2011-01-27: The Worst Part Of Waking Up



Special Guest: Nero

Summary: Rashmi awakes after being captured, and is forced to make an unthinkable decision.

Date: Thursday, January 27, 2011. 9:46am.

Log Title: The Worst Part of Waking Up

Rating: R (Note: Contains intense graphic violence, and undescribed nudity)

Africa - Nero's Camp - Rashmi's Cell

Only one window allows light in. It's small and near the ceiling. Not much is here for comfort. A cold concrete floor, with a mat much too thin to be comfortable. it's dirty, pieces of hay are in the corner, used to absorb any bodily fluids that are spilled here during torture. The door is heavy, wooden and solid, the brown stucco walls giving little comfort.

The pistol whip was the last thing Rashmi saw from a while. The night has passed her by, and the morning has come. The cell Rashmi is in differs from what Travis found himself in when he awoke. The window is small, allowing light through, but much to small for a person to fit through. It is a bit cooler as well, though still a good eighty-five degrees. Her armor is gone, both layers. Prisoners don't get the luxury of body armor. In fact, it would appear that Rashmi is not entitled to a replacement set of clothes, even. What she had underneath her Barnes uniform is all that she has left in her possession. The rest was stripped from her while she slept.
A simple mat is all that is in the room, and there is one new piece of clothing she's been given to wear. A steel collar of some sort is fastened around her throat. It's not only steel, but whatever other properties can't be seen without a mirror. It might be clear soon, though, her powers remain inhibited. There are no bars on the door, nor carpet in the room, a simple concrete base and a heavy wooden door are the only welcoming committee she receives to wake up to.

Rashmi stirs once, her rise to wakefulness a sluggish, leaden journey, eyes cracking open as a mumbled, half-coherent question tumbles from her lips. For a moment, she floats in the half-worried haze of broken thoughts and uncertain concerns, when it all slams together, her eyes snapping open and her body lurching to sit upright. She was captured. She was taken prisoner by Nero's men. She was — she pauses, looking down at her barely clothed form, a sick crawling dread forming in the back of her mind — stripped, and locked in this room… Here she swallows, pausing for a moment as a hand comes up to touch the collar around her neck, eyes slowly widening.

Sounds can be heard from the other side of the door. Two men are talking. Their voices are muffled, it's hard to tell what they are saying, but even if they weren't, the language isn't English. It would appear that nothing vile happened to the girl while she slept, at least. Nor does it appear that the people on the other side of the door are aware of her waking. If she remains quiet, she may be left alone longer, who knows?

Rashmi slowly creeps backward, feet sliding on the floor of the cell in vain effort to find purchase, until her back presses up against the wall. Drawing in a deep, shuddery breath, she pulls her legs up, feet crossing at the ankles, arms wrapped around her legs. Resting her chin on one knee, she closes her eyes, her relentlessly active mind awhirl with guesses, possibilities, gambits, and beneath it all in an attempt to find a rock in the midst of this storm, urgent, fervent prayer.

It feels like it must be hours before there is any sign of someone interacting with the door. A window slides open, with two dark eyes peering into it, looking straight at the Hindi girl. It slaps shut again abruptly, and the door opens. Two men walk in, each wearing military looking clothes. Men might be a loose approximation. One of them looks to be about Rashmi's age, and the other can't be older than about fourteen. The younger looks Rashmi over, interested in anything but her face. He asks a question of the older, who gives him a rough smack across the back of the head, followed by a scolding. He orders him out of the room, and the boy scampers out, leaving the door open only a crack. Of course, there is a strong looking man still between her and the door, and he has a pistol. It's not in his hand, rather on his hip, but he doesn't look as if he's lacking preparedness. He stares down Rashmi, not speaking, not moving.

Given all she'd been told about Nero's soldiers, the packaged-meat leer was expected; hence her current posture, revealing nothing of interest to the male gaze except what can be inferred. As the door closes again, her eyes open, gaze alighting first on the pistol, then the hands near it, then finally up at the Nigerian's face. For a long, long moment, she stares into his eyes from between her mussed bangs, the wide arch of one eyebrow rising as though in question.

Nothing is offered to Rashmi to explain the man's stare. He doesn't look over her body, though. This one is staring straight into her eyes. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. This is one soul you don't want to mess with. He looks as if he would kill a person as casually as a fly.
A few minutes pass, and the door opens again. A husky man enters, a scar down the left side of his face. The boy is behind him. His presence is every bit as subtle as Magneto's. There's a certain aura about him that just exudes power. The way he stands, the way he walks, the way he looks. After regarding Rashmi for an uncomfortably long moment, he looks at the taller man, and then shifts his head to the younger teen. He barks something, and the boy quickly puts his rifle down, and begins taking off his shirt.
The larger man takes the shirt from the young teen, who's chest looks scarred almost as badly as Hosea's is. He casually strolls up to Rashmi, and extends the shirt as if it were a flower. "You must excuse my men," he says. "They are not familiar with American customs. Ignorant dogs. You see, many women in Africa do not cover themselves in the same way that American women do."

Rashmi's eyebrow raises slightly higher at the new arrival, whom she assumes must be the oft-discussed Nero. Ducking her head to press her chin against one knee, she clears her throat. "…I've noticed. You'd think that would mean it wouldn't be a big deal, though." No move is made to take the shirt… almost as though the redhead doesn't fully *trust* the megalomaniacal warlord standing before her.

When no motion to take the shirt is shown, Nero tosses it back at the boy, still bending over closer to Rashmi's eye level. "Stand up," the deep and forceful voice says. His voice remains mellow, but the tone does not leave room for argument. Nero himself stands back to his full height, and waits for Rashmi to comply with his order.

Rashmi flinches at the order, wincing internally; it was bound to happen, after all, no point in belaboring the point now. Slowly, she creeps her way up the wall, eyes locked on the pitiless darkness within Nero's eyes. As she rises more fully, movements are made to attempt to protect her modesty, her discomfort and fear painfully apparent, for all the good it does, but she manages to keep her voice mostly level. "You know what a mistake you made, right…?"

The tall man behind Nero seems rather disappointed when Rashmi speaks, and digs into his pocket. He pulls out a bill, some amount of money that isn't clear, and Nero holds his hand out without looking. The money is put in Nero's hand, who pockets it. Somebody just lost a bet. Nero smiles. "Americans, so eager to look brave. You are not brave, though, are you?" he asks. He takes a single step closer to Rashmi. "Da mistake I made? Yes, I should not have killed the six-armed man. Liam, correct?" Nero smiles as if the news wasn't tragic. "He could have been vedy useful to me alive. But you see, he just would not co-operate. He was very stubborn. Are you very stubborn?"

Rashmi's breath catches, and as she presses back against the wall, it's clear that for a moment she believes it's true. But, one corner of her mind nudges a heartbeat later, whose word do you have to go by? "…I could be," she murmurs, cheeks flushing, and she clears her throat. "If it's worth it to be. I… don't believe you, though."

A small smile creeps across Nero's face, and he laughs. "You do not have to believe me," he says. "It makes little difference to me. The only thing that matters to me is that you do exactly what I tell you to. If you obey me, you will live. If you disobey me, you will die." He reaches a hand out, moving it to Rashmi's hair, intending to gently stroke through it. "Do you know who I am?"

Rashmi can't keep herself from pulling her head to one side, hands clenching and unclenching. "…Nero," she answers. "You're Nero."

Nero nods, and his hand doesn't continue past her hair, rather it retracts. "You are smart, too," he tells her. "Not very smart, I think. You came to infiltrate my base with your friends. It is not a job for a woman. Tell me, what were the names of the men with you?" It is a rather direct question. The warlord sees no need to be subtle in the questioning.

"Hosea, you know," Rashmi answers, clearing her throat, her brain whirling chaotically. While the collar may be dampening her powers, the physiology is a different story, and without the forced faux-meditation of controlling her spheres, her mind is firing on every cylinder it can muster. "…Barnes, the other."

"I see," Nero says. "So the son of Ikbuku has returned," Nero muses. "He should have stayed in America. I was content to let him escape, now that I have so many more of his people here. But I will not make that mistake again." He paces slowly to one side of Rashmi, letting his eyes shamelessly examine her like a piece of meat. "Most men in Africa do not like da skinny American girls," he informs her. "Dey think it makes a girl ugly. I have many American television shows, though. I think dat American girls are quite pretty. I can appreciate you." There is a slight pause. "You will be my wife."

Here Rashmi pales, for knowing this was coming does nothing to allay the gut-wrenching reality, and she swallows once, sliding back away from him, along the wall. "No… I don't think I want to."

"You are a woman. You are not in America any longer, where they let women do terrible things, like be soldiers. Your country is barbaric." Nero's tone is abrupt, and quite a bit less gentle than it has been so far. Funny that he would call America barbaric, considering who he is. "Would you rather be a soldier? I can arrange that." He snaps his fingers, and the younger teen rushes out of the room. "We can see if you have what it takes to be a soldier instead of a wife, hmm?"

"I would rather be home," Rashmi says quietly. "I would rather that you set the prisoners be free." She takes in a deep breath, and another, than pushes off the wall, standing straight. "Sir… I would very much rather you see reason, before something happens that you can't undo."

"See reason? I rule this land. Every man here will do anything I command of them. They have killed their own parents. They have killed their children. They will serve me no matter what." Sounds like there are many irretractable things Nero has already done. "You are home now. You could be my wife, but because you desire not, then I will see if you can be a good soldier. That is your choice to make. Wife, or soldier. You do not give me conditions."

"But if you hurt me, sir, and hurt my friends…" Rashmi shakes her head, sucking in another steadying breath and looking Nero in the eyes. "Then I promise you, you will not rule this land for long. Maybe it seemed like a good idea to take us prisoner… but it's not. It really, *really* isn't. And the only way out, is to let us all walk away."

Nero is not impressed, and he's not amused. A hand comes back, and he swings it freely at Rashmi's face. "You will not threaten me!" he roars. "Many of your friends were captured today. You are running out of allies. Who will stop us? Abraham? He is a coward, and relies only on his God. What can his God do to rescue him from my hand?" He brings up a fist and shakes it vigorously.
Outside the door, the boy returns, and seems to be lining several prisoners in the hall. Two of them are led in. A woman, nearly naked, completely terrified, and a man, clutching to her hand. He wears little more, but neither is concerned about their garments.

The blow is a strong one, causing Rashmi to stumble away, a hand rising to her face. For a moment, she stays like that, bent over, one hand shakily wiping at a split lip. "I'm not threatening you, sir," she replies, voice shaky, straightening with an effort. "I just know that we didn't come from Abraham's village… And neither do the people who would come after us."

"I have an army!" Nero laughs. "I have mutants who will fight for me. They have great power. No one will stop me. You try to take my confidence, but you only take my patience. What shall I call you?" he asks. "So that these two may know their killer's name." He indicates back at the prisoners standing in the room with them.

Rashmi's mouth tightens in a thin line, shaking her head as she looks from man to woman. "I won't kill them, Nero. I'm not *your* soldier." Not once has she raised her voice, and while there is fear, her tone has always been that of quiet, regretful fact. It is a truth that she won't kill them, just as it's truth that holding them hostage is a bad idea, and truth that it will get very, very bad for Nero in the near future.

"Ah, so now you will be a wife instead!" The warlord is clearly taunting. "Yes you will," Nero answers her. He isn't won over by her tone, it only seems to assert his power by her reserved position. "You have only one choice left. Both of them were taken by my men from Abraham's village. Some time ago, what…" he looks back at the taller man. "Two weeks ago? It does not matter. One of them will be released, and the other will die. If you do not choose one to live, they will both die." The taller soldier unholsters his pistol. "Soldier, point for me, tell me who will die. You have three seconds."

Rashmi looks from man, to woman, eyes wide as the reality hits home. This is not a typical supervillain to out-talk or bully into mistakes. Foiling him, or even keeping him off balance will require a much more… carefree attitude toward her own existence. Thus it is, that she pushes away from the wall, using the three seconds allotted to stride toward the two captives, glaring at the tall soldier and raising a finger… to point at herself.

The soldier glances to Nero, who gives him what he needs. "You were not one of da choices," Nero answers plainly. The attempted self-sacrifice is not even given a noble nod for the altruism. It isn't a value Nero holds in high regard. One bullet, and then another, to the back of each of their heads. Their bodies fall lifelessly to the ground without so much as a cry.

There isn't even time given to mourn the dead, as Nero gives a summoning wave to the boy in the hall. Two more are brought in. "You will try again." The monster isn't satisfied with the last outcome.

"ENOUGH!" Pushed beyond the breaking point, Rashmi reaches deep within herself to find the strength that has allowed her to survive, time and time again, eyes furious as she wheels on Nero. "You think this makes you a big man?! You think you're strong because you can tell people to do your killing for you?! You're *nothing!* You're *useless!*"

Nero's expression has gone cold, giving no emotional response to Rashmi. "One… Two…" The two people before her now are both women, one of them about sixteen, and looks like she has been badly beaten. The other most likely in her late thirties, equally abused. The tall soldier holds his gun, waiting for the target.

Rashmi's eyes narrow in response, something very like hate rising behind her eyes, teeth clenched. "You are *weak,*" she snarls, "and *nobody will care* when you go away. Just one more madman who died like he lived. *Useless* and *bloody.* And if you don't even have the balls to shoot me instead of them, then you're *screwed* when they come back to get us out."

The women both cry, and there is a double crack of the pistol again, and their bodies fall forward on top of the others. "Last try," Nero says, seemingly unaffected by Rashmi's rant. "Or will you have them all die?" A man and a young girl are led into the room, and it seems the hall is empty. "Rashmi!" The little girl is familiar. She is one of the two who were playing with Rashmi's hair as she discussed how to get Travis back with the others. She must've been caught just today.
"You know this one?" Nero asks. "It should make your choice easy… Rashmi." There is a certain smug look on his face. As twisted as the exercise is, Nero's sick mind seems to actually enjoy watching the death, enjoys watching her futile insults. The other prisoner attempts to lock eyes with Rashmi, a silent understanding that he believes he must be the one to die. It would appear that there is at least one prisoner in this camp who hasn't been broken by Nero and his men. He gives her a solemn nod.
Rashmi's breath hitches in her chest, eyes flicking from Nero to soldier to child to man, and her anger cracks, ground under the sheer futility of this exercise. Tears fall from her face, her lower lip bitten hard enough to draw blood. "…I'm so sorry," she whispers desperately a shaking hand rising to point at the older man.

The man falls to the ground. The taller soldier added his own sickness to the event, showing the infection of depravity in this place. The bullet passed through his chest, and he collapses face first onto the pile of the dead. He gasps for air, blood coughing up from his throat. The young girl leaps upon Rashmi, screaming at the sound and sight of the man who fell next to her. Nero nor his men restrict her.
"You see, women make terrible soldiers," Nero observes. "Now, you will do what I say, and you will not speak back to me, do you understand?" The warlord doesn't feel the need to give a specific threat of consequence.

Rashmi gathers the girl up in her arms, falling to her knees and petting the child's hair, trying desperately to manage some measure of comfort for her in this hellhole, whether or not there'll be any for herself. At Nero's question, the redhead looks up, eyes furious, what can be seen of her expression hard as stone… But she doesn't talk back to him. A heartbeat later, the barest hint of a nod shows her understanding.

"Very good," Nero says. "Take this little girl, give her food, and point her toward Abraham's village," he dismisses. He pats the teenage soldier on the shoulder, and gives him a patronizing point, and some sort of joke is exchanged between them in Hausa. They laugh, as if they had just been watching a football game. He points at Rashmi, and gives an order in Yoruba to the next. A different language, but maybe not noticeable to Rashmi. She is prepared to meet Nero for that night, an impending terror to await her.

But after all the blood drawn for Rashmi's cooperation, that night, he only sends her away and back to her cell, choosing to reject her, making all of the torment of the day truly and utterly pointless.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License