2011-06-12: Sometimes The Nightmare Is Real


Rashmi_icon.jpg Tabitha_icon.jpg

Summary: Rashmi and Tabitha encounter one another in the park, just after Tabitha's thoughts have been scrambled by Mindbender.

Date: June 12, 2011

Log Title: Sometimes the Nightmare is Real

Rating: PG-13 (L, V)

NYC- Thompson Square Park

//Thompson Square Park is a small park in the middle of Mutant Town. The benches might need a fresh coat of paint, the fence might be rusted in places and the pavement is raised and has cracks but it's all part of the mutant haven and fairly relaxing. Trees and grassy areas are in between the many paths, there are a few structures and benches along the path as well as a special area of the park that is marked 'the dog walk'.

Two trees have been planted in the park as a Memorial to Carmencita Florez and Detective Baxter each with a plaque stating the tree is in their memory. //

Night has fallen, and while Rashmi would be the first to caution someone like herself not to be caught near the parks in New York after dark, Thompson Square is paradoxically one of the safer places for a woman to walk alone. After all, what mugger in their right minds would approach a target who could maybe kill you with a thought, or explode into drippy face-tentacles, or all manner of creatively unpleasant things? The redhead fiddles with a wrapped, half-eaten sandwich, frowning in deep thought. Hoping Vinny took her warning to heart, hoping Connor really is (eventually) okay, hoping a great many things that she just can't know for certain.

The quiet, peaceful stillness of the night is cool and refreshing. Quiet, at least, until it is broken by the high-pitched whine of a motorcycle engine being pushed to its limits. A headlight beam shines into the darkness, and further up the path someone can be heard shrieking and diving out of the way, as a rider on a Kawasaki Ninja tears up the path normally reserved for pedestrians. Tabitha leans on the bike, angling it to avoid the person as she rounds the bend; as the path straightens out she glances furtively over her shoulder, and for just that one moment, isn't watching where she's going.

Few things can grab hold of the attention, be it ever so scattered, of anyone quite like the sound of a vehicle where no vehicle belongs. Especially when the sound is rapidly closing on oneself. Rashmi turns, brow furrowed, then freezes in momentary shock as the Ninja's single headlamp strikes her right in the eyes. Instinct is swiftly taken over by training, and with a startled squeak worthy of Tabitha's physical heritage she hurls herself off the path and out of the motorbike's way, landing hard on her belly and scrabbling further away.

Turning just in time to see someone, or to her currently skewed perceptions, some/thing/ jumping out of the way of her motorcycle, Tabitha does not at these speeds quite put two and two together. She shrieks as well, and tries to correct; she overcompensates, and the Ninja's engine gathers in pitch as the wheels come off the ground, and for the second time today the bike skids across the ground on its side. Tabitha manages to get clear, and skids on her back across the path alongside the bike, until she comes to a complete stop. She lies there, panting, for just a moment; and then she is already rolling over and gathering herself to her feet, groaning loudly with the effort.

Rashmi groans, pushing herself off the ground, checking herself over for injuries worse than the set of scrapes on her arms that *sting* like anything. Finding nothing of immediate concern, she glances over her shoulder, beating the front of her shirt free of dirt, with moderate success. "Are you o—Tabitha?!" Levering herself to her feet, she opens her mouth, presumably to lecture, but hauls herself back. "…Are you okay?" She chooses to ask instead.

"Stay away from me!" Tabitha's voice cracks lie a whip, as she crouches low to the ground like a cornered animal. She glances over her shoulder at her bike, and starts inching towards it. "Just… just stay away! I'm not a pretty girl for you to play with… Don't… Don't touch me!" She sucks in a deep breath, and scrubs at her face with her hands, inching backwards a little further towards the bike, where it lies idling on its side. "I haven't done anything to you. Leave me alone!"

Rashmi holds up her hands, freezing in place and even taking a half-step back. "Tabitha… it's Rashmi. You…. don't look well. Are you feeling all right? You, um… crashed your bike pretty hard… y'know… driving like a maniac, and all… do I need to call an ambulance…?"

Tabitha turns, and makes a swift dash to cover the yard or so between her and her bike. She grabs it, breathing desperately as she tugs it upright; she grunts with the exertion, and perhaps the crash has left her thoroughly sore and bruised, as she seems to be having much more difficulty with it than one might expect. "Just leave me alone!" she shouts, glancing over her shoulder, and then back to her bike. "You aren't my Father, I don't know you! And I don't know what he's done, but I have to fix it, and I can't fix it if you touch me, so just… just stay away."

Rashmi makes no move to close the distance between herself and the rat-girl, eyes growing wide and afraid. "Tabitha… *Patches.* Patches, it's me. I don't know who y—" And realization slams home, draining the color from her face. "…They got to you already, didn't they?"

Tabitha manages to get her bike righted, and is about to straddle the seat, when she abruptly stops, mid-movement. She turns around slowly; her breathing is heavy, and her eyes have a wild look to them, visible by the glow from her headlight reflecting off of lamp posts and garbage cans and things. "What did you say?" She takes a step forwards, and her hands ball up into fists. "What the fuck? What have you done to Rashmi? She better be alright or I'm going to break you in half."

Rashmi blinks sharply, eyes widening further. It would seem her gambit of keep talking and hope she'll pull out of it has backfired, miserably. Taking another half-step back, keeping her hands out in front of her, she begins to clear a suddenly-dry throat. "No no, Patches… I *am* Rashmi. Me. Remember that night, I told you about Nigeria? What happened to me? Remember?"

Tabitha takes a step forwards, and her lips peel back in a grimacing snarl. "Goddamnit Rashmi is the best person I know, you just have no idea, but then you're just a fucked up zombie like all the…" She trails off, and her ears prick up. She turns her head to look down the trail; focusing for a moment on something evident, perhaps, only to her. She backs up again, until her legs touch the bike; there she comes to a halt, with a loud gasp. "Oh, shit," she mumbles, her eyes going wide once more.

Around the corner in the trail two figures come at a dead sprint, the beams from their flashlights waving in the air in front of them. "NYPD!" one of them shouts. "You! You with the bike, stop where you are, you're under arrest!"

The Rat Girl turns, glancing first at Rashmi, and then at the approaching cops. "No!" she shouts back, howling with a voice strained and ragged. "I have to save the world… I have to! Timeslip said so!" She balls her hands into fists, and then… when she opens her mouth to speak again, what comes out is gibberish at best. "Rashmi brain my you're is in bike hurts a danger need zombie and I it can't like have to but too save let have much her to coffee touch me fix wrong!" As she speaks, not less than six glowing spheres appear in the air around her, each spinning in a different, albeit clumsy orbit around her; two of them smash into each other, and a third hammers straight into a lamp post and snaps it off at half mast.

The shouts of the police officers causes Rashmi's attention to break, head whirling toward the lawmen with unadulterated fear in her eyes. Then as the spheres manifest around Tabitha, her course of action is decided. Waving her hands to get the attention of the police, she starts pelting… not toward them directly, as that could be seen as a threat, but certainly in their general direction. "RUN!" she cries to the boys in blue, flailing her hands. "She's a power copier and she under mind control and she doesn't know how to deal with my powers! Get back, officers!"

The two cops seem much more concerned with Tabitha than they do Rashmi, at least for the moment; but when the spheres appear, they halt dead in their tracks, smoothly drawing their firearms and training them on the teenager. "Freeze!" one of them shouts. "Drop the powers, you're under /arrest/!" The other one grabs at his walkie, and speaks into it in a hurried voice, "Unit Four-twenty at Thompson Square Park, we have violent mutant activity, require immediate back up!"

Tabitha, meanwhile, focuses on getting her spheres under control; she's doing well enough with three, but the other three keep careening into things, laying waste to a garbage can, two more lamp posts, and a swath of trees. "Back I Timeslip just leave they've wanted off me told to now hurt buy or alone me performance I'm going parts or I Rashmi have for I'm to hurt my to going have save ninja you to severely smack the to save you world her around DAMNIT!" She plants herself squarely in the path, and then two of the spheres she has neatly orbiting about herself break loose, and pelt through the air, straight at where the cops are standing.

"SHE CAN'T HEAR YOU," Rashmi screams at the cops, skidding to a halt and summoning her own spheres. Power against power, and while this is going to *hurt,* it's also very likely the only way to keep the officers alive; four of her spheres dart out to intercept, two on a head-on collision course, two coming up from below. The effect of a head-on application of force is something the redhead hasn't dealt with in a long time, and it's very likely the best she can expect to come away with is a nosebleed. The spheres, after all, are solid telekinetic energy… they can be cracked, and shattered, and any damage at all feels like an icepick driven directly into the brain. Not to mention the psychic feedback inherent in objects that must be in motion forced to arrest in that motion, however briefly.

The two officers waste no time as the spheres come at them; they both open fire, and their weapons crack like thunder in the night air. Rashmi might feel it when bullets impact against her spheres; Tabitha certainly does, though she feels it even more when her spheres crash into Rashmi's. She shrieks, crumpling to her knees and clutching at her head. No words issue from her mouth this time, as she looks up with a fierce, almost malevolent gleam in her eyes; not to mention blood dripping from her nose and the corner of her mouth. Her spheres retract, and orbit around her once more; four of them quite well, now, though two keep crashing into things, as she walks slowly towards the police.

Said police get an answer on their radio. "Negative backup, Four-twenty," crackles the voice. "SHIELD personel en route, back off and sit tight." The cops do just that; they eject the magazines from their pistols, and reload as they slowly back away, moving up the path the way they came from.

Rashmi stumbles as well, the heel of a hand pressing against her temple, trickles of blood running from her nose. "Officers," she gasps, stumbling toward them and into a puddle of lamplight. "Run… *Please.* I'll hold her off until SHIELD gets here… just… please, go! I'll… I'll be in to make a statement as soon as they get here."

The cops don't need any more encouragement; they recognize Rashmi for who she is, in the brief moments that the lamplight illuminates her, before a glowing sphere annihilates the lamp post. They both turn and run, leaving the field to Rashmi and Tabitha; the latter has stopped advancing, and her spheres are orbiting lazily around her body, though two of them are still clumsy and awkward. "What," she says, uttering a single word, "Have," she continues, pausing against before saying "You," and another pause, gritting her teeth, "Done, with," she says, putting a hand to her temple, "Rashmi!"

Rashmi turns as the police flee the scene, her body lit by the slightly jittery, softly-glowing blue spheres that whirl around her body. "I…" One sphere slams into the pavement, causing a very unique cracking sound; almost like a bowling ball falling on asphalt. "*Am.*" Another sphere cracks against the ground. "RASHMI!" And in a move roughly equivalent to a frustrated girl stamping her foot, the spheres whirl about her rapidly, rising to head-hight, before slamming against the pavement as one. "MINDBENDER'S GOT HOLD OF YOU TABITHA! IT'S *ME!*" …However much good speaking louder will help, but hey, the longer attention is taken away from innocents…

The cops are gone around the corner by now; and Tabitha is busy holding her head with both hands. All six of her spheres go straight out of control, pelting off in all directions and smashing through trees and shrubbery, and leaving deep trenches in the grass in their passing. The rat girl screams wordlessly, and her fingertips tear into her skin as she actually claws at her own face, though fortunately the wounds aren't as deep as they could have been. "So I'm Timeslip that's going told what to me you tear to things you save do, apart the you for world steal what but other you I people's did can powers to only and Rashmi save leave you one them sick person just bastard at about a brain dead time!" Her spheres vanish, and then reappear closer to herself, resuming their former, slow orbit; it's sloppy all around, but now all six are more or less behaving themselves, aside from a park bench, the last remaining inanimate bystander, which is abruptly smashed into toothpicks.

Overhead, the loud thrumming of helicopter blades can be heard, and a spotlight illuminates the scene from above. The helicoper is still some ways out, but is clearly making best possible speed towards the unfolding battle.

The spotlight actually causes Rashmi's shoulders to slump, her entire body sagging groundwards in utter relief. Pulling her phone from her book bag, she punches the SHIELD dispatcher number saved to her speed-dial. "SHIELD dispatch, this is Student Franklin on site with Tabitha Jones," she says, voice weary and sad. "Recommend Agents en route tranquilize from the air, extract once Student Jones is confirmed unconscious. She's got my powers, Dispatch, and I'd strenuously advise against closing while she's conscious. Once debriefed, I'll need coaching on what to tell the police." Closing her eyes, she drops to the ground, sitting with her forearms on her knees, her spheres orbiting above her head at chest-height for the other student. "It's okay, Tabitha, she says, more to herself than to her friend. "Help is on the way."

"Confirmed," comes the clipped reply from the dispatch agent. "Our agents already have the tranq guns ready. Keep calm down there, the agents will look after you once Jones is down and in custody." Tabitha, however, seems to have other ideas. She's busy making a break for her bike, and moves just in time for a pair of darts to stick into the ground, right where she had been standing a moment ago. Her spheres rocket upwards; she isn't watching them, but each is headed in the general direction of the helicopter, while she straddles her bike; since she stood it up it seems to have stalled, and she gets about restarting it. For the first couple of tries it just complains, before finally revving up back to life, just as her spheres reach the half-way point between her and the helicopter.

"Aaaaad there she goes," Rashmi says into her phone, sighing. "If the field Agents haven't been briefed, advise that the spheres have a sixty foot radius of effect. She should still have her phone with her. It's not much, but there's probably a good chance it can lead them to Mindbender and Upgrade."

The rat girl's spheres come to an abrupt halt at sixty feet away from herself, and then slowly retract to hover around her, as she guns the engine of her bike. With a spray of dirt she rockets forwards, popping the front wheel up off the ground for several yards before the Ninja comes back down and she zooms away, up the path and towards the streets. One by one, the spheres around her wink out of existence, as she tears off into the distance; though she periodically brings one back to destroy a streetlight, and then again at the edge of the bark to batter someone's porche out of her way.

The agents in the helicopter, meanwhile, seem to have given up the chase. They come in to land in the field, and two men with tranquilizer guns emerge, swiftly crossing the ground towards Rashmi. "Miss Franklin. Are you hurt?" one of them asks, kneeling beside the student, while the other one keeps a watchful eye.

"Just a little woozy, and I should probably see Angelo, sir," Rashmi says, beginning to lever herself to her feet. "There's neurological backlash when my powers get damaged, sir. Imagine the worst headache you ever had, then imagine worse than that." Dabbing the back of her hand against her nose, she draws in a deep, shuddery breath. "She was under Mindbender's powers, sir; I've never seen it before, but based on their daughter's description of their methods, there's nothing else it could be. She's probably hallucinating, and doesn't know where she really is or what she's really doing."

The agent slings his rifle across his back, and puts his hand on Rashmi's shoulder, to guide her towards the helicopter. "Okay," he replies. "Damnit." He pauses, and nods to one of the agents still in the helicopter. "Alert headquarters that we're on our way back to Barnes. We've got Miss Franklin and she'll need medical attention. Tabitha Jones is at large, under Mindbender's influence, and should be considered extremely dangerous, approach only with caution." The agent pauses, and nods his head. "You did well," he says.

Rashmi closes her eyes, nodding. "Thanks, sir," she murmurs, following the agent's lead. "I just… wish I wasn't starting to get used to this kind of insanity." She shakes her head, slowly, and lets loose a deep breath. "…I hope we can get her out okay… She's been through enough in her life, y'know?"

"We'll get her," the agent replies, albeit in a grim tone of voice. "Don't worry, Miss Franklin. SHIELD isn't about to let Mindbender get away with attacking our students for long." Once everyone is on board the helicopter, it makes best speed back to Barnes; what ensues is several hours worth of medical attention and checks, debriefing, and time spent making a written report; along with the revelation that Tabitha's phone has been found, in a dumpster in Mutant Town. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, Rashmi is at last able to return to the suite, that she shares with Dashenka and, of course, Tabitha.

Rashmi slips her book bag from her shoulder, dropping it on the arm of the couch in the common room… and a few moments later, dropping herself in next to it, head falling into her hands. Why hadn't she warned her suite-mates? The answer, as inevitable as it is devoid of comfort; she was simply too busy, and couldn't account for every last variable. And besides, wasn't Barnes supposed to be even safer than Xavier's, by virtue of being hidden under Ellis Island? Round and round her thoughts go, even as she pushes herself back up and into the dining nook, to seek her tea equipment and kettle.

The suite is quiet; Dashenka is either asleep or busy elsewhere, and Tabitha is, of course, not in evidence. Only the soft hum from the refrigerator makes any sound; and as Rashmi enters the dining nook, there on the table is a box, about eight inches to each side, and wrapped in some particularly cheerful looking pink wrapping paper with blue ribbons. A tag on the side professes it to be intended for one Rashmi Franklin; written in the cute, teenage girlish scrawl that Tabitha is fond of.

Rashmi's heart gives a fresh, knife-sharp squeeze as the handwriting on the box registers; she just did violence to the gift-giver not so many hours ago, a friend who was so far out of her mind she couldn't even make her sentences wait in line under her powers' influence. For a moment, she dithers in place, then, coming to a decision, hefts the box to carry into her room, there to open it. Maybe she can make it a welcome-home present; see what you gave me, given pride-of-place amidst the rest of her decidedly eclectic collection. Plunking down on her bed, she carefully undoes the wrapping, the habit of a lifetime of poverty and Christmases that had to stretch keeping her from damaging the paper beyond the minor white patches left by too-sticky tape.

The box proves to be quite heavy, for its size. The wrapping has been neatly and strategically taped, and so comes off easily; the ribbon likewise, tied with a delicate bow and not a mangled knot. Once past the outer defenses of the gift, opening the cardboard box reveals a small statue of the Taj Mahal, apparently made from steel and polished to a mirror shine. It isn't quite perfect; someone familiar with the real structure will note a couple details that are off, but by and large it looks pretty good. Underneath of it is a card, sealed into its own envelope with a big smiley face drawn on it on one side.

Rashmi blinks sharply as the contents of the box are revealed, a small line forming between her eyebrows as she lifts it out. Biting her lower lip, she traces a finger over the spires, a tear falling down her cheek. Reaching back inside the box, she draws out the envelope, thumbing it open and pulling out the card.

The card is… a fairly typical thank you card, with a silly picture on the front once revealed. Inside is more of the rat girl's hand writing. 'Thank you for making me welcome, and treating me like an ordinary girl', it reads. 'Coming to Barnes was hard at first, but you made it easy. Hope the Taj Mahal wasn't too obvious!'

Rashmi laughs at the last line… or tries to, for somewhere along the line it hits her throat and comes out in a strangled sob. Closing the card, she presses it to her chest, letting out a slow, shuddery breath, and pushes up off the bed. The card is placed on the upper shelf, between the handmade figurine of Aragorn and the birthday card from her Mami and Papi the year before. The model, however, is placed right on her desk, by the wall. Nevermind that it only leaves enough room for her paper to barely fit, in her personal priority list there are few places more important than her desk, and thus that is where the model goes. Placement finished, she falls back onto the bed, trying not to sob into her pillow, and trying harder to calm her whirling thoughts enough for her to find sleep.

~ Fin ~

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