azi: Keep Calm and Appeal to a Supervisor. (Default)
Title: Out of the Frying Pan...
Writing Date: Late 2009
Rating: General.
Warnings: None
Fandom: Multifandom AU RP
Characters: Axel, Timcanpy, Reno, Rude.
Summary: Caught again, Axel finds himself in a cell on the 67th floor of the Bancouri government building -- The Shinra HQ.

Damn it, when was this cycle of escape and capture going to end!? Over and over, breaking free from the grasp of one enemy only to turn around and run headlong into the claws of another. It made him feel like a beetle trapped in the bottom of a jar. He was able to see freedom through the glass, but was utterly powerless to reach it. Instead of getting anywhere, he felt as though he was stuck walking the circumference, round and around, never making any headway.

It was growing old -- Hell, it had already grown old and it had the beard and lengthy ear-hair to prove it.

“Well, well, well," Axel, the imprisoned ... what was it they called him? A Ryoka? Yeah, that was it. Ryoka -- apparently the native term for an offworlder, said to himself. "However am I going to get out of this little mess?” He sighed. He had been asking himself that a lot, lately.

Completely alone and in a cell, he didn’t spare his four walls his characteristic theatrical gesticulations or perfect pronunciation. Every clicking ‘t’ seemed to echo off of his constant companions and leaned back against the wall, one hand behind his head.

The cell was comfortable, sure, but a prison was still a prison. That it was tolerable didn’t do a lot to improve the situation. He knew that his cell was on a lofty floor inside a government facility, but knowing where he was did nothing to put his mind at ease. The fact that he was on a level dedicated entirely to the Midgar branch of Shinra's Scientific Research and Development Department didn't exactly help, either. The cells were used primarily for experimental subjects and, unsurprisingly, much of the rest of the level was home to laboratories and decked out with so much weird medical equipment that it would have made the scientists he’d once known turn green with envy.

The cell block was guarded, but largely unmonitored. It didn’t matter all that much. The prisoners were forced to wear locking bracelets that held a tiny shard of Nethicite against each wrist. The substance itself inhibited their Chakra flow to prevent them using magic. Small and insignificant though they looked, they were invaluable when it came to controlling the magical abilities of prisoners, especially when one had the capacity to incinerate anything or anybody that came close.

His capture had not gone without some of those doing the capturing receiving a few burns. He'd fought back when they'd tried, and the scent of singed hair and burning cloth had been strong until they'd hit him over the back of head and sent sparks popping in front of his eyes. After that, everything had gone white.

His cell was white, too. He didn’t object to stark decor; it was a vast improvement on both the cargo hold of the ship owned by the Ba’Gamnan siblings -- something best described as "Icky" -- and the container where the Enlightened Seven had kept him prior to selling him to the Shinra Corporation. Even so, it called to mind both The World That Never Was and Castle Oblivion. Neither were places that he wanted to be reminded of in a hurry.

The only thing to break up the monotony of the pallid cell was the clock on the wall. Less comforting than he would have hoped, it ensured that he would see every single minute of his time there go by, tick by agonising tick.

Still, it was useful.

He should have felt entirely powerless but, with his devious little mind and boundless creativity when it came to causing trouble, he had already concocted a plan. In the days he’d spent there in that miserable little holding pen, he’d learned the times that the guards came by and when the chance of examination or feeding would lessen to such a degree that it was completely preposterous to expect it. Sure, so he’d been stripped of his magical ability and yes, his weapons -- dual chakrams as always -- had been confiscated, but he was more than happy to make use of anything circular and solid enough to take a blow or two.

That was where the clock came in.

He watched the time on the face until it crawled into and past the evening and from there he waited for the last ‘meal’ (he thought that calling them that was a vast overestimation of the canteen’s cooking abilities) to arrive. Moments before the estimated time of arrival, he got up and pulled it free of the nail that held it to the wall. It was astonishingly easy.

It didn't stop ticking, but his fingers on the casing dulled the sound from a hollow click into something softer.

"Hmm. Light and kind of..." he turned it over in his hand, weighing it in his grasp. It didn’t seem to have much more bite to it than a child’s Frisbee, but he could cope well enough with that. "Flimsy. Classy, Shinra, classy."

He narrowed his eyes as he heard the tell-tale ping of his door being unlocked. He stepped closer, positioning himself just as he'd planned to. The door swung open. The guard, half paying attention, suddenly went wide-eyed when he caught sight of the prisoner on his feet.

"Hi there," Axel grinned, waving carelessly with his free hand. "More of the local Bancouri cuisine? It could really use some improvements, you know."

The guard fumbled to try and pull free his tonfa, and dropped the 'food' in his panic. The rubber tray clattered to the floor, but the plate (made of paper to prevent it being broken and used as a weapon) hit the tiled surface with a loud squish.

"Shame," Axel remarked as he stepped over the mess. "That looked so ... appetising, too."

The guard’s startled pause gave him enough time to strike out with his free hand and push his helmet up for long enough to aim a blow at his temple with the rim of the clock. Instead of letting him drop, he grabbed him by the front of his uniform and dragged him into the cell he was about to vacate. He deposited him soundlessly onto the cot and stepped outside.

Of course, with that commotion, it didn't surprise Axel to see one of the medics, or low-ranking scientists, whatever, come running to his aid. He pulled a needle from his pocket as he moved. Unfortunately for him, Axel threw the clock and closed the distance between them with the spinning timepiece.

"Man oh man," he sighed as the clock hit the tiles and spun on its edge before settling into silence. "Would you just look at how time flies in this place?"

The blow, although it was hard enough to knock the piece of Sunstone Magicite that kept it running from the slot in the back, didn’t knock him out. It did, however, daze him sufficiently enough that Axel could grab the hypodermic from him and give him a literal taste of his own medicine. The last thing that the scientist he saw before falling under the spell of the tranquilliser was a smirk from his escaping prisoner.

Axel dithered for a moment, considering what to do with him. In the end, he came to the conclusion that leaving the evidence of his escape in open view was a bad idea.

Yeah, that would be way too dangerous. He dragged the scientist into the cell with the guard and rifled both of their pockets for the all-important key-cards that allowed access between floors. Taking the guard's tonfa was something of an afterthought before he closed the door and then locked them in. With any luck, they wouldn’t be discovered until at least morning.

He glanced around himself, looking at the other cell doors. Some of the white boards were filled out with prisoner details (his own read 'Subject R, Specimen L') and for a fleeting moment he considered breaking the others out. Nah, that would get them too much attention and hey, it was a dog-eat-dog world. Every man for himself. He stayed close to the wall and peered around the corner into the main corridor. The shoulder-material of his clothes smeared one of the boards as he did it. As he broke cover and headed out, he barely noticed that the name plate he'd leaned against no longer read 'Subject Ex, Specimen A. Walker.'.

A sign on the wall told him that he was on the 67th floor, but the path to potential freedom presented him with a fork in the road. Left, or right? He knew from experience that the right hand path took him to the laboratories where he had been previously examined and that the left took him to the stairs and lift. He had a feeling that he should avoid the labs, but he also knew that it was there where they’d stored his confiscated belongings. His weapons could be re-bought, but there was no replacing the License they'd taken from him. He hadn't managed to glean much about the world, but he knew that he couldn't go anywhere without that if he didn't want to arouse suspicion.

"Tch, it looks like I don’t have much of a choice, here."

Resigned to what he must do, he headed out, casting a cursory glance in the opposite direction to make sure that he wasn’t going to be caught by patrolling guards right off the bat. He didn’t even spare the time to thank his lucky stars that patrols were infrequent at best on the higher floors due to restricted access and were even rarer after most of the workers had clocked out. He pushed the door to the laboratory open.

Empty.

Axel breathed a sigh of relief. The lights were all on and some monitors were still illuminated. It seemed that the scientist who had almost needled him must have been the only one doing overtime, luckily for him. He didn’t care to stand and wonder at the weird looking things that filled the room, so he crossed it on swift feet to get to the lock-ups. First he tried the floor key to no avail, then he attempted to open it with the cell door key. When that didn’t work, he tried hitting it.

"Open, damn you!" He hissed, gritting his teeth.

Well, it was worth a try.

He stood there, frustrated with his lack of progress. The thought of going back and roughing up the scientist for way to get back his stuff tried to convince him it was a good idea, but he ignored it. For all he knew, the guard was back to normal and ready to smack him. He wasn't going to escape and then walk back into captivity willingly. That would be dumb, even for him.

He looked around, forcing a harsh sigh. Nothing that looked like a key made itself apparent, but ... but...

The was a computer.

Maybe there was some kind of release mechanism on there. He turned his attention to the screen and squinted down at it, the pale light of the screen illuminating the irritation on his face as it demanded a password in a language that he could barely read.

"Why does this have to be so hard!?" He growled, smashing his hand down on the keyboard, utterly offended at the fact that escaping from a government facility wasn’t a piece of cake.

Plink.

Whatever that sound was, it didn't matter. He closed his eyes and ran both hands into his hair. Think, Axel, think. he told himself, and turned his attention back to the monitor.

Plink plink.

He ignored the noise. It sounded like something very tiny and metal hitting against glass. It was only half noticed, just a minor annoyance, only something that served as a small distraction...

Plink plink plink plink...

It started to get annoying.

Plink plink plink plink plink...

"Argh, what is th—" He turned to the source of the tapping and stopped.

Inside a small tank, glass as he'd expected, a gold ball stood on four minuscule legs. As if that wasn't weird enough, it shuffled forward and hit the clear wall of its prison with what looked to be a very minute hand. Okay, so they weren't all legs, then. Wait...what!? It didn’t have a head, but it sure as hell had legs (and arms, apparently), a tail, two horns and a small pair of wings that...while they looked to be modelled after a bird’s were held up and out, like those of a butterfly.

Even with all of that in front of him, it was its face that made him stop and stare.

Well, he figured it must be the face, considering it was on the opposite side of the sphere to the tail, which was undoubtedly on the back end. The front end was comprised of was nothing more than a cross, a shape that was burned onto his memory, seared in place with more heat and ferocity than any flame he could produce. It... was almost the same as that cross.

The sudden reminiscence stung his eyes. He looked down at the tank in a daze and pressed a finger to the glass only to find that the ball put its hand up against the opposite side.

"You’re a prisoner too, huh?" He asked quietly, his voice catching in his throat. He looked at the name plate on the glass and tried to discern the scrawled letters. They looked a little like what he was used to, but not exactly the same. "T...I...M...C...A...N...P...Y. Timcanpy, huh? That your name?"

The bauble fluttered, or made an attempt to flutter, in its tank. Somehow, it seemed to be pleading with him.

"All right, I’ll get you out." Axel said, shaking his head. This would stall him, but it was worth it. Probably.

The tank was spring-locked from the outside. No key was required to gain access, but it was entirely impossible to open from the inside. Ideal, when the thing being kept there comes equipped with small hands, complete with miniature fingers. Axel popped it open and reached a hand in to grab the tiny animal. It felt smooth and metallic in his grasp, but it didn’t allow him to hold it for long before a sharp pain registered in his hand.

"What the hell--!?" He quickly withdrew his arm, shaking his hand to try and dislodge the little thing.

In the middle of the cross, horizontally, a mouth had opened up. Its gums, as he’d discovered to his dismay, were lined with tiny, pin-like teeth. Once it let go, Timcanpy fluttered around his head. It being confined had obviously not been of any detriment to its flying ability, that was for sure.

"Hey, buzz off!" He muttered, sucking on his bleeding finger.

It stopped, hung in the air for a moment and then settled onto his shoulder, gripping onto his clothes. It remained still for a brief time and then took to the air again, holding onto the fabric it had grasped when it landed and tried to pull him towards the door.

"All right, all right. I’ve just to get into this locker and we can go. Any idea how to break in?" He whispered, heading back over to the storage container. "Can you even understand me, anyway?"

He didn’t think it could. It was almost completely spherical if you didn’t count the legs and horns and wings and things, and it didn’t appear to have any ears. Then again, it didn’t initially appear to have a mouth, either. Even so, at his question, it took flight and positioned itself at the side of the door, just by where the right key card could be slid in and did something that Axel had certainly not expected.

It bit through both the plastic card-scanner and the metal on either side. The door popped open as it chewed on the mouthful.

While Axel couldn’t deny that finally getting in there to reclaim his chakrams and License came to him in a wave of relief, the fact that the ball had managed to effortlessly bite through both of those materials somewhat squashed his urge to celebrate.

"...remind me not to piss you off, okay?" He told it, and lifted his weapons free first and then grabbed and pocketed his license.

He scoured the room for anything else that could be useful. He pocketed a handful of Materia and clipped the tonfa to his belt.

Satisfied with his haul, Axel searched the room for the magnetic releaser for the Nethicite bracelets. It weren't hard to find and within moments he was free of the magic inhibitor. It would take some time for his Chakra to start to flow normally again, but he felt the fire return, if only a little, almost as soon as the bracelets hit the desk.

He had to get moving.

The last thing he did before he left was tie down his hair. The colour was obvious enough without it sticking up at all angles to make it worse. As luck would have it, the room he was in was full of useful little things that could be used for the purpose, but in the end he opted for a length of wire and wound it around his gathered hair to hold it in place, at least for the time being.

"Time to go."

The escape from the building was easier than he’d thought. He made his way down to a public level using the cards and made sure to keep well out of sight. When the option presented itself, he chose the stairs instead of the lift. They were rarely used given the presence of the alternative and, although they had guards stationed at irregular intervals, they were easily put out of commission. He didn’t kill any of them -- he knocked them out instead. He already had more blood on his hands than he’d be able to atone for in a lifetime without adding to it.

By the last one, Axel had gotten lazy. He didn’t hit him quite as hard as he should have and, before consciousness left him, he managed to claw at the alarm button to alert the entire building of a break out.

“Pri..son..er esc...aped...” He rasped before Axel could hit him again.

Shit. That threw a spanner in the works.

"Tim," Axel said, urgency in his voice, "That is your name, right? Well, whatever. Right now we’re officially on the run. Let’s get going!"

He ran down the last flight of stairs and out into the street. Timcanpy settled in his hair as he paused to take in his surroundings. The announcement hadn’t made the outside of the building any more perilous than it otherwise could have been, which was only a small mercy under the circumstances.

Everywhere was open. It was a street after all. Axel fought down a wave of panic and made himself calm down. He wanted to get out of sight. He needed to think. Ah!

A manhole proved to be his salvation.

He wrenched the metal lid up and dropped into what he thought was the sewers. He gripped the ladder and pulled the cover over himself, blocking out the pale green light from the street lamps and allowing the darkness to close in over him. Darkness he could cope with, pursuers he could not.

He descended and, to his surprise, he ended up not in a real sewer, but in the middle of the Plate. It looked more like a subway tunnel than a drainage system. Midgar, by far the weirdest place Axel had been to on this world, obviously didn’t work like other cities. He knew that it was built on a gigantic metal disc supported by pillars, he’d just never imagined that the structure would be hollow.

Once at the bottom he paused to catch his breath. His heart was racing. The thrill of his escape, the worry of being followed and the panic he'd felt when he'd been discovered had set him firmly on edge. Even so, he didn't stop long. When he'd managed to get his breathing to cooperate, he quickly took off, not wanting to give any would-be followers any time to catch up.

He walked for what seemed like hours. He had no idea where he was going, but he went through passages and up and down ladders until he ended up at a dead end. It was noisy and hot, and the grinding of machinery hummed beyond the wall. Axel wondered if it was a foundry. No, that couldn't be right. The signs said something else.

"Sec... Sector Five...Reactor..." he said out loud, straining to read the words.

That wasn't good. Mako Reactors ran the city and they were way too close to the Shinra Company for comfort. Axel had seen them from a distance and knew that they provided the power source for the city, but he’d never been up close. Given that he’d heard that one had exploded some years ago (Gaga... something?), he wasn’t sure he wanted to be that near to it.

He looked from the sign to the nearest door, a reinforced steel portal at the top of a ladder with a plaque that mirrored what the sign itself said, and scowled. He thought about doubling back, but he had a feeling, an inkling, that the reactors also came out at street level. They had to. If they had staff, then it made sense that they would be accessible from there was well as 'under ground'. If he could find his way up, away from the Shinra HQ, he had a shot at getting out of Midgar alive. Steeling himself, he pushed open the door.

It lead, to his surprise, to a bridge suspended over a gap in the plate. T-shaped and sturdy, there was a door at each end of the bridge before him and one leading to the reactor itself. Looking at the skyline, the direction he needed to go in to reach freedom was an obvious one.

All that stood between him freedom was a door and a length of floor.

Axel resisted the urge to grin. He'd done it!

"All right!" He said, giving Timcanpy a pat. "We're going t--"

A thick, pulsing sound cut him off. It sounded like a fan, but massive, and it came from above. He heard it before it he saw it, but there was no mistaking that sound. It was a helicopter.

"... maybe not."

It flew into sight and hovered there, the blades whipping the air around him into a frenzy. The words 'Shinra Corporation' were emblazoned on the sides, along with the tell-tale diamond-shaped company logo. There was no was that its sudden appearance was a coincidence.

He shielded his eyes with his hand and looked around, hoping for an escape route. He had two options. There was going back the way he came, back to the Midgar underground, or running the length of the bridge to the other door. He'd be caught for sure if went back on himself, but he had a chance if he made a break for it.

Panic coursed through him and he took the second option, but his hesitance stood to be his downfall.

The helicopter descended and one of its occupants, a goon in a blue suit, was lowered on a rope ladder to block his path. A Turk. Great. He didn't yet know all there was about the world, but he knew that the Turks were Shinra's elite anti-Mage soldiers, among other things, and were usually called upon to deal with powerful opponents or simply stop disturbances where magic was likely to be utilised. Two had been present when he'd been sold. This wasn't one of them, neither of the others had been bald, but the reputation came with the suit.

Axel was stopped before he'd got past the halfway point of the bridge. The Turk stood before Axel, apparently unarmed, but his posture displayed a kind of sureness that showed very clearly that it didn't matter one bit that he had no visible weapons.

Tall, bald and serious looked like he meant business.

"Lookin’ good down there, Rude!" His companion, the mousy-haired and rather scruffy looking guy flying the chopper, called to him.

"How did you know I was here?" Axel called over the sound of the blades, backing up a few steps as he did.

Rude didn't talk. His partner, however, offered an answer.

"There isn't a single inch of the underground that isn't under surveillance, yo!"

Cameras. Axel hadn't factored in the possibility of security cameras. They must have watched him the whole way, waiting for him to surface. He swore under his breath. After all that, he'd walked into a trap that he'd unwittingly helped lay.

"You're goin' right back to the cells, Ryoka," the Turk said, his grin even visible at a distance.

"Like hell!" Axel replied, pulling the tonfa free of his belt.

He wasn't going down without a fight, not for anyone.

Cutting his losses, he ran at Rude. Even as he tightened his stance Axel raised the stolen weapon and aimed a blow at the side of the Turk’s head. To his dismay, it didn't connect. Before it could, Rude caught his arm in grip rather stronger than he'd expected and dealt him a punch to the gut as a counter with his other hand. He coughed at the feeling of dull pain from the blow and gritted his teeth as the Turk bent his arm back and dragged him to the bridge's railing. His eyes widened as he had visions of being pitched over the side and it only came as a relief when he smashed his wrist against the metal rail instead. His hand opened on reflex and the weapon fell into the abyss below. He struggled to get free, but was stopped with a punch to the mouth that sent him sprawling to the floor.

Timcanpy tumbled from his hair and onto the floor behind him.

Axel lay there for a moment, half-dazed. His mouth hurt. His arm did, too. He ran his tongue across his bleeding lip and turned himself over. "Ah... now you’ve asked for it," he said, struggling to his feet. He shook his head to stave off the dizziness that was closing in on him. "Now’s your last chance to run!"

It was half bravado, mere words to stall a retaliation as he concentrated his Chakra, but that didn't mean that he didn't have a plan.

He unclipped his chakrams and held them low and easy, suspended on his fingertips. Without warning he lofted them and directed his Chakra to his hands. Though still not up to par thanks to the Nethicite, he had recovered enough to call forth fire. Flames whipped around him, appearing out of thin air, and covered his weapons in a blazing glow. He skimmed one across the bridge at Rude so that it rolled towards him on its edge. It left a flaming trail in its wake. It wasn't an attack intended to burn him, but it was enough to force him to dodge out of its way.

"Don’t say I didn’t warn you!" He snapped, holding the other in two hands, one above, one below. He concentrated his magic there.

With a cry, he threw the spiked disc at the Turk's feet to cause an explosion. Hoping to blast him out of the way, the flashy display didn't quite go as planned.

A flash of bright green light drowned the red from the fire and the flames fizzled uselessly and dissipated before they even reached their target. It had come from Rude himself and Axel noticed that the dimming green glow had emanated from a pendant around the Turk's neck.

After that, two things happened at once. Rude gripped the ladder he had descended on right as the Helicopter rose in the air. At the same time, the blast intended for him, now no longer suppressed by whatever that necklace was, exploded loudly where the chakram lay.

It was enough to rend the bridge apart. Axel shielded himself as shrapnel from the blasted floor-panels flew outwards.

The bridge itself creaked and groaned shrilly, buckling and writhing as the high-tension cables frayed from the shock before snapping. Axel leapt back, attempting to reach a section that didn't rely on those particular supports, but he did so too late. He gripped the railing, but it was no use. He was stuck on the lip of an arc, a slippery downwards curve that was nearly impossible to climb back up. If he hadn't resented the world for taking away his use of portals before, he sure as hell did now.

He struggled to pull himself up. He made a little headway, but his attempt was cut short by a spark of pain in his hand. It hurt, but it wasn't enough to make him let go. He felt a warm liquid running down his wrist before he realised what the pain was -- he'd been shot. He turned his head to look at his hand, fully expecting a mess of blood, but instead saw a splattering of green fluid across his skin in exactly the same shade as the glow from the Turk's amulet.

Further into the distance, he could see the gunman, the other Turk, with the weapon still in his hand, still in the helicopter.

It was definitely a gun, but what hit him certainly wasn't a bullet. It was some kind of capsule and, whatever it was, it had broken upon contact. It took a moment for the effects to become apparent. The liquid did exactly the same to his Chakra as the pendant had done to the fire he'd used in the short fight. It felt like the Nethicite bracelet had, but it was stronger. It got into him, somehow, and transcended his innate magical ability and clawed into his physical strength. Before too long, it had sent a feeling of weakness down his arm.

Axel struggled to grip on. The weakness turned to numbness.

"No," he said, looking up the curving bridge to where Timcanpy hung on. "Sorry, buddy. I can't..."

He dropped as his fingers betrayed him entirely and Timcanpy dove after him.

Several days after the Archadian invasion, a terrible explosion reduced the once proud city of Nabudis to naught but rubble. Though the city fell in the space of a night, the Mist that now swirls where it once stood has transformed the land into a barren waste for eternity. Even now, the cause of this cataclysm is not fully understood.

-Sage Knowledge 03

March 2012

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