The First Age

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"You know, if you wanted to tie me down, all you have to do is ask,"
he grinned and didn't even try to ignore the fact that Dr. Weston was hot. She was probably totally crazy in an evil sociopath doctor working for the enemy sort of way, but helluva-attractive.

He took a deep breath and while the grin slid from his face, nervously laid himself back and offered limbs. The restraints weren't biting like the handcuffs but they were snug. At least the padding was comfortable.

Pads of his fingers tapped each other, picking at cuticles and stroking thumbs as he tried to figure out the purpose of the room. The good doctor didn't seem nervous in the least, something that did the opposite of put him to ease. Not a good sign.

Another injector appeared in her hands, then, and Jay cringed when the liquid was pushed into his arm. The muscle burned with the drug, but sleepiness didn't come. In fact, he didn't seem to feel anything different at all.

Moments later, the lights flared, and he started to put a hand to shade his eyes, only to find they didn't move. He blinked and looked down, but the brightness endured.

She snickered before she could stop herself. Carpenter complied with all her requests, but nerves clung to his eyes. She discarded any lingering moments of doubt by the time she retreated into the adjacent room. On the other side of the mirror, she joined a technician and Director Stephenson, who was usually present during these tests.

His heart rate was increasing. His respiration grew shallow, but the technician monitored his vitals for the most part. Torri kept her attention directed to the brain wave activity. It was in this same room that a subject was noted to have a electrical fingerprint of brain activity like they were dosed with cocaine. It was later determined that the fingerprint was duplicated while channeling, but Torri did not know why. She was no neurologist, but the computer AI analysis was able to mine the data for interpretation. Only when it came to channelers, no drug coursed the participant's brains. Only the so-called power flooded their body. It vexed her that she could see physical effects without the presence of a physical entity. Therefore, the only way to duplicate the effects of channeling on the brain and body was to continue testing different drugs until the signatures matched. Of course, there were sex differences. Males responded completely different than females, and so far, all the males that attempted these tests put themselves into cardiac shock and died, likely due to a strange mix of adrenaline inducing agents from the experimental drugs combining with the physical effects of the power.

The particular drug coursing Carpenter's brain was a synthetic mimicker of cocaine. It increased levels of adrenaline, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, which accounted for heightened awareness, reaction and euphoria described by previous channelers. She pressed an intercom button. "That's good. When you're ready, take hold of the power, if you can."
She released the button and exchanged a hesitant look with Director Stephenson.
It was hard to know if he sat still or not. He felt like vibrating. Or maybe it was the room that vibrated. The thrill of victory after a thousand defeats fluttered his heart. He smiled at the ceiling, and just laid there savoring the joy of it all.

It was better than sex. Not that sex wasn't awesome, but depending on the partner, depending on the exact moment, it was a mix of pain and pleasure. This-

This was more.

His skin flushed hot. Sweat watered his palms. Every muscle in his body fell limp, like the weight of his skeleton might sink into the table, then to the floor, then to the core of the earth itself.

Then, the silk veil of euphoria parted and an angelic voice fluttered. "Take hold of the power."

Jay willingly obeyed.

The light flared like an exploding star. He squeezed his eyes shut, but fires burned within. His skin was stretched taut, clutching the table.

Oddly, calm swept his mind when ropes churned in the air above.

Torri was held to rapt attention. At her side, the technician recited vitals. His heart rate increased rapidly. His blood pressure increased. She couldn't spare a moment to glance at the EKG, however. She would need to trust to the skill of the technician to identify cardiac dangers. Her eyes read the myriad lines of brain function, meanwhile.

If he could prove what she thought all along, she might just kiss him. If he lived. Usually about now, the subjects received the power into their body and within minutes fell into cardiac arrest like an overdosing addict. Of course, the drug she administered was non-addictive; most recreational drugs in the CCD were synthetically designed to avoid dependence. That was the basis for why they were legal at all. This one was special, though. It provided the baseline information on the brain that she required. It was the addition of the Power that would either prove or disprove her ideas.

Then, the chemical concentrations in his brain skyrocketed. Torri knew the signature. He had to have successfully absorbed the power into his body. Where the drug increased important chemicals that provided the transmission of euphoria, awareness and concentration, now that the power coursed his body as well, the brain was flooded with chemicals. Wetness glistened across the globes of her eyes and a wide smile split her face. She whipped around to look at Director Stephenson, whose gaze was fixed on the one-way mirror and Carpenter on the other side.

"There's a ventricular abnormality, Dr. Weston," the technician alerted her.

Torri hastened over, scanning the heart monitors as she did.
"Monitor it."
She glanced at him through the window. He was tensed, enraptured by the effects of the drug and the power.

"There's another acute cardiac event," the technician pointed to the waves on the monitor. Torri's lips formed a thin line. He was strong. He could take a little longer. She returned to the brain reading, flipping through the scans of electrical activity. The brainstem was highly active. The heart was responding to the commands of the brain, not the other way around.

"Should I prepare the antidote?"

"Prepare it and give it to me, but I need more data."

The technician handed her an injector, but Torri clutched it anxiously. If he could hold out a little longer.

Nox was left alone with nothing to do. He couldn't read a book or watch a boring TV show - not that he did that very often, either of them really. There was nothing to do in the room and the power inside was still elusive, it oozed from his fingers when he tried to seize control. But Nox kept trying.

The world outside spun on, Nox didn't know how long, even if he still had his phone they'd confiscated it in the hospital. But the EM had fried it so he was going to have to have Sage get him a new one when he saw him again. At the mention of Sage's name in his thoughts memories flooded in - Jaden in the dark, hands...


Nox shuddered and threw the blanket on the floor as a makeshift yoga mat. It wouldn't do for some things but it was better than the cold against his body. Nox started with child pose and went from there stretching out the stiff muscles from lying in bed too long and the sores. The burns still hurt when he moved but he powered through that as much as he did his aching muscles. He knew he was overdoing it. But right now, it beat lying in bed thinking about boys he barely remembered until a few days ago...
His heart fluttered. Heat scorched his skin. He glanced at himself, momentarily fearing he burned alive. Maybe he was?

The room rocked, and his stomach lurched with his guts. Being a marine meant a guy was pretty well immune to seasickness, but Jay couldn't bring himself to vomit. It wouldn't help anyway.

The one-way mirror reflected ropes of light above his body. Tangled like his thoughts. He tried to throw his hands over buzzing ears, but they were trapped at his side. His jaw clenched tight, even as his head swam with warmth. No. It was more than that. It was like living inside a star, his own body radiating the limbs of light flooding the room. If they would only dim the switch! His eyes burned with brightness. Maybe should ask. But his lips were pushed tight together. The words were caught in his throat. Tongue was tense. He would be making no requests for a while.

He threw his head to the side, away from the mirror reflecting those goddamned white walls like a beacon throwing beams of light across the helpless body of an ant just to watch it sizzle. He was frying from inside out.

The ropes tangled tighter. They filled the room, flooding faint colors across the white walls. He wanted to scream. Part with delight, part with the daze of rapture, part with the energy pent up within. Something had to break. His skin pulled taut. His hairs stood on end. His eyes pushed from his head. Something had to give or else it would be his very skeleton.

The ropes fell into form. He glanced up at them one last time, eyes wide with awe. It was beautiful. Terrible, but beautiful.

Something detonated. He yelled and tried to throw himself aside, but the bonds held him frozen. A thousand shards of glass crashed outward. The barbs of a thousand scorpions slashed. Darkness descended, and when Jay tentatively opened his eyes, he saw only sparks from snapped electrical wires. He gasped for air only to choke down a mouthful of smoke.

The room beyond the mirror was opened. Lights flickered beyond. Sparks snapped orange lamps. There were shapes on the floor. Bodies.

Jay gasped. "No, no, no."
His heart raced and he struggled anew to be released.

But he was trapped.

<small>[[ooc: Nox being nearby should probably feel that surge of power.]]</small>
Child to Cat to Cow to Camel. Downward facing dog, three legged dog. Warrior 1 then to forward, Warrior 2, to forward, and it was in the middle of Warrior 3 that the Nox felt the power in the distance. That distinct sense that meant someone close by was using the power.

Nox was jealous and tried to push it all aside and focus on his breathing. On the stretch of Warrior 3 as he went into the forward stance with his left leg lifted.

Two... three... in... out...

Nox switched legs and counted his hold slowly taking care to breathe, but the power outside felt suffocating. The jealousy and the desire to hold the power but not being able to grasp it threw Nox's equilibrium and he toppled to the side, banging his leg on the metal railing of the cot.

At least it wasn't his head.

Seconds after Nox fell the power built to a crescendo and then was gone in an explosion that shook the facility they were in. The lights went out but soon the emergency generators kicked in and the once blinding lights of his white on white room became a dark red. It reminded him of the lights in the Red Light District where he'd called home for a short time.

Nox had no idea what was happening outside his sterile environment.

Nox sprawled out on the floor his back against the cold tiles as he'd already kicked the blanket away when he fell. Nox dug deep inside and tried to reach the power as he lay on the only ground he could.... the earth called but the power slipped through his fingers but Nox didn't stop trying... Something had happened and Nox didn't want to be powerless against whatever lie on the other side of the door.

Edited by Nox, Jan 29 2018, 05:00 PM.
Marcus stood by the door and watched. Three men were in the room. Periodically, they glanced at him, but then quickly looked away. They didn't often have an audience. But Marcus was there to watch how they learned and practiced.

The idea had continued to grow in his mind. But it would take care. So delicate care. The Rule of Two was there for a reason. A master, to embody the power. A student, to covet it. Any more, and the infighting and craving for domination would fracture everything.

And yet he was the Consul of the Consulate of Channeling. There was a mandate to provide some training. More than that, the registry had shown there were profoundly gifted people out there, Force users doing things he'd not thought possible.

Nox....the man flicked off nuggets of information like they were forgotten cheap baubles, not realizing the full import of their value- or not caring. He had been....hungry, in the man's presence. Enough that he had had to take control of himself more than once and focus. He did covet, all of it.

So....the challenge. A school for channeling. A way to learn from other Force users. But he had to maintain the upper hand. He had to hold the cards.

The work of a lifetime. A Force using Renaissance Man? Even as he delighted in the thought, he doubted he'd ever be able to know it all. Learn it all.

He needed acolytes. Men and women loyal to him. Also, the work of a lifetime. But it was possible. Possible. The Ascendancy had created order. But there were cracks everywhere. He fed the corruption, used it, played on it. From one perspective, it was brilliant. Always to play one against the other, to use the naked (and nakedly obvious) ambitions of others, to achieve his goals, to keep the upper hand.

But Malik seethed at the chaos, at those cracks, eyed those weeds that spread and the roots that cut deep. And he wanted to break it, bring it all crashing down. Expose it for all that it was, the world with its evil and casual cruelty, of systems that let people starve while the rich threw away mountains of food; of children shunted into homes to be abused and ignored. The Avenging Angel to bring fiery judgement on this world and start anew. Bring a powerful new order.

Always the struggle. Malik and Marcus.

So Marcus watched, learned, filed away. Thought of people he might start with. those he had handles on.

The lull of the use of the Force was something he had grown used to, the men in front of him. It had become sort of comforting, to be in the constant presence of that menace and danger.

That was when he felt a surge in the distance. He smiled to himself. Carpenter. Dr. Weston's methods were....interesting. The surge continued, stronger and stronger. The men looked at him and he shook his head.

He decided to head in that direction. Stronger. Heavier. Just as he approached the room, he saw the lights flicker and heard- and felt- an explosion. He seized the Force, sent large threads of air to rip the door of the hinges. There was smoke everywhere and equipment spraying sparks.

Carpenter was strapped down, struggling. "Be still. You may be injured. Let me get the doctor."
The glass partition separating the exam room from the control room had been blown into a millions shards of glass that littered the room. And the bodies. People in scrubs and lab coats lay scattered about the room, some moaning and moving, others with heads at unnatural angles or bloody gashes from the glass.

He clenched his jaw and moved to the control room where Dr. Weston would be. He hoped she wasn't dead. Her work was too important.

((Ooc. Thot Jay was unconscious. Had to edit he was strugglingy. Apologies))

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Jan 30 2018, 08:26 PM.
Torri's world became a screen of lines and colors. Her mere human eyes were limited by the processing of all the data being collected simultaneously. Carpenter was surviving. He would be the one to unlock the mysteries behind the channeler mind. For a brief moment, Torri clung to the hope that all this would soon be over. She could go back to a normal life, or as normal as one could have after living in the world beyond the veil, but she was willing to try.

An enormous crash whipped her head aside. She yelled and ducked. Glints of glass sprayed across her vision. She was thrown back. Smashed into the side of a console. Her breath failed. Darkness fell.

What--?!? But her mind was thick. Breathe. Just breathe.

She groaned and tried to stand, only to smack her head on the door of a cabinet hanging free on one hinge.

The scene looked like a war zone. Sparks of orange light flickered along the floors and from free wires dangling from the ceiling like glowing snakes. She put a hand out to steady herself, and willed her pupils to dilate just enough to see. She put a hand to her temple, and winced when she touched her face. Glass crunched underfoot. She knew she had to have been cut. But her pulse was strong, she was not severely wounded.

Then she saw the victims.

She rushed forward, slipping on the glass terrain. She went to Director Stephensen's side and examined him for signs of life. His body was mangled. Red sliced up his hands, arms and face. The cold hand of realization gripped her throat. Nearby, her tech was motionless. A large spike of glass extruded from his chest. Torri grit her teeth and checked with a steady hand anyway. Surgeons could do miraculous things, but even they couldn't revive the dead.

She stood up, face pale, but jaw tight when someone approached her, but she had sights set on one last man. Doctor she was, but also a captain. Her voice was tight with command. "Check the surrounding rooms for injured and damages. Director Stephensen is dead. I will assume command until the Ascendancy can be reached. I want a confirmation that ventilation and structure are of sound integrity. Get some lights in here."
She also wanted a fucking drink, but that would come later.

She stumbled before entering the MRI room. The place was a steel skeleton now. The panels were destroyed. The machinery exposed, ripped apart and decimated. Even the giant magnet in the wall was warped. My god.

She loomed over Carpenter. The same spray of glass sliced up his face and arms as it had her own. She unhooked his restraints and helped him up. Other members of the facility team began to pick their way inside. "Help me get him out of here."
He was probably going to need stitches. Dammit.

Marcus felt as if a flip had been switched in Weston and it amused him. Not that she ever seemed more than remote at the best of times. Which, he supposed, made sense, given what she did. And the usual results. She did not seem to be as...calloused as one needed to be for this work.

She opted for segregation, more likely. Compartmentalization. Of herself. Of her work. It explained a lot.

But that was day to day stuff.

Now, with the horror wrought by the chaotic unleashed power of the Force, she had gone into triage mode, hyper focused, barking orders. He narrowed his eyes for a moment and then relaxed. They made sense. And it needed to be done. And he was there. And I was always looking for another thread.

"I'll take care of it."
was all he said. Already the room had started to fill with technicians and others responding to the blast. He told off two to go check on the containment and structure, and another to head to maintenance to make sure power stayed on. Without that, air flow would stop and soon heat and carbon dioxide buildup with bring everyone to a halt.

He assigned another two to started checking rooms for damage and for survivors.

She was checking on Carpenter, unhooking him from the restraints. She didn't seem to want help, at first. But the man wasn't small and she wasn't going to be able to lift him out of there. He pulled the man up, taking most of the weight on himself. "I have you Soldier."

He was weak, so Marcus looked over his head to Weston. "Where do you want to take him? I assume the closest undamaged room?"
It was her facility now. Wryly he smiled to himself. She had taken command.

As they walked, the two he had sent off to check on survivors had started herding them to the center waiting area, away from what were probably tangled cables and broken glass or sharp implements that had been scattered in the blast, where they could be treated.

The rooms farther away from the blast were likely the best bet.

As he walked, the weight of Carpenter's body on him throwing him off slightly, he thought. There should have been a trained Force user in the room. Ready for just such an event. Perhaps creating a shield, a bubble, around the subject, to contain any unexpected Force outbursts.

Not perfect, no. If that had been him on the table, not many other Force users would have survived the blast. Vellas would have. Ascendancy certainly. But not one of the newer ones. I would never have been on that table Malik snarled. I would have ripped this facility down to the ground first. Marcus chuckled. Perhaps. Perhaps.

But he still remembered being boiled alive, from the inside out, the pain in his head, the feel of his eyeballs swelling, his inner organs expanding as if they might burst.

We are not as invincible as we seemed. There was a lesson there. Pride. So very dangerous.

((Ooc edit. Carpenter is awake))

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Jan 30 2018, 10:50 PM.
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