Down in Flames, Part I


abby_icon.gif ash_icon.gif cat_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

elisabeth_icon.gif hana_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif rickham2_icon.gif

Also featuring:

aviators_icon.gif mcrae3_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif riggs_icon.gif

sasha2_icon.gif samson2_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif tien_icon.gif toby_icon.gif

Scene Title Down in Flames, Part I
Synopsis In a combined effort, Ferrymen, Messiah and Endgame forces hold off the National Guard and Stillwater Security personnel during their assault on the Institute's Staten Island facility.
Date August 12, 2010

Reclaimed Zone: Staten Island Hospital

The forecast for Thursday, August the twelfth included a prediction of thundershowers, but nothing of the magnitude churning above Staten Island University Hospital. Black smoke the colour of charcoal and the consistency of grease would blanket the terrain in total darkness if not for the blinding glare of the Institute floodlights installed on the perimeter of the facility. The lamps make angular silhouettes of the combatants out of the battlefield and do strange things to their proportions and the monstrous shadows they cast on the graffiti-tagged walls at their backs.

In conditions like these, it's impossible to keep an accurate body count, and impossible to differentiate between rainwater and blood, but the battlefield has become thoroughly saturated with both since the conflict started and the dusky red sun ceded to nightfall. What isn't difficult is separating friend from foe, ally from enemy — no one on the insurgents' side is wearing a uniform, and although many of the bullet-ridden bodies look alike floating on the sea of destruction that encompasses the courtyard where Hana's unit has just finished engaging and eliminating a smaller platoon, many of the faces are familiar to the Ferrymen among them.

They started with twelve. Twenty minutes later, they're down to six: Hana, Abigail, Cat, Elisabeth, Jaiden and Rickham. The shrill whistle of a rocket-propelled grenade fired from afar gives them ample warning to get behind cover before a nearby wall explodes in a shower of shrapnel and flaming debris. They're outnumbered and outgunned, but they knew this going in.

For the first time since the initial shots were fired, they have a minute or two to breathe.

"I think there's five men about twenty yards out, moving thorugh the treeline on the west face of the hospital. It's… hard to tell." Crouched behind an overturned car that had been on fire several minutes ago, the dark form of Allen Rickham — the man who should have been President — makes an assessment of what he can roughly feel around himself. Non-traditional senses apply when you are composed of a solid, unbreakable body of living iron. While Allen himself may be a dense and difficult to damage individual, his attire is nothing of the sort. The tall and wiry iron man is draped in the blackened, bullet-riddled and shredded remnants of a brown trenchcoat and business casual dress clothing worn beneath. Only the shredded fabric of a blood red scarf stands out amongst the attire, wrapped around his neck and mouth to hide portions of his visibly scarred face.

The scars are more like grooves or canyons cut into his visage, inch deep cuts that lacerate his metallic face and portions of his iron body that can be seen through the shreds of his clothing.

Blood runs off of his arms and hands, where iron fists have been used as blunt killing instruments during the confrontation. With the rain pattering down atop the thin metallic fibers of hair atop his head, Allen sounds like aluminum windchimes or a tin roof. That this is a thunderstorm has not escaped him, but he can only hope that McRae's atmokinetic prowess is enough to keep him from turning into a walking, talking lightning rod.

"The rain is shortening my horizon from all of the concussive noise, I can't tell anything else."

Hair slicked wet against her skull and neck despite the tail it's tied into, quiescent headset a slight irregularity in the brown cap,, Hana sets her back against the nearest building as the grenade explodes around a corner. Gloved hands adjust their grip on the rifle they hold, the Israeli nodding briefly as Rickham speaks. "Five," Hana affirms, "with another eighteen behind them." The pause is infinitesimal as she considers their surroundings. "Rickham, stay put. Harrison, Mortlock, Chesterfield, circle east around this building, fast, hide on the north side until they all pass or I say 'go'. You stay here with me," she continues, nodding towards Abby. "We three are bait." With the other three as the trap.

Near Rickham and Wireless, Elisabeth hunkers low behind the car. A glance at the watch on her wrist tells her that it has not even been a half hour. For a woman who has never been a US soldier, the blonde feels like she's seen more battlefields than some of the kids whose bodies she had to step over to get this far. "Jay, you holding up?" she demands of the man who has stuck to her like glue since they hit the combat zone. In the same breath, glancing up at Rickham, the man she once helped hide in the New York Public Library a lifetime ago, Liz nods slightly. "The acoustics are wild, and the last time I tried to hear anything, I think I damn near blew out my hearing," she admits. A crack of thunder almost took her out of the game; it came so close on the heels of the lightning flash that she barely had enough time to shut down.

There's blood streaking one of Liz's cheeks, though her own or that of one of their own fallen comrades that she stopped to check is anyone's guess. The balaclava isn't down over her face at this moment — it's too damn hectic for anyone to get a good look at her anyway, though she does still wear it as a hat to cover her blonde hair. Her hands are on autopilot right now as she pulls the not-quite-empty clip from her weapon and replaces it with a full one. "Eighteen? Fuck?" she swears again at Hana's news. "Got it." She claps a hand on Jaiden's shoulder and clambers around him to take point on their path across the courtyard to the building.

It's never nice to be in a battle. In the middle of the battlefield, the sounds of gunfire and explosions, screams of the injured echoing over the thundering storm drill into the psyche of all who listen to them. It takes those with strength of will to block it out and concentrate on what needs to be done to survive to see another sunrise. Jaiden crouches in the mud behind a partially destroyed wall, listening to the the chatter over the radio. "The rain is helping, and from what I hear, lightning'll be one of the minor things to worry about. Makes us harder to see and with me, a hell of a lot harder to hit in general." They have to keep from getting pinned down because with automatic weapons, even the iron bodied Rickham couldn't survive for very long.

Surprisingly, Jaiden is fairly dry, his clothes a little muddied from where he crouches, but save for his hands - water flowing from them like faucets, wreathing around his arms and legs, almost like a living thing, barely contained. It feels _good_ to let loose, now and again. A small shotgun is hanging over one shoulder, hidden in a plastic bag, a pistol on his hip in a waterproof holster - easily found when needed. "I'm doing fine, and don't fret your pretty little head. It'll all be right as rain sooner than you think." Eighteen is a lot - almost two squads. "Watch for the slower ones - they'll have the heavy machine guns. Should be two of 'em near the front. Aim center mass if you're shooting. I'll hit the lot with a wave or two to break 'em up."

Bait. She's gonna be bait. Abigail's chest heaves as she sucks in breath, already soaked from the rain that falls but the baseball cap keeps water out of her face directly. She's down a chunk of supplies in the pack that's moved from her back to her lap, used to try and help some folks on the move. Out there, there's a few people who died in a morphine haze, knowing it was the least that she could do for them, unable to really get them out to the side so they could be fired off to the triage. One can hope that the ones that did survive, can be reached in time before other people get to them

She's thrown up twice already, nothing else left in her stomach and she's actually fired the handgun twice. More to scare off people than hit them. "Bait" She'll stick by Hana, the odds of death decrease when in proximity to the israelite. She's sure of it. There's a glance to Rickham in his iron glory and/or carnage before she swallows hard, nodding her head. She wipes her arm under her nose, latex gloves on, new ones put on when she gets a chance, taking the moment to rest, close her eye's and pray. Little surprise there. Abigail's praying. Fat lot of good it's done them so far. At least for the ones who are down. Time to cry later if they live.

Orders heard, Cat goes into a sprint toward the chosen objective. Rain drips from everything and everywhere, the muzzle of her rifle held down to keep water out of the barrel. Small amounts of blood dot her clothing, none of it seeming to come from her body. Features are concealed, it's a standard practice for her when operating in situations like this. "Pretty little head? Please. This isn't our first dance, Mick." The next sound is an mildly annoyed snort, from wondering if the man thinks she and Elisabeth are a hindrance to the mission because they aren't men. For the duration of this battle, she's not shown any sign of being green.

Something silver flashes overhead, too small to be a rocket and too aerodynamic to be a grenade, and a moment later a falcon scissors past, wheeling close enough to the team that it makes them aware of its presence. "«Gitelman,»" a voice crackles over their radios, English accent bracketed by intermittent bursts of static interference that does not last any longer than the time it takes Cat, Liz and Jaiden to start moving into position. "«I need your team for an emergency extraction. What's your status?»"

The further the group heading around the east side of the hospital moves from the courtyard, the closer they get to the street that runs parallel to it, and Jaiden will find that the storm has transformed it into a river at least fifteen feet across at its widest point, but unlike the water coming down at a slant from the sky, this is weighed down by mud and debris. Half-submerged, a corpse spins by, gets snagged on the tire of a car with its headlights left on and provides him with an idea of how deep it might be, though there's no telling how deep it's going to get. A foot and a half and rising.

When they arrive at the appointed spot, the five soldiers are where Rickham and Hana indicated they'd be, and they aren't alone. Their reason for moving through the trees becomes clear when a teen in a denim jacket and a red piece of fabric twisted around his forearm comes staggering out of the bushes, hand clutching at his shoulder. That he's running away does not matter — one of the soldiers levels his rifle with the teen's retreating back and squeezes his finger around the trigger. Another explosion rocks the compound from the south, deafening them to the sound of the gunshot, but the soldier's aim is true. One moment, the teen is slogging through mud. The next, he's face down in it, unmoving.

The metallic grumbling noise that Rickham makes sounds like ball-bearings bouncing over piano wire. Staying put behind the car where Gitelman ordered him, Rickham can only hear the shot of the rifle ringing out and the noise of an explosion. Briefly he is distracted by the buzzing hum of water-weighted wasps zooming past his head in a thcikly amorphous cloud headed to the other side of the battlefield, directed by the Messiah insect telepath Riggs.

Hematite dark eyes focus on the distant pass of the swarm, and Rickham reaches into the shredded pocket of his jacket to pull out his cracked and broken but still functional cellphone, cables from the plugged in headphones winding up to where earbuds are jammed into metal ear canals. "Give me the sign when you need me to move," Rickham calls over the phone to the comms, translated, encrypted and disseminated by Rebel's technopathic network to the others in his team.

"Is everyone okay?" is an afterthought, but at least an honest one.

"We need to get them down between the buildings," the radio says in Hana's voice; of course, she didn't actually speak. Whatever Jaiden does to further that goal, she isn't concerned with — they have their task. One hand presses briefly against Abigail's shoulder, nudging her back in the shadow of the building. "Do shoot in their direction," she says, this to Abby alone.

"«About to engage,»" Hana answers Eileen in the same instant. "«Should have a brief lull after. Extract what from where to where?»" Important details. She doesn't wait on the avian telepath's reply, relying on Rebel and her own gift to relay it while otherwise occupied. Crouching at the building's corner, low enough that Abby can fire over her head, she consults her own monitoring for enemy positions, then leans out from the structure's cover to shoot aimed bursts at the enemy's advance party.

Then Hana rolls out from behind the wall and bolts for another vehicle, dark shape too visible in the floodlit courtyard. "Feel free to throw things behind them," she suggests to Rickham.

Rounding the building, Elisabeth eyes fall on the tableau. In the flickering lightning and the blazing floodlights, what just happened in front of the group has a surreal quality. And watching those bastards gun down a teenager who wasn't even armed? No. Her body on autopilot, Elisabeth's instinctive reaction is made manifest in the same moment that the soldier fires on the kid. Her ability slams through the sound waves generated by his gunshot and literally magnifying them to the nth degree right in the middle of the patrol.

To Elisabeth's own group, it looks like they're reacting in absolute silence when in fact, there is screaming — a lot of screaming as men are literally deafened, blood running out of their ears, and collapse. At least two look unconscious, the other three are not going to be getting up anytime soon, their equilibrium also messed with. Liz's jaw is tight with absolute rage, and there is a thrum of bass sound rolling off her person that is inaudible but can be felt rattling the fillings in the teeth of the people nearest her. "Five-man patrol is down," she says tersely.

Oh,to have a camera right now. To have a video camera to show the world what happened. An iPhone. A twitter account. A tape recorder. Anything. A retreating man, wounded, shot in the back. That makes Jaiden cranky.

The first sign of trouble that the group of eighteen behind the now decimated group of five run into is the water that they're slogging through stops. Dead. Even the falling rain just splatters on the top, running off like it was made of a firm plastic. The surface almost looks like someone took a sheet of saran wrap and put it down, the water undulating, tensing, straining to break free from whatever is holding it back when suddenly it rises like a living thing, debris and mud carried along with it to slam into the squad, giving the men in the front the sensation of belly-flopping from the high dive before being bowled back into their companions, the wave traveling backwards. A second wave, from the back, pancakes the squad, hard, the floating corpses and rocks and such acting as miniature battering rams, the bodies of the men caught in between.

"Soldier, that was a violation of US Military Rule of Engagement #3!" Jaiden yells, mad as a bag of cut snakes, a wall of water rising in front of him to block any fire while a firehose-strength water blast gushes into the remaining troops. "Get down and give me twenty!"

Her fathers shotgun wasn't going to be used here, and Felix would probably bob his head grimly if he saw her with the handgun. The hand to her shoulder and the silent squeeze probably do more to help her than Rickham's blanket inquery if everyones okay. She'd fire back that no, no ones okay, but her mother always did say, if you can't say anything nice…

The nudge taken, direction offered to the young blonde, the Medic eases into the shadow, lifting the handgun, trying to sight through the rain. Down to hell, a firey basket for her and a little more black on her baptist heart ever since Kazimir. The trigger is pulled, multiple times, working to provide cover for Hana that she's requested and be the proverbial bait.

Moving into position, with the five men already knocked over by combined action from Elisabeth and the Aussie, Cat finds herself not needing to act. Vigilance is kept ahead of them for signs of further trouble, ears listening for instructions from the Israeli technopath. "Yes," she murmurs under her breath, "extract who or what to where?" That doesn't sound good. At all.

"«Gray and Williams are helping hold the south line,»" Eileen reports, more for Rickham's benefit than Hana's. They're Messiah's people. "«We lost radio contact with Tien's team in the northwest corner a few minutes ago. There's gas out on the ground that we're working to clear, but we don't know how many of them are still alive. They have a tank.»"

The soldiers who don't succumb to the wave of mud are felled by the copper-and-lead hail that rains down on them from Hana and Abigail's position, though there's no telling who is responsible for what. What fire is returned glances off the sides of the buildings that they're using for cover. Pieces of plaster harmlessly bounce off Rickham's solid frame, and there's the sharp ping of a bullet ricocheting off his jaw but no damage done.

Down does not necessarily mean dead. In the mire, one of the soldiers hooks his fingers around a metal pin and sends a canister hurling haphazardly through the air. It hits the ground and goes rolling, splashing end-over-end through the water.

No explosion. Instead: a thin stream of rapidly expanding yellow gas that blossoms into the air, seeming to thicken when it comes into contact with the rain. The moisture in the air prevents it from spreading as swiftly as it might under different circumstances, but with the storm comes wind — and it just happens to be blowing in Jaiden, Cat and Elisabeth's direction.

The falcon cuts through the the cloud, trailing mustard-coloured eddies that slough off the tips of its angular wings. It has no effect on the avian telepath at the helm, elsewhere on the battlefield. "«There's a wall of sandbags and a concrete barrier standing between you and a swollen river.»" Eileen informs the team. "«You have two minutes to cross the west street before we open the floodgates. Once the wall goes, you won't be able to come back that way, but neither will they. Benton-Ward has volunteered to cover you.»"

The request delivered to Rickham is a simple enough one — throw something. Crouching down, Allen looks towards the building, then back to the upturned automobile and drives his fingers into the hood and wrenches it free from the car before taking a few squelching steps thorugh wet grass and then hurling the torn-off hood like a discus. The spinning sheet of metal arcs thorugh the air, and passes over the soldier that Rickham had been aiming for, but the grey-uniformed member of Stillwater Securities that rises up from the ground takes the hood somewhere in the chest. The force alone is enough to knock him square off of his feet, and the grinding snap that comes next is from the tire torn off of the front of the car.

With another rattling grunt of effort, Rickham hurls the entire wheel over his head, crashing down on another one of the Stillwater Mercenaries that was trying to get his footing in the slicked mud and one foot deep rainwater. Following that toss, Rickham starts treading across the grass, unshouldering the shredded coat that is as of now only weighing him down, clipping the broken case of his phone to his belt while it's still in one piece.

«I'll move the canister, the gas can't affect me like this.» Is Rickham's steely intonation as he starts making his way towards the metallic canister, slowed only briefly by the hail of gunfire popping and ricocheting off of his iron form. Small arms fire is low-caliber enough to be shrugged off, and it's the confidence in dealing with that which allows Rickham to get right into the middle of the enemy fire, drawing as much of it away from his allies as he can while he crouches to pick up the negation gas canister, squeeze it tight in one hand with a crinkling dimple of the metal, then wind up and hurl it away from the building.

Unfortunately, it has also placed Rickham out in the open and as a large, water-glistening iron target to heavier gunfire that may be outside of his stunted field of perception.

"«Anything else about the opposition? Do we get them and exit?»" Hana snaps across electromagnetic distance, as she takes advantage of the lull created by Jaiden's power use to rejoin Abby. "It'd be appreciated, Rickham. Afterwards, take point north around the hospital; route's clear as best I can determine, move at speed. Harrison's crew can fall in behind you with Beauchamp. I'll take up the rear, finish off anyone you miss."

Permanently deaf would have been far preferable to dead, Elisabeth would have thought. Cuz that's probably what'll happen when Rickham goes in, if he decides to step on them or something. But since they've decided to play hardball, well…. She bites out to Jaiden, "Don't let that shit touch you! Can you encase the area in fluid and keep it from traveling at us as we skirt around?" She seems to recall that he said something about walls and such, and gas can't travel through water, can it? "Or encase us in a wall of water to allow us to get around?"

Still, there's time for their three-man team to start extracting toward their next position. Jaiden's negative response means they'll follow Wireless's directions to go back east and north — essentially backtracking a little and circling around. Elisabeth gestures to for the rest of her team to fall back and follow Rickham in circling the gassed area. And given that we're on a two-minute timeline and it's a jog to get over there, she's not taking it slow either. Though she's moving carefully and trying to keep tabs on what might be ahead of us. "Don't forget that they're going to have back-up coming in," she reminds tightly of the FRONTLINE squads that are being delayed from arriving. If they get here before this is all over, that's going to be seriously ugly — the guys on the ground right now are not Evos.

Time to move. handgun lowered and held away from her body so that she can listen in to the directives issued over the radio. Follow Rickham, Hana will bring up the back, have to go pick up Tiens team and any survivors. There's a glance from the blonde, blue eye's peer up from under the brim of the baseball cap and a nod and she's on the heels of the iron man, making sure to try and keep him between her and anything that might pop up, a glance to see Elisabeth and the others follow.

Gas. Cat moves, not at all needing to be told. Had the noxious stuff not already been noticed and instructions given, she'd be passing the word. A battle like this is no time to suddenly be nineteen again. Whatever the situation is when they reach the emergency extraction location, it'll not be as dire as what they're leaving behind for that reason alone.

Two minutes is not a lot of time. Once reunited, the six-soldier team moves cuts a wide swath around the carnage left behind and is joined by a pair of sleek shadows with coats that look like oil under the floodlights. They're dogs, and anyone with knowledge of Tobias Benton-Ward's ability will know that this is the backup he promised.

As the group crests the northmost point of the building and comes down around the other side, they come up against the west street that Eileen instructed them to cross, which has bloated to easily forty feet across and two or three feet deep with a current powerful enough to pull parked cars down it at a slow, treacherous crawl.

Even with a hydrokinetic with them, it may not be safe to cross, and Jaiden is beginning to feel the first signs of fatigue creeping into his muscles. Waiting for them at the crossing is a young woman dressed in black and muted tones of gray, her clothes a pragmatic combination of leather and wool, but it's her face that's most recognizable. Everyone on Hana's team has met Eileen Ruskin at one point or another. Her focus rests on the other side of the water and the amorphous cloud of negation gas that has settled over an entire parking lot and the surrounding trees. In her right hand, she holds her cane aloft and uses the left to sculpt a maelstrom of starlings around it, gradually directing it away from the parking lot and the bodies that litter it. Through the smog, the outline of a M60 Patton battle tank is faintly visible, its guns turned on the treeline and the Ferry operatives trapped in the copse behind it.

It's some of the heaviest and most destructive machinery available to the National Guard. It's also standing between the team and the people they are presumably meant to extract.

"«I can keep the gas off you,»" Eileen says over the radio in spite of their close proximity. It's the only guarantee her voice will be heard of the sporadic pop of gunfire. Muzzle flashes flare bright in the trees. "«I don't know how many soldiers there are or how many of our people are left, but you need to get them out and you need to get them out now. They've run into trouble with charges, so Gray is going to blow the barricade manually. I'll give him the signal as soon as you're across.»"

On the sight of the birds swirling through the raining skies and the noise of heavy gunfire popping in the distance, Allen Rickham makes his approach to the swollen river's edge with nervous trepidation. Hematite colored eyes narrow against the night, focusing on the tank parked in the middle of the ground on the opposite side of the raging and entirely manmade river.

"I'll draw its fire, you figure out how to stop it," is probably the most ridiculous thing any man has said when confronted with a tank. Stepping ahead of Hana and the others, Rickham's sure-footed and heavy metallic frame reaches the shallows at the edge of the water, then with scuffing footsteps he moves back several feet, iron fingers creaking as he drops down into a crouch and then sprints forward. How a man as heavy as he is can even move with his weight is one mystery of the Evolved, but how he can maintain a regular running pace is equally as surprising.

The former President leaps from the edge of the water through the rain, soaring across the air and then lands with an explosive crash on the roof of an SUV stranded in the water, sending the glass of the windows blowing outward on all sides and crushing the roof down in like an aluminum can. From that crouching position, Rickham bounds back into the air off of the roof and lands down on another car, flipping the back end up when he lands on the hood with a crunch of metal and hops off onto the other side of the flooded street.

His dramatic movement was designed to do exactly what comes next. The hail of automatic gunfire blazing through the rain comes from soldiers and PMC that he can't even see through the torrential rain, but the shower of sparks and scraps of clothing flying off of his body imply that they can see him fine. Bullets whiz past and ring off of Rickham as he begins a thundering pace of charging towards the tank to circle around in front of it and draw the fire away from the Ferrymen and his own team so that they can cross the river and deal with the machine.

He's not willing to test whether he can survive artillery fire yet.

Nodding briefly to Eileen, Hana pauses momentarily to study the view across the flooded street. "Main cannon fires explosive rounds," she informs the group, also via radio, after briefly consulting cybernetic sources. "Try not to get in its path, Rickham. Secondary weapon is a machine gun. Both have 360-degree arc of fire, cannon moves slower. There's no backup en route yet," the technopath continues, as per Liz's prior statement. "About 15 soldiers with the tank."

"Mortlock, get the rest across," she directs. Hana snaps her fingers twice in the direction of the dogs, then slings her rifle across her torso and imitates Rickham in using the dislodged, water-swept vehicles as giant stepping stones — albeit far, far less dramatically, her dark clothing blending into the gloomy rain from any distance. In her best imitation of a shadow, the Israeli begins to circle around in the opposite direction, taking stock of the area and avenues by which to approach the tank.

Figure out how to stop it? First thing's first, Mr. President - the thing that normally should make up at least 50% of the fun involved - getting there. With fire drawn, Jaiden makes his way to the edge of the river, his hands going out in front of him. "Keep close and keep moving. I can get us across if we stick together." A deep breath and a roll of his shoulders followed by a glance downstream to see which cars are incoming indicates Jaiden being ready, and at the first large gap, his power goes into play. At first it looks like a bulge in the river - rising up about six feet tall and four feet wide, but as it rises even higher, Jaiden steps out into the stream, one hand out in front, the other toward the water, the liquid flowing around him, not touching him in the least, like he's a rock in the middle of a rushing stream. A gasp of air and the corona surrounding Jaiden increases, a bubble pushing out around him with enough room for everyone else to crowd around. And when they're together, they move across the street through the water, pausing to let a car float by now and again.

When they reach the other side, Jaiden rubs his shoulders and arms, tired (damn tired, in fact) but still fit to fight.

Jesus God in heaven. Elisabeth has never seen anything quite as….. unique. Yeah, that's the word we'll use. As seeing the man she voted for as President leap-frogging like a madman across a massively flooded street. Amid automatic weapons fire. Approaching a tank to …. what? Stand in front of it and go 'neener, neener, you can't catch me!'? There is a moment here where Elisabeth's brain just refuses to parse what she's seeing. Blue eyes are wide in amazement. And then she shakes it off, and shifts her position in the marching order to follow Jaiden's directions so as to get across the water. "Handy talent." She glances at Jaiden, assessing his condition briefly, and then says, "You guys take point. I'll cover Abby get her into the area they've got our guys pinned down once it's semi-clear." It will free up Abby's hands to not have to fire that handgun again, to do what she does best — help the people who need it.

Really, you can't help but watch Rickham frogger the river on the cars - instead of dodging them - but the moment he's across and Jaiden is forging the river to make the space for them to cross, Abigail's helping usher the dogs quick into the abated area. From there, it's keep close, hand gripping then loosening on the handgun with a glance to the others and a nod. See who all needs help to be moved, and get them out of there. "Understood" She calls out amid the gunshots and fire that fly.

Making her way across the restrained waterway, Cat is speculative. How to defeat a tank. She eyes Rickham, then the armored vehicle, an idea forming. "«Allen,»" she queries into the comm set, "«maybe you can take a piece of metal from a car and crush it small, then stuff it into the main gun's barrel. The machine gun on that thing probably can't hurt you. Or you could open the top hatch and drop a grenade inside.»"

"The things one sees when one has no thermite," Cat mutters under her breath.

Eileen remains on the east side of the river. Her falcon swings down, loops once around her and then streaks for the south, propelled by a series of razor quick thrusts of its wings. The floodlights reflecting off steely feathers act a signal to Gabriel, and as the last of Hana's team is climbing up to safety, the air is filled with a sonorous boom that has even Elisabeth turning her head away from its source, arm raised to shield her ear.

At first, nothing happens, but then there's a roar of rushing water and a tsunami comes barreling in from the south, rapidly expanding from forty feet across to fifty, then sixty. It's a ripple-effect that has not yet reached the parking lot, but the team has only a matter of seconds before it does, and they'll want to be far away from the water's edge when it hits them. Trees uprooted from cement churn in the muddy brown water and, up ahead, an overturned armoured personnel carrier — with the personnel still inside — wraps around a lamppost under the pressure before the lamppost splits in half, showering the parking lot in a sea of sparks.

"«Williams is on his way to assist,»" isn't much assurance Eileen has to offer against a battle tank, but at this point it's the most that the Englishwoman has.

Ash is in his armored black body suit, though at the moment it's more red than black. There's a slew of guns, ammo, blades, and other random implements. The man is running along, well away from the huge wave of moving water, though he's keeping decent pace with it, running flat out as he is. His steps hammer the ground as he runs, though he stops and grunts as he notices the tank and Rickham facing off against it. The man lifts an assault rifle on a strap over his shoulder up, and looses off a solid burst of rounds at the tank, watching them spank off of it's armor. "Rickham!" Is called out to the metal man as Ash swings and lobs a grenade to the former president, expecting him to know very well what to do with the object as Ash, somewhat suicidally, tries to get the tank's attention to turn his way.

Skidding to a stop in the water, Rickham's battered and worn old workboots split at the seams from the pressure and weight the sides are taking during his sliding strides. The turrent on the tank begins to pivor with a deep and heavy whirring noise. Spotting Ash of all people seems to bolster Allen's confidence and at the call, Allen turns to reach for the thrown grenade, only to feel a sudden dump truck impact of gunfire that launches the iron man off of his feet and sends him crashing down to the watery ground and skidding across the pavement.

The grenade lands on the ground, bounces, clicks and rattles to a stop. The heavy thumping pop of the top-mounted 50-cal machine gun is what took Rickham off of his feet, and that one of the National Guardsmen that were inside of the vehicle was brave enough to climb up and man it under the cover of the rainfall is as surprising as the weapon's affect on Allen.

Struggling up to one knee, there are visible bullet impact marks in Allen's body, several inches deep, looking like conical craters in his pitted iron flesh. Touching one hand to them and letting out a croaking groan of what might be pain, the artillery man fires again. This time Rickham throws his considerable weight to the side to avoid the gunfire, equal parts pavement and water spraying up into the air as he rolls across his shoulders with a metallic scraping and then lands on his knees again.

Getting up to his feet, Allen charges towards the tank, taking another burst of the 50-cal's fire at his chest, sending him flying back again with a shower of bright sparks that drop him down onto the ground with smoke issuing from the holes that bore halfway through his body.

But yet he's getting back up onto his feet again. It's an effective decoy tactic.

Nodding slightly as Liz assigns herself to Abby, Hana slides a small cylindrical packet, perhaps the size of a candy bar, foil-wrapped but for a plastic button, from a vest pocket and holds it in front of the dogs. "Can one of you take this to Chesterfield without biting down on it?" she asks of the canines — or rather, the man somewhere behind them. What the other dog does is his discretion.

"Mortlock, Chesterfield," Hana says, over the radio now. "Circle around, hit the foot soldiers. I can climb the tank if you keep them off my back." Accordingly, she takes a moment to set aside her rifle before moving forward through the gloom towards the giant armored vehicle, imitating a shadow as best she can. Distractions provided let her scale its side without interference from the tank-mounted machine gun — and once she's at the hatch, there's not much they can do.

Not with two presents dropped in and immediately activated once she slams the metal door closed again. One spits forth a firework-display in every color from vivid white to searing crimson — not that the men in the tank appreciate the colors, confronted as they are with shards of incandescent metal flying every direction. The other is less dramatic but equally dangerous, billowing dense white smoke into the vehicle's interior.

Rickham's just wow and then there's someone she hasn't seen before so it's assumed it's part of Peter's perfect posse of professionals at destroying government property and government personnel. With Liz stuck to her, the two women move, doing what was laid out. The others distracting, attacking and dealing with the tank, Abby and Liz make for the tree's and where Tiens group or whatever is left of them, are pinned down. Quick like the little rabbit someone calls her, she's skittering and scampering fast as she can while trying to make herself as small a target as possible.

"«On it.»" is Cat's reply over the comm as she moves to do what Hana seeks from her and the Aussie. Weapon is at the ready, grenades available for the task also. Finding their backs to her, the M16 rifle isn't put to work yet. Instead she reaches down to take the object brought to her by canine delivery service. Cover is located nearby in the form of cars, she'll leave several of them between herself and the result of this move for safety reasons.

Then the button is pressed and the object flung at the foot soldiers firing into the woods, followed by quickly taking advantage of that cover.

When the surge of water twisting and tumbling down the flooded street reaches the parking lot, it nearly catches Jaiden off guard. It's all he can do to keep the water from surging up, from catching the rest of the party and dragging them downstream, but with a pulse of power, the water is held back a second time….Jaiden, however, is not. The water catches him, pushes him downstream. "Shit, I'm caught in!" and like that, the hydrokinetic is pulled under.

On the east side, Eileen narrowly avoids a similar fate. The water rises up around her ankles, calves, thighs, but she's far enough away from the river's center that she doesn't have to worry about being sucked into it, slight of frame though she may be.

With smoke pouring from the tank's ventilation's shafts and the screams of the men inside joining the starlings' and the machinegunner occupied with Rickham — though chances are good that he'll be turning his fire on Hana very shortly — Elisabeth leads Abigail around the side with the canon, easily ducking under it on their way toward the trees. Out here, the floodlights don't reach as far, and the trees up ahead resemble jagged teeth made of matchsticks — there's no knowing what's on the other side. The only thing they can be sure of is that the soldiers' focus won't be resting on them.

It's on Cat. Or rather, it's on the device spewing smoke and spitting red and white hot illumination into the air and filling it with an acrid haze that blinds them to her position. When the turn their weapons on her, their shots go wide, bouncing off the tank's exterior.

Abigail hasn't gotten more than a few feet into the trees when it happens. A muscular arm roughly encircles her slim waist and yanks her back against one of the sodden trunks, rainwater streaming off the branches in thin rivulets black as ink in the absence of true light. Elisabeth raises her rifle but does not pull the trigger. For one thing, if she shot, she's just as likely to hit Abby as she is the man clutching her to him.

For another, she recognizes Sasha Kozlow's voice when he says, "Don't— There is something in there."

Ash narrows his eyes as he watches Rickham get plastered by the .50 Cal machine gun. Ash drops to his knee again, and sights down the assault rifle, breathing in deeply, then breathing back out before he pulls back on the trigger, sending a concentrated series of shots streaking towards the man in the gunner spot. He watches as the rounds hit home, tearing solid holes through the soldier, the man slumping over against the mounted cannon. With that done, and the tank apparently out of action, or enough so that the others can deal with it, Ash is off, sprinting again towards the woods where he knows there's a team pinned down. He glances towards Abby and Liz, moving away from them so as to spread out, cause more havoc and mayhem amongst the enemy.

Finally pulling himself to his feet, Rickham staggers while upright and paws at the holes in the middle of his chest, looking dumbfounded by the severity of the impact. Dazed, he staggers a few clanging steps before realizing that he'd heard something about Jaiden, but no more can the iron man see the Aussie, only crashing waves and water. For the moment, all Rickham can do is try and reassess the battlefield and regain his bearings.

Meanwhile, what lies in the woods could indeed be considered something, but the monster between the trees and silhouette by the light of flames from burning deadfall sizzling in the rain is no creation of Dmitri Gregor or Bao-Wei Cong. Hunched over a twisted body of a man in a white biohazard suit is a man, an old man. His hair is salt and pepper gray, clipped close to his head, though his gray beard if untamed and thick, coming to a near point in the front of his angular and sharp face. Thick brows are brushed above his eyes and the creases of years carved into his face look merciless.

The flannel shirt he wears is caked with blood, more so as he wipes his soaked hands off on the fabric of both the shirt and his rainsoaked jeans. It is not so much blood from the body in front of him that is on him, but blood from what he has done to the body. The skull of the Institute Retriever dead here int he woods has been split open with nothing but the practicality of a bloodied rock with a sharp point.

Smoke billows around the man in roiling clouds, along with sparks of electricity and flickering embers of flame, as if he were the center of some elemental conflagration. The rain keeps the smoke down, low and heavy, diminishes the flames but seems to amplify the electricity's presence. A few tiny arcs dance over his arms and fingers as he works one hand inside of the skull, sliding a nearly intact human brain out of the corpse's fractured skull.

Glasses gleaming in the light of the burning trees charred by a pyrokinetic explosion, Samson Gray assesses the brain held in his hands with crooked lips and a mirthful smile, running his thumb and forefingers over one twisted lobe before sliding his index finger between the hemispheres, looking for something.

Scattered around the old man are corpses, flame-charred bodies of Stillwater PMC and National Guardsman, flesh boiled from their bones and charcoal crackling what remains of them. At the epicenter he sits heedless of the danger around him. Or, more accurately, intimately aware of the danger.

Hana isn't interested in hanging around the tank, and slides down its side in the interest of getting out post-haste. Landing sends a jarring shock up her frame, the woman tucking and rolling with the impact to give it a moment's chance to abate, even a little. And while she scrambles to her feet, the better to sprint for concealment, the technopath picks up something she really didn't want to hear.

"«Air strike inbound!»" she declares across all the radios tuned to their frequency. "«Two jets pass over in 10 minutes to level the facility!»"

Reason for Hana to circle around through the trees and regroup with both her team and the people to be evacuated.

Any scream is jolted out of her when the Russian holds her tight so she doesn't go barreling in and the words in his ear. What she's though, at first, doesn't seem so bad. Till, there's a brain in his hands and Abby's stuck on staring, uncaring of the russian at her back with his arm around her waist, gun limp in her hand.

"Others" Since there's nothing but the foe on the ground around the grizzled bloody man. "Where's the others, We're here to get them out. Tien and his team" Her eye's don't leave the man, or more appropriately, her eye's don't leave what he's doing to the brain.

She didn't quite expect the device used to do what it's doing, Cat had believed it would take out some or all of those infantrymen, but this will work. As the weapons fire directed her way turns out to not actually be directed her way, she raises her M16. Whether or not she can still see the targets doesn't matter; she saw them before using that device and can thus fire on those spots.

So she does, finger squeezing the trigger to send rounds their way.

And while still firing, she hears the inbound strike warning with the realization those planes could be carrying a nuke. Or at the very least an incredible amount of napalm. "«Eileen. Status of the pinned down team? We need to go, now.»" Not that running will do any good if they are bringing a nuke. Pleasepleaseplease just be napalm.

Sasha directs Abigail's attention around the tree that they're flush against, but it's Liz who advances further into the shadows, flicks on her maglite and shines it down at the ground. Hana's team of twelve has lost seven of its people, including Jaiden at the hands of the river. Tien, who was given twice that number, has been reduced to exactly three: Sasha, himself, and the young woman he holds cradled in his arms. Tasha Oliver's head hangs limply against his shoulder, her dark hair spread in a greasy fan across her face, which is streaked with blood. One arm dangles freely, fingers naturally curled in on themselves — the other is folded across her midsection, as if asleep.

She appears to still be breathing.

The others, a mix of Ferrymen and a scarce few younger Messiah soldiers, tattered pieces of red fabric still knotted around their arms, are no better off than the the machinegunner slumped in his seat and bleeding out onto the pavement in the parking lot or the charred corpses inside the tank. Those who didn't go down under the gunfire succumbed to the explosive rounds expelled from the tank's cannon. One of the youths, face down in the dirt, is wearing a jacket with a Phoenix emblem on the back, and while this is a detail that Cat would pick out, Elisabeth is more interested in the fact that he's missing the lower half of his body.

Eileen doesn't have to tell her what the status of Tien's team is because the audiokinetic does it for her. "«There's three. Tien, Kozlow and a girl. Brunette.»" A branch crackles overhead and Elisabeth tips up her chin, squinting at Eileen's falcon as it alights above her. "«We need to get out of here.»"

"«Take the survivors and your team and head north,»" Eileen says. "«Leave the old man. He's one of ours. There's a road on the other side of the trees that's still clear — your exit is waiting.»"

The wind sweeps the smoke away, and when it clears the air is empty except for the rain coming down with enough force to strip the trees of their flimsiest leaves. The soldiers that Cat and Ash didn't put down have fled, leaving only muddy footprints and a spotted trail of blood in their wake.

That, too, will be washed away.

Ash sees all the dead and dying members of Messiah, and the other allies that have come in with them, and a snarl rips from the man's throat. He shifts around from foot to foot, moving guns and weapons around on his body before he looks towards the men retrated, and he hauls ass after them, his feet digging hard into the earth, using every bit of his strength and speed to try to catch up with the fleeing men. As he runs a short, snub nosed weapon is pulled off of his shoulder and settled into one hand, the P-90 the perfect weapon for shooting men down on the run, and that is fully what he intends to do, the man is going hunting.

Looking up and over towards the distant back of Ashley Williams, Samson Gray arches one brow in slow and languid fashion. The old man slides his finger from within the brain and runs his tongue along his lips before wrapping it in a shredded jacket that lay bloodied on the ground nearby like a loaf of bread from the market.

Breaking up into a discorporated whirl of smoke, flames and lightning, Samson explodes through the trees on seeing the rats fleeing what is invariably a sinking ship. The smoky form roars through the trees in a serpentine pillar, leaving flakes and trails of ash behind in its wake before disappearing into the dark of the woods with what he'd come to this very place for. Whatever he was promised, he'd received.

Down on the concrete, Allen Rickham drops to a knee again, unable to find his bearings and balance. Falling forward, the iron man plants both of his hands on the pavement and breathes out a heavy rattling noise, then tries to scramble back up to his feet. He makes it a few steps forward, scuffs his boot and then collapses down and forward onto the burning remains of the tank. One hand grips the side of the frame as Rickham shakes his head and looks down at the massive dents in his metallic frame again, then up to the rain falling down on his iron form.

"Help," sounds hollow and metallic and further away than Rickham truly is. It's almost hard to hear over the sounds of shouting in the distance and the torrential rain. "S— Something's wrong," Allen grouses, slouching forward again onto the tank, shoulders heaving and head shaking as his vision flickers and distorts. Like a finely tuned instrument, Allen senses vibrations in the air with his body. The more damaged the instrument becomes, the less fine the tuning is. Right now he is like a badly beaten musical instrument trying to play a clear note and coming out distorted. It's the closest thing to vertigo he can experience, and it is paralyzing.

Only three. Inside her chest, her heart sinks even more lower at the count. Abby worms her way from out of Sasha's arms - at least attempts to, giving Samson a wiiiiiiiide berth, so she can move to Tasha's side, checking for her pulse, look for any immediate holes that need plugging with her bag already being slung off one shoulder so she can dig into it while gesturing in the appropriate direction. "You heard her, we go north, Tien, you good to carry her? Liz, make sure we don't have any other surprises" Jaiden's lost, gone, maybe he'll be fine, surface elsewhere. He can manipulate water.

There's a glance to the old man, frowning at him, her eye catching on the little flare ups of flame and on what he's doing to the brain before Sampson is gone. Involuntarily, a shudder runs through the woman and her stomach roils again before she's moving, trying to help usher people north. A glance to Rickham and his plea, Abigail looks to Liz. "Go, help him, Sasha will protect me"

Abandoning people when she has a choice is a thing Cat won't do. The Aussie she'll have to hope was able to recover himself downstream, but for others this isn't the case. Allen Rickham needs assistance, so she goes to provide it as best she's able. There will be others as they emerge from the woods, she believes. And there's Hana not so far away in her estimation. "On your feet," she tells him in an urgent voice, "we're leaving. Now."

He isn't her only concern. "«Do we have status on the interior crews? Are they mission successful and evacuating?»" If they're not out before the aircraft arrive…

She forces herself not to think so much about that.

Elisabeth glances between Abigail and Sasha, dark blonde brows lowered, but with a nod turns and hurries toward the sound of Rickham's course bleating at a brisk pace. The falcon turns its head to regard the paramedic and now Hana, who is gingerly transferring Tasha from Tien's arms to her own, an elbow hooked under the younger woman's legs and one hand splayed at the back of her head to provide the support it needs.

"«McRae and I will try to buy the teams inside the facility a few more minutes,»" Eileen tells Cat. "«No word on their status. Get yourselves clear.»" Above the roar of the wind and rain, there's a thicker sound that resonates in the cavities of the team's chests, and two shapes cut through the charcoal clouds roiling in the ink-black sky. Like the falcon's wings, they shine silver and create the stylized outline of what looks like a bird from below, but there's not one person among the survivors that doesn't recognize the profile of a fighter jet when they see it.

The good news is that they haven't delivered their payload and are circling around for another pass.

The bad news is that they're about six minutes too early.

Ash lets off a burst of fire into the woods after the fleeing men, only to stop dead in his tracks as he hears Rickham's voice over the distance.. His head turns, his eyes going out back to where he came from, and when he spots Rickham's big metal ass he turns around, slinging the P-90 again and dashing back towards the former president, getting there post haste. He slides to a stop baseball style, coming up next to Rickham. He looks over to the two nearby women. "Help me get him up. I should be able to keep him balanced once we do."

Scraping booted feet on the pavement it takes all the King's horses to get the iron man back together again. Ash is of considerable physical strength, so supporting Rickham's weight is easy enough and with the assistance of Cat to help brace one of his arms and Elisabeth circling around to rest a hand at his back and one around his waist, the three manage to keep the two-thousand pound man from toppling over and crushing one of them to death.

Staggering, slow footfalls carry Rickham with the others away from the building, but the noise over the comms — crackling as they are in Rickham's broken headphones — indicates that the threat hasn't ended. The peal of jet fighters roaring through the skies has Allen looking up and lifting one of his hands shakily, then unable to reach for the mic dangling from the cord of his headphones.

"Did we all make it? Is everyone— okay?" Unable to keep his head from swimming, Rickham is barely able to walk let alone call for checks on the other teams, though the relative radio silence over the other comms has been unnerving during the confrontation. Whatever's going on inside of the hospital, hopefully they got the warning about the impending air-strikes too.

Tien passes over Tasha, Abigail slides over to Tien and eases under his arm when he looks like he might need a little help moving faster. "North, Through the tree's, we have a triage area set up further away, we can look at everyone" A glance to Sasha and an unspoken hope that he might pitch in and help. A glance up, focused on the jet fighters that make their way over is disconcerting, and enough for her to look to the large asian beside her. "Faster" She doesn't want to be caught here when they drop whatever it is they choose to drop. Much like Cat, she's praying it's just napalm.

Working her way along through the forested area at the slowed pace made necessary by assisting Rickham along with Ash and Elisabeth, Cat's speaking to the metal man in tones she hopes will draw him back to mental focus enough for self-propulsion. "Allen," she hisses as the jets pass overhead and turn for another run, "got to move. Get your head. in. the. game!" His question about other crews is disregarded, this is no time to let him focus on anything else.

Progression through the trees is impeded by bodies, pieces of bodies, and gnarled root systems that have breached the earth. The next time the jets tear overhead, an arc of lightning splits open the sky, it's followed by booming thunder and the sound of an explosion as the engine at its tail erupts into flames and scorched feathers, birds sucked out through the back, their bodies reduced to ash, smoky black grit and embers. It shoots past its mark, soars over the facility's roof and loses a wing when a concentrated beam of purple-white light slices through it.

Whether or not the pilot ejects in time matters very little to the team retreating through the copse. The jet's trajectory sends it cartwheeling into the parking lot at their backs. The wing lands even closer, crashing through the canopy less than a hundred feet from the group and breaking apart all the trees in its path with the ease of a clumsy toddler breaking matchsticks between fat, groping fingers.

Keep moving, keep moving, try not to look too closely on what's below, though it's hard to miss at times and she gags but keeps moving. "Come on Tien, Hana, how is she?" Sasha's here somewhere, a glance around for him and wide eye's from Abigail as plane bits just smash in their wake. "Oh lord on high" One down, another one to come. Would Matthew come looking for her at work? See if she knows anything? He won't find her if he does. Head down, feet moving, one in front of the other. "We'll be outta here soon, we'll find out how the others fared" Somehow, they'll find out. Then she'll have a busy time sewing people up, she's sure of that.

Eventually— with difficulty— Rickham manages to pick up his pace. Perhaps it was the cacophonous explosion at his back that sent shrapnel of the plane cartwheeling in every direction and ripping through the forest or perhaps it is the fact that there are others counting on him to make it out of this alive. When they charge through the forest, Hana at the fore of the group leading the way towards the road that Eileen described, the team emerges out on a rain-soaked street surrounded by trees on all sides. Still not nearly far enough away from the hospital to be safe, especially depending on what kind of payload the jets are actually carrying.

The rumble of an engine approaching, however, is a sure sign of either a continuation of this dogged conflict or an escape. Perhaps for the first time tonight there is a saving grace for the combined groups battling the Institute masked as a threat.

The emergence of an army Humm-Vee roaring down the street bodes ill, its olive-drab paintjob and rear-mounted machine gun looking particularly unlike rescue until the headlights flash twice in perhaps some sort of pantomime of greeting. Hana steps out into the road, narrowing her eyes because she's figured out who's behind the wheel and one hand is still on her gun, processing whether or not to shoot anyway.

When the Humm-Vee comes to a rolling stop and the passenger side door kicks open, the man sitting behind the driver's wheel in the Aviator sunglasses is a familiar face to only a handful of the people here. "Pile the fuck in and let's get going!" Avi Epstein's arrival is an unlikely one. Dressed in as USMC uniform, it appears he may have stolen this Hummer off of the base.

"Any one of you kids know how to fire a fucking SAM?" Avi asks as he leans towards the passenger seat, even as Rickham is led towards the back doors and slouches inside, causing the frame to creak, groan and strain under his substantial weight. "Cause we got one shot to take out that last jet!" Pointing a thick finger past Ash and towards the sky, Avi is directing attention towards the last fighter jet circling in to drop its payload.

Lowering his glasses and motioning to Ash, Avi queries in a sharp tone of voice, "You look like a jarhead, you ever fired a surface to air missile, son?"

Avi Epstein's question is met with one in return as Rickham is no longer needing assistance. "It's got a crosshair setup and easy to find trigger, yes?" Cat's never fired a SAM, but seems to think she probably could. "Shoulder fired weapon, recoil goes out the back, yes?" Maybe some of the Marines on the George Washington told her about how it works and she's only letting it seem she needs to ask questions. Maybe they didn't and she believes she can do it anyway. But even while asking, she's setting her rifle to safe and moving to get inside the vehicle.

The next lightning strike misses its intended target and the jet banks sideways, skimming through the flock of starlings that Eileen sent to intercept it, but the same strategy does not work twice. The only thing the weather shaman and the Englishwoman succeed in doing on the next pass is spooking the pilot, but in this instance spooking the pilot is enough: the maneuver has him aborting the run and adopting an alternative flight path that brings his aircraft parallel to the road where the Humvee is idling as he lines himself up one final time.

This time he won't be dissuaded, and McRae and Eileen won't be able to recuperate quickly enough to arrange a third counterattack. The thin, shuddering hiss the team can hear over their radio isn't interference — it's the exhausted rasp of Eileen's breathing.

Epstein could not have been more correct.

This is their last shot.

Ash continues to support Rickham, but as he does so he swings the third of his assualt rifles into his right hand. Each one has a different purpose. This one? Armor piercing rounds, perfect for drilling someone inside of a humvee. But when the rest of the group doesn't seem to react badly to the person present inthe vehicle, he swings the gun back around against his back, wincing as it clangs off of Rickham's side. "Sorry bout that Pres." He comments over to the big iron giant. His head turns, eyes tilting up to the man in the vehicle, his eyes staring levelly at him. "Nope. Never done so. I have a rough idea of how, but that's only from reading…" He looks at the launcher before he scoops it up, his eyes going over to Cat with a slight nod. "Never managed to get my hands on one, tried to find one amongst my… victims.." With that he pulls out a small pouch and tosses it into the humvee. Some dog tags spill out, as well as badges and pins off of still water, institute and Guard alike, trophies claimed from the dead. "Didn't manage to find one…" He looks up to Avi, then down to the contraption as he begisn to play with it, figuring out how the thing works. He closes his eyes a moment, then opens them, his hands moving more surely over the controls of the thing. "Studied up on how to fire these things…" he murmurs as he lifts it, then he moves, scrambling up on top of the humvee, onto it's roof wher he kneels down, and lifts the stinger, bracing it on his shoulder, sighting along, waiting for the thing to lock in on it's target, manipulating the controls confidently, waiting for that tone of a lock.

"You know I always said I was gonna' retire from the Agency at fifty-five," Avi notes as he revs the engine and looks furtively to the road, offering a slanted look at Hana as she climbs in on the front passenger side, one brow raised and the corner of his lips crooked up in a hey there expression right up until they make eye-contact and Hana's stare withers him to the core. Clearing his throat awkwardly, Avi looks back to see Elisabeth climbing up on the back at the gunner's mount and Cat moving into the back where Rickham is slouched, squeezing in while Tien, having taken Tasha back again, leans over the back seats to lay her prone form down in the narrow storage space behind the rear seats on the floor. At least she is both small enough to fit and probably safer there. For an old man, he certainly has considerable upper body strength.

Hana scoots to the side in the front seat to allow Abby in next to her and Avi scoots away from Hana before he hears a chirping tone come over Ash's stinger missile launcher.

"Yeah, you know— retirement's probably the best option at this point," Avi notes sarcastically before the rush of the Stinger being fired sends a missile flaring out of the launcher with a plume of smoke, flames and heat flowing out the back of the weapon.

With Ash having taken care of the SAM duty, Cat is free inside the vehicle to take stock of things. The dark haired woman in Tien's care is looked at and quickly recognized now that she has time to do so. "Crap," she breathes out, moving to assist the elderly Asian with her and hopefully check out her injuries. "What happened to her?" she asks, voice possibly betraying concern more than might be felt for others.

Tasha Renard is not allowed to die. One, she likes the woman and would be stricken by that. Two: she really has no idea how to stop Agent Smoky from taking revenge at his leisure.

The impact of the missile colliding with the fighter jet is loud enough to be mistaken for one of McRae's thundercracks, and maybe those fortunate enough to have already fallen back and begun retreating into the island's greenbelt where Megan Young is waiting with her team of volunteers at the nature center that the Ferry has converted into a field hospital will.

Their radio cuts out in the resulting explosion, which separates the plane's tail from its body, ignites its fuselage and sends it corkscrewing down, down, down—

"Oh," says a voice from the backseat, watching the plane's descent, "no." Sasha loops an arm around Tasha's limp form in the back seat, grabbing a fistful of her hair in his hand and forcibly braces her head against his chest. Tien must see the same thing the Russian does, because he's moving to do something similar and helps shields the injured young woman with his body.

Well done,»" are the last words heard from Eileen over the radio.

Ash listens to the chirp of the machine for a full second before he presses down on the firing stud. "Ease!" She shouts, cause, hey, that's what you're supposed to do. And he realizes why as the missile is loosed, the air pressure shifting hard around him as the thing streaks into the sky. "Oh yeah, you're coming home with me. We'll just have to find you some more ammo."

Through the smoke and flames, the burning fuselage of the fighter jet tears a pathway through the sky. While the exhaust and wing have been shredded into pieces by the impact of the stinger and its payload, the bulk of the jet's main body is a blazing lawn dart now descending for the hospital with a trailing plume of smoke choking backwards out from it. With the pilot undoubtedly dead and the vehicle in quickly separating pieces.

The wings separate as the plane's remains come spiraling down towards the rooftop, along with what looks to be the sputtering and armed payload of whatever it had intended to drop on the hospital. Judging from what the vehicle looked like when it passed by, only one of the four bombs that had been loaded to bear on the vehicle seem to have been dropped before the stinger hit its target.

When the plane comes down, it crashes into the roof of the Staten Island Hospital, creating a raucous crashing of concrete and steel, shooting flames out the windows in the split second before the payload itself detonates within the building. The intention was to cauterize the Institute for fear of a viral outbreak from the experiments, which makes the sudden eruption of a massive fireball inside of the building the almost expected results.

Had the full payload been dropped, this entire area would be a smoking and burning crater and everyone — including those waiting at the Humvee — would have been killed. But now only the thermal draft and the blast of flames that rips through the building, melting steel, shattering windows and the force of the plane's impact shattering concrete brings the Staten Island Hospital down to the ground.

A plume of choking black smoke swirls up into the air, backlit by a flash of thunder and the heavily pouring rain. Avi sucks in a sharp breath as he watches the explosion and the flames, eyes wide in realization that there may have been people still in there, but he knows there were still people out here.

"Good job, kid," Avi solemnly explains with a jerk of his head towards the Hummer. "Let's… get the fuck out've here before somebody notices I jacked this."

Flames leap high into the night sky, smoke twists with it, and while the ultimate destination is the triage center up on the Greenbelt, there will be aftershocks from this blow to the Institute for a long time to come.

Hopefully there, away from the warzone, Messiah, the Ferrymen and Endgame can count their victories and their losses.

The battle is won, but this war is only just starting.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License