Code Niflheim


cardinal_icon.gif claire2_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif kazimir5_icon.gif noriko_icon.gif raith_icon.gif rico2_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif wagner_icon.gif

Also Present:

cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif francois_icon.gif hector_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Code Niflheim
Synopsis Eve's vision of the future comes to pass, after a fashion, in the wastes of Antarctica.
Date January 16, 2010

Amundsen-Scott Antarctic Research Facility

The air is just as cold in here, just as bitter and sharp, but it is not driven so cruelly against exposed flesh within these metallic walls. Many booted footfalls carry noisily across the concrete floor, long shadows are cast by silhouettes belonging to the uniformed soldiers marching in thorugh the open bay doors of this large vehicle hangar. Wisps of snow curl and waft in from the gleaming white expanse outside where the sun beats down hot and hard.

As their eyes adjust to the lack of sunlight inside the hangar, each soldier's careful approach is met by the equal approach of lightly armed and armored men in arctic weather gear, giggles propped up atop their brow. Most of them move at ground level across the empty hangar floor, beneath the ribbed metal arch of the ceiling. Others patrol on a catwalk on the second floor that wraps around the outer walls.

At the fore of the group of soldiers, a single man in a heavy black jacket with dark fur trim marches ahead of them, the measured click-step-step of foot falls and cane taps announces his distinct approach. At the fore of the Vanguard occupying the Amundsen-Scott facility, a weathered old man of tall stature and thin frame makes his quiet approach. "…Well?" He asks in impatient anticipation of that earlier question. His eyes narrow, watching Kazimir's dark silhouette.

Pausing ahead of his group, Kazimir turns back, looking over his shoulder to the people gathered. Blue eyes settle on Eileen, on Gillian, over to Felix with a squint, and then after one quick glance to Raith, Kazimir's blue eyes settle back on that gaunt form of Mikhail Wagner. "Very well," he intones with a sense of grave finality, and Huruma can feel a wave of anxiety rolling up inside of Kazimir's body, twinned over both forms, as if they both know what's coming.

"Execute Code Niflheim."

There is absolutely no hesitation between the finishing of those words and the sound of gunfire, loud popping explosions of automatic gunfire. Screams of shock, betrayal and confusion rise up from the group behind Kazimir as the flash of tracer rounds whip past his motionless form. Armor-piercing incindiary rounds pulverize body armor and then explode inside of the body, telltale whistling sounds and then a flash of explosive charge that detonates on impact.

Some of them try to shield themselves from harm, try to stop the bullets in mid air with gravitokinesis, try to throw themselves in front of others being shot. In a way it is the most honest show of a person's truth of character, whether they try to run and save themselves to be shot in the back, leap in front of friends or loved ones to protect them from harm, or stoically face the barrage of gunfire without fear or regrets.

Half of Claire's head is missing, blood rolling from her shattered skull as she collapses to her knees, clutching Magnes' broken and bloodied body in her arms. Eileen lay shattered on the floor, limbs twisted and bent, a gaping hole rolling with smoke exposing her chest cavity to the air, and Gabriel Gray lie by her side, one arm missing, trying to drag himself towards her as Raith falls back atop her body, and six more rounds tear the Midtown Man apart piece by piece. Elisabeth practically disappears in a haze of red mist, her clothing exploding from the rapidly fired incindiary rounds that perforate her body. Cardinal's scream comes from somewhere, a sharp and hissing scream of horror as he materializes to open fire, only to be mowed down by the hail of streaking bullets.

This was not how it was supposed to end. But this is exactly how Eve Mas saw it happen — same deaths, different faces.

Twenty-seven seconds later, only the sound of a few shell casings hitting the ground can be heard, rattling noisily on the concrete underfoot. Kazimir furrows his brows, creasing that scar between them as he takes wet footsteps forward, past the bloodied bodies and towards Wagner. "Now then…" he intones in a hushed voice, "let us get on with business."

Twenty Minutes Earlier

«Shield Teams be advised we are fifteen minutes to insertion point. Repeat: We are fifteen minutes to insertion point.»

The thick Puerto-Rican accent of Rico Velasquez crackles over the headset communications systems of each and every passenger loaded in to the cramped confines of the CH-47F Chinnok transport helicopter. Seatbelted into chairs face to face with one another, it is a strikingly intimate surrounding that the operators of Operation Apollo's Shield occupy. No marines fill or even so much as pilot this helicopter, it is only the members of teams Alpha, Bravo and Charlie, with the notable absence of one Ethan Holden.

Seated in the cockpit of the helicopter, Rico Velasquez and Jensen Raith serve as pilot and co-pilot on this mission, nearly all the way to their goal of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. It has been a grueling five and a half hour flight in these tight confines, in the relatively cold and noisy compartment of the massive twin-prop helicopter. Being fully loaded for bear for their mission has no made their arrangements any more comfortable.

«Copy that.» Kazimir's response is a terse one as he leans forward in his seat, unbuckling himself and reaching down to remove a black fabric case from the backpack between his feet. Opening the velcro flap, he withdraws four familiar looking devices, slightly larger than a blackberry — SatComs. Rising up from his seat, he uses one gloved hand to brace himself against a head rail, and starts handing out the SatComs to the proscribed team leaders; one to Teodoro Laudani, one to Veronica Sawyer and one upto Rico Velasquez in the cockpit, and one very hesitantly down to Gabriel Gray.

«Alright everyone,» Kazimir may be speaking within a few feet of them, but the noise of the helicopter drowns out his actual speech save for muffled noises, only his voice over the headsets from the SatComs can be heard. «You heard Velasquez, we are en-route to the Amundsen-Scott station. You have all been briefed on your responsibilities with this mission. We will arrive at the Amundsen-Scott helipad after making radio contact with the station, we will then move to meet the Vanguard presence at the compound entrance and pass security clearance.»

Gloved fingers wound tightly around that rail at the ceiling, Kazimir looks from one team member to another with his fear hidden behind his eyes. «Act natural, like you're supposed to be there, keep your heads clear. Just focus on the cover mission— you're here to inspect the station and discern why the bomb has not detonated. Once we make contact with Vidar, you are to divide up into your teams and head to your assigned areas.» There's a furrow of Kazimir's brows, «Do not diverge from the plan, no matter what happens. Each of your mission objectives is critical and even one failure could prove catastrophic.»

«Easy as pie.» Rico chimes in from the cockpit, the scent of a lit cigar wafting back from the front of the helicopter, plucking another cigar out from the front pocket of his artic weather gear, offering it out between gloved fingers towards Raith. «Just like pie.»

"Thanks for mentioning pie," Gillian says from where she's waiting. Helicopters are not her favorite thing on the planet, but… here she goes, to set foot again on the land that no one should really ever have to live on. Except the penguins. Even this is a little too far inland for them, though. "Now I'm hungry. French Silk Pie. That sounds awesome. When we get done with this, I'm going to buy a dozen." Yes, of all the things to react to, she reacts to pie. With a clean cheek, no brand visible, she looks a lot more confident then she did at the briefing of days past. Or perhaps she's just doing her best to give off this aire that Kazimir finds so important.

As long as she focuses on inane little things like pie, it seems to be working.

Felix looks like a rabid ferret in a box. This surprises precisely no one. Felix doesn't usually smoke cigars. He is now, though. More accurately, he is occasionally chomping meditatively on it like a basset hound with a rawhide, and gazing out the window with the absentminded disgust of a commuter in a graffited subway car. He's very clearly trying to come up with something more cheerful and less obviously Star Wars than, "I have a bad feeling about this." What he eventually arrives at is, "My toes are cold."

Watching as Gabriel gets the satcom, Claire is still not happy to see her personal Hannibal put in charge of her group. Her head turns slightly to glance to Cardinal, to see if he's taking it about as well as she is. She doesn't like it, but she does admit, the man knows something of what he's doing, even if he'd like to chop off the top of her head.

Taking a deep breath, she ignores the sharp prickling of the cold air as she enters her lungs. This was it….. her stomach was a complete twist of nervous knots. Claire tries to keep her mind off of it and works to push everything into that little box, allowing her to do what must be done. The knot slowly eases as she continues to empty her mind.

Claire reaches over and tap had gloved hand on the shadowman's arm and grips it for a moment, a reassuring move, but probably more so for herself. She's glad to at least have him on her team, she feels safer strangely enough.

Cardinal's not in his shadowy form today, perhaps because he fears the risk of that brilliant eternal day that burns up from the ice and snow of the southernmost continent, fears that it could actually burn him away to nothingness. He's garbed in the heavy military gear that all of them wear, his own goggles tinted for him and lowered down over his eyes to shield them from that light - although it won't be enough, and he knows it.

"At least you still have toes, Ivanov," he observes wryly, one hand lifting to rest over Claire's hand in a brief, firm clasp, "Relax, Claire. It'll all go just fine."

Felix turns to Cardinal, and his eyes are wide, bright, all but glittering. Anyone else, and the logical assumption would be that large amounts of cocaine are involved. But….it's just Felix we're talking about. "Yeah, all ten of 'em!" he says, with that todder's enthusiasm. What, did he learn to count that high today by watching Elmo? "Dude, it fucking sucks when you don't have 'em. You don't miss' em until they're gone."

Veronica's gloved hand reaches up for the SatCom and she gives a nod. She's miserably cold and only going to be colder at the "insertion point." Sure, she's snowboarded and skiied, but in places like Lake Tahoe and Mammoth — balmy in comparison. Act natural — what comes naturally would be to find the nearest fireplace and a bottle of brandy and find a movie on TV. She chuckles a little as she hears Gillian babbling and shakes her head. The pretending to be Vanguard doesn't worry her — Agent Sawyer is used to wearing different masks and playing different roles. It's the utter Do or Die of the mission set out before them, and the fact that there is no turning back — even if they wanted to, they'd die anyway. She turns to look at Gillian, seeking eye contact with the woman who has become like a sister to her. She offers a half smile and then leans over, pushing the headset off one ear, cupping her hand around it to murmur, "Take care of yourself. If something happens — take care of him." Brian, of course. "Love you," she adds. It's meant for Gillian's ears only.

The SatCom is taken with a lot more presumption and casualness than Kazimir's show of hesitation, Gabriel flicking a glance up to him as the device is slipped into a pocket, the sharp zip of it being sealed away acting as punctuation to a wordless exchange. It's been— probably the first time since the very first mission briefing that Gabriel has bothered to show his face around the collective faces of those on this whole mission. Call it cowardice, antisocial behaviour, or maybe just practicality. One set of fisticuffs is enough for everyone.

He could toss a smirk to Claire around now, but doesn't, sitting back in his seat and touching the tips of his fingers to his temple, massaging almost as his eyes go somewhere distant in thought and preparation for his orders. He's exchanged maybe two awkward glances towards Gillian before one roll of his eyes heralded the determination to not do it again.

Sitting back, thinking, focusing, Magnes is running the mission through his head repeatedly, the cover. He's been under cover before, he's played characters in costume before, this is just like that… At least that's what he tells himself to stay calm. He looks over at Claire, then Cardinal, and finally Gabriel. When she seems bothered, she might feel a light invisible poking from Magnes' direction, who gives a reassuring nod in Gabriel's direction. He seems to be trying to say 'Don't worry about him, I've got it'.

Eileen's breath leaves her nose and mouth in thick plumes of silver when she breathes, the hood of her fur-lined jacket pulled up over her head to protect her ears from the cold, white mink pelt providing sharp contrast with the dark colour of her hair. Only a few wayward strands are visible beneath the hood and blow against her cheeks and the curve of a determinedly-set jaw. The equipment she wears, including her clothes and body armor, isn't that much lighter than she is when everything is tallied together — her sidearm feels heavy in its holster, assault rifle slung across her back and held in place by an adjustable leather strap fixed tight.

Claire's interaction with Cardinal does not go unmissed. Green eyes dart to the hand on the man's arm before wandering back across the line of familiar faces. She can't see Raith from where she's seated, but the occasional crackle of his voice over her earpiece serves as a reminder that he and Rico are also there. Her gaze briefly hitches on Gabriel before she drags it away again and refocuses her attention on Kazimir. Peter. Whoever he is today.

Noriko is brought along, and for the moment, the Hydrokinetic is near no one, not her team, not any one in particular, just alone. The smile that lingers lightly on her lips is one of bittersweetness as she walks along. She can't help but feel so… isolated despite being so close to them. For some reason she can't quite place, there is always the feeling of being seperated, as if some unbreechable wall is between her and those she works with. Even if the events in Madagascar brought her closer to Claire, she still feels like there is that gap between them all. So, for now, she rests with a physical manifistation of that gap while she lingers a few feet behind everyone.

The distraction of a woman who is like a sister keeps Gillian from noticing the eyes of her only real ex on the helicopter. As brief as it may have been, it seems to have gone unnoticed. "I think he's better equipt to take care of me, but I'll do what I can." The gloved hands are rubbed together, like it's not quite doing enough to keep her warm. Actually it's not. The hood, the coat, the gloves… all of it doesn't seem like enough. And to think it's actually summer in Antarctica.

"And I love you too, Vee," she says, something she couldn't say on the phone. If they all die, they might as well get it said. And at least she'll die with her own face. And surrounded by people she knows. Some better than others. A glance is cast around. Much like how Gabriel looked at her, she can't seem to look at him long when her eyes find him. There's no one in the helicopter she hasn't at least met. Except that weird French Dude in the corner over there.

"Yeah I know.. worst that happens is… we don't have to worry about it anymore." Claire's tone comes across bland even thought she's trying to say it light heartedly. "At least then we finally get to rest, eh boss?" Like forever. The muzzle of a rifle is held in her free hand, the butt of it resting on the floor of the transport.

When something pokes at her, Claire glances around till blue eyes rest on Magnes. A blonde brow arches at his gesture, glancing briefly at Gabriel before eyes narrow at the guy who is suppose to be her boyfriend. She gives him a look and a small shake of her head. 'Don't even think about it.' The hand on Cardinal's arm comes up to gives a small 'just leave it be' motion.

Her attention then turns from him to the others, watching the interaction of others. Claire gives Felix and amused look to Felix, head shaking slightly with amusement.

If one cigar was causing problems for or irritating anybody, it's very likely that two of them would not improve the situation any. And Raith doesn't care, happily accepting Rico's gift and fishing out a match to strike and light up with. After all, he's only sitting up front with Rico in case the older man has a heart attack. Or, something. Unlike the others, including Eileen, he's not equipped with any heavy weaponry, on account of limited space up in the cockpit. And perhaps surprisingly, he is completely happy about this fact, because goddammit, he's flying a helicopter again! Sort of. It's almost like the old days again.

"He thinks he is but he needs looked after. Make sure he meets someone worthy of him, if I don't make it back," Veronica says quietly back in the other's ear, then leaves it at that. "But we will. All of us. At least, that's what he said." She follows Gillian's eyes to Gabriel and the Francois, then back to the floor of the ground in front of her. "I wish it were all over already," she says, perhaps unnecessarily. Who doesn't?

Breathing out a heavy sigh, Kazimir looks over his shoulder, then turns and leans down to look out one of the small windows at the side of the helicopter. He seems more anxious than usual, tension wound up inside of him like a tight spring, and Huruma can feel that shared tension between the surface and submerged emotional representations within him, as if for the time being they're sharing a fear. «It's white…» He offers into the comms, «far as the eye can see in every direction.» Swallowing tensely, Kazimir straightens up and rubs one shoulder with a glove hand, then settles back down in his seat, hands folded between his knees as he hunches forward. It's the first time since the debriefing meeting a week ago that anyone has seen him look so anxious about something, and Huruma knows it's not the same source.

«Si, it's pretty unbelievabe out there. Never seen anything like this in my whole life. The winds out here— they are crazy. Keeping this bird in the air is a hell of a trick. Ain't never seen this much snow an' ice… it's like something out of a dream.» Kazimir offers a crooked smile at Rico's commentary from the cockpit, blue eyes affording a glance up to where the pilot and co-pilot are flying them in, then back towards the rear of the helicopter.

«So you're all aware, Agent Kershner did not want to share this intel with you, but— I'm going to fill you in on this regardless. There's an advance team that set out by land the day before we left from McMurdo,» Kazimir cants his head towards the front of the helicopter. «People's Liberation Army soldiers— Chinese military. Apparently we picked them up in Madagascar, they had a botched deal with the Vanguard cell leader there, and they're supposed to covertly enter the facility behind us to act as backup. They're probably on the ground somewhere, two or— three of them? She didn't give me specifics, but I saw a woman and a man wearing special identification badges walking around the ship before we reached McMurdo. Odds are they'll communicate with us before they enter the facility, but that would be best-case scenario.»

"Bullshit," Cardinal states in quiet, flat tones, turning his head to regard Claire with a frown through those darkened goggles, "We rest when we're done." A hand lifts, one finger raised sharply in her direction, "Not before." That hand drops back down to his lap, and he turns to look over the others, gaze lingering on Gabriel last of all. He seems confident, if a little tense, but that tension goes a lot deeper past the surface. A faint, almost primal fear stirs in his gut at Kazimir's words. Not about the mission, not about the advance team, but— about the white. The endless white.

«Great,» he grunts into the speaker, «Can this mission get any more cluttered with secret plans and contingencies?»

"This reminds me of a comic book I read once," Felix says, inconsequentially. "Whiteout. They made a movie of it, but the movie fucking sucked," He flicks the cigar to the other corner of his mouth, continues gazing out the window, after a smirk at Claire. And then he turns to survey the gathered teams with a cynical squint. "Man. Charge of the carnival freak brigade. This is, like, shit. The New Frontier, or somethin'."

Magnes nod in response to Claire, then just sits back and relaxes. Though Felix's voice catches his attention. "I never read that comic, I heard of it. And uh, haven't I met you in Old Lucy's?"

Noriko looks between everyone while she stands there, and she hmms faintly before she looks at Veronica and says, "Could you do me a favour? Since I know you know you Bella. If something were to happen to me, could you make sure she found out for me? Please?" She offers a faint smile at Veronica, but that is all the young woman says.

The fur lined, hooded coats given to the helicopter full of soldiers make them all appear uniform. gathered together in the hovering machine; Huruma has said very little since they left the seascape for the air, absconding conversation in favor of firstly making sure that there are as few holes that air can pass through as possible. She does not like the cold, that is no mystery. Other than keeping herself committed against the temperature, Huruma has donned a pair of wraparound black sunglasses so that she is able to peer out any windows as well as generally hide her resting look from the others. Getting as much downtime as possible, all while listening in from under the hood on her coat.

Each of them seems to be getting their own few minutes of observation; primarily so that she is able to make immediate notes on who is going to be feeling what- so that she might be able to pick them out faster than familiarity allows. Her own team gets twice as much stare-time from behind the shimmering lenses.

"I don't think there's many women who are willing to put up with his shit," Gillian says with a grin as she looks back out toward the white. Nothing but white. Can this be done yet? No? Oh well, she'll find a way to make it through. Her glance around finally settles on Kazimir for a long moment, just watching him. Then with a sudden shake of her head, she decides it's not a good idea to be looking at him at all, so she focuses on something less tangible. Like the knot in the back of her head keeping energy from leaking out. And there's a lot of people in range it could leak to.

Blue eyes focus on Cardinal's finger, before she looks past it to him as it drops, an amused look on her face. "I don't know.. I think we'd be pretty done by then." Brows lift a bit as if to say, 'Prove me wrong'. She shifts in her seat, after a glance at Magnes, so that she can look out the window, not an easy feat bundled up as she is.

"Damn…" just the sight of all that white, makes her pull her face masks up on the lower part of her face and tug the coat hood tighter around her face. Her eyes glance to Cardinal and she turns around to leans over to ask quietly. "You gonna be alright out there? It's awfully…… white."

Veronica hears Noriko's voice through the set and turns to look at the other woman, and gives a single nod. She doesn't know either Noriko nor Bella very well, but that's something she can do out of simple courtesy. She leans her head back against the wall. The seats are uncomfortable but her ass is numb anyway, so what does it matter. "Not sure if I want the hurry up and wait to be over or not," she says with a sigh.

Seeing a gesture from Rico in the cockpit, Kazimir ambles down the aisle towards the pilot's area, resting a gloved hand at the back of each chair, leaning forward between them. "We've got visual," Rico states without activating his comm, motioning towards the windshield of the helicopter towards the dark, boxy structure on the horizon. Nodding, Kazimir reaches down and pulls a communication microphone up from the front of the helicopter, depressing the button on the side.

«Vanguard Operations Command, Odin, contacting Final Solution Command Vidar. Over.» Dark brows furrow, radio silence persists for a prolonged period of time, and both Kazimir and Rico exchange a nervous stare between one another. «Repeat: This is Vanguard Operations Command, Odin, contacting Final Solution Command Vidar. Over.» After another long moment of silence, a voice finally pops and crackles with staticy quality over the radio.

«What? Pardon? That— hold on.» A confused man with a Portugese accent blurts out those words. «I— I am sorry could you repeat your transmission?» Resting a gloved hand over his face, Kazimir exhales a sigh into the leather of his palm.

«Repeat: This is Vanguard Operations Command, Odin, contacting Final Solution Command Vidar. Over.» He waits, silent and expectant for a response. What finally comes over the communications afterward is a different voice, thick with the accent of a German national, old and tired in quality, but hesitant in the way his words are delivered.

«This is Final Solution Command Vidar. Whoever you are, you are not Odin.» Kazimir expected that much.

«Mikhail, your wife was tied with a red scarf around her mouth in that butcher shop we found her in. You did not leave her side for three whole days once she was safe. Do not test my patience— I need to know why operations have not gone according to schedule.» That seems to exhaust Kazimir, his posture slouching, resting a hand to brace his weight against the back of one of the pilot chairs again.

Silence is his only response, a protracted silence.

«Hh— Herr Volken. How— »

«We can discuss the particulars of my resurrection once I touch down. I am inbound from the air with a contingent of operatives. Has your operation been compromised?» A look is offered over Kazimir's shoulders to the others, his head coming into a firm nod— time to get your heads in the game.

«N— No, Herr Volken. We have had some unexpected… setbacks. I— I do not know how to process the news of your survival. I had heard you were— »

Kazimir quickly cuts him off. «Not over open channels. I will meet you at the facility's main entrance. Be prepared to receive us.» Leaning away from the radio, Kazimir waits in silent anticipation, looking down over to Rico, then Raith, before Vidar's response is offered back.

«Affirmative. We will receive you at the ground hangar.»

"The ground hangar," Cardinal mutters, "Someone tell me that it's indoors and out of this… white."

There's a manic giggle from Felix at that, muffled behind a gloved hand. Man, someone is in for a really unpleasant surprise. And he's the one as gets to deliver the package. He mutters to Magnes, "Yeah. I remember you. You were some little showboat cop for a while, right?" Ah, Fel, ever tactful, ever the charmer. He grins at Cardinal, and bounces in his seat like a child waiting for the fieldtrip bus to get where it's going. "It's like Echo Base."

Eileen reaches up to touch the tip of two fingers to the earpiece fit snugly under her hood. Her eyes lid halfway shut, irises eclipsed by their lashes, and directs a glance in the direction of the cockpit. Although it's been years since she last heard Wagner's voice, she has little difficulty putting a face to it. Less recognizable is Felix's behaviour — this isn't the Agent Ivanov she remembers.

"Would you rather I let the helicopters fall on the people instead of saving them, or, what alternative did you have in mind?" Magnes shakes his head, clear distaste and venom on the tip of his tongue. "That was the problem with the NYPD, they were more worried about how I made them look than actually saving people. But anyway, let's focus on keeping the world from flooding… I mean, unless that's bad PR." Cop bitterness.

Huruma's attention wanders away from the others to observe the exchange between Kazimir and the ground; it does not stay too long afterward, save to give him a skeptical look and look over to Ivanov. He's not the first one she's seen to be scrambled by so many various things- but it leaves her curious as to where it actually started. And she feels just faintly piteous of Cardinal and this white aversion, but as long as he gets his darkness she'll be fine with his bellyaching about it. For now, she stays quiet, prying her eyes from the wall of the copter and to the metal floor under her boots. How the hell did Fate seriously turn her up in Antarctica, anyway? This is like some awful James Bond movie that tripped facefirst over a rejected ensemble casting call.

The little masquerade that goes on is observed almost critically by Gabriel, finally slicing his attention over towards Kazimir, and then beyond him, to the stretch of white, as Cardinal so aptly puts it, with a touch of familiarity. No words, he knows what he's meant to be doing when they touch down, and is bracing himself.

The chinook helicopter begins to make a slow descent towards the ground, forward momentum eventually cancelling out as the massive helicopter turns slowly and settles down towards the ground. The jostle of the landing is a small one, and Rico's head bobs around in the cockpit, checking clearance on all sides as the vehicle settles on hard packed ice. Once the aircraft is on the ground, he breathes out a heavy sigh and does the one thing he is not comfortable doing— turning off the engines. The sound of the propellors slowing down overhead is a dying whine of any chance of quick escape from this place.

Climbing up out of the cockpit, Rico pinches his cigar between two fingers and squints at the thermostat of the exterior temperature. «Mother fucker…» he hisses breathily, «welcome to fucking Antarctica», the Puerto-Rican curses, head shaking. «The current temperature in the frozen ass-crack of the world is negative 32 degrees Farenheit with wind-chill. Hold on to your bits.» The warning comes as Rico moves to the massive sliding door on the right side of the helicopter, twisting the latch and swinging it open to let in a blast of freezing cold arctic air that fills the cabin with glittering flecks of wind-driven snow.

Even Kazimir tenses and reacts to the flesh-freezing cold. Gloved hands pull up his hood, and he moves back to where he was seated at the beginning of the flight, grabbing his cane from where it leans up against his chair, and then turns for the door out of the helicopter. He touches down on the Antarctic ice first, eyes narrowed against the brilliant glare of the burning sun hanging low and heavy on the horizon.

In this twilight sky, the heavens above are as clear yet dim blue, with faint points of starlight visible through the atmosphere, and the distant waning gray of the moon perched above like a sleepy eye. The team inside the aircraft can hear his shocked breath coming over him from exposure to the cold. «Let's get moving.» He urges, looking towards the large multi-floor facility across the ice field from the helicopter, stinging ice crystals are flung thorugh the air as howling wind sweeps across the ice, feeling like a thousand tiny needles assailing his skin.

Antarctica has well deserved its reputation as the most inhospitable place in the world.

Jesus Christ. Richard Cardinal thought he knew what cold was, growing up as he did in the northeast and spending so much time living on the street, moving from crash spot to crash spot. He didn't know what cold was. He didn't know at all.

"I won't be able to see shit until we're inside, Claire," he hisses sharply, leaning over close enough to the girl's ear that she'll be able to hear him, "I'll need you to lead me in." The scarf's dragged over his face once she shows acknowledgement, coat zipped up even further, face vanishing entirely into his gear, one hand sliding onto Claire's shoulder with a fierce grip as he rises.

"Colder'n a witch's tit in a brass brassiere," is Felix's considered assessment. But now that they've actually landed, that manic glitter has faded away into a glasslike calm. No more hysteria, just business. He shrugs at Magnes. "Welcome to this man's army, kid," he says, offhandedly, before muttering under his breath, "Once more into the breach."

Eileen's boots crunch through the snow, leaving prints alongside Kazimir's — smaller, lighter, less-defined — as she comes up alongside him. One gloved hand closes fingers around the leather strap of her rifle. The other curls, working the tension from her tendons, and pulls her scarf over her nose and mouth. Trapped in the space between her skin and the scarf's woolen fabric, her breath warms her lips and the cavity of her nostrils, making it easier to breathe. Her eyes, meanwhile, squint against the glare of the sun and gather fine granules of frost in their lashes. Hastily, she blinks the ice away.

The wan glow of the moon attracts her attention like a lost moth to white tongues of heatless flame — it may be the most inhospitable place in the world, but it's also, at least in Eileen's eyes, one of the most beautiful.

"Cardinal," Magnes overhears, and suddenly the shadow man can feel a pressure around his waist that's almost like an intangible rope. "Just follow that tugging." he helpfully offers, hugging himself as he tries to keep braced from the cold. "The coldest I ever felt was when I was on top of that airplane, but this… is insane."

Noriko shivers lightly as she feels the gust of cold air that accompanies the opening of the doors. She doesn't say anything, however, as she takes her steps out into the frozen wastelands of the south. Her eyes going to the snow and ice on the ground, noting the unfortunate factor that has left her surrounded by water, and yet in a form that she cannot directly manipulate.

Huruma is tentative to make haste in following the others- but only because of the cold. Even wrapped up as she is, Huruma lets out a hiss under the layer across her mouth when she disembarks to trail the group. She keeps her field to the general vicinity this time, having in mind that she should possibly cut it completely when they get closer- she might, she might not. It all depends on the reaction of the facility to their ultimate arrival. Already her core is shivering, possibly in a mental reaction moreso than a physical one.

The cold out here is like a physical attack, and at least this time, Gabriel is fortunate enough to be equipped for it. Adjust the rifle looping its strap over his shoulder, Gabriel waits for others to disembark before following, a glance to familiar faces that are soon to be covered. His own disappears into the mask, the goggles, pulling his hood back up over his head as he steps out and regards the looming buildings seen through the wind and icy debris blowing up off the snow.

"Fuck, the last time I was here I don't even remember being outside," For which Gillian is glad. Antarctica was cold enough just on the inside of the building. Not that she wasn't outside, she was. Almost to the point of getting frostbite. She avoided losing any body parts, by sheer miracle. But at least she was unconscious most of it! "Man, I hope no one here was there the last time…" she says, before double checking everything so she can hop down and haul ass to the less than freezing cold outdoors.

Even that penguin island wasn't this bad! It's so cold she can't even shiver— and probably won't be able to until they get inside. So much for maintaining dignity and looking like she belongs! The most she can do is make sure she doesn't end up fucking them all over by sending out an energy pulse.

There is a firm nod of the small woman's head at the words whispered at her, "I gotcha, Richard." Claire murmurs back as she climbs to her feet settling her rifle on her shoulder before pulling the goggles down over her eyes. While the nerves are still there, she's ready for this, she has to be. She watches Kazimir's retreating back with lips pressed tight. "I got him, Magnes. Save your energy." Claire repeats affording him a brief glance, though the smile is hidden.

A hand moves to grip the one on her shoulder firmly in reassurance for them both and Claire takes a deep breath grimacing at the sharp bite of the air in her lungs. Then she swings the rifle into her grip, cradling it in the elbow of one arm and moves down the ramp to take her first step onto the land of eternal ice, booted feet sinking into the snow, dragging a sun blind man behind her.

Raith is, unsurprisingly among the last to leave the helicopter, snuffing out his cigar to save for later. On the way out, he picks up the rest gear he'd brought- an M-4 carbine (with widened trigger guard for gloved hands) and an equipment harness with several extra magazines- to compliment the pistol and combat knife he has. Lastly, he adjusts his sunglasses (how those little round lenses have survived all the abuse he's been through is anybody's guess), wraps a scarf around the lower half of his face and pulls his hood up before he exits from the helicopter into the cold with everyone else. Yes, this is pretty cold and nasty out, but that's life.

It's sort of unspoken that he should be the group's rear guard. Leader in the front, tough guy in the back, and everyone else in the middle. Joy.

The company agent takes a deep breath of the relatively warmer air of the helicopter's interior before forcing herself to face that lung-freezing, bone-chilling cold that she can feel as soon as the doors open. She begins to walk as fast as she can, burdened as they all are with armor and cold-weather gear, because as soon as they can get there, the sooner they can get out of the excruciatingly frigid air. "Let's get the fuck inside before something falls off," she mutters to Gillian. "Never been here, never wanted to, still don't wanna."

Once the rest of the Shield team had dropped out of the helicopter, Rico watches Jensen Raith's departure and steps towards the aircraft to drag that side door shut. He offers a scrutinizing stare up at the rotors, worried about their collection of ice, then makes a confused sound as his lips quirk the tip of his cigar up into view of his one good eye. "You're shitting me," he splutters out, pinching the cigarette out from between his lips, staring at the ash gray tip. It's so cold it put his cigar out. Frustratedly throwing his cigar down to the ice, Rico pulls up the fabric of his cloth face mask to pull over his nose and mouth, ice shards already crusting on the fur-lined fringe of his hood and in his eyebrows. When he starts moving, it's with a sling of his M-16 forward and a wary look offered to the cover provided by snow movers and other land vehicles scattered around between the main station building at the arched land hangar shelters ahead.

Waving a black-gloved hand towards the arched metal frame of the hangar-like structures half buried by snow. His blue eyes— the exact same shade as the Antarctic sky— settle to focus on Eileen at his side, a furrow of his brows and a nod of his head the only reassurance he can offer to her.

The march across the ice towards the land hangar is only a hundred and fifty feet, but it feels like it may as well be a hundred and fifty miles. The frozen plain of ice and snow that Amundsen Scott is perched upon is the singular coldest place on all the Earth, and it feels like the frozen continent wishes to remind everyone of that with all its strength, like the world itself is rejecting them with freezing breath and slashing ice on the wind.

By the time they reach the darkened entrance of the hangar, there's been no sign of life or movement on the ground. Plenty of active structures, tread tracks from vehicles maneuvering through the snow, but no people. The contrast of light and dark inside the hangar is a profound one, no lights are on inside, and the cold metal walls look something like the inside of a beast's chest, with metallic ribs stretching sheets of cold metal between them.

Underfoot, ice concrete is slick, but traversible, beneath the surface of metal studded boots. It is Kazimir Volken's forward approach at the head of the group that is met by the sound of two dozen automatic weapons racking all at once. An array of men and women in arctic weather clothing with shader goggles level their assault rifles towards the dark silhouettes of the team on their approach. Up on a raised catwalk, more of the welcoming party wait in silence, trained down red-dot sights at the individuals making their way into the hangar.

"Kazimir Volken…" Comes a grumbling and tired voice that echoes as if in some deep chasm thorugh the metal hull of the hangar. Stepping from between his soldiers, Mikhail Wagner looks unremarkable; a tired and thin old man without much of a noticable chin, deep set eyes and thinning hair. He draws back the fur-lined hood of his bright orange-red arctic jacket.

"Mikhail." Kazimir offers in solemn greeting, not presuming himself welcome yet, simply giving a discerning stare to the man daring to train weapons on him. "I had expected after all these years… our reunion would be a warm one." There is no humor in either Kazimir's voice or Mikhail's expression. As the old man takes a step forward, there is a snaking blue-purple tendril of colored light that rises up off of his body like a vein of electricity, dithering to invisiblity when it reaches a few feet away from him.

Silence commands the room for a moment, until Kazimir tenses, and Wagner withdraws a step back. "Your mind is unmistakably yours," he states with clarity of thought. Huruma can sense the sudden pang of fear and anxiety rise like a spike through Kazimir at that comment. "But you must forgive me, Herr Volken, I am merely following your orders. Any arrival must be scrutinized." Kazimir had never expected that order to be used so thouroughly, and with such precision. Turning his attention to the others, Wagner— Vidar— sends a wave of telepathic intrusion drilling across the surface of their minds. His head quirks back, one brow raises, and he skims from one mind to another in a way that is very obviously felt as a tingle in the back of the neck as minds are scanned. He lingers on Gillian pointedly, but it's not entirely certain why, and resumes his surface scan of the others. Swallowing tensely once Vidar's attention is off of him, Kazimir offers Gabriel a pointed look.

"I fucking hate this continent already," Cardinal snarls under his breath as he stumbles after the others towards the hangar, fingers gripping tightly against Claire's shoulder — if she wasn't wearing armor, it'd probably hurt. As it is, he's probably bruising his fingertips on kevlar plating beneath the warmer padding of the jacketing. His eyes are squeezed tightly closed as they walk, until they're inside. He manages to open his eyes - a little - once they're inside, squinting at the form of Mikhail, lips pursing in a thin line as that tendril of coloured light crackles about him like a tesla coil.

No, he doesn't like any of this at all.

And Fel's font of chatter has dried up entirely. The Russian is grimly silent…..and weirdly calm, as he exits the chopper. Rather than tense, his expression is open, clear, and only a little curious. Like this is all a movie he's not that eager to see, but his friends've dragged him along to see. He's settled all his gear comfortably, and slips out, with only Raith behind him….and reaches up to absent-mindedly touch his chest where the medal used to rest. But it's with Teo now, and Saint Michael will have to remember Ivanov on his own. And…..his reaction to Wagner and his crew and the literally hair-raising sound of all those weapon slides in chorus is to freeze like this is the worst game of Simon Says EVER. The one clear thought that Mikhail Wagner is able to pick up in his mothwing brush over Felix's brain is," …….how in the hell is my police academy instructor here?"

The mental intrusion is met with some resistance by Eileen, a telepath herself, though not of any variety that allows her to erect a formidable defense Wagner's scanning. As it happens, the thoughts roiling at her surface are mostly harmless. Fear for Kazimir, fear for Gabriel — fear for everyone in the hangar and a general sense of unease accompanying it. Regret and remorse, too, but whatever these feelings of compunction and shame stem from is too deep for Vidar to access.

It's cold, Claire's even hot wearing winter clothes, Vidar sounds like Vader, Darth Vidar? Vidar… aro… Zaro. Vidaro. Will she really bring authentic tacos from Mexico? Antonio Banderas, directed by Tarantino… no, Robert Rodriguez. Vidar, guns, Sith Cowboy.

Magnes' surface thoughts at the moment are a scattered mess of references to keep his mind off the guns and the cold air, and he's just waiting for someone to say something to keep them thoroughly unshot.

I could kill them all… Then there is the flash of an image of a barren street, half buried in silt. No, I can't do that. It'll be bad. But how simpler things could be if they were just dead. No, but I can't.

And such are Noriko Amagi's thoughts, half-mad really, but no doubt that when Vidar goes through them, he can sense that she is much too conflicted inside, to really begin to act on that little Candy-voice that urges the killing every living being around her. The battle that Noriko fights with herself every day that she around people. Once, she could be self-indulgent and kill those who annoyed her. Or just those she thought looked funny. Or all manner of criteria. But ever since the vision from Etana, the asian hydrokinetic as worked hard to try and control herself. She doesn't talk about it, a lot, though she has allusioned to it in many a conversation. Her eyes finally go over towards Claire and the rest of the group before resting on Vidar, the echoes of Candy in her head.

Kill them all.

Huruma and Felix at least share one thing, and that happens to the the stony airs they take on and keep up; she is one of the tall forms, but with the broader sizes of the bigger men and the coat, gender here is left undecided. The world receives that glare from behind dark lenses. Her interest lies on the emotional exchanges of Kazimir, and she hesitates to observe Vidar. But as his own electric wire goes out to touch hers, the empath returns its effect by skimming over him.

Huruma's thoughts are notoriously static after a moment- at first, there was something about wanting out of this place of cold and ice, wanting to go home, to see her family- though her main thoughts since coming inside have settled on one Adam Monroe, what he's told her about his time in Germany- his time physically with the Vanguard. These men in front of her. Huruma's reaction comes eventually, and the world inside her head blanks out with fuzz, instead filling with speech in another language- perhaps several, jumbled together.

The tingle of a telepathic touch is met with recognition from Gabriel's mind, a shimmer of get out skimming the surface of thoughts of impatience that don't completely make up the coherency of just shoot us already. He catches Peter's glance from beneath his own goggles, and then— well. Something happens. It's difficult to tell what, exactly, because nothing changes.

And Gabriel steps back.

He's become two people, although this is not something visible to anyone. His illusion self stands in perfect place once he's backed off from it, observing his own casual stance as his foot steps wind him back and back. Gabriel tracks his gaze over the scattered group and then, into their comms devices, he speaks without apparent fear that Wagner will overhear:

«Everyone, walk backwards before they blow us all to hell.»

Those that comply will find themselves in his own unique situation, stepping back from the screen of the illusion settled over them like a second skin to watch themselves merely obediently stand in the place they'd vacated. «Welcome to backstage,» he adds, upon seeing those comply, Francois among them, who drifts out a hand towards his standing illusion, fingers sinking into where shoulders would be beneath snow specked winter jacket, before backing up all the faster.

As soon as they're out of the cold, Gillian finally manages to start shivering. Rubbing her hands together, she vaguely wishes for the beach of Hawaii once again, with someone who can't go with her anymore. Even if she got sand in places she'd rather not get sand in right now. There's always bad with the good, and good with the bad, but she's failing to see much of the beauty that others might see here. She just has to do what Kazimir says and it'll be done.

Teeth chatter a bit as she focuses ahead, conciously keeping herself aware of the knot in the back of her head. She can't lose control of that. Too many people around for an uncontrolled blanket.

And then she sees two Gabriels. It was hard enough for her to look at one for long. But at the order, she steps backwards… and then has to wave a hand at herself for a moment, before she continues to back away. and… she starts to step backwards, and waves a hand at herself for a moment, before she continues away.

"You and me both." Claire murmurs to the Shadow man, stumbling along with her. She has to squint blue eyes against the harsh light, so she can only imagine what it's like for Cardinal. As they slip into the hanger, she can't help but wonder how they keep their sanity with all the white… soooo much white. Certainly, not any games of 'I spy.'

"Polar Bear in a snow storm." The regenerator murmurs softly into the cloth of her scarf. She gives a shiver and reaches up to tug up her goggles in the shelter of the hanger, so that Claire's eyes narrow to focus on Wagner after that tingle.

A glance goes to Gabriel, brows dropping and there is a brief hesitation, but then she starts stepping back, bumping a shoulder against Cardinal's taller form forcing him back as well. Moving slow enough not to make her friend stumble and fall.

Two Gabriels? Not getting blown away? It doesn't take Raith long to figure out what's up, especially when more duplicates of his team start to appear. Back away slowly. Don't make eye contact. Just like the time he fought that bear at the cabin in the mountains.

What happens next will likely decide the fate of the world. And all Raith can do at this point is hope that they don't fuck everything up.

Sawyer is used to shielding her thoughts due to her fears that telepaths in the Company might find all the secrets she herself keeps, so her surface thoughts are mostly about the cold and how it's still freezing even inside, but at least there is no longer the biting wind to struggle against. There is some curiosity at seeing Wagner and touch of wondering how he will receive them, but that would be normal for being an "unexpected visitor," even if supposedly Vanguard visitors.

The agent hasn't had much interaction — if any — with Gabriel Gray, and what she's heard, she doesn't like, so her brows furrow with a touch of conflict when he gives an order. She's willing to listen to Kazimir, and that takes a huge leap of faith given his background and histroy, but Gray tried to kill one of his own teammates. Still, she does so, and blinks at the strange feeling of seeing a second self. The last time she saw more than one of herself didn't go very well.

A strange, confused look is offered to Huruma when Adam Monroe crosses her mind, something between foggy recollection and confused uncertainty. His weathered old face contorts into an expression of scrutiny, and then turns sour once he's on to other minds. As Vidar is scanning the others, Kazimir — unlike the rest of the team — steps forward as Vidar finishes his telepathic scan.

"I have a certain… uncertainty about your companions, Herr Volken. The brunette near your left— " a nod is offered to Veronica "is concealing a great deal from me, intentionally. Only those with something to hide do hide. The Asian woman seems rather… confused and largely dangerous." Wagner squints his eyes closed, lips pressing into a thin line, "You always did have strange recruitment policies, but— " his upper lip curls slightly. "I don't think anyone will be going inside the facility today." One gloved hand points back to the hangar door. "If you were Herr Volken, you would know how to resolve this disparity of allegiances, but I have my doubts on your authenticity. The real Kazimir Volken would never have arrested his progress in the face of armed men. I do not know what game you think you are playing…"

"Times change." Kazimir offers with a downturn of his lips. "Are you certain about the uncertainty in your assessment, Mikhail?" A gray brow lifts, "Do some of them seem to be," he looks towards Veronica, blue eyes narrowed, then angles his attention back towards the old leader of the last remaining outpost of the Vanguard in the world. His head tilts back, eyes narrow, and he regards Vidar much the way Vidar had been regarding him.

"Absolutely certain." Wagner responds sharply. "Do you intend to do something about it?" At the fore of the illusion screen, Kazimir slowly marches ahead of them further, the measured click-step-step of foot falls and cane taps announces his distinct approach. While at the fore of the Vanguard occupying the Amundsen-Scott facility, Wagner moves to meet Kazimir's approach in challenge of the posture. "…Well?" He asks in impatient anticipation of that earlier question. His eyes narrow, watching Kazimir's dark silhouette. Wagner is waiting for something, hoping for something that he is not sure will come.

Pausing ahead of his group, Kazimir turns back, looking over his shoulder to the people gathered. Blue eyes settle on Eileen, on Gillian, over to Felix with a squint, and then after one quick glance to Raith, Kazimir's blue eyes settle back on that gaunt form of Mikhail Wagner. "Very well," he intones with a sense of grave finality, and Huruma can feel a wave of anxiety rolling up inside of Kazimir's body, twinned over both forms, as if they both know what's coming.

"Execute Code Niflheim."

Whatever the meaning of that spoken command, Wagner recognizes it with a sharp smile, and a mental command to his soldiers surrounding the hangar room incites in them the expected reaction, the anticipated reaction. If security of the closest operatives is suspected to be compromised, clean the house. Only Kazimir Volken would be cold enough to execute his own daughter for the sake of his plans.

Hopefully, though, that is only the presumed case. It all hangs on Gabriel now, in some bitter, bitter irony.

As Claire steps back, Cardinal does as well; moving with her slowly as they part from their illusory duplicates, his lips twitching into a faint smirk as something of yet another secret plan strikes him mere moments before the entire situation erupts into chaos.

«Backstage indeed, Gabriel,» he murmurs into the speaker, «Let's get the hell out of here and begin this operation.» Fortunately, he's on Claire's team, so she can guide him until he can see better again.

Fel is still goggling at Wagner - before it switches to a squint. No. Not the man he thought. Which is somehow terribly reassuring, the idea that his DI in the NYPD is not somehow here against all probability in time and space to persecute his erstwhile, erring student. And thus it takes him just a moment for Gabriel's command to parse, and he obediently backpedals from his illusory fetch, pondering it as he retreats. «Jesus. I need to gain some weight. Do I really look like I just escaped from the gulag?……and did I just fucking obey an order from Gabriel Gray? Damn.» And then…..well the spectacle gets even more surreal, and Felix is just shaking his head.

Fel is still goggling at Wagner - before it switches to a squint. No. Not the man he thought. Which is somehow terribly reassuring, the idea that his DI in the NYPD is not somehow here against all probability in time and space to persecute his erstwhile, erring student. And thus it takes him just a moment for Gabriel's command to parse, and he obediently backpedals from his illusory fetch, pondering it as he retreats. «Jesus. I need to gain some weight. Do I really look like I just escaped from the gulag?……and did I just fucking obey an order from Gabriel Gray? Damn.» And then…..well the spectacle gets even more surreal, and Felix is just shaking his head.

His fetch, his doppelganger, has his teeth bared in fury, even as the bullets tear into him. They have him doing that bizarrely comical little herky-jerky dance over the frigid surface, before he collapses in a blood-sodden heap, shattered glasses glinting beside eyes that the light has already died out of. Felix regards his corpse with a solemn expression, but looks neither grieved nor frightened. «Boy, have I been there before,» he muses. «Fucking Deckard.»

The goosedown feathers that comprise the interior of Eileen's coat fill the air, stained pink by a misty spray of blood that erupts from her chest. She falls under the hail of bullets, their impact punching through her petite frame with enough force to knock her back. Her head glances against the hanger floor, but any pain she might have felt is stolen away before she hits it. As the snow white feathers float down to earth and gather in her matted hair and on the pallid skin of her pale face, her green eyes take on a glassy quality and a trail of blood mixed with saliva dribbles dark from one corner of her mouth, its lips parted into an expression of surprise.

Or at least that's how it appears. In reality, she watches the spectacle from behind with a knit brow and mouth downturned. She knows how Grigori's power works — a questioning glance is angled over one narrow shoulder in Gabriel's direction, though she lacks the strength of voice to ask if the spectacle unfolding in front of them is being birthed from his imagination or what Wagner is anticipating.

She's not sure she wants to know the answer.

Magnes backs up from his duplicate, smiling in amazement. He's never quite seen himself from behind before. «Kage Bunshin.» He backs up faster, keeping up with Veronica, her being his team leader and all. Meanwhile, Magnes' duplicate steps forward, holds his hands out as he tries to stop bullets with his gravity, but even if a few weigh down and fall, the sheer number of them causes most to pierce through his body. He stumbles back, falling into the Claire illusion with his body full of holes, and quickly bleeds out, quietly losing consciousness.

«That was not pleasant to watch…» In fact, he completely turns away now, not wishing to watch the rest of it.

Noriko steps back as Gabriel tells her to. She worked with the brain-stealer in Madagascar, and wasn't witness to him attempting to take Claire-brain. So it is rather safe to say, that she is one of the few people in the group who trust him rather implicitely. If he says to move, then it is usually a good idea to move. As Noriko rounds the corner into a safe place, her glance goes to illusionary figure, and she can't help but say into the mic, «Damn… my boobs are big.»

Illusionary-Noriko's hand reaches out to grab Gillian's as soon as it becomes clear that its about to rain horizontal lead. As her compatriots are gunned down, the Hydrokinetic uses the water in their blood to attempt to erect a barrier in front of her and Gillain, hoping to stop the bullets. Unfortunately, in the sub-freezing air and the lack of circulation that she keeps in her red-tinged blood water, it quickly freezes, not that it was really stopping bullets. The distortion provided by the water, however, was enough to make themselves less visible targets. However, once it freezes bullets come ripping through the make-shift shield tearing holes into the asian, and ultimately delivering peices of her to the waiting blood-stained snow.

Huruma has spent enough time now with Gabriel Gray to trust him when he says to do something against the first set of orders- as usually he has seen something everyone else cannot. The scrutiny from Vidar is met with Huruma's own first- though when Gabriel is soon to call them back, her attention draws away and the tall woman concentrates on wheeling into reverse. Moments following, Kazimir cues it- though somehow Huruma remains skeptical- bullets begin to fly from every direction.

As Huruma backpedals, her eyes fall upon herself being cut down, one knee after the other, long limbs buckling as her own copy finds the floor. NegaHuruma crumples in a familiar blast of coat and blood, poised as if she were already fighting to clamber back up. In that, Huruma finds it the same. She'd be clutching at fighting back until finished.

«I think we're done here.»

The illusion of Gabriel is lifting an arm, and a power he doesn't even have anymore manifests in the form green and blue streaks from his gloved fingertips, a flashy show that does little before bullets are cutting into the limb, severing it above the shoulder. He crumples with a scream of pain, a howling, animal sound as blood spills. It's a slaughter, and Grigori is right — Gabriel lacks in creativity, but this never had to be creative. He's gotten some distance himself, but rounds penetrating the hangar's floor pass through the illusion and connect against the ground all around him. «Keep running, I won't get hit,» he instructs through the radio, in case anyone go the idea they were as invincible as the phasing he triggers, bullets passing through him like they do the illusions.

Of course, it doesn't look like they do, not to the eyes of Wagner and friends. Bullets puncture Teodoro's belly, bends him like a snapped twig even as he's hooking up his rifle, but it falls before he does. A bullet nails Hector Steel between his eyes gone wide, goggles hanging beneath his chin, even as the real one is retreating. A line of automatic fire hamstrings an illusionary Francois, rendered dead as fire is opened upon his fallen form.

The real Gabriel remains behind, making sure that the spectacle is complete.

Running away from the coming destruction, Gillian cringes as the sound of gunfire starts, not wanting to watch what isn't real behind her. Backstage is much nicer. Hearing the sounds of it is bad enough. Moving closer to Rico, she looks over at her 'sister' and reaches out for a passing touch of farewell and good luck, before moving off with the members of Shield One. The team she's been assigned to. And the ones she might end up dying with. Who knows how the next few moments will go.

This isn't the first time a doppleganger of Gillian's has died. It'll hopefully be the last. The hand that Noriko grabbed falls away, stumbling back at the impact of other hits. Glowing purple eyes fall on Kazimir as if he's betrayed her. It doesn't last long as a round explodes in her side, making her fall back. Most of her body is riddled with bullets, broken and bleeding, but her face seems unmarred except by blood splatter. That doesn't make her any less dead as the light (literal and figurative) fade from her eyes.

The real augmentor may have refused to look back at the carnage herself until things start to settle, but she does stop to turn around and look thru it… A single brief look, cast in the direction of one who's been excluded from it, who will try to distract Wagner as long as possible. She never said it outloud, and wouldn't even if she had the chance, but she hopes the glance past all that death (real or otherwise) isn't the last time she sees him.

Even if the him she wants to see isn't supposed to be there any more.

Holding her breath, Claire can only watch the horrors as the violence erupts, brows lifting in surprise. Holy…. She has to watch as her small illusion throws herself in front of Cardinal, holding out a hand as her body jerks as its riddled with bullets, giving Cardinal time to slip to bleed into the shadows. It's a good thing her face is covered, though her eyes go wide and her breath catches as she watches half of the fake Claire's head blown away. As she sinks to her knees arms flexing around Magnes as he falls against her, the real Claire has to quickly turn around, breath puffing out as she tries to stop the feeling of panic that suddenly hits her.

Needing some reality and something to calm her, Cardinal's hand is gripped again, there is almost a trembling to her hand as her fingers wrap around his in a vice grip. Her back turned she doesn't see as Cardinal's double is burned out of the shadows and mowed down in a bloody mess, she's too busy pushing back memories of staring down a shotgun barrel and having her head held together.

«Yes…» Comes the ex-cheerleaders strained voice. «Lead the way.» Her wide blue eyes moving to look at Sylar, again her life is in his hands and she's not exactly thrilled about it.

When the bullets start to fly, the imaginary Raith proves to be a fighter to the very end, frantically drawing his sidearm as he goes down under a hail of bullets that rip through his arms, his legs and his chest, filling the air with sprays of his blood and the smell of burning nylon, hair and skin from the repeated impacts of incendiary bullets. Even after his perforated body has fallen onto Eileen's now still form, life quickly pouring from his body with every beat of his failing, wounded heart, he makes one last, desperate effort to bring his pistol to bear. An effort that lasts little more than a second before he goes limp and cold, dying the way he lived; with a beard.

Some distance back, the real Raith watches quietly, turning to Gabriel and raising his hand in a simple thumbs up. Good job, mate.

The real Veronica scowls a touch as somehow she, of all people, is picked out as being suspicious. Apparently Gabriel is trustworthy in some ways, as he knew that Wagner was not going to accept whatever he saw in their minds during the scan. She backs up, her fingers tightening around the rifle she carries as she watches, in a strangely numb and distant horror, her own body and that of the rest of the team gunned down. A bullet hits the forehead of the illusion of herself, gray matter and blood exploding as the real bullet exits the phantom agent.

At least this time, she doesn't feel the bullet, doesn't feel the agony of death as she did when her ephemeral clones died painfully in an alley behind a restaurant in Chinatown. That was Deckard's fault too, by the way.

The real agent doesn't need to be told twice, and follows the others swiftly out of the hangar to begin the next steps in this jigsaw puzzle of a plan.

Taking his last cigar out from the front of his jacket, Rico slides it beneath his nose with a deep breath, then clutches it tightly in one hand. The Puerto-Rican demolitions expert nods to Gillian, waves a hand over his head for the rest of his team, and begins making the trek back out into the freezing cold and blinding wind to make an approach towards the primary facility's power station. With all of the Vanguard's primary defenses distracted by the arrival of an unexpected military force, the open snow fields leading to the main building shouldn't be as tightly observed; Wagner can only have so many people here. Rico Velasques has no desire to watch the ignoble way he dies— he's straddled death's door once before at the hands of Feng Daiyu, that was once too many.

Twenty-seven seconds later, only the sound of a few shell casings hitting the ground can be heard, rattling noisily on the concrete underfoot. Kazimir furrows his brows, creasing that scar between them as he takes wet footsteps forward, past the bloodied bodies and towards Wagner. "Now then…" he intones in a hushed voice, "let us get on with business."

Swallowing tensely, Kazimir looks back over his shoulder to the bodies laying on the ground, offering a grim nod of his head as he turns back to Wagner. Keeping a level eye on the bodies, feeling what he expects to feel from the illusions, Wagner gives Kazimir a firm nod of recognition and turns his back to the entrance. A silent wave of his hand comes to two of the soldiers that were involved in the firing. "Clean up the mess… and make certain they're all dead. The rest of you, back into the tunnels."

Kazimir moves to follow in stride with Wagner, offering him a blue-eyed stare, and the gaunt man returns that difficult expression with a slow tilt of his head. "You made a very difficult decision there, a lesser man would not have been able to. Come, I will discuss with you the problem we have, perhaps you will be able to discern a workable situation…"

The pair of Wagner and Volken turn to move down a corridor and into subterranean tunnels that connect the hangar to the mainf acility, and all but two of the heavily armed members of Wagner's security force remain behind, with Gabriel Gray still hiding in the room with them behind his illusion screen. One soldier shares a look with the other, shaking his head as he moves out in front walking across the bloody mess with tacky footfalls. "«Vidar doesn't really expect us to clean this up does he?»" One of them asks in a coarse German accent, glancing up to his unfortunate partner as he steps between the corpses, checking them with a nudge of a boot, guns angled down at them.

"«No, no, he just wants us to pick off the ones who are still alive.»" His compartiot states with a roll of his shoulders, kicking a thin arm severed by explosive rounds away from the body it was attached to. "«Never know, but be two unlucky bastards in here…»"

You could say that.

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