avi3_icon.gif brian_icon.gif claire2_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif dong-tian_icon.gif doyle2_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif else_icon.gif francois_icon.gif grace_icon.gif griffin_icon.gif julie_icon.gif liette_icon.gif lorraine_icon.gif lyle2_icon.gif lynette4_icon.gif quinn5_icon.gif raith_icon.gif rue_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif walter_icon.gif

Scene Title Chokepoint
Synopsis The survivors of the raid on the Ark arrive at the surface and find something worse waiting for them.
Date November 8, 2011

Outside the Ark

It’s called the light at the tunnel for a reason.

Midday sunshine illuminates the designated exit point where the labyrinthine sewer system beneath the Ark ends and the outside world begins. Unlike many of the other ways out, there’s no grate that needs explosives to pass – simply a yawning hole that opens into a concrete drainage ditch flanked on both sides by two twelve foot cement walls.

Water flows at a slow creep out of the sewers and into the canal where the crisp autumn air transforms it into an sludge-like mixture of mud and ice that sits at ankle height and will hinder the team’s escape, driving small children into the arms of their protectors and forcing the wounded to lean on stronger, more able bodies for support.

Although the walls are too tall to scale, a wrought-iron ladder a quarter mile up the canal should provide the group with the leverage they need to climb out, albeit one at a time.

Snow floats down from a pale sky mottled with clouds that are just thick enough to obscure the shape of the sun behind them. It’s quiet now; the alarms blaring throughout the facility at their backs have gone silent, replaced by the sound of haggard breathing and dozens of feet sloshing through the waste. In just a few minutes, they’ll arrive at the ladder and climb to freedom.

«Epstein, Rowan,» Grace Matheson’s voice crackles over the radio as they approach the opening. The extraction team must be close. «Report. How many of you are there?»

Screams echo up from the sewer tunnel, a riotous choir of howling voices that builds into a crescendo that has to be dozens of people. But there's a shrillness to the voices, a high-pitched whine like that of a playground at noon, but with no joy. From the tunnel, dozens of dirty, bloodied, and terrified children come scrambling out of the sewer tunnel. They collide with one another, some are trampled and others are picked back up by slightly older peers and dragged to the side in relative safety.

"Fuck! Fucking run!" Backpedaling out of the tunnel, Avi Epstein fires indiscriminately back into the darkness. Bullets ricochet off of the walls, followed by a high-pitched mechanical scream that comes from a six foot tall mechanical behemoth lunging out of the grate. Bullets tear through its chassis as it collides with Avi, knocking him down to the ground and pinning him to the concrete with curving talons. Its broken head sputters and sparks, broken jaws working open and closed against the stock of his rifle he's jammed into its mouth.

"Get this fucking thing off of me! Fuck! Help!" Avi screams over the cries of terrified children as more pops of gunfire echo out of the tunnel. The Ferry is in full retreat and the Arcology is on a meltdown behind them.

All the puppetry in the world won't do jack shit to killer robots, as it turns out, rendering Eric Doyle's normally-terrifying ability rather useless in the current situation; he's wearing a flak jacket scavenged from some military surplus depot and a baseball cap, a slash of dark red spilling down a thick denim-clad leg where some scything limb just barely missed anything lethal. There's sweat spilling down his neck chill as ice as he ushers on the swarm of children, occasionally pausing to grab one up from the ground and get them back on their feet - or in extremis tangling one or two in unseen puppet strings to get them back up and moving.

He hears the scream for help from Epstein, but despite a nervous glance back over his shoulder - he doesn't go back for the man, instead focusing on getting the children through the tunnel. "Keep moving," he urges, "It's not far now, there's— yes, the tunnel! There, go towards the light, let's go, move, move!"

"We didn't do a head count. Too many," Lynette says into the radio, but after a beat she adds, "Forty. Ish." It's the best she can do. And it's all the report she gets out, as the screaming gets her attention and she passes a young child into the arms of an older one as she turns toward Avi's yelling. Her eyes widen when she sees the mechanical creature come into view and there's a brief moment when she hesitates. "Get the children up," she calls to the group before she runs back toward the screaming. Only a little bit. "This might hurt," is a warning, but it's all Epstein gets before she reaches a hand out and sends a bolt of electricity at the robot. She seems to trust that Doyle will do all he can to get the kids out. And she seems to hope electricity actually works on these things.

"Go, go, go," Veronica says, still wearing her badge proclaiming her to be the Commonwealth Institute's Lab Security Chief. She's doing a very bad job today. "Keep running. There's a ladder up ahead. It'll take you out," she tells a young girl that seems to have made herself den mother of some of the children. She and Dong-tian had gone ahead to make sure this part of the canal was clear, but there's no promises as to what lays ahead. Now that the stampede has flooded past, she and looks back at Avi's cry. "Duck," she says, lifting a P90 assault rifle to shoot at the robot.

"Keep moving the others," she tells Dong-tian, or at least the one by her side, seemingly willing to take up the rear of the group and help Epstein. But Lynette's on it as well. She scurries forward to try to pull Avi back out of the jaws of death if she can.

Robyn Quinn was prepared for a lot when she agreed to help out with this raid. As it turned out, this was the most scared she'd ever been in her life. She doesn't let that lock her into place, though, almost stumbling as she follows behind Doyle. "Fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck shit fuck!" seem to be the only words she knows at the moment, but as she sees Epstein get taken down by one of the robots something almost bids her to stop, were it not for Lynette's intervention.

As one of the kids trips, she skids to a halt, hoisting him up as best as we can. "Keep it goin' kids, just a bit farther t' go!" She looks back towards the others, hands glowing with clean white light. She didn't have much at her disposal for robots, but damn if she wouldn't try.

Within the storm of chaos, surrounded by panicked escapees and with a wounded… someone carried on his shoulders, all Jensen Raith can do as he hears Avi calling for help is tell himself that someone else will take care of him, they've got this, keep going, don't look back, keep going, they've got this, keep going keep going keep going.

Six pairs of boots pound against the sewer in perfect unison. Six identical soldiers rush at the end of the party. All garbed in protective gear scavenged by his former comrades on the security team. Dong-tian, six of him, secure the rear of the fleeing crowd.

A seventh is with Veronica, nodding quietly in response to her command. The lead sprints out by himself to the forefront near Doyle. A man very familiar to him, though it may not go both ways. He is sprinting ahead urging the children on.

The six men left behind swarm on the robot terrorizing Avi. Lynette's electricity bolts, and Veronica moves in to get Avi up and away from the robot. The six identical men move to finish off the work. After the blast of electricity, six shoulders in unison go to ram against the robot, hoping to give at least an inch of separation to the downed man. Once that's done six P90 rifles are leveled at the robot in case it needs finishing off.

"I got it." One of them calls out. "Keep going!"

Lorraine, dressed in some light bodyarmor and looking back worriedly as she's looking at each and every child that appears, for a certain set of blonde hair that she hasn't seen in — far too long. She came in hopes of saving her daughter, after all. That's who she's going to be looking for. She holds a rifle in hand, but doesn't fire it this time. Either she's out of ammo from the previous defenses, or she's afraid of hitting someone by accident.

She's hanging back, until she sees her girls.

Now finally in possession of something worth-while, snatched from the guards when all hell broke loose, a small feminine figure does stop at the man's screaming and turns around to level the weapon at the beast. The hood of black hoodie is pulled up, sending a shadow over the woman's features. A few strands of blonde hair are any type of hint of who she is. Her stance speaks of experience with combat.

She doesn't shoot, as she is almost bowled over by one of the young children, a boy, with large terrified eyes. "Careful." She snaps, not unkindly, reaching down to half lift the boy and push him in the direction of the exit. "Go." She says sharply, moving to follow. But she pauses, looking back over her shoulder.

Seeing the Brians trying to move the beast, the hooded women sprints forward, slinging her rifle on her back, so she can wrap fingers in the fabric of his clothing, snagging at the shoulder straps of his vest and pulls. Teeth grit as she digs her heels into the cement, throwing her back into it, the hood slides down to show the features of one Claire Bennet. Only this one is blonde. "You better help, old man," she says sharply, voice stained as she works to pull Avi out from under the twisted metal.

The light smoldering in the robot's eye dims, goes out. Gradually the gears inside its body slow and, with one last shudder, whirr to a halt. Walter Trafford clips past, his sword trailing in the dirty water behind him like a rudder. He stops to take in the sight of the downed robot and lets out and impressed whistle that echoes throughout the tunnel. "You guys really know how to crash a party, huh?" he asks and gives the still-steaming piece of metal a tentative poke with the tip of his sword. "Neat."

Lyle Bennet, his assault rifle dangling limp at his side, sends an anxious glance in Claire’s direction. He reaches up to smear someone else’s blood away off his cheek. This isn’t his first mission with the Ferrymen’s Special Activities division, but it’s certainly the largest, and his trembling hands betray his fear. He can’t seem to stop swallowing either.

"You're clear in back," Walter adds, in case anyone was wondering.

«We've got press out here,» Grace says over the radio. «Two news vans parked about several hundred yards away from your position, looks like their cameras are already rolling. Nothing to do about it. Hurry.»

Avi looks at Veronica, the woman who dragged him out from under that beast with a blank expression. He'd lost his sunglasses somewhere in the tunnel, his missing eye now all the more potent reminder of how many times he's had to do this and barely made it out alive. "Thanks," he breathlessly offers to her and Lynette, levering himself up to his feet with her help and dusting himself off. The report of multiple guns firing.

As Avi looks back, he sees confirmation of Walter's assertion. More escapees flood out from the tunnel, some dressed in blood-spattered white labcoats, others in civilian attire. It's impossible at this point to tell who is fleeing staff from the arcology, who are rescues, and who are Ferrymen operatives. There's a howling screech that comes from the tunnel, followed by the demolished chassis of another robot rolling end over end across the concrete. Behind that, three figures emerge slowly from the tunnel.

Liette Fournier has one of her sister Julie's arms around her shoulder. The two young women limp out of the tunnel, beside them walks the ghost of Else Kjelstrom, carrying a battered dialysis machine that is currently hooked up to Julie's abdomen with a series of crimson-filled tubes. Jensen hadn't realizes his daughters were even behind him, the chaos has turned everything upside down and inside out.

Liette raises a hand, moving the robot carcass with a telekinetic push, sending it skidding with a shower of sparks out of her way, dragging dangling cords and wires behind it. Julie looks at her sister, weakly. The other Fournier girl can barely walk, slick with sweat and dark circles under her eyes. But there's dad, and there's mom. Together. Maybe everything is going to be ok after all.

Reaching up to his earpiece, Avi asks into the battered microphone. "Natazhat, anyone there?" All he gets is static on the other end. There's a haunted look in his eye, a glance fired off to Walter, then Lorraine and Raith. "Well, we're all still here… so…" He swallows, anxiously.

"Fuck," Doyle hisses out as he drags himself up into the canal, scraping his injured leg against a rough stone wall; reaching out to lay one heavy hand on the back of a sniffling child sticking close to the entrance. He manages a flicker of a smile through his fear and pain, putting on a show for the kid, "C'mon. It's okay, everything'll be fine—" Louder, "C'mon, kids. To the ladder, right over there, you can see it, right?"

They're going to be slowed down here a bit, but that's a necessity. Ladders can only handle so many people, after all. Still, there's light now, and sky, and that means they're home free. Right? "Everything's going to be fine— up the ladder, c'mon, help anyone younger than you, let's go now—" In the midst of a sea of tired, scared children rescued from the depths of the Ark, he keeps them moving towards freedom like some sort of Reverse Noah.

"Don't mention it," Lynette says, her hands coming to rest on her knees for a moment, "we still need you and your gun." She looks over at Veronica as she straightens, a tired, but crooked smile coming to her face. "Have I said how good it is to see you, Ronnie?" She laughs a little, only to straighten up when there's more noise down the tunnel. Her eyes move to Lorraine, then away again quickly. She picks up her radio to reply to Grace. "Tell them to get their asses out of the vans and help," she almost shouts, but manages to keep her volume controlled. "Failing that, see what you can do to keep them from interviewing the children. Dear lord." It's the last thing they need, really.

When she sees the girls coming, Lynette takes a few steps forward. It isn't that she doesn't believe it's clear, it's just that she's paranoid. Anyone on the island can attest to that these days. She stays alert, keeping watch while they make their way.

"Keep moving," is Veronica's sweet way of saying 'you're welcome' to Avi's muttered thank you. She grins at Lynette. "Been a long time."

When yet others come up behind, she waves her weapon for them to keep moving, trying to sweep everyone along. "Brian," she says to one of the men who don't look like Brian, "can one of you help carry Julie?" she says softly — of course, she's unaware that the girls' parents are ahead, likely to want to do that for themselves.

When she hears Grace's report in the radio, she calls up ahead, "We use the media to our advantage. Tell them to make sure they have a live feed so if they get taken out, it's already all over the fucking news." There may be a gasp or two from small children when 'that lady said a bad word.'

She checks the faces of those passing her to make sure they're people she wants to escape. Of course, with the varied abilities of the people within the Institute, both staff and victims, it's not a sure thing that someone won't pass her by that shouldn't.

Keeping the kid she had pulled up close, as they near Doyle, Quinn pushes the child towards him. A little rough, not out of intention, but out of nervousness, her whole body feeling like it's shaking as she swallows loudly. "If you need a curtain of invisibility, I can try my best," she offers to Doyle, one hand rubbing at her temple. Her head is pounding, her vision a dull grey swirl as she looks back down the hall.

She holds out a hand, still glowing as the light that emanates out coalesces into a ball hovering out towards the others. With that done, she shakily raises her pistol - the same one Raith had been training her with - and holds out and ready. "Christ," she pants out, the gun rattling a bit in her hands - and then Else comes into view, along with the two girls.

"Else! Did y' happen t' see who's behind ya?" Quinn's hoping it's more help and not, you know. More literally walking murder machines. Her gun lowers slightly, eliciting a wince from her. Adrenaline was only going to last her so long, she was told.

Without much in the way of fanfare, Raith stops and takes a knee right next to Doyle - as out of the way of the throng of children as he can - just long enough to move his passenger from his shoulders onto the ground. There's not much he can do to get them up the ladder right now; not until there's a little less chaos. "Watch them," is all he says without even looking at anyone.

He's back up again, turning around and moving into position roughly alongside Quinn - not much room to maneuver, after all - and unslinging his carbine. He pauses long enough to yank the magazine out, check it, and then slam it back in before resuming watch to provide covering fire and telling himself to stop imagining seeing certain young girls in the oncoming crowd.

Dong-tian is quickly aiding Doyle in assisting the children climb. "Keep your eyes on a friend in front of you and keep moving." He adds in, his voice less of a put on and sounding more and more familiar of one Brian Winters. Picking up a child to ut on the ladder one after the other.

Back at the robot the six Dong-tians move back to fall in with the pack making it's way towards the escape. One ending up beside Avi. As he grows frustrated with his radio, he raises his hand up, putting it on Avi's shoulder briefly. "It's gone. The whole thing is gone. Naztahat. It's gone. We don't have time to talk about it now. Focus."

The six remaining Dong-tian set up with their P90s pointed back where they came making sure the rear guard is safe. Though when Veronica is calling out for Brian, one leaves the group and runs over to the girls. "Julie?" He asks, letting the rifle go around his back with the strap. "Is it alright if I carry you?"

They're not all still here, Lorraine seems to say with a glance toward Avi, her children's crazy uncle. But a good amount of them. The ones that matter, in her opinion. She moves backward to get up beside Liette and near Julie, looking down at her with worry. What had they done to her baby? She wished she could make it all better, but the most she can do now is stay near them, close to them, close to Julie especially. She doesn't try to take her, allowing the Brian to do that, but she does raise the weapon to defend them, if she can.

"You're welcome," is offered to Avi from the small blonde, with a small shy smile as she looks away. It feels good, to Claire, to finally be out of there; even if they are currently running and screaming - mostly the children - away from the bad guys. There is a little guilt at that joy, like she might be betraying a friend.

No time for that now.

The assault rifle is swung back around, another small smile given to Lynette, before she is moving forward. Fingers reach out to snag at her brother's shirt and gives it a gentle tug, "Come on. You did great back there." Claire might not have seen her brother for a while, but it doesn't take much for her to fall into big sister mode. Supportive. She gives his arm a gentle punch. With a touch of sibling violence mixed in.

But, that moment of family bonding is quickly over, as the little blonde must move to help… Yes… Doyle. She hasn't missed Doyle there, she just decided it is better to focus on the problem at hand, the bonus being, he seems to be doing the same.

Else, shakily, looks wide-eyed at Quinn and then back. "N— no. I— I lost track'f Eve when we got out of the art gallery. I think— I think s'went back for the paintings." Dark brows knit together, and Else looks back to Quinn, straining to hold the weight of the portable dialysis machine. "I don'… I don' think there's anybody else b'hind us."

Overhearing Else as he's doing a head-count, Avi looks like he's noticed what Else has. "Wait— " he scans the people coming out of the tunnel. "Where's Childs and her kid? I don't see the blonde telepath either. Fuck!" Pressing down on his earpiece, Avi calls out. "Childs! Childs!" There's no response. "Fuck, we still have people inside. Walter," Avi looks back to the redhead. "Did you see Childs? Is she already out? Do we have any assets left in-play?" There's a frantic energy in Avi's words, he's been in this situation before, longer ago than he cares to admit. The guilt of those left behind is coming crashing back in an unwanted tidal wave of PTSD.

Julie isn't cognizent enough of her surroundings to really form a response to Dong-tian. When he gets a better look at her she seems drugged, eyes unfocused and not clearly aware of her surroundings. Liette, on the other hand, takes care of her sister. She loops one of Julie's arms around Dong-tian's shoulders, then helps her twin into his arms. There's a look, a very pointed precious cargo expression from Liette.

Else shambles forward at all the motion, struggling to carry the dialysis machine. "The— um— th' doctor lady with th'eyepatch said she can't come unhooked!" Else seems quite emphatic about that point. "She's sick, like, malaria or something?" Malaria?

Something appears in the sky. For a moment, it looks like it might be a bird, some sort of saving herald, but then it glints silver in the muted sunshine at the height of its arc as it sails through the air and begins its descent. An unmarked metal canister glances off one of the cement walls and bounces back into the drainage ditch, turning over once into the sludge with an unceremonious gurgle.

That's a bad omen.

«Fall back,» Grace's voice comes over the radio, underscored by an urgency that wasn't there before. «Rowan, fall back. Heller—»

Whatever she was about to say next is cut off by a small explosion as the canister sitting at the bottom of the ditch erupts into a messy spray of shrapnel and negation gas with enough force to hurl those closest to it off their feet, including Doyle and Raith, who slam into the cement barrier and crumple forward onto the canal floor, battered, bruised, bleeding, but alive.

Lyle makes a small sound at the back of his throat and lifts his hand to touch his neck. His fingers come away bloody, and he blinks once in surprise. His last thought before dying is that he was sure he'd already cleaned off his face. He never discovers the piece of metal that punctured his jugular or pieces together why he's suddenly overcome by a spell of dizziness; he's gone before his body slumps against Claire's, his other hand clutching at her arm as if to steady himself in his final moments.

Walter wastes no time scooping up the younger Bennett's sibling's assault rifle. "Gas!" he calls back to the others, sheathing his sword. One weapon seems like it's going to be more useful than the other for what's ahead. "Radio's out! It's an ambush!"

Outside the canal, Doyle's ducklings are screaming, but all he can hear is the shrill ringing in his ears. The force of the blast has thrown most of them to the ground, and they're still in the process of clambering over one another as they try to dredge themselves out of the muck. Some of the younger children simply sit there, too stunned to move, too shell-shocked by the explosion to do anything except stare blankly in the direction that the canister came from.

Another lands in the canal a few feet away from their position. One of the girls flinches away when she sees it, scrabbling to put as much distance from herself and her reflection in its side. She knows what's coming next. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Gas from the first canister sweeps toward the tunnel's opening, forming a hazy yellow barrier between those still inside and those already in the canal.

The moment the gas hits the concrete trench, Avi looks like he's about to collapse. There's a brief moment on seeing the yellow smoke pop that it's Madagascar all around him. He raises his rifle, screaming something unintelligible and primal as he scans all of the unfamiliar faces, all of the moving bodies. There's so many people down here, it's too much for him, too much to process all at once. Starting to hyperventilate, Avi sweeps the barrel of his rifle left and right, breathing now coming in ragged, fast gasps.

When the gas washes over Else, she recoils from the metallic sting but little more. Liette, however, barely is able to throw herself out of the way in time. Julie, already negated, merely whines in additional pain as the gasses renew the effects that were fading from the ACTS unit.

Spinning around, looking in every direction, Liette tries futilely to move the gas with telekinesis. One canister she can see is hurled up into the air and arcs beyond the overpass, but the gas it sprayed is already lingering. More clouds are rolling in. It's too much.

"No, uh — " Doyle's head lifts, as if scanning the skies for the voices he hears over the receiver clipped on his ear as he answers Quinn's exhausted inquiry, " — I think they want the media to see, you know, propaganda and… wait, what did they—"

No sooner has he rejected the idea and begun to realize there's something wrong that there's that sudden explosion dangerously close to where he's standing. The fat man instinctively twists his body to protect the child that he'd been handed, even as he's hurled through the air from the blast. It means he hits that concrete barrier shoulder-first, hard, with a sickening thud of impact. His ears ring ceaselessly as he weakly pushes the child - uninjured but terrified - off to one side, fumbling to grab the wall beside him and push himself up, his baseball cap missing somewhere and a rivulet of blood trickling down his face from a scalp wound, one of perhaps half a dozen minor injuries that he's sure to feel tomorrow. If he lives that long.

"Oh, no," he exhales raggedly, catching sight of that nearest canister as it 'tinks' to the ground near them. A stumbling lunge brings him in its direction, fumbling to try and grab it and throw it away from them, shouting, "MOVE, KIDS!"

Lynette catches sight of the bird overhead, and watches as it turns silver and deadly. She hears Grace over the radio, but doesn't reply. For various reasons. "Get to cover!" She pulls out a gun — the first time she's had to do that today — because she's not betting on being able to stay clear of the gas. She doesn't like it, but that's facts. A glance goes over to Avi and she frowns. Stepping closer, she puts a hand on his arm, to still him. "Look at me, Epstein," she says, firmly. "Slow down and look at me." It's true that she's spent more time scowling over the man than not, but this is going bad enough without losing another. "We're getting out of here if we have to dig through this cement to do it. Right?" Right? She certainly seems to be sure of it. Even if the name Heller is crawling its way up her spine at the moment. "Are you with me? Because this isn't really my usual evening out." And, perhaps, that implies that it is his.

"Gillian came through?" Apparently Veronica missed that information, and she turns to Dong-tian. Avi's other description clicks as well. "And Tamara…" says the agent, worry making her scowl, when Avi's head counting comes up short. "Fuck," she hisses, looking like she might go back down that long passage. But that's when explosions happen, and suddenly the mere teenager she's standing near is impaled by shrapnel. She makes a move as to help this kid, Claire Bennet's little brother, but she can see the wound is fatal and that she can't even get to him before he's gone, crumpling. Her dark eyes scan the scene — the negation gas not that much of a worry for her, despite that she's Evolved as well.

"We have to get out. Better out than in. There's a chance to run outside. We're trapped if we stay here," she says. "The media's our only chance to really change anything. Or maybe at least one of us." She turns and pulls the nearest Dong-tian close to kiss him fiercely. "If this goes to shit, remember, I love you."

With that, she heads to the ladder to climb out and protect the kids who are already on the outside.

"Wait, Gillian an' Jolene are still in there?!" Quinn's eyes widen, looking at Else in disbelief. She should be worried about Eve too, but- well. Noticing the dialysis machine she has in hand, and patting Doyle on the shoulder, she takes a step. "Fuck fuck fuck both of them had better b-"

Quinn barely even knows what's happening, when suddenly her vision is full with swirling greyish fire and back smoke, her side slammed against the tunnel wall from the force of the explosion. Her knees give out from under her, and it's only a last second instinct to raise her arms to brace herself that keeps her from falling face first into the floor. She coughs, watching as the faded white smoke begins to filter around them.

She recognises the smell rather than the colour, she remembers it from her dreams, of all things. So much for invisibility curtains, a voice tells her in the back of her mind. Her ears ring, blood trailing down by her temple from where she hit the wall. "Fuck!" she shouts, grasping around for her pistol. She has one of the rifles, but has put off using it for reasons. A hand moves over her mouth as the ball of light she had conjured fades away, and she looks down the tunnel as she slowly pulls herself to her feet.

If her entire body hadn't hurt before, it certainly would now. She can't even tell if the gas has gotten to her, disoriented as she is.

Raith's eyes open. When did he get on the ground? Why does everything hurt? Why are his ears - right. He remembers those feelings. With a subdued groan, he forces himself up to his knees and assesses the situation. His eyes focus just enough to spy that second canister, and then they focus completely when the next burst of adrenaline hits.

In an instant, he's on his feet, his rifle is up, and United States Army Marksman Jensen Raith rhythmically pulls the trigger, using the high velocity, high energy bullets from his weapon to send to canister skip-skip-skipping as far away from his charges and friends as he can before it activates.

"Childs? Gillian? Gillian is here?!" Dong-tian asks, his voice shooting into panic as Avi starts screaming for Childs. "I'm sending one back in." He spits out, one of the six Dong-tians immediately sprinting back towards the way they came, and most likely certain death. Assault rifle raised that Dong-tian starts rushing down the hallway.

Until the walls are made to quake.

Four men stumble into each other, all moving perfectly in sync to catch each other. That instinct you feel to throw your arms out when you fall. Except simultaneously in four different bodies. The ending result is a strange game of Twister where four Dong-tians remain barely upright, holding on to each other.

The Dong-tian holding Julie gives a solemn nod to Liette. He is aware of what sacred oath he has taken, and eight hands go to catch him when the floors shake. One Dong-tian heads back down the tunnel back into the darkness in hopes of finding his sister and niece.

Another is caught by Veronica. His eyes widening some ass she pulls him in for a kiss. His body tenses for a moment though he relaxes into it. "I…" The man gives a light nod to her. She has the wrong body. This is not the replicator that has pledged himself to her. Yet in this moment. "I love you." He lets out. "Don't. Don't die."

Flinging himself in front of children Dong-tian quickly tries to push more children up the ladder, moving around in particular to those stuck in shock. Getting in their faces, "Hey. Come on now. Find a friend. Keep moving." Continuing to grab shoulders, shaking, and moving them to the ladder.

"Stay close," Lorraine grimaces out loud as the negation hits her. It doesn't seem to have any noticeable effect. Negation doesn't make her go back into one body, or anything, but it would cut off communication between the two. She raises the rifle and fires a single shot, in the same general direction that others are firing. Anything she'd said, anything most of them said, are likely lost in the chaotic noise around them. Between shots she looks across at Raith. They may not have really reconciled beyond trying to be a family to their daughter, but she feels a sting of worry for him. Almost as much as she feels for those two girls she tries to put herself in front of while they move.

The grenades shrapnel makes contact with both Bennett siblings; not just hitting him, but cutting a long line though Claire cheek, as well creating a few new dark red blossoms of blood across her chest and legs. Unlike Lyle, however, his sister can and has survived grenade attacks. Almost immediately, her lungs start to heal and a piece of shrapnel is messily coughed up, with plenty of blood. She tries to spit out the metallic taste in her mouth, before she can manage to croak out a panicked, "Lyle!"

Claire doesn't even notice that her healing has stopped knitting the entry wounds or pushing out the bits of metal. Tendrils of thick yellow smoke have reached them; curling around their legs, negating the blonde. All she cares about is holding on to her brother, tucking a shoulder against his chest in an attempt to keep him upright, as if — as if all she needs to do was keep him standing and he would be okay. It is a losing battle as she is slowly pulled towards the ground by his weight. So caught up in the shock of what is happening, Claire doesn't notice that the pain is still there, just as sharp, as her ability fails her. The process was unable to complete its work.. the bleeding has slowed; but, she is still injured.

She doesn't care.

"No no no no, Lyle, please we have to go." Claire pleads with her little brother as she cradles his upper body, against her. "Dad… dad will be so mad at you," she chokes out through a grief filled throat, giving him a little shake, not ready to believe that she is only holding a corpse. Her world has narrowed to this one moment.

Doyle's ducklings scatter, even the ones that had been statue-still and gaping. Some of them will remember this, others — the ones who survive — will block it from their memory and keep it buried through their entire adulthood. As Doyle hefts the canister, Walter throws out a hand to warn him and barks out an "ERIC, NO!" that never reaches the older man.

Not that there was anything he could do. Raith's bullets pierce the canister, and instead of skipping away it ignites in Doyle's hand. The puppeteer's body absorbs the majority of the blast, shielding those around him by virtue of its position and sheer size. He feels a hot flash blossom in the seats of his palms, skin and muscle blistering and bursting open in the fraction of a second he has left before the flames engulf him completely and the concussive force of the explosion wrests his body apart.

Walter covers his face with his arm, turning away from the spatter of bone, flesh, and assorted viscera that mists through the canal.

More gas from the second canister spreads outward and into the tunnel, engulfing everyone and everything. It sticks to hair, clothes and skin, staining all that it touches the same yellow hue that clouds their vision. Those with Evolved abilities feel that part of them begin to slip away, gradually fading away until the only thing they have left is the memory of how their powers are supposed to work and an aching sense of loss.

If the children in the canal can comprehend what just happened to their protector, it doesn't register on their faces. Only terror. Small hands reach out to Veronica and Dong-tian as they plow toward them, past the broken remains of Doyle's body, cast aside by the explosion like pieces of a disassembled marionette. The ladder is within reach - if they can only force them up it.

Another shape streaks through the sky. Not a canister this time, but a more aerodynamic structure this time. It brings a low buzzing noise with it that Raith and Epstein both might recognize from their glory days.

They know a drone when they hear one.

Bullets zip and snap through the air, aiming at nothing and no one in particular, but landing their mark just the same. The rounds punch fist-sized holes in some of the fleeing Institute personnel, toppling bodies and stacking them where they fall. Four of Dong-tian's copies are mowed down on the drone's first pass and bleed out into the water, which is rapidly turning from brown to red. When Veronica next looks to him for help with the children, his head has been separated from his shoulders. She is alone.

«We're taking heavy fire from ground forces.» Grace's voice is back over the radio, and the distant rapport of far-off gunfire corroborates her report. «Sending a team your way. Standby.»

Lynette might have gotten through to Avi, a time ago. Before the explosion, before Eric Doyle died in front of his eyes protecting children. Avi stammers, stutters and lets out a gurgling gasp of breath. He's trembling from head to toe, looking around with his one good eye and all he can see are muted, dark and screaming silhouettes in yellow fog. Suddenly someone is tearing his eye out of his socket, suddenly Mandritsara is in flames, suddenly he can see Edmond Rasoul's heart being eaten by a shadow of muscle and terror.

Nearby, Liette feels the sudden loss of anything resembling courage drained from her as her powers are siphoned away. She throws out a hand, trying to do anything — fire, telekinesis, anything — but nothing happens. Suddenly she's just a child, and a helpless one at that. Liette scrambles past screaming and terrified children, rescues, and former Institute employees who are trying to run with the herd. As she catches back up to her sister, she sees something horrific in the yellow smoke.

The dialysis machine is on the ground, cables once connected to Julie are torn away and blood — blood harvested from Claire Bennet — is spraying across the trench from the machine. Else is staggering around, just an arms-reach from Quinn, coughing up blood. Whether it's a side effect of being negated after being raised from the dead by Darren Stevens, or whether the quantum state of her molecules simply ran out of time, no one will ever truly know.

Liette watches Else drop to her knees, lit by hideous yellow sparks of light tinged with lime-green, as a bullet hole created in 2010 reappears in the center of her chest. She coughs, breathlessly, sprays blood out of her mouth and then jerks back and away as a second bullet hole tears through one of her eyes, even though not a shot had been fired. Blood sprays across Liette's face, she's screaming but her ears are ringing so loudly she can't hear it.

Unaware of the terrible things happening behind her, Veronica's eyes widen when she sees a split-second too late what's about to happen when Doyle pulls that cannister his way. She tries to cover any of the children around her from the fall out but it's not an easy thing to do. They're all covered in blood. She begins to push them toward the ladder again, "Don't look, just go," on her lips. But then the drone strikes and more bodies fall. She swallows hard, pushing back the emotions, especially when it's Dong-Tian's head getting blown off two feet away from her.

She turns and fires at the drone with the assault rifle, putting herself between the drone and the children. Between rounds, she shouts up. "There are kids down here!" presumably to the press somewhere above that ladder. "Children! Minors! We need help!"

The gas hits her, clings to her and worse — Lynette's powers fall away from her. She shudders, trying to force the loss away. But before she can, there's an explosion and her hand tightens on Avi as they watch Doyle's fate. She turns away, over to Avi, to anything else, but finds herself at a loss as to what to do with him now. A voice crackles over the radar and Lynette picks hers up by rote. "Be advised," she says, her voice shaking and fearful, "we have negation gas."

"Jensen!" She calls to try to get Raith's attention. Anyone's, really. "We need help back here!" If she sounds frantic, it's because she is. The best she can do, the best she knows how to do is to try to keep bullets from hitting him.

Robyn Quinn had a surprising amount of fight in her, despite her fatigue. Despite the chaos, Despite the death. But it comes too fast. News of Gillian and Lene still inside. Eric Doyle ballooning like an overfilled rubber glove, some of which she was pretty sure she was covered in. Seeing the Dong-tians get gunned down.

All sense of passion, all sense of fight flees from her as Else begins to cough off blood. She has no idea what's happening, no idea why. As the musician falls to her knees, Quinn scrambles to catch her, to brace her. "Else?!" The kids are forgotten about as she moves to catch her friend - her idol within the local music scene.

Her reward is the blood sprays that follow, splattering across Quinn's face as she trembles. She's found someone she missed, just for them to die again. This time, in front of her.

And for once in her life, she without anything to say about it, just on her knees holding Else's body, trembling with eyes wide. She'd been told to be prepared for things like this, but this. This is too much.

In another frame of mind, Raith might have mused that no plan survives contact with the enemy.

Will they survive contact with the enemy?

His ears are still ringing and things are hazy. He looks away from Doyle and assesses the situation again. Quinn is on the ground dealing with a casualty; no idea who the blood belongs to. There are more casualties than there were a second ago. Somewhere, in the seeming distance, someone is calling for help. Somewhere else, someone is calling for him. He sees Epstein before things get too hazy; maybe it was Epstein. Maybe it was Velasquez. Maybe it was Fillmore, or Busch, or Shughart. His left palm leaves his rifle and impacts his forehead once, twice, thrice. He has other problems.

"Sawyer," Raith says before deliberately coughing. "Sawyer," he says again, more commanding this time. "Keep them moving, get them out of here." He's on the radio. «Matheson, I hate to be pushy, but I need an ETA on our extraction. We have multiple casualties and hostiles, and are in dire need of support.» Even as he speaks, he's stepping away form the thorn and working his way backwards towards Avi. He scans for the drone, and for other contacts, for anything. "I need eyes, people! You see something, you say something!"


It's like switching to three monitors and a desktop to a flip phone.

Dong-tian blinks through the blood splattered on his face. Doyle. Though his ears aren't working correctly, it sounds as if someone very near him is letting out a primal scream. His eyes search around desperately. Finding many of his own bodies strewn about. He allows himself three breaths.

One. Veronica standing in front of a pulverized body of his, trying to get the kids up the ladder.

Two. Another of his bodies sprinting back into the complex.

Three. Another body of his. Living. "Brian!" He shouts out. To himself. "Brian!" The body of Dong-tian near Julie stirs, wiping blood from his own eyes. Locking gazes with himself across the tunnel. "We have to shoot it down. Everyone, take cover against the wall! Vee, get them up that ladder, we'll cover."

The two Dong-tians converge holding up their assault rifles and taking careful aim. Bursts of fire start blasting out from the pair.

"Liette!" Lorraine yells, as she runs after her daughter into the negation gas, the sight of everything horrifying her, but she feels the sudden need to reach her daughter. She did not know most of these people well, didn't consider them friends or family, but seeing anyone, even five versions of the same man mowed down—

As someone with a duplication power she understands what relief the negation may actually be for him, if his deaths work anything like hers. But it's hard to find relief when the waters run red.

Her children, her daughters— she spent so long apart from them, thought she would finally get to be together with them. Her hand reaches out toward her children, as if her hand could somehow protect her, drag her toward the wall as one of the Brians has said…

The tiny blonde's world is nothing but tears and blood. Fingers curl, clenched tightly, into the fabric of Lyle's shirt. She doesn't initially fight the flood of grief. Unlike in the past, the tears are not pushed aside, Claire lets them flow free; unable to stop them.

However, a sharp reminder of their possibly fatal situation comes from the drone that dives towards them. Dirt pops up from the ground, showering those nearby when bullets impact, Claire doesn't know it is coming. She doesn't until her brother's dead body seemly saves her life, shielding her from worst of it. Bullets punching into him, as if adding insult to injury. They do not reach her, except for one bullet that manages to slice through his leg and graze her own, sending out a spray of fresh blood from both. Only, Claire can cry out in pain, her brother is the lucky one.

That sharp pain, however, serves to suddenly ground her. One hand still clutches at her brother, while the others wipes at blinking eyes, smearing blood and tears across her face.

Blue-eyes, finally… "Oh my god." Finally, the former cheerleader see the destruction around her. "Oh my god." A small part of her, wished her daddy was here.

Lorraine's hand never reaches her children. A spark and a scream accompanies her being clipped by the drone's automatic fire. Lorraine is spun by the shot, twirling, spinning, landing on her knees as concrete explodes from the impact of other bullets around her.

Liette lets out a keening cry and springs away from her sister, away from Dong-tian. She stumbles, nearly trips over a corpse in her way. "Mom!" Liette cries, reflexively trying to pull her mother closer with a tether of telekinetic force that cannot find its way to her. The young girl skids to a stop, sneakers stained with blood as she drops to her knees, wraps her arms around Lorraine and tries to drag her out of the way.

Another volley of automatic gunfire comes from the hovering drone even as it is rocked by team fire from the duplicates. The hovering machine fires blindly into the negation gas. Avi catches a puff of red out of the corner of his good eye, looks in time to see Liette slouching into Lorraine's arms. Blood is pooling beneath them both, flooding into the muck below them. One of Lorraine's arms wraps around her daughter, new red streaks in her hair brighter than pink was before.

Eyes half-lidded, Julie can barely make out what is happening through pain, disease, and sedation. She sees the blurry shapes of her twin sister and mother in the distance, embracing. She reaches out for them, fingers curling in the air, arm grasping away from Dong-tian's embrace.

Lorraine and Liette slump over together, in each other's arms, a massive pool of blood in a circle around them. Their hair stains pink at the edges, honey with pomegranates. Sweet, serene.

Veronica and Dong-tian's shots glance off the drone's wing and its pilot has it break off, swinging away from the canal in a wide loop that will eventually bring it full circle. She's bought them a few additional seconds of time that Walter uses to hurl himself into the fray. He makes a beeline for the ladder to help Veronica pass the children up the rungs, even though neither of them can be positive that the situation won't be worse when they arrive at the top.

Two additional drones join the first as it circles lazily around and buzzes over the news crews filming everything from the relative safety of an overpass several hundred meters away. The trio drops into a v-formation and lines up, readying for a second run on the canal.

A set of long, slender arms appears at the top of the ladder, roughly hoisting the first child out of the canal and onto level ground. Rue Lancaster might not look like much at a glance, but her upper body strength is more than enough to pull Veronica's charges to safety.

The cavalry has arrived. Sort of.

«Allègre,» Grace commands over the radio, «Trafford, Mihangle, get Rowan and the others out of there. Hang on, Jensen. We're coming. Ruskin, can you do anything about those drones? Ruskin! Where did—?» She's interrupted by another peal of gunfire that erupts from the extraction team's last known position. The radio crackles. Goes silent.

Francois appears in a sudden rush of unhesitating motion, hauling himself over the side of the canal, dropping with a scrabble of loose stone and earth in a way he will regret, later, if he survives enough to complain of aching knees and ankles. His rifle is lashed to his back, hands free enough to help his half-jump, half-fall downwards, landing at a hard stagger. Bonjour. This is horrifying. Horror in the sky, horror in the smog of negation gas hanging around, horror in the corpses that have littered the ground. His heart feels like a stone in his chest.

«The convoy is 800 feet away,» he says, over the radio. «Run, do not look back.»

Runs, then, to the nearest unmoving soul — a girl, holding onto a boy, who is clearly dead. He ducks down, hands reaching for her shoulders. "Come," he says, even as wide green eyes try to take note of everyone else around them, "let me help you. We have to hurry."

All that the extraction team can do from far away is listen. Wait. Delilah is clad in black and kevlar, her blazing mane of hair tied back, hands cradling one of the radios to eavesdrop on the chatter, Waiting, waiting.

Fall back.


"No." Delilah's breath strains against her throat, voice catching on the weight of her tongue as it feels like it drops down though her heart into her stomach.

The rest is a blur as things begin to roll into motion.

She was only supposed to help bring them back— not step into a war zone. Dread takes over, but Delilah has a stronger stomach than her years suggest. Even when the radio waves pipe alive again, and Raith's gruff voice comes over it with more. Grace is there too, her gravel lingering even after it all cuts off.

The last time she held a weapon in a place like this one— it ended with a dead Edward Ray. But there is more at stake now than ever, and she has something to go back to. Always go back.

Brown eyes are wide as everything yanks her into a hyper-awareness. The air smells wrong. Blood and gas and river water— though as she arrives the world clarifies and her eyes and voice soon betray the panic that her body doesn't. "Run!" Delilah's voice cuts sharp through the air for the few children already out of the canal thanks to Rue; she hastens forward to begin herding them, pistol still in hand. "This way, go, go—"

'Flying' through the air, one Griffin Mihangle touches down gently next to Rue, his eyes gleaming white as he briefly pauses to survey the scene. He is keeping his wits about him today. While he honestly doesn't fear the onslaught, he certainly doesn't want to be a casualty — and he certainly doesn't want to touch that gas, After a moment, he reaches down with his mind, two pairs of invisible hands gently lifting two children out of the canal at a time. A third pair of those invisible arms trails down to Quinn, gently wrapping around her and pulling her upwards, toward the safety of the ledge.

While all of his 'arms' are otherwise occupied, Griffin's eyes remain upon his surroundings, head swiveling back and forth as he remains on the lookout for any danger that may be on its way. He's not worried for himself, but he is worried about everyone else here. He may be a traitor, but he'll ensure the safety of these people right up until he's safely away.

Not that it matters much in the grand scheme of things.

On the radio, Raith said casualties. Rue's long legs cannot carry her to the canal quickly enough. Her friends are down there. She's huffing and puffing when she arrives, greeted by the sight of terrified children more coming up the ladder. Francois leaps down, and so she stays topside for now, grabbing children under their arms and hauling them up and over. That training has paid off. Once Delilah catches up and Griffin starts taking over for her, she goes vaulting down after the frenchman. She has to find—


Rue staggers to her feet after the drop, shrieking at her former lover, who's covered in blood and cradling an old friend. She recognizes Else, or what's left of her. How could Rue not recognize the person that meant more to Quinn than she ever could. She can't break her free of that, but with Griffin's help, she doesn't have to.

Abruptly changing direction in the chaos, Rue makes a bee line toward Avi Epstein. Now is when she does her best impression of her dear Auntie Adrianne, because if anyone could ever make her sit up and listen when no one else could, it was her. "Soldier! Put yourself together," she shrills. "There's people that need saving!" She sure as fuck can't carry any of the wounded out of this mess all on her own.

Veronica glances back at the directives from Raith, her jaw set resolutely. They'll cover her. The problem is there's only so many of them, and hundreds of bullets. She grabs one small, shell-shocked child who's screaming and not climbing, hooking him on her hip and herding the others toward Walter to get them up the ladder. "Thank God," she murmurs when helpful hands appear from above to help from the top up and familiar French doctors come to help as well.

She sends the last of the smaller children up, her face crumpling a little as he wails in protest from being pulled from his protector's grasp. "Go. Run." She tells the mere kids above.

Veronica doesn't, and doesn't see that Rue doesn't, either. Instead her dark eyes scan the distance for the sight of the news crew, which she finds on an overpass within shouting distance. She puts her hand up to cup her mouth and project her words as she peers at the cameras facing their way.

"These children are the victims of the Commonwealth Institute. They have been experimented on like lab rats. Without compassion or mercy or humanity. This is what happens when your neighbors go missing in the night. When you see someone disappear in a black van. These deaths tonight — and countless others — are at the hands of the Institute and the US Department of Defense." Her voice is raspy from gas and exhaustion. She then begins to run. Now a fugitive like her comrades.

The children who have made it out of the canal gather around Delilah, crowding the young woman who is very much an adult in their eyes even though the reality is that she isn't much older than they are. "Which way?" a boy asks, seizing Griffin's sleeve. He looks toward the convoy where Grace and the rest of the extraction team exchange fire with two military-green jeeps and a handful of soldiers that have taken shelter behind a dumpster. It used to be a parking lot, the perfect rendezvous point. Now it's a battlefield.

There's nowhere else to go.

The trio of drones, still flying in v-formation, comes down on the canal a second time. Bullets whizz past Francois and Claire in a series of narrow misses. More still rain down on Lorraine and Liette's lifeless bodies, which shudder and twitch with every additional impact.

Walter passes the last of the children up and steers a glance over his shoulder toward Francois. His shoulders tense, and he looks like he might move toward the Frenchman to help him carry Claire to safety, but the sound of his mother's voice makes him pause. He hefts himself up the ladder to join her, Griffin and the children instead. "Convoy," he grunts. "Go. I'll cover you."

On the opposite side of the canal, a small, dark shape is pacing along its edge like a tiger putting grooves in the floor of its cage. Eileen Ruskin can only watch Lynette and Rue struggle with Epstein, her mouth set in a silent half-snarl that's all curled lip and flashing teeth. She would be down there with them if she could without sacrificing her ability to see.

A shadow rises up from the ground behind her and a flock of starlings several thousand strong takes wing all at once to do battle with the drones in the sky.

On the overpass, the news crew Grace spoke of turns its camera on Veronica. "ARE YOU GETTING ALL THIS?" the reporter asks his producer, one hand pressed against his ear to better hear the chatter happening back at the studio. The producer gives him a thumbs up.

A rope falls near the ladder, then another, then another.

A brief wave is given as Brian Winters careens down along the middle rope down to the sewage drain with the rest of them. "Hey. I miss you in here. Get out of that gas you goofs," is said cheerily towards the Chinese men blasting at the drone.

The Dong-tian nod to the man before continuing their volleys of shots.

Boots on the ground, Winters looks down the drainage ditch. "Lynette!" He calls out, throwing his arm out to the woman. "Let's go!"

The other ropes are dangling and ready to be grabbed.

Once they are a team of two Brians topside pulls each rope with its payload back to the surface.

Lynette walks Avi back against a wall, because that is a good idea. Someone shouted it, she's pretty sure. "Come on, you gotta breathe," she says to him, although she's not at all sure she's getting through. And off to the side, she watches as Lorraine reaches for her children. And as she's hit and hits the concrete. She's seen that before, not all that long ago. And the girl follows, the daughter she'd come for. That she died for more than once. When Rue reaches them, Lynette's still staring, still covering Avi, although it's hard to say she means to by this point.

But the girl's voice is enough to bring her around, whipping her head around and gratefully passing responsibility for the man over to her. She seems to know what she's doing.

Hearing her name, she looks over to see Brian and she runs that direction to take his arm and his rope and leaving up to the topside Brians to get them up the side. "How many have we lost?" she asks, a quiet aside to him that she is, apparently, reluctant to ask anyone else.

"Else!" Quinn shouts again, staring into the other musician's dull eyes. The blood looks the same as anything else in the drainage ditch to her, but she's been through enough at this point to know. She doesn't know that this is how Else died the first time, replayed for them - second verse, same as the first - but she doesn't need to. The elation she had felt when she had found Else was fleeting. She wouldn't feel it again. She had saved her. And this was all it amounted to. This time, she can't choke back a sob, and instead she wraps her arms around Else's body, her head against the other's cheek.

When the raid started, she'd irresponsibly had a single earbud in one of her ears, an old and barely functional iPod pumping music into her brain to help her focus, to keep her grounded. She'd started the say with Shores of the Empire State, of all songs. Neither the earbud nor the iPod itself had lasted long, of course, but even with out it, she could hear a song in the back of her mind. It's not one of Else's, but it's a classic all the same. Strings, a light guitar. She'd add a quiet harp apreggio if she were playing it.

So, she does what's probably the last thing she should be doing in this moment. It's the thing she knows how to do best. She sings, quietly.

"When the night has come"

"And the land is dark"

"And the moon is the only light we'll see"

"No, I won't be afraid"

"Oh, I won't be afraid"

"Just as long as you stand"

"Stand by me"

It might sound like she's having a breakdown, words between sobs, clutching Else tight. But as she hums a few last bars, she sniffles, her arms loosening around Else's body. "I'm sorry, Else. I tried. Looks like that fading star finally burned out," she whispers, tears still resting in the corners of her eyes. She doesn't even register Rue calling out for her, and when she feels an invisible pull on her, she fights it, eyes wide and having not paid attention enough in the last few moments to know the source. "No!" she shrieks, not wanting to let go. Only for a moment, though, before she releases Else entirely, going largely limp as she lets Griffin pull her free, slowly raising a hand up and over part of her face so that she's somewhat obscured as she comes into view of the camera crews. She had been counting on invisibility for this.

So many things are dying today.

The extraction team has arrived. Air support has arrived. Finally, they have some kind of chance, and in that moment of sudden clarity, Raith doesn't notice. Not when everything snaps into focus as the momentarily inconsequential details fall away from his vision. He's not in Mogadishu, and there are no Rangers. He's in Boston, and there are Lorraine and Liette. And all he can do, in that moment of sudden clarity, is stand there dumbly and look at them while the rest of the world keeps turning.

The family is finally all together.

One bullet, it's impossible to say which, strikes the drone in exactly the right place and it careens out of the air and into the canal. It explodes on impact with ten times the force of the canister that obliterated Eric Doyle, taking the last standing copies of Dong-tian with it.

Flame ripples across the water's surface; even at a distance, Francois and Claire can feel the heat of it on their faces. A second drone falls out of the sky, its engine stalled by the handful of guts and feathers caught up inside its inner workings. It lands somewhere in the distance, erupting into a fireball that will be all over YouTube later but for now is contained to a bare patch of earth with no one on it.

One drone left.

Delilah's jaw strains and squares as the Drones make a pass back along the canal, dotting its contents another time and sending rocks plummeting into her gut. She can't— don't look. When her willpower falters and her eyes turn towards it, there is a bloodied frame that draws her gaze instead. Walter prevents her from peering over the edge, all lines and colors in a thousand familiar shades. Go, he says.

"I'll hold you to that." Delilah's brow furrows when she speaks, ears blotting out gunfire in a warble of sound, blood rushing in her head. Her mouth parts and is promptly clamped once more; she bends down to sweep the smallest bodies up into her arms. "With me!" The sky ebbs black on blue as the starlings take wing, their murmuration swarming like a stormcloud at her back. "I've got you."

Hands touch young woman's shaking shoulders, the sensation of which gets a physical reaction out of Claire. Her whole body, jerks and she shies away from the touch, startled. But, then red rimmed eyes, wide, and maybe a little wild from fear are turned to him. She had the look of a deer frozen in the head lights of an oncoming car.

It takes a moment for her to register what is being said to her. The nearby explosion, and the heat that washed over them, drives the point home. They had to go. But —

"But… Lyle." Claire starts softly, like she doesn't completely understand, looking down at her brother. This close, he will see when it does click in her brain. Her baby brother can't be saved anymore.

Maybe it is the shock or the loss of blood, but her hand shakes much like his did only a few(?) moments ago, as she reaches up to brush his eyes closed gently. "Love you, little brother," she whispers only for Lyle, words catching in her throat and tears threaten again.

It won't take much more prompting from Francois to get Claire to finally let go of the body - there is a small strangled sound at the back of her throat when Lyle slumps over to the ground — and lets herself to be helped her to her feet. She may sway a little, but at least she will be on her feet and moving - with help of course.

Handed off to one of the Brians and passing out in his arms, Julie is a bundle of dead weight. Though, remarkably, that is something of a misnomer. While the young girl is fatally ill, she still draws breath. Her connections to the dialysis machine are severed, leaving her in a fragile state.

Further away, up against the wall and with Lynette, Avi grips his rifle with rigor's firmness. He breathes in, sharp and heavy. Then, seeing Jensen lingering in the open near gunfire, the last drone sweeping in for a strafe of gunfire. "Fuck, fuck! FUCK!" Avi pushes past Lynette, suddenly moving with a quickness of a younger man he might imagine himself to be sometimes. ""Jensen! Jensen!" Avi runs head-first into the hail of gunfire from the last drone and tackles Raith with all his might, knocking him off of his feet and onto the ground. Blood covers Raith, blood covers Avi. Only one of them is struck. Luck of the draw, it's Avi.

"Fuck," Avi breathlessly whispers, rolling off of Raith, leaving a trail of red everywhere from a mangled leg. "Fuck, fucking— fuck." He hits Jensen, with the butt of his rifle, in the thigh. "Move!"

Dragging the young woman — even as bullets pepper the ground around them, and flame ripples the air nearby — won't do either of them any good. Francois' hands had lifed at her startle, but resettle, crowding her protectively, waiting it out the crucial seconds before her hands release the body of the— god, not even a man, yet. Something lurches in his gut, but Francois is quick to get his arm around her, hooking her arm over his shoulders, propelling her away.

No mercy, now, it's time to go. They huddle against the vertical climb as Francois reaches for a rope, franky in his winding it around her, beneath her arms, then taking her hands and showing her where to hold. "Use your legs, if you can. I'll be beside you." Somehow quiet, beneath the ruckus, and then louder: "Brian, hoist her!"

Up and up, awkwardly, Francois helping her along the way on the ladder. Once at the top, he is more or less lifting her to her feet, arm over neck again, now breathless with bridled panic.

The children are helped up as quickly (and as gently) as Griffin can manage, even as the boy grabs his sleeve and makes the inquiry. It breaks his heart a little, knowing that this is probably…all for nothing. White eyes glance toward the drones as they buzz past, eyes narrowing — even as he sets Quinn down gently next to him, reaching out to support the woman with his strong arm. Invisible arms support the weight of the two, keeping it off of Griffin's bad leg.

Then, with Quinn in tow (whether she wants to be or not, unfortunately), Griffin moves toward Delilah and the children, eyes wildly searching the area to ensure that there are no surprises waiting for them. All the while, his jaw is set and a pained look rims those glowing white eyes. "I'm sorry," he murmurs to the woman somewhere in there, not wanting to intrude too much on her still-fresh loss.

Griffin is sorry for a lot of things lately.

Walter flanks Delilah and the children on the mad dash back toward the convoy. His assault rifle sweeps across the dumpster where the soldiers are positioned, forcing them to duck down to avoid fire. The group, with Griffin and Quinn following close behind, arrives at the nearest truck to find the rear doors already thrown open with Grace ready to help people into the back. One by one the children are loaded inside the vehicle and bundled in blankets by the Ferrymen's medics. "How bad?" Grace asks Griffin even though she already knows the answer just by looking at the children's tear-streaked faces. "Who did we lose?"

Rue still has her wits about her when Avi goes charging past her, having enough sense to get the hell out of the way of both him and the impending gunfire. When the pass is complete, Epstein's been hit and his a weight on top of Raith. But a swearing weight, so this could be worse. It won't be the first time the two of them have carried him off. She's just got to pretend they're all heading to Denny's for breakfast.

"Raith, come on!" It's the first time she's dropped the Mister when talking to him. She's still keeping the tone she used to get the wounded man moving, but her voice is tremors. "We have to go. Help me get him topside!" Already Rue is dropping down to grab one of Epstein's arms, tugging him upward with Raith's help. "Sorry, Mister Epstein," she mutters under her breath. At least she's almost as tall as the two of them, so it's a little less like a three legged race in gait.

Somewhere a little closer to the convoy waiting to take them to safety, Veronica stops to turn back again, to cover those coming from behind her. As he lifts the assault rifle to shoot at the remaining drone, her expression fierce, her face, grimy with blood and dirt. When she sees Lynette coming up from the rope ladders, courtesy of Brian, she jerks her head in the direction of the transports. "If we get out of this, we need to catch up," she says to the other woman, as if she's just run into her at the mall or brunch. "Move." She's not moving forward until she knows everyone behind her is either on their way or dead. Too many of them are dead.

Delilah does her part in loading the children into the convoy; there are no more words, only the warmth of blankets pulled tight around thin frames and strong, gentle hands that smear away mud, tears, and the blood of brave, selfless rescuers. It won't be okay— but it will be over.

The explosion has Winters flinging himself in front of Lynette, pushing her down instinctively to protect her at least from the warmth of that blast. "I'm disconnected." Comes the answer to her question. "I can't get a good count." As the warmth from the blast dissipates he is throwing the rope back down, looking at where Dong-tian once was, and now no longer is.

"Tzai jien." Is said, all the Brians pausing for just a fraction of a second.

Francois has him snapping out of it. The two Brians pull quickly, one hand reaching down to pull Claire up the rest of the way.

Julie is secured in another set of arms before Brian moves back in to secure her to the surface as well.

After everyone is out of the drainage ditch, Brians are sprinting among the throngs of children. Three of them staying behind to take shots at the drones while the rest rush forward with Veronica and Lynette.

"I thought… we had a good chance," Lynette says, but there's no time to mourn at the moment, as the explosion reminds her. They're still on the clock. She looks down, too, perhaps hoping to find more down there. But it seems not. She gets up, straightens her muddy, blood-stained shirt and heads toward the extraction point. She plucks up one of the smaller children, propping them on a hip as she tries to get them to safety a little quicker than childsize strides can manage.

"I have a bottle of vodka I wouldn't mind splitting," she says to Veronica. It's her favorite way to play catch up. Drunkenly. "I have a feeling we're going to need it."

Veronica's aim is true; the final drone explodes in mid-air, scattering debris across a field that the news will report as a two-mile radius. It rains down on the carnage below. One of the larger pieces strikes the news van, putting a dent in the side of the vehicle so large that it sounds like a secondary explosion. The cameraman fumbles with his equipment and shouts something unintelligible at the producer, who gives him the signal to stop filming.

Some things just aren't risking your life for.

There's a grunt from Quinn, the barest sound of acknowledgement given to Delilah, Griffin, Grace, or anyone else. Tugged by Griffin, she stares down at the ground, dusty and grey. She glances up at him and his I'm sorry. She has no idea why he apologises, so instead she gives him a glare. Whatever, it says. Instead she looks back at the crowd, what remains of it, and she decides to keep doing what she does best.

She starts singing again. The same song, from where she left. Mournful, but in the hopes that those who hear it will do exactly what the song says, and stand by them. Even as she looks around, she spots Rue, and for a moment her words hitch. Nothing can do to help them from here, though. So she keeps on.

It's a stark change, where it's Rue telling Raith what to do instead of the other way around. It has the desired effect all the same: All three of the are up, and even if slower than desired, they're getting Avi to the edge of the canal. There's more than enough assistance already outside that they manage it without making Avi's condition worse, something it is more than capable of doing on its own. Raith gives one more glance back to Lorraine and Liette, and then focuses on helping everyone else out of the canal before he gets himself out. He follows behind everyone else, providing what cover he can the same way that Avi had been earlier, even if it looks like they may not need it.

At the end of everything, they're leaving with more than they came with. Maybe that's good enough. It has to be good enough.

It takes work for Claire not to look back over her shoulder, but she knows it could be her undoing as she is directed away from her brother's cooling body. Blonde hair slides to fall like a curtain around her face, maybe to cover tears - more then likely she just needs to concentrate on getting feet to move. One at a time.

The tail end of the rope comes into view, her head lifts and tilts back to look up the length. Lips press tight, arms lift a little to assist in the attaching of the rope to her smaller frame. Then Francois is pressing her hands around the rope, they tighten of their own accord. A little nod. Okay. She's got this.

It will be agony to use her legs, still bleeding, but thankfully it is a blur. He will have to keep her steady, but Claire makes it. But, she will be thankful, when the Brians help her the rest of the way.

"Thank you," is said as Claire's arm comes to settle along the length of his shoulder again. It is genuine, but also very tired. She is at his mercy, letting him lead the way to the truck.

He's been here before. The mortally wounded, the distance between where they are and where safety lies. Francois was, before he was truly anything, a battlefield medic. Blood and dirt and rainfall, dragging feet and bullets flying. Later, he is going to be amazed that he made it out of this without a scratch, save for where his half-climb, half-fall into the canal scraped neat licks of skin from his palms and knees. For now, charging for the convoy is practically an out of body experience.

He feels Claire suddenly weigh him down, but they are— well, is this safety? Soon, it will be. Francois hefts her into his arms as she slips into unconsciousness, loading her into the truck with help reaching out for them both, climbing in after.

He saved one. He will tend to one, before the others.

Gentle invisible arms gently help people into the vehicle, the telekinetic still keeping a close watch for any danger he might have a shot at stopping. As Grace asks the question, Griffin's lip purse into a thin line, and he simply shakes his head. "Too many," he mumbles, voice tinged with sorrow. Quinn's singing next to him doesn't help matters much — is that a tear threatening at the corner of his eye? He shakes his head, turning away to ensure that anyone who needs help getting into the convoy has it, whether he's next to them or not.

What is he even doing here?

From her vantage point on the other side of the canal, Eileen watches the stragglers make for the truck. She counts only a handful of survivors and more bodies in the ditch than she can remember seeing in one place. Starlings settle on the corpses like a blanket, providing the dead — both Ferry and Institute personnel alike — with some semblance of dignity in the time it takes her to bring up the rear.

She fires off a few stray shots at the dumpster to encourage the soldiers to stay there while Raith and Rue are loading Epstein into the truck.

Only after she's sure that everyone is accounted for does she give the signal for Grace to swing the doors shut. Someone needs to remain behind and continue drawing fire while the van makes its escape.

Up in the driver's seat, Walter turns the key in the ignition, shifts the vehicle into reverse. Rubber meets pavement. The smell of burning fills the van's interior, but it's the good kind.

The kind that means they're getting away.

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