Years before the war, Astraea's life takes a turn for the worse, but shows her a way out.
Location: Argentum Bay, Scorpia
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 589
The timing mechanism was off. Jorge didn't wire it right again, but there hadn't been time to check and she didn't know what she was looking for. 3:38pm, meant to go off at 5:38pm, when only Baymata Customs was still open. The competitor. The guys laundering money and undermining Tybarre. She pulled this off, she'd earn a month's rent for the Masters family.
Maybe earn some favor, too.
Go back to thieving jobs.
But the timer was off.
A child cried.
She might be able to get out. If she worked fast. Moved faster.
A child crying. A mother's soothing words.
Her movements stall. She can't leave. It wouldn't be just Baymata. It'd be them. Everyone else in the center.
She dropped through a cross-section of vents. Down a level. Maybe she could get there. If she moved fast, maybe she could help them. Get some of them out. Even if she just saved some of them. It was the building more than anything that was the target.
If she could just remember the layout.
Was it left or right?
How long did she have?
The world came back in a rush and Astraea found herself in the field hospital once again, clawing ineffectually at the IV that ran beneath the bandages on her arms. A nearby nurse ended up at her bedside, taking her hands and easily moving them back to her sides; the morpha strong enough to make the patient too weak to fight back.
"Shh, shh," the woman says in an easy Caprican accent. "Don't go tearing that out. You need those fluids."
Astraea tried to speak, but it came out a croak instead.
"You inhaled a lot of smoke and Lords know what else, here-" the nurse turned back with a cup of ice chips. "Take it slow. You don't want to overdo it."
She soon fades back to a fitful sleep.
And wakes beneath the rubble. Trapped beneath layer upon layer of it. Debris. Metal creaks. Concrete settles. She can hear people calling in the distance. Some whimper. Some scream.
She can't move; can barely breathe. So she waits. It was supposed to only be a big enough explosive to take out the one storefront.
What went wrong? It comes to her in the blueprints. The support beam the Tybarres fought for them to put it against. They didn't want just Baymata. It was a message to Crossguard.
And who cares if a Hyacinth clanmember went with it?
Days later, voice back and able to sit upright, Astraea sits with an ICJPK representative.
"The center was the worst of it," they say, as she stares at the paperwork she's given, their voice barely more than a droning in her head. She still has a lot of healing to do, but she'll be discharged tomorrow they say.
"The fighting members of your clan were at the thick of it," they continue. "Some of them have left. What would you like to do?"
Astraea looks up, then. "What do you mean?"
"Well-" The woman looks a mite bit uncomfortable. "In the initial reports, you were marked as one of the dead."
"Leave it." The words are out of Astraea's mouth before she even knows what she's saying.
"Can you leave it that way?"
"Well, I'm afraid we'll have to fix the official records."
"Fine, but don't... don't tell anyone. Don't say anything, just..." Astraea falls silent, finally taking a real look at the papers in front of her.
"Miss Masters?" She doesn't answer and the rep clears her throat. "Miss? Does this mean you're claiming refugee status?"
Astraea finally nods and is handed more papers to sign.