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From Ashes
#1
The arse end of Russia was not where she had imagined herself ending up. 

Early-hour guard duty wore her patience to ground-up dust, though only because it gave her too much time to think in the fucking silence, when the only movement in the shadows was the puff of her own frigid breath. The Custody’s offer hadn’t been any kind of choice at all, given the ruin Marcil made of her career, but it didn’t stop her thinking about what she’d left behind. The patients in Moscow’s shitty Guardian complex she was not there to treat. The lives she did not save. Her contemporaries had always questioned her dedication to such a dirt-poor institution when she could have been making real money from her god-given talents. But for Morven it had always been about justice.

She hated Marcil for that.

Hated, too, not knowing what had happened to Sage Parker. Though the kid had a fucking computer lodged in his brain, and it wasn’t like he couldn’t have found her if he’d needed her. She knew he wasn’t dead at least. That would have to be enough.

Beyond that she had discovered she enjoyed the training. She’d always been athletic, spending most of her summers hiking with her sister in the Cairngorms, and even when her studies robbed most of her leisure time Morven had taken care of herself. She took to the physical training like a duck to water, and revelled in the challenge of it. She was competitive and ambitious; driven to excel by consistently performing to the very edge of her limits. This was the sort of discipline she had been made for; one in which she was not required to show tact around gentler feeling. The camaraderie discovered amongst the others in her troop was not something she had ever thought to look for, or had ever felt missing from her life, but it proved a powerful euphoria.

Not that the path was smooth by any means; she had a temper, and blood that ran hot, and sometimes a pride easily injured. Weapons handling seemed particularly pointless at first, given that a bare twist of her mind gave a far more potent result. But there weren’t any channelers here, nor anyone to teach her. She was instructed to show one careful demonstration of her abilities one night, and that with ranking government officials she did not even know the name of at the time, but it was made quite clear that she was not to use her edge for the duration, nor to allow others to know of it -- which admittedly didn’t always stop her pressing against the boundaries. Caught wrong, though, Morven accepted the punishment with equanimity. Justice was justice, after all, and once she ken the reason it made sense. The military couldn’t be seen to be training fucking channelers after all. Not for violence, anyway.

Officers training followed as Spring rolled around. She’d been originally trained for the ER, and working in the chaos of the moment was wired into her psyche; it was the rote tasks she found more challenging, particularly after the adrenaline of military basics. Caring for the more mundane aspects of her comrades at the medical centre that was now her temporary base seemed a startling reevaluation at first, skills she did not lack but did not always exactly favour. She was a good doctor, but she was not one known for her empathy. Least not if you did not deserve it.

She expected deployment after that; Africa was a fucking mess, and they said even America was about to carve itself up in the south. But when the summons came it was not to service at all, it was back to Moscow before she’d even passed out. That ground her teeth, to begin with. It seemed that now she had proved her soul to be signed in blood to the Custody’s cause, the real specificity of her training was to begin; the reason the agents had made the offer in the first place, following her forced registration. She was an asset, she got that; a rare commodity, if not so rare a gem as Jensen James. But first that skill must be honed.

It wasn’t the first time she’d been studied, though the cavernous halls of the Facility far outstripped even the Network’s breadth of resources.

She quickly discovered, to some disappointment, that the Ascendancy only surrounded himself with male channelers, and she already knew from Soren that she could neither learn from them nor teach them her own tricks. The Dominions, the Consul, Alric. Ironically enough the most prominent scientists in here were actually women, though Morven had little in common with either of them -- even Danika, who resonated the self-same gift. She didn’t think the woman’s feet even touched the ground when she walked, her head was so high up in the fucking clouds. So what time Morven did not spend accepting the tests of her power and wondering what the fuck they actually intended for her future, she spent in the Dominion’s gym, whether she was welcome there or not. It seemed a general consensus to them that she was to be an auxiliary to their work -- the nice little woman who’d patch them up when they fucked up. Well, at least until she bust Taichechski’s nose so she could show him just how she could put it back together for him. Seemed their opinion on her changed after that.
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#2
Allan had never really be interested in the gym when before he got here. Now it was part of his everyday life. He understood he was trained to be a weapon. But he didn't have to like it. But he enjoyed the monotony of lifting weights and mixed with a good dose of yoga for limberness and meditation Allan found it to be a good distraction from the things that had brought him here. The bottle was always a thought away. But so was Bethany. But the count of each rep or the hold of a pose kept his mind focused.

The doctor - a real doctor was in the gym. All the guys stepped lighting around her. She busted Dom's nose easily. But she fixed it too - so there was that.

He walked in giving her a friendly nod and sat down at the free weights to start counting reps. They weren't nine here anymore, and it was much quieter than before.
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#3
Frustration simmered just below the surface these days. Morven didn’t mind the testing, not if it truly helped, but the inertia was something different. Energy she could burn off, and she did so with alacrity, but the sense of waste bothered her. Her gifts did no good to anyone while she was locked up in the bowels of the earth, and though she knew there was little chance of her being able to return to the hospital even upon her release, she fucking well needed something. She was like a caged lion down here. The few other subjects she had encountered were mostly still caught in the stages of Sickness, confined to their cells or hidden away in the research wing, else they were what remained of the Dominions themselves. And at least they had Michael Vellas to teach them. Since Morven lacked the requisite dick, and therefore the requisite power, she was mostly left to her own devices when she was not required by Doctor Weston.

She was messing around with a jump rope when one of the Dominions made a quiet entrance. Not unusual company, given it was their gym. He nodded amiably enough, and she winked in return, watching him settle in with the free weights. She wasn’t entirely sure they knew what to make of the interloper in their midst, especially since Taichechski had tried her patience. Seemed the quickest way to shut the fucker up at the time. 

She laughed, and the blur of the rope faded as it slapped the floor. Sweat sheened her brow, heart racing from the mindless cardio. “I don’t bite ye ken, Rykovi.”

[[ye ken just means 'you know']]
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#4
Talking at the gym wasn't something Allan had expected to do. And the comment bit harder than it should have. He smiled as he lifted the first weight for a bicep curl. "Dom would beg to differ." Allan smirked. "Though he deserved it." He always deserved it. "But you didn't hear that from me."

Allan lifted his reps for the set before he turned to look at the woman who had abruptly joined their ranks. She was not part of them, but she was there. "We never bothered to ask before, what did you do to get stuck down here?" Allan tried not to think about what he'd done. And hoped she didn't ask.
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#5
“Aye, I’m sure he would too. Lucky for him I dinae aim further south for the demonstration.” She laughed, but there was nothing vicious in it. Men like Taichechski listened better when the message did not rely on their ears, and she’d had enough of the attitude. Such things were better nipped sooner rather than later, and from what she could see, he frequently rubbed the others up wrong. Morven was surprised one of the others hadn’t already done it. Or perhaps they had and the lesson was just slow to permeate. Either way, the freedom to act so candidly was catharsis to a soul that had been bound by the more respectable responsibilities of doctor’s white, even if that self-same temper was what had stripped her of those hallowed duties in the first place. She didn’t hold a grudge, but she wasn’t apologetic for it either. Fuck, she’d done worse with less feeling, and no more ill deserved. She smirked. "My lips'll stay sealed."

Morven paused for a swallow of water from a bottle perched at the end of the mat, brushing the back of a damp arm over her forehead. She watched Rykovi quite openly as he worked, and shrugged at the question. “What makes you think I didn’t volunteer, eh? I take it you didn’t then.” There was husky tease to her tone, but really she wasn’t that interested in whatever landed him here. Nothing good, probably, and those were the kinds of stories better spent bonding over a stiff drink not on idle talk during a work out. Her own story she was not protective over, though. “Got too possessive over the welfare of a patient. Messing with powerful people gets you burned, aye? This was the better alternative.”
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#6
Allan smirked at her dangerous comment. Dom would be hurting more if she'd gone lower. He liked to bitch about how he thinks his nose is crooked still. What would he bitch about if it had been lower. Not that they had any real chance to fraternize with normal folks anymore. Locked in the basement was cruel. Allan could have gone to African - but he didn't think that was a good idea, and thankfully neither did his therapist. The heat of war... nu huh.

"None of us volunteered specifically." They had of course all talked about how they got here. Allan had revealed as little as possible. And he intended to keep it that way. "But we weren't forced either. Like you, iIt was our choice. Not that there was much of an alternative. I used the same trick one too many times I got the eye of someone way more powerful than myself." Folding air had been a weakness actually. But it had been his go to when triggered. Now like most of the others he favored earth and fire. They came easier - but they were not wishes he would have made before.

Air had been bad enough. Allan still remembered the sound Bethany's made when.... He shook his head free of the memories. Don't look back!

Alan laughed softly to change the subject. "At least healing is an advantageous trick to start off with."
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#7
He pulled into himself briefly, shook his head, and then laughed it off. She recognised the shape of a wound, though not one she had any qualification to deal with. Clearly he didn’t want to share, and since they were essentially strangers she wouldn’t push. Strangers locked up together in a fucking top secret bunker, of course, with few others to talk to or confide in. Though she assumed they had to let the Dominions out some time. Certainly, they were not all here at the moment -- nor had she even met them all.

“Dinae say it was my first trick.” She grinned a little, but did not elaborate any more than he had. The snap of limbs did not haunt her, nor the last flash of fear in the man’s eyes before all light extinguished. Since the snake had intended on sticking a blade in her sister’s gut on account of her golden eyes, Morven felt no remorse for it at all. She had the sense not to add that entry to her registration form, though. “The most useful though, aye, for sure. You ever been hiking, Rykovi? My sister and I did a lot when we were kids. We were on the Lairig Ghru trail in the Cairngorms when she hurt herself. You could see bone through the wound, all bloody like. But not by the time we got to the hospital in Inverness. That was the first time.” A sanitised version of the story, to be sure. “So what did you do before?” He already knew she had been a doctor.
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#8
Allan moved to the next set of reps while he thought about what to tell her. The last few months before he'd been drunk most of it. Lost his ride at University, barely kept his job to pay for his bills. He'd screwed up his life. And it was his own fault for all of it. He'd been happy before.

But Allan put on a happy face and smiled. "I was a professional student. Studied law and economics to keep my parents happy as they were paying the bill but my passion was philosophy. I worked as a secretary at a law firm in London before all of this started. I probably don't have my job anymore."

Allan was fairly certain it didn't matter anymore anyway - he was paid here - more than he would have as a secretary and now he could study a great many other things. "Did you hear about the attack on the Ascendancy? The monsters made of must." That day Allan had learned a lot - the monsters in the world existed. The information he could find was pure speculation, there were no documented cases of mist monsters. Only lore and legends and none of them spoke of mist monsters in the sense that he knew of. He needed to find a true source of information - these Atharim the Ascendancy claimed hunted them - the boy from the gala knew of them. But he hadn't even learned his name - nor had he asked.

But Allan had learned a new trick to use against channelers. He and the boys had been practicing, some of them to the point they abused their own power. He wouldn't name names, but everyone had seen the weave they had used to pacify the woman and the monster. And now it was in their arsenal.
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#9
Somehow his previous life did not surprise her. There was something undeniably passive about him. “London, aye? I studied at Imperial College. South Kensington was a bit of a change from rural Scotland.” Which was to say it had leaned towards airs and graces Morven had little time or patience for, and had taken a great deal of effort to accommodate herself to. Not that she hadn’t managed -- the college was one of the foremost research universities in the world. No punching irritating colleagues, though.

“Mist monster?” Morven laughed, but not out of disbelief. When you could control forces that might knit skin together like magic, and your sister communed with fucking wolves, you tended not to doubt the strange. Moscow itself was a hotbed for weird, and working in the ER thrust some peculiar anomalies under her nose. “I heard rumours, same as everyone else. But no one tells me anything here. Don’t have the pretty uniform.” Her brow rose with the question of whether he had more to enlighten.
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#10
Allan abandoned his set to turn to tell Morven. His eyes were wide with excitement, his pulsed raced. It had been a scary moment in time, but it had offered so much more to learn.

"I can't find much information on the creature. But I saw it first hand. Saw the first creature latch on to the Ascendancy and pull upon his power. The Ascendancy had no choice but to cower at it's feet." Cower wasn't exactly the word he'd use but it was the only word that truly described how helpless things had been. "A guest at the ball and the Consul worked together to destroy the mist turned man when it was frozen."

"And then others showed up. The man who had helped the Ascendancy was taken over by the thing, a woman and the Consul too."

"The one that took the woman did not respond like the others. Once freed of the problem, the man who had saved the Ascendancy flung weaves at it another guest had been working with. And the Ascendancy perfected it, able to block the woman's ability to channel. It fled, the others dead. The man said that it was sent by a ma named Regus. Though he spoke like the Ascendancy knew him. But I can't find anything in legends about these things. No one has made mention of mist monsters. Not even stories. What else is truly out there."
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