Scene Title Aite
Synopsis Greek myth.: An action performed out of hubris which leads to one's death or downfall. Also, the goddess of the same.

In her quest to destroy the Company founders, Hana ventures into the very heart of the serpent's lair.
Date November 28, 2009

Fort Hero

Sometimes the hour before dawn seems like the coldest one of all. It isn't quite, but knowing the sun is coming makes the chill seem harsher, the sense of its edge greater for that awareness.

The woman crouched amidst the dead leaves of a copse of half-barren trees is aware of the cold, in that her nose is halfway numb from breathing it, and the tingle in her fingers would be bothersome if she let herself care. She's been out here a long time — although the overcast sky has been nothing but shades of darkest gray, revealing nothing of actual time elapsed.

Hana Gitelman carries an innate connection with the most accurate clocks in the world. For their part, they assert that she has been easing her way through one copse of trees after another for three hours, twenty-seven minutes, fifty-nine and two-tenths, three-tenths, four-tenths of a second.

Too much information. Superfluous information.

The maps she has access to are not. Some of them are mere educated conjecture, the figurings of conspiracy theorists with ample curiosity and time to spare; some half-forgotten in digital records, and one retrieved with care from a physical file. Her working copy isn't on paper anymore, of course; isn't here to crinkle and give her presence away to the sentry standing beside a house the Company has yet to find use for.

It's the tunnel beneath it which actually merits the guard.

She waits until his bored attention is directed somewhere very much away from herself, an ephemeral 'hand' wrapping silence around the agent's radio. Then the woman detaches herself from the woods.

Kindness is a form of sacrifice; it extracts a price from the giver that the former agent is not prepared to pay, for all that her own hubris is like to have its own cost in the end. She leaves no living enemies in her wake, disabled or otherwise.

In the even blacker darkness of an unlit concrete tunnel, she progresses on, a solitary presence accompanied by the faintest glow of ghost-green chemiluminescence.

Ghosts generally don't come armed to the teeth.

She plots her course into the lit and occupied passages from a combination of prior research and present listening; every radio, every cellphone, every computer with a wireless card is a beacon to Hana. One beacon blazes her goal; the others, warnings and advisories. A few cannot be avoided; nonetheless, with surprise on her side, the body count can only climb, one rung at a time.

For all that Wireless has her digital ears well-tuned to the networks around her; for all that she is poised to stifle any message that may forewarn her prey of the hunter's approach — no plan survives contact with the enemy. No preparations, however thorough, cover all possibilities: there are other senses than hers.

Red light floods the subterranean passages, and a warning klaxon blares.

Surprised, Hana Gitelman is. She thought she'd have more time than this.

Not surprised enough for the first responders to have any chance. They know someone's here, but not yet who; they're still wearing radios.

It won't matter if she leaves the knives behind; there are more. She does. Eschews the main stairwells with their traffic, the ones still some distance away, in favor of a closer and less-traveled maintenance passage; the base equivalent of a back alley. There's no one waiting at the bottom, yet. No one around the first corner.

The second brings the intruder into the normal haunts of administrative staff, empty in the ruby glow of warning lights; they have retreated from the halls in anticipation of the cavalry sweeping through. Or nearly all — bureaucrats can't be counted upon to carry radios. The lioness remains the swifter to pounce.

It's after this, as she continues through the gently curving corridor, that Hana's sixth sense begins to go silent. Not with the abrupt cessation of a negator's influence, but the bit-by-bit controlled shutdown of one computer terminal after another.

Compared to the constant white noise of wireless traffic, the murmurings of radios and cellphones sit in a backdrop of deafening silence.

It's just distracting enough that she doesn't hear the agent until the sharp reports of three gunshots echo from the walls, slash of red pain heralding the bruise now forming over her left shoulderblade. Center-of-mass shots work better in the absence of Kevlar.

He dumped his radio, not five hundred feet away; she can hear it, feel it. Knows it's his, it's the only nearby one that doesn't move — but others are also beginning to sit still, in the wake of the last command to be sent across them. Someone put two and two together, passed it up the chain. The second it takes to make these connections is the same second needed for Hana to spin around, her own gun abruptly in hand. He isn't wearing armor.

The Israeli woman stands there a moment, the length of a slowly indrawn breath; looks down at his body while her thoughts run elsewhere. Holsters her weapon and kicks off her shoes, the better to run in silence; grits her teeth against the knot of fire in her back.

Run she does, but not away. It would be the wise thing to — no, the wise course would have been to never set out on this mad errand in the first place.

Monk has been trying to teach his niece wisdom for years. It is a lesson Hana chooses not to absorb. Wisdom brings no solace to nor outlet for her anger.

At least now she is doing something.

The alarm blare drowns out almost all else, but the sounds of clomping shoes can be heard between its beats; she ducks down another passage, steps swift and light. So close, and yet so far. Two more corners. There's a hissed exclamation upon the discovery of her abandoned shoes; Hana takes advantage of it, her charge less reckless than it appears on the surface. The knives are gone before the firearms have quite been brought around to bear; by the time there is a gunfight, the former Mossad has her own back out.

For all that there's four of them and one of her, it's an uneven fight — in Hana's favor. She may not come out unscathed, but she's the one still standing.

Passing the second corner reveals to Hana an empty corridor, one lined with closed and partly-closed doors. The threshold of interest is halfway open, perhaps as if abandoned in a hurry; suspicion is inevitable. She creeps up on stocking feet, as silent as can be, senses pushed to the limit for any information at all —

"Welcome, Gitelman."

The voice is female, and that wasn't expected. Hana completes her turn around the door, looks at the two figures in its shadow: a tall man in a suit, an older woman with silver hair. The woman smiles, but the genial expression doesn't quite reach those piercingly blue eyes.

Hana's gun seems to be a little heavier as she brings it up to bear; the motion isn't what it should be.

"I have to give you credit for trying."

The dart that sinks into the side of her neck was fired from no gun; the drug it dumps into Hana's system makes her stagger as its effect kicks in, her vision suddenly too blearly to maintain aim. The impulse to fire is lost somewhere between generation and execution, although the former agent clings stubbornly to its grip even as her knees give out and she crumples to the floor.

"But you didn't really think it would work, did you?"

In some measure of mercy, Hana Gitelman is unconscious before the second dart strikes home.

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