Roland Enrie looked up at the ceiling of his cell. He was trying to catch a glimmer of light from the high window, keeping track of how long he'd been incarcerated. Thirty days today. He closed his eyes, planning. There was no way he was getting out in one shot; the Order owned this whole world and he wouldn't be free for long once he left this cell.
His only chance would be getting sent off-world, to the maximum security prison orbiting one of the outer worlds. He might manage to grab a ship and get out of this star system, that way.
One could dream, at any rate, and Roland was a dreamer. He'd been bred and raised by the Order as an advancement, to be the best general they could have. One of ten, actually, though his brothers all wound up the same as him: useless. At least, according to the Order of the Striking Hand they were. That always rigid, everlastingly arrogant, arm of the Order.
Roland stood and stretched as much as he could with his arms cuffed behind his back. The Striking Hand wasn't taking chances with their best students. When Roland and his brothers were taken prisoner, they were wrist- and ankle-bound round the clock to ensure they couldn't escape.
Not that the Striking Fist were the only ones that trained them. Roland settled back against the wall and turned his hands so the palms faced each other with his cuff chain between them. He channeled a small burst of flame and shot through his restraints, flash melting the metal and keeping his ankle chain beneath the dripping metal to free himself completely. It was a secret tool he'd kept against this very event.
There were three arms of the Order. The Guiding Hand and the Helping Hand were the other two, and all three were involved in Roland's upbringing. While the Striking Hand was the military. the Guiding Hand wasn't about to let Strike have all of the Order's defense ability. Even Guide didn't know that Roland had actually mastered their control of fire, since he'd intentionally failed it in class and trained in private.
Unchained, Roland walked up to the cell door, hid just out of sight of the food slot, and knocked. The slot opened as the guard looked inside and saw nothing. The man called out, and Roland didn't reply. The slot closed, and the guard ignored him. Roland kept up the game until the guard angrily slammed opened the door. Roland dodged it and took the guard in the throat with his open hand, hitting him just hard enough to damage his throat without crushing the windpipe. He knew the man had expected to injure him with the door, which was just what Roland was counting on.
"Sorry for that, and what I'm about to do." Roland shoved the other man into the cell. He knocked him unconscious and traded clothes and ID with him. Then he ran out into the guard room and closed the door, locking it and welding shut the door and food slot. That should buy him some time. He was considered a cull the moment he refused to lead an army, guards were allowed to fuck with culls' heads like this. No one would suspect. He'd considered burning hand and footholds into the wall and going out the window, but that would have been more noticeable.
Before leaving the guard room Roland carefully melted the cuffs down into thin bands he could break off, tossing the excess metal into trash bins. That done, Roland walked into the main hallway of the prison complex. He needed to get out and at least try to make it to a ship. If he was lucky he had overestimated Strike's ability to find him. He doubted it, but if he made it anywhere near a ship Guide would probably notice. That's what he needed.
If Strike caught Roland without Guide's notice, they could kill him and blame it on a guard playing a little too roughly. It was a thin cover, but the Order didn't dig too deeply into offenses committed by one of its branches. At least, not ones that were entirely internal. If Guide caught him, on the other hand, he would be in safer hands. Guide didn't waste anyone, they used them. He'd probably be bartered with into doing his job, and when that failed, they'd send him off-world to work in mines and consider his options.
Doing his job was not one of those options. He knew there was something bad on the horizon that couldn't be attacked. Though he and his brothers didn't know exactly what, they just felt it. To fight would be a useless death.
Roland strolled casually to the security check out and flashed the Id badge for the sensors. When he reached the retinal scanner Roland burned the air around the scanner, blinding it with a surge of light that overloaded its circuitry. The door didn't open, but it wasn't any tighter locked than it had been, Roland just needed to override the alarm that would happen if he forced the door. That flash of light was something he'd come to on his own, the advantage of not letting your training be dictated by others' orders.
Roland unlocked the door at the control panel and overrode it manually now that the retina scanner was disabled, and walked out. Upon passing the guard station he casually remarked, "The retina scanner is damaged, you might want to fix that" and kept walking. Outside Roland lost himself in the crowding of the mid day rush.