athousandenemies: (Sad)
[personal profile] athousandenemies
Doing some free writing before bed, this touches a little bit on Owen's history... usual first draft warnings apply, and it's a little angsty as well.

-----

The piercing wail of the sirens pulled Owen further away from sleep, the flashing blue and red lights cast the shattered husk of the building into harsh shadows that faded and reformed every few seconds. He rolled onto his side and tried to force away the memories that drifted to the surface. But even as he closed his eyes to force out the illumination, what started as a mere ripple grew into a tsunami.

Blue, like the emergency lights that lined the lab and sparked to life as the klaxons sounded.

Red, like the flames that licked at the walls and consumed all he'd known.



Like most of his memories, he saw only fragments. In spite of himself, he tried yet again to piece them together, to make some sense of the chaos as it erupted.

The alarm came first, it must have. He'd read the history books, and understood that the first battles began deep underground, in the training grottos that were home to the Emejre deemed worthy to train and advance. Owen never joined them, of course. His home remained in Sublevel 2, he could remember the large numbers painted on the wall, and the jokes Miss St. Claire made about them.

He heard her voice next, screaming his name. No, not the laboratory designation of HS-29, which most of the scientists called him, but the name she herself had given him. The name that once belonged to her grandfather.

“I see greatness in you, little Owen,” she'd once told him. “And the world should remember a name, not a number.”

But he'd never done great things, not on that day or any other. She must have pulled him from his cell, he didn't remember that part. But he could remember that large number two painted on the wall. Bullets chunked into it as they ran, spitting concrete and paint chips as they passed. Other scientists ran behind them both. Several fell as they ran.

“We only need make it to the surface,” she said. “If we make it there, we'll be safe.”

Safe. She should have been safe, not him. He often imagined the great things she could have done in the world. The Emejre she could have taught, the lessons that could have been passed down. Could she have stopped the fragmentation of the Castes? Would she have found the leader who could have united them all? Or would she have been content to make her home at a place like the Hope Street Shelter, helped the orphaned and the ill and made her mark that way.

She could have changed the world, or at least changed the lives of others. Others who were worthy of her compassion.

He tried to fight it, but he heard the report of the rifle. Saw her move in front of him. Felt her hand against his chest as she shoved him into the elevator. Smelled the blood as it began to drain from her body. Saw the life drain from her kind eyes.

Heard her last word.

“Believe.”

The sirens had long passed by the time Owen sat up and forced his eyes open. He cradled his arms around his chest. Inevitably, his hands found their way to the long scars hidden beneath his shirt and scarf. When the Healers failed, or their Gift wasn't strong enough, she'd been there to treat the damage and close his wounds. Then she took him back to the cell and, even when he'd reached his teenage years, cradled him in her arms and let him try, and tried to heal the damage that wasn't visible, yet left the deeper scars.

He traced the lines of each scar. He couldn't remember the order, and in some merciful cases he couldn't remember the pain of the wounds the scientists caused, all in the name of developing other Emejre. But he could remember every time she ministered to those wounds, and every time she told him it would be all right. Every scar was a reminder of times she'd saved him.

And not a single one represented an attempt to save her.

Owen laid down once more .Believe, she'd told him. But he wasn't sure what he believed in any more, if anything. Not the Path, not the Castes that ruled the Reservation nor the Dunkirkers that controlled the criminal underworld. He had no one left to believe in, not since he lost Aeneas. And most of all,...

I see greatness in you, little Owen.

Thank Bede she couldn't see what became of him now, and how far short he'd fallen of her dreams. Because of all the things he couldn't believe in anymore, the least of all was himself.
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