(( USS Arrow, Deck 2 - Corridor ))
(( Part 1 of ?? ))
(( OOC: Massive thanks to Collins for letting me off the leash here, and letting this play out over a handful of sims here. Also, thank you Collins for giving me the go-ahead to write some for “Faraday”... or rather a version of him… I cannot thank you enough for your faith in me and the opportunity to do this! ))
(( OOC 2: I'm currently travelling, so please bear with me while I get the rest of this written! ))
Alvarez: Wait. Another "side effect"? What do you mean?
Mason: With the whole body swap situation, my guess is that it might make you a little more in sync beyond your physical movements. If one of you gets nervous, the other’s heart will start to race as well, or say if one of you got a cramp and other involuntary actions like that.
That did sound… unfortunate. Where Maria had spent no small amount of time training to cope with what performing did to the body and brain, Collins would certainly be a wild card just trying to get on the stage.
Collins: So, if I "emote", Maria will "emote" too?
Alvarez: I’m not sure how to feel about that… :: She took a beat, then grinned at the irony. ::
Mason: It shouldn't do any harm, but you will feel it
Collins: Lovely. Think happy thoughts and all that rot. Splendid.
Maria snorted. That was one way to look at it.
The collars secured, and the processional back to the gym began. Right as they stepped through, it was as if a wash of cold, damp air spilled out. That didn’t make any sense - the life support gear was checked just a few days ago! The argument building in the room seemed to send sour electricity down her spine, which made even less sense with the collar dulling every other sensation. Suddenly, there was a strong sense of a grip of hands at her heels, and she looked over.
Collins wiggled and buzzed like a panicked animal trying to escape a snare, and then in seconds he was down. She shot a look at the good doctor.
Alvarez: Well at least he’s loose?
Smirk at her lips, she felt herself pulled under.
She crumpled to the floor with a PLOP!
(( A Sailing Ship, Somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean ))
Sun! Wind! Spirits! Music!
Maria danced free, her body hers, she yipped with glee as she tapped her spurs! The wind took her hair, as she revelled on the main deck. Strange to be here, she’d never been on the sea - the sails made no sense either. But it was all so familiar, the rope and twine, and the sun was beautiful, high did it shine.
A bandoneon and fiddle played with a DJ, turning “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” into a techno-tango-shanty that lifted Maria aloft. Others joined: a veritable fiesta! Some in starfleet uniforms, some in ballerina costumes, some in poncho and sombrero, some in long dresses or suits, some in club wear, some wearing life vests and sweaters, some looking like they’d just got out of classes.
She waved to her sister, Camila, and to her brother, Diego. She took his hands, and they whirled and whirled, everything else forgotten. She kissed her sister on the cheek, and laughed and shared mate. Regan was there too, with cake! Others gathered round and round.
She was so caught up seemingly being back in her own body she missed the first signs that things were not what they seemed.
Steadily, in the distance, smokey grey haze turned the sky thick with orange. The fiddler's pitch slid sharper and sharper, turning the tune sour. The fair wind left the sails and hair alike, even as thunder joined ashen smog to overtake the ship.
It was a splash in the water that jolted her mind to awareness that “here” was not really here. Suddenly, the jolly clanging tritone harmonies clashed in the middle-distance of her mind, a low ominous buzz filling the air. The men and women kept dancing with their arms bound in straight jackets, somehow still jovial with iron masks keeping their mouths shut. She looked over the side for the source of the splash - there was a shadow in the water.
Buildings. Masts. The outline of a man! None of them a reflection, for there were no buildings around.
She instantly recognized the scene of Collinsport Harbour in the dark reflection even as the sky turned hellish red. How she knew, she couldn’t ascertain. Not until the man’s outline became clearer.
Alvarez: Collins! :: She yelped. ::
In a flash, realization jumped through her body: Starfleet, the Arrow, the Gentii, the body-swap, the neural collar! Another man was with him. She could see Collins’s fear plain as day, as much as she felt it herself in her stomach.
Without hesitation she wrapped a rope around her wrist and dove into the water. But the water wasn’t water. Not really. She found herself upside down, tangled in rope, with more air below her. Gravity clearly was not what it seemed here.
oO Just a little further! Oo
She grabbed onto the net. She felt a pull on her hand! She felt the water wash over her!
(( Windcliffe Psychiatric Hospital. Sub-Basement Level. ))
She gasped air into her lungs, the capacity of them telling her they were, in fact, hers. Her vision swam and brain crawled as if wading through slowly setting epoxy. She only could just make out the probable culprit: a depleted hypospray on a shiny metal tray.
She was earlier in time. But also later. Apparently time had no meaning here either.
She tried moving, only to find her wrist tied down with a leather strap to the cold metal frame of a gurney. Ankles, hips, and chest proved equally confined. But not her head! She supposed they left that free so she could look around the void she occupied, coated in cracked white tiles. She wore nothing but a medical gown, open in the back.
Who was “they”? And how did she get here?
She sputtered weakly into a cough, the cold dry air of the room that froze her bare fingers and toes invading her throat. She closed her eyes, abundantly aware this both was and was not real - was and was not her memory. Something happened here, something long ago. Not quite like this, but the pain was real. Was she abandoned here? No, committed, more like. The true facts and sequence of events hung just beyond her reach.
She took a few deep breaths. Her heart quickened, and a faint heat spread through her chest. She swallowed.
Alvarez: HELLOOOO!? :: She yelled. ::
She smiled weakly, painfully moving pasty sun-deprived cheeks.
Alvarez: That’s better…. :: She whispered. ::
Maria always knew there was something odd about her, but just how crazy did she have to act to end up here? Perhaps the shoes smacking against concrete in the corridor outside would herald the answer.
The heavy metal door squeed open, then clanged shut. A man came into view.
The first thing she saw was a sandy brown head of hair, a mass of mangled waves somehow oily and dry at the same time. Next, a cluster of buttons pinned to a worn jean jacket. A horrible grin showed nasty yellowing teeth. The kind of man that would be spouting mythic stories about the old, long-lost Quechuan knowledge in an Andean village with naught but dirt roads.
The Man: Well, then. What do we have here?
Maria’s head rolled limp like a ball on the cot to face him. The corners of her chapped lips curled upwards a millimeter.
Alvarez: A bad hair day? Well, that and some rather regrettable fashion choices...
The man took out a flashlight and shined it in her eyes, checking for dilation. Maria winced and blinked in response.
The Man: Hmm. You don’t belong to the witch-boy... :: He paused, almost surprised for a second, but then shifted back to his cock-sure toothy grin. :: Oh, I know what’s happened here. I almost forgot about you, lady-of-wind-and-fire.
Alvarez: Free me, and you won’t forget me again, I promise you… :: She glared at the man. ::
The man leaned down, close enough his hot breath swirled across her cheek into her ear. He tutted sharply.
The Man: There’s no need for threats. This goes how it always does for you. The wind comes, and you’ll blow along to the next thing. On and on and on... :: He retreated again, motioning the tumbling. He reached out and touched a tress of Maria’s hair. :: It’s good you’re a pretty thing - like a flower hanging in the breeze. Of equal consequence.
Maria scowled and jerked in the restraints, unable to recoil far enough. Somewhere, something of Collins’ mind bubbled up through hers.
Alvarez: Wait… I know you. :: Her eyes narrowed. She spat the name out. :: You’re Faraday.
The tiniest flicker in the man’s eyes told the truth as they skipped back to hers. He sighed as if coming to a conclusion he knew he always would, just more quickly.
Fernandez: Oh, lady-of-wind-and-fire... :: He shook his head, paused, then stood up straight. :: You’d probably call me Fernandez. But my name doesn’t matter. You haven’t the slightest notion of what’s to come. For you, or the witch-boy.
Alvarez: Is that supposed to scare me?
Fernandez: No. But it should. This is no fable played out on stage by a ballerina. This is real, and you have no part in it. Now leave!
His palm came down on Maria’s chest, and her essence crashed through the cot, then the floor.
Cast out to somewhere else. Sometime else….