several more deep breaths to try and control her so far near constant squirming… "F-fine. Fine, please just make the pain stop— you're right, okay. Someone was trying to organize us… kept going on about government… he knew so much! I had no idea how he was doing it— but I found out. I found out who he was." She makes herself stop there, swallowing up the secret as if attempting to gain some higher ground by tempting Jo with the thought.

Her lips curling up into a smile, Jo nods and disappears for a moment. But only one. When she returns she has a woman dressed in a white lab coat with her. The woman in the lab coat injects a syringe of something into Daphne's IV and leaves moments later.

"It's morphine. It should help with the pain," Jo's statement is simple enough. "It won't last long, but it should take the edge off until you give me more. Now, tell me who he is. You know how this works. You scratch my back; I scratch yours."

In that long moment where Jo is out of the room, Daphne's attitude slips slightly. It's not like she's quite in the mood to smile or anything, but she isn't crying quite so much as when the woman's hovering there. She just takes in a long, steadying breath. Her eyes shut briefly, she's thinking of something else…

Then there's sounds from the door and her nose scrunches up and, head rolling about, she stares in pitiful hope at the medic with some glimmer of relief in that needle. The steady drops of the IV are almost counted. When there's a suggestion of relief, the speedster's body relaxes. For several seconds, it seems like she might be taking back her betrayal now that she's found some modicum of comfort; she can think more clearly. But the threat of soon ending causes her mouth to form a thin, forced line. "Rebel," she spits out, sounding like every word tastes like acid, "The cyber-terrorist Rebel. He's a— he's a spy."

She swallows carefully. "And his name is Max Swan."

Rebel. Everything comes back to Rebel. But… wasn't the real Rebel Micah Sanders who they'd captured (and foolishly released) months before? Unless there's more than one Rebel. Now that's a possibility. Her lips straighten into a thin line. Hiring the freaks isn't a good idea. Wasn't a good idea. Even if he's not Rebel, he may know too much and how did Daphne learn of Max Swan's identity in the Protocol anyways? With another cluck of her tongue, Jo silently contemplates something before finally staring at Daphne, "Give me more. I'm no medic, but I imagine your legs are important to you. And the longer we wait to repair them… the less likely you are to keep them.

Daphne is very intent on watching Jo's reaction, but that could also be because her very livelihood relies on the woman liking what she hears. Or, at least, liking that she's hearing something. When she's asked for more, the speedster shudders and grips her gown tighter. Gathering up what courage she can muster, she attempts to glance down her body in some way, looking for those precious legs. The toes wiggle, but she didn't make them— can't seem to make much more happen. All she sees is a big patch of red beyond the gown's grayness.

Sniffing, she rolls her eyes back to the ceiling. Her legs are her weak point. She can imagine no greater punishment than to be stuck forever like this, after knowing what running's like. What frustration lines her forehead is real, but benefits both situations. "What else is there? He's been feeding information this whole time… He said— he said Peter got too close to knowing, had to be taken care of! Imagine my surprise when he's an agent, too— I don't— I don't even know what to think anymore."

"He said that?" Jo glances at Daphne. She's skeptical, but has never been keen on having Evolveds working in their offices anyways. And at this moment, the information while it may not be wholly accurate isn't useless to her. "So how did Mr. Swan communicate with you, exactly? And how did he reach you in the first place?"

The morphine must be doing its duty, because Daphne's crazy heartbeat has slowed considerably. Strangely, she doesn't seem to have gained any of those missing motor skills back. Perhaps there's further damage besides the pain. Focused on this, she gives a wild shake of her head, scattering her hair about her and tugging a bit on the uncomfortableness of the nose-tube. "You owe me again first," she dares, all bravado over hesitance.

"Not going to happen until you help again Ms. Millbrook," Jo says levelly. She stares at the blonde woman who's completely out of her element. Strangely, Jo is the one with all of the power in this situation even though she's merely human. She likes having the power. "Tell me something else about Mr. Swan."

"That isn't fair!" Daphne protests, a suggestion of the spitfire she usually is, though she backs down quickly enough. Her gaze darts about the room like maybe she can pluck some piece of information from the stuffy cell air. She moans out a noise of frustration that turns up into a hurried— "A cell phone. Some special number this tech guy set up for him. And before you ask, no, I don't know who that is. You were only allowed to know one person's name at a time incase—" And she breaks off, hiccuping again. The end of the clause, and her reason for bemoaning, are obvious. Underneath it all, the speedster's brain is firing off as fast as possible. She has no idea how long she can keep this up, not to mention how long the drugs will keep hazing out a pain that will only return tenfold if the angry red swelling around the wound isn't handled.

"Fair or not, I have the upper hand here." Jo hmmms quietly. "We'll fix your legs after you and I are done chatting. Assuming I leave here satisfied." Her lips curl upwards into another smile. "I'll give you more morphine when the time comes."

At this moment the cell door opens again. "Agent Scott?" the medic's voice comes through. With a roll of her eyes, the brunette agent pads out of the room for a moment, and returns with another syringe full of liquid.

"This is more morphine. The doctor has mandated that I give it to you should you continue to cooperate. Apparently, she's terrified that you'll jump off the table and assault her. Which clearly you're in no position to do…"

Daphne's mind races the way her legs currently can't while Jo is called away a second time. What else can she give… in order to keep the facade going, she's gonna need more names, and that means starting to betray real people. With a thick gulp, she knows she's done it before— fooled people. But they were bad, like her, really, who in the world isn't, so it never felt like she was shifting the balance much. She was only surviving.

Her eyes light immediately on that syringe. It's like a golden beacon. "Clearly," she attempts the woman's same vein of near humor. "There's others out there, sort of trump me in the dangerous department." No, Daphne isn't dangerous. Except when she's leading people astray. Or getting them captured. Or just standing there when they're attacked. She's associated with those worst ones— does that make her that bad by association?

"What else can I say?"

Jo appreciates the lit up expression as she walks to the IV. She lingers next to it, waiting for at least one more piece of information. "Exactly. There are many more dangerous people like you out there. I know there are." She shows Daphne the syringe, "Just a couple of names. That's all I need. Locations would be good too, but names are important as well… we don't even know all of our targets as it stands."

Names, of course, names… as Daphne beats herself up for some other believable string of information, she falls back on a spark that came from the agent's own name. Scott. She knew a Scott once. In so much that she looked at his name on a piece of paper once, but his was a file considered possibly deadly— so it tugs on her conscience a little less. But first, "Grant. Jay Grant. He, um, he makes explosions." And killed himself with one in front of her, but no one else needed to know that. "And… and, Theodore. Scott or something." So saying, she bobs her head towards the IV, indicating action should be taken there.

Face pales at the name. Theodore Scott. Teddy. The agent twitches slightly as the syringe falls to the floor. She's officially lost her cool. In one fluid motion she reaches into her jacket and unholsters her gun which she fixes on Daphne, "Tell me what you know about Theodore Scott! Where is that mother fucker?!" Her lips purse. Her nostrils flair. Adrenaline courses through her veins. The one take she's been banking on for so long. So close, yet so far.

Oh shit— oh shit! Daphne does her modest best to squirm away from that menacing muzzle but she's stuck on a table, and her salvation towards the throbbing that's starting in her thigh again is on the floor somewhere. To the extent of her mental powers, she attempts to recall what it said on that one file but now all the information's swimming together. Of course, she'd bluff a name that meant something! God, she can't do this! For so long, the speedster's only response to physical danger has been to fold or to run. Rebelliously, what she knows about far less deserving individuals comes to mind. But then… if she spoke even one syllable, how could she look at him again? Not that… he even wanted to come see her. Not that he knows who she is. "This isn't what you want to do! Do that and I'll never be able to say!"

"Speak and I won't do it," Jo hisses angrily, keeping her gun levelled at the other woman's head. Her entire posture is angry. Her muscles tighten considerably as her jaw tightens. "Tell me what you know about Lt Scott." Her face tightens as she clicks the safety on her gun to the off position.

There's no way to know how serious the woman is. Daphne doesn't know anything about her except that she's hit the wrong button. With Arthur, she'd seen him do things… knew what he was capable of. And yet, here, in this place, she somehow can also believe it of this stranger. Even the begging is frightened right out of her throat. She could say everything she knew about every person she ever met and it still won't be enough to save her: she can't say anything about Lt. Theodore Scott.

CLICK— the safety. The future she was lying for goes out of Daphne's mind in that long, drawn out noise of certainty. Certain. She's certain she's about to die.

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