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Continued from Spilled Drinks

Despite what the rumors in high school said, this was Jay's first experience in the back of a squad car. His hands were dormant, but wrenched behind his back hard enough to put his shoulder at a questionable angle. The interior of the car door was disturbingly flat. No handle to open. No arm rest jutting out. Just padding. Best not think about being locked in a box. He forced his gaze higher. As they departed the scene, the glow of red and blue flashes faded. The city seemed darker, now. This was no area of glittering towers or historical buildings. In fact, Jay had no idea poorer areas of Moscow even existed.

His memory swirled with the events of the last twenty-four hours. Yesterday he was excited by the prospect of a night out of uniform for once. Not that he wanted to leave it behind. It felt strangely wrong to walk around in a regular shirt and jeans, just as walking away from duty for a well-deserved night of freedom was wrong, but he did it anyway. Sane people took nights off. A concert was suppose to be fun.

Enter cannibal monsters. Jay had seen the worst of humanity. There were enough bodies at his feet to attest to it. Maybe he was one of them. But at least he was a monster that killed something worse. But cannibals. Right in the middle of chaos. If he hadn't seen it with his own two eyes, he wouldn't believed it. Coincidence put Nox there. If anyone else sat the next seat over, Jay would have enjoyed this nice ride last night rather than delaying it a day.

The comings and goings of other police vehicles caught his eye. The car approached a precinct and a voice came over the intercom. Jay only barely heard it from his padded box. He shivered at that thought.

"Hinshaw. Come in."
"This is Hinshaw."
The officer responded. Jay stretched his senses, listening.

"Reroute suspect to beta four thirty."

They sped away from the precinct and Jay looked over his shoulder as the building blurred by. He frowned. This wasn't boding well.

When he was eventually pulled from the vehicle and a black bag thrust over his head, he realized this may have been a bad idea.

Only darkness shows you the light.

A grip on his arm blindly led him elsewhere. Jay kept his head down in case he caught a flash of his feet. Even a small hint of what was happening could be useful. He overheard the officer confirm his own name and passport ID with another male, presumably the one that he was being handed off to. Alright. So this wasn't some kind of hostage situation. Nobody asked him for anything. In fact, none of the officers even spoke to him. He wasn't treated particularly rough, though someone shoved his head into another vehicle. Dirty cops, maybe? Corruption wasn't unknown. But hell, Jay had nothing. What could they want out of him? Okay, he did have some money saved up, but most of his paycheck was sent back home anyway. The only thing he had was proximity to more powerful people than himself. People like Danjou and Natalie. Alistair couldn't know the identity of his attackers, let alone arrange this kind of captivity so fast.

Then there was Nox. Atharim. That whole entanglement back on the street involved Atharim. Dorian was involved to some extent. Alvis knew of their existence, enough to remain wary and dole out mercy kills. The Atharim and the police. Jay's mind raced to figure out the connection. How could they know he was going to show up? Had confessing to the crime flagged some sort of corrupt system and told the cops they had a vulnerable channeler on hand? An easy target to execute? Jay's worry deepened. He was handcuffed and blinded. A cord cinched the cloth around his throat. There was no tossing it off his head even if he won a moment's freedom to try. He had to get out of the handcuffs. He had to have use of his hands. If so, he was as good as free.

But how? He wracked his brain. If he had any sort of tool, he could do it. A pin. A shim. A toothpick. There were shoelaces on his boots, but little good they did him if he couldn't reach that far down. His shoulders already began to throb.

It had to be Atharim. How else to explain the reroute? The ones that got away from attacking Nox decided they were going to pick off an easier target? Jay's expression fell to the darkness tightening his chest. Spineless assholes. Fine. Let them try. He had no intention of dying tonight. Not without a good fight anyway. Maybe take one or two of them down with him.

Only darkness shows you the light.

Poised on the edge of a cliff, every muscle in Jay's body was tense when he was yanked from the vehicle. Sounds of the road had ceased. The air was stagnant on the skin of his hands. A garage. Maybe underground. His eyes dazed somewhere distant. More voices. They weren't exactly whispering. Three men. No, four. Strong footsteps. Confident movements. Two were on each side. The one at his right held his upper arm, leading the blind along. The one on his left had hold of his elbow. It didn't seem like long enough of a drive to leave Moscow.
Time to start talking. "This some kind of gulag?"
Jay asked.
The voice at his right laughed. "Something like that."

The yank on his arm sparked electricity through his shoulder. He bit back a cringe.

The group stopped walking. Some kind of whirring hissed. Then two loud thunks and the whoose of maglocks opening. The hell? He was pushed across some kind of treshold. Cold air blasted the sweat on the back of his neck.

"This is Carpenter?"
A woman's voice asked. Her accent was tilted British, her words crisp and to the point.
"Yes, ma'am. Carpenter, Jay. American. Twenty-five years old. Former U.S. special forces. Current employee of Legion Premiere. "

Jay's jaw dropped. The CCD kept tabs on their visitors like a good dictatorship.
The woman continued. "A channeler?"

"Yes, ma'am. That is what we were told."

"What you were told?"
There was a concerning hint of surprise in her question.

"Thank you, agents. We will take it from here."

Agents. Channeler? His jaw tightened. How deep did the Atharim plunge into the government? Ascendancy renounced them himself, yet they were inside the heart of his world. Shouldn't they be putting a bullet in his head right about now?

Time for compliance was over. "Who are you people?"
He demanded, not that he was in the best position to levy demands.

"Take his hood off."

"Captain? Are you sure? He could be dangerous."

"A mask doesn't change that. Do it."

He was answered with a flash of bright light. The bag was taken from his face. The outline of a woman in a white doctor's coat came into view. The Captain they spoke of? She had a stately appearance about her, and wore an army uniform in Custody colors. An army doctor. Harsh white lights beat down upon a slick walled corridor.

"Is this some kind of army base?"
He asked her.

She nodded and looked him over like he was a specimen under a microscope, "Something like that."
How did he know she would say that? "I'm sorry you've been treated this way Lieutenant, but it's procedure. You understand? As is this."
She turned as an assistant handed her a small device, which she promptly put to his shoulder. He didn't cringe when the jet injector pinched their drug into the muscle. A guy didn't join the marines without getting about two hundred shots over the course of a couple of years. Of course, they didn't usually make his head swim within moments.

He started to put a hand to his temple, only to realize they were trapped behind his back. When he was led away, he tried to make himself resist it, but his legs were jello. He happily collapsed on some kind of bed. The handcuffs were removed and the last thing he saw before sleep took over was the closure of a cell door.

((ooc: Torri written with permission)).

Edited by Jay Carpenter, Jan 17 2018, 05:24 PM.
Only darkness shows you the light.

Darkness fluttered like bats in a cage that wouldn't open. Light flashed distant and obtuse. Like peering through the bars of a jail around his mind. There was something just outside. If only he could reach it...

He opened his eyes with a start. He grabbed his stomach like he'd been sliced in half and sat up. He looked down and breathed a sigh of relief that all was in tact.

Dreams of a cage weren't so far-fetched, he realized as he looked around. He expected a jail cell, but this was something else entirely. He pushed from the cot on which he'd slept and crossed to the door in three easy strides. If he stretched his arms he could almost touch wall-to-wall. But when he went to the door, he brushed his fingers against a solid steel surface and winced when a shock pulsed hot through his fingertips.

Brow curled with concern, he studied the walls, the ceilings. A small toilet, a narrow sink and a drain in the floor were the only other furnishings. All was the same pale gray color of the institutionalized. Did I go crazy and not realize it? Well, that was always possible.

No windows, he couldn't see out, but his gaze landed on black dots in the ceiling. Well, if he was going to be on camera, he flashed a totally sincere grin and sat back down, settling his face in his hands.

This didn't seem like Atharim. This was military. Some kind of military base. That doctor had been an army captain in the Custody forces. Alright. Start over. Natalie gets abducted by someone associated with VaiaPlus, that same someone who had a bounty on his head. Dead or alive. Some kind of experimentation, maybe? Was she chosen randomly, a lab rat of convenience, or was she targeted? Something to figure out later. It seemed like he was going to have the time.

Nox gets his ass kicked by a group of Atharim trying to kill him. Not that he would blame them. Nox was a pain in the ass, he smirked to himself. Still, not a fair fight. Five or six to one? Even if that one was a channeler and could blow up a building with a thought. In fact, he almost had blown up a building. A van speeds away. They show up. Cops find them all in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nox had confessed to killing that guy. Why would he confess? That monster was attacking an innocent girl. Nox had called the red head something? What had been that name? Stig? Sticks? He'd helped Nox kill it, whatever it was. They both got away. The girl was in a hospital. Why would he go back and confess? Why would Jay's confession land him here?

He scrubbed a hand through his hair and looked around again. Just then, the maglocks on the cell door thunked and the depressurization whooshed as it opened. Jay rose to his feet. His skin was tight with dehydration and something of a hangover still. Black of dry blood marred his clothes and hands. Suffice to say, he looked like he'd had a rough day.
Only darkness shows you the light.

Marcus had not been to the Facility since that first time. Ascendancy had been clear. He must be with him. But he had been just the Sigma then. More importantly, he had been personally sent by him to assess this new arrival.

As the elevator descended, he considered the situation. Vellas practically lived down here with those he trained. Why he wasn't here was a mystery. What else could he be doing aside from training? He'd need to consider sources of information. Vellas lived to play with his army men toys. Marcus stiffled the slight twinge of irritation. He understood the seperation of powers. Balance. Civilian verses military use. But Marcus did not intend that he, or any he decided needed more training, to be at the mercy of Vellas' men.

Sanjay was helpful, but it would take time to wean him away from his loyalty to Vellas. Already it was working. Vellas methods were....intense, but effective. Already he was considering how he might adapt them to civilian training. Not to mention Domovoi. He had an appointment with Captain Drayon, the man who'd put Domovoi together. A brilliant idea and one hard one. Definitely an ally to cultivate.

The elevators stopped and though he could hear and feel the thrum of machinery, you simply couldn't escape the fact that you were miles beneath the earth.

He followed the path he remembered. Dr. Weston was not in her office, which was fine. He was sure she'd show up soon. In the meantime, he found the nearest guard and soon was being escorted- not to the hospital ward. Rather, to rooms that far more easily suited psychiatric care.

On the one hand, it made sense, especially as long as the subject was sedated. But if not, Malik already didn't like it down here. Confined? Malik would destroy everything on site. God help anyone who thought to keep him confined. The shadow of a memory of a cage passed over him and Malik snarled. He let it pass and took control.

The guard hesitated at his command. He merely stared at him. Compliance was not optional. The door unlocked, latch slid, and the door swung open. He stepped in and instructed them to lock it again until he signaled.

He looked at the man. Tall, athletic. Head up. Military bearing. Normally Marcus found those all rather simplistic. Vellas and his men had no shortage. But there were a few who were far more than just blunt instruments.

He stood as there was no where to sit. He also decided on an angle. "Hello Mr. Carpenter. I am Marcus. I am here to learn about you and your....abilities,"
imbuing the word with the amount of awe he imagined people might feel. "Would you be willing to answer some questions?"

A man in a suit was admitted. A rich suit. He was close to Jay's age, and seemed somewhat unsure of himself. Not army. That was for sure.

He glanced at the hall beyond the door. More gray walls. The flutter of a white lab coat disappeared as the maglock door sealed them inside.

He frowned, looking back at the man who introduced himself as Marcus. He seemed familiar, but Jay couldn't place him. "Lieutenant, technically, and I am not particularly feeling talkative at the moment."
Abilities? What did he mean by that? Unless he meant-- Jay swallowed nervously. Nobody could know that. Jay barely knew himself.

"How about you answer some questions for me, starting with where the hell I am and why I am here. It's clearly not a police station."

Marcus smiled apologetically. The man had spirit. In scrubs confined to a cell, he demanded answers. Good mettle.

And he saw what Marcus wanted him to see. A functionary, perhaps afraid of him. On a whim, he decided to see how that played. He glanced at the cameras briefly and just wet his lip with his tongue before seeming to catch himself.

"Alright. I'll try to answer as best I can. There are somethings I am not authorized to tell. But...if you help me, maybe I can help you."

He paused, thinking back to his questions. "You are in a CCD training center. Well, more than that. flagged you. You can channel. At least our systems said you can. We try to keep it quiet, but quite a few die attempting to learn. It is our goal to teach control. Prevention rather than cure......So. Are we right?"

Jay blinked. He hadn't actually expected this guy to answer. Let alone plainly offer truth. He had to know he was being watched. Something wasn't right. Then again, the whole situation wasn't exactly normal.

The second time they spoke to him as a channeler. So they knew. How, Jay still didn't understand, but suppose it didn't matter. This was the CCD. Not exactly shocking. They probably knew what he had for breakfast yesterday.

"Control. Fine. Yes, I can control it."
He lied, kind of. Close enough anyway. "So you can let me go now. Thanks for the -- uh, ride -- and uh, nap. But I'm good."

The way he held Marcus' gaze, he wasn't exactly kididng. There had to be more to it than this. Not in a thousand years did he believe the CCD did anything out of the goodness of the public's heart.

Marcus stifled an amused response. This was military he remembered. No finesse. There was a time for everything. If the man was thinking, he might wonder why a functionary had been sent to speak to someone so unpredictable and dangerous. But just as well.

Now Carpenter was bluster. Marcus looked apologetic again. "I can appreciate how you feel. I want to help. You do understand that neither I nor my superiors can simply take your word. Perhaps you could demonstrate this, ahh, control."
Another inner smile as a thought occurred to him.

"You met Dr. Weston. She and her team have come up with a way to detect the presence of channeling. Can even rate it on a scale. At the very least, I imagine that could be good to know for you. I do believe you use metrics in measuring your personal prowess, correct? Can you seize the power for us?"

You've got to be kidding me. And blinked again. He almost couldn't believe the absurdity of this. All this secrecy and protocol just to make sure he was safe. Because the CCD cared so much, eh? He scrubbed a hand through his hair. Something wasn't right. This was no training unit. It was top secret. Blacked out.

Nobody would compromise the integrity of this kind of facility by carrying a foreigner in the front door for a friendly chat. What were his options here? Answer questions like a dancing monkey on the off chance of going home soon, or sit still and see what happened, and maybe rot to death in an unmarked grave. Tough choice.

At least Marcus gave up a name. Weston. The british doctor. Now that he realized it, Marcus didn't have an accent. In fact, it wasn't too far off from Jay's own. It sounded like home. And it dawned on him why. Marcus was American. Not just any American, either.

His expression darkened. Let's see if this guy was the famous Consul after all. The power just outside the cage? He reached for it, wrestled it into submission. Finding himself slightly surprised that it actually worked. This time it was his turn to shrug apologetically. "I think you have another way to know if I can channel."

Just to test the theory, he pulled ropes of earth and fire together. Jay didn't know how to do much, but he could collapse a ceiling.

Marcus felt him seize the power. Well, part done, then. The search AIs algorithms had been correct. There was a muleishness to Carpenter's face that he recognized all to well. Roll the dice.

His words said as much and Marcus sighed. It had been a tack. Perhaps with time to study he might have been able to come up with something more suitable. Locking the man in a cell, hood over head transport, no answers. Messy...unnecessary especially in one you might want to recruit. You could only cage a man for so long before he decided to fuck it all and see what happened.

Which apparantly was what he was doing now, though as of yet Marcus did not know what the weave would do.

He dropped the facade he wore as demeanor and seized the power to full strength. The room was small, the sense of dread would be overpowering.

At the same time, he let his voice become soft. "Very good Mr. Carpenter. You saw through the deception. Do not be afraid. If I wished to harm you, there would be nothing you could do about it."

He smiled. "I am sorry we meet in these circumstances. It appears that the protocols haven't been updated for oir non-violent guests. You will not be in this room much longer."

He paused and walked from one end to the other. Small. Confining. "However, our reasons for having you as guest- however executed- are not far off from what I've told you. We want to make sure you are safe- especially to others."

He stopped and looked at Carpenter again. "Consider. I have given you the latest most sophisticated piece of weaponry on the planet. Would it be prudent to rely solely on your knowledge of other weapons or would you decide to receive the advanced training? Most people who may channel will never know what is possible. You do. You react militarily. Does it not make sense for us to see if you qualify for training to USE that power?"

He didn't know what to expect. But a menace crept across his senses like shadows crawled across his soul. Answer as good as spoken, he nodded and the ropes of power disappeared. The power surged and rebelled in the presence of its own. It was work to keep it contained. Jay let it go before it overwhelmed him. Clearly, Marcus didn't have the same problem. The sense of being under a microscope returned.

He studied Marcus warily. Jay had no illusions about which of the two of them were the bigger threat. Marcus DuBois was at the right hand of Ascendancy, and Jay had little interest in meeting that guy any time soon. "Qualify? Are you making an offer or an ultimatum?"

Marcus paused. In fact it was ultimatum. But only if he refused. Vellas' men, not to mention sedative gases- and he himself, for that matter- could make sure Carpenter was not a threat.

But the man was no fool. He wouldn't believe in the altruism of the CCD. Marcus knew there were reasons Ascendancy wanted a member of Legion Premier to be trained by the CCD. And it was not out of some sort of outreach initiative.

So, to tell the truth in a lie Carpenter might wrap his fragile ego in. "It does not have to be one, or the other. If you want to learn- and I assure you Commander Vellas has the finest channeler training program the world has ever seen- then you would be a fool not to say yes. A pledge of loyalty will not be asked. Any more than that, is not for me to say. I am not a lawyer. I imagine they'd want your word you won't use what you learn against CCD forces. But again, not for me to say."

He looked at him frankly. "The butt of an unloaded gun of the highest quality makes a poor but still usable hammer. It would be a true pity for you to use the gift you have been given merely to hammer in a few nails."

[With Jay]

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Jan 18 2018, 10:36 PM.
Jay sank onto the cot. Marcus' grave error was assuming he wanted to learn, let alone from the likes of Vellas. He knew who the guy was, of course. Every Legionnaire did. Even if Vellas shared half of what he could do, would Jay even want to take that? Sure, Jay was no stranger to a weapon. But there was a alarming distinction. As a Legionnaire, he used any and all weapons he could reach. Here, he would become the weapon.

He scrubbed a hand through his hair, looked up at Marcus with the weight of dread sinking his gaze low. "No."
Only darkness shows you the light.

Marcus' mouth downturned. Malik seethed. Kill him, he whispered. He did not like being denied. Especially when he had been so.....reasonable. He looked at the man, studying quietly. He had to know what his answer meant. Marcus had as good as said 'no' was a fools option, the threat unspoken.

He stifled Malik. The man refused. The question was, why? He was being offered power. Real power. To control the Force in all its glory. It was alien to him for someone to refuse.

This was a puzzle. He quirked his head and then, on a whim, crouched down and leaned against the wall, his hands relaxed on his knees, his head slightly back, and watched. The action was deliberate, subconsciously reducing his size and bearing. He didn't let go of the Force but reduced it to a trickle. Then his eyes lidded as he thought.

He needed a mentat projection. Likely reasons for refusal.

Pride? Perhaps. But a prideful person bent the neck for a short time if it meant more power in the long term. Not pride, then. Not alone, anyway.

He needed more data. He'd read Carpenter's file on the way over. Looked over his scores. Dishonorable disharge. "Unauthorized use of violence." That was something. Interesting. The man's impulsive action led to his disharge and despite his scores and obvious ability and training, he had been reduced to seeking work as a mercenary.

The datum logged itself in place. Potential likelihoods suggested themselves. But the one that appealed to him on a purely aesthetic note was the most interesting.

Fear. He fears his capability of violence. He is good at it. He knows it. It is his job. But he is afraid of it taking over. All postulation, he knew. But it fit the few facts he had. He liked it.

Step one complete, he now needed a handle. Something to appeal to the man. His scores played through his mind. He was in the top 1% with his highest scores in math and comprehension. He was not a meathead. Not a grunt.

This suggested a course of approach. His eyes went from half lidded to opened. He stood, regarding him kindly. "I think I may have botched this. You are not a man who craves power for itself. Or even what it may do for him. Otherwise you would have said yes."
The admission was calculated to throw him off. Goverent officials did not admit to mistakes. He would seem more trustworthy.

"But perhaps you are a man who likes puzzles. Who wants to understand how things fit. Who enjoys a mathematical problem or solution. Did you know that the power we wield allows us to study how things are made?"
He looked at the cot the man sat on, the metal bars that made up the frame.

Carefully, he channeled a thread of spirit and earth at it, the finest probe imaginable. The more power he had, the finer resolution, but this was sufficient for now. "For example, right now I am examining the bar of your cot. I can see the crude crystal structure of the metal alloy molecules, the various atoms mixed together to give it the lattice structure that gives it strength. Here, sieze the power. I will guide you, let you see for yourself."
The guy squat low in the absence of furniture. Jay wasn't married to luxury, but a chair would have been handy about then. Then again, he was lucky there was a toilet if he was going to come to know the place well.

It seemed they were at some sort of impasse. The tone was noted, though. Marcus already admitted he didn't intend ultimatums, but neither was he unlocking the door and escorting him to freedom. Memory of that bag still sinching his throat was near.

Also close to the surface hovered a darkness around Marcus that Jay did not overlook. Although the menacing presence receeded, Jay had the sense it was of a wave called back into the belly of an impending tsunami yet to come. He might drown in stagnant air down here. Wherever here was. In fact, his eyes narrowed upon ventilation slits cut into the ceiling he overlooked previously, what with his eyes drawn to the camera dots previously.

Already sunk into the sling of the cot, Jay leaned against the wall and waited with wary gaze. He supposed it made a sick sort of sense. The CCD had a trained operator on their hands and they tracked channelers. Maybe Vellas was isolated in the same way. How many other channelers previously occupied this room? Had they scratched at the walls? Had they pounded at the light in their heads? Did they die of Sickness or suffer a worse fate? He sighed, and waited for the declaration of his own.

When Marcus did speak, he had the air of failure on his breath. Jay's brows curled with surprise. His jaw might have dropped if it weren't for the fact that it was clenched tight at the hinge.

He liked Puzzles? The guys from high school would double over laughing. Puzzles? Unfortunately, Jay didn't feel like laughing. Ropes of power reached out, there was something repulsive, like the turn of magnet on magnet, that made him want to recoil, but he forced himself to stillness. The ropes touched metal and Jay frowned. What was the game now?

Marcus wanted him to duplicate it. A cold sort of dread churned in his stomach, and a voice whispered that this was a bad idea. Marcus' tone had softened, but the adamant edge of gaze remained sharp. "I don't have much of a choice, do I?"
he asked. Maybe cooperation would get him somewhere. Of course, compliance with Marcus' demands was but the first step to conformity. The road to hell was paved with good intentions, after all.

His lids fell low for a moment and he reached into the light. It filled him with awe as much as dread. The power thrashed like sharks on carnage, but he grit his teeth and forced it to submission. Darkness hovered the edges of his expression from then on.

He had to stand and turn toward the cot to watch what he was doing in order to duplicate Marcus' efforts. When it did, there was a cold sort of connection that bridged in his mind, like the steel was a part of him then. With a thought he could fold it, hone it, wield it and summon it. It was a little amazing, but he did none of those things and turned back toward Marcus. He didn't know where puzzles fit in to the scheme. Atoms and molecules were absent. All that remained was steel. A cold, lifeless steel skeleton. He shook his head, disliking this, but trapped, there was little else to do but try.

Only darkness shows you the light.

Marcus smiled as he felt the man sieze the power and try to imitate what he sensed. The euphoria of holding the power called. The potential for addiction was always there. The lure to use the power for everything. Even, he thought, if it scared a man like Carpenter. If the man could use the power without destroying, his hunger would grow. He would look for the excuse. He would want to do more.

Marcus could almost see the hook set. "Very good. Very very good. You barely struggled to sieze it. Ok. Imagine the power to be your hand, your palm. You can feel a rough shape. You can push or pull. The threads of the power are your fingers. You have five of them. And there are five different parts of the power."
He ticked them off as he wove a single thread of each.

"Earth. Air. Water. Fire. Spirit. Your palm can't feel details. Your fingers do. Watch. I'm drawing out a thread of earth, drawing it finer and finer. See? It tends to infinitely thin, based on how much power you draw, a needle finer than a hair, a thousand times thinner than a hair. Now watch, I'll probe the bar. Try it. Can you see or feel it slip in the cracks? Can you feel the shape of what it finds"

He watched intently.
Five threads. They flowed through his fingers like sand. Like that steel skeleton, he knew that wielding any of the five would bridge a connection to any element in sight. Fire and Earth called like a song he hadn't heard in years. The thrill of it begged for more, to be put to good use. God he wanted to do something with it other than explore. God it hurt, but it was glorious.

His heart pound in his chest until it was hard to breathe.

Marcus' voice led like marching to the beat of drums. The flows followed, so easy, it was almost like they wielded themselves. He stared at the skeleton, stared until his eyes did not blink and burned with the heat of the fire within. Fire. Not Earth. Earth was a distant cousin, but quiet. Fire sang. It billowed like flames begging to be fanned to life. Jay obliged. The fire poured into the steel until the bars glowed orange. Then red. More. He clenched his fists and breathed to life what was dead.

Then the cot burst to flames and he gasped. The power fled his grasp. He stammered out an apology. "I didn't know that would happen."
His mind raced for the thread of water, but it resisted. He glanced at Marcus, but his expression was cool. The flames licked higher, the fibers of the cot disintegrating to ash.

He blinked and mentally ran back to the battle and burned the flames into his own soul, drawing the heat away. Siphoning it. Sweat poured the edges of his brow. The room was hot, but his concentration wouldn't waver. He feared a moment of doubt and the fires of power would consume him as well.

When the last of the energy was dispersed into their surroundings, he was panting, eyes wide with disbelief. Had that just happened?

[[Marcus moded with permission.}]
Only darkness shows you the light.


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