Building 26


cardinal_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif lacombe_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif niklaus_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif west_icon.gif

Scene Title Building 26
Synopsis When Messiah, the leader of Endgame and a Company agent unexpectedly converge on the holding location of Niklaus Zimmerman, chaos ensues.
Date July 1, 2010

"Que fait ma main?"

There's one thing about being on a long car ride with strangers that affords a certain among of tension. But in the large, darkened back of a shipping truck bound for Washing D.C. down I-95, it is not just the roar of tires on the road that accompanies the four-hour trip to the nation's capitol. But it is the sound of a man's singing. It isn't a loud tone, just loud enough to be heard over the noise of the engine and the tires in the trailer, lit only by a small electric lamp.

"Elle caresse… doux, doux, doux."

Seated on a heavy plastic crate with the lamp between both of his feet, the Messiah operative Matthew Lacombe stares not at the other people he's traveling with, but at the way light reflects off of the ice frosting over his extended right hand. A cold vapor drifts up off of his long, bony fingers, twisting in tendrils and drift with each breathy word of the children's song he sings.

"Elle pince… ouille, ouille, ouille."

With headphones plugged into his ears and head bowed down, West Rosen looks like he's doing his best to try and drown out the sound of Lacombe's musing, eyes averted down to the illuminated screen of the MP3 player, dark brows creased together and bangs hiding his eyes. Lacombe lifts his hand up, pinching his fingers together and creating tiny needles of ice that bristle from his hand, as blue as his far-set eyes.

"Elle chatouille… guili, guili, guili."

As the ice needles crumble to snowflakes, he continues to entertain himself with his ability and song, attention spared on no one other than himself. But it's become clear over the course of the drive that Lacombe's singing is beginning to unnerve West, and he hasn't even been at it that long. They have to be in Washington by now, there can't be that much longer to the drive and West has yet to go over the full details of the assignment, preferring to lose himself in music, clearly trying to settle his nerves.

"Elle gratte… gre, gre, gre."

The snowflakes around Lacombe's hand drift slowly, rolling around outstretched fingertips as a cold vapor pours from his mouth, lips turning blue with the exhalation, a throaty laugh accompanying the sound. It's not difficult to see on the Frenchman the scar that he bears on the right side of his throat, the pock-mark injection scar that appoints him as a former prisoner of the Moab Federal Penitentiary. Whatever he was in there for, the prison walls can't contain him any longer.

"Et puis… elle s'en va…"

And that, there, is about the limits of West's patience.

"Stop!" The dark-haired young man shouts, voice ringing through the trailer as he slams his palms flat down against the bottom of the truck. "For fuck's sake, Lacombe!" Yanking his earbuds out and throwing his iPod down onto the floor, West runs his fingers thorugh his hair, breathing in deeply and then exhaling a sigh. "Sorry— sorry. Look we— we're close enough now. I need to go over the plan with you all. We only get one shot at this."

It's already off to such a good start.

Gabriel wasn't minding the song. Or: Gabriel figures Lacombe can sing anything he likes for as long as he continues to display his ability so effortlessly. In a self-contained huddle in his corner of the space, he watches the cyrokinetic with a lazy kind of interest — nothing keen or wistful about it. Entertained. The French melody doesn't send fingers of tension down his spine, his legs at a loose fold and hands on his knees as the vehicle vibrates and judders under his posterier.

It's West's interruption that sharpens and narrows Gabriel's focus, dragging a look towards him with sparking annoyance. "Debrief us, leader," he agrees, without any effort to shuffle forward or even inject an iota of kindness into his voice. His dark eyes scout out for Magnes in the shadowy interior of the truck.

Magnes is dressed for action! Laced up black boots, black cargo pants with god knows what hidden in them, black leather gloves that go up to the middle of his forearms under his shirt, and a tight black cotton shirt. He's also got what seems to be some sort of tight black rolled up hat on his head, figuring breaking the fact that he's gonna wear a mask at the last moment is probably best. "I thought I'd say, we should try our best to limit killing anyone unless it's in clear unavoidable self defense. If anyone disagrees, we're gonna have problems."

"Oui," Lacombe agrees with a very toothy smile, "I do not see a problem in being humane, but self-defense… you see, the government they are tricky. We will let the field of battle dictate what is to come, non? There is no sense in trying to play to our own moral code, until we know just how cruel an enemy we are facing." Smiling broadly, Lacombe shakes ice from his hand in sheats, the pallor of his skin pinkening from the gray-blue it had become under the effect of his ability.

Glancing up and over to Gabriel, then Magnes, West stays quiet on that somewhat idealistic notion that Magnes has. Swallowing tensely, West presses a hand to the interior wall of the trailer and pushes himself to his feet. "Rebel has edited Building 26's records to indicate that a transport carrying medical supplies to Building 26 is being delivered today. He re-routed the truck and we were able to relieve it of supplies. We're riding in it right now, and we're going to drive right in to the loading docks. From there we're likely going to meet armed resistance by Homeland Security agents. Rebel is going to jam all communication in the area and disable security."

Lifting his brows up with an assessing look, Lacombe can't help but smile at the efficiency of it all. As West continues, though, it becomes clear that this is an easter-egg hunt in disguise. "We don't… actually know where they're keeping Niklaus. Rebel needs us to get access into the mainframe room on the ground floor and attach a device that will allow him remote access to their networks. From there he'll figure out where our target is and we can go after him."

Reaching into the pocket of his brown jacket, West offers up the small and innocuous looking black box bristling with two cables. "There's, according to best estimates, anywhere from 15 to 20 other Evolved detained here at Building 26. They're not our priority, but if we can release them we should. There's no saying where they're kept or in what condition. Security is entirely government agents, likely with one emergency response task force on the ground floor. That's nothing we can't handle."

But West's uncertain expression implies that there is — maybe — just a little complication. "Unfortunately DC has access to Virginia's FRONTLINE squad, which includes a teleporter. If we aren't careful and a warning manages to get out, we could be facing a fully-armed FRONTLINE team, and I'm not sure that even the four of us could handle them all, especially not knowing what the other four members abilities are."

Gabriel is silent and stoic— shocking— through both Magnes' last minute request and West's outlining of the plan. Splaying his fingers to stretch them, he rises up, some, to preemptively get rid of cramping tension from his legs and back. Despite his own boasting of being his own army— and the boasting of others, too— he is not unarmed in the conventional sense. Possibly pilfered from the stocks of the Remnant — and if they insist on wasting resources on the Ferry, he can use it for his own means too — is the torso hugging shoulder holsters that shows when his jacket shifts a fraction.

"I think we're going to have a lot of clear unavoidable self-defense," he says across the space of the track, consonants snaky but there is little in the way of unnecessary sharpness in his tone to Magnes, "especially if Frontline show up."

"So you're saying Rebel doesn't have access to all computers, all the time?" Magnes asks, having never heard of any particular limitaion to the ability. Then there's the mention of a teleporter, and FRONTLINE suddenly showing up… "It'd be much easier to plan for FRONTLINE showing up if I knew Gabriel's full offensive capability. But from what I know so far, what'd make the most sense is if I weigh down that insane armor they wear, and Gabriel does the rest."

"If you want to go toe-to-toe with Frontline, be my guest," West says with a shrug of his shoulders as he feels the truck take a turn, slowing down, then speeding up again. "Rebel can't get into computers that aren't connected to something. He exists like, inside of technology, he's not some free-floating energy, or… that's how Peter explained it to be anyway. Rebel has to travel through something that can carry information to get to it. It's the same for a lot of technopaths. If a computer isn't networked to anything, it's like a room with no doors." West waggles the device and then tucks it back into his pocket.

"We just have to make him one."

Washington D.C.


Wait in the car is one of those things that Veronica Sawyer never wants to have to hear. Seated behind the steering wheel of a coppery-red Nissan, the dark-haired Company agent is most assuredly working off the books on what has her staking out a government facility at almost two in the morning. With DC being a mercifully short distance from New York City, there's no need for a cover story to offer to her superiors, she just has to get a little less sleep tonight.

The headset comm tucked behind her right ear is a holdover from Operation Apollo, and while she may not have the high-tech SATCOM hardware to link her to her accomplice, the encrypted two-way communication of Company-issue hardware is almost as good.

Building 26 looks so nondescript, a seven-story gray building on the corner of a busi metropolitan street. Veronica's view of the building is compromised only by the passage of a white box-truck heading down the street, unmarked and with a federal-issue license plate. It turns towards Building 26, then slows and turns its directional on before rolling down towards the gate outside the ground floor loading dock. That is something her man on the inside should be made aware of.

That eponymous man on the inside happens to be none other than a shadow gracing the unpainted walls of this hastily thrown together government facility. Building 26, on the inside, looks like it was once office spaces, hastily constructed into a containment facility, likely in the fallout of Moab's destruction. Having only just infiltrated the ground floor, Richard Cardinal's ephemeral form has been treated to the spools of untended cabling snaking across the floor and hanging from the ceiling. Right in through the lobby, a windowed room filled with computers is staffed by four men in suits.

It's a big building, with plenty of places to hide people or other desirable things.

It is, in short, a playground for Richard Cardinal's explorations… unfortunately, while some of those desirable things might be portable? A person is a much harder thing to get out safely, which is the entire purpose of them coming here, to do some recon and figure out a proper extraction plan for Codename: The German.

Deep in the cable-strewn shadows beneath one table off to the side, the top of Cardinal's head emerges from the pool of shadow as if he were pushing his head up just a little from the surface of water, rising up until he can murmur into the headset comm he's wearing, "I'm in. How do things look out there?"

Lifting a pair of binoculars to her eyes to try to see who is driving the box truck, Veronica is just about to relay the information to Cardinal when he asks. She pulls out her Blackberry to start typing in the license plate numbers as she speaks: "Unmarked delivery truck heading to the loading dock. Government issue plates, looking them up but don't expect much…" she murmurs, glancing down at the little graphic of an hour glass turning as the query into DMV records loads.

She glances back through the binoculars at the truck, waiting for someone to exit. "If that's a normal delivery truck, maybe that's something we can use for the real deal."

There is nothing particularly alarming, when the truck simply pulls into the loading bay. No tension such as, say, the opening scene of Jurassic Park, wherein the raptors are arriving and even the men with the automatic weapons in their hands are nervous. It is probable that this scenario might resemble that one, were they aware of even one of the people within the truck, let alone three of them (no offense, Rosen). The incessant beeping of a backing up truck comes to a finish, the growling engine cutting out.

A security guard looking distinctly bored at the prospect of watching crates of medical supplies getting unloaded from the truck for the next two hours rolls on up to the doors, a thumb tucked into his belt as his other hand reaches down to roll up the door with a grinding of metal.

Gabriel had told them— seven personnel in total, without particular emphasis on who was a gun carrier and who wasn't (four and three). Whatever the ability that allowed him to get that information wasn't awfully specific, and so it's without discrimination that Gabriel steps through the rolling doors and barrels solidly into the security man. A first gunshot of the night rings out as a bullet punches through the blue shirt of the man's shoulder.

There's your limiting the death toll, Magnes.

Magnes reaches down for an object that's been secured behind his feet for the entire trip. He lifts a metallic golden baseball bat, then pulls down the black holeless mask over his face. He looks like some sort of thief.

Jumping from the back after he hears the gunshot, the baseball bat slams into another guard's stomach, sending a wave of gravity manipulation through his body and punting him against a wall… at least as hard as he can without actually permanently damaging him.

At least not until he hits the wall, at least.

The guard sails a solid fifteen feet into a concrete wall before he's even aware that anything hit him. Between the force of the blow that slammed into his midsection and the way his back smacked against the stone, that popping sound wasn't the concrete flexing but all of his ribs down his back cracking under the force necessary to lift him up off of his feet that hard.

The guard shot in the shoulder on the ground lets out a keening cry, reaching down for his radio only to hear crackling static filling it. A moment later that same static screeches thorugh Cardinal's headset and Veronica's as Rebel begins jamming transmissions to and from Building 26.

With the rolling door to the truck opened by Magnes, Lacombe steps out of the back of the truck, hands sheathed in ice and waves of frost coming off the backs of his hands. Smiling broadly he steps behind a narrow concrete column when the first shots of gunfire from the security team ring out, panicked three-shot bursts from semi-automatic handguns that pepper the side of the delivery truck and ricochet off of the concrete walls and floor. Shouts rise up in the air, trying to warn as much as gunshots do the other people in the building.

Having waited low to the ground in the back of the truck, West Rosen soars out in a quick burst of speed, both feet forward as he slams them into the chest of one of the security guards and sends him toppling head over heels behind a stack of tall plastic shipping crates. When he lands, West turns to see a security guard leveling a pistol, eyes wide in shock before a hand lashes out from behind the pillar he stands near. There's a loud, horrified scream as gun, arm, shoulder and then the entire man turns to a solid block of frosted ice, tiny hairline cracks criss-crossing his body before Lacombe steps out from behind the pillar, shoving the guard over ot shatter into large blocks of frozen meat and clothing.

The three remainign security guards back towards the double doors that lead to the main corridor, two pushing their backs against the doors and scrambling into the hall, one straggler freezing in panic with his gun out, arms shaking and eyes locked wide.

That's the Midtown Man, isn't it?

"Good thought. We'll…" The words are cut off in a screech of static that roars through the headset, and Cardinal reacts instinctively, his head submerging once more into the murky shadows of incorporeality. There's gunfire and there's shouting, and somehow, he doesn't think this is a training drill.

Fuck. He's not prepared for this; there's no team in place, just him and Veronica, and contact's just been cut off.

A tenebrous shape slithers amongst the cables and into the main room where the computers are - trusting the suited men to be quite well-distracted by now, he's aiming to get a look at the monitors, hoping that at least some of them are security cameras. Whoever's invading the building - and at this point, he's assuming the Institute - he needs to find Niklaus before them…

"Shit." The sibilant swear goes with the sibilant hiss of static in her ears as she reaches up to turn the volume down to a level that it's not hurting her head, but loud enough that she'll be able to note the return of anything remotely resembling communication from Cardinal. For a brief moment she vacillates between staying in the car and following, which is a death wish, but if that's the Institute — if they know what Cardinal and she knows —

She reaches into the holster for her gun, opening the door as quietly as she can, to follow, keeping to the shadows and hoping, once she's inside, to be able to make the most of the madness caused by the assault of the fake deliverymen.

The fear in the air is potent, Gabriel unable not to breathe it in and fuel his own pounding adrenaline, the warm rush of superstrength coursing through his muscles as he continues to lead the charge without hesitation. If West is giving directions, he isn't hearing them, and cracks form in the concrete beneath his feet as superstrength urges along his sprint to chase down the security men before him. And the one locked in tharn-state with his gun pointed square at him.

One bullet passes through Gabriel as easily as Gabriel had moved through the rolling doors, and his hand is flesh-and-bone solid by the time its gripping his wrist. The long bones that make up the guard's forearm all snap in tune with each other as Gabriel twists and wrenches him sideways, sending the man flying through the air with a burst of strength fueled from the fear.

Ahead of him, a psychic punch has one of the last two crumpling in his flee down the hallway, if only for a few seconds, leaving the sole survivor to scurry down the hallway on his own.

"Damn, too much force…" Magnes mutters, his movements not quite as fast or sharp as they normally are. Then he looks over with wide eyes to see a guard getting frozen. That concern will have to wait, since he extends an arm, then flings it to the truck and sends a guard flying into that as well. Have to conserve energy, he's just not sure which he should be conserving.

Metal clangs noisily as a security guard bounces off of the side of the truck and then strikes the ground with his shoulder, rolling and bouncing across the concrete and landing just inside the loading dock entrance. Outside, Agent Sawyer's sprint across the nighttime streets of Washington D.C. has her closing in on Building 26. Scrambling towards the one open loading dock under the yellowed glow of an exterior light, she can see the crumpled body of a security guard laying on his side, bent and broken by the impact, clotching one dislocated and broken arm he landed on, groaning in pain.

Deeper inside the docks, Veronica makes out Magnes' masked form and the back of a stalking figure moving into the deeper hall. A taller, thinner man unaware of Veronica's presence follows behind Gabriel's back, ice wafting off of his hands and flakes of frost falling from his fingertips.

Catching his breath, West notices Gabriel's departure and lifts up off of the ground, gliding through the air to follow behind him, unaware of Veronica's slim frame ducked beside the entrance, witnessing the combattive power of Messiah.

In the Computer room, the three federal agents are trying desperately to make contact with the outside. One has loaded his sidearm and drawn the blinds closed on the windowed room, crouched down low watching the doors. Another is hunched over a computer terminal, shaking his head confusedly as another alternates between checking his radio and checking his cell phone. They're completely cut off.

When Cardinal slithers up from the shadows behind one of the desks and out of sight, he's able to get hands on access to the computers. Thankfully the simplistic and already loaded database is designed for ease of navigation, and the list of individuals contained here scrolls down like a laundry list of bad ideas.

Quick scans through the records find little, until Room 23 comes up and the name Cardinal is looking for is discovered among a list of other detainees:

Elizabeth Axelson (Stinging Cells)
Eric Lee Harrison (Molecular Reconfiguration)
Gordon Hovey (Granulation)
Curtis Hovsepian (Telepathy)
Anna Korolenko (Neurocognitive Deficit)
Mary Krause (Acidic Blood)
Niklaus Zimmerman (Magnetic Manipulation)
Ryan Stewart (Flight)
Natalie Wells (Antipathy)

As Cardinal is researching the database, Gabriel's stride down the hall watches the slipping steps hears the fearful cries of the fleeing guard scrambling down the corridor. He slams a panic button, much like a fire alarm, to no effect. Transfixed there in the hall, he turns back to Gabriel, a windowed room to the guard's right, blinds drawn shut.

The soft tap of fingers stirring out of shadow is nothing against the sounds of shouting and gunfire, and then the names are found. The powers are recognized, from a list Cardinal's seen before, at least some of them - names to numbers that used to be in Moab Penitentiary. The names are found, and then the shadow's sliding beneath the desks once more, those fingers still manifested like a crawling hand - Thing incarnate - to find a power cable. And pull. And down the line, jerking those so very important plugs from computers on his way to the door.

While the shadow does his work, Veronica tries to make like a shadow of sorts, darting along on silent feed and letting the group of men in front of her do the dirty work for her — she'll let them take out the guards along the way, as she doesn't have Gabriel's ability to know how many there are and if there are any left. In hopes that they know where Niklaus Zimmerman is stowed, she's content for now to follow along behind them, hoping maybe Cardinal will meet up with her in order to confront them and keep Zimmerman out of their grasp. Just in case, her gun is out in one hand, her taser in the other, with a silent lament for her lost tranq gun.

With the muzzle of his gun pointing loosely for the ground, Gabriel only lifts his other hand — abruptly, the guard's legs stagger sidewise, back tilting to forcibly ram his own skull into the window just next to him. Once, twice, this time a small smear of red showing, before the guard falls, puppetry threads snapped via his own unconsciousness, and otherwise very much alive. Turning back towards the group, Gabriel assesses his team as West flies in and Lacombe trots in after, trusting Magnes is on his way.

It's to the flying boy he asks, "Which way's the mainframe room?" He doesn't send out his psychic ping to tell who is where and how many, and Veronica's creeping goes undetected. But it's only a matter of time. As far is Gabriel's aware, only dead and unconscious men lie in the path behind them. He glances over his shoulder, towards the curtained off, blood smeared interior window.

Magnes follows behind Gabriel, keeping his gravitational field extended. He's speaking as little as possible, looking from side to side, trying to be aware of his surroundings. That's what Shwarz Bruder would do. He's letting the big boys, except Rosen, speak amongst themselves.

As power to the computers goes down, West glides up behind Gabriel, eyeing the bloodied stain on glass that was once one of the security guards. Jerking a nod to the very window Gabriel had the man battering his own head against, West indicates that the computer room is there. "Hey," he asks back over her shoulder, feeling the chill of Lacombe's power at his back. "Go easy on the shattering, alright?" There's a mildly worried tone in Wests's voice when he asks it, and all Lacombe services as an answer is a twitch of his lips into a smile.

With only a thin wall and windows dividing them, Cardinal can hear the conversation in the adjacent hall just as much as the other federal agents can. But when West drifts towards the door to the computer room, he tests it and finds it locked. Brows furrow, his head quirks to the side and dark eyes move to Lacombe again as he backs away.

Creeping up to the door, Lacombe presses his cheek to the glass and rests his hand on the doorknob then hesitates and backs away, spotting shadows silhouette on the blinds. Lacombe flashes a nervous look to Gabriel, then a nod of his head as he motions for the killing machine to go inside and clean things up.

Gabriel, however, is aware of other problems. His psychic sonar is picking up resonances from other thinking minds, ones coming up behind the team. He can feel the driver's mind remotely, still seated hunkered down in the truck smartly but someone is advancing from the rear.

Inside the computer room, Gabriel can feel four thinking minds in the room. Three adjacent to the blinded windows and wooden walls, hearts racing, fear heavy. One of the minds is further away, on the opposite side of the room, and Gabriel cannot smell the fear coming off of that one nearly as much.

A much less fearful mind crosses the computer room rather swiftly, slithering amongst the cables towards the door. Closer and closer on the mental sonar of Gabriel's mind - closer, closer, right behind the door now, and now it's OH GOD IT'S IN THE ROOM, IT'S IN THE ROOM, GAME OVER MAN, GAME OVER—

Well, presumably Gabriel Grey is a bit more steadfast of mind than Pvt. Hudson, and might notice the shadow that's just bled under the door and stops, staring for a moment at the people who're in the hallway. Whether or not he's noticed - or recognized - Richard Cardinal's taken aback by the sight.

Of all the people he thought would be attacking Building 26, MESSIAH was not amongst them.

Swearing vociferously in his mind, the shadow darts along down the hall. He doesn't know what powers Gabriel is packing these days, but for all he knows, there's some lasers in there.

As the men stop at the door, Veronica creeps silently forward, gun drawn and eyes watchful. Close enough now to make out those she stalks, she can make out the face of Gabriel Gray. She grows still, trying to pull up his dossier in her mind, to remember what powers he has and those he's suspected to have — what's clear is that it's not the Institute after Zimmerman. Does she stand a chance against the four men in front of her, with just a gun and a taser, especially when Gabriel Gray is among the four?

And then a shadow goes streaking down the hall, away from her and deeper into the building. Shit. Veronica glances in the other direction — can she make it back to the car to play getaway driver, which is perhaps what she should have done all along? For now the plan is let Cardinal hopefully retrieve Zimmerman— and get herself the fuck out of dodge and back in the car.

Pulling back a hand presumably to punch the door open, the stench of fear only encouraging him, Gabriel hesitates at that nagging feeling that he missed something, and he pauses. "Someone behind," he states, surely, a glance down the hallway and then to Lacombe. One thick eyebrow ticks upwards. "Go do the honours," he suggests, and both eyebrows even up into a straight horizon of consternation when one of the men from inside are coming right at him.

Reeling back a couple of steps in preparation, gun pointing, when it's merely a shadow, Cardinal's stare of shock is met with a stare of consideration, before Gabriel watches the shadow go zipping down the hallway. Like an attack dog distracted from its command, Gabriel bares his teeth and follows with his gaze, only to unleash a punishment of psychic removal the shadow's way and hopefully not too late, aiming to forcibly punch the shadow's consciousness from its form and push back into solidity.

"He should stay with you guys." Magnes states, clearly not trusting Lancombe to not just go murdering willy nilly without the looming threat of Gabriel to murder him willy nilly as a deterrant. He starts running back himself, holding that bat tightly, field extended as he starts trying to find the person following them.

Just about to follow Gabrie;'s request. Lacombe sneers when Magnes gives a contrary suggestion and zips off down the hall. There's a furrow of his brows as Lacombe's attention is directed towards the noise of Veronica's echoing footfalls as she runs through the loading dock, his back to Cardinal's attacked shadow-form. West is the only one facing the computer room, and when that door is knocked open out into the hall where a Federal agent is ducked into a crouch, handgun out and trigger squeezed in fire. The bullet strikes West square in the chest, knocking the already airborne young man into the opposite wall and sending him down onto his side.

A second agent steps out with gun drawn, but neither of them are prepared to see Sylar's profile there in the hall, not even paying them any attention. Their horror and distraction comes just in time for Lacombe to do his own brand of willy-nilly work when he closes the distance to the agents, grabbing one of their handguns and freezing it solid, metal sticking to flesh in the grip.

The other agent turns to lift his gun up to Lacombe's lunging approach, only to be tackled into the room by West when the young man flies off from the ground and spears the other agent with his body. The two go crashing into a desk, leaving Lacombe free to reach up and clutch an icy hand to the face of the agent he was already freezing. Squeezing his fingers, ice crumples and shatters beneath Lacombe's long digits as crystallized blood clatters out of the claw marks in the frozen head, half-icy body falling to the ground with a combination slap-crack noise.

The unexpected gunshot that wings Lacombe in the shoulder though comes as a total blindside. The gaunt Frenchman is spun around by the shot from inside the computer room, staggering back and hitting the hallway with a red smear, eyes wrenched shut and mouth agape in pain. Steam rises up from his blood, far warmer than his skin, but when bloody ice scabs over the gunshot wound, Lacombe seems less in pain than just a moment ago.

That third agent who had been lingering in the room, the one responsible for Lacombe's shot trains his gun on Gabriel thorugh the narrow focus of the door, while West and the other agent wrestle across the floor, smashing into desks and chairs, punching and kneeing each other as they wrestle for the agent's gun.

As that spear of psychic pain lances out through the aether and splits through Cardinal's mind, the detached part of him that isn't actually experiencing that strike suffers a distinct sense of deja vu all of a sudden. Surely he's been through this experience before. It's no easier the second time around, though - maybe if he'd been expecting it and had time to prepare, but of all the powers that Gabriel might have pulled out of his arsenal, he wasn't expecting the Ghost's mental assault.

The rapid slide of tenebrous force across the hallway translates into a sharp tumble of limbs across the hallway as Richard hits and rolls to keep from breaking his neck from the impact, an instinctive movement more than anything as he ends up still on the ground for a moment, teeth gritted and hands slid up to clutch the side of his head, trying to clear it so he can focus, move

…unfortunately, just as last time, that may take longer than he has.

Once the Company agent sees the masked man of the bunch moving down the hall, her plan is amended and she heads down the hall — hopefully her taking on the role of prey instead of stalker will buy Cardinal time to get Zimmerman. The sound of gunshots behind has her whirling around once she clears a corner, out of side from the others but no doubt with Magnes on her tail.

She moves into the shadows again, to wait for the man following her to turn the corner, both taser and firearm at the ready — she'll shoot first with the taser at the first sight of her pursuer, but if the range is too far, the gun is cocked and her finger rests lightly on the trigger, ready to pull.

Oh my gosh it's yooou! Recognition widens Gabriel's eyes when Cardinal's frame comes flopping out of its two dimensional opaque oil spill over there. Behind him, West and an agent are wrestling around in homoerotic effort to be on top, there's an agent howling his pain when skin peels off his fingers when he tries to let go of metal gone so cold it burns, and another— aiming at Gabriel. Pick one, Dick — either Gabriel is doing you a favour by turning his shoulder to you—

Or trying to save himself. With a wave of Gabriel's hand, the agent is throwing himself backwards as his own gun comes steering back enough to force its muzzle beneath his chin. The top of his skull pops open like a pinata of bone and brain matter when he pulls the trigger on himself, and for a second, the hallway is quiet (besides West).

"Race you," is echoed down the hallway to Cardinal, just as he's forcing the agent wrestling their flying boy to drop his weapon and roll aside like a supplicating dog, Gabriel's hand held out before relaxing. "Rosen. The device. Now."

Magnes' eyes widen when a taser enters his field of vision and gravity, stopping the thing in the air and quickly ducking and saying at the same time, "Veronica, wait!" He's feeling an incredibly sense of urgency, sure he might get shot at any moment. "It's me, just, don't shoot."

Gasping for breath and with another black eye, West scrambles to one knee, crawling towards the computers before realizing — "What the f— fuck!" Slamming the broadcast box on the desk, West drops down onto his back and crawls beneath the computersm tracing wires back to their source, trying to find the power strip where things connect. "Someone unplugged the whole goddamned network! It's gonna' take me a minute to get everything back online!"

Laying on the ground with wide-eyed fear, the Federal agent Gabriel has pinned by puppetry onto his back is watching in abject horror as Sylar has him laid out and helpless. Scrambling to reconnect plugs, West's legs kick as he pushes himself further beneath the desks, trying to get everything up and running again.

Lingering in the hallway, Lacombe looks up towards the exposed ceiling at the wires, listening to something else with furrowed brows. "I believe…" the Frenchman begins before giving pause, "we have angered the beehive." One brow arched, the cryokinetic takes a few slow steps into the computer room, then looks back as he hears shouting in the cargo bay, upper lip curling into a snarl but not quite able to hear what's being said, or care enough about Magnes to go help.

"Tick, tock, tick, tock…" Lacombe so helpfully says in a sing-song voice as West sits up, whacks his head on the underside of the desk, and starts turning on the computers, trying to get them to hurry and boot up. Cardinal has a several minute head start.

Alright, Richard, your head didn't immediately fall off so that means he's not going to kill you. Well. He's not going to kill you quickly anyway. Aren't you glad you bought the serial killer a beer now? Of course you are. He barely registers what's going on for a moment, staggering to his feet more or less on instinct, turning slightly to look back towards Gabriel just in time to watch him make the agent uncork a fountain of gore through the top of his own head.

If he hadn't already had fine meaty human paste sprayed through his shadowy form the other day, that might be the grossest thing he'd seen all week. As it stands, it doesn't really rate.

The words 'race you' cut through the haze of his splitting migraine as his consciousness settles back in sync with his brain, and he flashes a tight, mirthless smile before darting down the hallway once more, flesh beginning to fade away into shadow again.

Of course, he has no idea what he'll do once he finds Room 23. One step at a time.

The taser's dart floating mid-air along with the familiar voice help to inform the Company agent just who the "me" is that the masked man refers to when Magnes speaks. Veronica reaches to grab him by the collar and pull him from out of the open and into the corridor that runs perpendicular to the one they both had recently come come from.

"Magnes," Veronica hisses, trying not to roll her eyes. Of all the people in the world — but then, perhaps it is a stroke of luck. "Who the hell are you here with — I thought you were with the Institute. Damn it, I could have killed you." Or vice versa, for that matter, but Veronica's not going to dwell on those specifics.

Without waiting for an answer, she jerks her head to indicate the fiasco down the hall "Listen to me carefully. I need to get someone out, someone that we really really need out of here. It's not Company business, it's more important than that. You have to trust me," she whispers, her narrowed eyes seeking his through the mask "It's imperative that we get him, and that you help us. You need to do whatever you can to stop Gray and whoever else is with you from stopping us from doing this. Whatever it was in that computer room you guys were going for — fuck it up if you can, and help me get this guy out of here."

She pauses for a moment, then adds, in case the talk of trust doesn't work, "If you don't, I will arrest you and everyone you know and throw you in a dark hole. You hear me?"

As Cardinal makes his staggered exit, Gabriel stands still in the hallway, watching what goes on in the computer room from this still vantage point, an arm out seemingly to keep the guard pinned with puppetry, although this gesture is largely unnecessary. For someone allegedly racing another, he seems reasonably calm about potentially losing, though for competition's sake, his fixed stare on West is obviously urging him to try a little hard to make the computers go.

Or whatever. Glancing down at the security guard, Gabriel gives him a moment's consideration before the unfortunate bystander's eyes go unfocused and almost cloudy as his sight is stolen from him. Smoothly kicking aside the already dropped pistol, his voice then carries impatient down the hallway: "Magnes." As if bringing a dog to heel, one he can't currently see.

"You don't have to threaten, I trust you more than the people on my team. I'm here with Messiah, kind of got guilt tripped into it. I'm not sure what they want this guy for, but I don't think it's good… I'm only here to get him because they said these people were illegally captured." Magnes takes a breath, then just quickly nods. "I'll do it, I'd rather Rebel not have access to a government computer anyway. All you need me to do is disable the computer and stop them from stopping you, right?"

Then, when his name is called, he calls back, "I'm coming! The guy got away!"

"C'mon… c'mon." West mumbles as he drums his fingers on the desktop, watching the boot-up process of the computers, his head nodding up and down slowly as he looks over his shoulder to Magnes' shout. Rolling his eyes and lifting a hand to his swolen eye, West hisses a frustrated breath as he looks back to the screen, then feel a vibration in his jacket pocket. Hastily reaching inside of his coat, West retrieves his cell phone, turning it around and quirking his head to the side as he looks down at the message there.

Lips part, brows lift and West crouches down to the floor as the computers continue to boot up, picking up one of the discarded pistols from the downed agents, Popping out the clip to check the rounds before slapping it back in. There's a musical chime as the computers finally finish their boot cycle, but West's attention is located on a cork-board pinned up to the wall near the terminals. Rising up from his crouch, he stares confusedly at the rows of photographs and names pinned up to the wall, surveillance photos likely.

"Should I go after our ombre perdu," Lacombe asks to the air with a motion of one hand, looking back over his shoulder to the sound of Magnes' voice.

That headache will last all night, but Cardinal's suffered worse before; once he manages to remember which way is up and what the colour green is, he's more or less golden aside from the splitting migraine aforementioned. The living darkness flickers down the hallway and is soon out of sight, as the search begins for the room before the others can beat him there.

No, he still doesn't know what he's going to do once he gets there.

Relief floods Veronica's features. "Messiah… no, we don't want anyone to get their hands on this guy — I'm guessing there's no coincidence and you're here for someone else, but maybe. Yes, yes, go disable the computer if you can… if you see Cardinal, he's with me, don't hurt him, and do what he says. Seriously, Magnes, this might be saving the world yet again, or at least the world as we know it." She lets go of him, reaching up to touch his face, though through the mask, with appreciation and gratitude. "Be careful, don't let them know what you're doing, unless there's no other way. I'm going to see if there's another way around…"

Glancing to Lacombe, Gabriel hesitates before the other man will witness the way his eyes go glassy and vague, the ghost of himself briefly crossing through the cyrokinetic's brain, a glimmer of physiology registering through his mind before it slides along, past him, sinking around Magnes' mind in no way that the young man will notice. Four seconds pass, and by the time Gabriel is 'coming to', despite standing upright, he has a hand out to steady himself against the wall, a sharp inhale sucked through his nose.

"He said he'll be here," he tells the cyrokinetic, with a shake of his head, arranging his expression and voice to be one of assurance. "He's just covering our backs. Stay focused."

Magnes gives Veronica one last nod, then slips from the corridor and starts heading to the room with the computer. When he arrives, he gives West a nod, not actually touching anything, just staring at the panels. Alright, be subtle, subtle…

His gravitational field extends in that ten foot radius, feeling inside the machine, the different weights of things. He's no computer expert, he just has a basic geek level of them, and this government computer is way over his head. But wires, computers need wires, and most of them inside start snapping away from things, the smaller ones that barely make a sound, chips crack but don't completely break, he knows he doesn't have to completely break them, and he just all around fucks shit up. To any onlooker, he simply seems to be staring innocently at the computer, waiting for it to be visibly fucking up.

Gabriel does not speak French and Lacombe cannot hold him accountable for not getting the reference to the lost shadow, but it is answer enough. Sliding his tongue across his teeth distastefully, Lacombe flicks a sheet of frost from his fingertips, looking back to the hall Magnes had disappeared to and then the direction Cardinal had fled in. "Hurry up, Rosen," the Frenchman says with a roll of that R in West's last name.

Glancing over his shoulder to the doorway where Lacombe's slender frame stands beside Gabriel's, West seems a little suspect as Magnes makes his way into the computer room. It's brief as he turns back to the systems and mumbles to himself. "Alright, alright…" the security locked password and login screen should be a deterrent, but as West hooks up the remote access box that Rebel had given him, only to hear a pop-whine from the computers as their screens freeze, flicker and then go out.

Unfortunately for Magnes that has sudden and grievous side effect as he feels his knees shake and his heart flutter in his chest, a sudden throbbing sensation behind his eyes pressing migraine heavy. The aura of gravitic manipulation has always been something he's been learning, something he wasn't even aware he could do until Kazimir helped him along. But this fine manipulation of tiny components that he can't even see with just enough force to break them, and given their finite weight and how that relates to just how much gravity Magnes has to force onto them to get them to break away from the motherboard is profound. Compounded by his own ragged health from the anemia recovery and the adrenaline shot Magnes can feel his body becoming heavy under his own weight and the threat of shorting himself out looms overhead.

"Fuck!" West screams, slamming his hands on the desk, "Fuck fuck!" He flips one of the flat panel monitors up and off of the table to crash onto the ground. Lacombe strides into the room, eyes wide and scowl heavy.

"Rosen, what's the hold up?" Shooting a glance at West, Lacombe flits his gaze around from Magnes and then West and back again. But all West can do is huff out a frustrated sigh and kick the desk.

"The computers are fried, I— I don't know. The gunfight or whatever that guy did. Fuck, I don't know where there's— " West smooths a hand down over his face, looking to be in panic now. It's easy to be the leader when there's a plan, but recovering from a failed one? That's where real leaders should shine.

That is not who West Rosen is.


All the door numbers down here have a '1' after them, and Richard Cardinal's been in enough buildings to know that means he needs to go up. Or possibly down, if the government isn't being clever and built the building upside down, which at this point in his day wouldn't surprise him at all.

The shadow slithers past an elevator door, pauses, and then whispers back over to it and bleeds beneath the edge, twisting upwards in the darkness of the shaft. Second Floor… Germans?

Watching Magnes go for a second, Veronica quickly turns and runs for the exit that brings her back out to the loading dock. She looks to see if any backup has arrived — either for the government or for Messiah — before scrambling around, keeping close to the building for cover, both visual and physical. Both dart gun and firearm drawn, she has to holster one when she gets to a side door. Sliding the dart gun into her belt, Vee tries the handle — no such luck. A glance around, and then she shoots out the lock, hoping that there's no one too close to the other side to hear it.

Finally the door is pulled open, and she slowly enters, gun lifted, eyes sweeping the hallway. No one. In she creeps, following the path of the corridor, unsure what she's looking for until she corners and — there's a shadow slipping into an elevator.

Not wanting to be stuck in an elevator nor alert anyone on the next level of her locale, Veronica turns to find the door marked STAIRS and pushes through, her feet carrying her up quickly. Hopefully there aren't that many floors to check…

Gabriel's passes his gaze over the computers, just long enough to know that there's too much direly wrong with them for him to want to waste time trying to fix. As static, helpless silence follows West's panicked words, Gabriel hesitates before turning towards where the downed guard remains. Two long steps brings him up close, before the sole of his boot plants down on the man's chest as he looks down into blind eyes. Pressure can be felt down his leg, a preternatural squeeze of enhanced strength from the fear of the man he has pinned to the ground.

"My name is Sylar," he informs the blinded man, calmly, as if maybe he didn't already realise. "And I'm going to drive my boot through your chest unless— " crack goes a rib, seemingly from an effortless nudge of his heel "— you tell me where we can find Niklaus Zimmerman. Right now."

Magnes holds his head with one hand, then promptly goes down to his hands and knees, struggling to hold himself up. "Damnit, I still have fatigue from that guy giving me anemia…" he offers as his excuse, immediately pulling his field in and trying to at least recover some normal functionality.

The scream from the federal agent is a croaking and horrified one and only makes it easier for Gabriel to consider flattening his ribcage down to his spine from the strength that surges through his muscles. "Stop! S— Stop!" is all breathlessly screamed from the sharp pain of the broken rib. The agent's face contorted into an expression of horror iis just a small sample of the fear he feels, that his puppetry paralyzed body cannot express in frantic thrashing.

Lacombe lifts both of his brows up to his hairline, watching Gabriel do his work with eager anticipation. The agent doesn't take long to crack — mentally — not physically. "Ah— All— all the detainees are on the second floor! They're— they're on the second floor!" Too embarrassed by his own failure to chime in and press further, West storms out of the computer room, looking down to his phone and quietly typing a text massage into the keypad.

Lacombe comes in, head tilted to the side and lips pursed. "Zimmerman," the Frenchman emphasizes, "he asked where Zimmerman was." Hyperventilating and fearful breaths are shallowly afforded by the agent as he tries to find his words.

"Twenty-three!" is finally bubbled out by the FBI agent, information Cardinal had stolen from this room well ahead of Messiah. "He— he's in room 23! Second floor, I swear to God!" Pain, threats of death and Sylar are all wonderful interrogative tests, and while agents of the FBI are trained to resist some measures of torture, inhuman sensory deprivation, paralysis and crushing are not in the FBI's handbook still.

On the second floor, Cardinal's inky form finds more doors in a white-painted hall, each door battleship gray and spray-painted with a stenciled number starting at 28, he must beo n the other end of the building. However, the shadow also knows something else — he's not alone.

Crouched behind overturned tables up ahead, five federal agents are trying fruitlessly to make an outside call, guns drawn and eyes aimed down the hallway. There may be more up here as well, but from what Cardinal can see between himself and room 23 is just the five, some using doorways of rooms 25 and 26 as cover.

Such good soldiers… …and such dead ones, more than likely, although they don't realize it yet.

There's a twinge of sympathy from Cardinal as he realizes this fact, but he pushes it aside for the cold knowledge that they'll serve as something of a further distraction for when Messiah shows up on his proverbial heels.

The inky blackness of the shadowmorph flattens itself against the very corner of the wall, a line of shadow sliding along hopefully unnoticed to infiltrate Room 23.

The stairs take Veronica longer than a shadow's climb through a shaft, and she slowly opens the door, gun sweeping one way and then the other — where it falls in line with the agents. Shit. Well. With luck, the distraction will buy Cardinal time — her life is not as important as the one in Room 23. Her DNA certainly isn't.

Using the ajar door as cover, she pulls the dart gun from her waistband and then steps out into the corridor, firing two rapid rounds from her firearm and one from the taser at the five agents, before stepping back to reload the taser and get behind the door. If her fingers are quick enough, she will reload and repeat, then shoot the tasered men to finish the job.

Gabriel's boot lifts off the guard just as paralysis drains out of the unfortunate man's body — the blindness remains for the good of not getting shot in the back, and he's already moving down the hallway, following the path Cardinal had made previously. "Leave him if he can't keep up," is Gabriel's order over his shoulder, regarding where Magnes is hunched over and recovering. Wolf pack rules. Abruptly, his body folds over, seemingly, in mid-run — only to show that that collapse is an implosion of solid flesh converting into a higher energy of inky blackness which navigates the hallways with more agility than his lanky limbs could hope for.

Soundlessly cutting through the air, the demon-shape of Wu-Long's legacy goes spiraling down the hallway, angling for the stairwell, evading the elevators in favour of making sure that those keeping up with him are able to.

Magnes slowly pushes himself up, grabbing his bat, then heads after the others. It's apparently the energy of his ability he needs to conserve. Hitting people with bats is apparently the most viable tactic now, following after Gabriel's voice. He has to protect Veronica, he has to think. "Gabriel!" he exclaims in a winded tone. "Sorry, just so tired. That person I was following, they were here already, some other team. I think they sabotaged things, and were expecting us. Whatever's in that cell might be a trap."

Surprised by the sudden explosion of Gabriel into living shadows, Lacombe cracks another smile, turning to look at West as the young man starts drifting up into the air and gliding after Gabriel. "I like that one," Lacombe notes with a nod towards the trail of disappearing shadow, "he has style and charm." Whatever Lacombe could posibly find admirable about a serial killer likely is a testament to his own mental condition, but leaving Magnes behind does not seem to be hard for Lacombe to do, offering one fleeting look back into the computer room. "Au revoir, monseiur Varlane," the cryokinetic leaves as his parting note, heedless of Magnes' warning of a trap as he leaves a foggy trail of cold air behind his hands as he starts hustling to catch up with West.

Upstairs, gunfire elicits screams of both confusion and pain. This is the first time Veronica Sawyer has had to turn on her own government so directly, open fire on federal agents trying to defend a detention center for dangerous Evolved. The first and unsuspecting agent goes down from a keen headshot, Argentina has improved Veronica's proficiency with a firearm considerably.

Even as that agent is jerking back with a drooling trail of blood from his temple, another takes a bullet in the chest, wheezing and choking as he crumples to the ground. By the time guns are trained on her direction, there's a snap-buzz-click-click-click from Veronica's taser driven into the shoulder and neck of a third agent who twitches violently on the ground, arms and legs convulsing. Gunfire peppers the hallway as Veronica slips behind a wall for cover, chunks of plaster and paint flying past her.

Gabriel can hear the gunfire as his umbral form shadows up the steps, and finds the agent tucked against a wall, gun held up to her chest and gunfire pinning her down in the stairwell. Agents were waiting? Somehow that gives credence to Magnes' surprisingly well-played ruse. Unfortunately, West and Lacombe aren’t far behind, and odds are the latter of those two won't be too kind to Agent Sawyer when he finds her.

Down the hall, with gunfire, screams and blood at his back, Richard Cardinal's shadowy body tracks from one room to th next: 25, 24, 23, 22— there it is. Gliding back to 23, Cardinal can see the designation stenciled on the metal door, and the space beneath is more than enough for him to slip through like an envelope through a mail slot.

The shadow drifts darkly across the floor into a spacious room filled with hospital gurneys. IV stands rise up beside each bed, and the whirring hum of mechanical devices from from boxy plastic intra-nasal machines connected to the IV stands. Dozens of people are strapped down to these beds, tubes up their noses, silent and motionlessly sleeping in captivity.

It's somewhere between the Institute and Moab, the missing link of governmental cruelty.

Three tables down from the entrance, there is a blonde haired man in wrinkled brown slacks and a red dress shirt, a black necktie still worn loosely. Eyeglasses are folded on a table beside his gurney, round — evoking memories of Edward Ray — but the man laying there is not the mathematician, but the man Richard Cardinal is searching for.

The man with the genetic puzzle imprinted on his DNA: Niklaus Zimmerman.

Richard Cardinal has won the race, it seems, that Gabriel challenged him to in jest earlier. Of course, now he has a completely different problem to solve, which is of course how to get the prisoner in question out of the building past the government agents, past Messiah, and across the finish line.

A hand peels itself up from the shadows, drawing the clipboard free of the translucent plastic box at the foot of Niklaus's hand, a disembodied limb that's swept across the room in a pool of inky blackness to another bed - and then back again. Niklaus Zimmerman becomes Ryan Stewart, at least according to the records. Messiah's already got someone who can fly. And look how useful he is.

As gunfire begins to roar outside, then, fingers emerging from shadows pull the nasal plugs out of Niklaus's nostrils first, continuing along down the line as he starts removing the devices keeping them unconscious.

"Inmates of Building 26, this is your wake up call…" Wake up call..

The sound of gunfire splintering wall and door masks the sounds of West's, Lacome's and Magnes' ascending footfalls. The agent, heart pounding, luckily hasn't had time to think about what she's done — adrenaline and fear will keep the guilt at bay until much later. If she survives that long. At a pause in the firing of the agents weapons from the two remaining men, Veronica leans out to shoot again, as many shots as remain in her weapon, before ducking back to reload the firearm, the taser gun now stowed away.

A couple of things happen in the course of a few seconds. Gabriel registers Magnes' bleating— it confuses him, to a degree, a sharp and jarring factor in combination with what he'd seen through the gravitokinetic's eyes if he's taking Magnes' words as truth. No time to reply — Magnes will only have to trust that he heard and understood him through Gabriel's next actions as he veers around the corner ahead of the pack, coming up on Veronica's periphery as some monstrous swatch of blackness — the same that had escaped through the vents in the hospital ceiling.

He chooses and acts swiftly, descends down upon the agent like an intangible blanket before her solid body is instantly assimmilated into the far more fluid form Gabriel has adopted, and the shadow grows to the size of two. Trapped within whatever movement that Gabriel dictates, he leaves his team in the stairwell and drags himself and Veronica both out into harm's way.

There's a shout of alarm from the agents ahead, and the ceiling is what becomes peppered with bullets as the inky shape goes flying overhead, only to squeeze through the edges of door 23 and flood inside.

The fleshy thuds of Veronica and Gabriel both will inevitably snag Cardinal's attention if the sight of them spilling out of the shadow and onto the floor isn't enough. Though Veronica remains unharmed from the gunfire that had been pointed their way, Gabriel seems abruptly pale and pained, but affording them both a mildly feral grin when he looks up from his position on his hands and knees. His red scarf falls out of his collar, snaking on the ground. "Did you people have an exit strategy or will I have to think of that for you?"

Magnes isn't even sure what he's supposed to do against bullets, let alone how he's gonna get out of here with Captain Cold and West. He opens the STAIRS door, carefully peeking up, then heads over to the elevator and sits his bat down, and strains to open the door, which opens automatically the rest of the way. Armed men, and fatigue setting in, he has to think his way through this as best as he can. He reaches into a pocket for one of those smoke capsules he used with Harrison, then walks into the elevator, presses the button for the second floor, and squeezes out after dropping the capsule.

After he's through, capsule broken and filling the closed car with smoke, he reaches down and grabs his bat to start heading up those stairs now. Tired. He better get laid, pudding, and Futurama marathons after this.

Rounding the stairs, Magnes is behind West and Lacombe, and both the flyer and the cryokinetic are pinned down in the same doorway Veronica was. "Where the hell is Sylar!?" West shouts over the popping sounds of gunfire and shouting and all Lacombe can do is over-exaggeratedly pantomime a shrug. Poking his head out only to hear a bullet whizz by his ear, Lacombe leans back and rankles his nose aggrivatedly, then crouches down and presses his palm to the floor.

"I'll handle this…" the Frenchman states as ice begins to frost over the floor tiles and creep across the hallway towards the FBI agents. West's attention is settled on Magnes, offering an askance look to the young man as he comes up the stairs.

"Magnes, can you gravity these guys down the hall or— out of our way or something?" There's a crease of West's brows as he squints to the gravitokinetic, looking him up and down before turning his attention to where the agent are, their gunfire having silence some while others reload.

However, the chime of ding is Magnes' answer to West.

Smokebombs of the kind Magnes has are noxious things, acrid, stinging the eyes and rapidly expanding gas that fills entire corridors. That it filled the elevator isn't much of a surprise, but when those double doors slide open the hallway is smothered in the gray smoke, causing Lacombe to jolt up from the floor in surprise, his ice trail stopping in light of a far more ingenious looking plan.

Had he known that was Magnes plan he might even be surprised.

The federal agents, choking and coughing, flee into adjacent rooms and away from the intruders, trying to regroup and get away from the attack so that they can call out. With Rebel likely distracted by keeping the security systems disabled and monitoring outside communications, he is unaware of what Gabriel is plotting in just a few rooms beyond where the gunfight is happening.

Noises of wakedness come from the slumbering prisoners. Most of them looking fatigued, disoriented and scared. They've not yet woken enough to come entirely out of their stupor, but it's likely to be chaos once they do, with that many scared people and powers all in one space. Gabriel can feel it, too, that tingle in the back of his mind here, knowing that each one of these sedated people containes a singularly unique ability, something tantalizing and new, something to discover.

One in particular, a man that Richard Cardinal switched the charts on, rolls onto his side, hissing out something under his breath, "Scheiße…" Niklaus Zimmerman's red-faced and weary frame fumbles blindly across the bed now that he's on his side, eyes unfocused and staring blurrily at the hospital room.

But that everything metallic in the room is now subtly vibrating is a sign he's waking up.

"This was a reconnaisance mission," comes Cardinal's response to Gabriel's question, the words hissed from a clenched jaw from where he's resumed corporeality beside Niklaus's beside— the sudden thump of their appearance having caused him to twist sharply in their direction, gun in hand, but it drops once he gets up, "I didn't even have a team in place, all this kind of forced my hand, Gabriel. I can't let Rebel get his hands on…"

The subtle, vibrating rattle of metal on metal cuts him off, his gaze sliding back towards the man as he rolls over to his side. "Calm down," he whispers sharply, reaching for the glasses on the little tray and reaching to put them into the german man's hand, his other hand resting on Niklaus's shoulder, "I'm getting you out of here. Can you understand me? Focus. Here's your glasses…"

When that stygian form engulfs her and drags her along, Veronica can only gape for air and words, part of her certain that that foreboding blackness is a harbinger of her death. That it is possibly her savior in Gabriel — Sylar — Gray's face that she looks up at when she rolls out onto the floor with a wince is a surreal irony that she'll have to think on later when the guilt hits her. For now, there's no time.

The rogue agent finds her feet, standing a little wobbly as Cardinal tells Gray that they weren't really planning on being here. "So in short, no strategy at all," she murmurs in her husky voice, turning dark eyes to Gabriel, brows knitting together as she studies his face. "Thank you," she adds, the words terse but sincere. The shaking of metal makes her glance at the other prisoners, wondering what powers they have — Zimmerman is the only one whose power she knows, not having read the list on the monitor that Cardinal had. "We're not here to hurt you," she tells the others who blink at them with confusion. "We gotta get him out… you'll help us?" she turns back to Gabriel.

Getting to his feet, pain crosses Gabriel's face as he looks from Cardinal, to Veronica, to Niklaus, and then over his shoulder towards the (only) door where Messiah will likely be barging in at any moment. Without using words, he responds mostly by moving, numb-footedly, towards one of the adjacent walls, taking a deep breath to get every whiff of hazy nervousness from the waking victims and the scattered chaos from the agents (and West) just outside, before promptly burying two fists through the dividing material, making claws of his hands and dragging brick and plaster out with a grunt.

One swift kick later and tada, there is a door. "You can pay me back," he utters, leaning on the wall beside his makeshift escape, "by saying you had to shoot me to get away. Now go."

And regardless of whether they do or not, Gabriel lets his eyes half-hood as he concentrates on a new magic trick. Without fanfare, two deep red splotches suddenly appear on the front of his shirt, gaping wounds of bullet holes that weren't there a second ago, as the memory of past injuries services as an illusion.

"I don't think I'll need to, 'cause, well… that." Magnes points up after the ding, and the smoke filling the halls. Then he follows after West, not going near the cryokinetic, can't trust him. "So what's our next move, leader?" he says in a most condescending tone.

"Lacombe, clear the hall." West states flatly, picking up his cell phone from his pocket. "Sylar," he says into the receicer, hearing a ringing sound on his end. Lacombe offers a look over to West, brows arched as he slowly shrugs his shoulders and steps out hesitantly into the doorway, looking ot either side of the hall before creeping down through the smoke. Waves of cold amanate from Lacombe's hand, and the groaning sound of still living agents who have yet to succumb to their injuries turn into something more terrible as Lacombe enters the smoke cloud.

Screams of pain rise up in the air, followed by crackling noises and then shattering sounds as the cryokinetic walks slowly down the corridor, humming to himself a perky tune while sending waves of cold and ice along the walls and floor, freezing everything around him as he moves. West looks, to his credit, a bit disturbed by Lacombe's disappearance and mannerisms in what he does, but he seems to be answering Magnes question by waiting on the phone.

"Come on… come on…" West murmurs, looking more and more frustrated by the moment, cursing into the still ringing phone. "Sylar what the hell is going on?"

What's going on is certainly interesting, to say the least. Betrayal folds on betrayal as Gabriel steps away from the torn open hole in the wall, his phone ringing muffled inside of his jacket.People are waking up, and the sounds of fear and confusion from the other prisoners of room 23 are beginning to become less delerious sounding and more conscious. Niklaus seems to be hesitate to awaken, but as he fumbles for his glasses, pulling the wire-framed lenses over his eyes, one hand wipes at the side of his face.

Wheezing breath comes from the German as he looks at Cardinal, across to Veronica and then settles squarely on Gabriel. Brows furrow, eyes widen and then narrow, and Niklaus pushes himself up from the gurney, dress shoes clicking against the tiles floor. "Ich danke Ihnen…" he murmurs, turning blue eyes over to the hole in the wall.

Running his tongue over his lips, the German turns to look at the door that leads into the room, and hearing footsteps approaching narrows his eyes, listening to the humming melody of French accompanying a thin layer of frost forming on the interior wall of room 23 adjacent to the hall.

"I will go, now…" Niklaus intones soundly, straightening his tie and walking to the hole in the wall as if thankful but not entirely entitled to the people who saved him. However, when he pauses to look down one story to the hole there, his lips downturn into a frown.

Further worried sounds come from the waking prisoners, and one of them — a tanned skin man with long black hair swept back from his face, scrambles away from his gurney, tripping over wiring on the floor, then scrambles barefoot for the wall leading into the hall.

When he hits the wall, his hands press into it and there's a groaning creak of wood as everything around his touch begins to turn into fine silica particles — sand. He bores straight thorugh the wall, letting in a gust of cold air and smoke, others are becoming just as awake now, and Niklaus is looking worried.

Turning his back to the hole, Niklaus tilts his head to the side, one brow raised, following a high-pitched whine as the ceiling begins to creak and groan. Electrical cabling made from copper wrips out of the walls, out of the ceiling, twists and turns together forming braided rope of wiring that then snaps off to ensure that there is no longer a current going through it. The metal warps and bends and twists and slithers out of the hole like a snake, one end lifting up and then curling around an iron I-beam exposed in the ceiling, to which he grabs on to one taut length, walking back towards the hole Gabriel tore in the wall, gripping the copper wire tighely, and then crawls out of the hole, crouching halfway before saluting with one hand, as he scales down the side of the building "Auf Wiedersehen."

"I owe you another beer," Cardinal says with a tight, quick smile flashed over to Sylar as the man assumes his disguise, "Same place as last time, next week?"

So that's what 'Granulation' is. As the various Evolved start to awaken and plot their own particular escapes from the situation, he gestures towards the opening in the wall, "Sawyer. Let's get the hell out of here…" A stride after the departing magnetokinetic, quick steps becoming even more fluid as he melts forward, a splash of inky shadow that slithers in an amorphous shape down the wall along beside Niklaus.

"We've got an escape vehicle waiting… and I think I have a lot of information you may be interested in, about you, about your father… how would you like to meet one of your sisters, Mister Zimmerman?" Your sisters…

With quick strides to the gurney that Niklaus was recently unconscious on, Veronica does a quick sweep, gathering the intra-nasal tubing and sheets, glancing around for anything else that might have the man's DNA imprint left, and gives a nod to Gabriel, gratitude in her eyes. "Thank you," she breathes. "Get Magnes out of here safe," she adds, before hurrying to the hole in the wall and following Zimmerman down. Once on the ground, she pulls the keys from her pocket and breaks into a run, one hand reaching out to lead Zimmerman to their getaway Nissan.

Niklaus doesn't get a goodbye. Cardinal doesn't get affirmation. Veronica doesn't get you're welcome. But perhaps it can be implied, variously, as Gabriel flicks a glance over the gaping and obvious hole in the wall once they're gone. With only a moment's concentration, it seems to vanish up like it was never damaged, a memory-based overlay of illusion that doesn't explain the dust staining his hands and jacket — but the blood is a lot more obvious.

He gets his cellphone in his hand, and lets his voice take on a rasping edge in West's ear. "Magnes was right — it was a trap. I'm hurt, Zimmerman's gone. We need to evacuate, this is a waste of time — don't argue. I'm coming out to meet you."

Ignoring the waking masses of victims, for all that Gabriel wouldn't mind to stay a while~, he decidedly follows out the hole creates in the wall to avoid getting his skin stuck on the frosted over surface of the door leading to out, wincing at the smoke in the air and the chill. "Lacombe!" is a snarl of pained irritation. The fact that Gabriel looks like he's about to pass out does not, at least, have to be faked — just the mess of injury he seems to be keeping his hands press to at his front.

"Mister Freeze, can you freeze these doors to the point of shattering so we can release the prisoners?" Magnes asks since West seems to be occupied with the phone, trying to stay lower with a hand over his mouth, bat gripped tightly in his hand. "And if you can, could you avoid killing anyone?"

"Fuck!" West hollars from down the hall as the smoke is clearing, lifting up off of his feet and gliding down the corridor. Touching down when he gets near where Gabriel is, West's eyes are scanning the panicked crowd waking up in room 23. Gritting his teeth together, West lifts his phone to his ear again and turns sharply in the hall.

"Rebel, Gabriel's injured, there's no sign of Zimmerman. We've got escapees everywhere and I think theres more Feds coming. Advise?" While West is trying to discern how best to handle this situation, Lacombe is walking out from one of the rooms where agents fled, his hands crusted in red frost, forefingers and thumb rolling together as he gives a bland shrug of his shoulders and a dismissive smile as he looks to Magnes with a what was that you asked expression, then eyes a sandy hole in one of the walls and the sound of distant footsteps.

"I can indeed," Lacombe notes with a bow of his head, proceeding to walk down the corridor, freezing the doorknobs and shattering them off, "though someone else will need to rouse the captives."

Shaking his head slowly, West looks back into room 23, "Alright, yeah. Make sure we have a clear path to the secondary vehicle. How many of these people do you want to bring with us?" West's borws arch, lips forming an "o" and eyes wide.

"Rrr— ight. Okay, if that's what Peter wants." Looking up to Gabriel, West eyes his injuries and frowns. "Sylar looks pretty bad. We're going to need to cut half of the transport, maybe more. Magnes and I can move some of them, Lacombe can patch up Sylar." West's head bobs into a nod again, offering a look over to Lacombe then back to Room 23.

"This was a complete disaster…"

Standing on the manicured lawn outside of Building 23, looking up at the stars thorugh the lenses of his glasses, Niklaus Zimmerman offers a hand up to agent Sawyer, helping the dark-haired woman down onto the ground, staring up at the odd illusory looking covering of the hole from this side of the perspective. "You have my gratitude…" the German intones, turning to look over his shoulder to the shadow that had addressed him earlier.

"I did not expect such speedy rescue from mein predicament," the German offers with a sweeping look around the street, bristling as he hears the distant wail of a police siren. "I am tired," he explains, "hungry," is an important addition, "and in great desire to escape from here in the fastest way possible." Niklaus' attention turns to Veronica, one brow raised as he watches her heading towards the car parked across the street.

"Then," is Niklaus' stipulation, "at safe distance… we will discuss how you know about Barbara."

It's going to be a long ride home.

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