Operation High Road, Part III


claire_icon.gif curtis_icon.gif devon_icon.gif francois_icon.gif lucille2_icon.gif

Scene Title Operation High Road, Part III
Synopsis Strike Team Amarok has the joint roles of diversion and destruction as part of Wolfhound's Operation High Road.
Date June 17, 2017

In the northern reaches of Washington State, deep within the boundary of the Pacific Northwest Dead Zone, a forested box canyon divides the North Cascades National Park from the Ruby Mountain and the Ross Lake National Recreation area. Dense forests of Douglas firs rise up from the rolling hills and mountains and there is not a sign of civilization on any stretch of the horizon. To the east, diffuse gray light of an overcast dawn is only just now fading through the trees. To the west, the sky is dark and shadows deep.

Dew covers every surface from last night’s rain, and the air has a crisp coolness to it at this elevation, even in the warmth of summer. Between the hills, Ross Lake looks like a cobalt blue plate, glittering with strings of diamonds strewn across it. The stark, concrete arc of Ross Dam divides this serene lake from the canyon beyond. Twin waterfalls of roaring white water roll through either side of the dam, cascading down to a winding river below.

Forests like this were common in the eastern front of World War II, where German infantry collided with Russian forces. Francois Allegre still remembers those days, and as his boots sink into the pine needles and soft earth underfoot, as the smell of freshly fallen rain, wet park, and pine scenes fill the air around him the rifle in his hands feels just a little heavier. As he moves through the treeline, he comes to a slow stop and crouches, one hand held up in a fist.

Up ahead, a deer looks up from the forest floor, black eyes squared on Francois. Its ears twitch, body statue-still, before springing into movement and bounding off into the dark forest. It wasn’t the deer Francois was watching, but the armored truck coming into view along the nearby road. The hand was to the other dark shapes creeping down the hill behind Francois from the forested darkness.

In Inuit folklore there is a mythological wolf — amarok — so powerful and so deadly it hunts alone and devours any person foolish enough to hunt its woods at night. So tenacious that nothing remains hidden from it. So deadly it could tear the soul from a person’s body. As Francois lowers his hand and points forward, he unleashes the amarok.

Ross Dam

Washington State

PNW Dead Zone

0540 Hours

Team Amarok’s assignment is simple.

Though pockmarked with old bullet impacts, the armored humvee moving along the road hasn’t seen active combat since before the war ended. Its driver brings the heavy vehicle to a stop just outside of a sandbag walled checkpoint. He rolls down the window, and two soldiers in urban camouflage walk around to either side of the vehicle, one searching the inside and the other conversing with the driver. The soldier gestures up into the sky, in the direction the Tlanuwa disappeared to after it streaked over the mountains. They exchange stories about the mysterious jet from the war, of its crew, of the battles won after it arrived. Their voices are anxious.

Fucking carnage.

A streak of fire and smoke whistles out from the forest as an rpg crashes into the open driver’s side window and sets off a tremendous explosion. The checkpoint sentry closest to the explosion is ripped apart by the blast and simply disappears. The humvee is blown off the ground and rolls over, crushing the other checkpoint guard before the vehicle continues off of the road, rolling end over end down the forested embankment until it collides with a tree too sturdy to break.

Amarok’s job is to draw base defenses topside, pulling them away from infiltration.

Gunfire explodes from the forest, pinning down the remaining soldiers at the checkpoint. Jogging down the forested hill, weaving between trees, Lucille Ryans withdraws another rocket propelled grenade from her belt and loads it into her launcher. She skids to a stop, shoulder slamming against another tree, takes aim, and fires.

And clear the road on top of the dam for extraction.

The second rpg explodes behind the checkpoint, sending chunks of concrete and shredded sandbags up into the air with dismembered limbs and dirt. Running past Lucille, Curtis Autumn keeps his AR-15 steady at shoulder level without a single bob. In his marathon sprint, he leaps off the hill and soars through the air, smashing through thin branches before colliding with the ground in a roll, rising up into a crouch and laying down suppressing fire along the length of the dam.

The dam’s road is defensed by six anti-aircraft guns and twelve automated turrets.

Mechanical whirring sounds come alive as a pair of turrets mounted on high concrete pillars fire a stream of tracer fire down toward Curtis. He springs out of the way with superb reflexes, leaving a peppered line of broken concrete in a line at his side. A foomp sound comes from behind Curtis as a grenade is launched up toward the first turret, impacting with a spectacularly fiery explosion, sending raining shards of metal crashing down to the dam.

We estimate there’s at least one hundred and fifty soldiers on site.

Standing behind Curtis, Claire Bennet drops another mini grenade into her shotgun’s underbarrel launcher, and give the supersoldier a firm nod. Heavy machine gun fire blasts out from the second automated turret, and Claire dives to the side as the auto-turret tracks a snaking line of bullet holes into the pavement at her feet. Behind them, a young blonde man emerges from the forest with Lieutenant Allegre at his back. The young man has one hand held up, with a brick of C4 hovering over it. A detonator in his other hand.

So you need to make as big of a bang as possible.

The C4 streaks through the air from the young man’s hand, reaching a point in the air beside the next automated turret, and then with a click of his thumb on the detonator the brick explodes and demolishes the entire concrete pylon, sending the broken remains of the automated turret splashing down into the lake beyond. Francois claps a hand on Officer Devon Clendaniel’s shoulder, and continues ahead.

So, do what you all do best. Make a big fucking mess.

That hand drop is the signal that Lucille always eagerly awaits. A wolf let loose to hunt. And Lucille loves a hunt.

There is a pounding in her ears, the blood rushing through her body as she watches the last rocket she fired hits its mark. Lucille’s blue eyes narrow as she waits a second before running down the hillside her long legged body moving fast, darting between the trees. Her auburn shoulder length hair is pinned backwards and out of her face and she launches herself forward following in the direction that Curtis has thrown himself too. A few loose wisps of hair are matted to her forehead.

Her breathing is even and her face neutral as she stops again further up and takes aim with her rocket launcher. Firing at another of the turrets. Her team is very, very good at carnage.

Making a mess of things is what Devon does best. Frustrating defenses and causing distraction in strange and unusual ways is a thing he rather enjoys. So when the motion to go was given, he didn’t hesitate to start prepping his first volley of C4.

There’s a sort of wonder following the explosion. Devon’s expression is reminiscent of a kid at Christmas. Explosions are still something fascinating. He takes less than a second to watch the cascade of rubble and debris before he’s returning to action. The brief weight on his shoulder draws a quick look to Francois. A second brick of C4 is liberated as the young man falls into step behind his team leader.

It only takes a handful of seconds for him to sprint and close the some of the distance that remains between the strike force and the dam. And from there, it’s only a handful of seconds more before he’s ready to send another brick of C4 at one of the anti-aircraft guns.

They have a luxury, does Amarok. They are not storming the castle, with all its risks and unknown variables. Out here, they have an opportunity to set the stage as they prefer, where pressing forward is not as important as getting into position. Wolves flank and circle.

Of course, this does require getting closer still, and at the destruction of the second turret, Francois moves through the cover of forest, rifle in hands, hyper-aware of Devon at his heels, and where Curtis and Lucille advance them, guns blazing. As Devon goes to send his second C4 strike forward, Francois steps into cover, raising his rifle, and twitching its aim towards where he sees a flash of movement, unaccounted for.

A figure, fleeing.

The finger curled on the trigger relaxes, allowing enemy movement to rabbit away after a moment of calculation, just in time for the sound of that second C4 detonation to shake the foundations of the dam. Francois flashes Devon a smile, then.

"That will have their attention," he says. Over the radio, to them all, "Advance at will, but expect company within the minute."

Curtis is a walking armory at the moment. Well, a sneaking armory. He can hold and carry a lot of weight without it doing much to slow him down. He's also damn stealthy, a fact he's proven before with his ninja antics back when he was with Messiah. So even loaded down as he is, with the Wolfhound M240 Medium Machine gun on a heavy duty sling, extra box mags for the machine gun hooked to the webbing he wears, a SCAR-H with a 40mm grenade launcher attachment is slung as well across his chest opposite the M240. There are grenades and extra magazines for that weapon as well. Plus an assortment of knives, and a very large pistol holstered on his thigh. There's even a pack on his back, filled with extra ammo for the rest of Amarok's guns that he'll shed when the combat really gets going.

He slinks along with the rest of Amarok, moving through the woods quietly, waiting for the signal. In his hands is a fourth gun, his trusty AR-15. Then the signal comes. Signal of course being Lucille blowing up the truck with a fucking rocket. There's a hoot and a holler from Curtis as he rushes pell mell /towards/ the turret guns and their automatic fire. He's enjoying himself. Curtis lives for this shit right here. With a slam his feet hit the ground and he drops into a forward roll, then springs up, sprinting forwards as fast as his legs can carry him, which is fast. He's dodging and weaving, giving the turret a target to track. Ignore the guy with the C4 and the girl with the grenade launcher.

When the second turret goes up he just keeps on running, though he does slow his pace a little bit, not wanting to get too far ahead of the rest of the team. Getting surrounded and cut off is a good way to get dead, supersoldier or not. So while he's a little forwards the rest of the pack he makes sure he can be seen by them, and thus supported if he comes under fire. For the moment he's just hunting, moving along the side of the road, watching around him for movement. Signs of the enemy, AR-15 up and ready to be snapped into firing position. He's got a wide predatory sort of grin on his face, all teeth. "Advancing at will." He murmurs into the squad frequency.

It would probably concern her father a little to know how much Claire enjoys the thrill of moments like this, though she does still miss being able to really throw herself into her work. Rolling up to her feet once the turret is down, crouched low, there is a small smirk on her face as she makes sure to shotgun is properly loaded and ready to go, it widens a little more at Francois’ order.

Yes, sir,” she acknowledges, with a soft pleased murmur. It will be her pleasure to do so.
Unlike, Curtis’ barreling enthusiasm, Claire keeps her’s contained… moving with more care and caution. Butt of the shotgun seated firmly against her shoulder as she moves swiftly, not far behind Curtis. Watching around her much like any predator, barrel of her weapon following her just in case. She poised, body tense, waiting for that bit of movement to give away her prey. Then she will have to decide if she want to shoot them with the shotgun, or scatter them to the four winds with a grenade. Decisions. Decisions.

The anti-aircraft guns are considerably larger than the auto-turrets, fixed upward at the sky and mounted on concrete blocks rising off of the dam’s edge. Given the freshness of the concrete and the newness of the battery, they may have been installed during the war, possibly even after the EMP wiped out the west coast and threw it into darkness. While they remain active, the Tlanuwa can’t come in and provide any support, or pull anyone out.

One of them explodes in a shower of shrapnel and crumbling concrete when Devon’s C4 block explodes beneath it. The gun is launched a few feet off the ground and crashes back down in a twisted mess, a billowing cloud of stone dust and debris rolling with it. There’s an external alarm that sounds like an old air-raid siren whining into the dawn light. It echoes in haunting wail through the box canyon, then over the hills. Between the smoke, flames, gunfire, and the old siren the experience lands close to home for Francois.

As the team advances on the bridge, Curtis weaving in and out of the tracking gunfire of the two closest turrets, there’s a sound further down along the bridge. The rumble of an engine, and the sight of another humvee coming along the curving road at the top of the dam. This one, unlike the last, has a soldier popped out of the top hatch on the gunner’s mount. There’s a loud, rattling explosion of gunfire that shudders through the air, and tracer rounds streak bright and yellow through the barely morning haze.

Ducking behond one of the smoking pylons that held one of the now destroyed auto-turrets, Curtis can hear the truck approaching. Gunfire ricochets off of the stone pillar, chips of concrete flick in every direction. Foomp, and then there’s another riotous explosion as Claire’s under-barrel grenade launcher demolishes a third auto-turret, sending fiery wreckage of the weapon to the ground.

Curtis is able to pop out from behind the cover on that, training his sights up and firing four controlled bursts up at the fourth and final turret within firing range. The rounds demolish the sensor between the two barrels, perforate wiring, and send a plume of black smoke billowing up from within with a shower of sparks. The turret grinds to a halt, just in time for Curtis to duck back behind the column as the humvee’s gunner fires wildly across the bridge.

“Let’s hunt.” Over comms softly. A dark smile crosses the woman’s lips and her teeth peek out. Another chain leash dropped from the wolves necks. Holding the launcher from her hip Luce darts behind cover and sets it between her knees.

There's a look over her shoulder at Devon as she unhooks another rocket from the few she has left, now two clipped to her belt next to the shining curvertor of one of her larger chakrams. Signaling with her gloveless hands towards the humvee. A wicked grin thrown his direction with eyebrows raised. She loads the rocket into the launcher and snaps it shut. They’ve been fighting alongside each other for years now, Lucille trusts him and looks at him as a little brother. A little brother that's badass and likes to make things go boom.

She rips a grenade from her belt and tosses it toward Devon with a quick wink. Blow these mothers up. Proceeding to whip around the cover and holding the butt of it against her shoulder, she fires the rocket at the humvee.

After his second explosive pronouncement, Devon ducks behind a chunk of rubble to wait out the next volley of gunfire before he follows the order to advance. He tilts his head, allowing just his eyes to peer over and witness the destruction wrought by Lucille and Curtis. Motion from Luce draws his attention to her just in time to catch the grenade, he’ll definitely need that soon, and her wink is met with a brief grin.

As the rocket is launched, and using Curtis’ gunfire as cover, Dev slips around his cover and sprints. He angles forward, but indirectly, advancing but not in a singularly straight line. His movement should keep him somewhat obscured to anymore oncoming vehicles or soldiers. “Keep me covered,” he says quietly as he dodges and swerves, angling for the next anti-aircraft gun. He trusts his teammates to give him the brief amount of time he needs.

As he gets closer to his mark, he pulls the pin from the grenade and lobs it blindly in the direction of the Humvee. The follow-through of the throw guides his body to the ground and he slides in the same motion, like a runner for home base. It should make himself less of a target, gives him the friction to slow down without missing his mark. Devon then slaps his hands for the base of the gun, to gain the contact needed to use a different aspect of his ability. Time to rip this thing free and make the anti-aircraft gun fly.

As Devon runs forward, at the sound of that third, that fourth turret coming down, Francois is not so far away. He slams into cover more directly, darting behind rubble that still has pulverised concrete as dust thick in the air.

He can hear the joy in their voices. He can feel it, also.

It's a careful line to ride, between the terror of adrenaline and the weight of memory. The growl of an engine in the distance, the shouts from his team, and now the taste of fine dust and smoke lifting from wreckage, acrid, cutting through the smell of all this water and forest. It's all familiar, past and present. He's yet to fire his weapon, knowing Curtis has suppressing fire aimed at the humvee by now, that Devon and Lucille both have their sights set.

Instead, he plays look out, intent on keeping track of each individual, and waits for the signal that will be the sound of a vehicle disintegrating in incendiary fire.

Carnage and chaos. This is true purpose stuff right here for Curtis. He ducks down behind the destroyed auto turrent's pylon, and it's there that he unshoulders the backpack full of ammo. He fishes into it and pulls out a couple of grenade rounds, setting them on the ground, leaving the ones in his webbing alone for the moment. He sets the AR-15 down against the pylon and swings the SCAR-H up, picking up a grenade round and slides it into the launcher underneath the heavier rifle.

There's a humvee coming, he'll need the heavier 7.62 rounds, as well as the attached grenade launcher. He eyes the Humvee, still too far away for the grenade launcher. For the moment he satisfies himself with popping off some shots at the gunner manning that heavy machine gun. Hopefully they'll take him out, or at least make him duck and quit pouring fire towards the team. Once the Humvee comes into range he’ll line that grenade launcher up, shifting up to account for distance and the weight of the round and then… Foomp as his grenade goes flying.

Once the first one is fired he loads the second one, but slings the SCAR to pick up his AR-15 again, ready for more precision fire. He does take a moment to check over the M240 to make sure it's in easy grab position if he needs it and the sling won’t get caught on anything. He pats it a time or two, then pops up over the pylon to fire off some shots. Then he's up, leaping over the pylon and moving to the next ruined one, leaving the ammo bag behind for the moment as he seeks to get closer to the targets of their wrath. “Ammo bag is down at my last position. If you need anything from it have at it.” He pops up from behind his new pylon, and puts down covering fire, having to drop a mag out of the AR-15 and pop another one in, the empty left on the ground at his feet.

Dropping to a knee not far from Curtis, Claire takes a moment so that she can snag a few reload rounds for the Mossberg 930 tactical, resting briefly on her shoulder. “Thanks,” she murmurs before moving on. She truly loved this new shotgun with its slug rounds. Nice and messy.

However, her weapons we a little more close combat, so while everyone is busy taking out the Humvee, Claire hurries along using this and that bit of concrete, twisted metal… as cover to get closer and set herself up to finish off anyone who manages to escape a violent end.

As she, hurries Claire, reaching down to snag fingers on the strap that holds her machete in its sheath strapped to her leg. She might not be invulnerable anymore, but she still enjoys close combat when she can.

Dawn’s early light is set ablaze by the thunderous explosion of a grenade against the side of the humvee. It tears the driver’s side door off, flips the vehicle end over end from the force of not only that blast but the rocket that comes at the same time. Twisted shards of metal fly through the air on fire, the vehicle’s gunner is thrown bodily over the high side of the dam, his flaming corpse disappearing out of sight beyond the handrails. As the humvee crashes back to the ground in a fiery wreckage, another door is punched out of it.

Machete in hand, Claire’s shadow casts long behind her from the wreckage’s fire. Curtis’ gunfire cracks up at the automated turret pylon, and he slams several rounds into it with a shower of sparks. But then he feels the fist-like impact of four rounds hit the back of his AEGIS vest, bowling him forward two steps before he can catch his footing. Another turret, further down, has taken aim and found its sights. Two more pivot into view, tracking, guiding, firing. They work in tandem, trying to flush Wolfhound out of cover while training to pick them off when they do.

The uprooted anti-aircraft gun pings and planks as its struck by gunfire as Devon uses the artillery weapon as a shield. By keeping one hand braced against the weightless heft of metal, he can push against the impacts of the automatic gunfire and create a mobile wall of cover for himself, provided he’s ready each time the artillery is struck by gunfire. Lucille ducks behind the hovering cover, a tracer round chipping the concrete beside her right after she does.

Claire is stuck by gunfire next, her armor absorbing the blow and knocking her back a step. The MR fluid inside works just as well as it did in the old Horizon armor, and Richard Ray is getting all the valuable field test data he could want here. Claire’s hit again, this time in the chest from another turret. Colette and Wendigo will need to complete their task and cut power to the turrets before it will be possible to approach the middle of the bridge.

But there’s worse problems she’s noticing as she slips behind the nearest pylon of a disabled turret. Something is coming out of the wreckage of the humvee.

At first it looks as though it’s just a man on fire. But the movements are too slow. Francois can see it clearly from his position, an incendiary form sliding like magma and man fused into one out of the wreckage of the vehicle. A six and a half foot tall and broad-shouldered figure emerges from the vehicle, made of lava and wreathed in flames and a choking cloud of smoke and ash. He leaves fiery, molten footsteps across the top of the dam. Eyes glow white hot.

Lava mimicry. That’s new.

“Fuck.” The auburn haired woman swears softly to herself though Devon and the others might be able to hear her. She shoves another rocket grenade into the launcher and nods at Devon with a grim look. “It's never easy is it?” A candid second for Hound sister and brother. Lucille keeps her head down behind Devon’s ‘shield’ before she is wheeling around aiming for the lava man with a raised eyebrow. “Move.” She says softly into comms for Claire and Curtis to hear, before pulling the trigger.

As the rocket goes flying out of her launcher she whips back around the cover, shoving it in her holster strapped to her back. She rips her uzi from the thigh holster and snaps the ammo clip out and then in before cocking the automatic and turning around to lay a volley of suppressing fire after the rocket.

The anti-aircraft gun isn’t raised far off the ground when it begins taking fire as well. It takes Dev a few seconds to get a handle on its responses to the rounds that ping and tang into it. Especially once he begins moving forward with the armament-turned-shield. His pace isn’t particularly fast, typical walking speed for most people, but it’s forward progression and it’s steady.

“Wouldn’t be fun if it was,” Devon replies drily to Luce. He’d stop and stare at the lava mimic, but keeping his shield in place and moving forward requires attention. His teammates should have it covered. In the meantime, “If I can get control of one of those turrets like this,” he eventually calls over the coms, leaving the rest unspoken.

He progresses onward, guiding his ‘shield’ along at a steady pace, until he can come up between the disabled turrets that Curtis and Claire use as cover. There it’s planted, and his attention turns to disabling another turret with his own AR-15.

"Clendaniel, hold."

Francois' voice over comms is an immediate presence after Devon volunteers his idea. Hanging back and finding a vantage point, he uses the sight on his rifle to evaluate the scene, managing not to linger on the sight of a magma demon, instead scoping the still activated turrets. "The enemy has mimicry — he will not attack at range. Bennet, engage and draw his focus. Lucille, with her — if there is a man within, then use your ability on it."

Rifle lowering, he moves forward at a run, keeping low, rifle down. "Curtis and Devon, advance with cover. There are three turrets activated, and more will trigger. Continue your assault at range. If you can use a part of the car's armoring to shield you, Devon, then advance while Curtis covers you."

Taking cover, Francois switches frequences: "Wendigo, an ETA, s'il vous plaît?" Down the line, his voice is a polite contrast to the thunder of automatic rifle fire filling the air.

There’s a quick “Ha!” From Curtis when he sees the humvee go up in a ball of flames like that. He ducks back behind his personal little pylon and sets the AR-15 down. He’s grabbing his Scar-H when he hears a thump and stands up a little confused. Any ammo should have already cooked off… there’s a door and then… a magma man? “What in the actual fuck is that?” He sighs and lets his eyes wander just a moment before he looks above him at the ruined wreck of one of the turrets. He reaches up and grabs one of the front panels from it, wrenching down hard, throwing his weight into it until it comes free of it’s moorings. He grabs onto the back of it like a shield and peeks his head up, seeing Lucille about to launch another RPG.

He preps himself and waits until she’s ready and is drawing a bead on the magma man before speaking, “ “She won’t be able to get close enough, not with the kind of heat he’s got to be putting off. You can be pissed at me later if I live.” This is spoken into the com to Francois just before he lurches to his feet, coming around the pylon with the sheet of steel being clutched in both hands to distribute it’s weight. “Please don’t shoot me!” He calls over the coms as he… takes off running for all he is worth. He puts every ounce of power and speed his body possesses into his run, sprinting hard, boots barely touching ground before he’s taking another stride, eating up ground. There’s a whump as an RPG shot goes off, and that’s about when he changes the angle of his run, swerving to the right so he’ll come in at the magma man from that direction and hopefully captain america shield punt his wannabe titan ass off the dam and into the lake.

He’ll have moments, nothing more to land this blow and hopefully launch that guy. More than a few moments exposure to that kind of heat will… kill him. Cook him alive. It will not be pretty at all. Not one little bit. “Ohshitohshitohshit.” It’s a steady stream from him over the coms as he races closer and closer trying to build as much momentum as he can get. He doesn’t have super strength, if he did he wouldn’t be this worried. Or having this much fun. It goes hand in hand sometimes.

There is a tilt of Claire’s head as the radio keys up, a glance going back the way she came, head nodding, though her team leader can’t see it. The shotgun is given a pump to chamber a round and she finally, sends back a “Rodg……” There isn’t time to finish that…

What the…

Claire watches in shocked disbelief as Curtis does anything but what is ordered of him. “Curtis! What the actual hell? Stop!” She stands as he moves out of her view, surprise turning to anger. How… dare…. him. There is nothing left to it… she hurries to cover Devon, since Curtis is playing… Well, they will have words about it later. “Despite that…. Keep doing what Francois told you,” she growls at the younger man.”I’ve got your back.” As they near a turret, Claire sends a grenade at it. Fingers shaking with anger as she, works to load the next grenade.

The next six seconds feel like an eternity.

Everything moves in slow, plodding motion.

Sparks shower around Devon, his jaws clenched, vein throbbing at his temple, restraining the turret with sustained force as bullets from multiple turrets slam into it. Each ricochet flies off as a white hot streak through the air. At his side, Claire fired her shotgun, firing a grenade from the underbarrel launcher. It spirals through the air, trailing smoke behind it.

Lucille’s rocket propelled grenade cuts a smoky path past Devon, hits the molten man before Curtis arrives. The blast is tremendous and sends globs of molten rock flying in every direction. Some spatter against the turret, others spray across Claire’s legs and begin burning into her armor — and very quickly her skin if she can't think fast enough.

Curtis is hit first by the RPG shockwave, his AEGIS armor hardening on the kinetic impact. A split seconds later the globules of exploded magma spray across him. Most of it is already cooling in the air, but it sticks to his skin like fiery stones that bond with flesh. Some hits his hand, others his chest and begins melting through the breastplate of his AEGIS, turning Kevlar weave into molten strips but stopping at the MR fluid that boils off from the heat.

But none of that stopped Curtis’ forward momentum. Too much speed, too much strength. He powers through the far edge of the blast after losing a few steps to imbalance. But there's a cloud of thick gray smoke at his destination. Smoke dissipated by the explosion of a grenade a second later behind what was once a man made of lava.

When the smoke clears Curtis isn't running at a man made of lava. He's running at a man made of concrete. Too late in the charge to stop, Curtis leaps at the stone man only to be punched out of the air like a basketball swatted from a net. Curtis flies backwards though the air, hitting the ground with the back of his AEGIS, deadening the impact and allowing him to land on one knee even though he has no air in his lungs anymore.

The AEGIS saved his life twice, but now the armor is sputtering and sparking at it's battery pack, and the silvery MR fluid is leaking out of gaps in the armor where molten stone fused to Kevlar. It's no longer going to afford him any protection.

What was once magma and now concrete stares Curtis down, then turns from him and moves with surprising speed for a man made of stone, slamming rock hands against the anti aircraft gun Devon uses as a shield. That's when Francois understands what they're really working with. As Lucille’s automatic fire pops off first as chip-chip-chips from concrete soon turns to plink, plink, plink of metal.

He's a material mimic.

The Institute mimic, now nearly seven feet of living steel, digs his fingers into the antiaircraft gun shield and wrenches it out of Devon’s grasp, swings it around over his head and hits Claire with it like a club, knocking her square into the far side handrail of the dam. The rail breaks and Claire continues on, nearly over the long drop. But a strap from her AEGIS catches the twisted metal, leaves her hanging by a Kevlar strap, legs swinging and arms windmilling over a hundreds foot long drop, even as molten rock smolders on her leg armor.

The automatic turrets continue to fire, tracking to new targets, and Amarok will need to think fast. Because the answer coming crackling over the comms to Francois’ question is a bad one.

«Working on it!» Demsky’s voice crackles. «We ran into some resistance! Hunter robots and security! Give us a couple minutes!»

A couple minutes, she says.

The monstrosity in front of them shifts his form again and Lucille is left blinking blue eyes as she witnesses Curtis’ being bounced like a basketball down the court. “Goddamnit Ash,” in the heat of the moment calling him by the first name she knew him as. The implications of his actions aren't something she can focus on because Claire is going flying through the air after being hit by the turret. She sees the blonde almost go over the edge of that long drop and eyes widen before she's running in that direction ducking behind cover, she looks trying to catch Devon’s eyes. “Get him up, I have her.” Devon’s least likely to punch Curtis in the face right now too.

Barreling through the chaos they have wrought Luce holsters her uzi at her thigh before she uses a fallen turret to propel herself over to the other side. Her legs out in front of her as she slides before hitting the ground at a run but a bullet strikes her armor in the chest and she is blown back slamming her back into a piece of debris as the the armor does its job absorbing the impact. Thanks Raytech. A grimace crosses her lips, shaking her head she reorients herself climbing to her feet shakily. Precious seconds lost, seconds they don't have the luxury of losing. She’s pumping her arms as she slides to the railing to grasp at Claire’s hand, hair whipping in the wind.

“Got you!”

As the women make skin to skin contact Lucille already has in mind what effect will wash over her. Blue eyes swirl and swim to that amber gold shade as she does the same thing she did to Colette back in Alaska years ago. Claire’s blood pressure lowers gradually as Lucille works to pull her up. A gold eyed stare goes over her shoulder, her breathing labored as she helps the smaller blonde woman. Nobody gets left behind. Not if she can help it.

The foremost thought going through Devon’s head as he presses against each impending round of high caliber ammunition is how very not good this whole situation is fast becoming. It’s a thought that is soundly confirmed when Magma Man becomes Metal Man and liberates the anti-aircraft gun from his control. He doesn’t watch when Claire is clobbered, just as he hadn’t seen Curtis be so smartly stopped. He takes the down stroke of a heartbeat to process the mimic within reach.

Then he moves on the upbeat.

It may not be the him that Luce intended to be helped up, but Devon pivots to stay out of mimic’s line of sight while reaching to place a hand on him. «Keep him off me,» he yells into the com. It’s risky, but it might work, he just needs a few seconds to synchronize with the now metallic man. Just a few seconds and then he can help him up into the sky. «Hold his attention so I can do my thing!»

Francois doesn't have to wait until later to be pissed at Curtis; it comes immediately and feels like winter in his veins, a cold fear when abruptly his certainty and control over his team is thrown into chaos, and his belief that anyone will listen while under pressure entirely gone. In the next six seconds that follows, he can only watch as things go from bad to worse, his second lieutenant almost disappearing over the edge of the bridge, Curtis laid out, the shine of metal.

However, one thing does click into place. Anger evaporates in place of clarity.

It will take Devon more than a few seconds to sync to anything, and in battle, fifteen seconds is a fucking eternity. However, it will likewise take too much time for Francois to try to stage manage a battle, so he's just going to have to rely on the boy's instincts while he's in the thick of it, and do his thing, as it were, if he can. "Devon, lay C4 on the mimic," he orders, "and get to Curtis. Everyone, fall back to my position and take cover."

He is approximately 100 feet back. It will take something like seven to ten seconds for his team to run that distance. The math is quick and sure and a wild feeling of adrenaline zithers through his chest. "Lucille, take cover near me, and fire your rocket."

And get ready for a big bang.

Got it, Boss!” Keeping one hand on the mimic — mostly keep contact with the guy while his ability takes hold, but it also helps to keep a sense of where he’s at because being smashed right now would not be good — Devon gropes at his belt for another brick of C4. He has two left, and it takes him a second to find one. Once his fingers wrap around the explosive, it’s pulled free and pressed against the mimic, held against him. “Once he’s airborne,” hopefully he’ll be airborne and headed up and away from his team, “Don’t shoot ‘til Curtis and I’re clear!


That is all that is heard over Curtis’ comm right before he becomes a human pinball and goes careening back down the damn dam road. There’s a couple hard grunts as he skids, and even while he’s tumbling he’s ripping his gloves off of his hands since they’re busy melting. There’s gonna leave a mark. Marks. When he comes to a stop it’s flat on his back with the wind knocked out of him, but he saw the monstrosity change, and realized what that meant pretty quickly. Unfortunately he didn’t have time to relay that information before hitting.

Once he’s hit though he focuses on breathing, trying to draw in air so he can speak, and trying to recover from the shock “Don’t shoot him don’t shoot hi…. Fuck.” Curtis raggedly gasps into his mic after gasping for air. Only he’s much too late to warn them not to shoot the guy. By the time Curtis turns to look the guy is now gleaming metal. Second thing he does is to lever himself up to his feet and stagger in the direction of Claire where she hangs over the side of the dam. He skids to a stop a few seconds after Lucille has reached the side of the dam. He looks about, then races off, running over to… where the M240 fell after the strap broke from the impact of his fall.

He picks the gun up, checking it over, making sure the ammo line is secure and not damaged by his trip through the air. Then he pulls the slide handle and then lifts it to his shoulder. Most soldiers can shoulder fire an M240, but the recoil is a royal bitch, and tends to make them fairly inaccurate. Curtis won’t have to worry about that. He lifts the gun up to his shoulder, setting it there before he hollers out. “Hey asshat! I am /not done/ with you yet.” Placing some emphasis on that statement, like he’s affronted that the big lava guy now metal guy thinks he’s down and out for the count from a little high impact swat from the air. He heard Devon’s request for someone to distract the monster, so he’s gonna do just that. He opens fire on the concrete man, aiming strictly at head height so the bullets go over Devon.

Are the bullets likely to do any real damage to the guy? No. They might put some dents in his head, chip off some metal bits, but no real damage. But what they will hopefully do is bounce that guy’s head around like he stole a cookie just before dinner and his momma got a hold of him. And Curtis has 200 rounds of ammunition in just that ammo box. He’s got more boxes. He can keep this up for awhile. Then Francois’ order comes through and Curtis nods his head. “Roger.” And he’ll do the covering thing, continuing his fire at the metal man’s head, trying to cover Lu and Claire’s escape, and trying to cover Devon planting the C4. Once it’s planted and Devon is away from the metal man and has passed Curtis he’ll turn and book it as well, keeping pace with the younger man. He will not outpace him. First in last out.

“Holy shit.”

No reason for Claire to really hold back the language right now as she finds herself dangled over the edge. There was a time that she wouldn’t even sweat this situation, but that time is long gone…. Now she can actually die and stay that way, permanently. Never has she been thankful for not weighing a whole heck a lot. Reaching up, carefully, Claire grips the bar above her that is holding her up.

Even though she could fall at any minute, she leaves a hand free to work at the buckle of her armored pants, she can smell the burn of molten melt and fabric. The tingle in her legs tells her that time is getting short, soon the magma would find her skin… which would not be able to stand up to it the heat… she doesn’t want to be sidelined.

Luckily, she doesn’t see Curtis, else she might not be able to hold back her temper… but when Lucille grabs her, Claire snaps out a panicked “Careful!” But not because of her precarious position, but the lava that is currently trying to burn through her suit. Though the panic she is feeling bleeds away, only leaving the anger like a hot burning coal in the middle of her stomach.

Curtis is so dead.

Does she really mean it? Probably not, but as she hops away from Lucille, working to strip off those armored pants off, that was her mental consensus. Anger she could handle, but she was thankful for the calming of her panic, invoked by her teammate. The pants are kicked away and left to smolder and break into flame. Thankfully, she has black legging on underneath, so no one is going to get to see anything. (Sorry, guys, no panty shots today.) The stinging hasn’t gone away, meaning she probably has burns on her legs.

She isn’t going to stand around and watch, Claire pivots, fingers snagging briefly at Lucille’s wrist briefly to encourage her to follow orders and run back. Her shotgun and what is left of her pants are retrieved as she passes. All she can do is tamp down the intense anger, not to mention the humiliation and embarrassment of what happened. Fighting the urge to apologize to Francois, once they reach him, the regenerator crouches down nearby and waits for the fireworks.

If Curtis comes close, he will get a warning glare. He will remember the same look from her clone. It is a warning to leave her alone and give her space. As much as she a part of her wants act on her anger, she is Francois’ second, which means she has to hold back her temper and act the part. It is a delicate balancing game.


Heavy machine gun fire echoes across the dam, carries through the forested hills. Birds scatter from nearby treetops, orange sparks flare on impact with the metal-mimic when the high-caliber rounds leave impact divots in his steel body. Each shot makes him stagger backward, jerking steps that push him precariously close to toppling over atop Devon, but the mimic’s considerable weight and strength keep him righted.


The blunted tactile sense of a steel body means the mimic doesn’t feel Devon’s hand on his back, lost sight of the blonde sometime in the chaos. One hand raised like a shield, the mimic starts advancing on Curtis, and then hurls the anti aircraft gun he’d been dragging in his other hand like a frisbee. All told it sails about twelve feet, then bounces, cartwheels, breaks aprt and a half dozen pieces of metal go flying at the superhuman soldier. Curtis rolls to the side, struck in the chest by the anti-aircraft gun’s barrel. His dead AEGIS does nothing to stop the blow and he’s sent onto his back again, metal clang-smashing all around him. Ribs are bruised, cracked in other places, breathing hurts.


The metal mimic starts to advance, then notices something about his muted shadow in the diffuse gray light of morning. With a beat of a pause, the mimic whirls back around and claps a steel hand around Devon’s head and lifts him up off of the ground. There’s a groaning, metal-on-metal roar that escapes the mimic’s open mouth. Before he can crush Clendaniel’s skull, there’s another series of high-impact rounds pummeling into his exposed back. The mimic jerks forward, letting out a guttural growl.


The mimic turns, pivots his torso with a straining steel sound, and when he goes to throw Devon at Curtis, Clendaniel manages to maintain a grip on the mimic’s arm, hanging on with a vice-like grip of locked forearm and bicep. The mimic staggers forward at the momentum of the swing not ending the way he’d intended. Curtis sees the C4 stuck to the mimic’s back now, pieces together Devon and Francois’ plan. The mimic grabs Devon with his free hand by the back of his AEGIS vest, but is stuck by Curtis’ rifle again.


Roaring another howl of frustration, the mimic winds up and slams a fist against Devon’s back. The AEGIS armor hardens, disperses the kinetic energy of the punch across the entire surface and through the ferrofluid, but the impact still knocks all the air out of Devon’s lungs — though his body remains intact. Another high-velocity shot, and this time the material mimic’s head jerks back, a divot from a round punched into his forehead mostly harmlessly. Automatic gunfire from the turrets continues to follow Ash, but at this distance they can’t keep aim on him as well as they should. The concrete around him pops up in gray clouds, he dances between the trails of rounds.


The mimic drops to one knee and slams Devon into the ground, shoulder collides with the concrete, nearly dislocates save for the audible pop, but there’s ligament damage the AEGIS can’t mitigate. Another shot strikes the mimic in the chest, and he brings up Devon and slams him down on the ground one more time. There’s a crackling buzz from the AEGIS, and the battery pack is overloaded from that final kinetic impact and Devon can feel all of the ferrofluid packs go flaccid, the armor softening to little more than a kevlar weave. One fist balls up, ready to flatten Devon into the ground.


Like a circus performer fired out of a canon, the material mimic falls up into the sky like a rocket from the combination of Devon’s gravitic synchronicity and a burst of sudden force. His arms and legs windmill around, helplessly searching for something to take purchase on as that horrible metal cry echoes across the dam. Devon is winded, vision blurry, world spinning, but he did it. The untethered mimic continues to soar into the air.

At Francois’ orders Lucille begins to fall back using cover there aren't that many seconds to get to his position. She fidgets with her launcher as she runs hard in that direction. The click of it popping open isn't audible amongst the roars of the mimic, she doesn't look back at Devon. He's capable, she knows he can do this. Goodluck Kid Brother. The positive vibes are sent his way but she grunt as she leaps out of the way of a flaming piece of wreckage.

In the air Luce nabs the last rocket from her belt with steady fingers, legs pinwheeling as she slides the rocket into the launcher with a soft hiss.

She lands hard on the ground and is almost to Francois’ position. Sweat drops from Luce’s brow. She hears a thunderous crash and roar, they don't have much time. Spinning around as she gains proximity to Francois the momentum pulls her backwards as she lifts the launcher in the air right as Devon’s syncs and sends the mimic floating into the air.


The rocket ejects from the launcher as Lucille hits the ground with her back, blue eyes squint at the impact and she watches her rocket speed toward the monster in the air.

Fifteen seconds never seems like an eternity until it’s crucial. Each second lasts a millennia, and in this fraction of a minute it’s punctuated by the abuse the mimic dishes out. Somewhere around nine seconds, he loses count of the time as it takes too much effort to remember numbers while being manhandled and beaten. Yet through it all Devon holds onto the man as if his life depends on it. Because, in the end, his life and the lives of his teammates do depend on it.

The young man’s eyes squeeze shut when the mimic raises a metal fist to crush him, expecting that fifteen seconds to be rung in with that impact.


The instant the mimic is thrown into the air comes as a surprise. He may have been anticipating the efforts of his ability, however the when to expect it had been lost eons ago. As the monstrous weight and silhouette suddenly shoot away, he wheezes a laugh, hoarse and exhausted, relieved and injured, all in one package. A sort of small celebration that’s cut short when he hears the familiar fwhoomp somewhere behind him.

Flipping himself onto his belly, it takes time for Devon to reorient himself. He pushes himself to unsteady feet. Hunched over, due to pain and necessity — the last thing he needs is to catch flack from one of the rockets — he cuts a vaguely disoriented path to Curtis. No one gets left behind, and he’ll blow the rest of his power if he needs to getting the other man to Francois’ position. For now, Dev will resort to grabbing shoulder straps and dragging if an arm up won’t work.

Old instincts demand Francois break from his position, meet Curtis and Devon halfway. Those old instincts are ones bound up in the reassurance than he could heal himself back from most anything, that his express job was to lay his hands on injured men and bring them back to health as well. It's taken practice, these past several years, to respond to new instincts, and so he remains anxiously huddled and tense until the mimic goes flying, and his men finally escape its range.

Francois rabbits forward as far as he must, and once close, gives a sharp, "Go," to Devon as he slings Curtis' arm over his shoulder. The other man may be an extraordinary specimen of a man, but that was an extraordinary beating he took.

The smell of dust, of fire, of water. A reprieve in rapid gunfire. The solid thump of rocket leaving launcher.


And Francois dives with Curtis behind cover.

Curtis pushes himself up from the ground, still firing so he does it one handed, the other shooting from the hip. There are some grunted and muttered curses in the squad chatter from him as he levers himself up to a sitting position. Then the mimic goes flying and there’s a sigh from Curtis. He doesn’t drop his gun though, he keeps it in hand as he tries to climb to his feet, taking help from Devon once he’s close enough. There is definitely something broken, probably multiple somethings. And he’s got a limp. Where did he get a limp from?

He moves along, half running half staggering, gratefully putting an arm over Francois’ shoulder when he arrives. “Thanks French.” A grateful tone from him. He knows there will be harsh words later. Once they pass the ammo pack though Curtis will stop and grab it if no one else grabs it from him, hauling it along too. Then Lucille fires her missile and they’re all diving behind cover, Curtis with another rather loud curse as pain spikes through him. “Asshole.” He mutters as he watches the rocket strike the metal man loaded with C4. “Now lets see if he goes back to being a lava monster.” Curtis props himself up into a kneeling position, taking cover behind a pylon, and propping the machine gun up on it to take aim in case the guy has suddenly gone fire again.

There is a temptation to follow Francois out there to help, but Claire remembers she is only half dressed in armor, her bottom half laying behind her on the ground still smoldering and smoking. Instead, she stays hunkered down near Lucille, with her shotgun ready and loaded just in case she need to provide cover. For the retreating men and Lucille.
When the rocket is launched, Claire ducks down, waiting for the impact.

As the rocket propelled grenade streaks up through the air, Amarok hears something crackle over their comms. «Power is down! Wendigo mission complete!» Whatever is said next is drowned out by a sound louder than thunder.

Lucille’s aim is mercifully true. When it impacts the metallic material mimic, the energy from the explosion does the same thing one of Devon’s blasting caps would: it ignites the C4. But this aerial explosion isn't one of a single pound of C4. The thunderous shockwave comes from two hundred pounds of C4.

For in a panicked attempt to mimic something corporeal that could get him out of this situation, the mimic replicated the chemical compounds of the C4 brick in as much as he had to in order to turn himself into a catastrophically massive explosion. The air-burst isa cacophonous shockwave that knocks the air out of everyone’s lungs and picks them up off of their feet, sending every member of Amarok fanning to the ground like toppled dominos.

The blast of wind that follows blows out the fires of the burning humvees, kicks up a cloud of dust that blocks all vision. It takes a few moments for the wind blowing over the dam to clear the dust, and there's a plopping sound raining down all around as pieces of the mimic are scattered over nearly a thousand foot radius.

The earlier communication wasn't a hallucination, either. The automatic turrets pivot and lock into place. The external lights on the dam, no longer needed with the coming of dawn, likewise flicker and go out. Wendigo did it, they shut down the defenses and cleared the path for Amarok.

The shockwave keeps Lucille in the position she's already in on the ground and she grits her teeth as she is blinded, closing her eyes and throwing a arm over her face she hisses and holds waiting for the commotion to subside. She feels a flash of pride of making the shot. There aren't anymore rockets though, she just hops they don't have need of it again. The last two grenades she has clipped to her belt give her a small comfort as she waits for the dust to dissipate a bit and she's climbing to her feet. Eyes crack open as she climbs to her feet, patting herself down and shaking the dust out of her hair, there's still another layer there.

She slides the launcher into place in her back sling holster pulling the drawstrings close making it fit snug on her back. Lucille checks for the uzis holstered at either side of her thighs. Nodding her head as she does a quick assessment, no broken bones, this armor is working wonders. Unless you were Curtis.
She closes her eyes as she walks forward slowly, the dust hasn't cleared completely but with the help of her radar she could discern where her teammates are. As her biotic field spreads to its range she feels the pulses of her squad and smiles. Everyone is breathing, everyone is alive.

Amber gold eyes flare open as she strides forward coming upon Devon. “Jesus, you did it.” Bending down to extend her hand, now actively using her ability and choosing her ‘setting’ she's less afraid of skin to skin contact. “Let's go.” She pulls him up a tingle snaking up her spine as they touch, perhaps for him too. She starts to look for Francois, they’ve gotta move forward.

The burst of air takes Devon from his feet, the blast sending him sprawling and reminding him of the bruises he’d gotten just seconds before. His shoulder, already damaged from the last time he was slammed on the ground, screams at the jarring impact when he splats and slides against the roadway. His AEGIS armor didn’t save him from that ungraceful seal-like flop on pavement. To add insult to injury, he’s again left sucking in a breath and reorienting himself.

Eventually, as the dust begins to clear and the ringing in his ears lessens, he rolls himself over onto his back. The brightening of the sky is a sight to behold. Another new day. He’d take the time to appreciate it properly, but there’s suddenly a Lucille blocking his view.

“We all did it,” he amends with a half crooked grin. He’s tired, in pain, and right now the world isn’t spinning too much. Devon lets out a breath before he takes the hand up. Bruises and abrasions protest and his head swims as he stands upright, so when Luce moves to find Francois follows more slowly on slightly unsteady feet.

The dust is clearing. The ringing in ears abating. Francois' smile is grim and quick once he's off the ground, and after a cursory glance tells him that his team is all in one piece. Well. Mostly. He shoulders off his own pack, and on a delay, relays, "Roger that, Wendigo," over the radio so calmly that they may have difficulty believing tales of lava monster mimics when they raise a toast to inevitable victories.

Of course, they're not there yet.

"Amarok," he says, "time for demolitions."

Even if immediate ammunition is depleted, exploding several anti-air gun pillars is more or less the objective, and they're come prepared. Between Curtis' own store of supplies and what Francois has brought with them, Lucille is equipped with rockets, Claire with grenades, along with four more bricks of C4. "We proceed together," Francois says. "Bennet, if you would rig the three next two pillars with explosive, and detonate once we're clear. Ryans, take point with Autumn, stay alert to anything that wishes also to see the fireworks. Clendaniel— with me." It's hard to tell from here if that unsteadiness in Devon is any of TBI, and the equipment he has to ascertain that much requires more peace and cover than the open bridge.

At the very least, he can keep an eye on him and let him take a break from all that nonsense. As they start to move in configuration, it's to Curtis that Francois adds, "Ryans will take the lead. You see enemies ahead, take cover immediately." It's not something he would normally emphasise to someone of Amarok, but Curtis is injured, his armor depleted of all its resources, and may or may not need the reminder. Francois' own personal misgivings manifesting, mainly, in a little extra management.

And on second thoughts— "Can you walk?" If not, Francois will offer to cover him as they move ahead. There's no position to fallback to.

Curtis is in pain, and he’s pretty busted up, but he can move, and he can fight. He knows his limits though and would speak up if he was too busted up to fight. “I can fight. Taken worse beatings.” He moves along, flanking Lucille and letting her take point. He’s crouched and it’s clear he’s favoring his right leg a little bit, but he can move at a quick pace while crouched and taking cover, the M240 at his shoulder. Apparently he’s not going to play around with his lesser weapons at the moment. He does pop the ammo box to check the count on the rounds inside, and changes it out, clipping the mostly empty box to his webbing and feeding the belt from the fresh one in.

“Someone remind me to send freaking Cardinal a thank you note. Vest works pretty damn well. I still miss my Horizon armor but this is a good second choice.” Of course he’s utterly trashed his vest, but there’s no doubt the thing saved his life. As he moves along behind Lucille he pats himself down, checking what weapons and gear he still has on himself. His AR15 lays propped against a pylon along with a couple of grenade rounds, his SCAR-H somehow stayed with him but it’s going to need some repairs before it can be used again. So really it’s just the M240 and the partial ammo box since the rest were crushed or went flying when he did.

The tinnitus created by the explosion has barely started to die down when the order is given, but she hears it. Dusting herself off, Claire is already on her feet, any scrapes are healing and bruises are already yellowing. “Yes, sir.” The words are emphasised, maybe for the benefit of those who don’t follow orders…. Or it’s just how she was raise. Her momma believed that her kids should have good manners.

Her armored pants have finally cooled, at least; checked after they are retrieved. The lava that clings to the armor is uncomfortable, but better to be inconvenienced then lose a leg. They don’t grow back anymore.

Once situated, she jogs to catch up to her team, pack swung off her back so that she can get to the charges within. At each indicated point, the tiny former terrorist moves to set up each charge, carefully placing the final wires in place after they are secured. All thoughts… all irritations fall away as she works, training taking over; Until…

“Charges are set. Ready when clear.”

Amarok does what it does best, what its role in Wolfhound has always been. Charges set and team withdrawn to a safe distance, the anti-aircraft guns are blown one by one, a staggered progress across the dam that ends shockwaves through the air and plumes concrete dust into the sky. All signs point to all three team's missions completed successfully.

As the smoke clears from the dam, a high-pitched whining sound comes shrieking in from the north across the water. The Tlanuwa glides like a giant crow over the water, a black silhouette on cobalt blue. She rises up, hovering in the air and pivoting by the extraction site before slowly lowering down to the road atop the dam. The dust clouds are blown back, sand kicked up by the downdraft of air from the ducted rotors in the wings.

When the aircraft finally touches down, the rear hatch slides open with a hydraulic hiss, and Commander Epstein stands in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest and a broad, shit-eating grin on his face. “Look at you magnificent motherfuckers!

From the opposite side of the dam from Amarok’s approach to the extraction site, there's a high-pitched whistle as the members of Wendigo come shimmering into view from a heat haze mirage of invisibility created by Colette. She walks at the fire of the group, calling out on the radio at that distance. «Looks like you all had some fun up here.» No serious, visible casualties. Colette feels confident to give the other team a firm pat on the back. «Good goddamn job Amarok.»

But the real signal of victory is when the door on the dam’s interior access building swings open. From inside, Rue Lancaster takes lead as she marches Howard LeMay out with his hands bound behind his back. But following her out is a stranger, a tall and dark haired man with a gun escorting another captive out. Behind him, Major Gitelman walks with a measured pace. Francois can tell she took an injury from subtle tells learned over generations of observing soldiers in the field.

All of the strike teams, and their unexpected guests, converge on the extraction site as the sun finishes rising in the east, casting long shadows across the bullet-scarred surface of the Ross Dam. There will be time enough for debriefings, time enough for lengthy explanations and stories.

But for now, the pack has finished their hunt. The light of day greets their successes, casts new shadows out across the land. But wherever those shadows reach, no matter how long they stretch, there will always be someone following.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License