Cassandra: Chance encounters
When: Just after the Captains briefing
Sitting at a table outside a coffee shop near the bottom end of the Promenade, Cassandra glumly poked the froth on top of her coffee with a teaspoon before tossing the utensil down onto the saucer to pull a pack of cigs out
She had been off these things for weeks, but with the recent stress she had been under, coupled with the loss and boredom she was currently feeling, her willpower had finally crumpled and she had bought a fresh pack when she had bought her coffee
Stripping away the cellophane wrapper, Cass tore her way into the pack and absently shook a cig out, slipping it between her lips as she gazed silently out over the promenade
The area that had contained the old red light zone had been reconstructed after the Hymenoptera attack had completely destroyed it a few months back, but even so, many of the 'businesses' that had been there had yet to reopen, given that so many of the former staff, employees and owners alike, had been killed during the atrocity
Cass sparked the cig up and exhaled, savouring the hit of nicotine and lighter petrol as she settled back into her chair, enjoying the buzz
The area was so quiet she marvelled, idly flicking ash onto the floor as she gazed around
Perhaps, she reflected, she shouldn't be here given that personnel working in more remote areas had been experiencing troubles with loyalist JMC factions, but while she had wandered here partly out of boredom and more out of habit, this was the Promenade - and even in her over-cautious estimation, there shouldn't be any trouble around here
She cursed herself a few moments later for even thinking the thought when she spotted LaChance in the distance striding down the Promenade in her direction
Cass hunkered further down into her chair and even pulled a pair of sunglasses out of her jacket to slip on, in the outside hope that she might not be noticed, but it was no good: Rosette had spotted her and was making a bee-line towards her
"Cassandra Jones" Rosette drawled, looking down her nose at Cass as she finally came to a halt, hands resting on her hips, her displeasure evident in her voice
Several possible responses ranging from physical assault to a simple "Smeg off" raced through Cassandra's mind, none of which would do anything to improve relations with this god-awful murdering bitch, or improve her own immediate chances of surviving this encounter; so instead she slipped her sunglasses up into her hair like an Alice band and squinted up at Rosette
"Yes?" she asked
"Now, I know you're probably thinking I'm the last person you want to see right now, and I'm sure you know that I'm thinking the same about you. But..." Rosette began, sitting on the opposite side of the small table to her.
"But as chief of security, I have to do things properly and professionally." She continued, and although Cassandra wasn't saying anything in response, she was pretty sure she knew what profanities she wanted to spew in her general direction.
"Davie was never under our command. He's been acting entirely on his own. We saw the footage proving that it was him, and we've checked it for modification. I'm sure you'd agree that if our roles were switched, you wouldn't really trust me either."
Cass opened her mouth to speak, but Rosette interrupted her before she was even able to make a sound.
"But for ship security, I am now adding him to the crew roster, and I am going to assure you that if something like this happens again, I will deal with it properly."
It was obvious from the way Rosette was sat that she didn't exactly trust Cass. She had a hand relatively near the gun on her belt, and was watching Cass' hands intently. There was no denying that anyone watching them could tell they would be at each other's throats under other circumstances - most of the reasons for them not revolved around the fact that Cass had been granted immunity by the Queen, and that Rosette would quite easily win the fight anyway.
"Still, I want to assure you that I'm not going to try and kill you. Even though you tried to kill Rufus."
"'Tried' to kill him?" Cass narrowed her eyes "I thought I did...?"
"No..." Rosette began, not liking the direction the conversation was heading "He's alive; no thanks to you, that is. I'm not sure how, but he managed to cheat the death you planned for him with that little explosive collar of yours"
"Oh, well that's just great!" Cass spat, throwing her hands up in the air
"You get your boyfriend back" she continued, leaning forward to forcefully grind her cig out in the ashtray and immediately relight another "And Fifi's still dead! Smegging wonderful!"
"...Is that all it's about for you?" Rosette asked, somewhat shocked "You detonated that collar because I killed Castillo!?"
"Damn right!" Cassandra snapped "I may have been coerced, but she was still my smegging girlfriend in the end!"
"But she wasn't even human!" Rosette protested in disbelief
"Human enough for me!" Cass retorted bitterly "How would you like to see Rufus shot in the smegging face? An eye for an eye sweetheart!"
She slumped back into her chair, unwilling to meet Rosette's eye as she drew furiously on her cigarette
"Rufus is more human than Castillo will ever be" Rosette snapped "There are hundreds of her out there, each one probably just as screwed up as y-" she began, stopping herself. "the last."
"You were about to say 'you' weren't you?" Cass asked, just as bitter as the cigarette that was in her mouth.
"So what If I was? Castillo didn't like anyone; she was created in a lab to mess people up. SHE TRIED TO DESTROY A PLANET!" Rosette roared, standing up. "I shouldn't have bothered."
"Well nobody's perfect" Cass snapped back, angrily "But while you're off screwing your lover, don't forget you killed mine"
Just as Rosette took her first step, there was a clunk near her feet.
Instinctively, she yelled "GET DOWN!" and threw herself to the ground as well.
A detonation of heat and light hit them both.
Rosette's Space Corps training meant she still had her eyesight, but Cass took the brunt of it, having only had enough time to turn around. Rosette slowly got to her feet, fighting the will to fall unconscious. She could see Cass lying on the floor, but couldn't hear or feel a thing.
Soon, she felt a sharp pain in her side, and looked down for long enough to see two darts sticking out of her, before collapsing.
"NO!" Rosette yelled. She was standing in the garden of her house on Earth. A massive manor, with grounds so pristine you could play lawn bowls on them. Above her, a wisp of smoke escaped the windows at the top floor of the house. An explosion ripped those same windows from their frames, and sprayed the grounds with shards of glass, including Rosette. She could hear the vehicles at the front of the building racing away, their powerful engines not being quiet in the least.
She knew her parents were inside. She'd heard one of them get shot as she was running. The intense heat from the flames in front of her forced her back.
Rosette spun around. The lawn was empty. The flames roared above most other noises.
"Wake up you stupid cow!"
She spun around again. "Who's there?" she asked, yelling. Then she coughed loudly, and felt like she was choking.
"Smeg's sake" Cass whined, sounding close to tears "wake UP!"
There was the sound of splashing of water and Rosette jerked awake, awareness returning with ghastly clarity as she took in her surroundings. She coughed again as the 'water' for want of a better word, tried to choke her.
"Thank smeg" Cass whispered
The stench hit Rosette first, nearly making her retch as she glanced around her surroundings, her eyes widening in surprise and horror as she began to absorb her situation; she was handcuffed, standing hip deep in watery effluent, her arms pulled out behind her, hands tethered painfully around a large pipe. Her head had been dangling at the water level.
Cassandra, her thin face pale, even in the gloomy illumination cast by the single dim overhead light, was similarly bound, some three or so metres away on the opposite wall of the small chamber that they found themselves in
Sewage, or whatever the murky water was that that they were stood in (Rosette didn't like to think too much about it, as she wiped it from her chin on her shoulder), flowed slowly through the chamber, in and out of two low tunnels in the other two walls
"Hello sleepy head" Cass croaked with a weak smile "We're in the shit."
"Where the hell are we?" Rosette asked, experimentally flexing her arms against the bonds securing her hands "The sewage system?"
"Yeah, best as I can guess" Cass replied "I think we were hit by JMC loyalists; a dream catch for them: You the chief of security, and me with my... skills"
She coughed and winced
"What's with you?" Rosette enquired, feeling a strange mixture of schadenfreude tinged with only a hint of concern "You injured?"
"Yeah" Cass replied uncomfortably "I think I caught the brunt of the stun grenade; my back hurts like hell and I feel like shit... burning up. I'm sure standing in this all crap isn't smegging helping"
"Huh, shit..." Rosette started, trailing off as an appreciation of how unpleasant Cassandra's situation must be, given the toxic soup of micro-organisms they were standing in
"Yeah" Cass agreed "Shit. You owe me one, by the way - for shielding you from most of that blast"
She flashed a mirthless, pained grin, which was punctuated by a loud clanking crash and the water level began to fall perceptibly
"What's..." Cass started
"Quiet!" Rosette snapped above the noise "Company..."
"I was going to say 'What's our plan?'" Cass hissed, trying to keep her voice quiet enough not to be heard by the owners of the approaching feet that were splashing through the remaining thirty or so centimetres of water
"I..." Rosette started, but was unable to finish whatever it was that she was about to say, as she was interrupted by the arrival of a massive man entering the chamber, flanked by two gun toting lackeys
Cassandra smiled weakly as Rosette in turn frowned, recognising one of the lackeys as a member of her own security staff
"Scyther unit two twenty one" Cass grunted, shifting uncomfortably as she acknowledged the big man "What a pleasant surprise seeing you here; I thought you and your cohorts had all been expelled?"
"Ah, Jones!" the man smiled wickedly "Not so grand now, eh? We didn't know you had access to the Queen, otherwise we'd have made use of you much earlier!"
He strolled over and cupped Cass' chin in one hand, lifting her head to gaze into her eyes
"You don't look so good though" he rumbled "Reckon you won't last the night..."
"Early stages of sepsis" Cass mumbled, her jaw struggling against a grip that could crush bricks
"Good" the Scyther smiled again "Give me Holly's access codes, and the appropriate medication's yours; after that you can deliver me the Queen"
"Ok" Cass agreed "Let me out of here and get me the medicine; you can have everything ...me as well if you like - I... I've seen you looking"
Unit two twenty one threw his head back and laughed
"You're not desperate enough not to double cross me yet, you little snake" he smirked as he increased the pressure exerted by his hand under Cassandra's chin, lifting her head painfully upwards "I don't trust you in the slightest"
"Tell you what" he continued, raising his voice above the small pained noises Cass was making "You'll give me what I want first, and after that, we'll see eh?"
He let her head fall and turned away to treat Rosette to his attentions
"Now, I know you. You're even less likely to break than she is. But we have our ways." U221 said with another grin. He pulled his arm back, which Rosette knew the reason for. Before he could swing for her, she kicked up, spraying the Scyther with sewage water, and kicking him in the groin at the same time.
"Come back in a month when I'm nearly dead." She spat, literally adding to the sewage.
"You won't say that when we've got Rufus in here too." U221 retorted, continuing the swing, catching her in the stomach.
"You won't be able to get anything from her... if she dies of an infection." Rosette said, breathing painfully.
"Oh, we'll see." U221 laughed, before leaving the room.
The clanging crashes echoed around the chamber once more and the murky water began flooding back into the room
"Well that went well" Cass sneered, shivering uncontrollably as the foetid, filth inched back up their legs
"Huh" Rosette snorted archly "I thought it was a bit pitiful offering yourself like that"
"It was worth a try" Cass sighed, continuing to shiver "Although, I think he's right about me maybe not lasting the night"
Rosette pulled a non-committal face and they lapsed into a silence punctuated only by Cassandra's occasional feverish moans
"...Sorry about trying to kill Rufus" Cass said eventually, in a small voice
"What!?" Rosette snapped out of her silent reverie
"I never intended to do it" Cass continued "...that collar was only meant to be for insurance; personally I can't believe Fifi even went along with the meeting - I'd have just waited until you were all in there and nerve gassed the entire bay..."
"Aw shit" she moaned, shifting her weight slightly, trying to get comfortable "I feel smegging awful. Talk to me...? I could do with something to distract me from this..."
"Talk to you about what? We've obviously got nothing in common. You know as well as I do that we'd never have even met if you hadn't been trying to take over." Rosette shot back, almost happy to let her die. "Besides, we can get out of this." Rosette said, looking up.
"Oh?" Cass winced
"Back on Earth, I had to break out of something like this once." Rosette said.
Looking over at Cass in so much pain should have made her feel great, but it didn't. Cursing her conscience for being so conscience-like, she continued.
"They'd seen me coming. It was about a year after my house got destroyed..."
"Get back here!" called a deep, booming voice. It was a huge man with many muscles. He didn't look particularly fast though, which is how Rosette was able to get away without getting hurt. While she was by no means strong, she had two knives, and the speed of mind that comes with youth.
"You'll have to catch me first!" she called back, taunting him. She darted into a warehouse, and closed the door behind her, hoping he'd get confused thinking about which way she had gone.
Rosette turned and leaned against the wall, after running away for so long, she needed a moment to rest, and figure out what was coming next.
"Gotcha." She heard as soon as she had finished resting. A burlap sack covered her view, and she could feel two men pushing and pulling her towards somewhere. There wasn't much she could do to get away, since they were holding her hands, and she couldn't see. For all she knew, the moment she got rid of them, there were 5 others nearby ready to shoot her.
"Where are you taking me? Why haven't you just shot me already?" she asked. The year of trying to get revenge on the gang that had killed her parents and destroyed the house had made her much tougher than the average teenager. Admittedly it wasn't long before she wasn't a teenager anymore, but still.
Before too long, she felt herself falling. Followed by a splash. Being tied by chains to a pipe or other metal bar, she was obviously not able to do much fighting right now.
"You can stay here until the Boss decides what to do to you." The large men said, laughing as they walked away.
The fall and metal pipe she was attached to was at least enough to get the sack off of her head.
"What the smeg are you going on about?" Cass groaned "Consciousness got a little hazy there; did I just pass out? You were captured and imprisoned somewhere like here, right? How did you escape? Can you escape from here, and why haven't you done so already?"
"Because there's no point until the guards have given up on us." Rosette replied. "They're still watching for a while. I bet their boss is deciding. Give it a bit longer, and we'll get out soon."
"Smegging hell, don't hurry on my account..." Cass sneered "With that kind of logical insight at your disposal, you should be a hostage negotiator or something"
It was obvious from the metal grille above her head that it wasn't locked down. The chains she was bound with were obviously deemed to be enough. A speculative pull at them told her the chain wasn't going to snap any time soon, and she couldn't wait for the water to rust them away. She pulled at the pipe using the chains as a metal garrotte on the throat of the water system. Sure enough, it moved.
Given enough time, the pipe broke free from its housing. Sure, Rosette's wrists were now cut something horrible, but it was all worth it in the end, since the water pipe she'd broken started filling the chamber even more, lifting her slowly up towards the grille. Hopefully the men that had thrown her in here had gone already, but it was a risk she had to take. As the grille rose enough to get a hand through, she pulled herself up, having a grand old time of hooking the chains between her hands to the mounts on the floor of the warehouse.
"Smegging hell" Cass moaned "Tell me they haven't really been dumb enough to put us in a place with an access grille above us, have they? We could even shout for help!"
She gave a fevered, mirthless chuckle and raised her voice "Help! Help!"
"Oh, smegging shut up!" Rosette roared back "I'm trying to think of how to get you out too, ok?! I can get myself out easily, but I have no idea how to get you out too."
"Thank god for small mercy's" Cass snapped "Why would you want to get me out? Thought you hated me?"
"Maybe I do, but I can't just leave you here, can I? And besides, they've got a maglock on the door, and I have no idea how to crack those. If I can get you out of this bit, the least you could do is get us out of that bit."
"Ha!" Cass laughed, immediately regretting the outburst of hilarity and wincing in pain "You mean you don't have security overrides? You're either too smegging nice or too smegging dumb to be chief of security"
Rosette shot her a furiously black look
"Do you really wanna try me?" she snarled "See how nice I really am?"
"Ok, Ok" Cass smiled "That was unfair, and besides: You'll kick my arse; but, maglocks? Piece of piss. Everything's easy."
They lapsed into silence for a while, Cass eventually drifting into a fevered dream
<ooc>This was a join post between SMAndy and myself. Apologies for length etc. </ooc>