Ihpkmn's Talebox

UIU Thing Part VII: It's Too Cold For You Here

January 17th, 2015
Somewhere between Des Moines and Green Pastures

"They pay for the plane, but they don't pay for gas," Quinn groaned. She had spent the last two minutes with her hand glued to the gasoline nozzle, trying to fill up their stationwagon. Some part of it wasn't keeping the fuel flowing. "Goddamn Foundation."

"Rentals are supposed to have a full tank when they're sent out," Darnell muttered, breathing into his hands and rubbing them together. "We're not even a quarter of the way there, and we're out. Think the weather's affecting it?"

"Hell if I know," Quinn shivered. Iowa winters were not pleasant winters. While not the Lake-Effect Hellhole that was Northern Ohio, it had something worse this year; it was cold, and worse, it was a dry cold. They had both bundled up, but the dry air made her nose hurt every time she breathed. "Fucking hell… give me smog any day."

"You lived here most of your life and you hate winter?" Darnell looked bemused.

"Well, living in a town full of people who can control weather kind of spoils you," Quinn laughed, wincing with each inhalation. "I wanted to fucking kill myself when I lived in Cleveland for the winter."

"Right." Darnell looked towards the station. "Well, we're supposed to have clear weather for the drive, at least. I'm gonna grab some coffee."

"If you even think the word 'decaf', I will kill you." Quinn unstuck her gloved hand from the pump and threw her partner her money clip. "Think we can put this on our expenses?"

Darnell caught the leather strap. "Taxpayers pay our wages anyway. What's fifty dollars between friends?" He started for the gas station, stopping suddenly and sniffing the air. "…do you smell that?"

"What?" Quinn frowned, opening her nostrils. "Fuck, that hurts. So cold…" She took a couple of more sniffs. "Ozone. Is the pump leaking?"

Darnell took off his glove and saw the hairs on the back of his hand standing up. His eyes went wide, and he dove into the car, with Quinn following suit, shutting the door and shielding her head, keeping her hands as far away from any metal as possible.

The inside of the car was, thankfully, mostly plastic. The bolt of superheated plasma exploded itself around the car, the electricity crackling around the metal chassis like a Faraday cage. Quinn and Darnell gave a yelp of pain as an errant bolt shot through the air conditioning and struck them both. "Fuck!" Quinn yelled. She couldn't hear it. The sound had been so loud she hadn't noticed it. "Darnell?!" She yelled.

He mouthed something that Quinn couldn't understand, and tried starting up the car. Somehow, it had survived being struck by lightning, and the pair of them tore out of the gas station, down the road.

Another bolt of lightning struck the road ahead of them, and Quinn's ears rang anew. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but the third, fourth, and fifth bolts all coming around their car proved this was enemy action. "Are you kidding?!" Quinn yelled, her hearing returning somewhat.

"Grassroots?" Darnell yelled.

"Fuck if I know at this point!" Quinn braced herself against the side, taking out a pocket knife and slicing her seatbelt off its straps, before throwing open the window and tossing the metal buckle out. The less that could conduct in the car, the better.

"Are they trying to slag us?!" With another flash of light, he spun the car in a donut, tires screeching as they maneuvered around it "SHIT!"

"Bet they don't have to deal with this shit in Portland…" Quinn buckled in and braced herself against the sides of the car.

Darnell winced as they drove over a pothole. "Was Jo Ann the only one in the family that could control lightning?"

"The only one that was taken? No." Quinn swallowed. "There was also Asher. Asher Coteaux. He was Jo-Ann's half-brother, and he did…" She looked out to the road in front of her, her heart sinking.

The sky before them had turned white, and there was a wall of frost heading towards their car. Thunder crackled ahead as their black sedan was swallowed by a sea of snow. The world around them was white, impenetrable; frost formed on the windows of the car.

"…snowstorms."


A Few Miles Behind
Roughly The Same Time

Snow had covered half the state in the time that it took for Harley Sterling to get out of the plane, get her luggage, and get in her rental. It was a Ford Edge, and maintained the new car smell, like all rentals are want to do.

She had gotten paranoid. She knew roughly the direction that Quinn and her partner were heading— towards some town in Polk county she couldn't even find on a map, somewhere called Green Pastures —and she had a full tank of gas, the heater was blasting, and yet she still felt cold.

Something fell in the road in front of her. She skidded to a stop, her tires somehow finding purchase on the icy road. Putting the car in park, she got out and turned on her phone, shining the light on the thing— or rather, the person— that had fallen in the road.

"Holy shit." Harley helped him to his feet— they were close to Quinn's age, frost along their lips, most of their body enclosed in a winter coat. It took Harley several seconds to realize that she was looking at a man. "Are you okay?"

"C-cold," he swallowed. "Don't wanna… cold…"

"C'mon." Harley took him into her car. She deposited him in the passenger's seat, shut the door, and climbed back in. "Okay, we're gonna get you warm…"

"No!" the man protested, covering the vents with his hands. His fingers were covered in metal— no, they were metal. And they were covered in frost, with electricity crackling between them.

"What the fuck?" Harley's hand went under her seat— a portable fire extinguisher, the heaviest thing in the car, laid beneath her.

"C-can't get warm. It hurts. Hurts to be warm." He swallowed. "Hurts."

Harley realized that the frost from his fingers was creeping onto the dashboard.

"What the hell are you?" Harley asked.

"S-s-supposed to ask y-y-you the same," the man shivered. His composure regained itself when one of his hands produced a frost-covered 9mm. "SCP or UIU?"

Harley grabbed at his closest hand and twisted it, before grabbing his hair and slamming it into the dashboard. The gun fell from his hand, and he fell unconscious. His coat slipped further off, revealing his left arm to be entirely made of metal, all covered in frost. There was even a snowflake symbol on it.

The snow stopped falling when Harley knocked him out. Even now, the skies were clearing, and she could see the road, though it was covered in almost a foot of snow.

She didn't have time to think about how insane all of this was. On his left wrist, she noted a tablet embedded into his skin, tracking the position of a vehicle, stopped in the middle of the road. The GPS read that it was twenty miles from here.

Harley Sterling's stomach sank. She knew who was driving the car. And she knew she wouldn't get any straight answer. A goddamn cyborg had tried to carjack her, talking about the Unusual Incidents Unit, and an "SCP". Samson-Cooper Pharmaceuticals. Spicy Crust Pizzeria. God knows what else in Cincinnati.

Reaching into her purse, Harley extracted a pair of fuzzy handcuffs. "All right, Captain Cold," she said, tethering his wrist to a hole in his headrest. "You're gonna lend me a hand."


Quinn awoke to the sound of a blaring horn— it was Darnell's head, against the steering wheel. They were in a ravine off the highway, and it was silent. No cars, no birds… no lightning. Just a white void surrounding them. The entire front half of the car was fender-first in the snow.

"Fuck." Quinn shook her partner's arm. "Darnell? Darnell! Wake up!"

He was breathing, but he didn't respond other than a soft groan. Concussed, then. Not good. Best to let him sleep it off. Quinn rolled down her window enough to scoop some snow from the outside and place it onto her partner's head.

"Easy, big guy." Her phone was in the glove box, and while the screen had a new crack and it had no bars, it was still functional. She unbuckled herself, and began climbing towards the back of the car, underestimating the angle they had crashed at— a full sixty-five degrees. A challenging climb, but not completely insurmountable.

"Okay," Quinn groaned. "I got this."

She climbed over her seat, wincing when her foot got caught in the seatbelt. Over the back seat, and into the trunk, which had enough room to sit in. Quinn looked out the back window, and let out a loud "Son of a BITCH!". Enough snow had accumulated that the rear window was covered, and it was too heavy to lift the trunk open.

The silhouette of a person appeared in the snow overhead, holding a pistol in their hand. Quinn drew her own sidearm, waiting for them to fire first— if she broke the window, snow could come pouring in. And what if it was a member of the highway patrol? But why would they have a pistol out?

The form stepped down out of sight, and a gloved hand appeared, brushing snow off of the car. Quinn kept her pistol aimed at the hand, crouching in the corner— and almost dropped her pistol out of surprise when she saw the face of their savior.

"Harley?"

Harley Sterling broke the window with the butt of the pistol after having cleared enough snow off that it wouldn't flood the car. Quinn looked up at her wife, Harley looked down at hers, and the same thought came across their lips at the same time.

"Lucy… you got some 'splainin' to do."