Warnings: Violence, torture, prompt.

Spoilers: Through episode 2.4.

Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe or its characters.

Author's Note: Written for Death Bingo on Dreamwidth, prompt: Device (Rube Goldberg). This is set in the Choke Chain 'verse, an AU where Peter, Olivia, and Nick all work for the ZFT. Takes place between "Chain You Down" and "Slip off the Choke Chain".

Message Delivered

"It's stupid."

"Not my idea."

"It's still stupid."

Peter tossed the wrench on the table and glowered at Olivia. "Fine. You tell your bosses their orders are stupid. Until then, I'm building the damned thing, as instructed."

"Your bosses, too," she said. Peter ignored her, rummaging around in his toolbox.

Nick had already abandoned the discussion—pointless argument, he had called it—retreating into the living room with a roll of the eyes and a shrug, but Olivia couldn't let it go. She much preferred being set at a target with basic instructions from up above, not a needlessly complicated plan already in place with little or no wiggle room as to how the job would go down. Being forced to follow complicated instructions from their superiors almost invariably led to things blowing up in their faces. Occasionally literally.

Olivia circled the contraption. It still looked like half a hardware store had taken center stage in their workroom. A demented hardware store, one that had been mated with something that almost looked organic and spat out its progeny into the drop cloth Peter had spread on the hardwood floor. "It'll be a bitch to transport. And we'll have to do live capture, which is going to be problematic. And we'll have to line up a secure location to bring him to, where no one will hear him screaming."

"Are you saying we can't pull it off?" Peter's tone was a hairsbreadth from a taunt.

She glanced through the doorway to Nick but didn't take the bait, just crossed her arms and tapped her fingers against her skin. "I'm saying it's an unnecessary risk. A bullet in the brain kills him just as dead."

"This provides torture and death. Twice the fun with half the work. We strap the subject down and we're good to go."

"And we'll have to camp out and wait, make sure the job is done."

He looked up at her again, amusement edging along their link and crinkling the corners of his eyes. "You just don't want to sit there and watch."

She raised her eyebrows. Not the only reason, not even the most important reason, but okay, she could admit it was a factor. Besides, he'd know if she were lying. "Yeah? And?"

"And you'll just need to bring a book." He smirked at her before turning back to the device, tightening joints with a screwdriver.

"You're enjoying this," she said, finally separating out his amusement at her from his enthusiasm for the project. "You're not any more happy than me about their dictating our actions, but you're positively gleeful about actually building the damned machine."

Peter glanced up, back down. "It is an interesting challenge to build a working prototype to their admittedly vague specifications."

"'Interesting challenge', my ass," she muttered, not fooled by his overly precise words or his carefully neutral tone, not now that she had a read on what was going on in his head. "You're like a kid in a candy store with a handful of money."

"Okay, so it's a fun challenge." He dropped the pretense of disinterest and grinned.

She gave in to the inevitable. It was hardly the first time she had to follow orders she disagreed with. Peter might as well get as much fun out of the assignment as he could. "Will it be done in the timeframe?"

He gave her a snappy salute. "Done and loaded in the car by 8:00 AM tomorrow, just in time to take it to South Carolina and acquire the target."


"I said live capture was going to be a pain in the ass." Olivia rocked back on her heels and scanned the area for anyone that might be watching. No nosy neighbors, not that she could see. Granted, Peter would have told her if he caught signs of anyone near enough to observe their little bout of kidnapping, but he still could have missed something.

"Mission profile left out the minor detail that Evans weighed in at over 300 pounds." Peter grunted as he and Nick lifted their unconscious target into the trunk. "Should have set the weight trigger differently," he added, staring at Evans with narrowed eyes. "And I'm not sure how the extra weight will affect the movement sensors. Might go faster if he struggles more, might go slower."

"I can't believe it took three darts to put him out." Nick gave Evans an extra poke before draping the blanket completely over him and closing the trunk. "Hope it doesn't kill him before we get him strapped down."

"He just needs to hold out half an hour."

Nick smiled sourly. "With our luck today, he'll go twenty-nine minutes. Whole thing would of been easier if you let me shut down his brain from a distance."

"You relearn how to shut down the target without inducing a stroke half the time, then we talk. Until then, if we need them conscious..." Peter hefted the tranquilizer gun.

Nick scoffed, his irritation spilling through Olivia, but didn't disagree with the truth. They were learning to adapt to the new twist Nick's abilities had taken, even if none of them—Nick most of all—were happy about the situation.

It was fifteen minutes to the abandoned house, ten to lug Evans in and get him secured and strapped down, another ten while Peter muttered curses and fiddled with the arms of his device.

Olivia surveyed the setup critically as she paced, shaking her head. Evans looked like he had some sort of mechanical creature surrounding him with its dozen pairs of legs, its head curled over his, its tail curving between his legs to rest on his groin. She wondered how many bad science fiction movies Peter had watched to come up with this design. "I swear to God, if he breaks the damned chair I'm putting a bullet in his brain, orders be damned."

"Nah, he'll just be allergic to the counteragent." Nick plunged the syringe into Evan's neck, and within minutes the man was groggily awake.

"Hi." Peter grinned, a toothy, sharp-edged smile with no little malice. "You've pissed some people off."

"How... Wha—" Evans looked around wildly, yanking at his bonds. "Who are you people?"

"Messengers," Olivia said. "We want to make sure your people get the message that they shouldn't be dicking around in matters they don't understand, and you're going to help us deliver it."

Nick patted Evans on the head, then walked back to Olivia and Peter. "I still think he's going to bleed out before he takes the knife to the heart."

Peter's grin turned even nastier. "Probably. Starting the dissection from the lower abdomen isn't the most efficient way to get there. But I think it'll make the point pretty damned well."

Peter hit the top button on the remote and the mask descended onto Evan's face. As he panted, eyes wide and darting around as though if he searched long enough help would appear, condensation gathered until it dripped down tubes into the heart of the machine. Gears turned and knobs clicked, slowly gaining in volume. The first set of knives pierced Evan's skin. The weight of his blood, funneled into the bowls beside him, triggered the second set of arms to start their work.

It was a long time before the room stopped echoing with his screams.