bones_icon.gif claire2_icon.gif knox_icon.gif kris_icon.gif risa_icon.gif west_icon.gif

Scene Title Ariah-Pay
Synopsis Following a lead given to them by Rebel, Bones and Claire venture into the ruins of Midtown to find something old unearthed.
Date January 26, 2010

Ruins of Midtown

In the shattered ruins of Midtown Manhattan, night always seems just a little darker.

There is no electricity out here, no functional power grid, just the absolute blackness of seven blocks shrrounding ground zero where nothing seems to be alive, surrounded by a peripheral halo of city lights and distant sounds. Midtown resembles a cemetary for giants in the dark of night, with each gutted office building and skyscraper being the monolithic headstones of some mythical being. Lose scraps of paper blow in the wind from twenty stories up, broken glass glitters like diamonds across crumbling streets that sink down into derelict subway tunnels and sewer access manes.

One particular crossroads in this labyrinthine mess of twisted concrete and steel remains populated this evening, even if only sparsely. On approach to 885 3rd Avenue, the ruined remains of what at one time was called the Lipstick Building, the spiraling silhouette of this structure looks like a wire mesh mock-up of a skyscraper done to scale.

The metal framework of the artistically designed building is nearly all that remains, save for some crumbling concrete and steel supports on the interior. The entire glass exterior of the building was stripped away by the blastave, turned to the diamong-strewn glitter on the ground around it.

At four hundred and fifty-three feet tall, its skeletal silhouette is jet black against a midnight blue sky beset with stars as glittering as the shards of glass underfoot. Not far from their destination now, Claire Bennet and Bonifacio Barros — more siccinctly known as "Bones" — are in this desolate section of the south-western side of the ruins for reasons wholly unrelated to sight-seeing.

The glow of Claire's cell phone is stark against the midnight hues of the surrounding terrain, and judging from the map she's got loaded up on her screen, and the way she scans the twisted and tangled mess that was once a street sign, they're not far from their indicated destination now. As she tabs back and away from the map, the text message that started this all is there.

885 3rd Avenue



There is something familiar about this sort of setting, except it was hotter then hell instead of bone numbing chill they feel now. She wears some of the military grade clothing she brought back from the mission, feeling more secure in it. "Okay…." Claire murmurs looking up from her phone, her face lit against the soft glow of the phone screen. "… hopefully this isn't Humanis First. Concidering Danko's back in town…." She glances over and up at the dark man next to her, her eyes have to adjust some before his figure shows in the darkness. She lets the severity of the situation sink in. Anything could be waiting for them there.

Clicking her phone shut, plunging them into darkness again, Claire shift the shotgun to lean it on her shoulder. It's instinct that keeps her voice down to a whisper. "Trust me when I say… Let me go in ahead of you? I can survive just about anything." She did survive that shotgun to the head after all. Her own shotgun drops to where she can hold it in both hands, and the tiny regenerator starts towards the building quietly as she can manage wearing combat boots.

Bones does not wear all that much in the way to keep warm besides an old worn Dickies jacket, used to cold subterranean temperatures as well as the dim, seeing easily in the dark. Or as easily as one might be able to in the dark. In his right hand is his pistol which he uses while on the job. In his left is a 7D Maglite with a hippy-adjuster attached to the butt cap, currently folded in. He allows Claire to take point with the shotgun, rather not liking the idea of catching scatter from it. "Alright, you're first, but I'll still be worrying my lip back here for your safety." he says back in a hushed tone, his gaze flicking about a little nervously.

The approach up to the corkscrew remnants of the gutted building are made only more ominous by the sounds of the cold winter wind whistling through the metal skeleton of the adjacent structures. From one darkened alleyway, Bones can make out the reflection of his flashlight in the eyes of a feral dog, one of the more dangerous things to be residing in the forgotten corners of the ruins. More and more as of late, these packs of wild dogs seem to be cropping up. It skitters away into the dark when the flashlight hits it, scarred brown muzzle and bright eyes all that it reveals before it's gone.

Passing by an overturned police cruiser flayed of all paint and charred black by the fires that once raged through this neighborhood, Claire can see a half-melted shotgun still wedged in the center console. Once past the toppled car and towards the small plaza in front of the building, it becomes evident that someone was expecting them. Situated in the middle of the skewed and uneven flagstones that once paved the skyscraper's courtyard, a single gunmetal colored Haliburton case has been left standing upright, shining bright and clean against the black, gray and grime of the rest of the ruins.

"Trust me… you watch me die once, you'll be over it." Claire's tone is bland even in the whisper, as she steps through broken glass, boots crunching as shards shatter under her weight. The shotgun is lifted to her shoulder as she moves further into the building eyes sweeping over the wreckage of the police car. "Kind of humbling seeing that… it's still here since…" Peter blew up. That part she doesn't voice, Bones hasn't earn that right yet.

Spotting the case, Claire pats Bones once on the arm and motions to it. "You know.. I think there are lots of movies like this." She grumbles softly as she lets the shotgun lower and approaches the case. Crouching down near it, she doesn't touch it, just looks it over, motioning Bones to settle his light on it.

"Uh, yeeeah. I saw this one at the Mousetrap Theatre. It's called 'The Trap'. Act One, Scene One: The box." Bones narrates as he indeed notices the box and shines his flashlight on it, allowing Claire to go ahead, almost thankful that when it comes to Claire, some rules of chivalry do not apply. "Now don't go getting yourself blown up. If I have to go around picking up your pieces, you're going to owe me more than a cup of tea." he warns as he does not even look at what she is doing, too busy looking around them, making sure the coast remains clear.

The case is unremarkable in design, save that it is a Haliburton and that alone means it's near impossible to break open by ordinary means save for a cutting torch. The double number-locks on the front of the case are all set to zero, and likely indicate the case as being locked up tighter than fort knox. Only a moment after it's inspected, the first clattering clink of noise from the ruins catches Bones' vigilant attention. Debris shifts, scuttles and clatters as a fallen sign is stepped on, ground against the pavement and then released from thw weight holding it down.

"Been a long time, cheerleader." The voice isn't one Claire recognizes at first, and when Bones' flashlight comes sweeping over to the source, it's a surprisingly short if not heavily dressed man standing at the edge of the courtyard, having descended from his hiding place atop a pile of rubble. Shaved head and dark chocolate colored skin created familiar lines of silhouette against the glow of the flashlight, and those coal black eyes squinting at Claire are so familiar to her.

It's been a very long time since Claire Bennet last saw Benjamin Washington — better known as Knox to PARIAH — and this reunion couldn't be any more unexpected. "Who's the flashlight jockey?" Knox asks in a grumbling voice, gloved hands tucked into the puffy black winter jacket he wears, black boots clomping against the pavement.

Surging to her feet at the sound, Claire comes up on the ground, shotgun raised again in preparation to protect herself and Bones. "Knox?" There is no hiding the shock and surprise in her voice as she spies someone she hasn't seen in a very very long time, or at least that's all she remembers. Though there is a general sense of unease at seeing him. "What…?"

Glancing at Bones, she shifts over to put herself between the newest End Gamer and Claire's former PARIAH teammate. "He's a friend." That's all Knox gets from her, she leaves it to the tall man behind her to give hiss name if he wants. "You were the one that sent the text?" Blue eyes narrow suspiciously at the man in front of her.

"Flashlight jocket." Bones notes, snorting sharply through his nose though the look on his face, what can be seen of it, says that he actually finds amusement with the moniker. He lowers the light a little so that it is at least out of Knox's eyes, allowing Claire to have most of the floor for the time being though he does close ranks as he steps up behind her and a little to one side. Apparently the other man is not getting a name on him just yet. "Ab-gray the ox-bay and un-ray ike-lay ell-hay?" he asks quietly out of the corner of his mouth to Claire.

"No, our boss did." Knox doesn't say that, it's almost like a ventriloquist act, because the voice is coming from somewhere nearby. Out of the blue, drops a young man dressed in a dark denim jacket and matching pants, red scarf wound around his throat to keep out the cold. When Claire's eyes meet his, when she sees that wind-tossed brown hair and the cut of his jaw, she recognizes West Rosen immediately. Having landed on the opposite side of the group from the sky, positioned behind Bones, West clenches his gloved fingers together and quirks his head to the side. "You got in touch with him, so he figured we should reach out and touch someone. The box is yours too, but I wouldn't recommend running. Knox is kind've like one of those wild dogs, he chases animals that run."

Knox nods his head to Bones in a very subtle recognition, sniffing at the air as his head quirks to the side afterward. "Ain't never known you to be scared, Claire." Knox's brows furrow together, eyes narrowed in a momentary look of predatory consideration. "You ain't got nothin' to be 'fraid of if you're on the right side of this fence the world's tryin' to build around us. Life's gettin' more screwed up by the minute— "he cuts himself off after getting a glance from West. "Boss says you wanted to talk, so we're here," Knox opens out his arms wide. "Let's talk."

"West?" The name is whispers, Claire's eyes go wide in recognition, the end of her shot gun drooping towards the floor as she spins around to look. It's been a long time. "You.. ah… look good." She murmurs still surprised to see him. The shotgun is lowered further, her hand moving to rest on top of Bones gun hand and ease it down.

Twisting to look at Knox, her eyes hold something cold and haunted in them as she says softly, "If you knew half the shit I've gone through in the past few months, you'd understand me getting a little nervous. Not to mention it's been awhile."

Even though the gun is lowered, Claire doesn't completely relax. "How much does Rebel know about Richard Cardinal and the group he's put together…. Or what happened behind that image he put up? The only reason I ask, is it's help with explaining." Obviously it's time to get down to business, old flame distracting her or not.

Bones is quick to put his back against Claire and level his pistol at the young man who just landed. "Whoa, fly boy…" he cautions, flicking his gaze back over his shoulder to see what Claire and Knox are up to. He is very, very reluctant to lower his weapon until Claire's hand lowers it for him and he sighs, muscles actually tightening as he relaxes. "Oh yeah… I definitely need a history lesson." he mutters, holstering his gun in to the waistband of his pants. The skin of his arms shifts as bone plates rise and slide around. He stands next to Claire, his head moving as if watching a tennis match in slow motion as he keeps the two unknowns in his sight.

There's a brilliant flash of pink sparkles around Bones' gun, followed by the same sort of crackling pop that certain types of fireworks give off, and the pistol disappears from his hand as fast as he withdraw it. The pink sparkling lights shimmer and sparkle-pop into the form of a young man in a leather jacket, collar upturned and fauxhawk immaculately spiked forward. Dangling Bones' pistol between his fingers, the lanky and unfamiliar punk just tosses it under-handed towards Knox, like a game of keep away.

Knox is barely quick enough to get his hand out of his pocket and snatch the gun out of the air after it's thrown. He looks down at it, one brow raised, then looks over to Bones. "Ain't gonna' beat a cowboy to the rodeo, son." There's a crooked cast to Knox's smile as he states that, and then levels his eyes up to Claire.

"You mean about Antarctica not fartin' out a methane explosion? Yeah, us people know how that went down, because Rebel was helpin' you track that bomb across the world while you were puttin' in the legwork. He made us stay back here in the States though, for whatever crazy reason he got." Looking towards one of the shattered pillars, Knox gives a subtle nod, and from behind it a fourth person emerges, much skinnier and more femenine than the other three.

Long, dark hair is swept to one side, bangs covering one of her eyes. The black wool pea coat she wears is tightly pulled around her body, and it's about now that both Claire and Bones notice they're all wearing the same matching red scarves around their throats. Walking over to the Haliburton case, this waifish young woman offers a mild smile to Claire, then drops into a crouch and rolls out numbers on the padlocks, flipping the tabs open.

She lifts the case up onto the granite bench it was placed next to, and flips it open, revealing a closed notebook laptop inside of the molded foam padding of the case. "This is yours, a… gift of good will?" That brunette's voice is soft, almost a little too quiet, and her accent sounds eastern European. "So Rebel may contact you, if you wish."

"I guess introductions are in order, now that we're all playin' nice." Knox says with a sneer, flipping the pistol around to hold by the barrel, and offer back out towards Bones. "Name's Knox, the fly-boy is West, we're old school as you could say. We've been knockin' the government since back in the day." He then nods to the punk in the leather jacket. "That's Kris, he used to roll with Norman White, now he works with us. The lady here's Risa, she an' Kris go way back. Three outta' four've us spent some time in the government's gulag. So I think we're all on the same page now." Knox's eyes narrow, "Who's the flashlight jockey?" He asks again, this time more insistant.

"Good.." Claire says the word firmly. "Richard's sacrifice should not go without notice. I was there.. I saw it.. like I told Rebel…. I heard his scream." Her voice is somewhat hushed at the end. The ex cheerleader relaxes as she glances at the others. "I imagine the new ones know who I am?" She nods to Kris and Risa. Glancing up at her partner tonight, Claire claps him on the arm, "This is Bones. He's good people. He protected those of the End Game that didn't go for the world cruise, with out much explanation of what we are about."

Looking at the case as it's opened, Claire gives a nod to Knox. "I appreciate him talking to us. With Richard gone…. we're struggling to get on track. These camps he mentioned… " Her eyes drift to West and then the others. ".. those are new. None of the intel we had about future events talk about this. " Lips press tightly together. "And it worries me."

Bones narrows his eyes as his pistol is taken from him and flipped around by the young man and then follows it with his eyes, rather not liking that his gun is being treated like a toy. He makes sure that he has a fair visual on most of the members of the other party. When he gun is given back to him, he secures it in his shoulder holster and points at Knox with the butt end of his flashlight. "Smile when you call me flashlight jockey." he advises. He keeps his gaze on Knox until Claire introduces him and he nods in agreement. Turning his gaze down, he looks at the laptop that Claire accepts and raises his brows. "Told you that he'd want to talk to us." he says for Claire's ears and then nods in agreement with Claire's sentiment. "Yeah. The camps weren't in the stringy-yarn room. What gives?"

"Heh, you're not the only one without intel on it sister." Kris states with a flick of one hand over his hair, chin tilted up and brows furrowed. "Nobody knows what Rebel was talking about, he ain't told us nothin' about camps. There's just been a lot of this." Kris motions one hand towards everyone gathered in the plaza. "A lot of troop-rallying, I guess? Rebel's only giving us what he gives everyone else. But Knox is one of the first people he's ever recruited. Him and West and this girl Sparrow, but we ain't found her yet."

Stepping up to try and be the diplomatic one in this situation, West seems a bit awkward between all of the people with more impressive powers. "What matters right now, is that we found each other. Rebel is giving us unformation, giving everyone information, all at the same time. He's not feeding anyone any more or less than they need. I don't know why he's doing it this way, but something changed with him after he went to try and help you all find the bomb. He just— he told us he'd found this technopath named Wireless, the one that helped us break into Primatech back a couple years ago?"

West hunches his shoulders forward against the cold. "After he went to rescue her from some Chinese technopath she was fighting, he went all radio-silence on us. We didn't hear back from him for weeks, and it was just in the website hacks. Something either spooked him, or this is some part of a bigger plan. But… the point of the matter is, he sent us text messages telling us to leave a briefcase here, with a computer for you. I dunno if he wanted us to all meet, but…"

Risa finally chimes in. "But, it seemed like the right thing to do. We're working towards the same goals, I think. Your friend, Richard? He tried to warn us about Norman long before he went off the deep-end. Richard was a friend of Doc, and Doc… Doc was like a father to me. The government took him, Claire…" Risa's dark brows crease together in a furrow. "They took him, and they took Shard's body, and Norman's. I just— "

Moving to stand by Risa's side, Kris lays a hand on her shoulder. "We're all in this shit together, is the point. We all got problems we need to take care of, and whether you're some kind've immortal cheerleader or— " Kris eyes Bones, "I dunno, dreadlock-o-kinetic? We need all the help we can get."

Knox, of course, has been silent through all of this, until right about at the end. "End Game?" He asks with a quirk of one brow up in a clean arc. "That's what you kids all yourself, seriously? Man…" He's being helpful.

"Sorta.." Claire quirks a smile at Knox and shrugs a shoulder, she likes it well enough and it has it's reason, "One thing Richard always talked about is the end game. That's what my team is working towards. Every move of the board we make today will effect the end game. So don't knock it too much Knox, there is meaning there, just like any name." Blue eyes shift to each of them, "We have intel of a future and everything that happened when Pineheart and Arthur Petrelli controlled it. We have an idea of some of the threats we face, but…. well…. since Pinehearst fells there has been new developments."

"The end game has changed and we have to change with it." The shot gun, rests relaxed against her leg, Claire's words almost resolute. "One thing that those of us who went over seas learned. No matter our affiliations… not matter where we come from. Right now we all need to watch each others backs. I have no idea what the government has planned, but they got their hands on some very scary shit in Madagascar alone."

Claire moves towards the case, giving Kris and Risa a small smile, moving to close the top so she can take it. "We're here to help as best we can, within our ability, since for a time they will be watching closely. Make sure Rebel knows that."

"Anyone else hear Hail to the Chief playing?" Bones asks as he takes a couple steps back from Claire now that everyone is making friends and leans against some rubble. He does grin at Kris though as he makes a lame guess at his ability. "Hey, you ever seen 'Day of the Tentacles'? Watch out. They get upset and there's no telling what these dread'll do." he grins a little lopsidedly, finally fully standing down from red alert. "Just be glad they're on your side."

Grimacing and leaning away from Bones, Kris looks at Knox with a very could he do that expressiono n his face, and Knox just laughs and steps over, whacking Kris in the back of her head with a slap. West, doing his best to try and ignore those two, casts a look between Claire and Bones again, looking as if he's not sure if the two got what he was saying. His words echo that expression in words. "No, I— don't think you get it, Claire. We're not talking about playing nice-nice and working together in the spirit of unity or something. We're talking about getting the band back together."

Furrowing his brows, West looks at Claire intently, then over to Bones, and back again. "Erim is alive, Claire. We may've lost Karl, but half of the gang's still here. If what Rebel is talking about is right, we're going to have to bring the fight to them. We can't go down like— like possums. We can just roll over and play activist." Knox nods his head once, and the words he uses to get Claire's attention have the same impact as a gunshot. "Fortis et Liber."

"Bones." The name is said in a warning manner, Claire glances over at him, "Don't be a smart ass." But there is a touch of amusement in her voice, taking the edge of her words. She grins back at him, but then she freezes, turning back slowly to look at the others. As she looks at them all, Claire doesn't even know what to think.

"Whoa…" She backs up to shove the case into Bones' hands to hold, and then lifts her hand to stall anything else. "Whoa…." A part of her mind reels at that revelation. "You can't be serious?." She glances between Knox and West, brows furrowed. "PARIAH? Are we talking about all of it? The bombings? The innocent deaths?"

"That didn't work last time. Not saying how Phoenix did things worked either. But bringing that back…." Claire motions to the jackets and the bandanas. "You might as well help rush though these camps.. if they are what I think they could be, this will only bolster their reasoning. You know how they hated us.. they still do. I hear PARIAH mentioned all the time."

Bones does indeed sober up a little as he takes the case from Claire and then blinks, looking around a bit, his brow arching high as that latin is spoken in unison. "Whoa. Is this where Snowball and Napoleon trot out or is this the one where the spider writes the fancy words in the web, I can never remember." - The situation is tense and it's his coping mechanism. He pushes off of the wreckage he had been leaning against as he senses Claire's anxiety rising and licks his lips. "Now… just let them explain. You said Rebel was looking out for the world. I'm sure he has a reason for getting Francis Marion and the Swamp Foxes back together." he says even as his gaze starts flicking about a little nervously once more.

"Same idea, Claire, different management." Knox states with a firm tone of voice. "Bones here seems to have the right frame of mind." Suddenly, Knox isn't making fun of him any longer. "I've seen Phoenix, I was their houseguest for a little while, they're good kids, but by definition they aren't…" there's a wave of Knox's hand around towards the others, "they aren't us. I'm not talking about bombing civilians, not… yet. But right now, Claire, right now if Rebel is right and they're building the camps anyway, if they're kidnapping people from flu innoculation sites? It's already too late, and we need an army not a PR team. I thought Moab would've been a good lesson, but sometimes people just want to try and ice-skate uphill."

"Look," West joins in the conversation. "We just need to be prepared to fight the government when they come for us. All the planning and scheming in the world isn't going to do a lick of good against them when they come for us. We need to know what they're going to do, and Rebel's trying to tell us. Why else would he have recruited Knox, why else would he have recruited me? Why else would he want us to meet with you two?"

Risa offers a hesitant smile, her head tilting to the side as she looks at Bones, then Claire. "We need to fight, not play games. Shard is dead, Norman is dead, and they took Doc to God knows where after they had the gaul to lock us all up in Moab. The time for sitting on our hands, it is over. We have to do something. No, we're not PARIAH— not yet. But they could make us PARIAH. They could push us to bring back that name."

"We do what's necessary, it doesn't matter what the world thinks of us, we're already criminals." Kris tilts his head to the side as he says that rubbing his thumb over his injection scar from Moab. "We've already been judged and sentenced, and we want to know if you're with us. You already said it, Cardinal's dead. He's gone, and nothing's going to bring him back. So it's about time that your people, and our people, get our asses together and get ready for what's coming." Kris stares at Claire for a moment, lips turning down into a from.

"War is coming, Claire. Us versus them."

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