Another Endgame — And All That Could Have Been, Part II


vf_bowie_icon.gif vf_dave_icon.gif vf_denisa_icon.gif vf_elaine_icon.gif vf_elisabeth_icon.gif vf_elspeth_icon.gif vf_kain_icon.gif vf_kaylee_icon.gif vf_ling_icon.gif vf_logan_icon.gif vf_peyton_icon.gif vf_rickham2_icon.gif vf_ruiz_icon.gif vf_steve_icon.gif vf_ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Another Endgame — And All That Could Have Been, Part II
Synopsis The survivors of the Hub make a last stand against the Vanguard in an attempt to escape a dying world.
Date January 16, 2012

An explosion rings out across the ruins of Midtown Manhattan. From several blocks away, it is a plume of black smoke and flames that rise up from between crumbling tenement buildings. It is followed by another whistling sound, and then a second explosion of concrete dust that blossoms like a dandelion up from the street. The shelling continues, launched from several blocks over, trying to demolish everything and anything in the area. A bird, observing the engagement, alights from its perch on a chickenwire and wood roost and soars down between the buildings. Screams are drawing closer now, screams and the pop of gunfire, and the cries of terror.

As the bird zips over burned-out husks of rusting cars, past bombed storefronts and demolished streets, it rounds a corner and finds itself in the shadow of a fire-eviscerated apartment complex in Midtown's ruins. In a chokepoint in the street, a flood of people run down the middle of the abandoned road. Some carrying supplies, others carrying firearms, some pivoting to turn and shoot behind themselves while others trip, stumble, and are trampled by the panicked masses. The survivors of the Hub are almost there, almost to the extraction point, but what follows them is death incarnate. A death so certain even the Vanguard have pulled back.

"Go! Run!' David Cardinal slides the bolt of his rifle back, chambers a round and locks it into place. Down the street four dozen screaming and wild-eyed people charge ahead. Some have limbs wreathed in flames, others sparking with electricity, others are causing the street to buckle and bulge in their path. Shanti-Rage victims, dozens of them, too many to stop. David fires, the rifle crack echoing between the buildings as the lone bird soars overhead. The rifle round drops one of the many screaming horde, and David breaks into a jog again, looking back to the Hub survivors, some carrying children in their arms, fleeing ahead of him.

"Run! Don't stop!" David's voice cracks, "Whatever you do don't stop!"

Twenty Minutes Earlier

The Hub

"Edward! Edward!"

They thought they'd have more time.

A panicked scout still dressed in half of his biohazard suit scrambles through the corridors of the Hub. Booted feet slam across the floor as he winds his way through the common space, rifle over his shoulder and eyes wild and wide. The young man skids to a stop, nearly plowing into Kain Zarek as he does. Others who were gathered for breakfast slowly rise from their seats, and a murmured susurrus of voices rise up from what was once anxious silence. Kain slaps hands on the frightened young man's shoulders, looking him up and down before slowly stepping away.

"Ed's… indisposed," Kain says in a low tone of voice, glancing back over his shoulder and looking for Ruiz but not finding him anywhere. When his blue eyes come back to settle on the young scout he asks, "the fuck's wrong, kid? We got Screamers topside?" A few others are starting to stand up and look around when the young scout doesn't calm down. There's an obvious wave of tension and fear that is rapidly spreading through the camp of survivors.

"I got a warning over my radio when I was topside. I— I think it was Wireless." He seems shocked by this, and likely hadn't been back to the Hub since word of her survival got out. "She said— She— It's— it's the Vanguard," the scout exhales grabbing Kain by the sleeves of his jacket. "They've— they've got trucks. They're coming in trucks. There's at least a hundred people on foot, they're on the surface and they— I think they know where we are!" That exclamation has dozens of people bolting up out of their seats. Some leave the common area entirely, bolting as fast as they can toward their bunks.

Overhearing most of what the scout is saying, David Cardinal bolts up out of his seat and turns to address the crowd. Rickham, who had been sitting quietly with Steve a few tables over, also rises up to stand, and the pair exchange a knowing look. "Alright everyone, this…" Rickham can hardly believe he's about to give this warning, and he's scanning the room for Edward, but the professor is nowhere in sight. "This isn't a drill! The Vanguard may know where we are! Grab your emergency bags, as much water as you can carry, and get down to the water maintenance corridor past Edward's office! We have an evacuation route!" Only a handful of the Hub's residents knew of the evacuation route, and fewer still know where it leads. "This is an evacuation order!"

David closes in on Rickham, reaching out to rest a hand on his metal arm. "Where the fuck is Edward?" He asks, and Rickham slants a look at David, uncertain. Then, spotting Mateo Ruiz coming in to the common area, Rickham levels the man with an uncertain stare.

Kain shakes the scout, blue eyes wide and fear visible across his face. "How much time do we have? How close are they?" He asks, right before there's a reverberating sound of a distant explosion that rumbles through the hub, causing the hanging string lights to flicker off and on and dust to settle from the ceiling.

They're already here.

The commotion had brought Ruiz out from the depths of the disposal area. His jaw is set, he looks very tired and it would be no surprise if he was. He’s been through a lot the last couple of days. The ring hanging from a necklace around his neck and not sitting on his wife’s finger is one of the many reasons he looks like he’s walking around in a daze, probably.

But not so much a daze that the impending doom about to drop on them doesn’t immediately register. “We need batteries. Forget food. If we don’t have power, it won’t matter if we starve to death. They’ll find us eventually.” But not where he plans to take them, if he can—

“Anyone who wants to go their separate ways, take whatever you can carry and run. Anyone who wants a chance at a new world, stay with us.” His voice is firm and even loud as he looks around at the people— too many people. Far too many faces. Too many names. Most he knows— some he only saw when Petrelli appeared with them.

Most of them will probably die.

“We need to get to Midtown. Steve! Where’s Steve— we’re going to need her,” he looks around for the First Lady—

And a second later he adds on, “And where’s Kaylee?” Edward Ray might not be on a list of priorities for him, but it seems his daughter is one of those front in his mind.

Sitting at a table doggedly eating what passes for breakfast — she's never been a fan of oatmeal and porridge — Elisabeth's head whips around at the scout's sudden entrance. She's immediately on her feet, heading toward Kain and David Cardinal while Rickham issues the evac order. She's never been down the tunnel in question… but despite that, there's a momentary shiver down her spine. How many will the Vanguard kill in this facility's tunnel this time? She has to wonder.

"David!" She starts toward Rickham and the elder Cardinal and then changes course to speak to Kain instead — she has her jobs in this.

"Do we have enough arms and ammo remaining to take a rear guard position and a point position?" Her question to Kain is calm, tactical in nature, and serious. Ruiz's entry into the room draws her eyes but she explains to the Cajun thief, "If you have a few willing to do those jobs and help get people moving, we've been working on augmenting Steve as a power source to try to open the wormhole. But we need time, Kain."

Truthfully, Edward's location is not as important in this moment as making sure the wormhole team can get to a position to attempt this madness. Her blue eyes meet the Cajun's. "It's all the marbles, babe… we're all going or we're all dying." She squeezes his arm once, tightly, and heads for Ruiz. "We need Logan and Steve both. If you see them, grab," she tells him.

A hiss escapes from Ling, sitting at the edge of a table not far from Kain. They're here has her bolting to her feet. "Where is Cardinal," she intones, looking for their shadowy compatriot. "We can-" go look above is the rest of that thought, but she cuts herself off at the repeated mentions of Edward, letting out a sigh.

"Forget our esteemed decider," she remarks with more than a little palpable disdain. "If he isn't here, it's too late." Firm, decisive, almost mocking as she turns to look towards Kain, offering a nod before she slips into the crowd. If anyone notices any of the smoke rising off of her body, it's only after her's mostly sublimated into smoke, trailing down along the floor, towards the exit - she doesn't much care about most of the others, but a look ahead helps her as much as it does everyone else.

Elspeth, on the other hand, has spent most of the last few days by herself, rarely even in the room she and Aislinn once shared. Today is no example, sitting off by herself at a table near the far end of the room. As people begin to rush, move, gather, react, she lets out a sigh. She keeps her thoughts on this matter to herself - she learned that lesson quickly - and makes her way to join the crowd, cutting through it to find some of the people she still trusts.

Her sister didn't take the risks she did so that she could stay behind here and die, after all.

Ygraine had been hoping to catch Elisabeth for breakfast; instead, she arrived just in time for the descent into Bedlam. But at least her “experiment with inter-dimensional rifts” assignment means that she is in possession of her ability - and she evades the rush for the exits by springing for a wall and scampering up to crouch above everyone else’s heads. Up there, the shaking of the complex is even more dramatic, as she sees the whole mass of people sway in front of her.

But from that vantage point she can identify a few individuals of particular interest… and duly makes her way as rapidly as she can towards Elisabeth, and perforce Ruiz when the dimension-traveller moves on from her own first target to her second - though Ygraine does try to catch Kain’s eye, to be sure he realises she’s in possession of her unique form of mobility.

Coming to a halt close by the duo, she jerkily raises a hand in an awkward combination of greeting and attempt to secure attention. When she speaks, her words threaten to tumble over each other, but she just about manages to keep a rein on her adrenaline-fuelled fear. “I can move a small group of people, over crowds. If there’s a need to get particular people to particular places in a hurry. Preferably together. Or I can just go and grab my kit and stop bugging you.”

Herding children is a bit like herding cats. As soon as things started going to shit, Elaine was quick to head to gather up whatever children she could. Someone had to keep an eye on them and the redhead had made it her life’s work within the Hub. She had promised Magnes she would keep herself safe and she planned on it, but that didn’t stop her from looking out for those who might not have much of a chance by themselves.

“Follow me, hold hands with your buddy like we practiced.” She calls to the children, guiding them towards whomever was leading them to safety. At this point, she didn’t care who it was as long as they kept them moving.

She had been sleeping when the sound of the crowds and chaos woke her, mere minutes ago; now Peyton Whitney trying to make her way past people rushing around like frantic ants. She moves like a blind person, though, the pupils of her eyes blown out to the edges of her irises; her hand slides along the wall to keep her balance. She blinks, bringing her focus back to the present, to check her surroundings, before the black expands again to swallow up the brown of her eyes.

It’s then that someone plows into her in their own hectic movements, and she’s knocked backward, hitting her head on the concrete. “Kain!” she cries out — he’s still several yards away, but it’s him she’s trying to reach. She pushes herself back up, wiping the tears that sprung up at the shock of hitting the ground.

“Ah’ve got some ammo left but we blew through a lot fighting that fuckin’ army.” Kain explains to Liz. “We don't have enough t’cover our front and backs, unless you wanna get up close and personal. Ah’ve got a bunch of fire axes, knives, other improvised stuff. Some molotovs too. But we ain't got enough bullets.”

To Ling there's a less certain look. “We don't need eyes up we need eyes forward. Go with Davey Crocket over there and make sure the escape route ain't a chokepoint.” Kain looks back over to Liz, then Ygraine. He starts to ask her something, then sees the kids being escorted away by Elaine. “Ah’d take it as a personal favor if you Mary Poppins’d them kids and made sure they're safe. There ain't no future nowhere without them.” It's a big ask for Kain to make to Ygraine, but perhaps it's one based on a measure of trust in her ability.

Scrubbing a hand over his mouth, Kain watches as Rickham motions to Steve to join them, then around at the chaotic crowd. “I need to go find Edward, I haven't seen him for hours. Something’s wrong.

Peepers!” Kain calls out to Peyton, holding a hand out. There's visible worry painted across his face.

The kids follow Elaine as well as they can. One of them has a difficult time. Even if she’d had her ability right now, Mala would have had difficulty with the sheer amount of not happy that people were. But as it is, she needs her crutches and Denisa’s helping her under one arm. The kids are definitely going to slow them down, even if they’re doing exactly as they’d been trained for— for years. One of the kids, a boy with curly black hair, even holds onto a cat of all things.

Where did they get a cat and how long have they been hiding it? But at this point, it’s unlikely the adults will stop them from bringing portable food, though, certainly.

The kids looked worried and scared, though not even as scared as the adults. They’ve spent a longer percentage of their lives living in this terrible situation, so maybe that’s understandable.

“I’m going to go get Kaylee. Don’t forget batteries or this whole fucking thing won’t matter.” The fact that Ruiz is cursing might give away how tense he happens to be, as he quickly slips away while others are getting supplies. Without another word, he’s running off toward the living areas like many who are trying to grab the few possessions they don’t wish to leave behind. But he’s already carrying everything he would not leave behind.

Except for a blonde telepath whom he made a promise to save.

"Tomato!" Steve's voice carries over the initial commotion. It's a call of I'm here, and I've got it. Ruiz says he's going to need her, and she will be there. And she not only has plenty of batteries, but she's is a high capacity battery herself at the moment.

A worried glance is given to her other companion. She'd been trying to apologize to Bowie for what she'd felt she had to do during their failed assault. If they live through the next twenty minutes, they can agree to forgive and forget. "We need our emergency packs. Do you think…?" Request made, her breakfast is pushed aside as she shoves to her feet to join her husband, expression stormy. "Allen Matthew Rickham."

Yes, he just got middle name'd by his wife.

That she manages to keep her voice from pitching shrill is a testament to the iron force of will she's displayed over the years here. How even in the face of great personal tragedy, she managed to drag it back to her and cling to it like a life preserver. "That man knows his odds. He does not need you to—"

Steve swallows back a lump forming in her throat. "He's probably already in motion. Deviating from our task isn't going to find him any faster. We need to move and keep the others moving. If you break off because we don't know where the fuck he's gone off to? They're either going to think you know another way out and we're abandoning them," because she's not letting him out of her sight if she can help it, "or that you don't have faith in this plan." Steve drags her fingers through her hair. The static electricity causes strands of it to stay stuck out, like tugging a wool sweater over one's head in the height of winter. "You believe in Edward? You trust him? Trust him to stick to the fucking evac plan."

"I've got it," Bowie says to Steve's request, already moving to run to grab a couple packs. His is hefted onto his back before he comes back to Steve's side. Her pack is set down long enough for him to unhook a knife from his and tie it to hers. With the notion that she'll need to preserve her power for later, if it comes to a fight.

When it comes to a fight.

Bowie keeps one for himself, strapped to the pack and pressing against the small of his back. He checks on it, then picks up the extra pack to follow Steve. And while the First Lady lectures the President, he politely tries not to hear it, even though he's right there next to her. Instead, he quietly helps her slide her pack on. Static shock and all. It's only after her last words that he speaks up.

"The people are looking to you, sir," he notes, to back up Steve. He is one of the people.

Elisabeth nods her understanding to the ammo situation, and when she slants a look at Ygraine, it is a tip of her chin that is agreement with what she's been asked to do. "Get these kids to the checkpoint, Yg. And if you see Logan, tell him I need him." Her jaw clenches as she looks at Kain. "Take the ammo you need and cover the rear… Ruiz and I need to be at the front anyway… I'll do what I can to bulldoze the path." Human tsunami Felix once called her — it's not something she'll ever exactly forget having done, but at least this time it's not innocents. Her smile is faint and a bit grim. "Let's hope Logan can amp through negation drugs."

She parts from Kain, trusting him to have his part of this, while she seeks out Ruiz and heads toward Steve. Two fingers between her lips and a high, shrill whistle carries across the room in a bizarre game of Marco Polo to tell Steve — and Logan if he's fuckin' well listening like he should be — exactly where the dimensional extraction team is pulling together. Elisabeth tells Steve, "Let's see about clearing the road, shall we, my lady?"

Ygraine, at least, returned all save one of her hundred-round allocation from the mission - her gun having been lasered into uselessness before she successfully fired a single shot. Now, however, she has the prospect of contributing something rather more lasting and tangible. Even though it’s not at all what she had expected as an assignment, she hesitates only a moment before turning and dashing off.

Returning to a wall and then transferring to the ceiling of the tunnel, she spidey-scuttles along over people’s heads when space is limited - rising to her feet to hurry along more rapidly when leeway to do so is available. Her goal is easily identified by Elaine’s red head and the accompanying disruption the children create in the flow of larger and faster-moving bodies. Scurrying back down to ground level she finds a smile.

“I can help people get past obstacles. Stay out of the crowd. I could carry one person myself; help a few others to move on walls or ceiling. A chance to do something new, and get ahead of most of the rest. Does that sound good?” The question is clearly as much for Elaine as for the kids themselves.

Back on her feet, Peyton staggers through the crowd on her way to Kain, grabbing his hand and looking out at the milling bodies around them. Her eyes are wide as she listens to the various directions being given by those around her, overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, the tumult of all the fear in everyone around them.

“I was trying to see where people were,” she says, a little stupidly, still stunned by what’s happening around them, not to mention the knock to the back to her head. “Don’t lose me,” she whispers to Kain, clearly intent on sticking close to him.

Elaine gives a weary and grateful smile to Ygraine as she comes to help with the kids. “Help Mala, I think she needs it the most,” she says, looking back to the kids behind her. “Okay kids, Ygraine is going to help us, so you listen to her instructions too. Stay close to each other and help your buddy if they need it.”

She never says as much, but the look she gives Ygraine is one of eternal gratitude.

Kain takes Peyton’s hand in one of his, brows tense and furrowed, remembering the last time this happened. Blue eyes lift to her, then Elisabeth. “I’ma run down to my shop and grab what I can carry, I’ll be behind ya’ll once you get to the back of the Hub.” He looks to Peyton with a firm nod, and he quickly breaks away from the group, taking her with him. If he gets separated, she’ll be invaluable to catching up with the others, and — at least in his eyes — she’s safer with him than anyone else.

That didn’t hold water last time, but… Kain’s not willing to think too hard on what happened the day he arrived at the hub.

Pey— ” Allen Rickham begins to say, though Peyton’s already gone in the crowd. He supposes he’ll have to rely on Steve’s trust in Edward — and tangentially his own — to ensure the professor’s safety. After all, if Edward isn’t able to escape this situation, no one is.

Rickham, though, knows when he’s beat. Though there’s worry visible in his expressive statue-like countenance, there is also resignation to his wife’s point. The noise he makes is a rumbling, metallic rattle that is supposed to be a sigh. It sounds more like air being pushed through fan blades moving at high speed. “I’ll take the front, if we encounter any Vanguard stay behind me. I’ll try to shield as many of you as I can.

He means Steve, too.

Once Rickham is certain everyone has either an assignment or is moving toward the evacuation point, he too is ready to move. They had to be quick about this, for everyone’s sake.

Consolidated Edison Ravenswood Power Plant

Long Island City, Queens

The Surface

A line of old and bullet-riddled military jeeps and armored personnel carriers forms a perimeter around the entrance of the Ravenswood Con-Edison plant. Engines running, the vehicles are swiftly unloaded of soldiers dressed in salvaged military uniforms, body armor, and armaments. There is a riotous explosion from inside the building, though one that doesn’t come as a shock to anyone. A plume of dust and debris billows out of the power plant’s blown-out windows, and a broad-shouldered man in a fur-trimmed coat standing between the line of vehicles and the power station is swallowed up by the cloud.

When it settles, his dark eyes are squared on the building, one brow raised. Abdul-Aziz Nwabueze — known as King by his subordinates — is one of the last of Kazimir’s lieutenants active in the city, and his team now tasked with a tall order — to find and eradicate the resistance of survivors. A team of four men emerges from inside, each clad in heavy padded armor with high collars and explosion resistant helmets. “Status report!” The enormous man calls out, and one of the soldiers motions into the building and shakes his head.

“They filled the entire stairwell with concrete!” The demolitions officer calls to his superior over the tinnitus ring in his ears. “It’s gotta be at least ten feet thick! The manholes are welded down, probably concrete poured too. They’re right below us, but there’s no immediate way down!”

King scowls at his subordinates, looking at the building with furrowed brows. He motions to the men to return to the trucks, then pulls a radio from his waist and clicks it on. “Lord Volken,” he calls into the radio. “You w’right, they’ve been under th’ power station this entire time. They’ve sealed up the entrance, we can’t get inside without circling around.”

As if by the sheer invocation of his name, a haunting projected image of Kazimir Volken manifests in the air before King, a rippling black shadow in high contrast with his deeply set eyes, heavily wrinkled face and furrowed brows. “Garm,” is the name Kazimir gave, one that Nwabueze is loathe to be addressed by. “Do you have any reason to suspect that these survivors are… alive?” One dark gray brow raises. “I have had some… intriguing information delivered to me.”

King shakes his head. “We’ve seen no sign’a them yet. We tried blasting in an’— ”

Allow me.” Kazimir says with firm intonation, disappointment and impatience both evident in his voice. Then, his projected image simply flickers away, to somewhere else.

Water Filtration

The Hub

Lights flicker when a second explosion rocks the power plant above, sending clouds of dust scattering from the concrete above. The children and adults both recoil at the shockwave, reflexively covering their heads with their hands and hunching away from the source of the noise. The line of retreat had bottlenecked at a locked door, one Edward was the sole keyholder for. Thankfully for the Hub residents, they have a backup key.

With a resounding crash Rickham punches the metal door out of its frame, sending it sprawling down to the concrete floor with a ringing report of metal on stone. David is quick to slide past him into the adjoining room with multiple doorways and exits, all clearly labeled in dust-covered wall plaques. This place — in an age before the virus — filtered the coolant water for the power plant and funneled it out into the Hudson River. Now, through machinations unknown to all but Edward, it supplies fresh water to the Hub’s residents.

The truth is a dark secret, one that they will not learn today — or ever.

“We need to go this way,” David calls back to Elisabeth, rifle slung over his shoulder. “This corridor leads down into the subway system. There’s a tunnel that’s closed off at street level, but it goes all the way under the Hudson and comes up in Manhattan.” David looks past Liz to Mateo, then back to the blonde again. “Apparently we need to get near Central Park, whatever the Deveaux Building is. That was apparently Edward’s calculation for the most optimal exit point.”

Rickham steps into the room, eyeing the door to the water filtration system, furrowing his brows thoughtfully. Finally, he looks to the doorway that David had pointed out, and takes the lead moving in and down a short flight of stairs and out of sight.

With a bag over his shoulder and the blonde telepathic daughter of Edward Ray nearby, Ruiz nods at the information David gave, having caught up with everyone after getting the girl not too long ago. He’s sticking close to her, but they don’t have a lot of time for conversation at this point. “210 Central Park West. We need to get there,” he states firmly, knowing good and well that— it’s further than most of them have ever gone. Even the scavs don’t tend to go that far.

“It’s where we have to go.” Plain and simple. He glances back at the groups, including the kids and those he knows will probably not make it, but some he’s certainly determined to get there with. “Steve— before we leave the Hub, I need you to drain all the power. Everything. We will need it.”

All of it, possibly. He doesn’t expect Volken to have any of the nearby buildings powered.

The kids huddle together, with their respective buddies, keeping close to Elaine and Ygraine mostly. Mala especially relies a little more than most on the additional assistance in moving, while Denisa now carries the cat, who doesn’t much care for the situation, but seems alert and attentive. And quiet.

Ygraine has adopted the simple expedient of perching Mala piggy-back behind her… and setting the young girl’s gravity to orient to Ygraine herself. Thus secured, the youngster cannot fall off, and Ygraine is free to use her hands for other tasks. Those have chiefly entailed maneuvering kids to and fro, helping them up onto walls and ceilings to gain freer movement than is possible for small people in a crowd of frightened adults.

Now, the Briton’s listening attentively, glad of a few moments in which to catch her breath and count heads - including Elaine’s landmark ginger - while she hopes for clues as to their destination. The former bike courier has to think a moment when Ruiz provides the address, before nodding firmly. Suppressing the urge to grimace, she forces another smile for the children. “I know where that is,” she assures her small companions.

Standing near Ruiz, Kaylee is quiet. Pale from the pain of moving before she’s had enough time to heal, all she can really do is concentrate on staying on her feet. Strands of blonde hair, cling to her damp skin. Any assistance has been refused and the telepath has kept her distance from people, arms wrapped around herself. This is honestly, not any different then any other day. Though, she does stick close to Mateo… but he does have her stuff after all.

Who knows how many times Kaylee has looked behind her, passed all those bodies. All those people who needed hope. Watching for those not there, yet. People like Kain… and more importantly, her father.

Elisabeth's nod to David is quick, her blue eyes moving rapidly and her head on a swivel as she continuously works to keep track of the team that needs to be on hand when they make this attempt as well as making sure all of their people are moving. She keeps close on Rickham's heels — if she's going to make any attempt to clear the road, she needs to be right behind the human metal man. He's as good a shield as any while she works on fighting off enough of yesterday's negation dose to allow for Logan's amplification power to work…. Assuming we can even locate him in the evacuation. The one pistol that she retained on her person has exactly one clip of ammo in it, and it's not going to hold for long. She holds the group back while Rickham breaks through the locked door into the filtration system, sparing a brief look at the system that has sustained the Hub for two years. Once the way is open, she starts moving behind the President again. "Edward'll probably be meeting us there — knowing him, he's got some nasty-ass booby traps set up behind us for if they're following," she comments, perhaps in assurance to David and Rickham… although she herself is not so sure Edward will meet them anywhere. His intention, based on what she's seen of him and studied in his string maps, had little to do with saving himself. She keeps that suspicion behind her teeth, however.

"The Deveaux Building?" Jesus, Elisabeth has time to think. Can we actually make it that far with this many refugees? Fuck it. There's neither the time nor the luxury to ask that question — we're all going to break for it and hope we make it. There aren't other options in this. Ruiz knows what he needs to open the portal, Liz leaves him and Steve to it and works to keep the entire group moving in unison as opposed to in a panic.

She doesn't comment about the panic attack that is roaring to life inside her, what with the trip into the DARK SUBWAY TUNNELS now imminent. Having a job to do is, at least, going to keep her highly functional. She'll panic later… if she's not dead.

With Allen leading, Stephanie hangs back. Her ability is dangerous to him, so she makes for rather poor back-up. It does mean she’s one of the first to spot Ruiz when he makes his way back to them with Kaylee. Steve relaxes visibly and offers them both a smile.

“I told you I had the batteries covered, didn’t I?” She’s joking, but she understands what he’s asking her to do. It’s dangerous as hell, but even as far as they have to go, she should make it to their destination and be able to do the job.

In response to Steve’s joke, Ruiz just nods, not even seeming amused by it, really. He registers that there’s a playfulness to her voice, but he can’t muster up the strength to actually smile or look amused. It isn’t because of the impending doom, either. Or the long walk they have ahead of him. No, his mind is drifting into the past, into what had already happened. A whisper of crackling fire and electricity and the crushing sound of the inevitable resound in his head.

Inevitability sounded like the steam pipes that ran through the walls. Like boots on the ground. Like blood pumping through veins too fast. But that part might have been him.

Mala, at the very least, seemed to enjoy her position as a backpack. Out of the way, but still carried around and able to move her arms and legs a little. Denisa, not so lucky with the cat. He struggles a little and she reposition him. She should have grabbed a backpack on the way out for the cat.

Keeping one ear out for the kids and the other for instructions, Elaine stays in the middle of the swarm of kids so she can keep an eye out for the front and the back as she obsessively keeps a headcount of all of them. She moves forward, doing her best to herd them along as quickly as possible without the possibility of them tripping, but it’s hard. She simply focuses on the path ahead, moving with the group.

For as much as this should be an organized evacuation, it isn’t. It’s chaos. People are cramming into the hall, pushing in front of one-another, and the din of panicked voices behind Liz is building to a crescendo when a third explosion rocks the subterranean tunnels, causing the lights to flicker a final time before Steve’s electrokinetic absorption draws the last power from the wires. Flashlights come on next as the tunnels are plunged into darkness.

At the head of the tunnel, Rickham is moving in sure-footed strides, clearing as much distance as he can down the subway tracks, booted feet crunching through gravel. There’s a fourth explosion, closer in timing than the ones before it, and the entire subway tunnel rattles as dust settles from the ceiling. Rats are scattering along the sides of the passageway, moving away from the power plant just as the survivors are. Echoing sobs start to reach the back of the tunnel as people frantically pushing to escape start to congregate behind Elisabeth and far beyond them Kain and Peyton at the back of the line.

Keep movin’!” Kain shouts, as though he were herding cattle, coming into Kaylee’s field of view. He’s waiting at the doorway to the water filtration plant, waving people past him with one hand while keeping a firm grip on one of Peyton’s with the other. “Where the fuck is Dickie and Ling!?” Kain hisses, looking sharply back at the flickering bob of flashlights moving down the tunnels.

Another explosion, this one louder and heavier than the last, sends a tremor through the ground. The crowded subway tunnel vibrates not only with the explosion’s reverberation but the panicked cries of children and adults, fearful that whatever is causing these blasts might be upon them next. At the head of the tunnel, Rickham has stopped by a bricked up doorway. He looks back to Elisabeth and the others, motioning for them to stop.

The way forward is through here,” Rickham intones in a hollow, metallic voice before punching through the brick wall. It takes several strikes to clear out an opening, but the passage leads into a parallel subway tunnel that stinks of mildew and stagnant water. “The… tunnel looks partly flooded. Only a couple of feet, but watch your step!

Rickham steps through the opening, sure to push more bricks aside with his shoulders as he does to widen the opening. David hesitates, turning to look at Elisabeth and Ygraine, “Past here, nothing is sealed up. This is the old F-Line, goes under Roosevelt Island, hits Manhattan at Central Park. We’ll want to come up before we reach 57th Street terminal.” He looks over to Ygraine, as she’s steward of the children, then back to Liz. He needs to be sure they both know, in the event something happen to him.

The blonde audiokinetic nods slightly, understanding the information that's being relayed… We're basically in open territory from here out. And potentially sitting ducks in the fatal funnel of the subway. She wobbles on her feet slightly with the last explosion, glancing backward down the tunnel. Her heart feels like a jackhammer in her chest and it's hard to breathe, but that could just as easily be combat adrenaline as panic, right? Right. Elisabeth meets David's gaze, and there's a second slow nod. "The only way out is through," she murmurs softly. There's a kind of resignation to the knowledge at this point — when there are no other options, what else are you going to do but keep putting one foot in front of the other?

A swift glance back to the flashlights behind them, and she pulls in a breath. "Let's do this." Ruiz, Steve, and even Ygraine are potentially going to be necessary to even attempt to open this portal, so she takes the moment to be sure they're nearby. And then nods one more time. "Keep the kids as close as you can, Yg," she calls back, then moves with Rickham and David Cardinal into the flooded tunnel.

“I can’t… I couldn’t tell where Richard was,” Peyton whispers, literally trembling with fear as she grips his hand tightly — if he ever doubted her strength, at least that of her hands, he has no reason to do so now. Her face is a raccoon’s mask of bleeding mascara, thanks to the tears from sheer fear that run down her face.

When the explosion shakes the tunnels, she gasps in a shaky breath, before biting her lip and concentrating again, letting her pupils expand in her irises as she goes blind to her surroundings for an instant. “Ling is up ahead in smoke form, I think,” she whispers, closing her eyes and bringing a hand up to massage her lids, the strain starting to take over. The telltale sign of overexertion, a thread of blood, runs from her nose to her upper lip. When she looks up again, her eyes are once again her own — but glassy with pain and bloodshot.

It’s dark, it’s confined, and it’s loud with the shouts of fear and mutterings of reassurance even when the explosions aren’t being heard. Even if Richard Cardinal’s shadowy whispers emerged from the gloom, it’s doubtful that anyone could hear them.

Maybe he’s with them somewhere, but it’s always very hard to tell. The lights and the shadows are a frenzy on the walls of the tunnel, and he could be any of them.

Even though the area around her is heating up with the press of bodies, Kaylee stays huddled in her hoodie, even pulling up the hood. Though that might be to high the red eyes and slight sheen of sweat from the exertion of moving.

Spotting Kain brings some relief, she almost steps toward him, but stops herself. Instead, she stays close at Ruiz’ back, watching her friend pass by her.

The anxiety over the absence of Edward Ray sharpens, even with Liz’ comments.

Finally, Kaylee turns her attention back to the man directly in front of her. As people move in closer, The young woman reaches out and curls fingers into the back of his shirt so that they can’t be separated. There is something about having an anchor in the chaos.

“Stay with me,” Ruiz responds as he feels the tug of the telepath’s hand against his jacket, looking back to make sure that it’s her, but also that she’s actually alright. The explosions worry him, but he can guess what they might be. “They’re trying to blast in,” he mutters quietly, something that might not be heard under all the sounds of the people, under the cries of the children now that the adults are sobbing. The children had held it together well, but at the explosions— at the panicked adults, they start to break a little. Some look for another adult to hold onto, some just look as if they want to stop and cry.

One, a little girl, even cries out how she doesn’t want to leave. Why can’t they stay!? Denisa is a little harsh when she snaps at the girl to shut up, but she’s trying to keep a cat who doesn’t want to be held and who feels the sheer panic of all these people very well. She might well lose the cat at some point, but she’s going to hold on as well as she can, even if she feels the claws digging into her clothes and threatening to prick her skin.

Flooded. Wonderful.

Kal El the Cat is really going to love that part, too.

“We’re going to be fine,” Ruiz says to the woman behind him. Not because he believes it, really, but because they have to be. He has two impossible promises to keep.

It isn't long before the winding and wispy dark form of Ling Chao comes snaking through the chaos, across the water's surface as she makes her towards others. It's off to the side that the smoke rises up, coalesces into the the familiar form of a woman who stalks through the crowd back towards Kain. Her gaze is as impassive as ever, hands balled up into fists as she spies him and Peyton, starting her way towards him through the flooded tunnel.

"I didn't go up," just like Kain had asked. She waits until she's closer to the two of them to speak up again. "But access could be tricky," she offers in a low voice, as much to only them as she manage among the insanity. She hadn't bothered to see who might be waiting for them above.

In all honesty, she didn't want to know.

Elspeth has found her way falling in with Elaine and Ygraine alongside the children. It's alongside Denisa specifically that she moves, a look offered down to the younger girl and her cat. "Do you want some help?" The smile she wears is clearly forced, offering a hand out to Denisa - the taller woman can at least try to keep the cat above water, leave him a little less upset.

“I can keep the smallest of you out of the water with some wall-walking.” Ygraine’s voice is hoarse, as she forces it through a mouthful of inhaled dust, but there’s another attempt at an encouraging smile for the children. Instead of crying, she’s vibrating gently, fighting to channel her body’s adrenaline into her old competitive instincts to move. Still, even without the airborne particulates, she’d be blinking and staring as she fought her fear - as it is, she adds red eyes and a hoarse cough that struggles to clear her throat.

Liz, Elspeth, and Elaine each receive a direct look… though Mala peeking over her shoulder might add an unintended element to her attempts to convey apology. “If I’m to keep this up over a long distance, I can only manage a handful of people at a time. And lifting the shortest kids out of the water….” The gravity-cheat shrugs tightly, attempting to denote regret over her limited use. “But hopefully there’ll be dry sections where everyone can walk and I can rest up a bit. I’ll try to keep something back as a reserve, in case we need to get people up an airshaft to the surface. Ling” - another nod - “and Richard can go places I can’t, but I can take a few people on routes that couldn’t even be managed with climbing gear. If we need to do that, well… it’s an option.”

Tentatively, she reaches out to deliver a squeeze to Elisabeth’s shoulder. “We’ll get there.”

Elisabeth pulls the pistol that's been riding in her belt during the evacuation, expertly checking its clip and racking a round into place before nodding slightly to Ygraine, one hand coming up to squeeze the Briton's as she looks over the group. "Use your best judgement — if we get separated, the Deveaux Building is the target and you need to keep them moving forward." She looks at Ygraine. "Don't look back." Because there are going to be people lost to this run… Liz knows it, and she's pretty sure every adult in the queue knows it. The blonde sucks in a breath, struggling to quell the panic in her own body — dark, cold, wet, and rats… Christ, she'd rather be facing off against the explosions. She takes a step out into the deeper waters of the sewer tunnel — normally she'd be listening for things ahead of us, but the chaos all around the evacuation drowns out pretty much any chance she had of hearing anything coming at them even if her power were active. Now it's just a matter of moving and clearing the road, shooting anything or anyone in their way. Ever forward, people.

Flooded. Of course. Steve holds her position for a time, waving people through, shouting for people to move, and all the while mentally preparing herself to keep things under control. She’s a livewire at this point. Not quite crackling with energy, but her skin is flushed with heat and her eyes burn bright enough to glow visibly behind the dark, mirrored lenses of her sunglasses. This isn’t a migraine, it’s an overload.

But all (“all”) she has to do is hang on until they can get to higher ground. Or until she has to make a stand. Let the former be the result. After a deep breath, she starts to follow behind the group. If only she could move through wiring like Lynette could.

She can’t hold any tighter to her friends jacket, if she looked her knuckles may very well be white. “You don't have to sugar-coat things,” Kaylee murmurs to Ruiz after the most recent explosion, her head ducking down away from the concussion from the blast. Though she appreciates the attempts. “I hope you are right,” she added after a moment, watching the people around them, maybe hoping to see her father’s face among them… where was he??

Near the water, Kaylee hesitates, almost losing her grip on his jacket as he continues. Clenching teeth against the chill, she steps in after him; shivering at the way the water it soaks into her boots.

The flooded tunnel is a nightmare given form. The water is knee deep in most places and biting cold, coming directly from the Hudson river. Worse is that the tunnel has visibly deteriorated over the years, with cracks and fissures in the ceiling that drip with water from the entire river above. Rickham moves steadily through the water at the fore of the group, pausing every so often when he hears a creak or a groan from the concrete overhead. “Watch your step,” Rickham calls back, and as he moves ahead there’s another — more distant — thunderous boom that shakes the tunnel. Water trickles out of the gaps in the stone in steady streams at the blasting, and Rickham looks up with wide, black eyes at that discovery.

Ah’ shit, Ah shit,” Kain hisses as he steps into the frigid water, keeping his rifle up over his shoulder. He moves his hand from Peyton’s to loop around her shoulders and makes sure she stays close. Blue eyes move to Ling helping the children, and for a moment there’s a brief expression of relaxation on his face. It’s short-lived, though, as a few more evacuees push forcibly past him.

“Don’t you go being the toaster in our bathtub, Sparkles,” Kain calls ahead to the first lady. “Last thing any of us need is some shock therapy.” Though he jokes, it's clearly gallows humor as he starts to take up the rear. A moment later there’s a cacophonous sound of an explosion from behind the group and another shuddering shake of the tunnel, but this time there’s an echoing clattering of rubble and debris from far behind them, and distant, echoing shouts far behind where the escape has progressed.

They’ve broken in.

The sight of the tunnel makes Bowie pause, but it’s only a moment. He picks up one of the kids and slings her up onto his shoulders. His gaze flicks up toward the ceiling, but there’s little to do about the leaks. Or the intrusion behind them.

Little except move. Which is what he does, one child on his shoulders and his hand holding onto another.

Son of a bitch, Elisabeth thinks grimly. She'd hoped for just a little more time. "Go, go, go," she orders quietly, taking a position right behind Rickham so as to shoot more easily with him as cover. She moves even now in the dark with the same precision learned in SWAT field training for the SCOUT teams, her left hand on the back of Rickham's shoulder and her right aimed so she can't accidentally shoot him in the back. The faint tremor in her hands can definitely be attributed to adrenaline and fear.

Sloshing forward in icy, disgusting water up over her knees at the deepest point, she continues to drive their band of refugees forward using Rickham as her personal shield and bulldozer. Periodically, she calls back a warning through the group about a particularly deep spot.

Gasping at the shock of the frigid water, Peyton lets Kain lead her forward. Already visibly shaking, the water does her no favors, nor does the sound of shouts and the sudden debris falling from the ceilings of the old tunnel.

She stumbles on something below, unseen in the water, a sharp hiss of pain whistling through her gritted teeth. Kain’s arm is grabbed, wrenched, as she stumbles, but she manages to regain her footing. She doesn’t speak, but her expression is one of despair — any hope she’d dared to foster is lost.

Elaine hoists one of the smallest of the children up onto her back, instructing the child to hold tight while she holds the hand of another. Her gaze catches Ygraine’s and she nods. She silently curses that her ability wasn’t something more useful for this situation, instead just focusing on moving the kids forward. “I promise we’ll do something fun when this is all over, just keep moving forward, alright?” She doesn’t enjoy sloshing through the water and she’s certain the kids don’t either, but they’ll all have to do their best. Bad shit’s about to go down behind them, so she doesn’t focus on that. She’s focusing her and the kids forward as fast as their little legs can manage.

Another tunnel. Another day. Times like this, you don't know which way you ought to be running.

Logan has, in this instance, gone with the crowd, clawing his way through with no love lost for those he irritates, and otherwise pushed along by a current of panic all around. Elbows past Kain — "'scuse me" — and bulldozes his way through the sewer access. The sound of thunderous explosions from behind and that one shrill whistle call as his point of orientation and he moves with the determined cunning of a wolf through dense underbrush, pursued by hunters. As he enters the gloom of the tunnel, his eyes are bright, sickly green, a faint glow made detectable by the low light of the sewers.

It's a good enough calling card as any. Ygraine feels it like a pull, not quite familiar, but recognisable — the throb of her ability strengthening as her heart begins to hammer a little faster than it did before.

Ygraine gasps aloud, head bowing as a shudder runs through her. A dramatic surge of adrenaline was not exactly what she would have requested as an additive to her fear. The heady sense of raw power is even more unexpected… but quite apart from a distinct tinging in her extremities, it does seem to offer an improvement in their odds as well as a dramatic distraction from the sounds of impending doom behind them all.

“Logan’s caught up,” she says out of the blue, before quickly glancing around in search of the man. “I… I think that I can keep more people out of the water. Probably for longer, too. So long as he keeps doing whatever he’s doing. Slowest and smallest people with me, and I can help them keep up. Logan, too, to maintain this.” And to keep the survival-seeker on-side, of course.

The flooded tunnel is dark, save for the switching beams of flashlights gleaming off of the water and the glow of a couple lanterns carried by the fleeing refugees. Shouts and gunfire begin emitting from far in the rear, and those who weren’t able to gather their things fast enough or had the temerity to stay behind have fallen victim to the Vanguard as they make their way into the Hub. The violence is still far off, distant enough to be safe, close enough to hear the implications.

Up ahead, there’s a horrifying sight. A large portion of the tunnel has completely collapsed in. Piles of broken concrete lay submerged in the water, twisted rebar jutting out at odd angles. There’s just enough of the passageway that looks open for people to filter through in a single file line. Rickham paws around at the debris, shaking his head. “No, no, no…” His murmur sounds like someone worrying into a steel drum.

When he turns back, David is the first person his eyes settle on. “It’s not completely collapsed, but we have to go one at a time. Hurry!” David moves to the crumbling opening between the collapsed concrete, crouching down and shining his flashlight through the tunnel.

“Jesus Christ, be careful there’s rebar in here!” David puts his flashlight in his mouth and starts to crawl through first on his hands and knees. With the water level what it is, that means barely his mouth and nose are above the water as he crawls. From the middle and back of the group, cries of worry and concern fill the air. Explanation for what is happening filters back through the crowd along with a surge of panic and people wondering aloud should we turn back?

Kain looks at Peyton, snatching her hand again. “Go.” He pulls her ahead and pushes her forward. “Get through th’ fuckin’ hole. Ah’ll watch yer back.” Turning, Kain loads a round into his rifle and readies it as he watches down the tunnel. “Dickie, Ah’ swear t’god if you’re here you best be keepin’ an eye on Peepers!”

When Kain pushes her toward the opening, she presses her lips together and looks like she might protest, not wanting to let him out of her sight. Finally, she nods and lets go of him, fingers trailing down his wrist reluctantly. She’s given up using her ability, trying to make sense of tunnels with few “landmarks” to make sense of, so she doesn’t try to see where Richard’s at, if he’s down here in the chaos, one of the shadows from the flickering flashlights.

When it’s her turn to crawl through the small opening, her boot slips on something beneath the water’s surface, and suddenly her head disappears beneath the surface. Someone’s hand grasps for hers to help haul her back up, and when her head breaks the surface, she’s spluttering out water, coughing, having sucked in a mouthful with the gasp she took when she went under.

She nods to the question are you okay but her expression is stunned. Somehow she makes it to the other side of the opening.

For the first time in the evacuation, Elisabeth freezes at the cave-in. The discovery of a passage through it isn't going to help. For all that she's damn good at compartmentalizing, dark, freezing, wet subway tunnels filled with rats are literally her worst nightmare come to life. She stands there for a long moment, letting David Cardinal take the lead and peering in abject horror through the hole he's crawling in. The closed space in there doesn't bother her a bit… but the pitch dark in the hole definitely doesn't look inviting.

They need more than just David on the other end to cover the evacuees squeezing through the crevice a bit wildly in their fear, though, so she pulls up her big-girl panties and gets on with the business at hand, hoping that she doesn't have a screaming panic attack or a fit of anxiety-induced puking in that fucking hole.

It's pure, unadulterated Hell. She crawls through after Peyton and a couple others, moving slowly. There's one place where the ceiling isn't quite high enough off the water and you have to duck, holding your breath. For just a moment, she's caught on some rebar under the water, struggling to get herself free of it. When she finally does, she erupts from the water on the far side of the bump in a flailing of arms, one of them gouged by the rebar that caught her sleeve. FUCK, the kids are gonna freak.

When she gets to the far side, she reaches out for David's flashlight and calls back through, "Tell the kids to follow the light!" She turns to Peyton, offering the woman a small smile, "You hold this steady on the water for the kids to see, okay?" She can tell Peyton is in bad shape… but she also knows what the woman is made of underneath. She'll rise to the challenge; Liz has faith.

At the sight of what people are doing in front of them, Kaylee stops dead in her tracks, fingers finally releasing the hold on Mateo’s jacket. People brush past her, one bumping her hard enough she stumbles a little. However, her eyes are on that tiny opening that everyone is squeezing through.

A step is taken back, but only to run into another person. They get a wide eyed look, before she moves aside and cranes her neck to look over the heads of the fleeing to the tunnel behind the tide of frightened humanity, and the sounds of gunfire beyond. Fear for her father’s safety, twists her stomach and she seriously considers going back; but… she was useless without her ability.

“Where are you?” she murmurs under her breath, watching for any sign of Edward Ray. He had promised her… So she forces down the thought that he wasn’t going to make it. Still fresh tears gathered at the corners of her eyes.

As he overhears the telepath’s murmur over all the noise going on, Ruiz glances back at her and feels a tinge of guilt. But that doesn’t mean he’ll say anything— and the fact that she doesn’t know tells him that she probably is still negated. The kids are worried, looking on in fear, but the cat might well be more pissed off than afraid.

Denisa turns to Elspeth, offering up the cat with a, “His name is Kal El, after superman.” It’s a weird thing to say at a time like this, but Mala always had said if the adults knew it had a name they couldn’t possibly eat him, or let him die. Names mean something— One of the kids screams out as they get shoved aside by an adult trying to move forward, not caring what happens to anyone for a moment. Panicked is the way of people in this situation. Always forward, with no regard on who they might squash on the way.

Because the way back is worse.

Thankfully the littlest ones have Ygraine to help them out, but she can't help all of them— Denisa’s going to have to swim for it.

Pulling Kaylee’s bag off his shoulder, Ruiz sticks something inside the pockets from his own small stash and calls out, “Ling! Carry this across the water for me.” It has some precious items in it, though he has no idea what Kaylee might have packed. He tosses it toward her, expecting her to catch it, before he pulls on the telepath toward the flooded water, “We need to swim for it, so come on, we can make it.”


Behind the survivors, a phalanx of Vanguard conscripts storms down the concrete corridors, kicking open residence doors and sweeping rooms. Occasionally they are met by harrowed screams and the prapp of gunfire and muzzle flash. Shell casings rain down on the floor. These emotionless executioners continue down the hall, one stopping at a sign that reads incinerator. He steps down the corridor, looking to see a closed iron door at the end, but a distant scream and gunfire draws his attention back and away and he leaves the door be, joining his other compatriots.

As the team progresses down the hall, one radios back to command. «We’re seeing signs of evacuation, they’re fleeing deeper into the tunnels. Might be trying to come up somewhere else. Most of the exits we’re finding are sealed, they’ve gotta have a back door.» The leader of this squad motions for his soldiers to move ahead. Three burst into the water filtration plant with guns drawn, noticing one door open and another closed.

“Check that,” the captain barks, loud enough to be heard in the flooded subway tunnel up ahead. His men move to the closed door, one standing beside the door with his rifle ready, the other reaching out for the handle and yanking the door open. For a moment there is just darkness inside and silence. A rat scurries out, scampering into the hall and underfoot. One of the men follows the rat with his eyes, and when he looks back up there’s a glistening reflection in the doorway.

“What the f— ”

The Flooded Tunnels


There is an explosion of screams and a roaring torrent of water that begins toward the rear of the subway tunnel. Kain’s voice raises, “Oh shit, what— what th’ fuck! RUN! RUN!” He’s pushing, shoving people ahead of himself, trying to get everyone to move. Bursting through the doorway at the end of the tunnel is a tidal wave of frothing white water. It explodes through the broken concrete opening, crashes into the wall and swirls around, then surges down the tunnel. At first it is only ankle deep, then calf, but it’s completely flooded the collapsed passageway that others are fleeing through, making it entirely an underwater escape now. On Liz’s side of the tunnel, water explodes up from the opening, perhaps from a ruptured main or some other prodigious source. She can hear screams on the other side. Panicked.

It’s just seconds before Kain’s cries to run that Peyton’s shaking hand reaches for the flashlight Elisabeth is handing to her, her bloodshot eyes focusing for a moment on the other woman’s face. Peyton’s face looks eerily pale in the dim light; her magenta hair, darkened to an ominous red by the water, is plastered against white skin. She nods once and turns the flashlight on the water for the children to see. The ring of light isn’t a steady one, but a flickering target thanks to the tremors that run through her body; her teeth chatter until she clenches them to make them stop.

The light discovers a cloud of crimson in the murky water.

It’s then that Kain’s cries and the rush of water comes toward that opening and Peyton cries back, “K! Hurry! Card!” She doesn’t know where the shadow is, but yells for him anyway.

Ygraine takes a few moments to survey the rubble-slope, paying particular attention to the sides and ceiling - hoping to find an extra gap that she might turn into an exit from this portion of the trap. None, however, present themselves… but her ability still allows for a slight advantage in navigating such an obstacle.

Rather than needing to swim blindly, Ygraine can switch from her mundane to her unconventional senses. The water provides a hazy, awkward fuzz around her - a physical presence too extensive and slippery for her ability to take hold of, but there as a distraction and an obstacle to push through. But beyond and around it she can sense every significant bit of the dark and flooded little escape route, scrambling through with confident speed and the assistance of orientation-shifts when appropriate.

Each child she helps in turn is given a terse: “Breathe deep; hold it; only let it out when you come up on the far side”, before being assisted through the wholly-drowned section. But in time she finds herself being pushed onwards by the weight of the fearful crowd behind.

Finding the surface herself, she staggers to her feet as her ordinary senses seek to re-establish themselves. Mala, she reclaims and restores to backpack status, while - a little wildly - peering around to try to simultaneously count heads of children and cared-for and important adults.

There is very little resistance from Kaylee, when she is pulled along, especially when she sees the rushing wall of water. With the world suddenly thrown into chaos, she is very thankful that she is negated as the surge of panic pushes her and Mateo forward. This many voices in this state of mind might have overwhelmed her, never has she been so glad for that void.

At the opening, once all the kids are through, Kaylee plants her feet and pulls her arm out of Mateo’s grip. “You first,” she states firmly, her voice trembling with cold and growing panic that threatens to make her lose whatever she might have eaten earlier that day. But her blue eyes hold that same determination that her father shows when he gets his mind set on something. “Without you, all of this will be for nothing.” Equally shaky hands are held up, “I promise, I’ll be right behind you.” And she plans to once she sees him go under.

Kaylee is terrified of what was happening, but somehow she finds the strength to push her friend towards the water filled exit.

However, when she spots Kain still on their side, Kaylee stops and hurries over to grab his arm and pull, much like Mateo did her. “You need to go. The group will need protection.” Even she knows not all will make it, but if at least those she sees as friends do… it will be worth something.

The shout to RUN is so quickly followed by the blasting deluge of water that Elisabeth is for a moment stunned at the force with which it pours from the small opening that their people are climbing through. Experience in a crisis serves her well, though — she stumbles under the force and then shoves her way through the spray to start hauling people out by whatever appendage, clothing, or even hank of hair that she can feasibly grab to yank them out of the way of both the water and the next person behind them. Ygraine, the kids she's towing, whoever else comes through. She has no idea whose blood she's looking at in the water, and frankly no time to give a shit. Might even be hers, if the vague burning in her arm is a clue — too much adrenaline right now to even worry about that kind of thing.

She glances worriedly upward at the cave-in and shouts to those who can hear, both behind and ahead, "Move, move, move!" She's concerned about the stability of the caved-in area and whether the force of water may send it blasting outward at the escapees … or worse, collapse it entirely atop some of them.

For a woman who rarely turns to church for solace, Elisabeth has a firm belief in the idea that there is something out there, whatever people want to call it. In this case, she falls back on old Catholic prayers and calls on saints and apostles galore to get these people out of here safely.

"David, take point! Get them the fuck above ground!!" Or we may just all of us die in here.

It’s at this point that Elaine realizes it’s going to be hard to get all the kids to safety. This was an unforeseen hazard that she hadn’t mentally prepared for. But they were faced with it and there was death if they could not overcome. “Take a deep breath and swim forward, just keep going, don’t stop for anything, just keep going.” She instructs the children as they’re all pushed forward, practically getting trampled in the panic.

But they have to go and Elaine is swept forward with the two children she was holding onto, hoping they manage to cling to her as she swims and that the others manage, somehow, to keep up. She swims, to the best of her ability, trying to get herself out. She promised that much, at least.

Ruiz hesitates before he gives a nod to Kaylee, glancing back at the few that he cares to make it before he goes into the water and swims as well as he can, even helping one of the kids when they make scared gulping sounds upon breaking the surface on the other side. “It’s okay, you’re okay,” he tries to tell them, even though he knows that they will probably lose a couple people just on this part.

And he may have lost something else at the same time, but he doesn’t worry about that right now. He’ll wait til he sees Kaylee, though.

Mala handles the water well enough, able to swim better than she can walk, interestingly enough. The same goes for some of the other kids, though a few do come up screaming and struggling— but so do some of the adults.

When Ygraine does her head count, the kids at least seem to have all made it.

Ling stands at the edge of the water, only half turning to catch the bag that has been thrown her way. I's a good thing, really, that she at least finds Ruiz inoffensive, though the look she gives makes it clear she's not thrilled to be someone else's pack mule.

Smoke starts to drift off Ling's fingers as Elspeth runs up next to her, stopping suddenly as she comes upon the edge of the water. She's been cursing under her breath pretty much since the moment the evacuation, but at the sight of the water, the cat that Denise had been so valiantly trying to keep ahold of begins to scratch and claw at her arm.

Letting out an exclamation of surprise, she lets the cat drop to the ground as she pulls back her arms. The cat looks at the water, hisses, and then makes a break elsewhere, quickly disappearing in the crowd.

"No- fuck!" Elspeth yells, teeth gritting together as she looks down at her arm - scratched up but only bleeding slightly, though that was still not great when they're about to go swimming into flooded sewer tunnels. "Oh god, Denisa, I'm so sorry," she breathes out, hands over mouth.

Ling looks at her, and then to where the cat has disappeared to, letting out an exasperated sigh. "I'm make sure it doesn't get lost," she remarks reluctantly, as her entire body begins to sublimate into a misty black smoke, drifting off into the air.

Elspeth stares at where the other woman stood for a moment, swallowing loudly as she turns back to the water ahead, and plunges in.

The water comes in a torrential push, driving past Kain and swirling into the blocked tunnel. On the other end, the opening gurgles and bubbles with an explosive burst of water. Everyone who is pulled free from that narrow tunnel is sopping wet, gagging, and retching up water. On the far side, Kain is pushed back by the water flow, only to find Kaylee and he are the last two left. There’s shouts coming from further behind them, calls from the Vanguard.

“How th’ fuck…” Kain doesn’t waste any time, the mystery of how that water eruption saved them will have to be one that’s never solved. “Barbie, what th’ hell are you doing!? C’mon, let’s get outta’ here!” Grabbing Kaylee’s wrist, Kain rushes toward the heaping pile of rubble and practically drags Kaylee behind him, diving into the water and swimming ahead to the opening, being drawn in by the force of the current.

When Kain emerges from the other side, he exhales a blast of water, blood streaming down from a cut on his shoulder where he tangled himself up in the rebar. But at first he’s alone. Frantically he looks around, only to be joined a moment later by Kaylee as he hauls her up and out of the murk. The two drag themselves to their feet, and begin moving again even as more shouting echoes through the rubble heap.

Beyond the blockage, past where the water is spewing into the flooded tunnel, David and Rickham are moving ahead as fast as they can. As the other survivors are moving past them, there’s something in the water that went unnoticed at first. Floating bedrolls, tangled messes of tattered tents, empty cans, a shoe. The flood waters look to have reached an abandoned camp, perhaps some sort of underground settlement that was adjacent to the Hub.

It is a nearly two thousand foot trek down the subway tunnel with rapidly rising water. Now knee deep, it threatens many of the smaller children running along with Elaine, though not those gifted with wall-walking by Ygraine. Remarkably, the evacuees haven’t lost anyone since reaching the blockage. As they move, more signs of previous habitation become visible. There’s an old cookpot floating in the water, a stuffed animal with its stuffing torn out.

Then there is a corpse.

Face down in the water and only recently dead, it is surrounded by a deep and red murk of blood. Its limbs are broken and twisted and its presence elicits a chorus of screams of fright from the children as flashlights reveal its presence. “Watch out!” Rickham calls back, “Watch your step!” More bodies come floating down the tunnel. They couldn’t have been victims of the flood, it’s not bad enough and couldn’t have caused this damage.

Further ahead, the subway tunnel opens up. It’s been minutes now, and the width is from a subway entrance. It isn’t the one that will empty out right near the Deveaux Building, however. The signage, covered in grime and filth, reads 59th St-Lexington Ave Station. It does mean the survivors have made it to Manhattan, but they’re at least six blocks away from their destination.

Just past the subway station, Rickham stops and presses a hand to David’s chest. David stops, looking at the metal man, brows furrowed. “What?” David whispers, not able to hear anything over the commotion of sloshing water and survivors behind them. Rickham tilts his metal head to the side, able to perceive something David cannot.

Hello?” Rickham calls into the darkness, and David shines his flashlight ahead. There is a rail-thin woman with a tangle of blonde hair streaked with filth. She jerks her attention to David, bare feet splashing through the water. “Oh no. No. RUN!” Rickham bellows, his voice resonating through the sewers.

In the shine of flashlights, the woman lets out a howling scream of rage and begins rushing toward David with her arms outstretched. “Go up! Go up!” In the darkness, more screams echo, along with the crackling snap of electricity and the flume of fire igniting.

The subway settlement wasn’t washed away. They had all succumbed to the virus.

Merdemerdemerdemerdemerde.” It’s not exactly an intentional sparing of the children’s delicate ears - certainly not with Rage zombies incoming - but Ygraine’s flood of Francophone profanity might perhaps provide a second of distraction from the onrushing horror for someone in need of it.

With Mala still on her back - though probably finding the experience much less enjoyable than she did at the start - she posts herself at right-angles to the world. Children are grabbed off the wall and set on the platform, before she turns around to start hoisting people out of the water. Starting with the rest of the children, she relies upon brute strength rather than further taxing her Evolved ability… but soon enough she’s offering hands to adults, to help them scramble up in turn. She just has to trust that she’s not dumping the fugitives into the path of fresh dangers.

Run. That’s good order to give. Too bad most people are busy still trying to get out of the water. Including Ruiz, who hands off a kid to one of the more stable adults before he pulls himself up out of the water and looking upon the red fire and snap of electricity filling the air around them.

“Everyone who’s still alive— hold on to something,” he responds to that scream of rage, the bodies trying to make their way forward. They might still be alive, but they were both alive and dead at the same time. Unlike most of those crawling out of the water. Unlike those who needed time to run. So many were still negated— but not him. His ability had been back for hours. He’d felt the screaming maw calling out to him, begging to be released. This is one use of his ability he’s not worried will kill him, cause he’d done it so many times before and he’d never even gotten a nose bleed.

Not until that boy and the woman had fallen through. Not until he started toying, playing games with the swirling vortex that led somewhere.

Ygraine had wanted to see his ability in action a few days ago, and he had refused. For many reasons. One he’d been negated and it would take time to wear off— the other they needed to find energy to do it. He would not risk depleting the entire Hub. But one of those victims of the Shanti-Rage snaps with energy, and that…. That he can use. And now she will see. Along with most of the Hub, who’d never seen his ability in action. Cause almost no one had. It wasn’t something he used much.

The air shifts almost immediately, like the air pressure changed sudden. A sound like a torrent beating against a building, like wind ripping through trees, like the ocean beating against rocks and sound starts to fill the air. All those things at once. And screams. Maybe not from the black spiralling darkness that forms at the back of the room, pulling on the air, pulling on anything not weighted down. Those closest to it, get pulled up into it, drawn into nothing. Because that’s what his vortex seemed to be. Nothing, surrounded by the electricity he pulled up, crackling and sending sparks down into the darkness.

“Keep running!” he yells at the others, over the sound of it. It’s far enough back that they aren’t immediately affected. They don’t feel the pull like those closest— it has a threshold of effect, it would seem, and he tried his best to keep it where the Hub survivors could make it around, make it by… But he also can’t keep it open forever.

But Liz would notice he doesn’t look as worn out as he had when he’d been using his ability in concert with Lynette and Magnes.

Elaine remains helping the kids as long as she can before scrambling up after the others. Ygraine is once again given a quick nod of thanks as she does said scrambling, dragging herself out and over to wherever the children still are. “Almost there,” she says, knowing full well there’s much more to go before they’re somewhere safe. But the children need hope and that’s the best she can offer for the moment.

Somehow, Peyton manages to move forward — more because she’s carried along by the crowd rather than by any determination or will of her own. Her eyes are glassy and her face pale — even for someone with skin as pale as hers is, for not having seen the sun for so many months.


Eventually she makes it to that platform. Dark eyes devoid of spirit take in the others putting their hands on the cement wall that forms the platform and hauling themselves up. Peyton follows suit, unwrapping her arms from around her waist. Someone above her helps her, grabbing her wrists and pulling upward when she lacks the strength to do so.

She leaves a blood-red handprint on the cement wall.

Once she’s up on the platform, Peyton stumbles, sinking to her knees. It’s hard to tell from where, in the dark, wet clothes she wears, but the ground beneath and around her grows slippery and dark with more than mere water, but blood. Her blood. She doesn’t seem ready to get up and run again as she leans forward, gasping for breath. One arm wraps back around her waist, The other hand claws at the cement, holding herself up.

The void consumes, a horrible and howling nothingness swirling at the end of the subway tunnel before the platform. As Elaine hauls children up into the platform and ferries them toward the stairs, screaming people are being sucked into the howling abyss. Many of the survivors don't even stop to look, clamoring up the emergency ladders onto the platform. But those that do are struck with an expression of unmitigated horror.

Kain only then pushes his way from the back of the group with one hand tightly wound around Kaylee’s wrist. He pauses as he sees the void, unable to make sense of it. “Go!” Kain shouts, pushing Kaylee toward the platform. “Ah said go!” Unshouldering his rifle, he readies it up and begins backing toward the ladder, hedging Kaylee away with each step.

The void isn't enough to stem the tide of Shanti-Rage infected, however, and their numbers threaten to overwhelm the small group. Rickham stands beside the void, grabbing those who make it around it's rim with his tremendous strength, bringing them up and slamming them to the ground with bone-shattering force.

David stands on the other side, his assault rifle cracking off one or two shots when he has a guaranteed kill lined up. Three infected leap at Rickham, one hanging off of each arm and another trying to claw fruitlessly at his face. Of the three, one holds up and hand and tries to generate electricity, only to have it drawn away by the void.

There's too many! Mateo! You can't stay down here!” Rickham hollers, even as David is already retreating. “You're the way back! You can't die down here!

As if answering Rickham’s call a gunshot rings out from the back end of the tunnel, then another, then another. Automatic gunfire explodes from the dark, followed by cries of, “Down here! Down here! We found them!”

Infected to the front, Vanguard to the rear. There is only one way to go now: up.

Being pushed through by the current, Kaylee doesn’t have time to react as something hits and scraps down the side of her head. Coming out of the water, she can already feel warmth on her cheek, and immediately she presses her hand to side of her face. When she pulls it away, her hand is covered in blood. Oh no. The sight leaves her a little woozy, but she doesn’t faint. From brow to jaw, she can slowly feel the stinging burn of a cut.

There is no time to ponder the damage as she is pulled forward by Kain; she can only stumble after him with her sleeve pressed to her face. The intensifying sting makes her eyes water a little, soon it would be throbbing in pain.

When Mateo activates his ability, Kaylee can only watch in wonder, arm falling away a little from the ragged and angry cut. Odessa had mentioned it… he had mentioned it… But to actually see it. It is startling.

Her eyes only shift to the man himself, pulled out of the shock, by the sound of his voice. He was right, they needed to move, this is emphasized by the pushed from Kain. Ygraine’s attempts to help are waved off, not letting the woman even touch her if she tries. It takes a few attempts, but the telepath manages to get up on the platform, the cut to her head aching sharply from the effort. Drops of blood are left on the concrete platform as the telepath climbs to her feet, rather wobbly. Though once she is steady on her feet again and bloody sleeve pressed to the cut, she turns and waits anxiously for Mateo and Kain.

Elspeth emerges from the water coughing and sputtering, weighed down by wet, dirty clothes as she stumbles forward. Eyes on the floor, she sees little as her vision swirls momentarily. She hears the voices, the various people speaking, yelling shouting. The sound of gunfire, the crackle of electricity, the emptiness of the void portals, the sounds of the Shanti-Rage victims.

She lumbers her way over to the subway platform, but she doesn't immediately pull herself up. Instead, she looks over to Elaine. "Why 're y' still here? Go," she remarks. It's soft, pleading. "I'll help th' kids. Come on." A beat, and she motions towards the platform. "Go!" This time, she's more forceful, hands cripping the train platform. And with that, she moves to help one of the kids up on to the platform, a pointed glare given to Elaine.

Ling is nowhere to be seen. Not yet, at least, and now is Kal-El - not even a meow to be heard yet.

The President happened to be very right. For more reasons than one. The more it devoured, the more he felt his head start to hurt— It didn’t spread to his heart, though, just a mild pressure behind his eyes. No bleeding. Looking back at the others, looking ahead at the president, he nods, pulling on the roaring in his mind until it shut back down, using the few moments of sudden silence for everyone else to run after them, reaching out to help Kaylee with a worried glance at her wound.

As long as she could still move, there was a chance. As long as all of them kept moving, there was a chance. But he had thinned the group that would follow them, some— and that might have been the most he could do right now. The rest was up to those with the guns, to others with their abilities still active.

Climbing up onto the platform, Elaine meets Elspeth’s gaze. Her instinct is to stay and help the kids, but she knows that she can leave that in the other woman’s hands. Biting down on her lower lip, she moves forward, beckoning to the kids that have made it onto the platform. “Come on, come on,” she urges, no longer just waiting for the kids. Elspeth will have to bring up the rear. She’ll get the kids up. Elaine just needs to keep moving forward.

The gunfire and shouts from behind succeed in jerking Ygraine’s attention away from the horrifically fascinating sights closer to hand. She longed to focus upon her alternate sense, to reach out and examine Ruiz’s portal and determine whether it or anything on the far side might have mass… but the Rage-victim zombies present an unmistakably terrible and urgent threat, out of whose reach she grabs as many people as possible.

But when the Vanguard arrive, she reluctantly settles for snatching up just a couple more, dragging them up and onto the platform as she brings herself and Mala back to a conventional orientation. Dropping into the low scuttle she developed in her early ceiling-crawling efforts, she attempts to keep out of the line of fire while moving away from the tracks.

That near-floor-level stance helps to bring the collapsed heap of Peyton clearly into view, and she hurries to crouch beside the fallen woman.

Shit,” is Ygraine’s succinct assessment of her evident distress. “This’ll probably hurt like a bitch,” she warns - both herself and Peyton - before shifting position to brace herself in a power-lifting stance. Her hands rest upon the wounded woman, then she wearily forces a charge of power into place, reorienting the fallen celebutante.

Straightening her legs at the same time as Peyton falls gently up into her arms, she staggers slightly, grinding her teeth. I used to do reps with more weight than this, she insists to herself. With her ability negating any risk of overbalancing due to her burdens, though her legs and back still bear their full weight, she forces her feet to move. Rather than tackling the steps themselves, she opts to treat the wall of the stairwell as flat ‘ground’, moving up close to the ceiling to keep out of the way of other fugitives as she struggles onwards - hoping to reach street-level, but determined to at least get out of line of sight for both Vanguard and Rage victims. Perhaps a hint of safety will be sufficient for her to find someone willing and able to share the task of keeping Peyton moving.

With Rickham and David on point, leading people as fast as they can move, Elisabeth takes up a position as rear guard with Kain for a time through the tunnel, both of them acting to keep the stragglers moving faster through the water. Talk about being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. When Ruiz's portal comes to life ahead of them, it's only then that Liz fully realizes what they're seeing up there and she shares a grim look with Kain. She helps a number of people up onto the platform, and then calls to the Cajun, "I'll meet you topside!" All she has is a pistol, but with Kain and Rickham holding them off down here, she and David will have to take the lead again so that Ruiz and Steve can stay together for the push to their evacuation point.

Later, she'll have time to actually realize how fluidly they'd passed the roles of point and rear guard back and forth to get people out of there… and marvel that they got as many as they did for as far as they did. But that will be contemplation for if they survive to actually make it as far as the planned exfiltration point.

The blonde hauls herself up onto the platform with the last of the group and threads her way through them to join the elder Cardinal. "All I have is the pistol; we're going to have to make each shot count. Let's clear the road," she tells him, a faint grin quirking her lips. She's done this often enough now that she's somewhat resigned to it. As she races up the stairs just ahead of the wave of refugees, she pauses at the top long enough to take a look around and try to identify both which direction they need to move and what they're facing as they make it to street level. It's not as if they can stop in the stairwell, though, so after the quick recon, she urges the people with her, "Do. Not. Stop. The Deveaux Building is there!" She points toward it for them and then waits at the top of the steps long enough to verify that we've got Ruiz, Steve, and Logan somewhere in their first wave — because no point in getting there if their ride is in the rear.

Up at street level, Bowie helps the others climb out, trying to get as many of their people up as fast as they all can manage. He's in a position to spot Ygraine and Peyton and the medic takes in her condition in a few quick glances. Skin too pale, eyes too glossy, bleeding too much. He passes off his current job to another and grabs his pack to come over Peyton's way. His hands dig into his supplies, feeling out for pressure bandages in the hopes of giving Peyton a few extra moments. Let her get where they're going. A better world with better help. It's a hope and an increasingly distant one, but he still moves.

"Ygraine, this way," he shouts, to get her attention. Once Peyton is within reach, though, he goes to work finding her wounds and patching them up as best the can on the go.

This was his job once, in the real world, the one before the virus.

"Peyton," he says to her while he works, his voice much calmer than he feels, "we're gonna get you through this, okay? Can you look at me? You're with friends, we're here with you." This is not something he would normally say to her, on a normal day, under normal circumstances. But comfort— even a small comfort— might help ease her mind in these moments. He hopes it will.

There’s a soft sound of protest at being picked up, but Peyton doesn’t fight or resist — she’s a dead weight. This close, it’s easy to see her too-fast, shallow breathing, and for Ygraine to feel the too-fast but weak heartbeat.

When Bowie goes to patch her wound, he finds the spot of her green sweater that’s been made darker by the crimson bloodstain, just below her lowest rib on her left side. The puncture wound cuts deep and ragged, most likely from the rusty rebar in the collapsed opening, invisible beneath the water. In a better world, it might not be a death sentence, but they’re not to a better world yet.

At his words, her eyelids flutter before she focuses on him for a moment. Her dark eyes fill with tears and she shakes her head once. “You should-” she begins, but it’s too much effort, and her eyes close again.

Logan's presence in the pack is about as silent and reliable as any strange wolf attempting to run amongst them. The interval in which everyone experienced the biting, snaring darkness of the waterlogged tunnel saw his tether with Ygraine snap, but he rejoins the group late by the time anyone has a moment to do a headcount. Dripping wet, bloodied, no weapons in his hands, Logan considers the impending swarm of Shanti-Rage infected with the hollow look of someone whose hysterical panic has been stored somewhere inside as unforgiving as Ruiz's vortex.

Everyone is yelling. Go go go. Keep running. And then: the crack of gunshots, the closing in of Vanguard, and Logan flinches. And runs.

His eyes blaze aglow once more, his lithe form visible as he catches up. To Elisabeth's eye, he's a much changed figure from the more predictable quality she knew in another dimensions, with militaristic cropped hair, scars, lethal determination to survive in an able agility that has him vaulting turnstiles and launching himself up stairs two, three at a time. He sees her, and his ability plugs into hers like an electrical charge, her heart suddenly pounding hard enough for a copper taste to rise in her throat.

Passes her without a word. She has some crucial moments where her ability feels like a wild, untethered quality at the edges of her brain and the tips of her fingers.

Though Ygraine sets Peyton down with as much care as she can muster, within moments of doing so she has dropped to all fours. Mala still on her back, she pants hard, sucking in deep lungfuls of air while her limbs shake in protest at the work-out she’s just undertaken. Still, she manages a groggy nod for Bowie and does her best to pay at least some attention to quite what he is doing to his patient. Her advanced but very specific knowledge of some first aid techniques doesn’t remotely cover this degree of injury, but she still has a guilty nagging sensation that she ought to have some notion of how to help. Mostly, that expresses itself in dazed observation… but after a little she manages to sit back onto her haunches, freeing up her hands to at least hold things - or Peyton - as required by the actually-competent medic.

Hopefully he will manage to stabilise her enough that she can be moved before the horrors from below succeed in reaching the surface.

A bloody hand is held up to ward off Mateo, giving him a little shake of her head, her eyes apologetic. Kaylee didn’t want to have to remind him she’s dangerous to him out loud. “I’m okay,” she says hoarsely, voice thick with emotions. She looks a mess all bloodied and waterlogged. Hair hangs in damp ropes from either water or blood.

When Kaylee pulls away the sleeve of her hoodie, the wound is bad… there would be a scar if she survived this journey… and the virus. The upside is it missed her eye, only flaying open the outer edge. It is a good thing she could not see herself right now.

A worried glance back towards Kain, Kaylee motions to Ruiz to follow her, moving toward the surface. Of course, she isn't prepared for the scene before her as she reached the surface. Her and Peyton had never been friends, but doesn't mean she has ever wished something like this on the woman.

"Ygraine," Bowie notes to her softly, "you should get the kids and go. Peyton and I will be right behind you." He looks over at the woman, his expression severe. Implying that these words are a pretty lie. But when he looks back down to Peyton, he gives her an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry, I know it hurts. I'm gonna do everything I can, but we ran out of locals a long time ago. You can punch me when it hurts too much, I won't take offense."

Try he does, just as he said. Even though he knows it won't be enough. He tries, because Peyton deserves her last moments to be filled with someone fighting for her life. Because she doesn't deserve to be alone.

As they clear the subway stairs and gain the street, Elisabeth spreads out from David Cardinal, pistol in hand, and keeps watch as the mass of people pours from the subway stairs and starts running in the direction she pointed them. They are still blocks from the Deveaux Building, and there is little or nothing that can be done about that except attempt to cover the distance as fast as possible. Explosions bring her head around for a moment, but … it's not like there's any other set of actions they can take at this point. As she told Kain, this is for all the marbles. We're either going to get there and get through… or one way or the other, we're all just going to be casualties.

She runs with the first wave of people about 50 yards further up the road, and then she turns to keep herself between them and what's coming out of the tunnels after us. Caught between the rock and the hard place, Elisabeth's gaze is held by John Logan's when he bolts by her, and she shouts, "GET TO RUIZ!" as he runs forward… but in that moment when his gaze locks on hers, Liz's blue eyes go wide. She's been amplified by Gillian Childs… she knows what it feels like. This is not the same.

This feels like a panic attack, her heart thudding so hard in her chest that it might as well weigh ten pounds. She fights to suck in a breath while at the same time wrangling the sounds that now flow over her into some semblance of coherence. The shelling from above is just an added note to the cacophony. Standing stock still as people race past her, though, THIS….. This, Elisabeth can do. She can buy the extra moments to get to the Deveaux Building by making a monstrous amount of noise.

Oh, Felix, I never thought I'd have to do this again, the blonde has a moment to think even as she reaches for the powerful vibrations already rolling through the area, pulls them to her, and starts manipulating them, holding them close to her as she piles the waves atop one another and holds them in check — it's the oddest thing. There are almost no sounds reaching the street between her and the subway tunnel horde. Her voice, enhanced with her power, rings out across the entire street as she orders the refugees behind her, "~Do. Not. Stop. For anything.~"

God, it's like a panic attack and a heart attack and pure euphoria to have the full use of her abilities back, and at this level. It hurts. It hurts so bloody much to hold it in. With her feet planted, she waits — she holds there for the last possible moment, taking in Bowie and Peyton, who she can finally see the injuries of. Taking in who is pausing and where — Kaylee and Ruiz over there, others still coming up from below. "~You all need to move… There isn't much time. Get farther up the street,~" she tells them in a voice that holds a deep bass hum almost as an underline. She seems to have every intention of remaining part of the rear guard.

Eyes closed, Peyton isn't able to see as smoke begins to filter out of cracks, flowing, pooling, collecting, and rising into the familiar form of Ling Chao. As she forms into her corporeal form her countenance as she looks down at the woman, and then Ygraine, and finally Bowie, is stern. Stony. A hand rises, sweeping across her midsection as it turns into a point ahead, leveling eyes with Ygraine's.


The words are as stiff as her glare, after which she looks back down to Peyton. Her lips thin, and she lets out a short sigh. She doesn't look back to Bowie, instead she kneels down beside the injured woman. "The things that happen when I step away. Making sure a cat is okay…" when maybe she should've been keeping an eye on Peyton, like Kain would have wanted her to.

She shakes her head, smoke drifting off of her fingers. "Do you have anything to tell them?" The question is genuine, lacking her usual stern tone. "Anyone." But mostly Kain and Cardinal.

Speaking of Kal El, Desina exclaims cheerfully upon seeing the cat looking grouchy, but otherwise intact. And somehow dry. How the cat managed that would be anyone’s guess, but she doesn’t get a chance to scoop him up herself because the Ruiz comes up behind the cat, plucking it off the ground and motioning the child to start running. Cause they all needed to be running.

Except the poor woman who might never leave the place that she’d fallen. He knew Peyton, somewhat, the same way he knew most of the people who’d lived in the Hub, but he could not spend time mourning. Not when he had to get Kaylee to the building. Not when he had promises to keep.

And the kids didn’t need to worry about a cat, so he would handle that. With the cat, with the kids, with the telepath, he runs, leaving what he knows will follow behind, so that he can get to that building. So that he can try to keep his promise.

Ygraine intently studies Bowie for a long moment, before moving one hand to Peyton’s shoulder. She has time to squeeze lightly, before Ling coalesces nearby and addresses her. Just about managing to fight off the urge to double-take or flinch away from the eerie display of power, she sucks in another breath before nodding.

“See you soon.” The words are initially directed to Peyton, though Ygraine sweeps her gaze back up to Bowie and then Ling in turn, to try to mutely encourage them not to get left behind, either.

Then she pushes herself to her feet, darting a glance over her shoulder. “You still in one piece back there, Mala? It’s about to get bumpy again,” she warns, before forcing herself to break into a run - at first just aiming to get thoroughly out of the way of whatever it is that Liz is about to try, and thereafter to catch up with the other children. And with Kaylee and vitally-important Ruiz now running alongside them himself.

The voices surrounding her sound distant, but Peyton manages to focus her glassy eyes on Bowie, first. Her lips, already blue from loss of blood, twitch into something like a smile. “Just cold,” she manages to say, her voice barely more than a whisper.

Ling’s words draw her dark eyes up and a tremor runs through her body — despite Bowie’s pretty lies, the truth is clear, distinct as the smell of smoke that comes from her friend’s power. Her lips tremble as she parts them to murmur, “Tell them I love them. Tell them I’m sorry.”

Peyton’s voice cracks on the last word, interrupted by a small sob, before she pushes Bowie’s hands away from her wound. “Go,” she whispers, and then again to Ygraine when the woman touches her shoulder in farewell. “Go,” is fainter yet.

Eyelids flutter closed. She’s awake, but can’t bear to watch them leave — despite her urging them to. Maybe it will be easier for them to leave if she doesn’t watch.

Listening to Peyton saying goodbye to her friend, sending her messages, Bowie hangs his head for a long moment. His hand finds Peyton’s, to give her a squeeze. You are not alone.

“I’m sorry, Peyton,” he says, even though his free hand keeps pressure on her wound, as if he could stem the bleeding if he just gave it a few more moments. He looks over at Ling, swallowing hard against what he’s playing witness to.

“We’re never going to make it,” he says to her, his voice barely even a whisper. Whatever he expected from this race to freedom, he was hoping for them all to go together.

Instead, he sees them each dying, one by one.

As Peyton speaks, Ling kneels down beside her. She has thoughts on this of course. That Peyton has nothing to be sorry about - something she feels is true, unlike the nicely wrapped lies Bowie shares with her. Normally she'd wrinkle her nose, roll her eyes, mutter something sarcastically. But for anyone who may happen to be paying attention amongst the chaos, this is probably the most emotive Ling Chao has been since the first day she arrived in the Hub. At least, the most emotive she's been that didn't involve killing rage zombies or Vanguard.

The chinese woman takes a deep breath. "兔死狐悲," she says quietly. "We are the victims of hunters, the small animals who have joined forces against them. We promised one another to share a common fate; and now his death today foretells my death tomorrow. " Said in a whisper, just loud enough for Peyton and maybe Bowie to hear among the chaos. "I'm sorry, Peyton." Even as she speaks, she reaches down, one hand taking the clasp of a necklace around the other woman's neck. Unhinged and slipped off the dying woman's neck, it quickly begins to dissipate into vapor that swirls around Ling and mixes with her body.

One hands curls into a fist as she rises, a knife coalescing out of smoke in the other. She doesn't finish the proverb, there's no time. "I will make sure they know. And I will make sure…" The knife slides a bit in her hand, fingers turning it in her palm so that the blade faces downwards. "That I carve their penance out of their skin."

Ling Chao is angry. And that rarely ends well for anyone. She turns her attention to Bowie, a slow forming but maniacal smile forming across thin lips. "Probably," she offers. "But why stop now?" In other words, Bowie, go.

By the time the mortar hits, she's just sublimated into smoke again - safe from the blast, and given cover to move as she pleases. Where she's headed is anyone's guess.

Below street level, everything is absolute chaos. Rickham is struggling with the tide of swarming revenants wracked by the inconceivable pain the Shanti-Rage virus represents. For every one he sends into a shattered heap on the floor, three more rise up to grab at him and try to drag him down. One erupts into flames, the infected woman’s entire body a living shroud of fire. Rickham grabs at her, trying to push her away from the flesh-and-bone people clawing their way up the stairs. “Steve! — Stephanie! Run! Run!” Rickham bellows, grabbing the burning woman by her molten throat. He has no idea where his wife is in the chaos, he can’t tell if she’s even alive anymore. His hand begins to glow orange hot from the heat radiated by the flailing infected, and as his metallic hand crushes her windpipe, her fires gutter out and his still-molten hand ripples with heat.

He turns, grabbing another infected by the face with a sizzling blast of steam, smoke, and screams. Gunfire continues to tear down the hallway, ricocheting off of Rickham’s body. “Run! Everyone run!” Sparks shower as bullets bounce harmlessly off of his chest and face, colliding with the tunnel walls. Rickham’s voice continues to bellow up from below. “Don’t — just run!” Five more infected leap at him, grabbing at his arms, one throws Rickham and those grappling him back to the subway wall with an uncontrolled telekinetic blast. Several Vanguard are caught in the shockwave as well and thrown from their feet.

«They’re exiting! Street level! Street level! 59th at Manhattan!» A Vanguard in the rear of the team, sopping with water calls ahead on the radios. «Drop hammer, drop hammer!»

Bone splits with flesh as Rickham’s fist connects to the skull of one of the screaming infected. There are a half dozen people desperately trying to haul themselves up over the edge of the railway platform. Bullets ricochet off of the metal man’s back, and he turns just enough to see Vanguard slowly advancing down the tunnel, bright blossoms of muzzle-flare briefly lightning up the dark.

He’s lost sight of Stephanie.

Rickham stumbles forward, struck by an infected with enough strength to dent his back with a bare hand. Rickham turns around, and his fist pulverises the screaming man’s jaw, face, neck; he collapses into a bleeding, howling heap. Another round of gunfire rings off of his back, they’re getting closer. It’s all over now.

The tunnel is flooded in more ways than one, and it’s about to get worse. “Go, go!” She shouts for people to keep moving, shoves them along to get them on the right path.

She’s lost sight of Allen.

Breaking away from the group, she shoves her way through the knots of fleeing refugees, there’s a break in the flow and she spots him.


Steve pushes her way through the crush until she can see him better. “Allen! We have to go!” She knows he doesn’t plan to follow them.

Steve knows how to change his plans.

Automatic gunfire erupts around Steve, shattering concrete above her head and ricocheting off of the rusted metal rails. One of the ricocheted rounds nicks her shoulder, sending a shock of pain through her arm and a spread of warmth from pulsing blood. Rickham grabs the nearest infected, one wreathed in flames, and hurls him over his head and into the approaching Vanguard.

There’s an eruption of fire as the infected lands, and the Vanguard scatter around the one impacted and now also consumed by fire. Rickham’s hands are glowing orange from the heat, warmed and bent in unnatural ways, much as the peppering pockmarks of bullet impacts have dented his chest and face. He looks over to Steve, hematite eyes pleading with her.

I don’t have anywhere to go.” Rickham’s voice is resonant in the tunnel, “Stephanie. I lo — ” More gunfire peppers against Rickham’s chest, and four more Vanguard conscripts are forcing their way through the rebar-tangled tunnel. “I said go!

It’s not because he thinks he can’t get away.

He charges into one of the Vanguard, closelining him so hard his neck snaps back like a Pez dispenser.

It’s not because he thinks he can’t make it.

It’s because he’s afraid to live like this. Forever.

She staggers back when the bullet hits her and grabs her arm out of instinct. “There’s another world! You promised me!” Ever the optimist, Steve believes he can’t be stuck like that forever. Because if they can just get to the next place, they can find help. It’s a world where everyone didn’t die, after all. That’s what Varlane and Harrison promised them. There have to be healers. Somewhere.

There’s an artful precision in the way she sends a bolt of electricity arcing from her fingertips and into one of the approaching rage-afflicted. Just enough to halt them, but not enough to kill them. There’s too much water around to risk that. “Allen, please!” she sobs. “I can’t go without you! We need to do this together!”

Or not at all.

Another round of gunfire explodes from the tunnel, more screams of infected fill the air. Rickham turns, arms out to his side. “They're counting on you! We knew this could happen! We knew the risks!

An infected surrounded by a cloud of buzzing insects leaps at Rickham and is punched so hard she disappears back into the darkness of the tunnel. “Let me protect this country. Let me save something good, for once. There's infinite worlds, Steve!” Bullets ricochet off of Rickham’s side and he uses his arm to shield himself. “There's got to be one where we’re happy!

But it isn't this one.

I’m counting on you!” They did know the risks, but no scenario she devised ever turned out quite like this. Not this brand of hopeless. And she’s imagined at least a thousand ways in which they die.

Together has always been her preferred scenario. But he’s right. They’re counting on her. “Tell me you’ll follow!”

Lie to me, is what she says. She’s already starting to retreat. Vision swims from tears shed. If she stays and fights, he dies because of her. If he dies a martyr, he lives on in the people. Her guilt stays, but it’s different. “I love you!

What if this was the only chance they ever had?

I lo— ” Rickham is struck by an under-barrel mini grenade, it sends him staggering backwards and lights up the dark momentarily with fire. But the flames subside too slow, and Rickham strides through them, grabbing the Vanguard attacker by the head and crushing it into a gory mess.

More gunfire pops off, screams of the infected echo from down the subway tunnel, even as some in the immediate vicinity begin collapsing on themselves in molten heaps of stringy flesh and protoplasmic fluid.

I love you!” Rickham bellows with the same tone of go earlier. Lit by the flames, warped and broken by heat and gunfire, Rickham stares at Stephanie with unblinking eyes.

I'll be right behind you.” Is a lie, and she knows it. But maybe, if there's parallel universes, maybe there's a heaven too. Maybe he will be there. Right behind her.

A hand over her mouth, slick with her own blood from the wound on her arm, signals her horror. The horror comes from what’s happening to her husband, not at the horrifying things his ability allows him to do. If she watches him tear through people, maybe she can believe he really will come along right behind her.

She knows better.

Stephanie Rickham begins to run, to follow the other refugees to what will hopefully be their extraction point. “I’ll see you soon!”

She doesn’t think that’s a lie at all.

Allen Rickham does not exit the subway tunnel, but his screams and his fight continues to echo from below as he tries to delay their advance.

At the head of the fleeing group, Kain is slammed into by a fleeting survivor, stumbles and nearly falls over. He looks back, trying to see through the crowd. “Peyton!” He calls back, panic in his eyes when he realizes he can’t see her. Hands trembling, he starts to double back, pushing through the fleeing crowd running down the street, rational and suggested actions overwhelmed by a loyalty to his friends. To his family.

PEYTON!” Kain cries out again, but he doesn’t see her. Not right away at least. Only once a few dozen more terrified adults and children run past does he see Ygraine moving, heading past him, and Bowie with Peyton on the ground behind. He spots the dark shapes moving up from the subway tunnel. Fear turns into bile in the back of Kain’s throat.

David and Elisabeth make up the rear of the group, running ahead at the rear of the straggling survivors. But then David slows, spots Bowie and Peyton. “Hey! Hey!” David waves his arms, looking at the two. It’s only then that he spots Ling there as well. “Move! Move! We’ve got to —


Consolidated Edison Ravenswood Power Plant

« — repeat, escaping to surface at 59th street station in Manhattan!»

The truck radio elicits a look from Abdul Nwabueze, and the leader of this extermination team turns his focus from the front doors of the Consolidated Edison power plant to the soldiers left behind at the trucks. His black eyes move to the covered bed of a pickup truck, something there concealed by an olive drab tarp. The Vanguard lieutenant flashes a pale white smile, and looks to a conscript at his side.

“No time to waste, yes?” Abdul points to the truck. “Load the mortars.

Manhattan, 59th Street

An explosion of stone dust and concrete swallows Peyton and Bowie. One minute they are there, the next minute a mortar shell has struck the street beside them and they are gone. David is blown off of his feet, tumbling end over end beside Elisabeth. Kain, too, along with a dozen others are thrown to the ground by the force of the blast. One of Bowie’s shoes lands in the street, smoking. There is no other sign of he or Peyton.

Kain struggles to push himself up, ears ringing, blood running from a cut in his hair that spreads down his face. His jaw trembles, eyes tearing both from pain and emotion. David, dazed, pushes himself up and looks to the subway entrance. His eyes go wide, lips part, horror consumes him. David is up and on his feet, scrambling ahead and screaming at Kain to run. There’s another whistling sound, followed by a mortar round hitting a building nearby. It blows out the roof, sends a cloud of dust and debris blasting out the windows.

The survivors are fleeing ahead of the shelling, some carrying supplies, others carrying firearms, some pivoting to turn and shoot behind themselves while others trip, stumble, and are trampled by the panicked masses. The survivors of the Hub are almost there, almost to the extraction point, but what follows them is death incarnate. A death so certain even the Vanguard have pulled back.

"Go! Run!' David slides the bolt of his rifle back, chambers a round and locks it into place. Down the street four dozen screaming and wild-eyed people charge ahead. Some have limbs wreathed in flames, others sparking with electricity, others are causing the street to buckle and bulge in their path. Shanti-Rage victims, dozens of them, too many to stop. David fires, the rifle crack echoing between the buildings as the lone bird soars overhead. The rifle round drops one of the many screaming horde, and David breaks into a jog again, looking back to the Hub survivors, some carrying children in their arms, fleeing ahead of him.

"Run! Don't stop!" David's voice cracks, "Whatever you do don't stop!"

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