Blue Blood, Part II


avi_icon.gif cesar_icon.gif colette4_icon.gif devon2_icon.gif emily_icon.gif green_icon.gif lance_icon.gif lucille3_icon.gif modi_icon.gif nathalie_icon.gif olson_icon.gif

Scene Title Blue Blood, Part II
Synopsis A joint SESA and NYPD operation converges on the center of Refrain distribution in the Safe Zone.
Date December 6, 2019

Tinny, electronics drum beats echo out of a pair of battered old earbud headphones. Once stripped down to bare wire, they’ve been repaired with electrical tape down both lengths of the cords. The dangling wire is plugged into a chunky, white iPod circa 2007, back before the Apple company was dissolved following the Civil War.

Too high,” echoes a sing-song voice through the expansive ceiling of a brick-walled warehouse. It’s hard to hear over the sound of a forklift running, the cacophony of three dozen other voices working the warehouse floor, and the general din of noise common to the Rookery, Staten Island’s long-festering wound.

Can't come down,” a lone man sings, sauntering, dancing, and side-stepping through the rows of humming machinery in the middle of the warehouse floor. Shoulders rise and fall, he slides one foot across the concrete, eyes shut and fingers snapping, “losin' my head,” he continues to sing.

“Spinnin' 'round and 'round…” With a wave of his hands he opens his eyes, pointing twin finger-guns at a shirtless young man wearing a respirator mask standing hunched over a table full of cocaine being portioned into tiny baggies. “Do you feel me now?” He shoes squeak across the floor, hips gyrating to a beat only he can hear. As the beat drops, he continues on his way through the busy heart of Triad activity within Staten Island, their largest drug distribution center.

Oh,” he croons, hands up in the air, “The taste of your lips, I'm on a ride…”

Michael Green has no idea how bad his day is about to become.


The Rookery

Staten Island, New York

December 6th

8:28 pm

“You're toxic I'm slippin' under, with a taste of a poison paradise…”

Avi Epstein has no business singing.

“You're toxic I'm slippin' under with a taste of a poison paradise…”

And yet he does.

“Can you not?” The polite request comes from nearby to Avi where a half dozen armored police officers marked as NYPD SCOUT across their vests stand at the ready within the half-demolished ruins of an old high school gymnasium across the street from the warehouse. Epstein, holding a shotgun microphone in one hand aimed toward one of the darkened warehouse windows exhales a sigh and rolls his eyes. He turns his attention to the source of the request, leveling Colette Demsky with a look that is at once forgiving and withering.

“They’re still at full operation,” Epstein says as he tucks the shotgun microphone away, “that place is crawling with activity.” Colette nods, her eyes unfocusing as she scans the perimeter of the warehouse by bending the light toward her eyes.

“Our shooters are in position,” Colette indicates, pointing two fingers toward the ceiling and two to the east. “Exterior security is non-existent. They don’t want anyone aware this place is active.”

Avi furrows his brows, crouching down beside her by the wall. “So how’d you pick up on this place?” He asks, motioning to the warehouse. “If the Triad’s done as much as they have t’hide it.” Small talk, the kind they used to do prior to any operation. It was the only way for Avi to pass the time before a call to action was made. It had to be work. It had to be distracting.

“A little bird told me,” Colette says with a wry smile. It’s a more literal answer than Avi realizes.

Nearby, a dozen police officers wait in silence against the cold December air. Their breath is visible through their black winter masks as silvery wisps caught in the pale moonlight. With them are three additional members of Wolfhound; Devon Clendaniel, Lucille Ryans, and Nathalie LeRoux, each layered in body armor with Raytech logos partly visible. One of the NYPD, Sergeant Dheeraj Modi has maintained a statuesque level of stoicism since they moved into position and established radio silence. He finally offers a look to Devon and Nathalie, one that while wordless lays the weight of trust on their shoulders. Trust that the people under his command will make it back alive with Wolfhound’s help.

Deeper into the dilapidated school, with its empty windows covered by plastic tarps that breathe in and out like lungs when the wind blows, a communications station is set up in the back of an armored van parked inside the gutted gymnasium. SESA’s junior agents Lance Gerkin and Emily Epstein sit alongside two SESA technicians activating banks of monitors to view body cameras and audio connections to headsets.

Everyone is waiting for the order from Cesar Diaz. It could all begin at any moment.

Emily sits with one eye on the monitors and one side of the headphones slid back off her ear. She adjusts the seat of the headphones with hands shrouded in thick, fingerless gloves to stave off the cold. This place gave her the creeps, the coughs of air caused by traps in the wind notwithstanding. It’d be nice if they could have done this from further away, somewhere warmer.

She turns back to the bank of monitors, looking between the various cameras linked to officers’ bodies. WIth luck, maybe her heart will quit skipping a beat each time she sees someone she cares about reflected back at her. “I’ve already said this once,” she hears herself say, an attempt to distract herself from her thoughts happening almost subconsciously. “But I’ll say it again for effect — this internship went from 0 to 100 like nobody’s business, Lance. Desk work for months, then the investigation, now…”

Now this.

“If that was true we’d be out there,” Lance replies while trying not to sound like he’s complaining, leaning back in his chair and frowning at the monitors, occasionally glancing at the screen of the SESA-issued satellite phone to see if he’s gotten the call yet. “We’re just observing. Which makes sense. Absolutely makes sense. Yup.”

He’s already going stir crazy in here, and the raid hasn’t even started!


The autotranscription of the raid won't record that SESA Agent Cesar Diaz secretly wishes he could have his iPod. Instead, he has his earpiece, AEGIS armor, less and full lethal weapons, and the vague quote about best laid plans. Last checks are made, including his watch. Turning to the grouped officers, he moves through the teams in turn.

"Okay. Call, Delta-One. Wolfhound is Alpha Team. Sergeant Modi and Detective Demsky, designate Bravo-One and Bravo-Two, six per team and forward approach behind Alpha Team. All named units ready position on south wall 'Black'. The Major's got teams covering and coming in on north wall 'Blue', west wall 'White', and east wall 'Green'."

"Sierra-1, Sierra-2, Echo-1, and Echo-2, hold for marks." The snipers positioned above the school and neighboring east building are, hopefully, a last resort.

"Watchtower, copy." That's you, Gerken and Epstein. "Any questions?"

«I'm in position to breach,» Devon's voice reaches quietly into the comms. He rests on a knee, positioned alongside their chosen entry point. One AEGIS armored shoulder touches the outer wall, his form held small and still to avoid detection. From behind his helmet’s visor he studies the target. The fingers of one hand curl more tightly around the Banshee. It's not his first choice, the lethal options are still holstered at his hip and slung against his back. But they're not here to kill.

After a few seconds he looks over his shoulder, to where his Hound teammates wait to provide support. «We're set to move, just give us the go.» He's sure the others are as anxious to get moving as he is.

Nathalie stands nearby the other Hounds, adjusting her gloves as if pondering whether to take them off all together. Her eyes already shine a strange blue, so as not to alarm any of the other officers and agents around with them changing mid-mission. But it also has the added benefit of her already scanning the area for anyone getting too close to their staging area. She looks up from her gloves to see Modi's attention her way. She holds eye contact for a moment, then gives him a nod.

She understands the weight he's given them. And she knows they can handle it.

The extra bodies, the cameras, her friends at the monitors… it all makes the waiting a little harder to handle. Slipping up isn't an option here. Not that she ever likes to, but when it's just Wolfhound, she knows how they'll react. With these people, she can't take any chances. Even so…

"Right behind you, Dev."

…she's ready for the call, whenever it goes out. The sooner, the better, though.

Gravel is crunched as Lucille walks up to stand beside Nat, head tilted and eyes glowing a hot amber. Her ability pulling biological data from the people right in her vicinity, feeling hearts pounding, sweat beginning to rise from their pores. Dressed in her body armor, asymmetrical blazer blowing in the minor winds she generates with movement. She too has more hostile options holstered at her side and back but for now she doesn't even remove her Banshee from her hip, just listens to Cesar. Rolling her eyes with a snort at Avi's antics and eyeing Colette from her peripheral vision.

It's good to have her best friend with them, it's still strange to see her not apart of Wolfhound. Lucille offers a pointed stare at Col by pivoting her head, nodding her head before she places a hand on Nat and Devon's shoulders. We got this. Reassurance in a brief look before she to feels her body begin to tense as it slowly unwinds before growing still. The only movement from her searching gaze and breeze that blows wisps of auburn hair into her face.

Lucille's breathing becomes slow, even and measured. Bones pop as she rotates her wrists and shoulders. Ready whenever.

“Wendigo— Bravo-2 confirmed,” Colette grimaces as she fucks up her call sign. “White, Green, and Black clear. Can’t see Blue.” As she takes a crouched position beside the crumbling brick wall of the school, she makes a hand sign to the six police officers with her who pull down military-issue infrared goggles on loan from the Military Police. “Going dark,” she says, accompanied by a heat-haze mirage that spreads out from her, consuming the six members of her small squad and herself, rendering them sight unseen save for the scuffs in the dusty floor their boots make.

“Bravo-1 ready,” Modi calls back, motioning for his squad of six to stay low and close behind the Wolfhound breaching team. There’s a palpable sense of tension in the air as they wait for a command to move, practicing controlled breathing. Modi looks back at where Colette was, where he squad was, and finds some reassurement in their diversified tactics. When he turns his focus back down toward the warehouse across the street, he scans the boarded up windows with a nervous anticipation.

«Echo-1 copy,.» Crackles over all of the radius, «Echo-2 copy,» comes almost immediately after. «Echo-1 confirm White, Green, Black clear.» Followed immediately by. «Sierra-1 copy,» and «Sierra-2 copy. Confirm Blue clear.»

In the pause that follows it feels like everything is moving smoothly, until Sierra-2 calls back. «Wait,» isn’t something Cesar wanted to hear at the absolute last minute. «We’ve got a van. Black panel van, blacked out windows, no license plate coming down Promenade behind our position.» Modi’s eyes widen as he hears that, turning to look back in the direction of Colette’s team. «Vehicle has stopped, no headlights. We’ve got an unknown exiting the vehicle, caucasian male. He’s outside the engagement area, doesn’t seem to see us. He’s watching the warehouse.»

“I can handle that,” Avi says off the radio to Cesar, covering his body cam for a moment so no one in the truck — Emily — can hear him make the venture. “You need him gone, he’ll get gone.”


Communications Center

Lance and Emily can see what the Sierra-positioned snipers atop the Lighthouse Museum to the east are seeing. A single black van parked on the side of the road and a bearded caucasian man in a black jacket having stepped out from the driver’s seat. He’s standing between the van and the museum east of the warehouse and the school, two-hundred feet back from the warehouse.

At the same time, communications come in from Fort Jay. «SESA has received all clear with NYPD and Military Police. Diaz has all-clear for operation start.»

Emily hears the phone, but her attention is more on that van that's popped up, watching like a hawk. Despite the sniper already having called it out, she keeps an eye on it, scanning the image of it and the driver for any details giving context as to his potential involvement. "I don't see any tattoos…" she mutters to herself.

She nods slightly to Lance by her side. He'd been fidgeting for more to do, he can call down to Cesar. "All you." In the moment, she doesn't even have a flash of regret for potentially giving Lance freedom to whine about his back-line role to a very broad audience. Her eyes are fixed on that screen.

“Got it, Major. Over and out …” The phone’s set down, and after a glance to Emily, Lance reaches over to take the radio in hand - tossing it up once it’s off the hook and catching it, thumb depressing the button and bringing it up to his lips.

“«Delta-One, the ninety-first is in position,»” he radios to Cesar, “«And you have an all-clear for operation start. Over.»”

No whining or complaining on the radio; just crisp, clear and carefully enunciated words on the line.


Neat trick there, Demsky. Observing the cloaking of a whole squad, Cesar shakes his head a little in wonderment. Modi gets a short nod to acknowledge the remaining visible NYPD squad. Once the all clear given, Cesar takes in a breath, holds… and bites back a swear at the interruption and entry of a new unknown factor that threatens the operation. Biological readers likely sense the spike of his annoyance.

But, he doesn't skip any further beat. Glancing over to Avi at the offer, he shakes his head. "Negative. We're too close to op start and need you here, stick with Alpha." Cesar turns toward the point man Devon, then the other Hounds. "Beckett, let us know if anybody inside is close enough to notice we're outside their door. Ryans," he nods at Lucille, "You're Alpha-2. Investigate and contain our late party guest. With your utmost discretion." That is to say, quickly and quietly.

"Watchtower, contact Green-wall MPs to send someone to clean up after. And get an ID on the guy if you can. Sierra-2, keep us updated if he moves. Everyone else standby."

Devon’s head rocks slightly as he nods a confirmation to his teammates. If anyone had to follow him into the breach, he's glad it's some of the Hounds. His fingers flex, stretching then cinching into a snug grip on his Banshee. The chatter over the comms is noise the way a weather report interrupts a radio play.

Until it isn't an idle interruption. His head half turns at Cesar’s voice, his posture going from coiled to rigid.

In the next beat, Devon makes himself exhale. Shoulders roll to loosen knotted muscles, head tips from side to side for the same reasons. He shifts in his crouched position, easing into readiness once again as he confirms, «Standing by.»

The older of the Wolfhound operatives give the Mission Lead Cesar a nod.

The next moment that Cesar or anyone looks in Lucille's direction she's gone. Nathalie with her ability searching can feel her friend's biological signature as she snakes into the shadows with silent steps. For her eyes that glow, the tall woman slips on a pair of dark sunglasses as she flexes a fingerless gloved hand and slides closer.

Approaching from his blindside as swiftly and silently as her long legs will take her, the woman comes to the van and slowly spider crawls under. There in Lucille's field of vision are his feet and legs but she doesn't reach out with her actual hand, not yet. Already having had flipped through the mental rolodex of her talents as she goes, it's not but a couple seconds until she decides on a course of action.


Reaching out with her biotic feelers and locking onto the man's signature, eyes flaring that hot amber gold as she encircled the man with a wave of dizziness by way of tweaking his blood pressure. Only once the status effect has taken root does she snap her hand out to grab him by the ankle amplifying her biological hold and aiming to yank the man down to the ground.

Nathalie lifts an eyebrow when they're told to stand by, but she nods to the order given to her. She gives a look to Lucille— be careful— then eases herself closer to the building. Her power stretches out to check for anyone getting too close to them. She knows Lucille can handle herself, but she can't help but worry. Even if she tries not to. But worried or not, she stays quiet while her Hound sister takes out the extra guests. Quiet and ready.

It’s a short jog out to where the van is parked, the crawl beneath it feels longer. Lucille sees a pair of boots on the other side of the van where a lone man with dark, curly hair in a leather jacket stands in observation of the building. He’s in the middle of lighting up a cigarette when he stumbles, a hand coming up to the side of his head and breath hitching in the back of his throat. He slouches against the side of the van, cigarette tumbling from between his fingers.

When Lucille grabs his ankle and yanks he’s pulled off balance and falls onto his side onto the gravel beside the Lighthouse Museum. A sharp bark of pain escapes him, but nothing loud enough to be heard at a distance. When Lucille’s world is suddenly thrown into absolute darkness it is surprising, but — for her — not even slightly debilitating in close quarters.

«Watchtower, Unknown target is SLC-Expressive. Ambient light cut out in a dome around the van.» Calls the Sierra-2 snipers.

Lucille can tell where her quarry is though, feels him kicking and scrambling around outside the van. He manages one good solid kick to her shoulder (he’d wanted to hit her face) and it’s enough to dislodge her hand from his ankle but not enough to stop his world from spinning. Lucille can feel the direction he’s in, adjacent to the van, can hear him gasping for breath and pawing at the metal side of the vehicle to try and get his senses reoriented.

Lucille manages to find his leg again, pulling herself out from under the van and up into a kneeling position beside him. He’s fumbling, queasy, slurring his speech from the affect her ability is having on him. She can’t make out a word he’s saying but the elbow to her sternum would’ve knocked the wind out of her if she hadn’t been wearing an AEGIS. His leather jacket isn’t going to afford him the same protection.


Communications Center

Lance and Emily could see Lucille’s fight right up until the darkness hit. Now all they have to go on is Sierra’s call that the unknown target is SLC-Expressive. They can hear the muffled sounds of the struggle over the cameras, hear the staticy impact of a body blow. But they’re cut off from any visual assistance.

Emily's eyes flicker with surprise when the spot of black appears. The callout from the sniper is the only indication it's not a malfunction of the camera. She finds herself a little surprised when worry isn't what grips her about the sudden phenomenon, just concern how much noise it would result in.

"You got this," she murmurs to the screen.

«Confirmed,» is Watchtower’s - Lance’s - response over the radio, his jaw tensing in worry as he looks at that dark screen, «Alpha-Two is still engaged within area of effect, standby.»


Cesar grimaces at the notice of the unknown's SLC-Expressive ability. "Because of-fucking-course he'd be Expressive," he mutters under breath, "1 in 10, right? 1 in 10."

After taking a calming breath, Cesar radios back, «Watchtower, roll back through recent surveillance if we got any and see if we can't ID this guy, his van, anything of what he's doing here. Run facial recog through the database and match with any abilities that could be related to light manipulation, shadowforms, whatever we got.» He glances, briefly, to the spot where Colette and her team waits. His mouth thins. «I want to know who's our party crasher. If he took a shit on this part of the island, I want to know. Stat.»

«Alpha-2,» he calls over the earpiece to Lucille, «sound out if you need backup.» Not that he doesn't believe in the Wolfhound he just singled out to pick off a rando who's turning out to be a handful. But it doesn't hurt to stress some urgency. «Sierra-2, keep watch on Alpha-2, confirm if you have a shot. Anybody else see any other surprises, call it out.»

A significant look shoots over to Modi and Avi nearby, gauging the reactions of the other visible group leaders, then to the other officers all waiting to move out. «Stand-by,» he repeats the order for the others.

Standby again. Devon frowns behind his visor. They're going to miss their opportunity if they wait too long. He shifts his weight, easing his crouched body into readiness again, flicks a look back at Nathalie and shakes his head. It's all well and good to play cautious, but you can't win at cards if you don't take chances.

«Major.» Spoken quietly into the comms with a subtle lilt seeking confirmation. Dev stretches a hand toward the wall, resting his fingertips against it. His ability takes a few seconds to form a connection anyway. If Avi overrides the standby, the breach needs to be initiated immediately.

At first it feels as if Lucille's ability had rebounded on her causing the darkness but she knows that's not it. «One,»

Clamping down on his arm after he gives it to her in a blow to the sternum she quickly uses his own weight against him, flipping him over and ending with her straddling his chest. «Second.» Lucille grunts out as she slams both hands on the side of the man's head, her influence over his biological life signs following with just as hard a push.


Unleashing a severe case of vertigo on the man as she jabs her elbows roughly into his chest a few times.

Stay down.

At the order to continue to stand by, Nathalie reaches a hand out to rest on Devon's shoulder. «No surprises yet,» she comments over the comms, «keeping watch, though.» 'Watch' being something of a metaphorical phrasing in this case. She tries to still herself, even if impatience is looming. Better if they aren't all on edge. «Alpha-2, can you kick his ass already or what?» she comments playfully to Lucille. Maybe in an attempt to cut the tension a little.

«I’m already on it,» Colette replies into her comms, extending her sight like a snaking viper away from their position, causing her shimmering heat-mirage invisibility to come to an abrupt end. As Colette moves to get into range with her bending sight, Avi sprints out of the school to fill her spot in formation so that there is proper coverage among the police officers. Thankfully, they hadn’t moved into position yet. «Lucille’s got him on his back, I think— »

Kneeling on her attacker’s shoulders, Lucille finds her vision coming back as she breaks his concentration on his ability. She stares down at the bloodied face of a man a few years her senior. Curly, dark hair in long tresses down to his shoulders, a scraggly black beard and dark eyes. He swallows, dryly and uncomfortably, exhaling a breathless, “Fuck,” in her direction.

She knows him.


«Fuck.» Colette breathes into her comms. «Fuck, fuck, fuck. That’s not a hostile, it’s Cyrus Karr. He was Resistance during the war. I know him!» But there’s a timber of what the fuck is he doing here in Colette’s voice.

Dazed and delirious, Karr’s eyes roll back in his head and he passes out with a soft exhalation of breath visible as a gust of steam in the cold.

«Lights are back on» Echo-2 chimes in, «I’ve got eyes-on, target is down. Sending scope feed to Watchtower.»


Communications Center

Inside the van, other SESA technicians seeing the video feed quickly go about running facial recognition on the clear shot of the attacker that Lucille has subdued. “We’re probably not going to get a match, database queries like are shit since the war.” Nothing is coming up. “Name search got us a hit.”

Emily and Lance can see what the other technicians do: Cyrus Karr is a member of the Guardians, one of the sole “freedom-fighter” groups that didn’t adhere to the government’s request for a cessation of hostilities come the end of the war. Instead, they’d moved out west into the Dead Zone and gave the middle finger to any and all agreements of amnesty, choosing to build their own lives and fight their own battles. Thought the government didn’t go looking for any of them, their records were never expunged.

“Shit, is that— ”

«Alpha-2, someone is coming out of the van!» Echo-2’s radio crackles over the comms, and both Lance and Emily can see the scope feed of the back doors of the van opening. Lucille must have missed him when she got into the tussle, maybe it was the thickness of the van’s chassis, maybe some other factor. But there’s someone stepping out of the van, turning toward the sounds of combat.

An old man with a gun.


Lucille can feel his presence the second he steps out of the van and rounds the corner, but in her periphery she sees someone in a puffy winter jacket with a handgun trained on her. A puff of steam from his breath hides his identity from her for just a moment. Until



Communications Center

«Delta-1 he has a gun! I have a shot!» Echo-1 barks, but Lance can barely hear it over the sound of his own heart slamming in his chest.

The man on the screen.



Lance’s eyes widen as he recognizes the man’s face on the screen. What the hell is going on?

The radio’s trigger is depressed sharply, his voice quick and urgent over the radio, «Sierra-2, this is Watchtower, we can positively identify the gunman as a missing civilian, Martin Pines—» Releasing it, he glances to Emily with a hint of worried fear, “Fuck, I should get out there, Martin knows me…”

Of course, they aren’t supposed to leave.

Emily's not sure if she's impressed or frustrated by the fact Lance didn't throw out a don't fire. If it's old man Pines out there—

But he had a gun, Emily.

"Lance, we stay put. That's not our role." She sounds stern. "We leave, we could fuck everything else up." Plenty of people with guns out there, not all of them on the side of the law.


Cesar switches his attention to Colette as she comes back into view, listening to her relay of the situation. Cyrus Karr seemingly rings a faint bell, just enough that he's still waiting on processing when Sierra-2 comes back in and alerts to a second actor on the scene. "Coño, este hijo de puta madre cree el es la última coca-cola del desierto," swears Cesar at the reports about Martin Pines being the gunman. "«Echo-2, hold fire,»" he calls over the comms. "«Watchtower. Gerken, get the Major to send a team from Green-wall and clean up this mess ASAP. Sierra-1 and Sierra-2 report when subjects are secured.»"

"«Alpha-2 return to team position. We're going in.»" That's all the precursor Cesar gives as he pulls out his XLRAD banshee and turns to Devon and Nathalie. "«All teams, ready to breach. Alpha Team, it's time. Knock on the door.»"

"What, the fuck Cyrus."

Eyes are wide and Lucille immediately dispels the effects of her ability at the same time that the doors of the van open and she's staring down the barrel of a gun from the man with a face shrouded in steam. Shit. Hearing the chatter over the comms only makes Lucille's expression more dumbfounded. "Martin??"

What the fuck?!

A freedom fighter that's supposed to be on the West Coast with the missing radio host.

"Put the damn gun down Martin! You're in the middle of an operation. Where the hell have you bee- what the fuck are you two doing here?" Said operation is starting though and Lucille also hears Cesar call for the teams to move forward. There's no time for this shit. Reaching behind her back, she unhooks the first pair of cuffs. Crouching to swiftly cuff her former war comrade while eyeing Pines.

"The cuffs are for you to… fucking stay put until this is done and we can talk. I'm not gonna let them take you." Luce promises to the olive skinned man beside her. "Col will be very happy to see you're not dead in a ditch," directed at Martin with raised eyebrows.

Devon’s head tips with a nod, acknowledging Nathalie’s unspoken support. He exhales slowly, shifts his weight, and holds position…

Until the order is given.

«Knock, knock,» is murmured into the comms as soon as Cesar has given the word. It's spoken with all the pleasant politeness of an Amway salesman with the latest model vacuum for sale. But it's all the warning everyone is given, and that's where politeness and pleasantries end. As the words pass his lips, Dev engages his ability with the intent to push a hole through the wall and create a Wolfhound style entry point.

Once Devon makes them a new door, Nathalie lifts her weapon and starts inward even as the dust is still stirring around the room. She pushes her sense outward, taking note of what bodies are where and if there are any hidden from view. Instead of giving any orders like on the ground or hands in the air, she fires her Banshee anyone nearby and armed.

Someone else can do the yelling.

Moments Earlier

Ghost Shadows Distribution Center

Sneakers scuff-squeak across a lone polished section of an otherwise rough section of concrete floor. Weaving his way between white-clad workers in cloth face masks, Michael Green closes his eyes and snaps his fingers over his head. “With the taste of your lips I’m on a ride,” he croons off-key to anyone who will listen, which most of the workers in the distribution center have no choice but to over the dull hum of HVAC systems, tall standing fans, and electric heaters taking the late autumn chill out of the air.

“You're toxic I'm slippin' under,” Michael continues to warble as he spins on the toe of one sneakered foot, snapping his fingers in the air again in time with the beat. “With a taste of the poison paradi— ” right up until he collides with a broad-shouldered man with a shotgun overlooking sorting tables. Michael’s earbuds fall out from the impact, as though he’d hit a brick wall. Grimacing, he tucks them into a pocket and meets the steely stare of that Triad security enforcer.

“Quite a day, right?” Michael notes with a rise of his brows. “Say, ah, I’ve always been curious. Can you swim?” He asks with a motion of his fingers toward the stocky man’s midsection. “Or does all that density just make you plop like a stone?”

The security enforcer slides a tongue between teeth and lips and does not answer. Michael cracks a smile and offers an awkward grimace before sidestepping around him. “Of course,” Michael splutters, “right, you’re on the clock and I suppose I need to make a phone c


A sudden eruption of kinetic force separates brick and mortar like a truck driving through a wall. Huge pieces of the wall come tumbling down directly in the path of the point of forced entry, while smaller pieces blast outward in a cone like someone shooting a sand castle with a shotgun. Occluded from the blast cone by the broad-shouldered security enforcer, Michael Green cowers in the larger man’s silhouette. Despite being struck by a half dozen pieces of debris, all the enforcer does it close his eyes and grimace. Stone dust powders his shoulders and chest, his once immaculate suit is torn and cut at the shoulders and back. He remains unmoved.

As soon as the breaching blast happens, before the dust even clears, the first thing Devon Clendaniel sees is a towering hulk of a man with a shaved head and a tattered suit come barreling out of the warehouse. He collides with Devon like a dump truck, cracking asphalt underfoot. His shoulder slam sends Clendaniel backward onto the ground and is met by the ringing whines of Banshee fire and gunshots from the sniper posts across the street.

The mountain of a man that shoved Devon back takes direct shots from the Sierra snipers as he strides through the beam of a single Banshee as though it hadn’t even been fired. The bullets have even less effect, rolling off of him as though they were raindrops off a duck. He pivots, firing a shotgun blast directly at Avi that launches him backwards and sends a whining chime through his earpiece as via AEGIS armor alerts him that the absorbed blow was more than two-thirds battery capacity. Striking bootfalls report under the sound of gunfire, Colette hustling her way back from a position halfway between the breach point and the van.

«EVO target!» Colette calls out, «Bulletproof! Alpha-2 we need you here!»

But back at the van, Cyrus Karr splutters out a slurred response to Lucille, dazed by the force of her power — the very one Colette needs right now. “Shtop,” Cyrusd pleads as he’s cuffed, “waihht,” he grunts. Pines, watching Lucille cuff Cyrus and recognizing her from the group sessions at the Church of Ascension drops the gun to the pavement and raises his hands.

“Lucy,” Pines says softly, “I didn’t know. We didn’t know.” Thundering bootfalls come from around the north face of the warehouse even as the sounds of gunfire echo from the south. A detachment of military police fan out around the van. Three men enter the rear and quickly call, “Clear!” Others roughly manhandle Pines, restraining him with zip ties around the wrist before dragging him away from the engagement to the northeast side of the lighthouse museum. The last Lucille sees of the old man is a confused look on his face as he’s hauled away for his own safety.

Additional MPs grab Cyrus by the arms, hoisting him up to his feet. He struggles, as much as he can, and they likewise roughly drag him back in the same direction Pines was in. “// —ucille,” he tries to shout, “mnhhn//.” Whatever he’d said is lost under the haze of gunfire and delirium.

“We’ve got this area secure,” an MP quickly calls to Lucille, watching the east-side of the warehouse while staying in a perimeter around the van.

An explosion rips through the north side of the warehouse as the military police utilize a breaching charge on another wall. Inside the warehouse are shouts of authority and surprise, some intermittent gunfire.

Back around the south side of the building, Bravo-1 led by Sergeant Modi struggle to pin down the seemingly invulnerable man. The six police officers with Modi fan out, with no cover to speak of, raising Raytech Banshees and firing in targeted concentration at the invulnerable, shotgun-wielding menace. There’s an audible howl of pain and a momentary pause as the sonic weapons align on him, but he swivels around and opens fire on one of the police officers a split second after Modi grabs the officer by the shoulders and speedily alights into the air, soaring up and onto the roof of the warehouse. «Delta-1, this is Bravo-1. We’re sitting ducks out here! Banshees are having no effect!»

«MPs are inside,» comes over the comms from Major Olson, «minimal resistance but there’s a lot of bodies in here. We could use those extra hands! The net is holding.»


Communications Center

Stay put, Emily says. Then all hell breaks loose after the breach. From all the different angles she can see it from, it almost looks like she's there.

But she's not.

The man who blasts his way back through the wall, though Devon and shooting her father, he's not going down by force, they say. Emily breathes in. Maybe if she lifted her voice…

But she's not there.

"I could stop him," she whispers, full of belief. But she's unarmored and unarmed and here and not there, and it's a haul of a run, but she has the legs for it now in a way she didn't used to…

It's Emily's turn to look to Lance this time, her gaze sharp with fear and forming determination. Her body shifts in her seat, foot angling away from the stool. "They don't have anyone who could make him stand down. I could." she whispers, trying not to catch the attention of the other techs. Just Lance.

Lance grimaces as he watches them take Martin away— relieved on many levels, but it still hurts him to see the old man being treated like that. Then..

“What?” A tight whisper as he looks over to Emily, eyes widening, “How the hell— there’s nothing you can do out there, Em, let Wolfhound deal with this. This is what they’re trained for. You think that they haven’t spent hours trying to figure out ways to stop Joe if they needed to?”

Admittedly, Joe has a neck instead of a spare tire of muscle.


Stepping in with the middle of the pack, Cesar ducks off to the side in fanning out the formation behind the Wolfhound team, and by trained reflex also fires his Banshee at the biggest and most immediate threat. The XLRAD pistol lowers as he notes the lack of desired effect on the Juggernaut. "«Sonuvabitch. Alpha Team, take care of that enforcer! Bravo-1, break off engagement and flank around towards Blue wall, assist the MPs with containment. Bravo-2 backup Alpha Team and take that guy down!»"

Cesar closes in where he'd seen another target (Michael Green) behind the Juggernaut, yelling out, "S-E-S-A, down on the ground, now! Down! Now!" There is concern, however, for having seen Avi get shot and he calls back to, “«Watchtower, give us some info here!»”

Not for the first time is Devon grateful for the impact resistance of the AEGIS armor. For half a second he lays on the ground, sprawled as if he’d just been hit by a truck, wondering if anyone managed to see the driver or get the plate number. The whine of Banshees and percussive reports of gunfire pull his mind back to the present and he twists around to get his hands around the Juggernaut’s ankles.

«Hold his attention for a few seconds,» he yells into the comms. His voice strains, instinct bucking against an all too familiar scenario. Just a few seconds is all he needs and he can see if the Juggernaut can fly as well as crash through things.

Just a few seconds to hold off the panic trying to find a toehold. This isn’t like the last time, yet a little voice deep inside whispers concerns about… Devon’s eyes narrow slightly, jaw clenching so hard his teeth ache. Keep it together. «Just a few seconds…»

When Avi is hit, Nathalie shifts gears and runs over to get between him and the enemy. Her power focuses on him as well, checking to make sure his armor held as she grabs his arm and starts to haul him back to his feet. "You are supposed to be protecting the comms team," she says to him in a firm tone, one that holds back anger and fear and ignores the fact that he's her superior officer. Her head tilts when she hears Devon's call for assistance, but her gaze doesn't leave her father.

On it. To Devon.

"Get back to your position." To Avi.

She draws a pistol as she turns back toward the juggernaut. He's bulletproof, right? And she's supposed to keep his attention, so she starts to fire on him from her spot as Avi's bodyguard. Her aim is alarmingly accurate, as shot after shot heads for the same point over the man's rib cage, as if she might be working on shattering it. Or him.

Lucille's attention is tore between Cyrus trying to tell her something, Colette telling out for her as a literal Juggernaut comes barreling outside and the noise of all of that which follows.

Her thinking is swift, Cyrus and Pines wouldn't just be here. Whatever they had to say, might be important to this whole operation. «Blind him! On the way!» But first Lucille runs over to where Cyrus and Pines are being ushered away, "Wait!"

"Cyrus- Cyrus." Crouching down before the man she reaches over to him and brushes the back of her hand across his cheek at the same time her gray blue eyes glow a hot amber, Alleviate. "Tell me what's going on, quick!"

The most Lucille gets out of Cyrus is a bleary-eyed stare, pupils dilated and focus shifted from unconsciousness to barely conscious. She could get him back on his feet, back talking again, but it would take a few minutes that she might not have. “Mnhh— s’ow…” he slurs, “Sow,” again, eyes rolling back in his head as he bobs in and out of consciousness. The MPs holding him look impatiently at Lucille, needing to get him out of the engagement area but at the same time waiting to see if she can extract anything useful from him. “Nnh, ‘ucille,” he mumbles again, “s’Chow.”

But Lucille can hear the pop of gunfire over by the breach point at the front of the building. The juggernaut exhales a frustrated grunt, a hole punched in the side of his suit roughly fist-sized from the repeated gunfire of Nathalie LeRoux. As she blocks the juggernaut’s path to Avi, Epstein pulls himself up onto his side, then onto one knee and exhales a wheezing breath. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” is all he can say in response, head ducked down and scrambling away from the gunfire. Nathalie had to patch him up once, he doesn’t want to know if she can do a second time. Avi doesn’t even look back to return fire, just zips right past Colette as the photokinetic slides in beside Nat while the police officers with riot shields move in front of her to provide cover as they lock together.

Nat’s gunfire has kept the invulnerable man from noticing Devon’s hand on his ankle and he turns, firing three more times in rapid succession into the ballistic shields now formed into a phalanx in front of Nathalie. One of the officers exhales a sharp cry as he’s struck in the foot by ricochet, collapsing down onto his side while the other officers move in to close ranks around him. Lance isn’t the only one to make comparisons of this hostile to Joe Fulk, and having grown up around the indestructible young man Colette knows her lasers won’t have any effect on him. What she can do though is something Wolfhound has practiced many times in the field. In a way, it’s like bringing back an old classic.

«Flickering!» Colette shouts into her mic, and in that same moment the police officers engaging the juggernaut lower their heads and shut their eyes. It looks like she’s practiced this with the NYPD too. Colette’s body phosphoresces like a brilliant light, and then drops into total darkness, followed by an arrhythmic beat of light and dark like a strobe. Streetlights go dark as the effect takes place, with Colette redirecting illumination from across the block to create her blinding flashes.

The strobe effect makes the juggernaut look like a Harryhausen stop-motion monster, exhaling a frustrated scream, staggering, retching. He fires blindly with his shotgun, striking the wall of the school coincidentally just over Avi’s shoulder as he makes his way back inside the building and behind the cover of brick walls. Colette’s living flash-bang effect disorients the juggernaut long enough for Devon’s ability to take hold and he feels himself synchronize with the gravity and mass of this unstoppable force.

Past the breach Colette’s flickering creates strobing shadows inside the warehouse. Cesar had Michael Green dead-to-rights in his sights before that started, but now Green’s attempted escape comes with a windmilling of arms and a slap of shoes on concrete as he tries to use the distraction to cover his own frantic flight. But inside the building the intensity of light and darkness isn’t as great, isn’t going to incapacitate Cesar. Further into the warehouse Green is fleeing into the Military Police are effectively moving through the warehouse floor, pushing nearly naked drug handlers down onto the floor and zip-tying them while others burst from room to room in the back offices. The high-pitched shriek and click of XLRAD Banshees indicates the non-lethal approach is working.

Major Olson comes into view as Cesar is beginning to give chase to Green, through the breach point the MPs used. He spots Cesar, spots Green, but then raises his rifle in what feels like slow motion and shouts something across the warehouse floor. Cesar hears it via delay a moment later in his earpiece the same time Olson is shooting at him.

«Behind you!»

Cesar can feel a bullet whip past his shoulder, hear the shattering impact of brick and glass. But he can also hear a curse shouted at his back. Out of the corner of his eye he sees someone had got behind him in spite of there being plenty of eyes in the room. A bald man, dressed in black, scowling, with a handgun and a knife.

Wenzhou Zhao.


Communications Center

“Holy shit,” one of the techs in the van yelps on seeing Cesar’s body camera, “is that— fucking— holy shit.

Who would have fucking thought that out of all places in the world the leader of the Ghost Shadows Triad could be, that he'd be here.

The fantastic strobing effect that Colette is working on outdoors is amazing for destabilizing the juggernaut, but makes it impossible to use the cameras effectively. Emily actively lifts a hand to block off that portion of the screen, squinting instead on what she can see without being blinded, which leaves very few views left at all. Her eyes widen when Zhao comes into view, hand reaching to activate the mic before her instantly.

She's not great at decorum. "«Cesar, that's the Triad leader. SLC-E, ability unknown.»" That's the fucker who kidnapped Squeaks. is what she'd very much like to say, but she needs to put out something slightly more useful. "«This is Watchtower. Zhao is in the warehouse.»" Her fingers slide from the key. She can overanalyze her manner of speaking and the order the information came in later.

"Lance, it's him." Emily repeats to themselves only, sounding more distraught than before. She's less likely to bolt with the latest developments outside, but no less happy about it.

“I see him, Em,” Lance replies quietly, looking at the same monitor that they all are, “Looks like this raid just hit paydirt.”

They were going after the Ghost Shadows’ drug dealings, and now they have the head honcho themselves on the ground. Juggernaut seems to be handled, it seems after a glance to another monitor that’s mostly just flashing lights at this point - (“Go, Colette!” he comments inside his head) - and then he’s checking the other cameras, frowning, “He wouldn’t be showing himself without backup, keep your eyes open.”


Trusting the other teams to work on the Juggernaut, Cesar continues further in after the other NYPD team, eyes still on his quarry. "«Bravo-1, suspect headed into the net, don't let that fish slip out,»" calls Cesar giving chase to essentially herd Michael Green, his calculated logic showing it's unlikely the running man would outrun a flying one and the MPs entering from the other breach points. Legs pumping, he narrows his eyes at Colette's warning anyway when the strobing effect flickers along the walls he's running past.

Cesar slows upon seeing Major Olson raise his rifle, squinted eyes widening in surprise and adrenaline rush pounding in his ears before he hears the warning. Reflexes spin him around, XLRAD pistol raised. The confirmation from Watchtower are all he needs to push him forward in confronting Zhao. "S-E-S-A, drop the gun! Now!" He fires the Banshee, putting trust into the 1-meter wide sonic beam's range while bearing down upon the triad leader to stagger him.

Nathalie's gunfire cuts off at Colette's warning and she covers her eyes and turns away to avoid getting blinded herself. It leaves her undistracted when Emily and Lance mention who else is in the warehouse with them.

«Watchtower, keep eyes on him,» she says as she pulls off a glove to help the officer who took a bullet. She's grateful when it turns out not to be a life or death wound— for both their sakes. She gives the officer a pat before she stands up to look for Zhao.

She's met him before.

She's just not sure if that will help or hinder this moment.

Holstering her pistol, she draws her Banshee instead since this one isn't bulletproof. Not that they know of anyway. "Zhao?" She moves in Cesar's direction, but slowly. "Please don't make this harder than it has to be."

«Just a little longer,» Devon murmurs into the comms. His fingers curl into the fabric around the juggernaut’s ankle for a better grip when the behemoth of a man decides to start shooting again. He’s not much of a fan for shotguns personally, though he’ll be the first to admit their usefulness in certain situations, but the naturally slower return of the weapon grants him the few extra seconds he’s looking for.

As kinetic control synchronizes with the mass of massive man, Dev’s grip releases and he shoves himself backward. He slides only about a foot away, his eyes locked on the juggernaut. As he shifts backward, he gets his feet beneath him and stands slowly. It’s only in the space of a heartbeat that he tries to alter the direction of Mister Dash and Smash. Someone is about to become a human shield. And that someone isn’t Devon Clendaniel.

Lucille's eyes widen as she tries to sound out what Cyrus is saying, but it's like a movie because the name Zhao is uttered and it clicks for her. "Shit."

Backing up, listening to the chatter Lucille tries to get an eye for all of her teammates before she pivots towards where Olson, Diaz and now Nat are dealing with the crime boss. Crouching slightly, she readies herself. Breathing in deeply and flexing her hands. Boost. Adrenaline surges through her system and her eyes widen as amber gold floods her irises. With the heightened senses, reaction time and reflexes comes the price of increased anxiety and the like.

Luckily she's been doing this to herself for a few years now. Her arms lift up and she grabs ahold of a car, pulls herself up and propels herself forward, dropping on the ground in a roll and powering forward with arms pumping at her sides.

As Lucille is sprinting toward the warehouse as fast as her legs can carry her, she can see that invulnerable juggernaut of a Triad enforcer outside the breach point start to take a step forward, then exhales a deep and breathless yelp before he totters up into the air like a muscular balloon deprived of gravity. He exhales a wailing cry of confusion, arms and legs windmilling as he is loosed up into the air and pivoted onto his side. The shock of his ascent has his shotgun falling from his grasp to the concrete, profanity and confusion spilling from his mouth in equal measure.

Inside the warehouse Zhao is howling, caught in the beam of the Banshee. The air around Zhao ripples and distorts for fits and starts, his eyes seething gold each time he makes the attempt to ignite his ability. But the screaming sonic beam of the banshee drops Zhao to one knee, his teeth clenched and hands coming up to clap over his ears. While the XLRAD may be a nonlethal weapon, it inflicts an excruciating level of pain on a direct and prolonged beam. “You… are killing yourself,” Zhao strains through his teeth at Cesar, tears welled in his eyes.

Nathalie catches Zhao’s gold eyes, as the world starts to blur around him again but whatever ability he is attempting to use fails to engage as he collapses backwards, howling with his hands over his ears, eyes flickering between smoky brown and vibrant gold. Zhao curls up and writhes against the banshee, incapacitated so long as that beam stays trained on him. Police are flooding into the warehouse past Zhao, ducked behind their shields, shouting.

With Zhao incapacitated, Olson pivots to where Michael Green was running, catching sight of him sprinting out a side entrance between a gap in the net of law enforcement. But as soon as Michael Green comes barreling through that door, he is struck in the throat by an extended arm in a fierce clothesline. Michael flies onto his back, wind knocked out of him as he hits the asphalt. Gasping for breath he stares up at someone who was in the right place at the right time.

Lucille Ryans.

Fhh,” is about as close to fuck as Michael can offer on his back, hands up in pitiful surrender.

«This is Bravo-2, the big guy is disabled,» Colette calls over the comms, surrounding the floating juggernaut with swirling motes of light dancing around one hand. The other is extended down to Devon, a crooked smile on her lips. “That’s a nice balloon you made there.”


Communications Center

Avi Epstein lurches up against the communications van inside the derelict school, pawing at the velcro straps on his AEGIS and unfastening them to check his chest beneath. Bruised, more than likely, but his fingers come away dry. The shotgun slug is flattened against the plating of the armor, mercurial ferromagnetic fluid leaking out like quicksilver blood. He can hear affirmative calls over the comms, calls from Modi’s team that they’ve joined Blue and secured the back half of the warehouse.

Inside the communications van, one of the SESA technicians slams his hands down on the console and lets out a resounding whoop. “I’m getting all clears across the board, Ghost Shadows are neutralized and the warehouse workers are standing down.” The snipers in their roosts are calling back, confirming that no one has escaped the net. Most shockingly of all is what Emily and Lance can see on Cesar’s body camera, that the raid managed to catch Wenzou Zhao of all people.

Emily's pulling her headset off and tossing it aside even before the success is called, her heart and mind focused elsewhere. She tumbles out of the back of the van, nearly losing her footing as she hits the ground and comes around to the side to find Avi in the midst of his checks.

He's realized by then maybe that he's safe, but his daughter isn't under that same understanding yet. Her hands find his, clinging on tightly and trembling all the same. They pull and fuss, determined to find signs of injury on him. When she realizes finally they're not slicked with blood— that he’s not bleeding at all— her grip eases, a shaky breath of relief escaping her. Emily closes her eyes hard, head turning down to the ground before she looks back up, blue eyes sharp as they open again and settle on Avi.

She doesn't have any words, or if she does, she can't make them. She only firmly squeezes his hand once more before letting hers fall.

There’s palpable relief from Lance as things seem to be wrapped up - and without any friendly casualties. “This is Watchtower,” he reports into the radio, “We’ve got all clears across the board. Ghost Shadows are neutralized and the workers are standing down. Nobody slipped the net. Good work, everyone.”

Then Emily’s tossing her headset off and charging out the door, and he blinks up, half-standing… then she’s stopping at her father, and he relaxes, dropping back into the chair. His eyes lock on the monitor where they’re taking custody of Zhao, his jaw tightening in determination.

They stopped some crime, arrested some bad guys, found a missing old man… and maybe found the key to the next step in his own search.

“Do you know where they’re keeping the civilians they found on site,” he asks one of the technicians, getting to his feet finally, “I can probably calm Martin down.”


Cesar remains largely focused on keeping the Banshee trained on Zhao as he closes in. The beam’s intensity probably increases more the closer he gets, but he’ll not be too worried about that as much as he notes the flickering golden color of Zhao’s eyes. “No one’s dying today,” he retorts to the man, and dares a glance away as reports come in of the raid’s other teams. “«Alpha-3, get this man secure.»” He motions Nathalie over with a couple fingers, not wanting to let go of his pistol trained on Zhao.

And while his exterior is serious with focus, Cesar finally finds a moment to really breathe. As the groups finish up, he calls in to the radio comms, “«Commands meet back at Watchtower for debrief. Good job keeping the peace, everybody.»”

“Almost as good as the balloons from the Macy’s parade,” Devon quips back. He keeps his eyes on the man, maintaining the link and control he's created, but he finds the hand offered. With Colette’s help, he gets fully into his feet. “Let’s get this guy corralled with the others for booking and processing and go home.”

"«Roger that.»" Nathalie takes a syringe from Cesar's gear while he holds steady on Zhao, giving him a nod before she starts over. "«We need about a minute, so don't let up on him too early,»" she says, although she doubts anyone in this room needs reminding. But she approaches Zhao, flicking off the cap before she slides the needle into his neck. She takes no pleasure in handling another Expressive this way and does her best to make it as painless as she can. But then she pulls out her cuffs and secures his hands, too. She lingers close by, her own Banshee pulled out and ready just in case. Until the negation drugs kick in. Then she'll help get him into a transport. Maybe she'll even say hi.

Lucille slowly crouches and considers Michael. She doesn't grin or offer a witty statement to his capture. She just slowly caresses his cheek while pulling cuffs out of her back pocket. Forcing her will on his biological signature to keep him drowsy and not put up a fight. Bagged and tagged. She might have made a good Company Agent.

The thought kind of makes the Hound ill.

«Got one, coming in.»

This was a success, thank god.

As flashlights sweep through the riverside warehouse, as booted feet march across concrete and zip-tied bind workers’ hands, flashing blue lights bloom on the horizon. A convoy of Yamagato Lapis NYPD vehicles stream down from their waiting position, accompanied by a pair of 91st battalion troop transport vehicles.

Escorted away in zip-ties, Cyrus Karr watches the van where Martin Pines had been, catches one last glimpse of SESA agents escorting him away in an opposite direction. Cyrus struggles for a moment against his restraints, but is nonetheless hauled off.

From high up, under the watchful view of police drones buzzing overhead, the operation seems like a complete and total success. But as one of those drones wobbles and separates from the group, it sees this operation as anything but.

Because there is always another side to every story.


The Rookery

Staten Island



Bolting up from her chair, a young woman with wavy teal locks kicks a plastic wastebasket over, spilling crumpled paper and post-it notes everywhere. “Fuck, fucking, fuck Cyrus you idiot!” Wheeling around, Clover Hull looks at the laptop she just stood up from and clenches her hands into fists. “Fuckity fuck fuckbuckets,” comes with a hiss, followed by her return arc to the computer.

“Hey,” she says at her laptop, giving it a tap, “hey!

«Oh my fucking god I was asleep, what?» Comes a voice through the computer.

“It’s five pm out west why were you asleep!?” Hull screams at the computer.

«Don’t judge me. What’s up? What’s so fucking important?»

“Cyrus got arrested,” she says exasperatedly.

«Wh— what?»

“Reed, get your ass in gear. We’ve gotta rescue him.”


Somewhere in the Safe Zone

A cell phone stuffed in a drawer vibrates softly, skittering across some spare change and a half-used chapstick. The drawer is pulled open, and the phone’s owner snatching it up to see not an incoming call, but a text message.

Unknown Number
We spoke in Japan.
Now is the time to prove yourself.

We have a job for you, ON1.


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