The Multiverse » Arcs » Only takes a spark to start a wildfire

The introduction of the Children of Ash into the Multiverse.

As written by: Joseph_Bennett, Absenthia, Fishbucket, barney_fife, LawOfTheLand, lil_kreen


144 pieces and 22 characters involved, written by 6 different authors.

3 places involved




So begins...

Only takes a spark to start a wildfire


Victory SquareSetting: Victory Square


Joseph Lawson walks into the bar, looks around, and then sits down without ordering a drink.
Rei took another swig of her drink before responding, "My my, aren't we the lucky boy to have such a ship." She said bluntly. It was like two predators circling one another, trying to determine if the other was any kind of threat or not. "And lucky to get the Aschen to help." Rei added, knowing better than to call them xenophobes to their face. She didn't have the kind of power that could back those kinds of words, at least not here. "Where you headed with such a ship, Captain?"
Joseph Lawson gets up and leaves, going outside to take a smoke.
 “ I haven't got the first clue. Away from the Aschen core for sure. Might hit up Misrana." ”
 “ I did hear about a planet called blackstone or something like that, some backwater colony with more crime than enforcement ”
 “ Might head there, Always work to be found there. ”
A group of Caprica City Police officers entered the small tavern that was set just outside of Victory Square, they were wearing their dark blue uniforms, accented with a polished leather duty belt, and sam browne with shoulder strap. They removed their watch caps as they moved into the Tavern.

Something tripped EVE's watchful eye.
Ean Falcor snorts some of his drink and coughs before turning back to the bar. "Well fuck, speak of the devils and they'll start dancing."
Joseph Lawson sees the officers and begins to walk away from the tavern, hiding the grenade,
Rei chuckled to herself, "Ah yes, the call of the frontier and burning space." Nothing was said about the allure of a few easy jobs. Glancing to the door, she sighed to herself and muttered a few choice words under her breath herself.
Joseph Lawson takes a deep breath, turns around, and walks back into the tavern.
One of the officers was speaking to a bartender, whom pointed to the door. EVE Chirped in his ear.

"Subject is outside, threat level, yellow. I'm detecting subtle physiological indicators of possible terrorist activity."

Another officer, a Female, scanned the interior of the bar, resting her hand on her disruptor pistol. They moved in unison towards the door, leaving one officer behind, blocking the exit.

Two Officers exited the bar, moving quickly after Joseph Lawson, the lead officer called out.

"Excuse me, Sir! Your papers, Please!"
Ean Falcor clears his throat and turns to Rei. "So.... Feel like watching the fireworks, or do you wanna take a walk?"
Joseph Lawson turns and reaches inside of cat.
Joseph Lawson coat*
Raphael E. McGregor was walking down the sidewalk, wearing a pair of shorts, and a white tank top, a large apple in his right hand, as he thoughtfully took a bite, chewing on the fruit.
Joseph Lawson holds out papers to Police, watching their eyes.
It looked like she wasn't going to be getting her food anytime soon, but at least there had been beer. "I wouldn't mind a walk and a cackle." She replied tossing a few bills onto the bar.
 “ No threat intended, Officers, or did EVE call me out on terrorist threat again? ”
The lead officer took the identification papers, looked them over, and then looked up at Joseph. Then he looked back at the identification papers.

"So what part of the Empire are you from?" The officer asked. "What brings you to Caprica?"
Raphael E. McGregor strolled past the officers, flashing his military ID, showing he was an officer in the Imperial Navy. "Afternoon, officers." He said, thank the gods he was reinstated, and granted special dispensation from the Emperor. "Oh look, a Tavern."
Ean Falcor pays for his own drinks as well, then gets up and walks over to the door. "Oi, Pardon Officers, don't want to interrupt your business, Late to a ship launch" He says to them as he attempts to slip by them.
 “ I just came to the tavern to get a drink. ”
Joseph Lawson reaches into his coat, then looks at the officers and says, Just grabbing a smoke.
The lead officer returned the identity documents, they looked genuine as far as he could tell. "You didn't match in the Central Registry through facial recognition. Do me a favor and keep your hands where I can see them." The officer's hand moved to the disruptor pistol holstered at his belt.

"You might want to get that updated. Mr. Lawson."
Joseph Lawson pulls out a lighter and a box of cigs, then, instead of pulling out one cigarette, he lights the whole box on fire and throws it on the ground, covering his eyes. The box explodes, setting off a blinding flash.
Joseph Lawson , instead of running, grabs the officer around the head and slams it into his knee, then drops him onto the ground.
Joseph Lawson reaches into an outside pocket, and pulls a pistol.
"Looks like they're more than occupied." Rei remarked blithely as she attempted to slip out past the officers. All she had to do was act like she was the most uninteresting thing that day, and besides which it looked like their Mr. Lawson was getting their full attention anyway. But then there was a blinding flash of light and all hell broke loose.
Raphael E. McGregor unaffected by the sudden blinding flash, moved in quickly to assist the stunned officers, reaching out as Joseph attempted to grab the lead officer, snatching him by the forearm with inhuman strength. "Why did you have to go and start trouble." Raphael chided.
 “ well, shit, looks like Im gonna have a nice day. ”
Ean Falcor slips past the officers and the alteracation. "Damn, he's just a kid too." He says to Rei. "Here, let's slip over this way."
Joseph Lawson puts hands behind head, after handing over pistol.
Raphael E. McGregor with that same, inhuman strength, moved quickly to snap Joseph into an Arm-bar hold, and with his free hand, he attempted to pull the pistol from his grasp, and toss it aside.
Andreas Moustakas saw the disruption and leaped into action, still in his military fatigues, and leveled the disruptor rifle. "Freeze! You're under arrest for using deadly force against an officer!"
 “ Where ya takin me, officer? ”
Stunned from the flash, the three Police officers took a step back, and drew their weapons, even if it seemed the Military leaped into action.
 “ That's for us to know and you to find out, criminal. We can sort things out there. ”
Joseph Lawson the kids voice begins to slowly slip into a different accent, hard to recognize.
Raphael E. McGregor moved to shove Joseph into the wall. "Probably the comfy chair."
 “ You! Soldier, you have any binders? ”
 “ well, you see, this seems a bit out of hand, ja know? I know I’m the one at fault here, my mother taught me to recognize that. ”
Andreas Moustakas started. "Uh! Sir, yes, sir!" He reached into his pack and grabbed some zip ties. "These should work."
Raphael E. McGregor took the zip ties, and moved to Zip tie Joseph's hands behind his back. "Yeah, first day back on Langara and this shit happens." He began to pat him down for more weapons. "Who are you, and who sent you!?"
Joseph Lawson shrugs off coat, then throws it to the ground a couple of feet away.
 “ you might want the coat. ”
 “ Definitely not well, I was only trained in conventional combat... ”
 “ Sir. You escort him to the station, I'll call a team and have them take care of the coat. No telling what kind of booby traps could be waiting in those pockets, sir. ”
 “ There a pistol in front of the knee that you missed, as well as the knife and stun grenade. ”
Raphael E. McGregor cast a glance at the coat, picking it up through the exertion of his mental energies. The coat began to float several feet into the air, he moved to frisk Joseph, finding the hidden pistol, knife, and stun grenade. He tossed everything aside. "I'll ask again, who are you, and who do you work for?" Raphael asked again.
 “ Coat only has a few more... eh.... smokes I guess you could say. ”
 “ you do realize you cannot get anything get anything out of me, right? ”
 “ well probably not for a while at least. ”
Raphael E. McGregor chuckles. "You do realize you're in a world of shit, right?"
Joseph Lawson nods, grinning wryly.
 “ aleady was this way. ”
Andreas Moustakas moved to collect the evidence Raphael had found. There was a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time. Giving Raphael himself a hand in apprehending a xeno...this was the greatest day of his career!
 “ uh... you might not want to touch the jacket for a while. ”
Raphael E. McGregor with Joseph's hands bound, Raphael moved to release him from the arm hold. "Soldier, watch him, don't let him escape, I'm going to make a phone call." He pulled out a small cell phone.
 “ Silence, xeno. ”
Raphael E. McGregor held the phone to his ear, he was on the phone with the Imperial Intelligence Agency, calling in a potential spy. \
Raphael E. McGregor hung up the phone, and moved to grab Joseph and escort him to a nearby bench, where Raphael moved to force him to sit on the bench. "Now we're going to wait for the nice IIA men, and Confessors to come and pump you for information."
Scientists regularly required Sukarma to return so they could analyze her ansible. While the ansible was impossible to align and connect to Lexicon, in so doing her Earth and universe, a few of the small wormholes were still flickeringly alive. A few recovered and were engaged by flickers she thought came from the other side. Likely the earth ansible was the only thing Lexicon had to tell Sukarma was still alive somewhere and that Sukarma wasn't dead. So her vessel sat in space dock for a while and wired her up to the computron to run new tests. Given she was able to build a second ansible and tether it they otherwise could have access to her wherever they did it from. Sometimes she was 'voluntold' to come to them and wouldn't get a pass until they were done. So her avatar waited planetside until the clearance came.

The AIs however pouring about the ansible lower systems had to stay out of her inner nonlinear EI thoughtspace. A few metaphorical picket fences up to remind them as something in them was inherently noxious to her frames of thought. Nerve jacked, basic techs, or 'telepathic' humans were fine and didn't botch all her FE fields and ganglion processors. This in turn rather risked destabilizing the remains of the extra-universal link in the core ansible. Ashen telepaths though seemed to balk that a living ship stared back at them instead of a soulless AI. It felt like a lighthouse washing over her mind and she was getting the hang of noticing it when they were doing it. Sukarma had citizenship papers though by special dispensation to make them happy and a merchant license so she could work and not starve to death. Probably so they didn't have to pay her.

There were users who logged in and poured through her recent cameras, personal logs, and sensor data as she moved about doing basic trading but it wasn't much different than the sharia police when she visited mom. She had a feeling they were using her for intel when she went on missions since the ansible was difficult to detect besides penetrate. The wormholes didn't cross intervening space but went point to point. The second one she made them had to feed then clone from dividing the remaining healthy wormholes in her main one. Making a new wBit channel from scratch wasn't hardware she had or knew how to build. They'd taken care of her when she needed them at least and seemed to appreciate the bean plants from earth dirt that she offered. She saw one at a temple once but didn't quite understand the why of what Magnus had said.

Text floated in from the messaging network below. An AI wanted her to look at the bench with some guy with way more weapons than brains. The short metal-dressed avatar sat on a bench and looked over an ashen insignia anodized to her front that she really didn't much recognize. It half-felt like someone was trying to turn on a flashlight from inside her eyeballs as some human logged in to observe. She wondered if the humans could channel whatever their powers were through her but they never said. Sukarma was just happy to serve and quietly sucked nutrient slurry through a straw.
 “ You really think I’m any threat?! I swear to god, this is all a misunderstanding, officers. ”
 “ Silence, xeno scum. Just sit tight and the Confessors will see if what you say is true. ”
 “ You son of a bitch, you want to know what true is?! It sure as hell isn’t this. ”
Joseph Lawson , in inhuman speed, jumps over his hands, freeing them and putting them in front of his body. He reaches with both hands toward his waist, and yanks out a boot knife, then flips it, the razor-sharp edge cutting through the zip tie. He quickly sheathes the knife, and starts off, running away.
Joseph Lawson yanks a small radio from his pocket, and says into it, “This is Larson, I am on the run. Where is my nearest pickup point?”
Joseph Lawson listens to the radios response, and talks into it, saying, “what do you mean, No pickup?” He slows down, then drops the transmitter onto the ground and grinds it under his shoe.
 “ Damn. ”
Joseph Lawson walks along the crowded streets
Joseph Lawson darts into an alley, and grabs up a coat.
Joseph Lawson searches through the coat, and takes out two karambit knives and a pistol, which he quickly puts back.
Joseph Lawson walks farther into the alley, obviously searching for something.
Joseph Lawson moves aside a dumpster, and removes a box hidden behind it. As he opens the box, he removes an old slugthrower rifle, an MP5 sub machine gun.
Joseph Lawson hides the SMG inside of his jacket, placing it in a hidden pocket specifically designed for it.
Sukarma passed a message down the stack where the other AI would see it thus to tell the humans peering from her eyes, "You want me to follow? My avatar is built for orbital debris and he's only got a slugthrower."

Someone passed a command to load her 500mm diameter surface telescope but Sukarma raised an eyebrow. That wasn't going to work. The EI took another slow drain of the nutrient slurry. Sukarma didn't ask questions of who was doing what that was for the AI skittering around the surface reference frame of her head to take care of.

A loading error threw against the equipment load instead with a spike of inner-frame logic at her direct attention, {I am in an enclosed bay. You can't follow anything planetside with my telescope. Also, the bay exit isn't pointing planetside.}

She was fine with staying here since there was a rally soon. It was her first after all.
Andreas Moustakas cursed as the xeno somehow managed to escape. He couldn't fail in his duty, not with Raphael McGregor himself involved in the scene! He flipped the arming switch on his disruptor rifle, the weapon screeching to life as he put his professional Pyramid skills to use in pursuing the fugitive known as Joseph Lawson. Kicking off walls to turn corners without losing momentum, vaulting over waist-high obstacles like he was avoiding a tackle...all in full battle rattle, no less!
Joseph Lawson turns, noticing the soldier, and reaches into his new jacket's pocket, pulling out a cylindrical object.
Take one more step and I'll blow both of us to hell. I don't want that.
He twists the cylinder, and it beeps once.
Chill,
brother.
 “ Andreas Moustakas
Look, I understand you can't let me escape... I'll come quietly. I'm done with this. I... I can't anymore. ”
Joseph Lawson raises his arms up, and shrugs off his jacket, removing his weapons, which he throws onto the ground. "Jesus... This is the day of two minutes of hate, ain't it?"
Joseph Lawson puts his hands behind his head, then half grins, half grimaces. "Perfect. You can hang me on the day I'm arrested."
 “ Good. I'm glad we came to an agreement on something. Face down on the ground, hands behind your head. You're under arrest till the cops get here. Be grateful I don't blow your brains out right here for pulling a bomb on me. ”
Joseph Lawson put's hands behind his head, cooperating with Moustakas's commands. "Where you think they're going to take me? Also, don't touch the jacket... trust me on this. It has a electroshock agent in it, activated if it doesn't recognize the person touching it."
 “ I don't want my sentence to be longer then it has to be, mate. ”
 “ Andreas Moustakas Where do you think they're going to take me? ”
Joseph Lawson drops his arms from his head and pushes himself up, looking at Andreas. "Okay, so I'm going to reach in my pocket and remove something I don't want them to know I have. Are you okay with that?"
A large black van came to a screeching halt near Andreas, and Joseph. The sagging of the wheels seemed to indicate something heavy inside the van, as the back doors flew open.

Two hulking power armored figures emerged from the back of the van, chambering massive twenty-millimeter slugs into their heavy magnetron rifles.

Their black, opaque, faceless visors obscured everything, but two red glowing eyes, their armor too, was a deep black.

Their footfalls could be heard clearly as they started to approach, as two purple robed, and hooded individuals emerged behind the two towering Adepts of War.

They began to approach Andreas, and Joseph.
"No, I am NOT okay with that. We're going to wait right here and spend some quality time before the cavalry comes in. For all I know it's something you're going to try to use to blow my head off. You pull that and I'm going to have to kill you before you kill me."

As if on cue, the Adepts of War showed up to drag away this very agile and dangerous xeno. "And there they are now. I wouldn't try pulling any of your gadgets if I were you," he said through gritted teeth as a warning to the Adepts about Joseph's hidden arsenal, keeping his disruptor rifle warmed up and ready. He was ready for another chase, but a firefight in Victory Square where tons of innocents could get hurt was not something he wanted to picture, let alone experience.
Joseph Lawson reaches into his pocket and swiftly withdraws a lighter, throws it on the ground, and then crushes it with a boot heel. "Bullshit, they're gonna kill me anyways." he mutters. He puts his hands behind his head in an unmistakable show of surrender, eyes closed, as he mutters a sort of mantra."Ignis venturus est." He says, over and over again.
Joseph Lawson realizes dying fighting is better than dying arrested, so he grabs up his coat and yanks out an SMG, and then runs into the crowd of civilians, so as to prevent from being shot at.
One of the Adepts of War grunted as he tracked Joseph trying to run away into a crowd of people. That was a bad move, and so he quickly moved to act, vanishing in a flash of white light, and an audible pop, and re-appearing mere inches in front of Joseph.

In one swift move, he reached out, his hands wrapping around the SMG with enough force to crush it into bits of twisted metal, the second hand moving with inhuman force, and speed to attempt to grab Joseph around the torso, and sweep him up off the ground.

"Your life is forfeit." The Adept grunted.
Joseph Lawson blinks in surprise as the Adept literally teleported in front of him, and tries to fire his SMG, but realizes it's already in the hand of the soldier, and barely manages to remove his hand before it is crushed. He swears as the Adept snatches him up, and tries to hit it in the throat, failing miserably.
Joseph Lawson , in response to the Adepts' statement, says, rather loudly, "Damn right my life is forfeit."
"To be honest, I would have done the same to anyone else up to your specific brand of shit, Adam Henry," Andreas spat as the Adept managed to disarm this freak. "The fact that you're a xeno is just a bonus. Take him away. Ad Victoriam!"
Joseph Lawson gives Andreas a casual salute,grinning widely. "And I'd do it again, man."
 “ Eh, they'd tell you to kill your mother and you'd do it. I feel bad about what they've done with you, you brainwashed bastard. ”
 “ Damn. I guess I'm gonna die, ain't I? ”
The hulking war adept in the black armor was on the verge of striking the killing blow, until he was interrupted by the man in the dark, plush indigo robes.

"His actions merit a fate worse than death." The Confessor said, nodding affirmatively.

"Transport him to the bio-scholars, have him re-educated."

The Adept nodded, and with an almost inhuman ease, he began to pull Joseph towards the unmarked black van.
A Patriotic fanfare begins to blare.
Andreas Moustakas started at hearing the fanfare. Knowing the Adepts had the situation well in control, he gave the reinforcements a salute before scrambling back to the main forum, leaping and vaulting over obstacles to try to get a good spot in the crowd!
The crowd began to slowly assemble, as the patriotic fanfare began to blare over the loudspeakers, one by one people came out of their homes, and out of their shops to assemble in Victory Square, a young man was moving his way through the crowd pushing a cart, the smell of seasoned meats wafting from the cart, filling the square with the pleasant smell of food.

"Gyro! Fresh Gyro! Two Dinar! Fresh Gyro!" He cried out, passing the warm meat, folded in pita bread, and topped with veggies to one of the crowd-goers.

"Souvenir cups! Fresh Gyro! Two Dinar!" He cried out again.
Joseph Lawson laughs when he hears the word "re-educated" in a sense of gallows humor. "I never was too good at school." He says, in an attempt to mock the Confessor. He realizes that since he can't get away anyways, he might as well make things easier for the opposition, at least right now. He won't resist.
Joseph Lawson sort of shrugs back on his jacket, then takes a guess at what is going to happen to him. "You going to make me normal citizen?"
 “ Or are you going to do worse? ”
Joseph Lawson reaches into his jacket pocket, and puts a hand on the grenade hidden there. The frag grenade should kill the Adept, but he would also kill himself. So he takes his hand out of his pocket. 'Not right now.'
The Adept grunted at the sight of the grenade, and with lightning speed, and inhuman precision, he took his free hand, and moved to encapsulate his massive, armored fist around Lawson's hand, and the grenade. The grenade would detonate harmlessly within the armored fist, likely taking Lawson's hand with it, but sparing him, and everyone else around them.

The Confessor chuckled. "My, You're full of suprises."

The Adept grunted again, and with Joseph still in his grasp, moved to slam his head into the concrete, in an attempt to knock him out.
Joseph Lawson 's head hits the concrete, and he blacks out, his head bloodied and his forehead heavily bruised.
As the man returned with a confessor Sukarma felt humans join in her core reference frame again. Some humans somewhere with a suitable telekinetic ability surveilling within the knowledge of her proximity. There were others poking around in there too but they felt stiff moving around processing threads to look at the raw data for the incomplete but stable quantum ansible to her Earth. The activity felt good to be useful again even if it wasn't really a crew. The man's hand reached for his pocket.

Their activity turns frenetic as eigen manifolds open to interface her sensors with her intuition as some of the stiffer minds using tools instead of native power fled. Someone would, is, and did vomit on her ship deck though the whole of the situation she deprioritized. Networks of potential and actual data linked between computational models integrated with a more holistic view of time independent of now and later. A deeper understanding born of organic and very human brains scattered around the inside of her frame and her avatar itself. The minds that remain seem alert but with directed attention that follows thread folding clearly had an idea of what was going on.

They passed information out of her core manifold about the potentialities as she copied then handed the request off to subsystems for linear render. Executive duly engaged with this particular task Sukarma took in what was happening as threads cut and pruned deciding what she was going to do in the seconds a hand moved to his pocket. The stream of time resumed as she rejoined linear flow. The man wasn't likely to pull the pin as medical data plus the look in his eye told her he might decide against it. Sukarma stood up anyway and started walking closer just in case.

The Adept neutralized that situation anyway as she raised a hand to organize a FE shear plane of the ring from the grenade pin. The interconnected frame's eigenvector tethers jiggle to evade the other minds staring at the whole but she had to move one out of the way. At her distance couldn't shear much but a small pin wasn't that thick so the field-effect tool had to be efficient. Then they smashed the xeno's head into the ground and he went out like a light. Sukarma winced as that looked like it hurt.

A few soft mag-clamps clicked off as Sukarma's blue backpack flipped around to her hand at the front. A step or two to the side having repurposed the shear plane into a matter translation. It was a bit strong for that. There was a white symbol of an Ashen healing diety on it. Her support pack got a few upgrades lately from what she could get personal licenses for. The bureaucracy didn't take well to the ship and the user being the same thing on forms. There was a lot for her to read and understand and if she wanted to be able to really use it she had to actually learn it. Unlike the AIs that gave the EI migraines when they moved too deep that just sucked in everything like little black holes. Rather short compared to most Ashen she approached slowly to look up at the Confessor and Adepts as her chromatic skin turned a watery green on blue.

Hair tentacles moved to switch out sensory apparatus as her conversational Antiquas is just slightly broken by Latin tensing, {Ad Victoriam. Do you want first aid for the Xeno, Confessor? The wounds may get infected there's no indication his immunology is as robust as Ashen.}
Joseph Lawson 's eyes flicker, then open slowly. He's barely holding on, as it seems.
Joseph Lawson puts his arm against his chest, the one with the now-missing hand, and sits there, his eyes slowly glazing over as he goes into shock.
 “ I... I... didn't pull the pin... What... ”
 “ What... ”
Joseph Lawson looks at the Adept who blew off his hand, and says, under his breath, "Damn you all..." Then he says, a bit louder, and obviously disorientated, "I have another bomb. I am going to remove it from my jacket. Do not kill me, please. I am willfully... willfully surrendering it." He reaches with his left hand into his coat, and slowly removes a cube-like metallic grenade, with green dots arranged in a triangle on the front side of it. He reaches it out to the confessor, then thinks better and just drops it.
Joseph Lawson shakily stands up, noticing the medic for the first time. He winces as he touches a hand lightly to his forehead, and shrugs off his coat, unwilling to wear it. He takes out a small pistol and tosses it onto the ground near the feet of the confessor. The pistol is stylized with the image of a phoenix on the barrel, and he seems reluctant to give it up, but throws it down anyways. "Look, I don't want any trouble anymore, Confessor. But I have one thing to say." He wipes some blood from his forehead, then continues his statement. "Fuck you and your whole fucking corrupt society, you brainwashed dogs. You may put down rebellions but we will always rise again. Phoenix Vivat! Seditionis vivat!" his mind exhausted, he promptly collapses to his knees and mutters one last time, "Seditionis... vivat...." and closes his eyes, ready for whatever punishment is sure to come his way.
Sukarma slid a panel on her backpack open to expose a sensor panel as her eye followed the grenade. A thin blue box field formed around the cubed weapon as it clunked to the bottom. The force effect volume a hollow box hovered in midair as she translated it along each orthogonal axis where the grenade effectively is pushed by each interior side. Attention to the manifold is much less once to the ground thus considerably lowering her executive effort to maintain it.

Sukarma winced at the second collapse to the weakened rebel, {dum vivimus servimus, rebel. The hand is still there but I think you may have a damaged medial nerve cutting off the sensation.}

Her eyes flitted around the man's injuries as a density scan quantified the injuries on his forehead and hand commenting an old quote in Latin as she'd been reading a lot of ancient books in her Gutenberg index, {Dura lex sed lex.}
The massive Adept grunted, as he brought his attention first to Sukarma, and then back to Lawson, he grunted again, and kicked the jacket, the pistol, and everything else out of the way, before reaching down to grab Joseph, and usher him forcibly towards the truck.

The Confessor simply smiled, and offered a nod to the machine woman. "We're going to take him to Whispering Mountain, where he will learn his place." The Confessor smiled, and then stepped into the back of the truck. The Adept would restrain Lawson, and once the van closed up, it would head out, down the road towards Whispering Mountain Prison.
 “ Shit... ”

Whispering Mountain PrisonSetting: Whispering Mountain Prison


Whispering Mountain Prison
Maximum Security Block




Sometime between here and Victory Square, Joseph Lawson would have found himself rendered unconscious by the Adept that was escorting him here. He would awaken to find himself in a small six foot by eight foot cell, there were no amenities, save for a simple sink, and toilet combination, and a concrete slab that was supposed to serve as either a bench to sit upon, or a bed.

The concrete walls were clean, and there was only a single recessed light high in the ceiling. The cell door was a reinforced Starship grade trinnium, that even the strongest captor would find impossible to break.

This cell had no windows, and the only noise was the soft hum of the recessed light. Lawson didn't know it, but they were underground, and the cell seemed to be humid, musty, and quite warm.

All his clothes had been removed, and he had been dressed in a simple red jumpsuit.
Lawson looks around his rather small cell. He feels... he can't tell. Annoyed? Angry? Afraid? He doesn't know. In the meantime, he tries to clench his hand, the right one. He's missing two fingers, his little finger and his ring finger. He's also missing part of his index. As he tries to close his hand into a fist, the main result is twitching, then pain arcs through his arm as his hand finally cooperates with his wishes. He can tell what he's feeling now. Rage. He notices a piece of metal stuck in his palm, and uses his left to rip it out. It's about the size of a fingernail, but jagged and sharp. He watches the blood trickle out of the freshly made hole in his hand. He places his hand on the wall, and just watches the blood slide down its side. For a minute he considers slashing his wrists, but decides suicide isn't a death he wants. So he drops the piece of metal on the floor, and decides not to pick it up until suicide is his best option. He sits on the slab supposed to serve as a bed, and lays there, staring at the ceiling.


Waiting.
There was an audible thunk in the door, the clamoring of metal tumblers as they shifted, and fell into place, pliant to the sounds of an inserting key with signified that there were visitors to this particular cell. The door opened with a heavy thunk, and on the other side were a pair of Aschen Marines, whom kept their sick sticks readied in the event they were necessary.

A middle aged, brunette woman stepped through the threshold of the door, with a rather large, and heavy file tucked under the crook of her arm.

Her expression was neutral, and she seemed to keep her cold gaze on the man in the cell. But she was perceptive, she kicked the small piece of steel back towards the door, anything could be a potential weapon, she wondered to herself why he wasn't checked for this? It didn't matter.

Her eyes focused on Joseph on the slab, before she tossed the file folder at him.

"What happens over the course of these next several days will be entirely up to you, they can go as smoothly, or as difficult as you want them to." The woman said, her voice cold.

"My name is Madeline, I'll be asking you some questions." She said. "Who are you, and who do you work for?"
"Well, Ma'am, as for who I work for, and I know you may have trouble believing this, but I don't work for anyone. No one works for me, either." His eyes follow the piece of metal as the woman kicks it away. There goes his possibility of choice. "And as for who I am, my name is Joseph James Lawson. Apparently I'm a terrorist." He shakes his head and picks up the file the lady tossed at him. "What is this?" He starts to look at it in interest before laying it down next to him. Then he holds up his right hand, the one nearly destroyed. "I suppose you will withhold medical attention until I cooperate?"
Lawson shakes his head before saying,“Listen, Miss Madeline, you all know why you’re here. I do too. You’re here because you have to interrogate me. I’m here because I freaked out and made a mistake. I pulled a gun on one of your police officers. I had illegal weaponry. All good, until I fucked up by trying to kill one of ‘em. All my fault. But I can swear to you, I don’t work for anyone.”
Madeline stood there in silence, before she cast her gaze down to the file folder. She spoke once more, her voice cold, calculated.

"Unfortunately wrong, on all counts." She said cooly.

She turned her head to one of the prison guards. "No food, water, or medical attention for the prisoner. I'll be arranging for transfer to intelligence." She instructed.

"You came here for a purpose, Mr. Lawson. As you can see we've had our eye on you for some time. You came here to Langara from Sky's Edge." She narrowed her eyes.

"You see; you're going to help us Mr Lawson, whether you want too... Or not."

She slowly turned to leave.
Lawson looks up at the ceiling, clasping his hands together and then spreading them wide. "Fine. Get me a pen and some paper." He says. "I'll write down all I know, then let you rip things out of my head. Fair deal?"
He hopes it is. He just wants to get out alive.
Madeline stopped, there was a slight grin on her face as she turned, one heel over another to face Lawson once more, she made no further moves for a moment, watching him closely. "There's no need for pen and paper, tell me everything you know. Of course, we'll be verifying your intel, so there won't be any use lying to me." Madeline added. She made a gesture with her hand, and one of the guards turned to leave, returning a moment later with what looked like a can of dog food.

The guard chuckled.

"He must be hun-gry."
Joseph sort of looks funny at the guard, and says, sort of confusedly, "No, not really. Taking a beating doesn't really make me hungry."

Then he turns to the interrogator, Madeline, and says one word, "Okay."

"So I am with a rebellion, partially based on Sky's Edge. I came here because I felt we weren't doing anything to fight at all. Occasional planning, but never any result. So I hid onboard a ship, bound for Langara, and brought some weapons with me, mainly explosives. I thought I could cause some chaos here. I wasn't even started before a group of police started coming near me. I presented my papers but panicked and drew a flash canister and a gun. Then, after some other failed escapes, I arrived here."
He looks up at the lady and the guards, hoping what he told them is enough for the time being.
Madeline listened quietly as Joseph spoke, she committed every detail to memory, listening to him speak. So he was from a rebellion on Sky's edge? Intelligence knew of rumblings of disgruntled citizenry on that rather unruly province, Madeline had read a few dossiers on dissidents that had fled there, and yet, there was a rebellion? While Madeline's face was expressionless, she knew for certain, especially with the threat of Asylian genocide, that rebellion would not be tolerated.

"Obviously the lessons of the Great War of Magellan failed to reach our youth; such a travesty." Madeline lamented. "We're fighting for our very survival, and yet there are still those that would threaten to destabilize everything we have worked for." Madeline commented.

"You're fortunate, Mr. Lawson, with the state of affairs outside the Empire, they probably won't commit ground troops to root out your little rebellion."

Madeline shrugged, as she turned to leave.

"I suspect Navy will simply, glass them from orbit, and blame the Asylians."

She watched Joseph closely, studying him.
Annoyance and fear fills Joseph's face. "From what I know, the Asylians mainly use magic. Glassing a planet filled with civilians of your own empire may seem far fetched to your citizens, but it will be stumbled upon soon enough. Asylians don't have the tech to glass a planet. They do full-scale attacks, for sure, but I doubt they'd glass a planet, even if it's for their little attack on you." he coughs a bit before continuing. "And you would genocide innocents before sending in soldiers? Think about it. Please. This is during a war. It could be considered a war crime. War crimes against your own is a good way for a revolution to spread. And do it, see if I care."
He blinks once and looks at his hands, wondering where that short speech came from.
Madeline’s reaction didn’t change, and she continued to regard Lawson closely, watching his every move. She could see, and she could hear the annoyance, and maybe even fear in his voice. But the woman made her mind up.

“Your mind will be pumped for every last memory, and then we will deal with this insurrection before it can threaten our ability to protect ourselves from the Asylians.” Madeline remarked as she turned towards the door.

“Your world will likely be put to the sword, and the lessons of the Great War of Magellan will be taught to the fresh new minds of a generation.” She explained, nodding to one of the Marines, as he opened the door to let Madeline out, the door then slammed shut, leaving Joseph by himself to his own thoughts, and the dog food that sat there on a paper plate.
Joseph silently wishes for a way to escape, fully knowing there is none. So he lets go of all self-worry and just decides to let go of his personal importance, setting his life as the last on his priorities list. He gave up information about his cause. He lays down on the slab, abandoning the food. He closes his eyes and drifts off into an uneasy sleep.

IIA HeadquartersSetting: IIA Headquarters


Having been transported from Whispering Mountain Prison, under intensive security, inside what amounted to a metal box. His wrists, and ankles were shackled with lightweight, but strong trinnium shackles, which were affixed to a chain around his waiste, and another cable ran to a neck collar restraint, which was affixed to a pole, that one of the War Adepts could use to keep him restrained.

The Drive from Whispering Mountain, to the IIA blacksite was relatively short, and under heavy escort. After Processing, Joseph would likely find himself in a brightly lit interrogation room. The Guards would fasten his wrist shackles to a metal loop on the table, and fasten his ankle shackles into a metal loop bolted into the concrete floor. Joseph would be seated in an aluminum chair, and afforded minimal movement.

He didn't have to wait long, until the door to the interrogation room opened, a single, well dressed Intelligence agent stepped inside, and took up a position in the corner, he was there merely for observation. The second man was the most notable, he was an older man with short, cropped hair, and was clad in plush looking purple robes, which seemed to flow with his movements as the door shut behind him.

Slowly, the man lowered himself in the chair directly across from Lawson, and placed a thick file folder on the table.

"You've been quite fourth coming with Director Madeline, a course that, should it continue will see an improvement in your circumstances." The man said, opening the file folder.

"You will answer every inquiry i have truthfully, and accurately, and I will ensure a speedy transit through our justice system." The man added.

"Tell me more about your organization on Sky's Edge. Specifically, what is your end goal?" The man asked.
Lawson sits there for about a minute, saying nothing.

Then he speaks.

"You're the one they call Kesslee, aren't you."
Then he continues with,
"Sir. I can only tell you my end goal. I have no knowledge of the big idea."

He sits there for a few more seconds before continuing.

"I want justice. I want freedom. And by god, I may not live to see either of those but I want my brother to. And while you may say I fight back because I'm a criminal, no, I fight back because I love this Empire. I fight because fighting is all I know. And WE know peacefully discussing is no option now." He laughs a bit.

"I've already betrayed my cause. Just kill me."

He closes his eyes and tilts his head back.
Then he looks back down and takes a deep breath.

"We are the Children of Ash. We haven't fought yet, and I have no idea when or if we will, but we have many dedicated men and women in our cause. People that you wronged. Ever wonder why I came out here? I came here because I wanted a fight. I want to fight you. But many of our people are willing to have a peaceful, cooperative discussion about what you fucked up and how you need to change."
Okay, maybe that last bit was a small lie, they all wanted to fight on the inside. They all knew it too.

He just hopes Kesslee understands that he doesn't know anything.

"All I did was a patrol. I wanted to make contact. My parents died in the war and I want to make a change. Any change. I feel like..."
He stops and takes a couple breaths.
Kesslee quietly sat there, and pondered the words. "Justice." Kesslee repeated, slowly he began to shake his head. "You want freedom." The Grand Confessor smirked, before he leaned forward, his stark blue eyes seemingly staring into Joseph's soul.

"The Empire protects it's people, it shelters them, ensures they have food, housing, and medical care. It propels it's people to greatness among the stars. All it asks in return is their obedience, their participation in the machinations of it's bureaucracy." Kesslee explained, his voice firm, like a parent admonishing his child.

"You fight back out of ignorance." The Grand Confessor leaned back. "You fight back because your mind is sickened, clouded by the romanticized notions of conflict, of rebellion, because you have no purpose."

The sound of tumblers clicked, and clattered, before the door behind Kesslee opened up, standing in the doorway was a single IIA operative, clad in all black, a pair of dark sunglasses clipped into a pocket in his jacket. He stepped aside to reveal a striking blonde standing behind him. Vivid red lipstick stood in contrast to her pale skin, and deep blue eyes that seemed to shimmer in the light. Her attire was form fitting, consisting of a short, knee length skirt, white blouse, with frills around the collar, and a black blazer, which bore a simple gold pin on the lapel, the logo of Imperial Intelligence.

"Grand Confessor Kesslee." The woman said. She peered into the room, though she knew her Asylian charges weren't far behind, it seemed she, and Halena were inseparable, and that the Asylian Princess would catch up in due time.

The door slammed shut with a dull thunk behind the woman, and she took a step forward. While striking, she was just as imposing, as she towered over both, the seated Grand Confessor, and the young Rebel.

"Director." Kesslee said, casting a brief glance towards the imposing woman.

She bore her gaze, like piercing daggers on Lawson, before stepping forward, leaning on the table, the faint floral, woody, and herbal scent of her perfume filled the room.

"Your rebels friends have promised you freedom from a doomed existence. But you will find no salvation in this cause. Those who started this rebellion knew what they wrought. Do not mistake their intent, or we will all perish."

The woman circled around, moving just to Lawson's side, her soft fingertips running along his cheek as she cupped his jaw from behind. Visions of a burning Molecay, at the hands of Asylian warships, and Asylian warriors would fill Joseph's mind, millions of people slaughtered, he seemed to be standing on a precipice overlooking a burning Tiir, the capital of Molecay.

The visions returned to the interrogation room, and this time, Marlene had moved to rest somewhat on the table, leaned in close, her face inches from Lawson's. "I can see things. Your life, Joseph Lawson, the things you have done. The things you felt you had to do, all leading to this moment. You wish to be forgiven. Do you wish to be forgiven?"
Lawson looks down for a bit, u8sure of what to say to the new person. Then he makes eye contact, and states, "I suppose I do want to be forgiven. But what will forgiveness give me? Where will it get me? And what will it do for me? I f you ask me, I don't need forgiveness for my actions, like you don't need forgiveness for defending yourself against the Asylian." He takes a breath. "Or for mentally retraining your people when they think differently. Do you need to be forgiven? No. And how do you know that us in the rebellion aren't going to peacefully protest or something like that? For all I know that may be what we'll do. They didn't tell me anything."
Marlene chuckled quietly to herself, as she kept her eyes locked on Joseph. "I see the past, I see the present, and I see the future." She said cryptically. "The tall man cannot hide in the short grass."

Marlene leaned in close. "I have seen past the farthest star, and I have gone to the edges of the universe. I can take you there, if you so choose." The woman whispered. "I can give you all the things you ever knew you wanted, taste from the tallest chalice, dine at the largest halls. All I ask in return is your obedience, your obedience for a chance with a life without pain, without heartache. All this I can give you and more. Just for your submission." Marlene said, her voice low, almost like a growl, and it carried a strong sense of suggestion with it.

"Nobody is retrained for thinking differently." Marlene's voice seemed to echo in Joseph's mind, reverberating.

"I simply show you the truth, you have been taken as a fool by those who you thought were friends."
Lawson shakes his head, hearing the lady's voice echo in his head. "No-one is retrained for thinking differently..."
Then he digests the other info the lady gave him.

"A life without pain is no life. I know this. I'll pass on your offer."
Still, he can't help but feel like he's been fighting for the wrong side... He almost wants to help them. But he also doesn't want to betray his brothers, both his literal one and his brothers in arms.

"I don't want to see what's coming... I know. You're going to glass the mines-" he stops and widens his eyes as he realizes that he just gave up a vital piece of information. The rebellion's location.
Marlene smirked, she continued to ply him.

"You can save them, you can deliver them from their fate." She said, her voice still reverberating through his mind. "Your brother, is misguided by those who seek only their own power." The suggestion was strong with her voice, each subliminal syllable rolling from her tongue.

Kesslee silently watched Marlene work, she was an artist, the woman knew exactly which buttons to push, sometimes she didn't have to torture her subjects.

"We have no intention of glassing Sky's Edge." Marlene commented. "We merely wish to restore order, and prosperity to the outer colonies." She said, leaning back.

There was a strong suggestive tone in her next words, as if Marlene's voice was inside Lawson's head, as if she was his own inner monologue.

"The rebels are using you and your brother, you can save him, all you have to do is submit, pledge your allegiance to the Empire."

Another vision washed over him, this time of a young blonde girl standing on a street in Chasm City, Yellowstone. She was looking up at the very first Aschen ships as they began to land on Yellowstone. This little girl was Marlene.

"You can save them from themselves, We can give you purpose.."
Lawson just sits there and lets the woman's words wash over him, some striking at particular spots in his brain.

The woman was right, he was just a tool, a tool of the Ash, the empire would give him purpose, the one thing he needed, the one thing he craved. He needed to fulfill a purpose.

So he bows his head and looks back up, staring directly into the eyes of the woman confessor.




"I submit."

Then he smiles a little bit and says,
"What do you need to know?"
Kesslee continued to watch quietly, only for a moment before he stood up, and started towards the door. He had seen Marlene work before, she had cut her teeth on the switches, turning both of them into tools of the Empire. The two of them used drastically different forms of mental manipulation, so Kesslee turned to leave Marlene to her work.

Smiling, Marlene nodded slightly. "Tell me about the man who rallies your friends to his cause, tell me about the mines." Marlene said, leaning in close.

"I want you to take me there."
"The man I work for. His name- Cossack, I believe. Can't remember his first name..."

He moves on.

"I don't know much about the location of the mines, but they're abandoned. In the jungle."

He hopes he can help them. He would do anything to help his empire, no matter how small.

"Anything else?"
Marlene shook her head quietly. "You don't know much about the location of the mines? Yet, you worked to patrol the perimeter?" Marlene's facial expression shifted slightly, and she began to exert her force of will, which culminated into a strange pressure like sensation behind Lawson's eyes.

"Cossack." Marlene uttered, turning over towards Kesslee.

"We will journey to Sky's edge, and you will take me to him."

The words felt like a strong suggestion, as if Marlene's voice was actually inside Joseph's head.

Looking down to the restraints, they became undone with an audible click, Kesslee rose from his seated position, as did Marlene. "You will regain your purpose, and be set loose upon these rebels with our blessing."
Joseph can literally feel the woman's voice in his head. When the shackles are undone, he raises a hand to his head, barely registering the words of the interrogator.

When those words do register, he blinks once and nods.

He doesn't feel like he even needs to say anything, this woman understands everything he says and does.

"Set... Set loose?"
Joseph Lawson shakes his head and moves on. "What's the oath, first of all? I would like to say it. Second, what do you mean by I will be set loose? I... I really want to fight. Anything to serve." he trembles slightly for a second and then stands up perfectly straight. "I'll just ask questions later."