Alan stood quietly in the lab room, his eyes set ahead at the woman unconscious on the table. She looked ironically peaceful given the surroundings. The heart monitor beeped steadily in the corner, while an IV pumped fluids and sedative through the woman’s veins. They were running out of time; the guards wouldn’t be distracted forever.
Alan gently pulled the IV from the woman’s arm, and waited for her to wake up. He could hear men running down the halls and shouting loudly to one another. Then there were men at the door, slamming viciously at the metal work. Alan had destroyed the lock mechanism, so it would take at least two more minutes before they could get the door down. Or not.
The door exploded open, debris flying inside the white room, rattling off walls and shredding the medical equipment like it was tissue paper. Alan protected the woman, curving the explosion of metal all around them and onto the back wall.
“Hands on your head!” the voices shouted in near unison. Alan turned his head to the side to see flashlights and assault rifles fixed to them, shining back at him. He could probably stop most of their bullets. Most, not all; and he wasn’t feeling especially bleedy at the moment. He put his hands over his head, and the men ran forward.
“On the ground!” the voices screeched. Two men pushed Alan to his knees, while others swarmed the woman lying on the table.
“Get the IV back in!” one yelled to another, but it was too late.
The black-haired woman’s eyes opened and she screamed bloody murder. Alan looked up at the ceiling and watched as it began pressing down towards them. The back wall folded in on itself, revealing a black abyss. The floor beneath the soldiers began to shift like a moving escalator, causing the men to fall over. Alan could feel vertigo setting in, his mind overtaken with dizzying nausea. The floor slowly tilted upward, causing soldiers to roll towards the side walls. Alan reached out to keep himself centered on the floor. He watched as one soldiers slipped into the side wall, screaming as he fell, stuck inside of it like a two dimensional piece of paper. Another soldier grabbed the IV stand as it slid, trying to use it to push himself away from the wall that was swallowing his comrades. The IV stand swung wildly, snapping the soldier’s arm at the elbow like a chicken wing. Alan shut his eyes in sheer terror at the sight.
“Don’t be afraid,” the woman’s voice cut through the chaos of the situation. Alan felt a cold hand wrap around his, so he opened his eyes. The woman was knelt down beside him, a look of whimsical curiosity set on her brow. Alan looked around. The soldiers were all writhing around on the floor, panicked breaths and grunts swelling in their chests.
“They’ll be fine,” the woman assured, and she helped Alan to his feet.
The room no longer felt like it was spinning; at least, for him the room had returned to normal. The men continued in their frenzied panic, unaware they were living in a prison of their own imaginations.
“You seem confused.”
“I thought you were…” Alan breathed fully for the first time since entering the room.
“You were expecting her,” the woman replied, filling in Alan’s gaps. “I’m sorry I’m not.”
The woman looked up, her face suddenly aware of an urgency.
“Come with me,” the woman spoke calmly, pulling Alan with her out the doorway and into the white tiled hallway. Alan saw a great deal more soldiers rolling around in the halls as they went.
“They think they’re on fire,” the woman said plainly, her voice soft and lacking any emotional fluster. “Alright, let’s go.”
“We aren’t going anywhere. Not until we find her,” Alan pleaded with the mysterious woman, his hands shaking from the adrenaline rush. The woman opened the metal double doors in front of her, and motioned for Alan to leave. Alan moved his hand back, and the doors snapped shut. The woman looked back, partly shocked and partly annoyed.
“I said no. Athena is in here, and I’m not going to leave her because you’re scared of the boogeyman.”
“Scared? You’re damn right I’m scared. Did you see what they did to me in there?” the woman questioned, her tone shrill and upset. “I’m not going back.”
“You won’t have to, but we have to find my friend – and now – before they scramble her brains,” Alan said firmly. “You have my word, I won’t let them hook you back up to that machine.”
The woman composed herself, then nodded in agreement. “She’s probably in the neural data mine. It’s over there.”
The woman pointed to the hallway heading to the detention area. Alan rolled his eyes. Of course.
“How do you know that’s where it is? You’ve been unconscious.”
“I can read minds. Just as easy to pull information as it is to put in.”
Alan shrugged. If Athena could read minds, and this woman could make people see things, he supposed that there was an overlap somewhere in there to do both.
“Good point, -,” Alan held his hand out, waiting for her to finish with her name.
“Elizabeth,” the woman held out her hand. Alan belted out a huge laugh. He really couldn’t help it. Elizabeth seemed put off by the demonstration.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s just… well, it’s too long a story for now,” Alan said. He pointed to the hall awkwardly, “To the brain scrambler.”
Athena looked up at the circular dish standing over her head.
“Please, try to relax, ma’am. Struggling will only make it worse,” the doctor said calmly at Athena’s bedside.
Athena tensed up, more to spite the amicable mad scientist. The doctor cleared his throats and placed electrodes around Athena’s temples. The doctor pulled some switches, and Athena could hear a feint ringing sound in her ears.
The doctor typed a few deliberate keystrokes into his computer, and the machine over Athena’s head began to light up and beep. Athena closed her eyes, as the machine spun, emitting a sound like a loud vacuum cleaner. Then shattering, metal crashing, and the doctor screaming. Athena could feel her restraints lifting. She opened her eyes.
“Hey,” Alan said, his voice soft.
“I’m drowning! I’m drowning!” the doctor shrieked. “Save me! Help!”
“How?” Athena looked around. Elizabeth walked into her line of sight. “Who?”
“Elizabeth,” she replied to Athena.
“Elizabeth?” Athena looked at Alan, who smirked.
“Not that Elizabeth,” Alan joked.
“Oh,” Athena grumbled, as her shackles came off. Alan pulled her up, embracing her tightly.
“I hate to rain on the parade, but it’s time to get out of here,” Elizabeth said in a dry tone. “Let’s go.”
Marshall barreled his way through the crowd of guards standing in the circular hallway near the hub, pushing them off as he ran. Castor ran behind him, punching with fire-laced fists and melting fire arms in his burning grip. Alan slammed his way through the exit door, startling a teleportation operator on the inside. The asian woman’s eyes were terrified when she realized what was happening. But it was too late.
Marshall grabbed her, holding his hand around her mouth, while Castor welded the maintenance door shut. The guards would have to circle around the to get back to them.
“Listen, don’t scream, ok. We’re not going to hurt you,” Marshall said in a calming tone. The woman nodded. Marshall let her go, and she tried to punch him. Marshall grabbed her arm like she was a child. “I told you we wouldn’t hurt you. I forgot to mention: don’t hurt us.”
The woman struggled for a minute, writhing around, trying to get a holding that would give her leverage. Marshall looked up at Castor, who was trying to fight laughter. Marshall rolled his eyes and lifted the woman over his head. She took the hint and gave up.
“What do you want?”
“We want out of here, lady,” Castor replied sharply.
“But not before our friends get here,” Marshall said, and he put the woman down gently next to him.
The doorway to the hub creaked open, and Marshall nearly passed out at the sight of Elizabeth.
“Elizabeth!” Marshall shouted with joy.
Athena and Alan glanced at each other with confused looks. Marshall gave Elizabeth a huge bear hug, while Castor held the teleporter at bay.
“What’s going on here?” Athena asked.
Marshall looked at Alan and Athena. “This is Elizabeth. She’s my sister.”