On Top at the End of the World
On Top at the End of the World
Summary: A trip to the amusement park ends disastrously on Warday for the soon-to-be Grifter Falls folks. backscene
Date: 0 PHD (8/22/09)
Related Logs: None

The afternoon is pleasant, even a little on the cool side, as Joanna drives her SUV down Rt91 towards the amusement park. The radio is on but softly, the windows down to let the fresh air in.

Andrew is seated in the front passenger seat, belt buckled, but on his phone - typing, as seems his usual. And he can't appreciate the music playing, since his own ears are plugged with earbuds from his own player. Unlike the typical teenager, whatever he's listening to is unknown, as the volume is clearly being kept at a reasonable level.

Joanna glances over subtly every so often, but seems content to drive in silence rather that interrupt the young man's solitude. It's been the modus operandi for their visit so far, really, offering openings without pushing them. But the trip isn't that far, and soon they arrive. It's fairly crowded today, but they find a parking spot readily enough.

Andrew doesn't seem to waste much time. Almost as soon as the car stops, he's locked up his phone and taken off his music player. Both are shoved into pockets in his shorts before he hops out of the car. He takes a moment to adjust his hat, then looks over at his aunt. "Have you been here before, Aunt Jo?" he asks, polite and neutral as always.

Joanna smiles a bit at the question, nodding. "About once a year, usually. You ever go to one back home?" She pulls on a ballcap as well, from her little league team, ever the fashionable one, and locks up the car before striding off toward the entry queue.

"Only with school," Andrew replies, following in her wake. He looks around at the other folk streaming towards the entrance to the park. "Every year, there's at least one trip the school organizes. Supposedly we're supposed to be learning about physics, and you take some measuring devices on the rides with you. Then you have to figure out how fast you were going, or something like that," he explains.

"Sounds like an interesting experiment," Jo muses. "Better than some of the ones we did in school, anyway." She stakes their place in one of the many queues. Noticing a possee of other teenagers gabbing in the next line over, she notes, "You know you can go off and wander if you like. You're old enough not to need a leash." A grin there.

Andrew eyes the posse, his expression bland, then his aunt. "What will you do then?" he asks.

"Other than stand in line to ride Zeus' Thunder a dozen times?" Jo replies with a light grin. It's one of the bigger coasters in the park, prominently advertised on the billboards near the gate. She shrugs. "I'll manage. We can rendezvous at the game gallery in a couple hours and clean out a couple of the rifle prizes."

Joanna is quick to add, "Not that I'm trying to chase you off." And she does mean it, in her somewhat bumbling attempts to give him space while still wanting to spend time with him.

"Nah. The rifle sights are off on those things," Andrew answers absently. "It's distracting. We can play some other midway game though, if you want." He scratching at his side, stepping forward as the line inches closer to the gate. "It's all right. I'll hang out with you," he decides.

"Distracting, yeah, but priceless when you figure out the offset and see the look on their face," Jo points out with an impish eyebrowraise. "There are lots of other games too, though, whichever you like." She gives a pleased smile at his decision. "Great." They're finally up in line, and Jo pays for their tickets. "Where to first?"

"Wherever. I don't care. I'm good on most rides," Andrew answers, looking around. "We'd better decide soon, though. Bet the lines are pretty bad here."

Joanna nods, "Not as bad as some of the bigger parks, but yes, they can be. Let's start with Zeus if the line's not too bad over there. It's the most popular." She leads the way, obviously familiar with the park. Taking advantage of the earbud-free moment, she says, "The kids on the team really warmed up to you. Thanks for helping out."

"It's no problem. Every kid just wants to learn how to play better or how not to play at all. You figure out which one is which…" Andrew trails off, shrugging. "You've got mostly the first kind, and I know a lot about pyramid." On any other kid, it'd be a boast. Here, it's a just a statement. But then, any other kid would be trying to walk in front of his aunt, whereas he is content to follow her lead.

Joanna nods, eyebrows going up just a touch at his shrewd assessment, especially from one so young. "You're right." On all counts. "Aelian is really lucky to have you on their team. I don't hear of them starting many freshmen on varsity, but I'll bet you'd be one of them." They're heading for the Zeus' Thunder coaster, the biggest and baddest in the park. "The line doesn't look too bad."

Andrew joins the line, noting the sign which tells them they have about a forty-five minute wait. "We'll see. I've got a year. Coach gave me a regime to follow, which my other coach agreed to. I've got to add ten pounds, fifteen preferably, and work more on my zone defense. A lot of guys on the college level will be taller than me, so I have to work harder to take away that advantage from them."

Joanna nods. "You'll have to work on the height, but the rest of your skills are pretty sharp." It's not meant as random flattery. Jo has never done that. "Still, I think you've got a decent chance. Your coach back home's pretty good?"

"Thank you, Aunt Jo." It's not flippant, but a genuine reply. "Only the gods know what will happen height-wise, but the pounds I can work on myself," Andrew more or less agrees as they inch forward in the line. "My coach is good, yeah. He puts together the vid packages for us and recommends what schools to send them to. That's how I ended up talking to the Aelian program. He sent them my vid package, my stats, they sent a scout to a couple of games, we went to the campus, talked to them, and then they made me the offer."

Joanna smiles back at the thanks. "That's great. I'm glad he's looking out for you." She prattles on about pyramid for a bit longer to pass the time in line, enjoying the pleasant day and her nephew's company. Even more than she enjoys the coaster itself, though that is pretty fun as well. Jo loves coasters, her exuberent whoops on the twists and turns more befitting a twenty-something than a forty-something.

Andrew is much more understated in his enjoyment, but he's still smiling as they file out of the ride. "You know, it doesn't look as high from the ground as it does when you're going up the incline," is his comment.

"You should have your physics teacher make an assignment out of that one," Jo suggests, still grinning after the ride. "I'm sure there's a reason." Said in a way that makes it clear she has no frakking clue herself. She pauses after they've cleared the exodus, glancing around to decide which place to suggest next. "We should check out the ferris wheel. I know, it sounds boring -" says the adrenaline junkie after the ginormous coaster, "- but it's actually got a really beautiful view from the top."

Andrew shrugs. "Sure, if you want," he replies, ignoring an overheard snide remark about 'cradling robbing' from the male half of a young couple which passes them. Once they're out of earshot, he gives his aunt a small smile. "I'd care more if she wasn't dressed like a prostitute and he had on a shirt rather than an undershirt."

Joanna's only reaction to the remark itself is a bemused eyeroll. Andrew's assessment gets a light grin. "Some people really do make it hard to ignore stereotypes." She wanders over to the aforementioned ferris wheel, sliding into line. This one is nowhere near as bad as the coaster.

And even though the line is short, Andrew can't seem to resist the temptation to take out his phone and check his messages. And reply to a few of them.

A woman dressed in cowboy boots, jeans, a white tank, and a knit jacket wanders through a break in the crowd, a large fluffy cotton candy in hand. The sticky pink fibers break easily as she tears off a bite and pops it into her mouth. Ollie brushes a few locks of wheat colored hair from her eyes, and casts a casual look around. She closes her eyes briefly, enjoying a sudden little breeze that brings the scent of over salted popcorn and other fairground foods to her nose. She smiles a little, and turns her attention to the ferris wheel. A slight turn brings her boots crunching over across some discarded peanut shells to form up in line just behind Joanna and Andrew. The funny part is, she's thinking about the beautiful view from the top as well. "That thing will rot your brain," she teases the teen, with a smile for Joanna.

Joanna quirks a smile at Andrew's compulsive texting, though honestly doesn't seem bothered by it. Just amused. The cowboy boots catch her attention almost as much as the cotton candy. She grins at Ollie's comment. "That stuff will rot your teeth." A friendly enough tone, though she does tease in defense of her nephew. The line moseys forward a bit.

"No more than that'll rot your teeth," Andrew answers, glancing up from his phone, just in time to chime in with his aunt. Then he sheepishly goes back to texting, rather than deal with the embarrassment of coming up with the same quip.

"Had to do something," Ollie replies with a laugh at the stereo reply. Her eyes crinkle with the smile that takes over her face. She pats her back pocket and whispers, as if it's a dirty secret, "My mobile doesn't get reception out here."

Joanna chuckles at the stereo as well, grinning at Andrew's reaction as well. The wheel fills up and starts a-turning. "Looks like we'll be in the next group, at least," Jo assesses. She smirks at the comment. "I didn't even check mine." She hardly uses it, no doubt to Andrew's horror.

"I just use it to check the scores, the trades and moves and stuff. I'll reply if someone sends me something though," Andrew admits.

"I keep my eye on the weather. It's completely unnecessary, but when you're dying to know, you're dying to know." She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, finger briefly small beaded bone earring. Her fingers drop next to her necklace, fiddling with a polished wooden bead that looks like it might have once been part of a set of prayer beads. "Avoid the Tilt-A-Whirl. A couple of teenage girls had one too many blue slushies and the upholstery has paid the price."

Joanna bears the wait patiently, still falling into a sort of casual-parade-rest stance after all these years. "Any good games going on?" she asks Andrew, eyeing the wheel as it makes its circle. Nose wrinkling slightly at the report, she nods to Ollie. "Thanks for the tip. I never was much for those spinning rides though."

"No, it's the off-season," Andrew answers as if the twelve colonies should know that. "But some interesting trades. Muclasky retired too. People thought he might sign for another season, maybe," he reports, not looking up.

Ollie glances between the two, the smile remaining. Her eyes wander the spinning wheel as the process of offloading cars one at a time, and load up people from the line. Slowly, slowly they move forward. "The wheel here is more my speed." She glances briefly over at one of the coasters, and then shakes her head a little. "Pyramid?" She slides right into that conversation without a hitch.

Joanna smiles, letting Andrew field that one. She knew well enough that it was the pyramid's off-season but didn't know it was the only sport Andrew followed. A brief grin at Ollie's remark, though. "I like the coasters. High and fast. Spinning round and round in the same circle gets to me though." The line moves forward, and the three of them are ushered into a car.

"Yeah, pyramid. Follow it…play some," Andrew replies modestly, folding himself into a seat and continuing to tap away at his keyboard.

Ollie shakes her head slightly as the high and fast is mentioned. "I get headaches from coasters," she notes, "Not to mention what it does to your spine." She's a float down the river in a tube type, not a white water rapids, sounds like. She slides into the car as well, and when no singles respond to the barker's query, the blonde laughs. "Odd man out. You play? I never have, but it looks…" What's a good word for Pyramid? "Vigorous."

Joanna chuckles at the description. "That's a good word for it." When nobody else comes along, Joanna motions Ollie in. Not that it really matters, since it's up to the broker, but it's more a goodwill gesture. "It's all right, we don't bite. Not even a heathen who's never played Pyramid. I play, yeah, and coach little league." As they get settled in the car and the others are loaded up, she says, "I'm Jo. This is my nephew Andrew."

Andrew nods to the woman as he's introduced to her, but he certainly stops adding to the conversation even if the phone does get relocked and slid into a pocket. Now he's just another teen, crossed arms and slouched back in his seat.

"Olive." The blonde replies, with a smile. She nods to Jo and then her nephew, who remains enamored, but careful of that phone. She smiles a bit more as it's carefully slid away. "But everyone calls me Ollie. It's a pleasure to meet you both. Very generous, the invitation despite my shortcomings." She nods again. Mmhm. "I'm not sure why they built a park this far out, but I love it. The air here is crisp." Nature lover. Hippy!

"Nice to meet you Ollie." Jo nods. "It is. I like coming up here. You can see all the way to the river." The ride begins, little does anyone know it'll be their last. Dun dun dun. Indeed the view is spectacular. To the east, the sprawl of Paros is visible on the horizon, with the mountains to the south. To the north and west, a swath of forest dotted with towns, with - as promised - the river cutting a picturesque path through it. You can even see the highway weaving its way through the trees.

Andrew is dutifully watching the view, head turned. He has nothing to say about it though, apparently more than content to let the older women talk around him.

As the arc of the wheel turns to the highest point, and their car is at the top, Ollie's smile returns. It really doesn't take much. The view in the distance is lovely, the bend in the river picturesque. This could be the entire reason the park was built out this far. The wheel cars face a view that must be just as lovely at night as it is in the day. The car dips down, sweeping around for another loop. A breeze blows up, whipping longer hair into eyes, and it threatens to steal some of the pink confection from the blonde's hand. She says to Joanna, "Where are you from?" And it's about then that something streaks through the sky, falling from above in the distance, to lands somewhere near Paros. There's a muffled sound, and a flash that quickly overwhelms it, the light flicking outward like an over-bright flashbulb in a small room. It isn't a camera, though. From the direction of Paros, over the horizon, fire stains the sky in a rush of heat and a release of energy seen but not felt — it's far enough away. Just as the car reaches the apex of the journey once more, a dark wash of rising smoke sucks in a and around, billowing in on itself to form a massive mushroom cloud.

At the moment of the explosion, Jo was pointing out a place she likes to camp, along a particular bend in the river where the hills begin to rise. She's not looking anywhere near the flash, for which her eyes are eternally grateful. But there's no missing that mushroom cloud. "Oh my Gods," she breathes, jaw dropping open a touch.

"Frak me, did you just see that?" Andrew cries out, half-rising from his seat. Half-rising because the low ceiling of their car prevents him from standing completely.

Olive's warm brown eyes are fixed in the direction of Paros even as the car wheels backward and away. For a moment the cloud is viewed through the spokes of the wheel, the shocked occupants of other cars ignored for the moment. "…" Her mouth opens, breath escapes slowly. The car rocks gently when Andrew shifts his weight. "Crap."

An unnatural hush falls over the amusement park. The music and dinging of bells and rides continues, of course, but the laughter and joyous whoops have given way to a stunned quiet. Brief outbursts of shock and fear, hushed questions, but mostly… silence. It doesn't last long, but the pause is almost palpable. Then the pandemonium begins.

"I see it." Jo's voice is very quiet, very serious. "I think that was the airbase." An accident maybe? The thought dies even before she can voice it, as another cloud is visible further off in the distance, far far to the south.

Andrew scrambles, pulling out his phone from his pocket. "My reception's gone," he reports, before looking at his aunt. "What do we do?" he asks, utterly clueless.

The number of the clouds rising in the distance quickly dispells the illusion that it could have been an accident related to a military error. Ollie's eyes flick from the horizon to Jo, and back to the view presented, unobstructed, from their high vantage. A passenger screams, and the operator below pulls the brake on the ride.

Joanna pulls out her battered phone for a quick check. "Mine too." Mentally ruling out EMP as a cause given the size and distance of the explosions (and the fact that phone itself still seems to be operating), she surmises something greater at work. "We need to get out of here, first." As the ride jars to a halt, and people below start fleeing towards the car park in a panic, Jo moves to the door, looking down toward the operator's booth. He's nowhere in sight, perhaps just ducking down or maybe having headed for the hills.

Andrew makes a wild gesture with his hands. The question is clear, even if no words are said. 'How the frak do we do that?'

Ollie glances down, too, as the ride jerks to a halt. Oh, great. "Not again." Again? She touches the door briefly. "The last time I climbed down one of these, I was seventeen. I almost broke my leg." The last time? Yes, the last time. "I was considerbly stronger and… more high." She doesn't mean altitude. Give her a moment, she has to breathe. Stay calm.

"Again?" Jo pauses from her peering just long enough to give Ollie an incredulous look at that statement, and to catch Andrew's gesturing. "I'll climb down. Stay here." Without really checking to see if either of them actually listen to her, Jo slips out through the open side of the window and begins climbing down. Andrew at least would know of her climbing hobby, but she probably never envisioned it coming in handy like this. Unfortunately one of the other people in a lower car sees her, decides it looks like a grand idea, but falls after a few rungs. Ow.

Andrew just nods. No protest that she can't, or that he should instead. All he does is try not to rock the car as she climbs out of it and then watches her descent carefully.

Ollie winces as Joanna opens the door, and makes with the monkey display of climbing skills. She leans at the edge, and watches. As the unfortunate other passenger falls off, she looks away at the thud. "Your aunt is … wow." She leans a little more to watch Jo's progress. For a moment, she's distracted from the billowing clouds and all those implications. Just for a moment.

Joanna doesn't spare a glance for the fallen guy, too busy trying not to fall to her own doom. Usually when she freeclimbs it's under a lot more controlled circumstances. But she manages well enough, scrambling down to the bottom and then dropping the last few feet. The controls for the wheel are summer-intern simple, so she quickly gets it running again. Ignoring the pleading and then angry shouts of the people in the in-between cars (the lower ones having already vacated), she lets the wheel spin straight to Andrew and Ollie's car, stopping it when theirs is at ground level.

"Special Forces," Andrew answers briskly, nodding to himself as his aunt touches the ground. But he frowns slightly as his car is spun to the bottom. "Thanks," he tells his aunt as he climbs out, after letting Ollie go first.

As soon as that car is down at ground level, and the door opened, Ollie's up out of the seat and ready to exit. She'll happily go first, "Thank you." Chivalrous for a seventeen year old, isn't he? She pulls her knit sweater closed, as if that could protect her from the chill that slides down her spine upon looking over at the clouds. She makes her way over to the fallen man, and takes a breath before she kneels to check for vitals. She doesn't expect to find any after a crunchy fall like that. But she checks.

"No problem," Jo replies, looking around and silently weighing options. Fall guy actually is still alive, but with that head injury probably not likely to survive. Smaller booms can be heard now, of aircraft entering the upper atmosphere. It's less than a minute before they come into view, tendrils streaking across the sky. One group is clearly headed for Paros, little flashes as they start firing. This gets everyone panicking real well, running for their cars. "Come on, let's get to the car. Stay together." A brief glance toward Ollie seems to include her in the invitation as well, though the other poor folks on the ferris wheel are left to fend for themselves.

Less chivalry than habit. But some instinct - call it psychological preservation - spurs him not to look back at those trapped on the ferris wheel. Instead, he follows his aunt, taking off after her and elbowing his way through the crowds to make sure he doesn't lose sight of the woman.

Ollie takes one last look at the man, and murmurs a soft prayer over him, part of it in Kashmiri. She rises then, and takes off after Jo and her nephew. When there's special forces around you stick to them like glue. Her eyes are a little wide, but she remains relatively calm, at least visibly. "Gods," the word is murmured softly, and then she crosses her arms tightly over her chest, and moves to keep up.

Joanna elbows her way through as well. The bombs can be heard falling on Paros in the distance, and more contrails in the sky mark the passage of other groups of aircraft. Jo keeps looking back to make sure Andrew is behind her. The glance catches Ollie as well, though it's doubtful Jo would stop if Ollie did. She seems rather single-minded. The parking lot is a madhouse, everyone trying to get out at once and jamming all the paths, but they weave their way through to Jo's car. A cheerful beepbeep unlocks the door with her remote, but she doesn't go for the driver's door. Instead she opens the trunk.

Andrew comes to a stop by the car, then eases closer to the trunk. "Supplies? Weapons?" he guesses, his question unheard by the screaming crowd around them. He glances behind himself, to see if Ollie's made it with them, then turns back to his aunt.

The trunk? What's in the trunk? Ollie stands around behind the vehicle, once through the mess of the crowd. She watches cars try to went through people and other vehicles, and steps in a little closer to the car she's behind. Her eyes turn toward Paros again, though the view from here is nowhere near as good. Somewhere in the scramble, she lost her cotton candy. Her breathing is a little uneven, but that's just the adrenal rush talking.

"Both," Jo replies to Andrew, giving him a brief lip-purse that probably would've been a proud smile on a better day. There's a backpack on the trunk, which she grabs for herself. Lifting up the 'floor' of the SUV's trunk reveals a cubby where most folks would store their spare tire or beer on tailgate day. Jo grabs a messenger bag and small toolkit box, quickly divvied up among the three of them to carry. Andrew also gets the tire iron, and Jo uses a small key on her chain to open up a small guncase to reveal a pistol and ammo. "We'll never get out of here in the car. We'll head into the forest until figure out what the hell is going on." She looks up when the sound of Raider engines starts getting closer. A group appears to be headed this way.

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