Escape 19-I

 Where We’ll Plan Our Escape.

With a grunt of effort, I managed to push off the wall with one foot. The pain was excruciating, but I'd managed to get some decent leverage, and the swing took me out to almost thirty degrees. At the very peak, I hit the chains nearest to the anchor point with a careful burst of power. The idea was that the motion, transferred directly down away from the anchor point, would jolt it slightly. I wasn't expecting it to come tearing out, but if I repeated the action a bunch, it might be enough to loosen it.

'If’ being the operative word: the chain didn't move in the slightest. I hung there for a second, feeling pretty stupid, before plunging back down and slamming against the wall. Which… hurt. The word seems like it's under-playing a little, but it's essentially accurate. Best I can do is 'hurt a fuckton’.

It had been a few hours since I'd first woken up hanging from the chains. Maybe more, but definitely not less; it was hard to judge time in a white concrete room. I’d spent the first chunk of time just swearing very profusely at the top of my lungs, more to keep myself entertained than anything else. My throat had gotten sore pretty quickly, though, so I’d given up on that and switched to swearing very profusely under my breath. Once that had gotten boring, I’d started describing exactly what I was going to do once I got out, with detailed descriptions. I blame the dizziness from being knocked out, but it took me until I’d gone through all of that to trying to figure out how to get myself out.

Once my head stopped swimming and my vision returned to normal, I jerked myself upright from the slouch I'd fallen into. Another consideration I hadn't taken into account was the pain; I'd have a limited number of repetitions of that little trick before I fainted from the pain, or did permanent damage, or both. I was beginning to suspect the latter had already happened, but that was a problem for later.

The problem for now was that my plan hadn't worked at all. Which shouldn't have happened. I refused to believe that the chains were somehow power-proof: if that even were possible, I wouldn't first be discovering it in my ex’s discount abattoir and torture emporium. Even if they were just very secured in the roof, there still should have been some kind of reaction in the chain. Momentum didn't just go…

“Oh,” I groaned out loud, “I'm an idiot.” I'd done it at the apex, when there wasn't any momentum to redirect. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Worse, I'd endured all that pain for nothing.

Well, it's nice to see you acknowledge it. The words appeared in front of my eyes, written in clear blue light. I hadn't seen it before, not exactly, but the color, and the tone of the message, were enough for me to infer.

“You're fucking kidding me,” I muttered under my breath. Foresight. Of all the people...

Hello to you too, you piece of shit. Surprise, we're here to… ugh. Rescue you. Couldn't tell you why.

“'We’ being…?”

Freefall, me, Tide. Everyone who was there when the latter dragged herself in.

“That's it?!” I hissed. “You do realize that most, if not all, of the Cabal is here?!”

Go eat a swollen dick, Flint. You can't even- the words paused for a moment, then resumed. Flint, this is Shauna. We're trying to figure out some way of getting you out without alerting them. Also, you're a waste of the oxygen you breath, no, that was Sanjay, can you grow up, please? God.

“How far up in the building am I?” I murmured.

Second-to-top floor, so no, Jess can't just smash in and grab you. Besides, Sanjay confirmed that Junction is still there. Running isn't really a good idea if they know about it. Oh, sit tight, you have a visitor.

Sure enough, the door swung open, and in entered… someone. Not one I recognized. A young guy with dark skin and hair, in slacks and a scarf wrapped around his face. The lack of costume made it almost impossible for me to identify him, but if I'd been forced to guess, I'd have said the forcefield one. He was carrying a tray of what probably couldn't be legally referred to as food, and was scrupulously avoiding looking at me in any way.

“Oh, for me?” I snarked as he brought it over towards me. “You shouldn't have.” I jangled the chains. “No, really, you shouldn't have, there's no fucking way I can eat that.”

Without acknowledging me, he placed it down on the ground, safely out of my reach, then turned and scuttled back out the door, sealing it behind him.

I stared down at the gruel, beyond my ability to even touch, let alone eat. I blinked, took a deep breath in and out, then in again, and yelled at the top of my lungs, “GO FUCK YOURSELF, EDITH!”

Surprisingly enough, I didn't get a response. Hadn't been expecting it to, but if she'd come stalking in here and hit me a bunch more, I'd at least have something to work with. She wasn't stable normally, let alone when angry, and there might've been something to exploit there. But that had been a long shot anyway.

What was surprising, though, was that guy. Boy, really, if I was any judge. The way he'd been acting was completely out-of-character for any of the Cabal I'd seen. Timid, almost frightened? Not really desirable qualities. So the question remained, who was he? I wasn't ruling out him being a member; it could just be that he was a lot more confident in-costume than out. Alternatively, he could be a goon. The Cabal had never had non-supers before, but maybe Edith was changing things up. The demeanor still didn't make much sense if that were true, though. She wouldn't recruit someone like that.

My thoughts were interrupted by the return of the light. Okay, we have a plan. Stay calm, stay quiet. We should be able to get you out without them noticing a thing.

“Glad to hear it. What's happening?”

With a very soft pop, Freefall appeared in front of me. I raised an eyebrow at her. “Now how the hell'd you do that?”

She shrugged with a small smirk. “Apartments below are empty. Foresight gave me directions.”

“Hm.” I hadn’t realized she could go smaller scale with her teleports, assuming it had to be a decent height. “Well, I’m not complaining.” I jerked my head at the chains. “Mind getting me out?”

She glanced at the chains. “Not sure,” she said. “Is there a key?”

From my perspective, they were solid bands of metal. “Not as far as I know. I’m not even sure how they got them on.”

Incoming! The words were larger than before, slanted and hurried. I could see an identical projection in front of Freefall’s eyes, and she quickly darted her gaze around the room, noting the complete lack of places to hide.

“Behind the door?” I suggested in a hurried whisper. She frowned, but nodded, and stepped over to behind it just in time. The metal door swung open again, thankfully stopping before hitting her, and the same guy from before entered, carrying a large glass of water. “Oh, Edith, you evil bitch,” I said out loud, to absolutely no response from him. He set it down next to the food, turning to go, and Freefall laid him flat with a punch.

“Nice,” I said appreciatively. She nodded, then crouched down over his unconscious form.

He’s got keys on his belt. The hole for it on the cuffs is hidden in a recessed portion on the back; you might have to stretch to reach it. She dug around in his pockets, and sure enough, a small ring of keys jangled as she pulled them out.

I winced as she unlocked my and I dropped to the ground, my arms suddenly having to adjust to things like ‘not supporting all my weight’, and my legs nearly collapsing out from underneath me. She caught my forearm, steadying me, and I muttered thanks as I righted myself.

“Alright,” I said, rolling my shoulder experimentally. It hurt like a sonavabitch, and I let the arm hang limply at my side. The other one I proffered to Freefall. “Mind getting us out of here?”

“My pleasure,” she said dryly, grasping my forearm. Her face creased slightly in concentration, and I felt the beginnings of a very strange sensation as-

A wordless growl interrupted her concentration, and her eyes snapped open, darting over to the doorway. She quickly refocused, though, and the last thing I saw before my stomach wrenched itself to the side and we disappeared was a whirling cloud of salt bearing down on us.

So much for a clean escape.

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