Legerdemain
rating: +6+x

♪Take a little walk to the edge of town♪
♪Go across the tracks♪

Ogden lay in bed at the MTF Alpha-1 headquarters. Recently his dreams took him back to his old neighborhood. He'd stroll down the sidewalk where his house used to be, past the pizzeria he once frequented as a youth, to the empty back lot where he and his friends played baseball. His dream-self turned the corner of the path and saw a man standing ten feet away. The stranger had a trench coat, a fedora, and a face all too familiar to him. Ogden stood still as the figure took three steps towards him and, through the nature of dream logic, covered the distance between them.

"The O5s are all dead. The Administrator won't budge. Where do you go from here?" The Dream Man asked.

"Well," He paused, absorbing the information. "The first thought that went in my head was 'suicide', but to be honest I'm actually curious to see how long I'd last. You still going through with your Plan?"

"Yes."

"Damn. You've talked to her already, I assume. I bet it didn't go well."

"She'll probably try and stop us, but then again, everything is trying to stop us. True, things did not turn out as I predicted, but at least I still have contingencies in storage. She, on the other hand, seems to be improvising."

Ogden let out a slight snicker. "Have the others been called?"

"The old Hand is being rallied again. Everyone is still separated, so don't expect any help. If you guys don't make it out, you don't come at all."

The soldier nodded. "I hope our little retirement package works. After what happened to your old coat, I don't want to get suspicious about my own clothes while getting out."

"Don't worry. Your attire is far more refined than mine, I've made sure of it. I'll see you soon, I hope." And with a tip of his hat, he vanished.

Ogden rose out of his bed, one of many in the barracks. Manfredi, Johnson, and Baines were asleep as well. The rest were elsewhere in the complex, probably aimless after they lost contact with the O5. One would think that a beast like Alpha-1 would thrash in chaos with the head that is the O5 chopped off, but the cut was so swift that they simply dropped.

Stretching his arm under the bed, Ogden fished out a box that had been collecting dust for years. Inside was a black battledress, one that he had never worn before. A secret gift from the First Administrator after he stepped down. Once he wears it, he's a full-blown traitor — to Alpha-1, the Foundation, and the human race. But there was no time for any remorse. Ogden put it on as fast as he could.

♪Where the viaduct looms♪
♪like a bird of doom♪
♪As it shifts and cracks♪

The soldier paced out of the room briskly, making sure that his comrades didn't wake up. To an observer, he looked like a commando in his new getup. But in the empty halls of the complex, there was nobody to look at him. Ogden headed for the security office, fully aware of what he must do. An underlying current of dread flowed through his veins as he sneaked his way through the building, but with a few trained breaths those feelings were buried.

Arquette was the only one in the security office, still and virtually inactive as he sat on the chair. His eyes flicked from one monitor to another, locking onto any sign of movement that passed through the camera's field of vision. Every now and again, he'd look at the news screen to his right to watch the developing apocalypse grow worse. His mind was still processing it all, and it conflicted with his conscious overwatch. Only the sound of the sliding door broke his intense concentration.

Before Arquette could even see who it was, he felt something wrap around him. Suddenly he was lifted upwards fast. His head struck against the concrete ceiling, and the concussion sent his brain reeling. Recovering from the blow, his staggered eyes looked down to see Ogden standing in front of the door with a tentacle emerging from his right sleeve.

"Sorry, pal. I've got a job to do."

♪Where secrets lie in the border fires♪
♪in the humming wires♪
♪Hey man, you know you're never coming back♪

Arquette couldn't even speak. His windpipe was being crushed. The tentacle gripped tighter and tighter, evoking a python that constricted its prey. He felt the air get squeezed out of his lungs, hear his ribs crack, and feel blood rushing towards his brain. Pain flooded his nerves before the numbness began to take over. Then, a loud snap.

Ogden slowly dropped Arquette's body on the floor. He didn't even bother to check whether his comrade was knocked out or dead, he just sat on the empty chair and began to type on the panel. He clicked on his own earpiece, switching it to a different frequency.

"Eli. Bailey. Cliff. Judith. It's Ogden. We're moving out." And without question, the other four dropped everything and complied.

Ogden eyed the screens, watching for the other four. Bailey and Cliff were donning their outfits while heading to the aircraft hangar. Meanwhile, Judith was at the armory, stuffing dozens of weapons into her own jacket. The extradimensional space within the jacket had more than enough room to empty out the entire armory. Eli was in the communications room, having dealt with the other agents quickly. Ganymede may have left them mute to the other sites, but they certainly weren't deaf, nor were they entirely bereft of alternative means of communication. Eli didn't want them to take the chance, however. Several limbs emerged from his sleeves to smash and tear the equipment.

♪Past the square, past the bridge,♪
♪past the mills, past the stacks♪

Bailey and Cliff fought their way through the hangar. Bailey climbed to the control room while Cliff scrambled across the airstrip to secure their jet. The extra arms proved advantageous in disabling the resistant ones among the crew. The rest just backed down.

The onset of the apocalypse had sown thoughts of futility in the minds of the crew. The activation of the Ganymede protocol only served to cultivate them. And now, the actions of their rogue coworkers finally caused them to germinate into outright apathy. Cliff and Bailey could see it in their faces as they ran past.

"This is Bailey. The airstrip is secured and the jet is fueled."

"Roger that," Ogden replied. "Judith and Eli are heading your way right now."

A few extra arms emerged from Ogden's uniform and reached for the buttons and switches on the panel. They typed and pressed with surprising rapidity. Without warning, doors across the entire compound began to shut. The bathrooms, the barracks, the cafeteria, any space occupied by his comrades were all locked down. Several monitors switched from camera feed to computer interface.

"Alright. Let me just shut down the rest of the compound." It wasn't meant to be a permanent shutdown. The system's security protocols could probably undo it in half an hour, provided no external forces would disrupt it.

At the airstrip, the hangar door slid open. Cliff was already moving the jet onto the runway. The rest of the crew just stood nearby and watched.

Ogden was about to finish the sequence, but he heard the door slide open and a handgun cock.

"Hands off the console, Ogden."

The extra hands ceased moving and slowly retracted into the man's jacket. He slowly stood up from the chair and turned to see his foe. It was his comrade Kaylin, pointing a 9mm right at his temple. She had a cold expression on her face, a mask that held back the broiling anger within her like a floodgate.

"Kaylin, why haven't you shot me yet?"

She growled. "Because I want to know why."

Ogden gave out a sigh. "Why? I've got places to go, my team and I." He gave a long look at the 9mm. "And you're in my way."

"And the freakshow jacket?"

"A gift from my boss."

For a few seconds the two stood completely still. Whatever amount of friendship and camaraderie the two had built and shared over years of blood, sweat, and tears had been thrown aside. Now, they eyed each other like two Western gunslingers, waiting for the other to make a move. An air of apprehension could still be felt, but as the seconds ticked by it slowly began to fade.

"Ogden," Bailey's voice crackled through his earpiece. "Where the fuck are you? Everyone else is on the jet already."

Ogden did not answer back. He didn't even flinch from his stare-down with Kaylin. Time was of the essence, and sooner or later the stillness would be broken.

"Ogden, do you copy?"

Kaylin's twitching trigger finger shattered the moment. In a swift leap, Ogden dodged to the right to avoid the incoming shot. Simultaneously he opened his jacket, unleashing a flurry of armored hands that reached out to his former partner. Kaylin was about to fire another round, but the arms grabbed hold of her hands and pinned her to the wall. An insectoid arm, like an elongated mantis forelimb, stabbed into her wrist, forcing her to drop the gun.

Several of the limbs moved away from Kaylin and back to the panel. With them, Ogden finished typing the shutdown sequence. With one final click, the entire compound went dark. He tapped into his earpiece. "Alright I'm coming."

Ogden faced his pinned friend. "I'm really sorry."

One of the arms socked Kaylin square on the face, knocking her stone cold. The arms dropped her on the floor and retreated back into his jacket. Ogden left the surveillance room and never looked back.

The jet zoomed out of Alpha-1 HQ. Cliff was in the cockpit, and after the initial takeoff the other four quickly got off their seats and flocked to the windows. They looked out see the chaos that the televisions could only catch a fraction of. They flew above a small town ravaged by lava erupting from beneath the ground. If they flew down any closer, the fountains of molten rock that spewed into the sky would damage their jet.

"A merciful demise, compared to the suffering elsewhere." a somber voice spoke from behind.

♪On a gathering storm comes a tall handsome man♪
♪With a dusty black coat with a Red Right Hand

The four turned around, and there stood the First Administrator, in the flesh.

"I'm sorry that you had to go through such lengths to come to me. But thank you for-"

"We get it, sir," Eli interjected. "We're here now, what's the plan?"

The Administrator sighed heavily, then stepped forward. "We fly northeast, and fast. I need to consolidate our resources, because we have a lot of work to do."


« Interlude: New Toys | Canon Hub | To Be Continued »

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License