Danse Macabre


cardinal2_icon.gif dahlia_icon.gif gillian3_icon.gif jamon_icon.gif

magnes2_icon.gif peter_icon.gif ross_icon.gif veronica2_icon.gif

Scene Title Danse Macabre
Synopsis Team Alpha arrive at the military base camp, only to find what they didn't expect. Except maybe they should have. Or kind of did. Further trouble is encountered when identities are mistaken.
Date November 29, 2009

Argentina: Subtropical Jungle

The dark, vine-laden greenery that defines the swath of jungle growth in Cerro de Hierro Negro's shadow is not really lush so much as it is resilient. Ancient trunks wind crooked under thick mats of cool moss and the same damp litter of decay that makes the ground soft underfoot, with brambled undergrowth and brackish stream beds just sparse enough to be navigable if one is careful about where they step. Rumbling passages of thunder stir often through the rustle and sway of branches thatched far overhead, but the rain that should accompany it has been scattered in recent days. Crawling insects are common despite the chill wind off the mountain ahead, and every so often the shrill keen of a persistent predator splits the night or the springy passage of ungulate hooves whispers invisible along an unseen game trail. To the northeast, the flutter and burble of running water is occasional audible with gentle turns in the wind.

In this twilight, the canopies of trees conceal a purpled sky, and early summer insects remain a constant natter. As uphill as the journey had been, it's been largely uneventful if you ignore the discoveries of rusted iron, of tracks in the ground, of mosquitoes. And by uneventful, Ross takes this to mean successful. A definite chill has set into the jungle as night draws closer, and Ross wavers a flashlight in front of them as they move on. After a moment, he clicks it off, without verbal announcement as to why he suddenly decides this is a good idea.

In fact, they aren't speaking at all. It's been an hour since Ross has told them, after a sharp worded question, that he's receiving only silence on the radio and his direct link to the camp ahead. Now, they're coming up on the clearing that, if their timing is correct, is the military base they've been hiking towards for the past two days.

However, it can be deduced that his dousing of his flashlight has something to do with what the rest can see through shadowy trees, still some distance away. An expanse of space in the forest, of likely packed earth of a settlement. There's the looming dark shapes of what could be guessed to be tents, vehicles, those blockish solid angles that make up the base. Ross settles his pack on his shoulders with all the uneasiness of a restless pack mule. Beneath the smells of jungle damp and near-nighttime, there's the tinge of smoke.

"Sawyer, you want to take our shadow friend here and go on ahead?" Somewhere along the way, his sidearm came out of its holster and is now gripped, pointed to the jungle floor. A glance back to the group indicates their shadowed silhouettes, minus one. Jensen Raith has long since split, a conclusion arrived to between he and navigator after the first attempts at radio had failed.

The female agent pulls her weapon out of its holster as well. Her eyes are scanning the shapes of the shadows, trying to make sense of them in the darkness. "Sure," Sawyer says, her usually husky voice a mere whisper. She glances back to Cardinal. "Shall we?" she asks, as if they were about to begin a waltz in a ballroom instead of checking that the military base they are arriving at is indeed secure and hasn't been infiltrated by the enemy. She begins to move toward the encampment, nearly silent but for the occasional crunch of a twig beneath her boots.

A hand lifts to draw the shades from Cardinal's face, his eyes settling on the dark shapes in the distance; lips pursing in a tight frown. "No light. None at all, I don't like this," he murmurs, before turning to flash a brief, cocky smile to Veronica. He moves to step forward, his shape fading until it, too, has melted into the darkness— and he's but a shadow himself, skimming ahead to scout out before the agent.

Cardinal doesn't like the absence of light. It's enough of an irony to twist Peter Petrelli's stomach.

Having donned his camouflage jacket, Peter makes sure to zip up the front as he moves over to Ross' side. Crouching down beside the DHS operative, Petrelli's blue eyed stare seems even more pale in the twilight. It is a silent and grim look that Ross is offered, one that confirms the unspoken fear that the two men share — that no one is left to find at the camp.

Furrowing his brows, however, Peter recalls the final team member that they were coming here to meet, the one he intends on getting out of Argentina. Somehow, with her life put in the balance, he refuses to acknowledge his own pragmatic scenario.

Hunched near Ross and Peter, not about to go off in his own when it's so dark, Magnes is in a camo jacke as well, though he still wears the same dark-brown cargo pants and black boots. He doesn't have a gun, but he's picked up a hand full of dirt for some unspoken reason.

To say there is nothing moving in camp would be a lie. Weathered green tents ripple and stir with the wind that shifts more freely here than it does deeper in the brush and a winding stream tickles between them, no more than two feet across at its widest point. The stiff-sewn edges of collars and cuffs tag and flag looser than the joints they flap against; a rat-like creature larger than a beach ball (although altogether less effervescent) with bright eyes and twitchy whiskers wets its thick probiscus in the coagulated glop that's settled into one unfortunate soul's exposed buttock.

Dead bodies lie about in the absence of rhyme or reason: most unmarked save by gnawing rodent teeth, a few others host to ruptured skulls and bellies full of lead shot. Flies buzz here and there among the deceased, some still quiet and peaceful in their tents, dead only for utter lack of movement where chests should lift and eyelids should twitch. No maggots yet, and they're all still stiff as boards.

Towards the camp's center, horse hooves have churned the mud around a burnt out fire, all but obscuring the more methodical tread of a single four-legged creature without hooves or toes.

Ross lets Sawyer and Cardinal go on ahead for the count of five seconds, before he tilts a glance down to Peter, to Magnes, before suggesting, quietly, "Let's go. Stay behind me." He can move quietly when he wants to, and does, for all that he can't help the crackle of jungle floor beneath his boots as he moves after the pathways Veronica has set out for herself. Gun is matte black and angled somewhere that would guarantee Ross a clear shot should he be aiming to kill something on the ground approximately two feet in front of him.

Veronica and Cardinal will hear it before the other two gentlemen will see the carnage, but only by a few seconds; "Oh, Christ."

"Shit," Veronica murmurs under her breath as the shapes begin to make sense — unfortunately. It's too dark to see the color drain from her face, but her gun moves from shadow to shadow, looking for something to shoot. "See anything alive?" she whispers to Cardinal, or to the shadow she thinks is Cardinal. She envies him his power at the moment, wishing she could become incorporeal as she flits from shadow to shadow, in case there is someone watching them, in case whoever caused this carnage is still in the camp. Doubtful. The smell and flies would drive them away. She moves back toward the rest of the group — presumably to get new orders from Ross, but more because … well, they may not be her friends, but they are still her team.


The word's a whisper in the shadows, the darkness that is Cardinal stilling for a moment at the edge of the camp until Ceronica catches up. "Meet with the others when they get here," he murmurs to her, "I'll search the camp for any survivors, though…" There aren't likely to be any. Even if anyone did live - they probably wouldn't still be here. Darkness flutters across the encampment, as he begins his search of the base camp. It's easier without a face, or a belly, to stand this sort of thing.

Somehow Peter felt this coming, even as he creeps around the edges of the camp. The absence of life is like a dead pixel on a colorful plasma-screen television, something most people would overlook, unless they had a specific discerning eye. His blue stare stops on one soldier, and he breaks away from Ross to crouch down at the man's side. Blue eyes quickly flit from one side of him to the other, followed by a shake of his head — nothing there to save… or feed on.

The oversized rat, however, finds its motion arresting with one herky-jerky motion after a callous look from Peter and a tendril of black life-sucking shadow too hard to see in the dark. Now, at least, he doesn't have to do this on an empty stomach.

Looking up to where Ross has headed, Peter circles around another one of the broken tents, stopping by one of the trucks as he crouches beside it. Ducking low to the ground, he peers under the vehicle, sweeps his gaze around the area beyond it, and only upon seeing it clear circles around the vehicle and comes to a stop on the opposite side.

Waiting to make eye-contact in Ross' periphery, Peter holds up one finger and points away from Magnes and Ross' pairing, then points two fingers in their direction following their path. It's a simple enough method of communication, one that — to those who have some military experience — indicates a plan to split up.

Following through with that intent, Peter separates himself from Magnes and Ross by twenty feet, moving parallel with them using ruined tents and the terrain as cover. Blue eyes dart back out to the woods, and there is some lingering hope that any minute Raith will trundle out of the jungle with a machine gun in one arm and a red headband, having saved the day. Unfortunately, such is not the case.

Magnes is still laying low as he follows Ross, trying not to look at the bodies to add more death and violence to his nightmares. What is Bella doing right now anyway…

He's been touching the ground every few feet, raising dirt into the air to obscure potential snipers or anyone who might be trying to get a clear visual at all. Gravity switched dirt isn't much for any of them to notice in the middle of the night, but someone from far away trying to penetrate the parameter might find it a complete pain in the ass to look into the camp through the obscuring dirt.

Further investigation of the dead yields no signs of struggle, thought it might be worth noting that one or two unmarred bodies blotched dark by livor mortis is purple side up, defying time or gravity with blood on the inside of their still faces stuck like cold pie filling to the bottom of an overturned bowl. Someone moved them after they had time to settle — dragged them out of their tents, even, amidst a scatter of discarded radios and muddy paper. Searching for someone. Or something.

Only those isolated few who've been shot appear to have died later and under more harrowing circumstances — one young man without much of a face to stare blanky with still has his fingers stiffened around the trigger guard of his M16.

The bloated paca doesn't have time to look surprised before it crisps, stiffens and blends into a light husk of fluffy ash, but another of its number bobbles humpty dumpty into the brush with surprising speed upon registering its friend's fate.

Otherwise, the night is still. Either the buzzards aren't interested in what's for dinner for some reason, or their superior vantage point has provided them with a reason to stay far, far away.

Ross splits as Peter gestures. There are things on his mind, nothing that he communicates immediately, but he's making for the dead, coming to crouch and inspect for any signs of life. Not that he doesn't trust Peter, or anything, although perhaps he should have — it's becoming increasingly obvious that the broken bodies of American soldiers are thoroughly slaughtered. He doesn't pay attention to the ones that died of bullets to the brain. There's no medical mystery there.

Or, really, to the majority that lie stiff and untouched. Having come to a crouch, Ross looks up from the last corpse he'd been checking, gaze roaming over the tents before he stands, and makes his brisk way towards one in particular. There's a flap of tent canvas as he disappears inside.

A moment later, there's the shuffling of things being moved around, a search underway.

Besides the search, there is some movement. It seems as if a survivor had been slowly inching in one direction, perhaps looking for supplies. There's signs of dragging, scuffing, and most importantedly movement. Without light she's not easy to see, but some people, shadowmen, for example, don't need much in the way of light. Not only is one of the darker shadows moving, it's also whispering soft curses under her breath. Raspy curses. A familiar voice. Gillian's.

The first thing visible would be shoulders, arms. A female. Young, not strongly built, but somewhat athletic. Clothes are torn in a few places, a sleeve ripped right off, a rip in the back, close to where her wrists are tied together, forcefully behind her back. The rope is darkened around where they keep her bound, dug into her skin, blood seeping down onto her hands. Tattoos darken against pale skin, marred and broken in places, but familiar.

Dark hair covers her face as she shifts around, obviously trying to get out of her bindings. There's something sharp in her hands, something she must have found, trying to saw through the rope. Unfortunately the sharp instrument also digs into her hand, dropping blood from her fingers and palms. It's slow work, she's managed to fray it, by this point. The struggling has no doubt made the ropes dig deeper. There's a little blood on her chin and jaw. Red welts just visible on her arms, her shoulders, her neck. Likely there's much more damage that's covered by her clothes, as there's blood seeping through in parts. Not a great amount, and some of it may indeed be blood of others. There's so many dead that it's likely some got splattered on her as well.

As she moves, her dark hair shifts, falling away from her cheek to reveal something red there. Red, black, they both share similarities, especially in this twilight. Not shadows and not just blood, in the shape of a V, with three small ticks coming off of it. Two on one side, one on the other.

The brand that they've heard so much about.

At the sound of shuffling, Veronica lifts her gun, eyes straining to see through dark and dirt. But when she sees the figure is restrained, injured, she lowers it, and takes a couple of feet forward. "Stop where you are. Identify yourself," she calls to the woman; she somehow manages to keep her voice from trembling too much. This is more death than she's witnessed at once, and it's far, far more than she's comfortable with.

It is too dark and Gillian is too dirty, too bloody, too disfigured for Veronica to recognize the woman as a friend, as practically family, not to mention she doesn't know the woman is even in Argentina. She takes another couple of steps, wanting to help the woman but wanting to make sure she isn't going to be blown into a fine pink mist by a blink of the woman's eyes.

There's no such thing as too dark for Cardinal, his sight as good at the moment as it is for the others in the broad light of day - though were the time such, their roles would be reversed here, if not worse. The trail is noticed by the shadowman, and the darkness slides across the earth after the trail of blood and marred dirt, towards the sounds of movement. Blood, oh, there's blood everywhere, but as she turns her hair spills away from the brand and her cheek. A profile and visage that he knows all too well, having woken up beside it a time or three.

"Gillian…" A hiss in the darkness, anger stirring in it along with sharp alarm as the shadow spills itself over the injured woman like a blanket, "Jesus Christ. Sawyer— get the others over here, get a fucking medic— "

Attention snaps from the treeline towards Veronica's voice, and Peter moves low along the campsite. Finding the soldier with the M16 still in his grip, Peter is quick to relieve the corpse of both his post and his firearm. Sliding out the magazine, he checks the ammunition and then slaps it back into place, fingers moving to check the safety and firing mode before moving up at Veronica's flank, assault-rifle raised and eyes trained down the scope.

Peter hesitates for a moment, twisting a knob on the side of the M16's scope as it switches from optical to night vision. It's then that he sees the face of the woman Veronica is calling out to, and his heart skips a beat. "No."

"Don't— " Peter's voice sounds too sharp at first against the relative silence, and it's Cardinal that fills in the gap. Breaking into a sprint, Peter's bootfalls trudge down hard into the soft earth as he moves, coming to a skidding halt beside the young woman. Shouldering the assault rifle, Peter looks up towards Veronica. "You," two fingers point at her, "get over here now." Suddenly he's acting like he's in charge, a Petrelli inborn gift.

Already tugging off one glove with his teeth, Peter looks down to Gillian wordlessly. "Someone cut these ropes off of her— " he spits out, throwing the glove to the ground before starting to yank the other one off, beckoning Veronica over impatiently.

Magnes rushes over to Peter, crouching down before he realizes exactly who it is, then touches the rope with one of his fingers to make it rip itself apart. "Gillian?" he whispers down to her, hunching so he can try to get a look into her eyes.

The silence is too thick for Ross not to detect the sound of commotion. As he emerges from the tent he'd gone inside, stone-faced and severe in all his ministud glory. This is bad, and possibly worse than everyone here will know immediately, and that's saying something. Moving towards the gathering of Alpha team, Ross doesn't immediately point a gun. He just doesn't holster it.


Not exactly a commanding type, his voice is, regardless, firm. "Sawyer, step back from him. Petrelli, you weren't recruited for your medical expertise."

What he was recruited for is anyone's guess. Ask the President. Can you as the President? No. Ross shoulders off his backpack, crouches to extract a medkit. "I'll clean it as best I can and patch it up until I can get a closer look in better light and not in a hostile area." So quickly, it's become that. "In the meantime— we need to catch up with Raith and assess the situation. Our direct communication line to our superiors— "

His mouth thins into a line. "Is gone, although we should check the bodies just in case. Anyone find a fancy looking phone, don't keep it. But make no mistake, children, we're officially screwed." This isn't stated pleasantly. Just factually.

Cardinal? Veronica? Peter? Magnes? Gillian's vision is blurry from tears brought on by pain, mind raged with anger towards what's happened to her, and there's the sudden fact that she's surrounded by people she knows. Some of the people she feels safe with. Some she would wish to find her when she's left behind injured and in pain. "Card… Either I'm hallucinating or…" she trails off, eyes sticking on Peters. What little she can see if him. The scar's visible, with her adjusted eyes, but it's the eyes she's looking at. They wouldn't be blue if she were hallucinating. Not unless it was a nightmare.
He's tugging his glove off, reaching toward… "Don't. Just don't." She may not remember much of what happened in Else's apartment, but she knows the basics.

"I'm better than everyone else that was here…" Everyone else died… So she would seem to have been the lucky one. The survivor. Again. "Though I agree with baldy, there. We're fucking screwed…" Especially if they have no contact back home. She looks over at Magnes, then Veronica. Her eyes slide shut. "At least tell me that Brian isn't here too." Who knows who she's asking, really. Could be all of them. She does twist around to give better access to her ropes, and the pointy sharp thing she managed to find. Which isn't a pocket knife, and more a shard of broken glass.

He's tugging his glove off, reaching toward… "Don't. Just don't." She may not remember much of what happened in Else's apartment, but she knows the basics.

"I'm better than everyone else that was here…" Everyone else died… So she would seem to have been the lucky one. The survivor. Again. "Though I agree with baldy, there. We're fucking screwed…" Especially if they have no contact back home. She looks over at Magnes, then Veronica. Her eyes slide shut. "At least tell me that Brian isn't here too." Who knows who she's asking, really. Could be all of them. The sharp pointy she found falls out of her hands, as she moves her arms around in front of her. There's frayed rope still digging into her wrists that needs to get pulled out so the wound can be cleaned, but at least she can move her arms now.

Once Veronica finally realizes who it is, she covers her mouth, but backs up. She wants to help, but with Ross, Peter, and Magnes around the woman, she needs to help keep an eye on the perimeter of the camp. "God, Gillian, what did they do to you," she whispers, turning away to scan the area, looking for any sign of movement among the trees. The fact that Gillian and Veronica are close — well, that's probably a strange newsflash for the other "terrorists" in the group that will take some glossing over at some point. "He's not here, Gillie, he's still in New York, don't worry," she says quietly, glancing over her shoulder when she hears the girl's question.

As she stirs, and she responds— in pain, but not dying clearly— Cardinal relaxes a bit, although it's difficult to tell when a shadow relaxes. "So good to know I'm surrounded by optimists," he mutters, reluctantly sliding away from the injured woman to move through the encampment and try to find that SATCOM phone. Not that he expects to find it.

"Horse hooves," he adds audibly, "Rosco, maybe…"

There's no direct answer to Ross' instructions, just a furrow of Peter's brows and a scowl that comes before he looks over to Magnes. There's another Petrelli trait, one in fine example here; their ability to got from zero to irrational at the drop of a hat. Veronica was the reactionary candidate, but at least another useful one has arrived. "Fine, you'll do." Peter's lack of instruction to Magnes seems like it might be the precursor to something less violent than what comes next. Moving a bare hand down to Gillian's exposed shoulder, there's an immediate reaction like a hot piece of metal put to soft flesh as the skin around his touch begins to turn an immediate smoky black color, thin veins coruscating beneath the surface equally darkening.

At the same time, Peter reaches up and grasps the side of Magnes' face, the way a stern parent might to try and get the attention of a child. The feeling is intensely painful, like hot knives sliding between flesh and muscle, threatening to separate the two. Flesh begins to decay on Magnes' face almost immediately, a paling of his skin and graying around Peter's entropic touch. But here, just like at Else's apartment, his tainted caress does not result in a pair of ashen corpses.

Pin-prickling tingling replaces shooting pain a moment after it begins. A swirling mass of black smoke-like shadow starts to swirl around the hand clutching Magnes' face. The darkness twists and turns, as if caught on its own unfelt wind, before sliding into Peter's bare skin as dark veins that shoot up beneath his sleeve. The hand touching Gillian is the receptor of that blackness, dark inky veins spilling from forearm to fingertip before the umbral fog boils up from within his skin, seeping down into Gillian's body. There is an immediate feeling of warmth on her end, and bone-deep cold on Magnes' as Peter sucks a portion of the gravitokinetic's very life-force from him and channels it down into Gillian.

Like some sort've backhanded healing gift, the wounds on Gillian's wrists and body begins to heal — those that have not already. Fibers of rope are expelled from her wrist as the bloody marks from friction begin to stitch themselves together and other cuts and bruises start to rapidly fade. The brand on her cheek, however, only turns to look less tender. Cuts still scar over, injuries simply heal faster, but not vanish entirely. While the healing removes the bitter pain of the disfigurement to her face, it cannot ever undo it.

With an exasperated breath, Peter releases his grip from the two and slouches down. He exhales a filmy breath of dark smoke, then swallows back his choked gasp. Immediate fatigue looks to set in on the scarred man as he tries to steady himself with a careful touch of his hands to the ground. Magnes, too, feels the drain of fatigue run through his body, as if he had just run a solid mile flat out.

The bruise-like hand print on the side of his face, however, is a more visible indicator of his unsolicited gift to Gillian. At least Magnes' will fade.

Magnes would have completely shifted Peter's body into a tree if he didn't quickly notice Gillian being healed. He reads comics, it only takes a moment for him to put two and two together, but it hurts. He groans, but surprises his urge to yell, not wanting to give away their position. Once fatigue sets in, he drops to his knees just as Peter releases him, breathing heavily. "I don't know what you did to me, but even if it did heal Gillian, I'm going to punch you in the face as soon as I can move…" he strains out before going flat on his butt, trying to breathe now.

Ross's hold on his gun twitches as he watches Peter, dark eyes mostly unreadable, but they don't have to be expressive to communicate the obvious disapproval written around them and his long nose. Decidedly economical with his words, he only addresses Gillian when he moves closer, coming to crouch in front of her. "Good evening, Ms. Childs. Let's get that covered up so it won't get any grit in it when we move on. How are you feeling?" He glances to Magnes, and adds; "I'll look at you later, too. Do you think you can walk?"

Wonderful. Two downed team members. Ross busies himself with tipping fresh water onto a cleaning cloth for Gillian's face, expression pinched. Whatever he has to say to Peter can come later. Instead, he prompts; "Sawyer. Check the bodies. We need that fucking phone."

But Veronica's scoping glances do finally yield something, a sweep of brush that perhaps isn't the wind batting leaves aside. She notices it at the same time the rest of the group are something to notice - a single voice that hollers out loud enough to slice through the silence.


A warning, an accusation, a promise - there's nothing telling in that sudden battlecry, punctuated by the spitting of bullets from an automatic weapon. They slice one, two, three in deafening procession, and there's another, an almost animalistic, "Whoop!" from another corner of the masking jungle. Two bullets kick up dirt debris where Peter is crouched, before a bullet slices a cut across his shoulderblade.

Another series of bullets spit dead blood from a corpse as opened fire bites wildly through resting flesh, and hopefully it's only coincidence that it's the one Cardinal glides over.

As soon as the pain leaves most of her hands, Gillian surges forward and backhands Peter across the face. It's not quite the punch she would have done before, and the prickling against the back of her hand may nullify any damage she would have done, but it's not his face she really wants to hurt. "Exactly what part of don't did you not understand, Peter?" she snaps, raspy voice less pained, but just as angry.

"You shouldn't hurt someone just to…" To heal her. All the fight drains out pretty fast. She stumbles back onto her butt, and reaches up with the same hand to touch her face. Scarred. Healed to the point she'll never have to worry about infection or the many weeks and months of pain that would follow. Infection being the most likely, in this setting. Without proper medical supplies.

"I'm fine, but we should…" Get out of here. It would have been better if they'd done that a few minutes ago, it would seem! The yell goes off, sounding so similar to something that happened to her not too long ago, and her eyes widen. The bullets that rip through the debris near Peter are also close to her. "Peter!" she yells, suddenly grabbing for him and starting to pull at him in an oddly reversed protectiveness, toward some kind of nearby cover. She knows the base better than they do, even if it's not in the shape it'd been in the last few days. The knots in the back of her head keeps energy from leaking out, for the moment, and she's too worried and panicked to control it to send it out to anyone. Especially with a life leech closest to her.

"Get down!" Veronica hisses but her warning is blanketed over by that ominous shout. Veronica's ducking, her weapon out to shoot in the direction of the motion she saw, two quick shots, before she's wishing that she, like Peter, had grabbed one of the MCs instead of using this useless weapon.

She backs away, trying to get out of the open, trying to find a weapon. Stumbling over a corpse, she grabs his weapon, stowing her pistol and aiming the rifle at the tree line, sending a spray of bullets before turning to dash toward a truck to crouch behind. Combat is not her forte — she never planned on being SWAT or anything like that, even when she had planned on a 'simple' career in law enforcement, before the Company recruited her.

It's an odd sensation, having one's substance split apart by droplets of mostly-coagulated blood spraying through the shadowy energy one calls flesh - it might just be Cardinal's imagination, but it feels difference from a spray of water. Less… clean. More dirty, terrible. Suddenly he feels like he could use a shower.

The shadow lances across the campsite as if someone had suddenly swerved a flashlight away; an arrow darting across in the direction of the shouting and the gunfire, although he's not sure what he'll do when he gets there.

Thanks for the 'no guns' rule, Ross!

The cry from the woods silences Peter's words, ones coming in a tone of voice not quite his own. But those gunshots that come next send Peter down to the ground, the clip of a gunshot wound knocking him to the dirt and then Gillian trying to shield him. He hasn't even had time to react from her backhand before she's trying to shield him from the gunfire. "No!" The blue-eyed Petrelli shouts, throwing his weight to the side to wrestle her off of him. "Get— " Another bullet whizzes over his head, enough to make him reconsider his words. Trying to narrow his profile as much as possible, Peter struggles back from Gillian as he unshoulders that M16 and rolls onto his back, pulling it up and checking the direction of the gunfire from the night-vision scope. Unable to make out his attackers, Peter merely fires into the jungle, quick bursts meant to provide cover fire and the illusion of having a target.

"Get her out of here!" Is Peter's growled out demand to Magnes as he fires another quick burst, peppering the treeline with three-shot intervals. The gun rattles painfully against his bleeding shoulder, against his sore and aching muscles that scream from the difficulty he finds at using his ability for anything other that wonton destruction of life.

It's the first time Peter's ever had to fire a gun, ever had to do anything other than rely on his abilities. Somewhere deep down, the vestigial memories of bolt-action rifles from the second world war hardly seem relevant. Thankfully Peter is just aiming for the jungle not a specific target in it.

Magnes is exhausted, thanks to a certain someone, so while he could otherwise be helping, in his condition, he does the only life-saving maneuver he can think of. When Peter yells to get her out of here, and a bullet zips by, his adrenaline suddenly kicks in, leaping forward and grabbing her so he can take her to the ground.

"Gillian, do it! Trust me, like before, just do it!" He slams a fist into the dirt, and his gravity control starts to spread through the ground. And, hopefully with the aid of Gillian augmenting, the dirt and grass starts to explode into the air from under everyone's feet, trying to turn the entire camp into one large dirt ditch as deep purple gravity tendrils cause all the debris to continue floating in the air, obscuring the area.

The ditch itself would be about four feet deep, so that's a hell of a lot of debris above them.

Somewhere in the gentle rustle and sway of surrounding jungle rendered near silent around the clatter and rail of automatic weapons fire peppering between bouts of hoarse shouting in fork-tongued Spanish, an unseen third entity becomes party to the chaos. There's a mournful drag to its siren cry — a hollow, aching, lonely wail that seems to eminate from everywhere at once in its klaxon escalation from a single inhuman voice into an unholy metal on metal shriek that smothers the senses and sears intelligent thought like braids of burning copper wire branding white hot into flared nostrils and open ears. The same Terrible Sound warps a base thrum through a tangible compression of air against the pulse of battered eardrums and quavering diaphragms, forcing air out of lungs and hearts into throats.

Then: Blessed silence. Not because The Sound has stopped — teeth still buzz in their roots and eyeballs swim and waver watery in their sockets — but because nobody in the area with ears retains the capacity to hear it. Mouths move and tongues flop out soundless orders a beat after the resonant howl has ceased; bullets tick silent divots into damp earth and still bodies.

No one can hear anything but the ringing in their own ears.

Bodies jangle in the like a danse macabre scene with far more flesh and meat involved, drifting with rocks, with glittering casings and spent shells, and these things hover over the now ringing heads of the Team Alpha taking forceful cover in Magnes' ditch. Dust has kicked up, lending a rusty haze through the air. Ross is on his ass, medkit tumbled free of his clasp with a spilling of bandages and that one tetanus shot he'd mentioned, gun in hand and having loosed a couple of bullets jungle-wards himself.

Now, he only really really really hopes the SatCom phone is not here, as he deafly twists his head to try and look at what's happening and what he can't hear.

On the flipside, Cardinal can hear, as much as he has to do it through the klaxon siren call. His swift arrow-like pursuit into the jungle lands him towards where a teenager is crouched, a too big assault rifle in his hands and his features twisted into a look of shock at his own buzzing deafness. The V branded into his cheek crinkles with the movement, but he's still recognisable, even with jungle grime on his face, and a gun in his hands. The boy who'd scored nearly a hundred American dollars off one Veronica Sawyer.

The rest of them can't hear the sound of gunfire, but it seems to have stopped, at least for now. There's a shape coming from the jungle, now, staring at the hovering debris with a gun slung over his shoulder. The scar one his cheek is exactly like Gillian's, but much older, and his camo shirt hangs open to reveal an expanse of shining white armor of some kind - bone, to be exact, cracked from bullet wounds and spattered in red.

There's a big fucking knife in one hand, and the rifle points with the other. He fires, wild, at the first sign of movement, only the spark of light from the muzzle of his gun indicating as such, explosion of dirt where his bullets land nearby. Cardinal might be able to hear a female voice scream out for him, but the rifle-wielder cannot.

What the— Gillian may have looked appalled at the order Peter gave, and the fact that Magnes grabbed her, but she looks at him, and nods a bit. Of all the people here, he's the only one she knows she can augment and possibly do something to help, even as weak as she is. It's the purple glow coming out of her and spreading to Magnes that allows them to seek shelter. Even if she buries her face against him at the noise, the noise that ends in ringing. She grits her teeth and opens her eyes, looking around to see where everyone is. Seeing how Peter is doing. Where Vee is. She's so glad Brian is safe back in New York.

No guns, no knives, all she has to offer this moment is the glow around her hands. It's not as strong as it could be, she's weakened, but in a way she's giving back to Magnes what was taken from him. It just doesn't fix the damage.

"What the fuck," she mutters, but she can't even hear her own voice over the ringing in her ears. This is worse then the time she stood at the front of a concert for three hours…

"What the hell," Veronica begins when they seem to suddenly be in a hole, and then there is that noise. She is already crouching but it brings her to her knees, her hands pulling up over her ears as she leans her forehead against the cool metal of the truck she's found cover behind. After a moment or two, she glances up, squinting up. She gives a shake of her head, trying to clear the ringing from her ears. She moves backward until her back is against one "wall," her rifle pointing up so that she can shoot up at anyone peering in at them. She points to the opposite side and then to Peter in case anyone circles around. Then Magnes, then Ross, to cover the other two sides, if Ross is willing to take suggestions.

Ah, hell. The sight of the boy stirs a rush of anger in the living shadow as he recognizes him— and then there's a man armoured in bone, and who knows who else is out there? Unarmed for the moment, the siren shriek still echoing through the trees and about the deaf, Richard Cardinal hesitates before taking off after the sound of the woman's voice, the screamer he suspects.

Curled up on his side in the chaos of that trench, Peter's head throbs from the sound of that horrible metallic wailing in the jungle. Eyes wrenched shut, he rolls onto his side and looks up and around at the dirt and debris hovering overhead. Rocks and shell casings and a body wrapped in half a tent — it's unbelievable. He crawls on his good shoulder, inch-worming his way across the ground until he can lay his back up against the sloped wall of the trench, catching Veronica's sign.

Tiredly, he forces a nod and then pops up onto a knee. Aiming his gun into the jungle, Peter considers the scant number of rounds that were in this rifle when he started the firefight, and he can't afford to just unload on the hapless trees any longer. Teeth gritted against the shriek, he sweeps through the treeline, vision blurry and hands trembling, it feels like that wail almost rattled him apart.

Magnes closes his eyes tightly with the shriek as he keeps his arms firmly wrapped around Gillian's waist, his slightly different hue of purple coiling with Gillian's. When all sound stops, he frantically looks around, but the sight of people not going insane is a slight relief. About them, the debris simply hovers as purple tendrils of gravity wraps around various objects, but luckily a good portion of the unaffected dust obscures quite a bit of the glowing, for now. "Don't stop." he tries to mouth down at Gillian, pointing up at the debris. "Don't stop or all that stuff will fall on us. I'm not controlling it at all, it's too dangerous to move it." He's sure she probably can't hear all that, but some people have at least some skill at reading a word or two on someone's lips.

The snip and tag of bullets through the greenery has petered out into an unsteady trickle of one or two pot shots at a time now that everything but the kitchen sink is hanging over the clearing like some kind of demented crib mobile. Blood drips thickly down slack limbs and blanced fingers, pinching off into miniature globes of liquid with lava lamp languor.

Between tree trunks, a pair of dark eyes blinks owlishly at Magnes and Gillian glowing an improbable shade of violet, dirty nails braced carefully against the bark.

Somewhere overhead, one compressed body produces a ghastly sound and an even ghastlier stench when he bumps dreamily off a spare tire. For those still straining to hear, Charlie Brownesque wuah wuahs might begin to sift back in through shrill ringing if they tilt their head just the right way.

Cardinal will find himself following the sound of stumbling footsteps, heavy panicked breathing. The female shriek leads him to a woman pushing her way through the jungle, past yet another, and though her face is clear of scarring, the comrade she pushes past also has a V drawn on his face. His gun is loose in his hands, having ceased fire, but Cardinal will note that maybe he gains a glance his way, as much as shadow is hidden by more shadow.

The woman, though, is the one that bursts into the clear, hair half-free of a ponytail, rifle jumping puppet-like on the strap over her shoulder. She's in dusty BDU clothing, as with many of them that Cardinal has stumbled across, and heavy boots hit the ground in deaf thuds as she runs for the man with the bone-armor. Her hands grip his arm, to spin him around. Wild firing hits only sky and tree, the knife raising a moment before lowering again, the larger man letting confusion write over his features.

Like a silent movie, her expression goes steely, and she points towards the floating bodies and rocks and dust. Even the slight glimmer of purple, muffled as it is by dust but standing out in the increasing darkness. Mouthed Spanish, though the living shadows present might hear it;

"«Are you blind or stupid?»"

Ross is just doing what Veronica suggests, at this point, though he levels his gun towards the woman. Hesitates, lengthily. Makes no damn move to get out of the trench. The sudden smell that mingles into the general aura of the battlefield gets a bewildered glance.

Luckily some words are simplier to understand then others when mouthed. And in fact, Gillian's a little too scared to knot her power back up right now. Sending what she can into Magnes is better than it leaking toward Peter, especially with the likelyhood that he's been wounded. The glow persists. Violet and dark purple melding together to hold the debris aloft. She looks up at what's floating above and shudders and holds on tighter to Magnes. She hopes this whole thing will be over soon.

Veronica peers over the truck and steadies her gun against its roof, peering through the scope and using night vision. She doesn't understand what she's seeing though. She shakes her head, and glances at Ross, looking for some sort of direction, then up at the bodies that seem to be … well, leaking, for various reasons. Turning to look at Magnes, she points to the bodies, and waggles her fingers in a "float away?" sort of gesture — Can he float that stuff away from them? At least the bodies. Because, really, she doesn't want one of those to explode while above her.

Spanish is not, shall we say, Cardinal's strong suit; he recognizes enough of those words to get the gist of the situation, however, at least if he's interpreting 'stupid' in this context correctly.

Hopefully he is!

Of course, everyone is probably deaf, so he can't even go tell the people in the ditch what's going on. Maybe she's immune to her own power! He can hope, anyway, since she's trying to talk, and she probably wouldn't be if she'd deafened herself.

"Hey there," his voice comes as a sharp snap from the shadows, "Maybe you and your friends could stop fucking shooting at us, lady? ¿Pare por favor el shooting en nosotros?" Thanks for the 'useful phrases', Edward. Asshole.

Nose rankling against the stench in the trench, Peter's watery eyes focus through his night-vision scope, trying to make heads or tails of what's going on. Something down the scope catches Peter's attention, and he tries to track the target through the woods. There's a double-take (as much as can be done through a rifle scope) and he jerks around to look back at Ross. There's a muffled shout from Peter, low and unintelligible through the ringing still in everyone's ears.

"They're branded!" A second try, things are getting clearer, and this time Peter's warning at least makes some sense. Two fingers come up, making a makeshift V sign on his cheek. "These guys are branded!" Realizing what is happening, Peter pushes himself up out of the ditch, now able to see the osteofied armor growing out of one of the men. Sucking in a hissing breath, he waves everyone to rise up from the ditch as he shoulders his rifle and raises his hands.

Slowly, and dangerously, Peter makes his way up and out of the hole with hands up and palms out. Not so much a sign of surrender, as a sign of oops our bad. But as he makes his way through the dark jungle towards those who were firing, his eyes settle again on the brunette scolding her men.

There's a look of recognition in his eyes, and when his voice rises again, it's more coarse than before.

"Pequeña Dahlia?" His breath hitches in his throat. "El pequeño pájaro, es que usted?"

Little bird?

Magnes quickly covers his mouth when he smells the body, keeping the other arm protectively around Gillian. He peers over at Veronica when she starts gesturing, then looks up, and back down at her, shaking his head helplessly. He can't do it!

He looks to Peter, tilting his head as he tries to get it, then watches the man climb from the ditch. Alright, well, Magnes will stay comfortably in the ditch, trying not to destroy anything. "This is starting to freak me out, all I can do is concentrate on that stuff up there, but I'm starting to get nervous, and, I don't know what's gonna happen if I try to do anything. It's like… I have a part of me outside of me…" For anyone who might be able to hear him.

Where black eyes peeked round between twin trunks before, dark leaves rustle and shift emptily in the wake of a young man who is working to pick his, gawkly stick-insect way out of the woods after the angry lady and Skeletor. No older than sixteen or seventeen, he seems to be one of the least disoriented of the bunch, dirt-worn t-shirt host to a cracked and faded smily face over an equally threadbare pair of bluejean shorts.

He does not look like he's cut out for life in the jungle. He does not look like he is cut out for life anywhere, with a tangled black hair, a wooden-toothed overbite and long, toothpick legs no thicker than the overlarge assault rifle strapped across his skinny torso.

Paaast Dahlia he goes, sandalled (yeah, sandalled) feet slapping and flopping over towards the edge of the crater Magnes has made so that he might better stare at those still inside or on their way to emerging. So far as anyone can tell, the Argentinian lad hasn't so much as twitched a finger towards his big black gun.

Meanwhile, for everyone who wasn't deaf and dumb to begin with, audio is ebbing in degree by degree to overlap with the visual feed they're getting of the ongoing jumble of faces and accusations.

Cardinal is preaching to the choir, when the woman, pushing forty by the looks of things, catches the edges of his words under her muffled hearing, as deaf as everyone else as much as that high pitched whine is finally trickling out of everyone's ears. There's a flash of teeth, a sneer at the shadows, aggressiveness likely due to a lack of comprehension— before looking back at where she's placed her hand against cracked bone armor, red welling up from beneath it and shaking her head at the hushed and irritated reassurances she can only see when she glances up to read his lips.

It's more movement than Peter's voice that gets Dahlia's attention. Swiveling around, her hand comes to grip her dangling rifle, but doesn't point it up immediately as she eyes him with overt suspicion, locking her into a tense reverie.

Her glance switches towards Ross, who is following Peter's lead, his pistol held nonthreateningly and other hand out. There is no recognition spared between Company agent and woman, although minute understanding begins to trickle in. The pat pat pat of sandalled feet heralds the emerging of even more figures. Slowly, from the jungle's darkness, the scattering of men and women begin to emerge from the forestry, all armed, some pointing their weapons, others not. One of them teleports out of his hiding spot - the teenager Cardinal had identified.

Each one has a V on their face, black and pebbled.

The skinny teenager's run for the ditch has Dahlia hissing, a hand out as if to stop him - when he's too fast, she only leaves that hand out as if she could cast some sort of protective net over him. She doesn't call him back, only eyes the ditch and those she can see coming from it. "Identify yourselves!" Dahlia snaps, and her voice is overly loud in a desperate effort to overcome the ringing in ears.

"You know it's going to have to come down sometime. It's called gravity." Gillian yells a little more loudly than she would need to if her ears weren't ringing, but she does keep her hands on Magnes even then, keeps giving him some power. The shooting seems to have ended, and she pushes herself up so she can look over, even if she keeps a hand down on him. She could keep the flow going even then, but she's going to be looking over anyway. Far enough that her own brand is visible by them. Identify themselves? Well apparently she's part of their club. Even if her brand has healed remarkably fast. It looks months old, not an hour. "You first!" she yells, even if, well. It's rude. And probably against protocol.

Veronica climbs up on the hood of the truck that she was ducking behind, her gun set in front of her on the "ledge" of the trench, to show she has no indication of shooting. She then climbs the rest of the way out, slowly — she doesn't trust Magnes' ditch with dead bodies and debris flying over them like some screwy raincloud over Eeyore. She glances at Gillian with worry — she's not sure how the two of them will get out without the whole thing falling down.

The agent would identify them, but it seems Peter knows the woman, so she glances over at him and gives a slight nod of her chin, as if to say 'go ahead.' Better to let the person that this "Dahlia" knows do the talking at first.

"We're the god-be-damned team they sent in to deal with that asshole on the mountain, who the hell do you think we are? Travelling clowns?" The shadows coalesce to one side of the woman and her group— not too close, lest there be a mistake— and Cardinal steps out of them, glaring in their direction as his shadowy form slowly lightens towards colour again, gesturing sharply with one hand, "Unless I miss my guess, those lovely fashion accessories you're all wearing say you're not exactly Ramirez's friends either, eh?"

"Gillian, Richard" Peter hisses, "Easy, Easy… This is an old friend." Lowering his hands slowly, Peter takes in a slow breath and looks around the jungle and back towards Dahlia again. He's hesitant in his slow approach of her, waiting until he's closed at least to conversational distance before he speaks up. "We're…" it's not exactly an easy thing to explain. "Here to help, it seems. Like my dark friend eloquently stated." Dark brows raise, and Peter's pale blue eyes drift from one figure to another, then slowly back to Dahlia. "We have been asked here on order of the President of the United States, to do just what was said." It sounds good, even if Peter has only vestigial love for the man.

"I'm not surprised you don't recognize me…" He's completely lost in someone else now. "Pequeña Dahlia, all grown up." A faint smile creeps up on Peter's lips as he looks from one of the branded men to another, then remembers himself and that faint pride drains away from his features.

"We've come to stop Iago, mi estimado." Suddenly Peter is as linguistically jumbled as Teodoro. "We should talk, somewhere safe— quiet." Another way of saying private. "I am sorry for the brevity," and more things than he's willing to openly admit at the moment. "But this is not the place to have this conversation."

"Gillian, I want you to climb out of here and stop augmenting as soon as you're out. Everything that isn't dirt and stuff should fall right back down and not hurt anyone. I'll just find a way to deal with it." That's code for: Magnes wants Gillian to get out so he can try and deal with the whole getting crushed thing on his own. "If I make myself heavier and reverse my own gravity, I should be alright, I think…"

Open-mouthed and slack shouldered, the scrawny teen parked at the edge of the trench cranes his head back. The weight of his rifle shifts somewhat across his back, useless as a weapon whittled out of balsa wood. But he is only one among many, and many of the others are less trusting. Sweaty hands absorb the stink of hot gunmetal, feet shift weight uneasily back and forth.

Jamón is mainly interested in the bodies. And Magnes, who may or may not be around his age. And who also may or may not be about to be smushed in a great corpsy collapse of earth and the recently deceased.

Tension crackles through the air, Dahlia not even remotely trigger happy and yet holding onto her gun pretty tightly. Cardinal gets a long look up and down, and Gillian a brisk stare, before Peter's words capture her attention. Dark eyes wide and jaw tense, she stands soldier straight. Her people, the one who bristled some at the notion of accessories, are watching her.

Haunted. That's how she looks. It gives Ross the opportunity to speak. "We arrived here from El Palenque," he tells them, a glance back at Magnes, then back towards the stand off going on. "We're— "

"Team Alpha." Dahlia finally seems to ease a little, nodding her head. Her dark eyes drift over towards Gillian and her new mark, assessing. "Lo siento. We apologise for the confusion. You can come with us." A glance towards Peter, before— rather choosily, she seems to only address the group, rather than he, unsettled. "Let me take you to my brother — you will be safe, for a time, until you are evacuated."

She's turning on her heel, moving back towards the jungles. Some linger, some follow. Ross's shoulders only slump at the word 'evacuation', before he glances at the others. "Let's go," he confirms, before look back at Magnes. "Need help, Varlane?"

"Fine, climbing out. I'll keep augmenting you, though," Gillian says, putting her hands up on the top of the thing, and trying her best to pull herself over. She's glad most the bruises are gone, but now she has to deal with… a four foot wall. She's not athletic. It's not pretty, but she manages to roll out from under the debris. No sign of the glowing or the flow of energy shows now. It's not violet, at least. Magnes knows it's there, even if it weakens a bit as soon as she lets go of him. She stands up and moves away, refusing to look up at the corpses. "I am not digging you out if you get buried!" she yells back at him, keeping her eyes on the others with the brands instead. Evacuation probably sounds like a plan, but… She grimaces a lot and looks over at… the guy wearing Peter's body.

Peter's words earn a strange look from Veronica. He's talking to the woman who is old enough to have probably babysat him as if she was once a little child that he knew, rather than the other way around. The cadence of his words, the way he speaks and holds himself — it doesn't seem fitting for someone his age. She notices Gillian getting out of the trench and moves over to the woman, keeping a guarded eye on the rest. Her arms go around Gillian's shoulders. "Good job on that," she says softly. "You thirsty? Hungry?" she asks, reaching for her canteen on her pack and handing it to the augmentor. "I have some protein bars… how long have you been alone?" she whispers, though she begins to move, to follow Dahlia.

The words from the ditch shouted by a familiar voice bring a slight grimace to Cardinal's expression, his brow shadowing at the thought of how certain people might react to certain explanations, all things considered. The tension seems to've been broken, at least, and he regards Dahlia— then when she turns, he moves to step along after them towards the jungles.

The teenager that they'd paid off in the town gets a rather dry look, as he comments, "I don't suppose we get our money back, eh?"

Her brother. There's some things that Peter was prepared for here in this jungle, some ghosts he is prepared to face and others that he's not sure he'll ever be able to confront. But that there is one living ghost here that he must rather directly answer to about the past strikes a hard cord in his heart. Tensing up, Peter's blue eyes flit to the ground, and he braces that assault rifle on his shoulder, blue eyes watching Magnes out of the corner of them.

"Right…" He murmurs, watching the predicament Magnes is in with a momentary tension. There's a roll of his shoulders, head craning to the side, and he longs for the days when he could hold something like that aloft, frozen in time. Strange, that inkling is.

"I'll be right there…" Peter murmurs, turning towards the ditch with the rifle eased over his shoulder. He may not much like Magnes, but the very least he owes him is the resect of keeping an eye out for him, in case this perilous situation doesn't pan out.

"It feels so strange, things being held up without touching them. I feel like I have a new arm and I don't know how to move it…" Magnes takes a deep breath, staring up at the debris, then suddenly closes his eyes as his features completely relax. "Don't speak, Hiro taught me to meditate." he says, in case Peter decides to try and pull him away or something. The erratic purple energy begins to calm down as well, purple tendrils starting to pull back from the debris and enter his body again. The most heavy of the objects, IE: The bodies, vehicles, tents, and the gadgets slowly lower to the ground, and the majority of his ability is tied up in dirt and debris.

"The dangerous stuff is down. I'm gonna stretch gravity 'up' for the rest of the debris. I'm not sure what it'll do, so…" So he does it, and when he does, the dirt goes firing away into the sky in every direction with purple streaks of light that quickly dies out after a while, until it all disperses harmlessly into the air. "Gillian, please stop now!" he calls out, wanting to relax and stop worrying!

There's a cheer from somewhere among the Branded for the display of dust and ungodly purple light, although most are simply shying away. Soldiers won't be buried tonight. It's time to go. Dahlia disappears into the forest as the man with the bone armor eyes each of them, as if he could decide who shot him, before disappearing too. Once his team seem to be more or less in one piece, Ross moves as well, his gaze set on the back of Peter's head as they go, before he casts one last glance to the desolate, destroyed base.

The dust only settles by the time everyone has cleared it.

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