All Your Rage


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title All Your Rage
Synopsis Trapped together by unfortunate circumstances, members of FRONTLINE are pressed into close quarters with Ash.
Date November 8, 2010


From here, the city looks like a candle.

Fires burn on the horizon, lighting up the night's sky like a thousand torches set against a canvas of black. Cinders and ash rain down in equal measure over the borough of Queens like snow in the winter. It's been hours since the chaos began, hours since Ashley Williams thrust himself out into the worst of it. If the end of the world truly was going to come, like so many had said, he would meet the Four Horsemen head on, he would listen to the Seventh Seal crack.

Perched on a second story fire escape, his breath is mote what he is hoping to catch. With a red scarf wound around his face to keep out the detritus in the air, Ash surveys the silent city streets, matched up against the distant sound of popping gunfire further away. The sound of gunfire has been echoing through the concrete jungle most of the day, joined with sirens and screams; Ash's own personal playground.

Catching his breath, ruck sack resting against the wrought iron railing edge, Ash finds this neck of southern Queens furthest from the fires to be the quietest. It's been a productive day, rescuing fleeing civilians from rioters, taking pot-shots at Institute vans from sniper perches, long shots on DHS operatives in the field. It didn't matter who they were — what they were doing — to Ash this had become total war. Rules of engagement are for politicians.

Breathing less ragged now from all his running, Ash loops one strap of his ruck sack around his arm, slinging it over his shoulder before grabbing his scoped rifle where it rested up against the railing. All's clear seems clear enough, and as he backs up to the ladder and drops down through the opening to the alleyway below, his boots strike the asphalt hard.

Dropping to a crouch isn't a result of the weight of Ash's pack, but because he heard something, or thought he did. The same moment his boots his the ground, a distant sound, distinct. When a woman screams again, a panicked, feverish scream, Ash springs up straight and begins a flat run towards the mouth of the alley. There's voices — sounds — howling and screaming people that don't make any sense.

When Ash skids to a stop and breaks out onto the street, he sees a young woman and two children running from a mob — a mob of at least thirty, maybe more. By the time Ash has lined up a shot on the lead of the mob with his rifle, the woman has passed out of the scope's frame and a shot pops off, sending the first rioter down. A snap-crack of the bolt action rifle chambers another round as Ash moves from his spot, only then noticing that the man he shot in the thigh is getting back up.

He hardly even breaks his stride, rolling and tumbling after being hit, drooling blood dark down his pant leg, before breaking in to a sprint again. Tracking the movement of the woman, Ash sees her and the children rush into an abandoned twenty-four hour convenience store. The lights are dark, windows are blown out in the front and the door rests crooked on its frame.

"What the fuck…" Ash murmurs, starting to run again before stopping in the middle of the street and shooting at three more of the oncoming rioters to the same effect. Confusion crosses his face, shock next, and Ash shoulders his rifle over its strap, bracing the butt with the back of his hand before unsheathing a kukri from his belt and charging the door to the convenience store as five of the rioters break away to follow the young woman and her kids.

He moves in that direction, putting a bullet in the skull of a man who rears up with an axe, swinging for his arm, the shot rocks the man backwards as his life empties out on the pavement. Two more shots are fired, both striking the back of one of the people pilin ginto the convience store, one scoring the spinal column and sending the man to the ground, twitching and spasming. The .45's are tucked away and his khukri's are pulled out.

Ash sprints through the crowd, slicing who he has to to get through to the store, hearing the crashing of shelves inside as the people go wild. Someone's life blood pours out of their throat as he rakes his blade across it, sneding them gurling to the ground when they try to stab him with a piece of rebar. His feet trailing bloody tracks he makes his way into the store, lifting a khukri and flinging it, burying it in the back of the neck of a woman with an ice pick who was following th ewoman and her children into the back of the store. Ash, swearing the entire time tries to makes his way through towards the body to retrieve his blade and safeguard the poor woman.

It's the worst possible position he could be in, with the horde closing in with howling menace. Somewhere outside an explosion of flames lights up the street, distant automatic gunfire fills the air again, and Ash is sure he isn't the only one dealing with this. Though once he's cut and hacked his way into the store, blood drooling down the blade of his kukri and spattered across the front of his tactical vest, he can hear the mob outside thorugh the open doors to the convenience store.

There's a side door too, lots of glass windows, this isn't a defensible position at all. Through the haze of adrenaline, Ash can see the mother and her two children running thorugh the middle aisles past rows of snack foods towards the direction of the coolers. She's barefoot, leaving bloodied footsteps, and her children are crying loud enough that just hiding isn't going to do a damned world of good.

Unfortunately, they're running from Ash too, but the way they're headed is only going to get them cornered.

Ash growls low in his throat before shouting out to the mother. "Stop running away! I can't defend you if you run. I'm trying to help get you to safety." He hears the gunfire outside, but right this moment he can't do anything about it, not even investigate it. He moves through the store, killing the other people chasing the mother and her children, one by one each falls beneath his blade, and then blades when he fetches his second khukri. He looks around, and seeing no one, he moves, and moves fast, darting through the aisles to catch up with the woman, though his blades are held out of sight when he catches up to them.

"Ma'am, stop and come with me. I'm going to get you somewhere safe okay? There's someone outside, multiple someone's, dealing with the mob, they can protect you and get you to safety, I just need to get you to them okay?" he offers his hand out towards the woman, after carefully wiping the blood mostly off on the thigh of his body suit. "Please." He looks to her, an earnestness in his features and his voice. He wants to help, he's just trying to get her to see that and come with him.

Trapped at the end of a back corridor that leads to the beer cooler, the frantic middle-aged woman slams up against the metal door, then turns around with wide eyes when she hears Ash speak and not scream like some sort of pained animal. She gathers her children behind her, brown eyes wide, sweat, soot and blood streaking her face, trembling from head to toe. The little boy with her leans out from behind her, eyes wide as he watches Ash from the shadows behind the woman protecting him.

She opens her mouth, as if to ask a question, maybe say something, maybe just scream but something else interrupts that idea. There's a sudden explosion that shakes the building, far to Ash's right and well out of sight. Glass blows into the convenience store, and the sounds of a light machine gun blare into the night. «I repeat, this is Michael Spalding, FRONTLINE Unit 1! I have an officer down and am requesting immediate extraction! I'm pinned down at a convenience store on the corner of 11th and Parkstead!»

More automatic gunfire roars in Ash's ears, and while he can't see where the new arrival has come in to the store, he can hear the howling shrieks of more berserking rioters being gunned down. He also knows that where that voice is, there's always trouble.

Ash steps up to shield the woman when the explosion goes off, knowing that glass will be flying. He hisses in pain as some of it makes it's way through his body suit, slicing flesh, but they're not bad. "On second thought, stay here. I'll make sure no one gets back here okay? He smiles at her, offering the woman some reassurance if he can before he growls in his throat and turns. Of all the damned places for the tin man to show up… Ash's head shakes in disbelief before he frowns and sighs. He moves through the convenience store, his scoped rifle is set down on the counter as he opens his rucksack and pulls out his trusty AR-15.

He grabs the two spare drum mags for the thing and moves up to the front windows. A quick peek outside shows him the tin man in his armor, and the downed officer. A growl pulls from his throat. He can't believe he's going to help FRONTLINE. But, they're cleaning up the mob, helping people too. He lifts his gun to hsi shoulder, and fires into the mob, casings flying pase his left ear as he sights down the gun at people. He pulls the trigger rapidly,s ending bursts into the crowd, though he aims at head height. He doesn't like the idea of having to kill random citizens, but these people endanger others. Nearly every shut finds itself a kill, or at least an incapacitation, blood spraying from the impact points.

Far too quickly his gun clicks on empty, and he pops the clip free, letting it bounce off the ground with a metallic clack as he slams home the first of the drum magazines and lifts the rifle up again, moving to the front door of the shop now as he fires into the crowd still. "Move your fucking ass tin man. If you want your partner to live get their stupid ass into the back of the store. Saved amother and her children from these people and they're back there. Move!" He shouts, stepping forwards of Spalding as casings slide from the breech of his rifle like rain, tinging and pattering off the sidewalk now that he's outside.


Well that's not a thank you.

Michael pivots on his heels, missing his helmet, blood running down his forehead from a gash across his brow, his own AR-15 aimed towards Ash in a quick sweep. At Michael's feet is another FRONTLINE officer, also without helmet, her long, dark hair spread out behidn her, eyes shut and hands limp at her side. Her armor is shredded at the abdomen, blood is spreading out beneath her where she lays, but much less than should be, considering the injury. Her entire exo-skeleton harnass has been removed, and— there— is a huge dog standing nearby to her, shaggy and gray-furred with pointed ears, bright gold eyes and overlarge paws. Some sort of wolfhound hybrid, enormous, bloodied in the muzzle.

Surprisingly well behaved.

For the first time Ash has seen the face of his enemy clearly, and Michael Spalding is a good ten years older than Ash. Hair clipped in a crew cut, eyes narrowed, respirator mask covering his mouth and nose, modulating his voice.

Reaching up to take off the mask, Michael lets it hang loose around his neck.

Ash didn't shoot first.

The screaming outside is getting closer.

"I've got four mags left and my sidearm and two mags for that. After that it's going to be down to my knife. What ordinance do you have?" They may be enemies, they may be on totally different lines of the government, but right now Michael Spalding and Ashley Williams are the only chance for the female FRONTLINE officer at his feet and the woman with her two kids behind them to survive.

"Ruth has a claymore, I haven't had time to set it up," Michael nudges a boot towards the rectangular box clipped on the fallen woman's waist.

Ash doesn't ignore Spalding by any stretch of the imagination, but he's trusting the soldier to see reason, and to want to save his partner and help Ash save the woman and her children. He takes a knee just past the doorway, putting shots into anyone who comes close to the store, keepign the mob at bay… for the moment. "I don't have much left. Twelve rounds for the rifle on the counter, one hand grenade, four spare clips for my side arms, one drum mag…. FUCK!" His current one clicks empty, and he ejects it, bringing the other up and smacking it home with no pause, loosing off a burst of rounds at the crowd, felling three more people. "No drum mags left. There's an AA-12 in there with a drum mag on it, but that's it." He pops another man dead between the eyes, the man pitching backwards, and Ash grimaces when the crowd turns on him, dismembering his body. "What the fuck is going on?!" He shouts to the Frontline Soldier.

"Don't arm the claymore. There's duct tape in the bag. Tape the hand grenade to the claymore, then fling the shit out into that crowd! And get fucking to it." Ash looks around warily, popping more shots off into the people, then pulling back to the doorway instead of being outside. "And get your fucking partner into the back while you're at it." He growls in his throat and continues firing into the crowd.

"You want to give me some more soldiers to go with all those orders, Colonel?" Michael approaches one of the blown out windows of the convenience store, staring down the iron sights as he pops off gunfire into the growing crowd. "Jesus Christ they aren't stopping!" Flicking the slide from semi-automatic to full auto, Michael begins popping off short three-round bursts, one by one aiming for center mass, sending clattering shell casings to the ground.

"We were up in Queens, responding to a call of a local police precinct getting attacked by a mob! When we got there, these people were everywhere! Ruth and I were the only ones to go in, rest of the Unit is spread out across the city." Gunfire roars from more shots, and Michael starts backing up as he crouches down at Ruth's side, curling his fingers around some of her hydraulic framework over the armor, dragging her back with a bloody streak along the ground.

The huge dog follows behind her, padding slowly as if not willing to leave its master's side. Michael gets her as far as the mouth of the corridor, before looking up at the sound of a window smashing and three young men climbing in to the store.

Michael's gun goes off, and the woman with her two children duck and cover their ears. Two of the three intruders are blown back out of the window, a third loses his arm at the elbow from the gunfire, followed by a rapid click-click-click from Michael's AR-15

"Out of ammo! Out of ammo! Take him!" Michael screams as he ejects his mag, and the one-armed ravenous young man launches himself over the store's counter towards Ash, kicking the register over and howling like a wild animal as he does.

Ash shouts over his shoulder. "Just fucking do it, or I'll come do it. Fucking pick one." His voice raised loud to be heard over the mob of zombie people. "Hey, Jesus has nothing to do with this shit, you leave him out asshole!" He grits his teeth as he fires more rounds into the crownd, trigger pull after trigger pull sending the poor citizens of New York tumbling to the ground, their lives snuffed out.

A tear runs down Ash's cheek at the destruction, sadness clouding his features. The hears the crash of the window, but excepts Michael to be able to handle it. When he hears the empty click of Michael's rifle though he spins around, pulling his trigger, only to get the same answer. "Fuck!" He cries out, tossing his gun to the side and reaching behind him for a khurki, only he won't be fast enough. The man leaps for him, and ash spins to the side, lifting his body into the air as he delivers a bone shattering side kick to the man's head, the loud snap of his neck, and the crunch of his skull caving in showing tell to Ash's abilities as a kick boxer, and his near unnatural strength. As the man's body literallyf lies through the air, bouncing off of the doors to the soda coolers, Ash spins back around, his khukri's coming out of their sheaths once again and brandished.

With the lack of gunfire people begin to mob towards the door. And insteda of letting them mob him at the door he steps back to give him a bit of space to work in. As people pour through the door, and the windows, limbs, heads, fingers, random body parts that people didn't know they had, all go flying, sliced apart by the razor edge of his khukri's. "Gimme some fire support!" He shou8ts back to Spalding as he whirls around, blood spraying, decorating the walls as more bodies drop, a vertiable wall of them being built up at the door and windows. "Why won't they fucking stop?!" He growls, and is forced to take a step back to give him more room to work, losing ground bit by bit to the sheer press of numbers from the mob. A shout of pain sounds as a knife find's it's mark in his forarm, slicing into the armor and parting the flesh beneath. The man loses his arm at the shoulder for his efforts, and Ash tugs the knife free, throwing it into the throat of a crazed looking woman with stringy hair and a wild look in her eyes.

Popping off a few quick shots now that he's loaded, Michael tries his best to clear away the men directly around Ash. "We need to go upstairs! We need to gain some ground!" Michael looks back over his shoulder towards the mother and children behind him. "Go for the stairs! Go! Door to your left!" He isn't familiar with the geography, but when the door is marked stair access it's a little like precognition, since they didn't see it — right?

Whipping back around, Michael fires off more shots into the crowd, rising up from Ruth's side, unaware that the woman is breathing heavily now, sitting up and pawing for Ash's ruck sack. "What the fuck is wrong with them all!?" Michael sweeps around, squeezing off another barrage of gunfire towards the mob, slicing down rows of people as they begin to overwhelm the entrance. "This is— this is impossible! Hey, come on! We're going up, we'll bottle neck them on the stairs! I've got a helicopter on the way!"

Witht he mother and children already fleeing to the roof, Michael backs up to Ash's back, reaching down to take the grenade off his belt, then hustles back over to Ruth, just in time ot see her hound leap through the air. The dog flies past Michael as he turns aside with a whirr of his hydraulics and drops one of the invading berserkers, teeth ripping out the man's throat.

As the dog breaks back into action, Michael looks back to Ruth and knows that she's awake. A sudden concussive explosion of gunfire fills the room as Ruth begins unloading with the AA-12 from Ash's ruck sack, pumping auto-fire shotgun rounds through the blown out windows, clearing two, sometimes three men at a time. Michael sweeps around behind her, reaches for the claymore when there's a lull in the crowd, but Ruth's hand grabs Michael's.

There's a lot more blood on the floor than there was a minute ago.

"No," Michael insists as things get quiet, as the screaming stops, and the howling masses next wave seem to be down the street. "We're hauling you up, come on." He curls fingers around Ruth's hydraulics at her arm, but her silent glare and the blood filling her mouth is one answer.

That she can't move her legs is another.

Ash glances back as Spalding directs the people up the stairs to get them out of danger, and give Spalding and Ash some room. "We're not gonna gain any fucking ground until we thin them out." He calls over his shoulder, catching a fist upside his head for his trouble. He spins back around, driving the pommel of his blades into the man's forhead and sending him reeeling backwards.

He backs up slowly before he stops at the statement about a helicopter. "Yeah, that's nice. I can't go on your fucking helicopter." He shouts out to the soldier. "I refuse to be wrongly imprisoned again!" He shakes his head, but backs up a little bit, though he nearly kills the dog when it jumps past him like that, stopping hismelf just short of slicing through it's spine. He backs up, and hacks another man down, slicing his body completely in two from shoulder to hip before he steps back as the roar of gunfire goes off, and bodies literally disintigrate in front of him, gore splashing everywhere as all manner of bits of human beings go flying, decorating the room. He turns, looking back to Michael and his partner.

"Woman, we don't have fucking time for stupid ass heroics. You may be beyond hope but there's no fucking point in dying like that when we can set the claymore up to go off without you down here. So fuck you, you're going up stairs." H eblinks then, snorting as he shakes hsi head, flecks of blood flying from his face and hair. "Who'd have fucking thought I'd ever be saying that to a fucking Frontline." He moves back towards the two soldiers.

"Upstairs, now." he looks to Ruth. "Don't make ma take you up there. I can do it and I think you know it." He turns to look back at the doors and window. "And we don't have much time." Daritng forwards quick Ash takes the claymore off of her belt and walks away with it, fingers deftly setting the thing up. He stops at the door and hmms, then pulls over an empty ice cream cart and sets the claymore up with it's sensors pointing towards the door, it's legs trapped btween the doors and the body of it. "Good, it's set, now lets go."

"Go," is Ruth's only answer as she spits a mouthful of blood down onto the floor, not listening in the least to Ash's recommendation to leave. Instead, she looks up to Michael and murmurs. "Sit me up," because she can't move her lower body enough to do it. Michael offers a look to Ash, then down to Ruth and her slashed open midsection that looks to have been torn apart by gunfire. He grabs her by the shoulder, hauls her up with a yell that has her dog's teeth pulling back into a snarl before he realizes Michael isn't intentionally hurting her.

Once she's sitting up, back to a cooler door, she braces the AA-12 against her shoulder and uses the hydraulics of the suit's exo-skeleton to brace herself from the recoil as she fires a round out through the front doot to an advancing figure darkly silhouette by fire.

"You can stay down here— if you like." Ruth calmly offers to Ash in alternative to the helicopter, even as Michael turns a look to Ash with a shake of his head, backing up towards the door. His expression seems to convey the dire nature of the situation, and if Ruth Crow Dog is choosing how she leaves this world, that's more than most people get the honor of doing.

Michael isn't going to deprive her of it, not when he knows the situation.

Waiting for ash at the bottom of the stairs to the roof, Michael keeps his rifle braced to his shoulder, hearing the wail and howl of the surging crowd getting closer. Then, from around the corner of the next street over, a group three times the size of the last begins to charge towards the building.

Ash shakes his head, muttering about stupidity and dumb soldiers with nothing better to do than sacrafice themselves, only to stop in his tracks, and laugh softly, the laugh growing in volume and gusto as he walks over to the bag of weapons and ammunition, mostly empty of ammo now. "Now I fucking sound just like Peter." He laughs again, hsi head shaking as he roots through his bag. He comes out with an underslung grenade launcher for his AR-15, and three grenades for it. He turns hsi head, and hsi eyes back upon Ruth and Michael. "It's not much of a choice. I can die here, helping to defend an innocent woman and her children, or I can go rot in prison by taking that helicopter ride. As I said." he locks the grenade launcher onto his assault rifle. "I won't be imprisoned again. I may deserve prison now. But I damn sure didn't deserve MOAB when they threw me in there." He lifts a grenade round, stuffs it into the tube, then walks to a window.

He leans out, rather casually, and the thump of a grenade is heard as it goes sailing through the air. The sheer explosive force and destruction stops the mob, if only for a few seconds as bodies and body parts go flying through the air. He then leans back in and reloads it, glancing over to Spalding and Ruth. "So, unless you can promise me I won't go to prison for trying to…" He leans back out the window, wiping out another ten foot area of people with a grenade.

"Help that woman and her children, then I'll be sticking aorund down here." He winks at them both, leans out, and fires the last grenade, this time into back of a semi, watching with satisfaction as the trailer itself is blown apart, shrapnel scything through the mob, chunks of debris taking out far more than the grenade on it's own would have. He walks back in, and over to the sack, putting the rifle away, and begins to pull out all of his knives. Throwing knives, stabbing knives, all manner of things, sticking them all over. "Besides, I still owe you an ass kicking tin man, how am I gonna get that if I end up in prison?"

"I can't give that kind of reassurance!" Michael shouts over the sound of the explosion, sending bodies and limbs flying outside of the store. The crowd splits around the blast, some with arms hanging off running towards the store, spreading wide and coming now from nearly all directions like a tidal wave. Michael's gun goes off, Ruth's borrowed AA-12 discharges through the demolished door at ones she can see.

"Get the hell out of here, now, Spalding!" Ruth winces and chokes up a line of blood from her mouth as she continues to fire from her sitting position, and Michael looks over to Ash, then back to the incoming wall of bodies.

Who is he to choose how people die?

"Take your chances down here or up there, it ain't my choice. But I know mine!" Michael Spalding isn't going to stay down here with the dead, he's going to fight from the roof, defend the high ground, and maybe if he's lucky make it out of here in something other than a body bag. When he turns for the stairs, his boots thump loudly on the steps on his way up, shouting to the mother above that he's on his way.

Outside, the mob grows, surges and swells. From the vantage point at the window, Ash can see the growing, seething crowd of the rioters clashing their makeshift weapons together, most of them covered in blood, some of them barefoot— some of them children.

The wave is going to break on the ground floor of the store, one way or another.

Ash takes a nine millimeter from his bag and hands it off to Ruth. "Save a shot for yourself. Being torn limb from limb is a pretty damned ugly way to go." He looks her in the eyes then. "I'm sure I'll be joining you before too long, but first I have to make sure that that woman and her kids get away safely, and I can better do that from upstairs." He then grabs up the scoped rifle and hands it to her, with the extra clip. "Twelve shots, make them count." With that he's moving for the steps, no more words.

Despite his size, Ash makes no noise on the stairs. He hikes up them three at a time, hopping really, like the ninja he's been compared to lately. He emerges up from the stairwell and takes a peek around before he pulls out both of his .45's, and sets the spare clips down on the floor to either side of him, facing up to easily slide them in. He doesn't look Spalding's way though, just stairs down the stairwell. "I'm making sure that woman and her kids get to safety, then I'm the fuck outta here." He tosses it over his shoulder as he listens to the sound of gunfire downstairs, rounds going off, and bodies hitting the floor, the splash of them hitting the masisve pool of blood downstairs. "Is she okay?" he asks, nodding his head towards the mother and her children.

Downstairs, there is a violent sound of a massive dog howling and snarling, along with shelves toppling, glass shattering and repeated rounds of the AA-12 firing off, its rumbling discharge of the automatic shotgun pulverizing the rioters as they enter through the windows, then the door—

The sound of the claymore going off is accompanied by a flash of light from over the edge of the roof and a massive rumble that sends bodyparts flying and dust blown high up into the air. At Ash's question, Michael flicks a look back to the mother and her two children, crouched down in a corner of the roof behind the low wall, huddled together with heads down, her hands over their ears.

She'll live.

Moving to the mouth of the stairwell, Michael trains his AR-15 down thorugh the opening and breathes deeply, when the sound of the AA-12 ends down below, followed by a yelp and yowl from Ruth's dog, the pop of a handgun is fired one round at a time. THen, finally, there is no more sound of gunfire, nothing but silence, and the slap of wet feet on tile floor.

The mother moves away from her children when she sees something out of the corner of her eye, trying to drown out of the sounds of screams and conflict, she rushes over to where some lawn furniture is arranged on the roof. "I'll be right back!" She yells to the children, grabbing a portable radio and cranking the volume before hustling back and setting it down at her feet. At the same time, Michael sees the first of the rioters coming into view in the bottleneck of the stairwell.

"Free fire, free fire!" It's force of habit to shout instructions, and when Michael's gun begins firing, the blast of muzzle flash and 5.56 rounds launched down the stairwell tear apart the rioters as they're trapped in the narrow opening. Screaming in fright, the young mother moves to crouch down by her children again, as Ash's gun joins the fire down the stairs, picking off rioters as they climb over one another. Neither Ash nor Michael hear the radio get turned on, though over the gunfire clips of a voice can be heard, volume raised as loud as possible.

She didn't know— couldn't know about what was being re-broadcast, about thepower of words.

But when Michael raises a hand to indicate a ceasefire and the wave seems to have stopped, his breathing catches up with his firing and the tail end of a sentence catches Ash's ears.

« — ill rise up. Every Prophet in his House.»

The moment that trigger sounds in Ash's mind, memory of Rupert Carmichael's treachery fills his senses, fills his thoughts, and in that single moment, Ash feels himself filled with a homicidal rage.

In an instant, he's turned into one of them.

Ash fires, and fires,and fires. Expending both clips, letting them fly to his sides as he slams his handguns down again, lifting and firing into the crowd. Every single shot is a head shot, each bullet felling a citizen of New York. When bodies stop making their way up the stairs he sighs, and pops his last clips out. He pulls back the slides on his pistols, smiling when he finds one single round left in the right hand gun. He tucks the .45 back into it's holster, then the other. The clips for them are scooped up and tossed in the sack.

He sighs softly, then looks up as he hears the radio, his eyes widening. He has purposefully avoided all radio, TV, and phone contact. "No! Turn it o….." His steps were carrying him towards the woman, but they falter, and the man goes still as those words echo through his mind. Every Prophit in his House. It bounces around in his skull as he stands there, stock still for a handful of seconds.

Ash spins around with a sudden jerk, his eyes scanning around him. THankfully they fall on Spalding first, and with a feral scream, and madness in his eyes he launches himself at the Frontline soldier, bodily tackling the man in his tin suit, and bearing him to the ground, only for Ash to wrap his arms around Spalding and heave him up off of the roof top, and fling him towards the edge of the roof, though even he doesn't have the strength to send the man in his heavy suit very far, watching him skid towards the edge and stop with several feet to spare.

Ash turns then, eyes settling on the woman and her children. His face is entirely different. Where before it offered kindnesss and deliverance from the raving maniacs, now it offers the same thing as those maniacs, horrible painful death.

Shocked by the sudden attack and having been able to be hurled off of his feet, Michael pushes himsefl up with one hand, his AR-15 flung too far away to make a difference. Reaching down to his side, he unclips the weighty .50 caliber pistol there in both hands, hydraulics whirring as his arms come up. "Stop! I said stop!" Fear, real and honest mortal fear crosses Michael's face when Ash turns, when he realizes the broadcast was to blame.

Sweeping his gun towards the radio, Michael fires his warning shot at it, demolishing the device and sending the mother and her children scrambling for cover. But Ash isn't listening, isn't heeding commands. Once an enemy, then an ally, and now an enemy again, Michael finds himself firing a round square to Ash's shoulder, knowing he's wearing body armor.

The .50 caliber handgun round hits Ash's shoulder like a slegdehammer, flattens against a plate after nearly punching through it and throws Ash off of his feet and down to the ground. The pains hould keep him down, but Ash no longer feels pain. He isn't limited by the restrictions of a human body, isn't limited by anything any longer.

All he is limited by is his anger.

And the anger of Ashley Williams, is unlimited.

Ash doesn't speak, he just snarls, like a wild animal, his lips peeled back from his teeth. He doesn't go for his weapons even, his rage overcoming even that innate sense for him. He spins around at the shout from Spalding, his eyes wide and wild, promising death just as they did for the mother and her children. The warning shot that takes out the radio does nothing, but… at least Spalding knows the real reason Ash ended up this way. Their fights have always been brutal, but never feral.

His feet push off, and he begins to run flat out towards Michael, eating up the short distance fast until… with a hard slam and the ringing of a bell he's taken clean off his feet, skidding a few feet along the roof before coming to a stop. The pain freezes him for only a second before he's up on his feet again, moving headling towards Spalding. He roars, a primal and animal noise echoing through the air as he spears himself into Spalding's midsection, his momentum and strength carrying them both off of the roof, cleanly out through the open air, and then crashing down onto the concrete, Ash using Spalding as a landing pad before springing to the side, rolling and coming up on his feet. He drops into a fighting crouch, martial arts training instilled into him bringing a semblance of order back to his fighting, if only for the moment.

Metal shatters from a fall of that height, Michael's right shoulderblade too, even through the impact resistance of the armor. Having not taken any blunt force trauma yet, Michael's bones are just as brittle as any normal man's. When he rolls onto his side after the impact, it reveals the shattered asphalt beneath him from the weight of his collusion. Hydraulic fluid leaks dark and wet from his exo-skeleton, and with one hand up to the quick release cord, he pulls the cable and with a triggering of the emergency systems shears off all of the connection bolts.

The entire heavy metal framework falls away from the sleek body armor, and Michael staggers up to his feet. "You— you son of a…" He breathes painfully with cracked ribs, snorting back a nose full of blood before reaching up to his chest, unsheathing the combat knife there with a slip of metal over plastic.

"Alright," Michael exhales breathlessly, looking up to the roof then around the street — empty for the moment — then back to Ash. "You want me!" Try to draw him away from the mother and her children, that's all he can think. "You want me! Come and fucking get me!"

Ash tilts hsi head, watching with apparent fascination as the second skin splits away and falls to the ground. Spalding is a wounded animal now. Unfortunatley for Ash though, the fact that the man will now be only half hurt by the next blow he lands… doesn't quite break through his rage and Rupert's programming. Ash twists his head, cracking his neck before he moves forwards, stopping though when the knife is pulled out. Ash's eyebrows furrow together, as if thought requires great amounts of effort. His right hand slides down to the sheath on his thigh, unsnapping the leather holding it down and slips free the wicked combat knife he's been using for awhile. One that MIchael has seen personally twice now. One that has tasted his blood.

Ash moves in in a quick step right, then step left, throwing out a feinting kick to the right, turning the kick into a step forwards and to the side, bringing his left knee up towards Michael's midsection, only to feint that one as well and slide around behind the man. Spalding is being tested, Ash looking for openings in the man's defenses, much like an animal would look for weaknesses in it's pray. And that is exactly what Ash is right now, a hunting predator.

He hunkers down, moving in a half crouch, circling slowly before he darts in quick, knife slashing towards Michael's arm, only to reverse direction and catch against the soldier's blade, used to keep that edge away from him as he drives a hard knee into the injured side of the FRONTLINE soldier, though a howl of pain rips from his throat as the other man's knife slices down and into his thigh, missing any major arteries, but letting blood spill from the armored suit none the less.

Blood and a silvery, mercurial fluid that is housed inside of the armor itself. The reactive MR fluid inside of the Horizon armor has always had a problem with slashing weapons. No kinetic force to trigger the reactive armor to stiffen up, and winds up being like cutting through leather-wrapped packets of pudding.

Michael screams as the knife embeds in his leg, winding up and slamming Ash in the jaw with a gauntleted hand, knocking him away from the knife as Michael wrenches it out of his leg and throws it to the pavement with a clatter and a clang. Ash twists like a cat in the air, landing on all fours, his tendons tightening before he lunges back towards Michael, just in time for the FRONTLINE officer to step aside and wrap Ash's head in an arm-lock, bringing the blade of his knife down into Ash's shoulder. "Stop!" Michael screams, his hesitation to kill his folly.

Ash's head reels back, feeling up pain as the knife cuts deeper and the back of his skull conntects to the bridge of Michael's nose. Blood sprays down the front of Spalding's face as he staggers back, dropping his own knife which Ash supplements into his own arsenal. Wheeling arounf, he slashes wildly behind himself, Catching the forearmo plates of Michael's matte black armor, causing scrapes to issue down the front in silvery streaks. Michael rolls away and backwards over his broken shoulder, wincing in pain and faltering as he picks up Ash's knife, then leaps back into the fight, blocking a snap-kick from the athletic soldier, stopping a maneuver with the knife with a batt of his armored forearm, then steps in through Ash's reach and—

—Pain strikes Michael as Ash's knife finds his throat, sawing at exposed flesh, trying to get it to cut. The force should have carved all the way to the bone, instead it just leaves a deep laceration before Michael uses all of his strength to shoulder-throw Ash off of himself, sending the bulkier man down onto his back. Michael can't follow through, one hand grasping at his neck to apply pressure to the bleeding.

Down the street, screaming picks up again.

More are coming.

Grunts and scuffle are the sounds of the night as the two soldiers, both fighting for the cause they believe in, go at eachother. Or well, normally it would be for the cause they believe in. Right now it's because of Rupert's twisted self that Ash is attacking Spalding. His words rending Ash's mind apart, turning him into a beast of rage and fury, and Spalding into the individual that gets unleashed on. Though, if anyone in the world could take it, it is Spalding.

A snarl of frustration rips from Ash's throat as the knife fails to cut Michael's throat. Ash tosses it down on the ground, useless as it is, and sways to the right, then the left, lifting his left arm a bit, only to growl in pain, blood pouring down it, dripping from him onto the street. His blood mingling with Spaldin'gs on the ground. He lurches forwards, a hard kick thrown out towards the other man, though the blood loss in his leg causes him to wobbble a bit, which is all Michael needs.

Instinct and training kick in at the sight of that wobble in Ash's leg. With an almost methodical step and blow Michael moves forwards, taking the strike of Ash's foot against his side, the pain dulled to nothing by his ability. A hard fist strikes out, smashing into Ash's solar plexus, driving the wind out of the other man and sending him staggering backwards. A follow up blow is thrown, though it's deflected off of Ash's good forarm, and then he's being born ot the gorund again, the bigger man on top of him. As he crashes down, his skull bouncing off of the pavement, a hard right connects with Ash's jaw, splitting skin with the force of the blow, and jerking the Messiah soldier's head back, giving him a few seconds.

Ash's mind reels, his rage very momentarily displaced by the blow to his head. For a moment, a brief second his eyes clear of that rage, and there's a growled curse from him. "Fuuuuckk… you… Charmichael…" He growls out as he fights off the mental conditioning. But his fight lasts all of a few seconds before the now deceased Evolved's programming takes back over and the rage fills Ash's eyes once more. He recovers, and springs towards Michael, tackling him back to the ground, fingers gripping hsi skull and bouncing it off of the pavement, a thud of flesh on concrete, and then another, and another as Ash tries to beat the man's brains out on the pavement, to no avail.

By the time Michael's taken the first battering smack of his skull against the pavement his skin has become so resistant to blunt-force trauma that it's like smacking an iron ball against the ground. One of the soldier's hands lashes up, vicing around Ash's throat before a knee collides with his midsection, followed by the application of a boot as Michael kicks Ash off of him.

Rolling onto his side, gasping for breath, Michael pushes himself up onto one arm, his elbow wobbling and brows furrowed. As he turns to look up at Ash, the soldier's already closing in again, delivering a kick to the side of Michael's head that sends him flipping onto his back again only by the force of the blow.

Michael rolls with the hit, getting up to one knee as he looks around, hearing the howling approach of more scraming rioters. There's only ten, maybe twelve of them, but his greatest worry is that they seem to ignore one another and favor unfrenzied targets. Fighting Ash is taking everything he has, fighting Ash and a horde of insane rioters is impossible.

Michael springs forward from his crouched position, spearing Ash with one shoulder even as he takes a hammering batter of two fists down to his back. When he drops Ash down onto the ground, Michael balls up one fist and slams a punch down across Ash's jaw, then another, then another. He may not have the strength Ash does, may not have the physique or power, but he does have the resiliance to outlast.

Right up until the sound of shattering glass hits Michael's back. Liquid fire sprays up the back of his head, across his suit and dribbles down onto Ash's pants and the pavement beneath them. A shattered molotov cocktail bursts Michael's back and head into flames as a scream rises up from the back of his throat.

Howling, maddened rioters are approaching, weapons clutched in their hands. Though distant the sound is, the chop of helicopter blades in the night is also drawing near.

Ash doesn't seem to be paying attention ot the howling fury of the mob. His focus is utterly on Michael, and Michael alone. Another cry of fury and unrepentant rage fills the night air as he charges, his jaw aching, his whole body aching, bones surely fractured in a number of places, but still he comes on, only to recoil back when the fire hits Spalding, Ash's eyes going wide at it, an almost animal fear of the fire.

The fire burns, flesh crisping and blackening, searing to the muscle beneath until movements cause the skin to split and rip, blood seeping form the wounds as the fire burns away, only to slowly die as Michael's flesh stops burning, stops reacting to the flame, which finally gutters out. A quick breath is taken in, eyes casting worriedly to the approaching mob before he turns his attention back to his foe, only… his vision is filled with the bottom of a foot, which impacts on his face, sending him sprawling backwards onto the pavement.

Ash dives forwards, onto the downed Spalding. What he does next is… painful. His fingers dig into the splits in Michael's skin, and they tug and pull, pulling skin and flesh up away from muscle where he can, clawing and grabbing, trying to rip the man's flesh from his bones, blood spurting as some skin comes away, only for Ash to rock back hard when he catches a forhead to his jaw. He staggers back, then takes a hard swing, fist connecting with the side of Spalding's head and staggering him sideways through sheer force. But, Ash is tiring, his exhausted body unable to take much more of the fight.

Spalding recovers quickly, pulling his eyes back around, vision swimming a bit from the sheer damage he's taken. It's probably been a long time since he's hurt this bad, even from his previous fights with Ash. The soldier knows he won't last much longer. BLood loss and pain working his body down. But he can see his enemy weakening as well, and he moves in to end the fight. Training takes over, the pain ignored for a few crucial seconds as he steps in, a quick swiping kick delivered to the side of the knee brings Ash down onto it, followed up with a heavy knee to the solar plexus, the definite crack of a rib or ribs heard after the second blow to that bone, driving the wind from Ash. he's about to finish it with a knee to the face when his leg is caught, and with a final heave of strength Ash flings Spalding over him to crash into a light post and slide down onto the ground.

Ash collapses onto his side, his eyes focused on Spalding. With exhaustion taking his body, he's unable to fulfill his programming from Rupert, and the influence slowly begins to fade, his eyes returning to normal, or well, a pain wracked fatigue clouded version of normal. "Charmichael. Rupert… fucking… Charmichael did this… remember that name tin man… remember… it…" He blinks his eyes, weariness taking him, though he doesn't pass fully out. He just lays there, and stares at Spalding.

Michael may be able to hear the name, hear the words, but with the blood rushing in his ears and the ringing in his skull maybe he can't. Michael doesn't move, blood pooling out from his wounds into thick, sticky puddles on the ground. The slap of bare feet and shoes carry the rioters closer, and the closest— the one that hurled the molotov cocktail— now prepares to close the distance with little more than a baseball bat, rushing towards where Ash lay dying on the ground.

As he skids to a stop and reels back with the bat, a searchlight suddenly floods over his body and the roar of a helicopter crashes over the rooftops of low-lying buildings. It's unmarked, a black military helicopter with door open and the sudden explosion of blood in the air comes with the whirring report of a an XM196 minigun sawing through the rioter like a knife through bread.

Michael swallows dryly, breathing a rasping breath as his head lols to the side, eyes shut and lips parted as the helicopter comes swooping around towards the scene, turning the minigun on the rest of the crowd as the bullets tear through the rioters like a sword, toppling the remaining ten men in seconds as their broken and shattered bodies collapse to the asphalt. Wheels unfold from the bottom of the helicopter, and Michael Spalding is no longer aware of the world around him, unable to see that the helicopter that responded could not have gotten here in time.

This bird left wherever it came from before his distress call went out.

Touching down on the ground, the door gunner folds up his minigun and moves aside, as white clad men in biohazard suits with smooth and reflective faceplate visors descend onto the street. The hollow pop of grenade launchers fire negation gas around the periphery of the scene, beyond where the two men lay dying. The Retrievers of the Institute move to form a perimeter, guns trained on both Ash and Michael.

What steps out next from the helicopter is a man in armor reminiscent of Michael's, but heavier, plated with external ceramic painted a matte black, advanced hydraulics and a tinted red visor. The numbers 00-04 are stenciled on the chestplate of his Horizon Armor MkII and when he steps out, the Retrievers forming the perimeter look to whoever he is for answers.

Striding out of the helicopter, two gloved fingers are pointed to Ash. «Bring him aboard.» The armored figure's head turns towards where Michael is slouched, «leave Spalding,» seems like an afterthought.

As the Retrievers move to collect the two men hovering on death's door, the armored figure turns to look back down the street, then up to the helicopter. «Command, this is Eldridge. I've picked up Williams, contact with rioters on the street level. Orders?»

«Return home,» is the smooth, flat answer from the man on the other end of the communications. As Ashley Williams is hauled up off of the street, Michael Spalding lays bleeding on the ground, slouched against the telephone pole. Screams for help come from the rooftop, from the woman and her children, but help does not come. The men here today were here for something, here for a specific tool for the war to come; a pawn for the chessboard.

They'd found who they were looking for.

The Commonwealth Institute

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Leaning back in his chair with a soft creak of the leather, the man who now wears Tyler Case's body like a suit folds his hands in front of his mouth, looking up to the weathered, old countenance of Simon Broome standing opposite his desk. Their silence is shared, prolonged, and then finally cut into conversation's beginning.

"What is it that you needed a man like Ashley Williams for?" Simon's brows furrow, one slowly lifting in question as he folds his hands behind his back. The answer from his superior, smugly leaned back in his seat and watching the clock tick away on the wall is a simple one.

"I need him to keep an eye on someone for me," brown eyes move from the clock to Simon, lips creeping up into a slow smile. "Soon."

"Who?" Simon asks with a furrow ofhis brows, throat tightening into an anxious swallow as he considers the man now in charge of the Institute.


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