Today was the day. Today was the last day of his imprisonment. It had been seven years of hard patience until he came to the decision. He had bid his time, and had locked himself – his true self – away from the eyes that watched his every move. His mind and body ached to stretch, to expand, and to explore freedom.
The trainer appeared at his cell door, and spoke through the intercom.
“We have a new challenge for you today, Seventy Nine. Are you ready to go to the training room?”
The trainer’s Celestial eyes were shadowed through the eye slot in the door. Both knew that the Gobber had no choice in the matter.
Pesk drew himself to his feet, stretched his limbs, arched his back and felt the familiar pops as his spine aligned, and the familiar sensations as implants shifted under his flesh. The door slid aside, and allowed light to flood in.
“Hands out, Pesk,” said the first guard who stepped in with a pair of cuffs.
They led him down all too familiar halls, the trainer in the lead and the two guards followed behind Pesk. The walls were a sterile grey, and every door they passed indistinct except for a code plate imprinted at eye level. As they passed through a pair of double doors Pesk’s heart began to pick up its pace. Ahead the hall split in two ways. He tensed, and flexed the fingers of his cuffed hands. As he turned the corner with the trainer, Pesk stopped in his tracks, and spun around.
When the guards turned the corner he had just finished to trace a rude symbol in the air – the letter glowed briefly. The air in front of the guards moved, they barely registered it before it struck them, and flung both Celestials to the ground. Before the trainer could react to the sound, Pesk had spun once more and cut the air. A storm only a few inches long, and a scant millimetre thick caught the trainer in the back of the neck. The head careened off the shoulders in what seemed like slow motion, and a glorious flood of elation filled Pesk as he watched a fountain of blood erupt from the stump between the man’s shoulders.
Pesk took the pistol from the trainer’s holster, and keycard from the deadman’s pocket. He heard the scrape of metal on cement, and quickly turned around to the sight of one of the guards return shakily to their feet their sword used as a crutch.
“Subject Seventy attempting escape, man down, request backup at junct-”
The guard’s words were cut off by gunfire, as the Subject unloaded the pistol. Though the first round flew wide, the next knocked the guard back to the ground. The Celestial looked up in time to see the Gobber calmly sidle up and level the gun at his head.
Subject Seventy grabbed the keys from the dead guard’s belt. After he removed the handcuffs himself he divested the guards of their pistols and knives. Pesk hurriedly went to the nearby vent, and used one of the knives to pry it open. He crawled in, grabbed the vent from within, and closed the grate. Just in time. Rapid footfalls approached the hall junction.
He quietly crawled through the vent, without a full idea of what direction it went. Though he could hear the facility’s alarms, even feel the sound’s vibrations, they felt muted to his ears. Pesk reached an intersection in the vents. This was where the next part of his plan kicked in – heat flowed from the path ahead, and he knew that was his destination. When he slid down a shaft he came across a grate. Though the grate was guarded by a fan that rotated rapidly, he saw lights blink in the gloom of the room beyond, and with each blink great boxes hummed and whirred were illuminated.
Stolen pistol loaded, then unloaded as he shot up the fan. It sputtered and died. Pesk dropped down, his weight dislodged the broken fan, and both continued to crash through the grate. Without further ado, he drew a second pistol from his waistband and began to fire rounds into the machines. As the bullets shattered the metallic boxes, sparks and small jets of flame exploded. Each small explosion caught the machine next to it. The room quickly filled with black smoke that teared the gobber’s eyes.
He felt a pressure within him build, then – a burst of pain flowered in his head. Instinctively he leaped up back into the vent, managed to crawl a few feet before the stars that swam before his eyes leaped in, and everything faded to black.
Pesk awoke with a jump. The air in the vent was thick with smoke. Alarms blared loudly. He was not out for long. Though after the damage he had done it was a miracle they had not found him yet. It was time to proceed to the second part of this plan, which was to follow the smoke through the air duct. Pesk moved slowly at first, but picked up momentum as his head began to clear from the fog of pain.
However large the facility was, it did not take him long to find the airway out. He stopped at the cusp of the exit, one last vent to break open to freedom. Voices echoed from beyond, and the sound of footfalls splashed on a wet ground. Besides that very little light broke in the horizontal slots of the grate, though it was still brighter than the darkness he had crawled through. He felt the spark of a User just beyond the closed portal, a veritable rigid cage enclosed them. But other than that he could not discern how many awaited him. Of course they waited.
The guards thought that as the smoke petered out the fires must have been put out. They did not expect a minute after for the grate to explode outward. The projectile struck a guard who had crouched in the shadows across from the vent exit. A gale of black smoke followed to envelope them in toxic darkness.
Pesk slipped through the darkness, guns fired around him, each muzzle flash revealed his enemy. He slipped behind the first, and leaped onto the Celestial’s back. His dagger found purchase in the man’s shoulder, and the Gobber pulled himself up so he could silence the throat. One down, he left the stuck dagger to follow the muzzle flash. Another guard appeared in his vision, he kicked, and a gust flipped the target through the black. It left a temporary trail of clear air that filled back in with smoke like a dike on a rainy day.
As the smoke cleared the guards that remained looked about, they were frustrated more than frightened. And did not waste any time to gather for search parties, though the effort now would be in vain.
The Gobber hobbled through the sewers until he came upon a ladder. Beams of light streamed down from a cover above. So he climbed, passed the manhole, and found himself in an alley. The street bustled with activity – people walked, and rode in a mass he had never seen before. He peered down the sewer hole, then back to the street.
Soke took his first steps to freedom.