If you've any interest in the Androgyne Task Force, skip this as it includes spoilers regarding the outcome of the last mission.
Originally, only the first two segments of this were posted for a brief and festive Christmas fake-out: the death of the Androgyne. I went back in a few hours later to edit in the "miracle" portion. I enjoyed the RP that came out of it through the following day as a classic Ani's-a-fuck-up moment, as eir friends feared the worst and scrambled to make sense of eir sudden disappearance from containment; meanwhile, Ani was merrily skiing down the slopes and chasing MicroWaverly around in a snowball fight. It's also given me an excuse to have Ani bum around the D for a while, not usually my cup of tea but an interesting change of pace.
The flow of sedatives cut out and Ani's eyes fluttered open slowly. As it did every day, it took em a long, confused, panicked moment to remember where e was and why e couldn't see or move, and all through that moment came a wave of pain as every cell in eir body began its process of casting off cascades of deadly radiation. Every instant e was awake, it came.
E couldn't fight it, hold it back at all, with the damage done to eir genetic code by the power-amplifying variant of the Parthenon virus that had been lurking within em for months, waiting to be activated at Hawkes' command. At least this time when e surrendered control, or rather had all control over eir power stripped from em, the only people at risk had been the Sword's renegades and eir own friends and allies, who were capable enough to put em down before lasting damage could be done to any of them.
So now e was imprisoned. No, not imprisoned this time. Contained. For everyone's safety. E understood why it was needed, and e trusted the Reciprocators to find a way to restore eir control, it was just getting more and more difficult to keep at peace with eir confinement.
Awake for only an hour or so a day, e'd nearly lost all sense of time. It seemed like it had all happened less than a day ago, but it had been weeks now going by those who happened to visit during eir waking periods. E'd tried to keep eir spirits high for eir visitors, but e was beginning to understand now that it was a blessing e had been kept drugged into a constant stupor the first time e had been contained, in the Zig, years ago. Every time e awoke, the barriers around em seemed to press in closer. Strapped in place, even breathing reminded em of eir confinement.
At least with eir eyes closed, breathing as softly as the occasional spasms of pain allowed, e could imagine e was elsewhere. Ani shut out eir senses until all e could perceive was the threads of fate e perceived binding em to everyone e knew. It was comforting in one sense, but frustrating in another. E could see several threads waver as eir friends fought against various threats throughout the city without em, injuries that came close to endangering their futures causing the threads to fray and flicker on the verge of snapping, but through teamwork or bloody-mindedness that made em proud they pushed on to victory over whatever they faced.
Something e didn't understand about eir affliction was why the threads seemed unaffected. The Parthenon amplifier was supposed to turn mutations up to eleven, as it had done with eir radiation, but e wasn't experiencing any kind of defect in eir perception of the threads. ...in fact...
Ani furrowed eir brow and strained eir head down, peering at the mass of the threads at eir core, where the lines connecting em to everyone e would yet interact with converged from all directions. Underground, nearly the entirety of them swirled up and away from em, towards Paragon City or the Rogue Isles, but many very faint ones and a couple more prominent twisted off in other directions towards different parts of the Earth.
Ani's arms were strapped in place, an integral part of this containment chamber's design since while it could be adapted to contain nearly any high-power-output threat, it was crafted with the Androgyne in mind when e returned from eir apparent relapse into villainy. With eir arms bound, e could not draw the threads of fate e wanted out of the central mass to manipulate them or effect an escape. In theory...
Ani needed out. E could be put back in, but every moment in here was an eternity of uselessness while everyone else's life went on without em. Had e missed Christmas now? It was nearly there. E spent the last Christmas in one of the neighboring cells, trying to regain eir sanity, e didn't want to have to go through this two years in a row. Eir first holidays with Boom, and e'd nearly gotten them both and several others killed for it. There had to be somewhere e could go where e wouldn't hurt anyone, out in the wastes of the War Zone or Boomtown. If I can just figure out...how...
Ani fixated on a thread, studying it until e had a sense of where it would lead. E grimaced as e tried to move eir hand, bending it at the wrist and splaying eir fingers towards it, but it was nearly futile. E kept staring at it, watching it undulate among the rest, keeping eir attention focused on it, until e could swear it moved. E just needed to touch it, get eir hand around it; e could do anything e wanted with it once it was in eir grasp.
It's all about perspective...it could be anywhere, as long as it ends with me. All the threads were merely echoes of possibilities, an interdimensional phenomena caused by the breaking off and resolving of myriad minor possibilities into parallel existences. They connected em to someone because the decisions they each made would resolve in all these different ways, and the more thought Ani gave it, the more e realized that the thread ending in eir chest was just a matter of convenience, a simple central location Ani associated with eir self.
The thread writhed out of the central mass, and Ani felt the air becoming humid as the sweat of eir concentration vaporized under eir radioactive overload. The thread seemed to flicker and vibrate as its tip skittered across eir chest, to eir shoulder. Ani's breathing quickened and e gritted eir teeth, forcing emself to concentrate more sharply as other threads wobbled and threatened to join the one e'd selected. It traced without sensation down eir arm, vanishing into the restraints as it passed over them as if they weren't even there and emerging on the other side. That's it...almost...I can do this...
Panic set in as e heard the chamber beep ominously, detecting eir stressed vital signs, and e tried to calm emself, the thread drifting back slightly. E resumed eir efforts, and slowly and inexorably the thread made its way to eir hand. There e could feel it, and eir hand curled tightly around it, causing it to thrash almost as if it didn't want to be held. The threads always did that, but e refused to let go. It led up, and out, north, in the direction of Boomtown. It was most likely tied to some Column or Council goon Ani was destined to punk out. I'll have to overshoot...too close and I'll bathe him in radiation, and I can't control its str--
A low tone sounded in the chamber, and Ani realized it had taken em nearly an hour to get the thread where e needed it. The chamber was already spilling sedatives back into eir system, and Ani cried out, forgetting eir microphone had been tied into the comm systems, "N-no, already? It's too soon, I've almost--!" Ani gritted eir teeth and with the thread held as tightly as e could, e willed emself along its length with all eir might before e could be knocked out for another lost day.
Ani slipped into the nothingness between dimensions, the bizarre non-existence through which e passed every time e threaded to a new location, and immediately knew something was wrong. Eir radiation flared off of em in pulses faster than eir heartbeat, and seemed to go on forever in every direction -- e'd never been casting off radiation as e teleported before, and certainly never at this magnitude. In eir hand the thread e seized seemed to go vaporous, and Ani fought both for consciousness and to keep eir grasp.
Ani failed at both, and the nothingness between worlds consumed em.
The vibrant music and unmistakably playful voice of Lady Gaga pumped through what felt like Ani's entire body as consciousness slowly filtered back into eir mind, and e was struck by the cold, awe-inspiring realization that e had not only died but miraculously arrived in Heaven despite all the pain e had caused in eir brief life.
"Hey, buddy. Want some pants?..not that you've got anything to hide..."
Ani's eyes fluttered open, and light flooded eir vision. Strobing light, shimmering through colors as a laser danced across eir face, causing em to flinch. Eir head lolled to the side and e realized e was lying atop what...appeared to be a gigantic speaker, through which music was pumping. Floating above the center of it was a man in an expensive, stylish suit, with black hair spiked up dramatically. He was grinning down at Ani, waiting for an answer.
Ani sat up, drawing one thigh against the other as if to shield emself from view, but immediately felt seasick, eir head swimming as the threads resolved in eir view but lurched and twisted about in the air around em erratically. It was a sensation e recognized, a nausea that accompanied every jaunt into half-formed dimensions like the Shadow Shard or Pocket D, and e realized this latter must be where e was. E looked up in confusion at DJ Zero, and suddenly realized how close he was. "Get back, I'm dange..." E trailed off, staring down at eir own body.
E could feel emself pouring off radiation as strongly as before, but it was somehow...subdued. It didn't hurt, and though e shone, the glow was somehow subtle.
"Don't worry, man. Saw you drifting out in the Wilds, thought you might like to come in out of the cold. This is my place, you can't hurt anyone here."
Ani slowly stood, getting to eir feet, shaking, the nausea subsiding in light of the overwhelming relief e felt at being free without putting anyone at risk. E looked around the club, a hand covering emself self-consciously until e realized no-one was in the least perturbed by eir presence or nudity.
"You know Trina, in the tiki lounge? She'll set you up with something to wear, if you like. Go on, have a drink, have a dance, have a good time. And Merry Christmas."