Animal Testing


bao-wei_icon.gif brian_icon.gif cat_icon.gif harlow_icon.gif helena_icon.gif meredith_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif robin_icon.gif

Also featuring:
NPCs by Chinatown and Bao-Wei.

Scene Title Animal Testing
Synopsis The former Humanis First! operative 'Harlow' leads a Ferry expedition to an Evolved 'cure' research center she used to provide live test subjects for. Ugly surprises await them all.
Date November 18, 2009


Brooklyn is located on the westernmost point of Long Island and shares its only land boundary with Queens. The East river borders and defines the borough's northern coast, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan beach are to the south, and the Narrows separate it from Staten Island to the southwest.

Downtown Brooklyn is one of the NYC's largest business districts. Between the Bridge and Prospect Park, brownstones, townhouses, and high-end restaurants are dominant. The culturally diverse communities of Williamsburg and Greenpoint are snugged against the East River to the far north. Close by are far more criminally active neighborhoods such as Brownsville, Crown Heights, and Bushwick. Regardless of the social situation, the so-called Borough of Neighborhoods is packed to the gills in post-bomb NYC.

Liberty Day n over New York City comes complete with a small herd of lamb-like clouds drifting obediently to the crop and push of autumn's stiffening northerly winds. There's no real threat of rain, but the air hugs humid against the walls of the Ferry's three vans as they push through Brooklyn's narrow streets. These are the smallest hours of the day, dawn still held back behind vaporous moisture both visible and ambient.

Thready dimestores and barfronts give way to chainlinked tarmac, the corrugated doors of storage facilities. Their crawl through the district probably would have gotten progressively dingier and dingier, if the Ferry's contingent hadn't specifically made a deliberate point of sticking to the smaller streets and more underprivileged neighborhoods for the purpose of escaping the same exacting lawful and shadier entities that their targets chose their location to evade. Harlow had explained it, briefly. Independent entity, no visible front corporation, moneyed, decent cash flow in exchange for the muscle that her Humanis First! operatives had provided in the research and abduction of experimental subjects. Harlow: always the loveliest, most cooperative, and forthcoming of contactpersons.

Doubtless, Peyton had done her own share of explaining.

Harlow cuts the lights of the leading van as they creep up outside the nondescript warehouse compound, the signal for the others to do same. In an instant, the vehicles manned by she, Meredith, and Robin, respectively, are plummeted into darkness and left to wait as the lean former-terrorist slips out, swift as a shadow without an object to answer to, armed and unmasked. She doesn't look back at the Ferrymen nor their allies waiting in the cars behind, neither to reassure nor to check that all of theirs are in order. She said she'd get the doors and fence open and this is the agenda that she commits action to, no more and no less.

Helena may have been an unexpected addition to this adventure, but the leader of Phoenix wanted to see the evidence for herself. She doesn't carry a gun - she's never liked them, even though she knows how to handle them and even has had occasion to use one (albeit unsuccessfully, damn you, Arthur Petrelli!). She comes instead armed with a small bag slung at an angle across her body, the contents inside perhaps more important than bullets: a slim hand-held video camera.

While Harlow seems to be making good on her promise to the Ferry she made in exchange for her daughter, Peyton walks at the rear of the party, hanging back from the ice queen as much as she is able. She understands the woman was worried for her daughter, but she isn't about to forgive her for holding her at gunpoint. She could have just asked, and possibly have gotten the same result, after all. In one pocket of her wool peacoat, Peyton carries tools to help get through padlocks and chains; in the other, a small pistol is held gingerly in one hand.

While Helena has never liked guns, Brian has been quite the opposite. Maybe it's because he watched too much James Bond when he was a kid, but whatever the reason, the young secret ex-agent man is heavily armed. Overly in fact. Though it is all concealed. Pulling his red baseball cap down, the young man steps by Helena quietly, taking a glance every now and then over his shoulder at Peyton. But for the most part he is at Helena's side, hands down and at the ready. For most of the time he is quiet but… "What are we doing here? Again?"

Dressed in a dark t shirt and a pair of black jeans, Robin has topped off the casual outfit with a worn leather jacket to keep out the chill. It also helps him to blend into the darkness that coats the dingy streets. After killing the lights of the car, he takes a messenger bag from the floorboard of the passenger seat, and drapes it over his chest. It's filled with a seemingly random variety of tools, packed in such a way as to not bang together too loudly. He follows the others, hoping that the getting in part will go smoothly.

A lever is pulled and the nearest loading dock abruptly begins to crank open, its striated metal door winching steadily up within the railing of its frame. A bar of yellow light slices out across the concrete of the wider bay area, abruptly, noiselessly, without ceremony or fanfare or men with bullets running around and shouting.

Possibly, that has something to do with the fact that the one visible guard is lying in a crumpled heap at Harlow's booted. His key card and ID redistributed on its ball chain around her neck, his blood drying on the knuckles of her glove as she manipulates the controls deftly. Despite that his face is pressed down into the concrete, it isn't hard to tell from the quarter profile visible of him that he is of East Asian descent.

When the woman looks up, her eyes click quickly to the camera in Helena's hands, but she doesn't say a word about it; instead, there's a subtle lift at the corner of her mouth. "There are going to be a few more guards if these people made proper use of their money. I think that means Rambo—" a jerk of her covered head at Brian plus all of his weapons prettily named A through Z, "comes ahead, and you two crazy kids and filmophile Barbie keep your mouths shut and your eyes open, mm? We'll make a search of the premises.

"There are roughly three areas: second one has the…" A beat. Guinea pigs, mutants, subjects. "Prisoners, third one should house the research material. Fabricated prototypes. Good?"

—Might be too strong a word, but she takes the permeating silence as either an affirmitive or enough of one for this phase of the operation to run the card through the reader circuited into the paved wall. The door gaps open, and the hallway funnels into low fluorescent light, waxy gray tiles.

"I dunno if I'd call it good," Helena mutters softly. "There's a camera in my bag if we want to take shots of documentation, that is, if we don't outright take it." Whether they can free the prisoners or not, Helena will want to try, and if nothing else, get it documented. "Where do we go first?"

Peyton's eyes narrow at the condescending barbs tossed around by Harlow, but then she frowns a bit. A memory is coming to her — a boot kicking a young man in the head, gloved hands throwing him into a van. She pauses for a moment, then shakes her head of the vision. She doesn't respond to the question posed but merely waits for the others to respond. If she said "No," would anyone listen, anyway?

There is also among this group, somewhere between Helena and Peyton, a Cat. She's armed with an M16 and two silenced pistols among a few other tricks, but unlike Brian doesn't have weaponry emerging from her teeth. Nor does she have a camcorder as Helena does. Cat doesn't need such a tool. Her eyes are open, though the face is masked. Kevlar is also in play.

Brian isn't wearing kevlar. Once you've died over twenty times, you start to feel like it doesn't really matter anymore. Pulling his jacket apart, he reveals the mini-arsenal strapped around his person. Though he is overly armed, he isn't a one man armsdealer either. Two guns on either side of his pectorals, a few extra magazines strapped to his belt. A knife or two, an extra gun strapped to his ankle and a sawed-off shotgun which is brought from his back and held comfortably in both hands. Glancing to Helena, he then looks to Harlow before nodding. Rambo goes first. Brian lowers his center of gravity and starts to move forward according to Harlow's instructions, though waiting for the actual directions.

Robin's bag of tricks includes bolt cutters and wrenches, screwdrivers and hopefully everything they'll need to get the prisoners free. He's still holding it tightly across his chest to keep the clanking to a minimum and flashes a quick almost grim smile at Peyton, who he's sticking close to; she's got a gun after all.

"Go right. It should be fairly intuitive," Harlow tells clone boy, with a simple point and flick of forefinger that passes Brian down in the alotted direction. She isn't but five steps behind him, and they leapfrog the next brisk course of sharp-cornered turns with minimal conversation, covering each other with minimal arcs of exposure while the trickle of Phoenix and Ferrymen and miscellaneous other allies arranged in a snaggled line behind them.

Brian Winters, naturally, finds action first— which is to say, a rifle-butt comes swinging around the nook of the wall a quartered instant before a broad-chested China-man hurls himself bodily along the floor into Harlow's torso, arms out to bracket her slim body. The impact knocks her willowy frame off its center of balance as adroitly as a ball bowls pins, rocks them with a strangled squeak of Cantonese— diu lei— and kicking of boots almost straight into Robin's shins, Harlow's fingers around a man's throat. The violence is sudden as the slash of an exclamation point on the page, but it's what lays beyond that draws the eye of the majority of the group.

Well: Helena was hoping for something worth filming.

Brooklyn — Laboratory One

Once through the doors beyond, there is an immediate change in the atmosphere; the light that once worked to make the path onward more visible are now absorbed by other various constructs in the warehouse. The tall, cavernous ceiling above is nothing but shadows and black in the depths, contrasted below by the sickly golden and plastic white glows of manmade light sources. The front area is littered with cubicles of various sizes; they act as stations and mini laboratories that are home to unique setups in terms of computers and minor equipment. They serve their functions and act as a wall before the next span of warehouse.

The next section is by no means the same manner of being that the labs could ever be. This is where the sickly yellow glow overpowers the electric lights that dot cubicles and lengths of tables.

This is where the more innocuous feeling from all that comes before takes an abrupt nosedive into what makes horror films and novels of science gone awry.

They start small, these shelves- shelves upon shelves of jars, tightly sealed and uniform, wrapped in a secondary plastic casing. The effect creates a wall of hard plastic sheen, behind which sits the yellow and white liquids that cast eerie glows across the aisles from the lights situated between them. Upon closer inspection, the path onward is surrounded by the objects inside of chemicals, sitting, waiting, giving no other use than to be used as reference material. Each has a label- each is catalogued.

There are creatures, first. Various animals that in the wild, may exhibit paranormal behaviors, or is the master of some type of bizarre ability to do something that its relatives in the kingdom cannot. Towards the latter ends of these shelves, they turn into freaks with numerous physical abnormalities. Within the next catalogued sets of items, they get increasingly more …human. Primates quickly turn into human tissues- organs, pieces of limbs, bones, muscle- the few shelves that make up the last stretch finally peter off into housing whole human brains, stems and chunks of spinal cord still intact with many.
Beyond the shelves are similar sights- enlarged at least a hundred fold. Whole animals, primates- humans. Some still have heads and faces, some still show off the wounds to have killed them. Some have no outer wounds, and instead are masters of faces and limbs forever contorted in panic. There are some of these man-sized vats of chemicals that also have visibly seen the wear and tear of abilities themselves. The floor as well. Scorch marks are the most lasting and prominent. Holes punched into metal, ice still formed on a liquid surface, reptilian skin.

The floor empties out eventually, the only construct remaining being that of a set of heavy double doors that are whining slowly shut, a swinging boot and flicker of a white lapel vanishing between like a serpent retracts its tongue.

Helena skirts the violence as best she can, confidant Harlow has others to help her if need be. But Helena is caught up in these atrocities, looking very much like she wants to lose her lunch as she starts filming her walk through this lab of horror. Right now, monkey-ponies seem a lot less funny. Her eyes dart to and fro as she walks, mindful of any oncoming forces while still making sure to keep the camera on what it came here to record.

Fppt. Hey where'd all this blood come from? Unfortunately it's from Brian's face. Head slapping against the hard ground, blood spurts out of his nose almost instantly from the rifle, the sudden impact also causing him to bite pretty badly down onto his own tongue. Blood comes from there too. Blood spattering itself along his face, the replicator needs a moment before he can see through the stars. And when he does it's not a good sight. Not that he's racist, but the sudden presence of Chinamen does Brian a world of trouble. And that much is evident on his features for half a moment. Clambering backwards, Brian throws one hand up at the wall trying to get up to his feet and keep that shotgun aimed at danger. Though his eyes dart back to the rear of the group, for a moment looking like he's about to run. Since when does Multiple boy run from danger?

Peyton's shaking hand pulls out the gun at the first sign of trouble when Brian is accosted — but Harlow's already taken care of it by the time the frightened clairvoyant can even find the safety. As they the mad scientist laboratory comes into focus, she grows pale, hanging back all the more, though she glances over her shoulder to be sure no one's coming from that direction either. When she sees the man slip into the double doors, she reaches out, her hand closing on Robin's arm for guidance. "Going blind," she murmurs, meaning she's using the eyes of the labcoated man she glimpsed. Her pupils rapidly dilate, the black of the pupils eating up all but a sliver of the brown iris. "He didn't hear us. He's fiddling with an mp3 player, or something, I think he has headphones in. There's… cages. People… I can't quite see. Lots of locks. Digital ones too. Staying with him so I know where he is — don't let me trip on anything." There's a slight tremor to her voice.

Her attention hasn't yet settled on the various displays of grotesqueries and horror, because before her Brian and Harlow are dealing with resistance. Cat pulls out a silenced pistol and, when she has a clear shot, squeezes the trigger of that weapon twice with an aim to ending said obstacle. Then she observes to see the results, ready to act again if the need exists.

Robin jumps to the side as people come tumbling his way, barely dodging the violence and mayhem. He draws in a sharp breath as the room comes in to view. Hello horror movie. Sadly, it's all too real, and any trace of his early smile is completely gone. Turning his arm so he can lock his hand around Peyton's elbow, Rob guides her through, murmuring a quiet 'I got you' as he does his best not too look at the jars and vats.

Basic body armor is enough to keep the shots that Cat fires into his body from being lethal, but even the combination of blunted force on the chest plate stacks enough compression to drop the man on his back, eyes darked out and finger squeezing off a shot that misses any conceivable intended target by a mile.

The errant bullet nips into the wall over Brian's shoulder, ricochets to plunge a fist-sized hole into the plaster. Three yards over, Harlow silences her own opponent with a wrenching click of fingers on curled vertebrate, her teeth flashing hyena-white for a brief instant before she picks herself up, one too-long leg roping over the other, shaking herself loose like a wolf unchambering herself from her slumber inside of a snowdrift.

The terrorist looks up. Sees Helena ghosting forward with camera in hand, hears Peyton whimpering about the effort required to walk or some such nonsense, Brian apparently falling apart underneath the harnesses and buckles of his armory. Children, she might think; or Cannon fodder. Her lip curls again, once, a sneer of blinkered undiluted disgust before she slinks forward, rapid-fire, moving expediently toward heavy doors. "Let us know if he raises alarm," she tells the clairvoyant, in a voice so dry it practically sucks the moisture out of the air.

She moves forward so quickly she might not have bothered with the physical distance at all, her shoulder clipping Peyton's arm with coarse canvas on cotton as she passes by. One lean shoulder sets sturdy against the iron doors, and she leans in, LMG swung down from her back, hurls through. Hinges grind like teeth.

Brooklyn — Laboratory Two

Behind the heavy doors, ears are met with the faint whispers of breathing, whimpering, and in some cases the scent of something not quite death, though wishing for it.

A single pathway branches off to either side midway, shortly since vacated by the white coat man that the clairvoyant had seen; the surrounding environment is metal and concrete— solid wire doors over rectangular indents in the stone. Cages, in the crudest, truest sense of the word. There are cots, but little else. Except of course, the occupants. One containment unit's inhabitant has met an end; it appears to have been only within the last hour.

A few here and there are empty. Most, however, contain live subjects. Some primates, who pant and leer as figures move past.

Humans are all that is contained otherwise. They are in various stages of experimentation, and all have different degrees of what looks to be a drugged state. Men, women- thankfully, no children. Not in the most literal sense- because there are some young eyes still idly watching out the doors for something that hasn't come.

The locks on the cages are, as Peyton had promised, uniform and digital, backed up by two other mechanical locks along the cracks of the doors.

The filming is harsh, harder than Helena had expected. Once she gets what she needs, she moves to one of the human held prisons. "How do we…?" she questions, looking beyond herself. She has no means for getting those doors open. But she knows someone who does. Picking up her cellphone, it's 1-800-W-I-R-E-L-E-S-S time. In the meantime, she skirts back to the door using it for cover as she looks to see how much security has managed to assemble against her fellows.

Brian quickly retreats to the back, pulling his hat down low. Casting a look this way, then that. Shit. Shit. Shit. His eyes go to Helena, and then Peyton. How to get out of this? Oh shit guys, I just remembered I have a pie in the oven. It just doesn't seem like it will work. "Shit." He mutters lowly, "We might get flanked." Yeah, that's right. Attacked from the rear, that's bad, guys. "I'm going to cover our ass." And with that, Rambo is quickly shuffling back and back, to go back the way they came unless someone should stop him.

"Can't you flank the flankers?" Peyton whispers, her brows furrowing at the sound of Brian's voice but then she stops, whispering even more quietly: "Guy in the next room, his headphones are off. He's looking at a computer, but he'll be able to hear us. Be prepared." Luckily, she can't see the drugged test subjects in the cages; her brows are furrowed as she tries to read the complicated language on the computer, and worse, make sense of the numbers on the screen. Reading through someone else's eyes gives her a headache. "Will cutting into the digital locks set off an alarm or anything?" she whispers to Robin.

The man she shot at is down, but he might get up again, and Cat isn't about to let that happen. She moves the barrel of her silenced pistol enough to ensure he stays on the floor and is unable to raise any kind of alarm or call for assistance. Her finger squeezes the trigger next, twice. Then her focus goes to see if Harlow is in need of help before she finally begins to take in the grisly contents of this place.

The panmnesiac with the hidden features doesn't seem about to be ill, but a sound does emerge from her throat. Something of a low growl, muted rage maybe. Little attention is paid to the fleeing Brian.

"No clue, but I brought these," is whispered back to Peyton. Bolt cutters are handy things, they let you skip the complicated stuff and just crudely make holes in things. Like the cages. Robin shifts Peyton's hand up to his shoulder so she's steady and goes about the laborious business of clipping the chain links of the closest occupied cage.

The pair of brown eyes that peer out of the dark in front of Robin and Peyton is still at first; for a moment it seems like he may have accidentally picked the one with the chimpanzee. In the end, it is just a small young man in a shift of cloth- he is, or was, in his prime, though naturally small and quite lean to begin with. When he realizes that these strangers with tools are not going to press any buttons on the digital lock, he lifts weakly to his feet and wanders closer to the door where Robin is nose-to-nose with the chain links.

Dirty fingers poke through the wire, fingernails rubbed short and a pink tongue on the man's face wetting his lips. "You're gonna end up in here too, if you're not careful." Though his voice is hoarse from lack of use, there is obvious nervousness that comes with the darting of eyes- like any other little prey animal that might be used for Tests. For the sake of Science. Hands will reach into the cage at any time to drag him off for shots and sticky wires- he looks convinced of it.

Brian's retreat is eyed over the distance with a fraction of suspicion, more than a little resentment from the Humanis First! operative left alone with the others. She doesn't object, however. No major violent resistance had been expected, as per the nature of a clandestine medical operation; known to an over-invested and paranoid few, operated by a skeleton fewer. By now, most of Harlow's unlikely allies know the nature of her investment. There are three guards on the floor, and more have lost blood for Belinda before.

"The other boy can lead them back out if you can get them through the laboratory," she says, evenly. The masked woman has made her way past the cages, by now, has her back to the wall beside the next pair of doors over, the ones that lead into the third and last laboratory, according to Harlow's intel and the best that Peyton can discern. Colossal and sturdily machined, they are the exact same size and make as the previous, a handy carryover from the warehouse's storage days. "Let's make this quick and quiet. We want to take Bill Nye by surprise."

There is a brief exchange on Helena's cell, mainly texting, and then, "Shit." A sigh. But others have had enough forethought to provide boltcutters, and so she lets the people who've used their noggins have the space they need to do their job. Instead, she moves to the door, and prepares to take up a sentry position and defend or clear the way as necessary.

"Not if we can help it," Peyton whispers to the young man she can't see. "We're here to help you." The clairvoyant reaches into her pocket for her own pair of bolt cutters. "Point me to another cage and I'll start another," she tells Robin in sotto voce, eager to move fast and get the people out of the room before the man in the next room hears them.

Make that men. There's a reflection of a figure in the glass of the monitor as the first man looks into it. "There's another guy in there too," she whispers, as she makes it to another cage, starting to clip away blindly, fingers feeling her way through the work as if by Braille.

She has no bolt cutters, only firearms and a recording mind in play here. With the opposition turned into non-opposition, Cat makes her way in to join those who went before and lets her eyes wander to record all which can be seen. In so doing, she is silent. Not even her thought about this being a very twisted version of Bill Nye the Science Guy is voiced.

Robin can't help but pity the guy in the cage, and clips the thick wires faster. Luckily he has some muscle to put in to the effort. "We're being careful, we just want to get you out." Finally having cut a decent sized vertical opening, Rob starts along the bottom of it, yanking at the little diamond shapes of the chain link to try and get it wide enough that the people within can slip through without shredding themselves.

The raccoon-eyed man behind the wire glances from figure to figure as Robin works at the wire himself. He does not seem in a hurry to get out- perhaps some of the people Harlow and friends happened to give over also happened to have been otherwise smarter than the average bear. The rigidity of him is vaguely military.

"Don't let the monkeys out." Is the only advice he has to give as Robin yanks back the makeshift door- which he slinks through as soon as he is able, shift hanging to his knees. "You can't help all of them. Not anymore-" Is the very last bit of speech he croaks out before backing away from the group ahead of him. "Thanks." And just as quietly as he slinked out of the dark of the cell, the man backs through the doors that they had come through minutes before.

Having chosen to forego her usual designer's choice in rigid and visored helmet, Harlow can only hope that none of the captives in the room can recognize her. She certainly doesn't recognize any of them, and surely the generous availability of military black-clad, armored, and armed figures relieve her of potential suspicion.

She eyes the one departing captive with scorn discernible despite her face being covered in ribbed fabric from chin to brow. Motion stirs in the line of her arm and the crook of her elbow, a stifled urge to check her clip, the sort of nervous tic that only a former terrorist cell leader could have to deal with while normal human beings shuffle or need to go to the bathroom. "There are people willing to help you in the vans outside," she finally addresses the captives. "If you attack us, we will hurt you, but the people who captured you are our enemies. Choose wisely."

She probably headed Humanis First!'s publicity department, really. Militarily brisk, the woman turns her head to sweep the Ferry operatives clustered at the doors, lookouts, sentries. Her lips whiten with impatience, but she doesn't say another word as Robin's bolt-cutters sever more metal, the clink and stir of slow-peeled cages and the quickening scent of freedom bringing prisoners to their doors. They are all of them curiously docile, their arms mottled with bruises where needles had pressed in, though it's impossible to tell from their flagging body mass and luminously glassy eyes whether the plungers had been pushed in or pulled out.

There isn't even the faintest flicker of vengeance or psionic manifestation between any of them.

The clairvoyant is slower at her work than Robin, since she can't really see what she's doing. She winces as her free hand catches on one of the clipped wires, cutting her palm. Still, she resists the urge to bring to pull her hand away, and continues until she gets to the bottom of the fencing; like Robin, she begins to then move horizontally along the bottom. Soon enough, there's a large enough slit in the fence for it to be pulled away, large enough for the captives within to use for escape.

All the delay and the helping of the fugitives is well and good, however, to the people standing watch it's a totally different game. They're not privy to the difficulties and instead are left to attempt to look normal while they know that inside the activities are anything but. While Brian begged out of the main assault and stumbled back outside, Meredith has been taking care of anyone that is unlucky enough to stand in their way.

Though many may know enough to ignore it, the bright flash of someone being lit on fire and the screaming of people being subjected to burns echoes throughout the labs. The sound of echoing footsteps may be creepy to those who may not know who is approaching, but the blonde haired Ferrywoman appears with a stressed and otherwise harried expression on her face.

"Come on, folks! I can take these'uns back to safety. Ya'll are slower'n molasses on a Canadian day. We need to get a move on" Not letting her guard down, fire is still lit up in her hand, ready to throw or burn anyone in her way. Waving the non-fiery hand, she is strangely gently with the prisoners they are attempting to make sure escape in one hand. "All in a row, duckies, just keep movin' and don't mind the warmth." With the others making sure that the prisoners are released, the firestarter Ferries them out of the laboratory. Wrapping her arm around one flagging woman, she starts again toward the outside and freedom. "This is what we're all about, let's go, sweetie."

The blonde women may well have something in common as far as perspective on this freakshow goes: it's fucking slow. Harlow offers a monosyllabic grunt of agreement when the pyrokinetic chases the slow and rancid horror film study of the situation with a smart dash of Southern discipline. In a matter of moments, the prisoners are imbued with enough secondhand haste, whispering, sideswiping hands, that the room is emptying out to leave behind only the unlikely rescue party, distasteful menagerie, and the claustraphobic press of ammonia reek and gasping primate breath.

Some things, Helena's video camera can not capture. Between the flicker of inconsistent light and its powerful microchipped memory, however, the device does grab wide-eyed faces, eager feet, voices hoarse with terror, the brutal iron that gives way only to the snapping jaws of the blades in Robin's hands.

And Peyton's, though she's distracted— rather understandably so. The clairvoyant's anchor into the laboratory associate's eyes finally clocks in more than an incomrephensible computer screen: he glances out across the room, perhaps thoughtfully, and there is a glimpse of newer vats, sterile glass, tables, workstations enough for a half-dozen more experimenters and attendants than they have yet to see. Though he isn't alone, it seems that Harlow did bring them in on the off-hours, and however many there are in the next room, they aren't many.

One syllable of warning, a step of Harlow's foot and, abruptly, all of them have a view into the vaulting space of the third and final laboratory.

Brooklyn — Laboratory Three

The last lab is not the biggest of the spaces in the warehouse- even the doors leading into it are rather unassuming. The lights above are different as well; instead of dark above and dull glows below, the main lab is drenched in artificial white light from horizontal lamps hanging in the air. The only other source of light seems to be an ethereal blue corner at the back of the lab. The front of the lab extends some distance on the floor before it meets with a stairwell that in turn leads onto a second level which runs along the three remaining walls. A second set of metal stairs extends down at the rear wall.

Both levels are rife with tables and centers of what can only be labeled as some kind of mad science; technologies that certainly do not belong in a windowless warehouse in the middle of the city. Some are medically inclined, while some would not be out of place within a geneticist's lab. The telltale signs at one medical station betray a very recent autopsy of some kind, and another has been covered from top to bottom in a plastic sheet. Otherwise, the cleanliness and overall meticulous nature of the setting lends itself to be just beyond what would be considered common.

Near the entrance, to one side of the doors, there is what appears to be a large metal casket, though plugged into several places. Barely visible from the doorway, a glass window covers part of it; inside is a woman- dead, by all definitions- she is suspended in a clear liquid that also homed some specimens in one of the previous rooms. Young, pale, long black hair- decidedly Chinese.

As are the two men who apparently hold her body captive, settled at the computer as benignly as you like, as if there hadn't been a dozen human beings shut up like chattel in the next room, as if there isn't a female corpse coccooned in steel two work benches over. The younger, smaller Chinese man is crab-hunched over the computer, fingers flared out across the keyboard and earphones pooled at his wrist; he looks up, eyes huge in his head, mouth halfway open around the next idle thing he'd been about to say to the monolith of a man standing behind him.

Harlow has the machinegun pointed. "Hands in the air, gentlemen," she requests, always one to be polite.

Of the figure looming in the back of the monitor, and the man now standing to the side of the desk where the technician sits- there is quite a bit to take in, visually. Of average height and almost absurd girth, Doctor Cong is an imposing presence past the vision of the lab itself. His posture seems to provide a pair of invisible inches onto his height, shoulders set back and chin already lifted towards the intrusion- which is regarded with more of a distasteful irritation than any type of panic or shock. A white lab coat hangs off of his frame, large enough both to wear and to accentuate his size.

Bao-Wei's hair is slicked back from his forehead, white contrasting black with little gray in between; the rim of facial hair around his mouth stands similar. Over his nose are a pair of rimless glasses, reflecting off of various screens and small lights nearby him. The refection distracts momentarily from the fact that his mismatched eyes are narrowed in simmering anger towards the tall, lean woman that now has a firearm directed at them. Lips taut and nostrils giving a small flare, the doctor watches Harlow from where he stands, hands meanwhile resting idle in the pockets of his coat.

"You should have called beforehand, I could have made tea." The man's voice is rough, and relatively deep- but it is also lined with an ire that is quite unmistakable.

Helena is still keeping her eyes on the door, serving as sentry. She's waiting for the others to tell her when they're ready to start moving folks out, but as she turns her head, she spots a familiar face. "Song Ye?" she says in surprise. Yeah, the Ye family, they just love her. And she just loves them. But now isn't the time to deal with their issues, and Helena resolutely turns to check the way to make sure it's clear before suggesting people be moved out into the hall.

Peyton's vision is suddenly filled with the sight of the room she is in — it's a surreal thing that she has not yet gotten used to. Her pupils shrink back to normal size; her breath catches in her throat as she looks to where Harlow points the gun at the scientists. She takes a couple of steps backward, toward the exit.

There's more than one firearm trained on the men in this lab. Harlow has backup in the form of Cat with her head still covered. She's tucked away the silenced pistol used earlier in favor of wielding the M16. The safety is off, it's ready to fire at the least of provocations as she scans the interior of this third lab.

Robin backs away from the potential gunfight, and helps gather up the last few stragglers, steering them toward the exit. He keeps the bolt cutters out just in case, and his attention on the men — and the guns, so he can get the hell out of the way if bullets start flying.

Song what? Harlow doesn't recognize the asymmetrical syllable string that rear-ends its way out of Helena's mouth, so she chooses to ignore it, as well as the corpse suspended in its bizarre mechanical coffin beyond the two scientists in the laboratory. "No thank you, Doctor. We're here to strip your hard-drives and accept any samples of the cure you happen to have on hand.

"The sooner we get it, the sooner we're out of here, and everybody gets to go home reasonably happy." Except, arguably, the few security personnel left outside who aren't going to be feeling anything at all, regardless of whether their widows or girlfriends or mothers are available to receive them, but Harlow chooses not to elaborate on that. She moves forward into the laboratory instead, her heavy boots ringing brisk on the lacquered floor and shadow slinging swift across work benches and soiled linen. She doesn't look back to check who has her covered, and her rifle doesn't waver, focused neatly at the center of Dr. Cong's considerable body.

The smaller fry's exactly that. Smaller. Goes tense as a white rabbit. A dozen yards behind, Meredith cants a panicky glance over her shoulder, purses her lips. Twists on a boot-heel, herding the ragged end of the prisoner troupe ahead of her, gesturing Peyton and Robin to follow with their clacking array of work tools.

"Ah." The puff of air and the word are one and the same in this instance, and for the most part Doctor Cong's attention is focused on the work still paused on the computer to his right. He takes his hands from his pockets, one lifting to peck in a few closing commands for whatever they had been going over. It blips quietly off of the flatscreen. "You may rummage through whatever you please, provided that you can understand it- however, I assure you that you will find no samples of that nature here."

Regardless of barrels fixed on him- and his assistant, Bao-Wei turns himself to wander towards the stairwell on the other side of the desk. His hand rests on the rail, eyes roaming to the second level before observing the presences that Harlow has brought along in some way or another.

Once all the prisoners are out, Helena begins to move cautiously in order to track down Cat. Having got primarily what she came for at least, she moves as silently as possible until she knows she's in her friend's hearing range. "Prisoners are out." she calls softly.

Peyton doesn't need to be summoned twice. At Meredith's beckoning, she follows. She can do more help getting the escaped guinea pigs into the vans than she can with the weapons and the data recovery — Cat, Harlow and Helena seem to have as much covered. She backs out of the doorway, then turns to run down the hall, back out to the vans, trying not to mind the slumped bodies of guards she passes on the way.

She's not hard to find, standing near Harlow and helping to keep scientists covered. Her eyes are on Bao-Wei. Cat holds her position, replying to Helena with just a pair of words. "Got it." The panmnesiac is ready to react at whatever need may arise.

A brusque gesture of the carbine is enough to send the technician at the table rattling backward on his rolling chair, hands upraised in surrender and knees asprawl, which is more thoughtless and unwise than an intentional, deliberately availability of nut shots. Harlow steps forward, slanting a glance backward only long enough to verify that the lawyeress beside her is at ready before she slings the weapon back.

The desktop's power cord is kicked out with an expedient thrust of a hooked boot. A knife swivels out under her thumb, short blade digging hard into the casing at the back of the desktop's case, cracking frame, separating memory and essentials from somewhat more superfluous partitions. It isn't until the parts are weighing heavy into her gloves that she thinks to pause, allows Bao-Wei's chilling snideness to pierce her tunnel-visioned focus.

"It's Harlow, you fat bastard," she informs him, her normally husky voice turned gravelly from adrenaline push. There's a throbbing coming from outside: sirens, maybe, vehicles pulling out or reinforcements coming in. Time grows stranglingly short. "I know what you do here. I know where Tsao eats, sleeps, and who he sleeps with when it isn't his wife. I know about your other middlemen and their little splicer babies and metamorph fetishes. Where are the Goddamn samples?"

There is enough time within this primary encounter for Bao-Wei to take note of faces skimming past the doors and through the front of the room. Enough time for the doctor to run images and words through his memory and put some things together. He lets Harlow do what she pleases with the computer- he is more concerned with making his way to higher ground. Perhaps as to not put himself in the way. The man climbs the first few stairs upward, metal clinking under his shoes.

"You bring the spring chicken and her little birdies into my lab, and you expect me to continue being so courteous? I wonder, if I have any human subjects left?" Bao-Wei puts both hands on the rail, eyes roving past the lines of his nose and glasses to look over the room again. "You presume so much. There are no samples here." He pauses, eyes narrowing past his spectacles. "Or, for that matter- anywhere."

Helena watches this confrontation with an inscrutable expression, looking over briefly to Cat. Helena's torn between making her own exit and staying to hear more information. This is certainly an educational experience. She seems to be taking her cues from the brunette, for the moment.

For her part, Cat seems content to remain where she is. Her eyes track the doctor, but don't show any variety of reaction when the man makes commentary on herself and Helena. But her thoughts are decidedly different. Spring chicken? Little birdies? After a few moments she glances toward Harlow and lets the eyes linger for a moment, while she adjusts the handling of her weapon, perhaps to ask if she should just shoot him already.

Harlow is, unfortunately and apparently—

—somewhat distracted. By.

The burgeoning urge to strangle Bao-Wei with her bare hands. A side-kick dispensed almost as an afterthought is enough to flip the lankier little technician over in his chair, wheels spinning upturned and a dirty squawk of Cantonese nearly swallowed on its way out. The stolen computer partition is thrown underhand into Helena's hands, perhaps acknowledging her persistent theme of data collection, and the raw-boned terrorist is hurling herself up the stairs, an unstrapped pistol in hand, teeth bared, furious— crazy with fear and spite.

She didn't come here to liberate prisoners, or to expose the seedy underbelly of the pharmeceutical scene and its unethical experimental practices. She came here to find a way to fix her baby daughter, and the hand that goes white-knuckled on Bao-Wei's collar, the snub-nosed weapon that shoves into the heavy flesh of his back, claims she isn't above murder to get it. She has all but forgotten the other two women in the laboratory with her, it seems, judging from the way her voice all but seethes through the white of her teeth:

"What the fuck are you talking about? I've seen the fabrication cells, I saw samples. I saw—" Her finger curls hard inside the trigger-guard. "Don't lie to me."

Helena furrows her brow. This is much more, and somehow much less, than she was expecting to have to deal with. She briefly catches Cat's eye, signaling her retreat, and with that, she backs away, carefull taking the path that the exiting prisoners had made.

Bao-Wei does little more than roll his eyes when her hand folds into his collar, and the barrel nudges into his back. He turns to face Harlow on the stairs, eyes glancing down to the gun she holds. His voice is one volume, though grating and tight- as if this were some bug that he keeps stepping on- and it refuses to die or crawl away.

"What purpose would giving you falsities serve, exactly? Tell me. I have no reason to lie to you now. There is no cure. There never was."

She turns partly toward Helena when she makes her move, and herself takes a step back. "It's time to go," Cat states. "People are on the way, it's best not to still be present when they get here." She doesn't seem to be seeking a debate or discussion on this front. No cure. Her mind says it isn't surprising if that's true, he seems to have been engaging in all manner of efforts to conjure one and failed just as Arthur failed in creating a serum to grant abilities.
"Let's go. Now."

Harlow's lips writhe back like a cat's. The gun flips in her hand, butt out; comes down once on the back of Bao-Wei's neck with force enough to scissor a buzzing stun through his nerve-endings, though perhaps surprisingly, there's no blow to come after that. Veins wreathe the pale irises of her eyes like she's on something, despite that the past hours have proved at least to Doctor Chesterfield that there's nothing but adrenaline screeching through her veins.

She steps back afterward, fingers tight on the handle of her gun, confusion scrawling her mind with static. "We aren't finished," she hisses. "I know you're up to something." That much is undeniable, surely: between the prisoners, the money and chemistry flowing through the facility. Still, she's pulling back, long strides tracking hollow metal stairs, after the way Catherine and Helena flee. It's some combination of paranoia and raw hate that keeps her eyes on Bao-Wei.

When one is in such a business as Bao-Wei is, you have to be used to the possibility and feeling of being roughed up- for him it does not happen much these days. Except, of course, in situations such as this one. Though the butt of the gun connects strongly with him, the noise is both muffled and the strike itself absorbed in turn- even at that kind of blow, it won't be hard for Harlow to tell that Bao-Wei Cong is built to take such blows, unlike his sorry excuse for a technician. The Doctor does wince, latching one arm on the rail to catch himself. As the woman moves away, Bao-Wei reels properly to face her, a small vein already pulsing along the side of his head.

"That is the understatement of the century, «foolish bitch». I am finishing what everyone else seems to have started for me- you wanted a cure- and however admirable that may be…" The Chinese man's words leave him in a renewed rumble, growing in tenacity like a dragon rolling awake under the ground, clawing at intruders in its den. "It will never trump the formulation of evolution. You are in far, far over your station, Harlow. Get out of my labs, girl, before I take it upon myself to make you."

Somewhere just outside the walls, voices gather together. "I trust that you can find your own way out." Bao-Wei snarls, words spitting as he moves backwards up the rest of the stairs, effectively looking down on her the entire time as he sidesteps out of the picture. "Next time will be your last time, should you attempt it. Farewell, Harlow."

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