The entire side of the lab was just... gone. Long, finned feet slapped against cement as a feminine figure sprinted down corridor after corridor, getting hopelessly lost. She would simply have jumped out of the hole which had formed in the corner of her holding cell, but it was a few stories up, and she didn't want to risk jumping into the torrent of chemicals that were spilling outside, so she'd simply maneuvered her way into the next room, then made a break for it, hoping to find a way to the ground floor and an alternative exit.
Her black hair streams out behind her, but her speed is greatly hampered by the size and flatness of her feet, which don't seem designed for running at all, and her webbed fingers are clenched tightly into fists as she rounds a corner-
Meenah was less than thrilled. Her lab was blown to bits, the hired help was in complete disarray, not to mention she had been woken up at roughly one in the morning and-
Ow, what the-
Oh for the love of-"Feferi." Her sister's name comes out flatly and her face twists into a snarl as she grabs her wrist. "Really now, where did you think you were going? Did you think you could possibly escape? Now? So far into the experiment? As IF."
She struggles, trying to pull back out of her sister's grip, panting for breath. A set of gills on either side of her neck flutter with each intake of air. "Meenah!" She whimpers. "...PLEASE... I... I want to go home..." Sadface.
"Stop STRUGGLING, Feferi. You'll only tire yourself out." Her grip tightens around Feferi's wrist as she pulls her through the building and outside into the throng of underlings.
She hisses in pain, and has little choice but to follow after her sister into the mess.
Most of the soldiers who had been hit by the chemicals are now gathered in one place, and most are showing signs of being in immense pain. Those not hit are either attempting to help those who are, assessing damage to the lab, or attending to the prisoner.
Speaking of, the captured girl had been handcuffed to one of the soldiers, and was being interrogated by another.
"GET THE HELL OFF OF ME! I'M NOT TELLING YOU A DAMN THING!"
Aaand judging by the way she's struggling, she is going to prove difficult. Meenah lazily gestures towards her. "Could someone please sedate her, THANK you." She hands Feferi off to some guy in a labcoat who will keep her under control if he knows what's good for him and beckons one of her higher-ups to her.
They immediately jump to action, chloroform is applied to the new prisoner, Feferi is dragged away and the summoned high ranking employee hurries over to Meenah with a respectable incline of his head. "My lady?"
"We've completely lost labs 28 and 29, server damage to labs 18, 19, 38 and 39 the holding cells have been compromised, 2 gallons of chemicals have been lost, 47 men have been hit by the escaping fluids."
"I see." She pauses. "Get the subjects into the vans. Then torch the place. We're changing our base of operations. It's not like there's anything important left here anyway."
The van pulls into the driveway, Roxy, Dave and John hurrying outside to meet the others.
Silence falls as only Rose and Dirk get out of the back of the van.
Rose looks shell-shocked, is completely silent.
Dirk brushes past the others and takes Dave by the shoulders. "Okay. I need you to listen to me. I need you to listen and not flip your shit when I tell you this. I need you to remember that right now there is absolutely nothing we can do and acting without thinking won't help anything. Okay?"
"...Where the fuck is Jade?" It's completely monotone, and his lips are a careful, straight set line, but his eyes... his eyes show every bit of churning, crushing FEAR that he's feeling at that moment.
"...Oh my god..." John whispers, his own, much more expressive face crumpling.
Roxy doesn't say anything.
There is a pause, which is actually more like a very long, tense silence. Rose looks dangerously close to losing it.
"...It's going to be okay. We're going to get her back."
Dave chokes back a sob, grabbing a hold of the front of Dirk's shirt with his talons and SNARLLING. "...You left her behind. YOU LEFFT HER BEHIND!?"
"Dave, it wasn't their fault..." Roxy interjects, placing a hand on his shoulder, only for him to lash out at her as well.
"LIKE HELL IT WASN'T!"
Rose has her eyes squeezed shut, her expression suddenly hard to read.
"HEY! It was either her or all three of us. If you have to blame someone, blame me. Yes, I made the decision to leave her, but there was absolutely nothing we could've done. It was over the second it started."
His face contorts through several different emotions; ranging from anger, fear, worry, despair and desperation; before he turns and runs inside, a choking "Cawk" pushing its way up and out of his throat as he goes.
He's not crying. Striders don't cry.
Dirk sighs deeply, but all things considered, he took it better than expected.
Rose still hasn't moved, hasn't spoken.
John pads over to Rose, gently placing a hand on her shoulder, obviously concerned.
She tenses as if she wants to brush him off, but settles for shaking her head.
"...Rose, It's okay... I... It wasn't your fault..." he tries, choking as tears stream down his own cheeks.
"Yes it was." Her voice is soft, but she pulls away before he can argue and heads inside.
"Sweetie!" Roxy takes after her.
Poor John is left standing there, swaying slightly and looking like he's going to be sick. This whole situation...
Dirk walks over to where John stands and puts a hand on his shoulder. "Come on, kid. Let's get inside. No point just standing in the driveway all night."
A nod, and he quietly heads inside. He's suddenly exhausted, but he doesn't think He'll be able to sleep.
Rose barely sleeps at all, and when she does it's fitful. It's her fault. She should've had a plan, she should've actually paid attention, she should've, she should've, she should've. But it's too late, and now one of her best friends is trapped in that horrid factory enduring god only knows what...
She glances at the clock. 8:07 a.m. Time to face life.
She forces herself out of bed and heads for the kitchen.
Dave is slumped over the kitchen table, head resting on his crossed arms. In front of him is the small ring case he still has the unused engagement ring in. His wings are really starting to come through now, and are even starting to develop a downy coating of feathers.
It's hard to tell if he's even awake or not.
She ignores him at first in favour of the coffee pot. What can she say? What is there to say? Nothing. And so she waits by the counter in silence.
His wings spasm a few times and his fingers grip against the table. It appears he's having some rather server growing pains, but he's trying not to show it.
He finally sits up, scooping up the ring in its box and shoving it into a pocket.
He doesn't look at Rose just yet, but his feet shift underneath him a few times, before...
"...Could you help me modify my shirts? I can't get any of them on anymore."
"Yeah. Yeah, okay." They fall into silence again. The coffee finishes brewing and Rose pours both of them a cup before sitting across from him. "Do they hurt?"
"Like a bitch." He picks up his cup and gently blows some of the steam away before taking a sip, his talloned hands curling oddly around the mug.
"It's to be expected, I suppose." She takes her own mug in her hands, but uses it for warmth instead of actually drinking it. "It should be on the news by now."
A shrug. "Maybe."
"I'm going to check it out." It's a sort of half-invitation to follow her and she isn't sure if he'll take it. She stands and walks into the living room, then turns the television on.
What she sees on the screen makes her blood run cold.
He follows, freezing in the doorway as he STARES at the television.
Burnt to the ground. The entire factory. Gone. Not a thing left, not a single wall still standing. All of it, gone.
Rose is at a loss. Things have just gone from terrible to completely unthinkable. She could literally be anywhere and they have no way to track her. And then, she could always NOT be anywhere, if they didn't consider her important, if it would've been easier to just... No, but they wouldn't do that. No. Would they? She knows the answer, and she knows that Jade would be difficult, and she knows that they could've, so easily, but no, no she won't think about that. No.
There is a crash of a mug hitting the floor, and then Dave is out the door. No matter that it's almost winter, and he doesn't have a shirt, or any shoes, and that he's running off on his own with no idea what he's going to do. He's out the door and he's running and running and running and the world is a blur and there's static ringing in his ears and his breath is coming in tight, painful gasps because it hurts and he just wants it all to not be happening.
She starts to follow him, stops, starts again, and then goes to get the broom. Once the shattered mug is cleaned up, she throws her coat on and grabs his, then goes to wait at the end of the driveway. She will give him ten minutes to come back on his own before she goes looking for him, and if he has done even a single thing that could be construed as stupid, she will kill him.
He doesn't. He finds himself running through the forest, unaware of what direction he's going in and for an amount of time that seems both stretched and compressed at the same time. He only snaps back to himself when he finds he is stood in front of the lab, or what's left of it.
Ice runs down his back as he realizes there are several news crews dotted about, and he backs away, toward the cover of the trees. Considering his current state, it would not be a good idea for any of them to spot him...
He is an idiot and now she has to go find him. If he is at the goddamn lab, she is going to murder him. She sighs and peers down the road one last time before getting in the car and heading towards the site of the factory.
He takes another, jerky step backwards, but the cold has finally started to set in and his brain has drawn a complete blank. What... do...?
But he loses all time to think when a bright-eyed young reporter spots him and before he knows what's going on, he has a microphone shoved in his face. "You! Were you here when the factory burnt down?"
"...Obviously I was inside. Isn't it clear from all these epic burns I have going on?" ...What was he even doing?
And suddenly he is being swarmed by reporters from every station, all asking a million questions.
"What do you think of the allegations of arson?"
"Do you have any ties to the factory or Crocker Corp?"
"Are your deformities a direct result of the company?"
Rose pulls onto the side of the road to see her brother surrounded by cameras and microphones. This could definitely be construed as stupid.
"Jesus tits, one at a fucking time!" He takes a shaky step back, swallowing hard. "...Is this live or some shit?"
And then Rose is there, grabbing his arm and dragging him to the car, saying something about how he declines to comment over her shoulder. She manages to get away from them enough to get them both in the car before driving off. "You are a fucking idiot."
He hunches over, head in his hands. "...I'm sorry..."
All of her verbal abuse dies in her throat. There's no point anyway. "You've just made things significantly more complicated." As if that were possible.
"...I know..." Tears sting his eyes. He just... Hates his life right then.
Rose is silent for the rest of the drive. She pulls into the driveway and shuts off the car and doesn't move beyond closing her eyes.
They sit in silence for a few moments, before he reaches across and places a hand on her shoulder.
She opens her eyes, turns to him, considers hugging him, dismisses it. Instead, she puts a hand on his knee.
He gives her shoulder a squeeze.
Her eyes close again and they continue to sit in silence. After a while, she sighs and opens her eyes. "Ready to go face life?"
"Ready as I'll ever be."
They get out of the car and head back inside.