Still Amy/Lucy. ;)
Title: Prometheus Unbound (4/28)
Author: That'd be me. *grins* Andrew, Obsidian, call me what you want. But only if it's nice. ;)
Rating: R (C'mon, it's a sequel to Pantheon. What did you expect? ;) )
Comments: At long last, it's finally here. ^_^ Hopefully you'll like this one as much as you did Pantheon, if not more so. Now, there is going to be a third fandom included this time around, but, as before, I'm not telling you what it is, yet. You'll find out soon enough, don't worry.
Legal Disclaimer: I do not own 'D.E.B.S.', as I am not Angela Robinson. I also don't own 'The Pretender' (which was created by Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W. Van Sickle). Nor do I own
Author's Note: Um... yeah. Wow. This is so late, it's almost cycled all the way back around to early, again. Almost.
Sorry 'bout that.
Time had very little meaning down in the depths of SL-27.
Oh, there were blocks of time set aside for training, true. Specific parts of the day devoted to learning the best methods of infiltration, practicing with all manner of firearms and bladed weapons - occasionally at the same time, which could make for a refreshing change of pace - coming up with new ways of killing one or multiple targets. But in the absence of the sun, and with clocks a rare discovery down there, circadian rhythms were effectively neutralized.
She'd been thinking about it a lot, lately. They were only allowed outside for short periods of time, and always supervised by heavily armed guards. Even that might not have come about except for the fact that if they didn't get any sun at all, they'd be incredibly pale, even moreso then they already were, and would stand out horribly when they were sent out on assignments (tanning beds notwithstanding). Besides, there was only so much room downstairs, and sometimes that just wasn't good enough for training scenarios.
They weren't doing that now, though. Right at that moment, she and the rest of the Pantheon group were in a classroom, divided into sub-groups of four and working on a problem of a different sort.
'Design a metaweapon.'
As horrible as it might sound, she actually enjoyed these kind of 'simulations', as their Handlers called them. It was nice to be able to exercise her mind as well as her body, and this was certainly preferable to another assassination mission.
Still... She was daydreaming a bit, which was a bad idea given that Mr. Raines was one of their 'instructors' this time around, but she couldn't quite help it. She just couldn't stop thinking about the sun. That Amaterasu was in her group wasn't really helping with that. Sitting next to someone named after the Japanese sun goddess didn't exactly inspire her to think about anything else. Kali and Thoth rounded out the group, which meant that she was being periodically kicked in the shin whenever Kali decided she'd zoned out for a bit too long.
She was going to have a wonderfully colorful bruise by that time tomorrow.
As if on cue, she felt another sharp spike of pain in her ankle. Seconds later, however, a growling voice asked, "And just what have you four come up with so far?"
She'd been paying just enough attention to the conversation to know that the answer was something along the lines of 'not a whole hell of a lot'. She didn't think her active participation would have changed that much, but she couldn't just sit there and let the others get in trouble because of her inattention. And none of the other three - not even Kali, despite how much she seemed to delight in Sehkmet's misery - would blame her. That wasn't their way. They were all in this together, after all.
So she blurted out, "The sun."
That caught their attention, and Mr. Raines turned to look at her, just in time to miss Amaterasu's blink of confusion. Thoth and Kali didn't outwardly react, but she knew they were also curious about what, exactly, she was talking about. "Elaborate."
"Well, think about it," she began, while simultaneously trying to figure out where the hell she was going with this. "What is the sun, really, but a massive power source? It provides most of the energy on the planet, in one form or another. Yet, because of the current level of technology, directly harvesting that energy in any kind of usable state is so inefficient that most don't even bother considering it." Yes, great, how does this HELP? "We have better tech, but the problem remains that terrestrial solar cells are hampered by clouds, dust, and nightfall." Even as she spoke, an idea began blossoming. An incredibly audacious idea, true, but that had kind of been what they'd asked for... "The key word there, of course, being 'terrestrial'."
"You're talking about some kind of space-based weapon?" Dr. Mason had been drawn over by their conversation, and it had obviously caught her attention. Cole was seemingly ignoring them and keeping an eye on the other groups, which was just fine by pretty much everyone concerned.
"A satellite." Her idea crystallized into being suddenly and completely, in a way that had previously only ever happened to her when she was drawing. She wasn't about to complain, though. "Orbiting cells could capture the sun’s energy 24 hours a day, nearly every day of the year, after all. Take all that power and focus it into a coherent beam..." She trailed off, looking at Raines to make sure he understood the implications.
He did. "Excellent." None of them actually breathed out any sighs of relief, but she could tell they all wanted to. She certainly did. They'd even gotten praise from Raines, which was about as rare as astatine. "I'll want to see a set of plans as soon as is possible."
She nodded distractedly, her agile mind already turning the problem over, trying to figure out what she was going to need. Raines wandered off, looking... Well, not happy, mainly because his face didn't seem to know how to do 'happy', but not angry.
They'd enjoy it while it lasted.
She looked at Thoth. "One of the first hurdles will obviously be actually gathering the sun's energy. Traditional photovoltaic cells won't quite cut it, not with the level of power we're talking about. Not to mention how easily they could be damaged up there, and how difficult repairing or replacing them would be. A carbon structure - diamonds, for example - might do, but finding enough perfectly sized, perfectly cut diamonds will be... difficult."
"So you're thinking synthetic diamonds instead?" he asked. He'd recently perfected a process for producing artificial diamonds that were fairly indistinguishable from the natural kind, even to some of the experts, so it was no surprise that she was asking him. "Yeah, that could work. How many would we be needing?"
"I'm not sure, yet," she admitted. "That would depend on the size of the weapon. The interior mechanism fairly well dictates that it would have to be cylindrical, and there's no particular reason not to have most of the surface area on the exterior covered with the diamonds. Specially designed power conduits can carry the energy to the focusing lens." She shifted her gaze to Kali. "You can come up with something we can use for that, right?"
Kali nodded, her gaze serious. "I believe so, yes. Orbital station-keeping thrusters will have to be placed in key positions."
"They'll have to be fairly powerful, too, given the mobility something like this will require," Amaterasu mused. They all understood that a weapon that was stuck in geosynchronous orbit would be extremely limited in use - though not as nearly useless as a geostationary orbit would be. "Fuel supply will be a problem. Unless..." Her gaze went distant as she thought. Several seconds later, she brightened and exclaimed, "Electromagnetic propulsion!" She looked at Dr. Mason, who was still standing near them, listening with interest. "May we borrow Typhon? I believe we're on to something, here, but we could really use his input."
Mason thought it over - Sekhmet was reasonably certain she would have immediately agreed had it been up to her alone, as she was the only one of the three 'instructors' who actually gave a damn about them on an individual level - and said, "That sounds reasonable. It would, however, leave Typhon's group one person short."
"I can switch off with him," Amaterasu offered, to Sekhmet's well-hidden dismay. "I'm afraid there isn't much I can contribute to this discussion, anyway."
Given her preference, she would have rather worked with Amaterasu. But she had to admit, Typhon was a much better choice when it came to most things electromagnetic. Once they'd switched off, things proceeded very smoothly, and by the end of the day, they had a working concept and preliminary blueprints.
Sekhmet smiled to herself as they were eventually dismissed. Not too shabby for one day's work, she decided. Not to mention for a... What was that term she'd heard a Sweeper use the other day? Ah, yes. An ass pull. And tomorrow they'd be able to continue work on the design, and see if it would really come together the way she believed it would.
Her smile widened. Just this once, she was going to allow herself to take some pride in one of her accomplishments.
"I think I may throw up," Amy said quietly, still staring at the DVD case for Diamonds Are Forever, clutched tightly in her hands.
Considering that she'd heard Amy threaten someone with disembowelment without so much as batting an eye - and she was pretty sure that she'd meant it - Lucy was understandably alarmed by that statement. "Do you want me to go get a basin or something?" she asked, rubbing Amy's back with one hand.
A brief, humorless smile was aimed in her direction. "Thank you, but no. Give me a minute, and I'll be okay. Not looking forward to telling the others about this, though." She sighed. "Not that there's any way around it. If we can find and stop them before they actually build it, I may even be able to sleep at night. Well, as much as I do now, anyway."
Neither of them mentioned Amy's nightmares very often. Oh, Lucy could usually get her to say at least something about whatever had driven her awake that night, but most of the time she didn't ask, since she knew Amy didn't like talking about it, or dwelling on her past. The ghost of this Prometheus she'd mentioned was going to haunt her like nothing else until it was put to rest, and they both knew it.
"The sooner we get to work, the better, then," Lucy decided, standing up. "Where did we leave your communicator?" Lucy's 'distraction' had taken them through several rooms, and several items of clothing - including Amy's bra - had yet to be retrieved.
The question managed to bring Amy firmly back to the present, which relieved Lucy considerably. "Um... I lost track of it somewhere between the stairs and the main bathroom."
Despite everything, Lucy couldn't help but grin. It took a hell of a lot to make Amy lose track of anything, she knew, especially something job-related.
The communicator turned out to be laying on the rug placed between the tub and toilet. She took a minute to rehang the towels, absently wondering just when they'd knocked them down, then headed back downstairs.
Amy hadn't moved from her position, but the DVD case had been set aside and she'd pulled a cell phone from somewhere and was finishing a text message as Lucy re-entered the room. "So, where was it?" she asked casually, hitting send as she spoke. Her voice and demeanor had returned to normal, thank goodness. If there was one thing Lucy couldn't stand, it was when Amy beat herself up for things she'd been made to do by The Centre.
"Bathroom rug. Who're you texting?" Lucy asked, handing it over. She recognized the phone as a prepaid model that Amy had gotten a few months earlier for communication she didn't want to make through official channels.
"Jarod," Amy replied, slipping the communicator back on her wrist. She'd become so used to it being there over the past four years, it felt odd when she took it off. "If whoever we're after now is attached to The Centre in some way, I expect he'll want to help."
Which made sense, but... "And you really think your bosses would object to that?"
"Maybe not, but..." She bit her lip. "They don't need to know, yet. Maybe it's my rampant paranoia, but... Well, the number of people who knew where we'd sent Sam was very limited. Not counting the staff of the facility - who really didn't know just who and, more importantly, what she was - there was me, a few of the higher-ups in the agency, the president, and possibly two or three of his aides. If I were to officially bring Jarod into this now, every single one of those people would be aware of it. No, I want to have something in reserve. If need be, I can always officially bring him on board later."
Lucy's eyebrows had climbed at her explanation, but she couldn't find anything to argue with. "Hey, I'm the last person you'll ever need to convince about doing something without the government's knowledge." They exchanged grins. "But what about-"
Amy waved her hand, cutting her off. She wasn't worried about being overheard - she routinely made certain that there were no bugs in the house - but she wanted to stop that conversation before it started. "No, not just yet. It's been hard enough for her to move on with her life. I'm pretty sure we can put a stop to this before it gets out of hand, but even that will stir up a lot of memories, and that could easily cancel out whatever progress she's made. She deserves whatever peace she can find."
"So do you," Lucy pointed out.
Amy smiled at her. "Don't sell yourself short. Besides, bringing her in will just escalate the death toll, and we good guys frown on things like that."
"Your bosses still haven't gotten over that whole 'exterminating the Triumvirate' thing quite yet, hmm?" Never mind that Amy had told her to do it... not that she believed Kali had needed much persuasion.
"To say the least. Getting you and Scud cleared was hard enough. Her..." She shook her head. "Admittedly, she's never actually been charged with a single crime, and no one can really prove she's done anything illegal, aside from certain events surrounding the Centre takedown." Her rampage through the DEBS safehouse could hardly have been ignored, after all. "Still, her past is something of an open secret, so it wouldn't really be a good idea - for us or her - to tell her about this."
Lucy smirked. "You might want to focus on the 'not safe for her' part when you brief Raquel on this, because you know what the first thing out of her mouth will be."
Amy smiled ruefully. Oh, yes.
"Hope you don't mind me just barging in on you like this," Amy said apologetically as she sat down on one of the chairs in Sydney's office. It was decorated in tasteful, subdued colors which she found much more relaxing then his predecessor's had been. Doctor Benson's office had always struck her as calculating, coldly designed to appear friendly yet being... off, somehow. It had subconsciously reminded her too much of being in The Centre, frankly.
Which made it rather ironic that she could sit across from someone who had actually worked there, yet feel far more at ease. That, she believed, was because Sydney actually cared about his patients' well-being. The soothing effect was natural, and while he was no doubt aware of it, hadn't deliberately set out to provoke it.
"It's no problem," he assured her. He was wearing one of his customary suits - the Academy's dress code didn't really require that, but it didn't discourage it, either, and he clearly felt comfortable in them - and sitting across from her. That was another difference - Benson had always stayed behind his desk, but Sydney preferred to have his sessions with nothing between him and his patient. "My final appointment for the day isn't for a few hours, yet. What seems to be the trouble?"
Amy randomly dropping in on him wasn't exactly unprecedented. Sometimes she wanted to talk - and there were a few subjects she didn't feel entirely comfortable discussing with Lucy - other times she came to check up on him. Occasionally, she even played a sort of 'Who counsels the counselor?' kind of role, since she knew he had issues of his own, and as a fellow Centre-survivor, she was one of the few who could understand.
This time, though, she'd been wearing the 'Amy the Perfect Score' mask she'd developed during her time as a student at the academy, which she'd mostly stopped using after the truth about her past had come out. Not a good sign, but at least she was acknowledging that there was something wrong.
She gave him a tight smile. "Trouble. Yeah, that would be putting it mildly." She took a deep breath, then began to explain.
As she did, he could feel something tightening in his chest.
Catching sight of his reaction, she paused in her story and looked at him apologetically. "I know. The Centre's gone, so it should be over, right? We should be able to move on." She shook her head. "I knew I'd always be haunted by what went on there, but I was hoping it would be in a less literal fashion. And explaining things to the DEBS... Well, that went about as well as I'd expected."
Reactions had ranged all the way from sympathetic to aghast. She'd understood those, hadn't been bothered by them. It hadn't been until Max had asked what she'd been thinking, leaving a weapon like that in those kind of hands that her patience had begun to strain.
"Give me some credit!" she'd snapped. "I didn't! The plans we came up with were designed so that everything would look fine, individual parts would test perfectly, but it would never work. Everything we could surreptitiously sabotage, we did. Prometheus, my Prometheus, would be more likely to blow itself up then actually do anything."
"Then why are you so worried?" Janet had asked reasonably.
It was a fair question, and only a quiet flurry of Spanish curses from Raquel had kept her from answering immediately. Once she was finished, Amy had nodded and said, "Exactly. Someone abducted Sam, the one person who could figure out how I thought back then, and what I would have done if I'd actually wanted the thing to work. Because I did - I do - know how to fix it."
Kathleen, at the other end of the conference table, had frowned. "What about-" Raquel had smacked her arm, and she'd subsided.
Amy allowed herself the smile she'd had to suppress at the time, when she'd instead added, "The only one crazy enough to actually do so, at least."
She wasn't relaxed, but she was at least a bit less tense then she'd been upon entering the office. "Lucy was right," she told Sydney, still smiling. "Once she understood the problem, the first thing Raquel asked me was if I planned on calling in Nayana. I actually felt kind of bad telling her that no, I didn't. Concern for her physical and emotional well-being was really the only thing that kept her from pressing the issue." She shook her head. Her 'sister' confused her, sometimes. She obviously liked Raquel. Why hide from her? "Presuming we all come through this situation more-or-less intact, I'm going to have to get her back here. I think she needs therapy more then the rest of us put together."
Wisely, Sydney left that one alone. "Amy, this isn't your fault."
She waved his statement off. "Oh, I know that. It's the fault of whoever's behind the thefts."
"But you don't fully believe that, do you?" he asked shrewdly. "Or you wouldn't be here."
She was silent for a long moment, just staring at him. He met her gaze evenly, waiting. Finally, she looked down and quietly said, "I designed it."
"Because you were told to-"
"I created it!" she exploded, looking up with a fierce gaze that almost covered her self-loathing. Almost. "I was happy to work on it! It was... fun!" She shrank in her chair, pulling her legs up onto it and wrapping her arms around them. "I... I always preferred that sort of thing, you know? I mean, yeah, it was something that could potentially be used to cause who knows how many deaths, but that was... abstract. Theoretical. We were only developing ideas, after all. We never actually produced anything. The ideas were what The Centre sold. And if it came down to thinking up ways that lots of people could die versus assassination missions where real people did die..." She trailed off and shook her head. "I could do those. I did them all the time. That doesn't mean I liked it, just that I'd do it if they told me to. It was a job. This was like... a game."
He looked sympathetic, but not pitying. That was good, as she didn't terribly appreciate pity. "No one would think of blaming you for preferring an alternate activity to killing someone."
She winced. "Some of our 'alternate activities' did kill people. Just who do you think they had corrupting Jarod's Simulations?"
Sydney surprised her by nodding. "I will admit, I had suspected as much, once the truth about the Pantheon program came to light."
Well, it wasn't like she'd ever thought him a stupid man. "Prometheus, though..." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I was proud of it."
That was what was cutting at her the most. The pride and joy of her theoretical creations was about to come to fruition. Whatever deaths or injuries that happened as a result of it would be on her head, no matter what Lucy, Sydney, or anyone else said about it.
"So, what are you going to do next?"
"Well, first we need to pin down exactly how someone even found out about Prometheus in the first place," she said, her legs dropping to the floor as she slipped back into Agent Mode. "I went over them carefully, after the fall of The Centre, and there were no files that even mentioned Prometheus, let alone plans for it. So it can't be a rogue government agent. That leaves Centre personnel, and not many who worked there knew about us at all. Fewer still would have known what we'd come up with. Of everyone we captured, I think Mister Parker might be the only one who might have had any idea, and he hasn't had any visitors except his lawyer.
"So I'm going to pay little Merry a visit."
"Well, to what do I owe this pleasure?"
Amy smiled as Miss Parker was lead into the interview room. Orange was not terribly flattering on her, but Amy had seen worse. "And hello to you as well, Meredith," she replied, just to see Parker's face twitch at the use of her given name.
Petty? Her? Nah.
"You know," she remarked casually as the guard made sure Parker was secure before exiting - though she knew he'd be staying right next to the door, ready to charge in at a moment's notice, "it took a bit of work to make sure you ended up here. You were nearly redirected to San Quentin." She raised an eyebrow. "Guess someone thought you were too dangerous to be held here, at first." 'Here' being the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego. It wasn't generally used for long-term incarceration - though there were exceptions - but Parker wasn't actually going to be there long-term.
Not that she knew that, yet.
Amy had been tempted - oh, so very tempted - to look in on some of the other inmates she'd helped put away while she was prison-hopping (contrary to what she'd told Sydney, Parker was actually her last stop, rather then her first; unfortunately, none of the surviving Sweepers or Cleaners had known anything), but there hadn't been time. Which was a pity; she did so love to see Mr. Ryan stewing in his cell. He'd gotten to California before he'd been picked up, which was why he was incarcerated there instead of in Hawaii. The look on his face when she testified at his trial about her part in the sting operation that had caught him had been utterly priceless.
Oh, Jack. Did you really think you were smart enough to get away with it? She may have actually fallen for a criminal in the end, but Lucy was leagues above a petty crook like that.
"I also could have been locked up in Delaware, or any other state that has a federal prison," Parker countered. They weren't being watched - there weren't even any hidden cameras in this particular interview room, nor mics, false mirrors, or any other means of observation. There was nothing beyond a simple metal table - bolted to the ground - and a pair of chairs. It had been set up specifically for government agents to discuss classified or extremely sensitive material with prisoners without risk of being overheard.
Amy had never made use of that particular room before herself - which wasn't to say that she hadn't checked it out thoroughly before the meeting - but she knew that, in most cases, there would be either a guard or another agent in the room. The only reason there wasn't was, well, the agent in question was her. She wouldn't need any help keeping Parker under control if she were blindfolded and Parker was armed. The prison officials didn't even really know who she was, yet it had barely taken any time at all to convince them to stay out.
Sometimes, it was nice having her post-fall of the Centre reputation.
"Or you could have been shot for treason. What's your point?"
Parker visibly took a moment to adjust to that idea - evidently it hadn't occurred to her before, though Amy couldn't imagine why not - then replied, "My point is that you still haven't told me what you're doing here. Somehow, I doubt you just dropped in to chat."
"True." Her feelings about the younger Parker were mixed, at best, and she wasn't about to pretend otherwise. "Two reasons, actually. First..." She leaned forward, eyes narrowed, and Parker's body language all but screamed that she had to fight not to pull back. "I want to know who we missed."
"What do you mean?"
"It's not a difficult question, Merry. Who, in the Centre's command structure, did we not get?"
Parker glared. "First of all, stop calling me that. Secondly, even if I knew what you were talking about, why would I tell you?"
"Because you're not a genocidal lunatic." Amy then proceeded to give her a rough outline of Prometheus. "That's what they've got," she said after she was done. "And they just abducted the one person both capable and willing to tell them just how I would have designed it to fail, and how to correct that. There's only one reason to create a weapon like that: to use it."
Parker looked understandably horrified. Unlike many in the Centre's leadership, she wasn't a sociopath. "Everyone who was in charge of anything Centre-related at the time of all the arrests was taken into custody. Have you already gone over the retired personnel?"
"A lot of them were actually arrested, too," Amy admitted. "And those on whom the statute of limitations are still kept under close supervision. That's why I need to know who we missed?"
"And you thought I'd know? I didn't even know about you," Parker said bitterly.
Haven't quite gotten over Daddy lying to you, I see. "You may not have known what they were doing, but you'd have a better idea of who was working there then I would."
"Well, I don't. If you missed someone, I have no idea who it is."
And she was telling the truth, Amy could tell. She could always tell, but it was even easier with someone she knew. Well, it had been a long shot coming here, but that was only part of the reason for her visit. "Okay. Oh, and Sydney wanted me to pass on his regards while I was here. I'm sure Broots would have felt the same, had he known I was coming to see you."
"...how are they doing in their new jobs?" It was interesting the way she had to force the question out through gritted teeth, as if concern for her surrogate family was warring against her natural reticence to show any weakness or allow herself to care about anyone else (both aspects of the same thing, and both drilled into her by The Centre - Amy knew what that was like all too well), and just barely edging it out.
"Quite well. I'll be sure to tell them you asked." She paused, then casually remarked, "There is one way you could find out for yourself, you know."
Parker was naturally suspicious. "Oh, is there?"
"Yes. I told you there were two reasons for my visit today, remember? Well, the second involved a job offer." She smiled. "Have you ever considered teaching?"
"What did you plan on doing with yourself if your father ever let you quit, then?"
"Well, we are looking for a new instructor for our History of Counter-Intelligence course," Amy told her. "Yes, you'd still be closely watched, but personally, I think it beats staying in jail."
"Your bosses are willing to pardon me... just to teach at your school?" To say Parker was skeptical would be putting it mildly.
"Well, unlike many of your associates, your crimes were relatively minor. Unlawful discharge of firearms, attempted kidnapping... Any injuries or bodies you left behind were generally in self-defense. I even talked it over with Jarod. He seemed to think you'd make a good teacher."
Parker stared at her, speechless.
Okay, she'd made the offer. She also knew all that information at once must have been a bit overwhelming. Time to back off for a while. She stood. "This isn't a limited-time offer. Think it over, and once you've made a decision either way, get back to me." She left without another word, feeling confident she'd be hearing from little Merry before too long.
It wasn't nearly as bad as being a prisoner of The Centre, but by now she no doubt shared Amy's feeling that anything was better then being locked up.
So, in one respect, at least, her trip hadn't been wasted. Yet, they still had no idea who was behind the theft of Prometheus, and as of right then, were fresh out of leads.
Something had to change. Soon.
Before it was too late.
Did I mention I was sorry this was so late?
Next Time - The DEBS learn that a critical component of the superweapon's controller is still hidden, and that recovering it before the bad guys do will take some creativity.