Down in Flames, Part III


bao-wei2_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif jessica_icon.gif lacombe_icon.gif ling_icon.gif monica_icon.gif niki_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Down in Flame, Part III
Synopsis The combined forces of Endgame, Messiah, and the Ferrymen face off against the terrible creature Bao-Wei fashioned himself into in the basement level of the Staten Island Hospital.
Date August 12, 2010

Staten Island Hospital - Lower Levels

It's a bit nippy in here.

Being soaking wet isn't the way that anyone wanted to start this mission.

Water drips from the cracked concrete ceiling and from the way it was raining on the outside when the team first descended down into the subway, there's a good chance that the already waist-high water level down here is going to become deeper. For all that the maps of the twenty years derelict Staten Island Subway project were accurate, there was no way they could have conveyed the amount of ice cold groundwater standing stagnant in its lightless depths.

An unintentional side-effect of the subway's construction was creating a draining system for Staten Island, like Roman aqueducts of old. This subway tunnel is wide enough for the team to walk four at a time down the corridor, with shifting gravel and slippery algae-covered tracks buried in the dark, murky depths. Fissures in the concrete wall spill with rainwater trickling down from above, and it's likely that the lion's share of the water here is runoff from the Great Storm that hit this winter.

Matthew Lacombe had asked to take up the rear, but now it's become something of a necessity. The Messiah-loyal cryokinetic has one seeming weakness which has — unfortunately — manifested itself much earlier than he'd expected. Fifteen feet at the rear of the group with a flashlight shaking in one hand, Lacombe is waist deep in slush, not water. Unable to control his cryokinesis when wet, Lacombe is freezing from the waist down. Large chunks of brown ice flake off of his legs as he walks, frost has crusted over the black fabric of his denim jacket and the armored vest worn beneath. There's even a thin layer of ice over the lens of his flashlight, melted at the middle where the light's bulb is hottest.

"H— how m— much further?" Lacombe stammers, actually feeling the cold in his dampened state. "W-we've been w-walking f-f-for fucking ever."

About another thousand feet isn't quite the answer he wants, but it is the truth.

Lacombe would have never made it in Delta. Maybe that's why he's not with them. Lacombe brings up the rear, while Jensen Raith has taken point, unhappily armed with only a carbine and a flashlight: The rest of his weaponry is in his back pack to avoid getting wet. "We're almost there," the ex-spy says back over his shoulder, "Three hundred meters, that's all." One meter is three feet, three inches and some change, but 300 is a much smaller number than 1,000 is, and Lacombe will find it a lot more appealing if he manages to ignore the unit designations. "You can make it, it's not far. If it gets too bad, ask someone to carry you. If no one volunteers, I'll do it. Just don't freeze us, huh?" They aren't friends. They all know they aren't friends. They also all know that they need everyone to pull this off. They're only getting one shot, after all. "Time."

There's a presence in the darkness of the sewers that's alive, a tenebrous shape that blends seamlessly in with the shadows about a hundred feet ahead of the rest of the team. Richard Cardinal doesn't feel the cold that bleeds off from Lacombe into the dirty runoff that stagnates in derelict subway tunnels, and his gear - whatever it is - is kept protected from the water by virtue of not currently being physical.

He's scouting, keeping an eye out for any unforeseen presences that might be lurking. Security cameras, automated turrets, the Staten Island Monster…

Monica has her own backpack, and a protective vest on, both of which play with her balance and maneuverability, but hey! It's just a creepy underground passage. What could possibly go wrong. Unlike Raith, she's not carrying a weapon in hand. But she's more focused on keeping moving to fight off some of this cold. It is marginally successful. Hanging toward the back, in an effort to keep the gap bridged between Lacombe and the rest, she seems to be checking on the slush-bound fellow somewhat frequently. However, she is not one to volunteer to carry another body. It would seriously handicap her kung fu, after all.

If there seems to be a bit of a haze in the room, it's not due to any steam that may have found it's way down with them. Rather, it's what trails from the drifting, smoky form of Ling Chao, formed into something resembling her normal, humanoid form as drifts along, protected and dry for the moment. She stays towards the middle of the group, remaining largely silent as she watched Raith, Lacombe, and numerous others she has never worked with before. The pessimistic side of her tells her that this is a recipe for disaster, a sentiment she keeps to herself.

The rest of her doesn't care.

Niki doesn't stray far behind Raith, intending to provide the muscle should the need arise. Plus, she's not too keen on walking any closer to Lacombe than she has to. Well, she would have, but Monica was so nice and pre-empted her, so she'll just let the southern girl provide the solidarity. She remains unarmed for the time being, her firearm tucked away safely - and most importantly dryly - in her backpack. Her own flashlight bobs slowly up and down with her movements while she slogs through the miserable conditions in the tunnel. Her dim reflection is turning her head from side to side, out of sync and taking stock of their surroundings.

"Three hundred meters?" Niki hazards a glance back to Lacombe. She's all smiles and reassurance, but she's actually calculating whether he'll be of any use to them after another thousand feet. "That's really not so ba-"

Niki's torchlight winks out suddenly as she disappears beneath the water.

It's nothing more sinister than a case of lost footing. The hitter emerges from the water again quickly enough, blonde plastered to the sides of her face. She doesn't sputter as she runs her free hand across her face, clearing the water from her eyes and slicking back her hair with a scowl. "Not a fucking word," she warns. Jessica's reflection silently coughs and flounders beneath the surface.

With the water unstilled by their movement — and Niki's collapse into icy waters — the ripple of the disturbed water glitters in the glow of flashlights. Up above, the subway tunnel team can feel a concussive vibration, the sound of a large explosion shaking the ground from all the way above where the battle sounds like it's already begun. The distraction team is doing their best to try and draw away fire from the hospital.

Up ahead, Raith can see what he's been looking for. A narrow set of concrete stairs leading up to a landing platform and a partly submerged subway station. It isn't the stairs he needs, but they're an appropriate landmark to navigate by. Just before the stairs is the object of his concern, a long since deactivated electrical fuse box with rusted wiring, bolted in to the scum covered concrete wall. The explosive charges Raith has been packing with him are to be set on the wall, and the recommended course of action is retreating around the back of the train platform to wait for the bang. The charges should blow clear through into the boiler room on the lowest level of the hospital.

What is worrisome, though, is that the wall all around the fuse box is cold enough to have generated ice crystals in a whisper thin sheet over every surface. The cold permeating from the concrete is almost palpable, even at a distance.

"Open your weapon's action and make sure the chamber dries out," is all the retort Raith offers to 'Niki' about her sudden fall into the water. And really, the last thing anyone needs is flash-boiled water causing a catastrophic-level explosion in their hand.

Their first goal being in sight is a good boost for group morale, likely needed since the explosions overhead aren't going to help it any. The cold? That might be a problem. "Great," he says, pulling himself up onto slightly drier ground. Slightly. "They're running cryogenics in there." That makes the use of explosives more dangerous: The the second-worst thing that could happen right now would be flooding the tunnel with liquid nitrogen. The worst thing that could happen would be if the cryogenic is liquid oxygen. Oxygen doesn't react well to sudden changes in heat and pressure. But maybe things aren't completely lost yet. "You know the funny thing about masonry in a damp environment like this," the ex-spy begins, "Any biomass that gets down here decays and releases sulfur, which becomes acid when it touches the moisture on the walls. But if you also lower the temperature to cryogenic levels, the stones tend to crack and fall apart if you tap them hard enough."

Allowing that sentence to hang, Raith looks back to his blonde compatriot, if only to see how long it takes everyone else to put the pieces together.

"That's not cryogenics… cryogenics…"

A shadowy hand sweeps over the glittering crystals that coat the wall, splaying out in dimensions larger than a complete person before drawing back slowly to form the silhouette of Cardinal beside the fuse box. The shadowman's voice is a low, urgent whisper, "…it's Cong. He was experimenting with the Advent virus… turned himself into a cryokinetic… and a monster. He's not even really human anymore. That's why we brought Lacombe… Lacombe…"

When the suggestion goes out for the use of the bombshell over the bombs, Monica takes that moment to dig into her bag and pull out a couple of guns. There's a frown for the frozen state of things around their destination, and even more so at Cardinal's reminder of what waits for them up there. "You know what I watched this week," she says in their shadowy figure's general direction, a bit of a smirk coming to her face, "Equilibrium." Someone's ready to get in there.

The smoky form drifts just short of Raith, Ling collapsing down into a billowing cloud of smoke afterwards, snaking along the surface of the water. "Bao-Wei Cong is already a dangerous, resourceful man," her voice, quiet and whispery, floats through the room as if carried on wind. "I imagine whatever he's done to himself has only made matters worse." This whole… thing she's heard Bao-Wei has done to himself doesn't sit well with her in the least, and if she had a face right now, she'd have one of the deepest scowls she had ever mustered.

"I came prepared," Jessica informs Raith when he suggests she make sure her gun has a chance to dry out. "This isn't my first time." Whatever precautions she's taken, she doesn't seem in any rush to retrieve her gun now.

She listens to Raith's instructions, and Cardinal's warnings. "Right," Jessica murmurs, "but are you certain that there's not more at play than just cryokinesis? There could be a cryogenic set-up up there keeping the place air conditioned for whatever that freak is." Jessica's watched Batman & Robin with Micah. She knows how this works.

Jessica hides a shiver by shaking out her limbs as she approaches the wall. She looks in askance first to Raith, but ultimately she defers to Cardinal as she cracks her knuckles, prepared to make like the Kool-Aid Man.

It's dark, cold and snowing inside. It isn't so much an atmospheric effect as it is gravity and feather ice interacting in a unique fashion. When the ice crystals on the ceiling of the boiler room grow to a heavy enough side, they fracture from the ceiling and fall off, creating artificial snowflakes that can fall indoors. A thump inside the dark of the boiler room disturbs some of those pieces of feather ice, like shaking dust away from an unused desk.

Another, louder, thump rattles the old pipes and furnace, and a third louder smash cracks the concrete wall and the six inch thick layer of sheet ice over it. Another loud smashing nose spreads the crack like an expanding spiderweb, tiny leaks of murky brown-green water spraying through the opening in the wall at the center of all the cracks.

Then, finally, one last mighty smash sends an entire six foot wide section of the wall cascading inwards from the weight of the water pushing inwards on it and the damage that the ice has done to the concrete. Concrete and broken rebar all fall inwards onto the boiler room floor, clattering down noisily as a thick fog builds from the contrasting interior and exterior temperatures.

A polar chill wafts out of the boiler room, where rusted and old copper pipes are crusted with white ice, where six inches of moisture have condensed into rippling curtains of frost that sheathe the walls and floor.

Out of the boiler room and in the subway tunnel that Jessica just broke through with her bare hands, Lacombe arches one brow and wraps his arms around himself, flashlight shining down into the water as he shuffles closer to the others, leaving chunks of ice in his wake as he walks.

Feeling the cold radiating out of that chamber, Lacombe slides his tongue over his lips and looks back to Raith, Jessica and Monica, the only corporeal company he has. "This is… not the boiler room but a meat locker, yes?"

No, that's— definitely the boiler room.

Or was.

Unwisely, but unflinchingly, Raith steps around the side of the door that Jessica just made, and with a final 'click!,' cinches his pack back into place. It is now lighter than it was, the missing weight dispersed on a harness around his chest and legs, adorning his body with a pair of Glocks, spare magazines, hand grenades, and of course, Wilby dearest. "It's definitely a boiler room," the ex-spy says as he shifts his carbine back to his hands and yanks back the charging handle. Part of him hopes for nothing to happen until they're out of the basement. Another part hopes for a fire fight, if only to keep his weapons from freezing. If he's freezing, he's not showing it. Delta Force: If it's above absolute zero, then it's not too cold.

He's the first to step inside the room, mindful of his surroundings and his footing, wishing for his arctic jacket over his armored one. The temperature is irrelevant. It's to go. "Let's rock 'n' roll, chummers."

"Just keep an eye out for Mister Freeze… he wasn't exactly hard to spot when he was human, I doubt he's any more inconspicuous now. …fat man…" The living shadow slithers along the snow and ice that carpets the floor of what was once the boiler room of the hospital. Cardinal keeps ahead of the squad so that he can spot anything they're about to come up on before it comes up on them… hopefully.

Before she follows along, Monica makes sure her extra clips are at the ready, tightens her vest… and then looks over at Lacombe. "Will you be okay in there?" And that's real concern! What a sweet, Southern gal is doing in a place like this… She does follow, though, after the other two. She most certainly is cold, but she's also focused. Determined.

"Oh yeah," Jessica steps through the opening she's made and shrugs off her backpack, stepping aside before she drops it on the floor, "this definitely was a boiler room." She retrieves a black case and opens it up.

What's inside is something of an antique. Call Jessica sentimental, but sometimes the classics just can't be beat. It's a CAR-15 Commando, and it looks like an M-16 had a baby with a tommy gun. She apparently heeded Cardinal's warnings about what they were up against and spared no fire power. If anyone can handle the recoil, it's the woman with superhuman strength.

A quick check of the magazine, and Jessica is on her feet, leaving the empty case and pack behind. "Ladies and gentlemen, shadows and vapour… Shall we?" The wicked curve of her lips is like the cat that caught the canary. Jessica Sanders genuinely enjoys her work.

The boiler room was the hottest, most humid part of the hospital.

It still is.

Though the aged pipes groan and creak through the thick layers of ice, they still make the most meager amount of heat. It is a testament to engineering that they have withstood both the unnatural winter and now, this.

The door of the boiler room is frozen wide open- it isn't difficult to spot. Unfortunately, the atmosphere only gets worse as the room molds into a tall, long, wide hallspace beyond. One door of many, very few similarly frozen open in what look like divots inside of the icy walls. The ice has gotten thicker here. So thick, that in some places, the hall bulges inward, tunnel-like. Speleothems have formed above and on the floor, black and blue teeth seeping out of the oncoming darkness, fingers closing in on all sides.

There is the faintest noise from layers and floors above, distant rumbles of something that the basement is not so privy to.

It is a small detail that Lacombe does not breath out warm vapor in this cold environment, and out of the water he seems to be doing better. A pulse of cold air radiating out from the cryokinetic flash-freezes the moisture in his clothing and fine control of the ice turns it into a fine powder with an explosive shatter that manages to leave his clothing intact. High and dry, as it were, with relatively little damage done, Lacombe feels comfortable to test the building's ability to respond to his own intentions.

One hand on the frozen wall at the back of the group, Lacombe's brows furrow as he sculpts the ice just ahead of Raith, drawing up the teeth of speleothems in a way that cracks the sheathes of ice that have turned into a second skin on the walls. The cracking noises are deep and heavy, like splintering bones beneath flesh.

"I have never, in all my life, seen anything like this…" the Frenchman notes as he walks, trying to make the ice-laden halls accessible while Raith leads them on ahead. It almost sounds like he's impressed.

"It loses its novelty after the second time. Don't ask." Must be a spy thing. Although Raith has his rifle trained forward as he walks quickly but cautiously, his head is turning this way and that in a hopeless attempt to watch every part of the boiler room at once. "Keep watching for anything, but check your fire, I don't want a face-full of pressurized steam. Step quick, I don't want to roof collapsing on me either. Also, m'danglies are freezing. Step quick." That part probably isn't a spy thing. But you never know….

"On the off chance that he's turned into some sort of ice spider and this is like his web, Lacombe, try not to disturb it all that much… also it's fucking loud." A low, hissed warning echoes in the dimly lit basement of the hospital, as Cardinal proves that he has, in fact, reached the point in his life that he's willing to believe just about anything is possible.

Maybe it happened around the time he fought a giant robot crab while Raith rode to the rescue on a robot llama. Or maybe when he was told he was murdered before he was actually born.

That point made, the darkness flickers over the ice like a reverse reflection, heading down the tunnel-like hallway to scout their way.

Monica glances up at the rumbles, but shakes her head and refocuses back on the hallway as they move through. Raith's comment has the girl blushing and looking a little embarrassed. She would facepalm, if not for the guns. Clearing her throat a bit, she turns her attention to Cardinal, "Don't say spiders. I'll start having Lord of the Rings flashbacks…"

"Have your balls and pecker attempted to retreat to the relative safety of your pelvis?" Jessica quips to Raith sardonically. Sorry, Moni'. Grey-blue eyes narrow faintly at Lacombe's little trick, jealousy hidden behind scrutiny. If only it were that simple. Instead, the further she ventures from the boiler room, the more her hair begins to freeze about her ears. She sticks close to Monica now that they're out of the subway-slash-aqueduct. "To hear Richard describe it," she says to Niki's cousin, "I'd be more worried about something out of Godzilla."

It may be noted that as Lacombe forces things to shift, there are a few moments before the walls all seem to give shudders in unison, walls and pipes creaking and grating.

Maybe Cardinal was right. Or perhaps the Frenchman is simply making one hell of a racket.

They are able to move onward without obstacle, for some time, passing empty, frozen rooms, crusted and unrecognizable. What few doors are open lead to similar things- basement dwelling that has been totally overtaken by glacial ice. As they move on, however- there is something that they will notice as quickly as the cryokinetic helping them might. There is something strange about the walls as the hallway goes on. Something strange, as if the icy tomb was not bizarre and foreboding enough.


People. What is left of them, frozen beneath the ice. Men and women alike, many of them still covered in lab uniforms; they are indiscernible in face as their bodies have been completely drained of fluid. Humans are over sixty percent water, after all. They are frozen in awkward positions, places- toothed mouths always open, eyes pitted, ghoulish hands always curled, climbing, clawing, scratching raw and frozen beneath the thick ice. They become only more numerous as the path goes.

At the far end is a final indent of the ice on the wall. This time, it has broken clean around the frame of a set of wide double doors. Regardless, they still shine with a layer of deceptively twinkling frost.

"I can feel… a change in the walls up ahead," Lacombe calls ahead to Raith in the front, "past the end of the hall, the ice is— bigger— the temperature is colder. It is hard to tell how big, but there is more, so much— " What Lacombe sees frozen in the ice halts him dead in his tracks. For the barest of moments the French sociopath is unable to parse the sight of men and women flash frozen in the ice along the walls, like mosquitoes trapped in amber.

It is perhaps the least stealthy thing to do when Lacombe eventually whistles appreciatively at the corpses frozen in the ice, one brow lifted and the corner of his mouth crooked up into an only briefly present smile. "If the whole hospital is like this," Lacombe muses in a hushed tone of voice that echoes off of the walls, snowflakes from the feather ice falling down around him as he walks, "there is no one to rescue here… there is nothing, this place," he shakes his head and brushes one cold hand over the ice, feeling hairline cracks form at his touch as he stares at one frozen corpse, "cet endroit est la mort."

Like likely everyone else, the frozen corpses have him transfixed, 'frozen' in place while his brain tries to work out what it is seeing. Of everyone, save perhaps Lacombe, he very likely recovers from his horror the quickest. "Tais-toi, bouffon," Raith hisses back to Lacombe, "This is a sneaking mission." It's not that much worse than other things he's seen. Much.

The ex-spy forces his attention forward again. The Frenchman is right: If there is a threat down here, it's up ahead, behind the doors. "Refrigerator of doom, anyone?" Without waiting for a reply, Raith slings his rifle aside and his back down to the frozen floor. "I'm not even going to ask if you think you can open these." One block of plastic explosive comes out of the pack and is in no way abused in any way whatsoever, being carefully adhered to the doors and a detonator attached. "We need to move fast. If these freeze, it'll be like carrying nitroglycerin. Back up and get behind something." As soon as he has his pack on again. he does exactly that. Raith backs way up. Hopefully, the electronics in his remote have not frozen. If they have…. well, in this one case, a solid gunshot might do the trick too.

The bony tips of withered fingers claw upwards in an eternally frozen motion against the ice, but the only savior the dessicated corpse finds is a momentary darkening of the ice as a living shadow passes over them and finds no mercy in its heart for the dead.

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6: 7-9.

Cardinal was raised in a Catholic orphanage; he believes in absolute justice for some sins. These men, too, were party to the horrors that were - that are being - carried out in this place. Perhaps some of the ice that layers upon the walls has crept into his own heart.

As the plastic explosives are adhered to the frozen door, the dark form flits away, stirring up behind Raith as if he'd grown a second shadow. "Blow it… blow it…"

Monica does bring her hand up to her face this time, covering her mouth with the back of her hand as she looks at those bodies. It's pretty clear this is far from what she's seen. Or, at the very least, it's clear she has a healthy respect for human life? It's only Raith's warning that has her moving at all, finding cover and letting her eyes close. She's gotta look tough! Jessica's here. And Richard. She was the one who said she could handle it.

Never mind that mildly horrified look about her, guys. It'll pass.

While Ling holds no particular remorse for the frozen bodies that they have begun to find, there is still a very unsettling quality to seeing them - more in that she is now beginning to understand exactly, truly, what kind of monster Bao-Wei Cong really is, far worse than she had known or previous imagined, regardless of his involvement with Refrain. "This is terrible," Ling intones somewhat obviously as smoke coalesces and swirls on the floor at Jensen's feet, waiting before she continues forth with the rest. "I am no fool, I never was fooled into thinking he was a good person, but if this is his work it was far beyond what I imagined".

Jessica's gaze lingers on the bodies trapped beneath the ice, for only a moment. If the grisly scene affects are at all, it doesn't show in her expression. Except perhaps in the way that she focuses her attention forward and not on the faces or bodies. There's a completely different quality to this kind of bleak display than the bright and visceral gore she tends to leave behind. "That's fucked up," the assassin intones flatly. The closest she comes to admitting that she's bothered at all.

And she's torn people to pieces with her bare hands without batting an eye.

The explosion is small, but contained enough and direct enough that it blasts through the ice holding the doors closed. The hinges crackle and the ice splinters and flakes up into the air, doors warping and swinging open, banging loud and hard into the frozen walls on either side. Incidentally, they are blasted so hard that the knobs stick deep and the space opens completely. Perhaps too perfectly, for what the explosives are created to do.

In the span beyond the doors, there is one room. Tall, cavernous. An old assembly hall. Unlike the rest, there is some sparse light that flickers and dims overhead; it casts a dull, slate colored glow onto the formations at every angle. Hanging thorns of blackened ice, tumorous growths bulging rough from the floor, walls littered and crowded with vaguely human shapes. The colors are mottled, overcast in whites, blues, grays, black- and towards the head of the assembly hall, upon the lifted floor that was once a stage, they melt together into stark lines of color bolting through the crags and spines of silvery, dense, and strikingly pure ice.

There is always more than one can chew, at times such as these. No exceptions, it appears.

Upon that rise, preceded by a an upward slope, the canyon walls dip and merge into a mountainous, spiked hillock, shot through with color and blackness at its core. With those lights giving poor attempts at shedding illumination, chances are that it will take a moment to register exactly what the construct is.

It is quick to resemble something seated- perhaps- something with broad, tined shoulders and limbs, the latter curled into angles as to perch two massive forearms on either side. Claws, like gargoyles, knuckled into their stations. It may have a face, somewhere in those nooks and jagged teeth between a whiskery, frozen mane of water, and a pair of tall, ridged horns.

It may have a face, if it were breathing.

It does have a face, when one furrowed line splits, cracks- to reveal a singular and very golden disc-sized iris. It flashes orange in the dimness, pupil dilating and subsequently contracting into a tiny spot of inky black when the ceiling gives a lively sputter of light.

For all that this place feels like a throne room for some forgotten God, it does not seem complete without its dais of worship. As hard as it is to tell, the beast is not without his rose. For all the Bao-Wei Cong is a monster of solid ice, frost and snow that resembles some sort of dragon from myth, he too possesses a heart…

…but his heart is another human being.

Trapped inside of the solid ice of Bao-Wei Cong's body, visible mostly as a dark humanoid silhouette inside of his icy form, the corpse of Song Ye is visible in portions of his chest where the frost is scraped away to show her inky black hair froze in underwater grace, eyes shut and skin blue-white pale.

Lacombe is speechless when confronted with this monster, and seeing that he has turned Song's lifeless corpse into something of a keepsake. She was always his heart in life, his connection to humanity and now in his monstrous state the young Ye woman remains Bao-Wei's heart.

More literally than figuratively.

'Speechless' likely applies to everyone present, even Raith. In total honesty, he has never seen anything that this in his life, even as a part of Vanguard. Perhaps it's no surprise then that he does not react to the monstrosity immediately. How could he react? What exactly is he supposed to do? Reaching out across the darkened recess of his mind, he scrambles for words to give orders with, and manages a simple, "Uh…." It's all he'll be able to say, to do as he stands there, statue still while he brain performs a hard reset and scrambles to POST….

"Doctor Cong… Cong…"

A shocked, horrified whisper echoes through the cavern of ice that the room - whatever its purpose before - has become, its source the shadows that shift and glide over the frost-glazed floor. "…what have you done?"

There's nothing more that Cardinal can think to say.

It takes a moment for Monica to take it all in. Perhaps as quick as the span of a breath, but for that moment, it's all very slow for her. Her gaze falls on that woman and anyone watching can see her hand… twitch. It's the rush of adrenaline in the moment, pushing her power forward, begging her muscles to act. And while Monica Dawson is a sweet, gentle girl, she's also one with a fierce sense of injustice. And goddamnit if there ever were an injustice.

The moment that eye opens and that iris presents itself as a target… well. Monica lifts her right hand, aims and fires. She fires a lot. Hopefully we weren't talking first. >.>

Ling is so stunned that she can't even keep up the concentration to stay in her smoke form, tendrils spiraling upwards next to Raith, forming into the shape of a person, returning her to her normal, fleshy self, complete with her tight black suit and knife. She knew Bao-Wei was a monster. Both of them are, in their own ways.

She just never imagined he would actually become a monster. And seeing is far, far more powerful - and frightening - than having heard of it Cardinal.

"«You never could let go,»" she intones darkly, speaking in Chinese just as she said to him during their encounter at his medical clinic over a month ago. "«Now look what you've done to yourself.»"

Jessica's eyes grow wide as saucers when she sees the creature Doctor Bao-Wei Cong has become, the breath expelling from her in a heavy puff of vapour. Slowly, she raises her own weapon almost unconsciously, finger ready to pull the trigger when shots ring out that aren't her own and it snaps her back into the moment and out of the initial fear.

"Moni'!" The shortened name is very Niki, but the severe look is all Jessica as she reaches over to grab the younger woman's arm.

Bao-Wei Cong can think of many things to say, in those first few seconds. There is a noise- suction- of air into hollow, the click-click-click as one giant set of claws buckles into a firmer grip.

There is not enough time to say something, before he finds that one slitted eye targeted with what sounds like 'plink'. Several short, awkward 'plink' cries later- he remains sitting there, a gigantic spiny beast. Horns bow forward, his shoulders and mane shake, roughly- the tinkling of metal on ice can be heard, spent bullets glittering down across the slope, over the floor below. When the crest moves back, a billow of frosty smog from his maw preludes a crackle of ice. In no longer than two seconds, the lid opens again to that same Jurassic eye.

The voice that comes is hollow, low in pitch and oddly, clear as a bell- rumbling and growling out from within its chamber, the toothy jaw working open with a grind.

"I have shaken the hand of evolution. That- that- is what I have done."

It talks. What an interesting trick. Cracking ice signals movement, as both arms brace hard, pushing the construct upward. The spines that cover him splinter away from the perch, protruding now from his back and shoulders like a great terrapin. Song Ye's visage fogs slowly out of sight, a comparatively tiny body disappearing with frost.

"She told me that you would come." Like a bellows inside of an iron giant, air crumples, and hisses out from unseen holes.

And then the giant starts moving. The only upside to this is the fact that it snaps Raith out of his stupor long enough to realize what they are facing, and to work out a plan. Between the shock and the cold, however, he's not producing his highest quality work: "We need something bigger." What else is he supposed to say when staring down Baojira?

One step, two steps back, and Raith is throwing his gaze around frantically for something that is, indeed, 'bigger.' Or even better, a way to bypass this obstacle completely. "Cease firing, don't piss it off. More."

"No." An umbral whisper from the shadows, Cardinal's voice a hiss, "That's not what you've done at all… at all…"

A flow across the floor, blending in with the darkness cast by rippling columns of ice and tumescent icicles frozen in the moment of falling, slithering into the corners of the mad doctor's throne room in this, his kingdom of the frozen dead.

Monica lets out a frustrated sound. It's hard to say if it's at her cousin's reprimand or the fact that not one of her bullets hits (but likely the latter). There's a bit of a shake to those muscles, as Jessica would be able to tell with her hand on Monica's arm. Somehow, though, that contact is enough to break her gaze from the thing up there to look at the blonde.

"You can't tell me we're going to stand her and listen to it-" there's a momentary pause there that comes with a glance toward Cong sitting on his dais "-preach." But hey, she's not shooting anymore. She can listen. She's just not happy about it.

Ling nods slowly in response to Cardinal, taking a pair of cautious steps forward as her arms and body begin to return to their previous state, smoke tendriling outwards. "«What you've done is simply let the world know exactly what kind of monster you are»," she replies, a grin on her face and an amused tone in her voice. "I have no intentions of standing," she replies to Monica, the last words before her form drops to the floor in a plume of black smoke.

Jessica ducks down to murmur into Monica's ear. "We're not. But we need a better plan than this. The longer he talks, the longer we have to formulate an attack." Her stormy sky blue eyes are glued to the hulking beast, though she stays close to Monica. "I need you to trust me."

There is nothing bigger. Nothing better. This is Cong's domain, and remains as such.

He lifts himself up, other eye slitting open to reveal its pit, the cavern grumbling when he takes a step forward. The leg is short, half buckled as if bearing an obviously heavy weight. The foot is almost reptilian, save for the fact it is made of ice. Another step, arms like bottom-heavy columns swinging into place at his sides. Behind him, the spines and shell forms into a trailing appendage, bolted at the end with another set of spines. Bao-Wei's features contort further into a snarl, soundless at first, one golden eye peering down across the floor to the group of trespassers. That is all they are, now.

"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man. I do not and will ever, deny myself a monster."

When a sudden fracture appears on Bao-Wei's right leg, he can feel an outside force trying to split him apart. Like a battle of wills, Doctor Cong's monstrous form is contained only by his sheer will to live and a Neitzschian will to power. But the Frenchman approaching with one outstretched hand is the source of this irritation and another crack that runs up the side of the monster's leg.

"Bonjour," is croakingly delivered as Lacombe's lips part to reveal a toothy smile, fingers curling and one hand sweeping aside to yank one of Bao-Wei's feet out from under him, sending the monster crashing to a knee. When Lacombe takes another step forward, thrusting out his hand, ice freezes in rapid pace at a 45-degree angle from the floor in a lance-like blade towards the abomination, only to arrest its growth inches from his body.

Lacombe's brows furrow, his head tilts to the side and a vein pulses on his forehead as his fingers curl tighter and his arm trembles, the ice lance cracking down its length before shattering under the influence of Bao-Wei's own cryokinetic ability.

A sliver of ice shrapnel lodges itself in Lacombe's leg and drops him down to the ground, blood freezing around the point of injury almost immediately. When he lands on his back, the ringing in his ears of Monica's gunshots still clear, a hyena-like laughter whoops through the icy chamber.

The explosion of the ice lance and the rather sudden disablement of Lacombe solves Raith's little dilemma of what they are going to do. There's no choice: If they don't move forward, the mission fails. "Fuck this." Without even slinging his carbine over his shoulder- simply moving it from both hands to only his left- he decides to settle the matter all at once. Although the effect on an ice monster- Frost Gigas?- is uncertain, the barrel of the single largest pistol in the room is trained forward and, with such a large target so hard to miss, Raith squeezes Wilby's trigger. In the ice-coated room, the muzzle blast echoes like a cannon shot despite the sound suppressor on the end of the barrel.

Immediately, the flaw in Raith's plan is revealed. The floor is just slippery enough for the recoil to twist the King of Swords around in place and force his feet to slide out from under him. A last minute twist forces him to fall facedown, arms, elbow pads and body armor absorbing much of the impact. Most importantly, he he does not land on the pack full of sensitive plastic explosives. "Bad idea…."

The dim, flickering light that comes from the single barely-working light fixture overheard casts the shadow of Bao-Wei Cong about the room in stark, jagged horror here and there, dancing as madly as the vision he's become truly is. Another shadow glides across them, rising up into the darker, further shadows of the room away from - and somewhat behind - the hulking form of the cryokinetic monster in their wake.

That dim light reflects in glints off the aluminum-covered fabric of the suit worn by Richard Cardinal as he steps out into the corporeal world, a heavy rig in his arms lifted upwards, the tube running to his back stretching with the motion. One finger pulls a click against a switch, and the pilot light at the end of the assembly flicks to life, reflected in the plastic visor of the hood he's wearing.

He wasn't sure the guns would be enough. So he brought a flamethrower.

If there were ever words to take the wind out of Monica's sails. "Of course I trust you," is whispered back sincerely. She even gives Jessica a hint of a smile. "Sorry." That bit sounds a bit more sheepish. Of course, then things are cracking and exploding and shooting and falling. Monica ends up looking toward Jessica, a little lost. Saint Joan never had to deal with stuff like this.

Or… well, maybe she did. Monica hasn't read many of the comics.

When she looks back toward the ice monster, she tries very hard not to react to Richard Cardinal materializing in place. However, she does take a step back. Maybe several.

When the other spring into action, the swirling mass of smoke that is Ling Chao jets forward like like a blast of hot steam out of a compressed pipe, slithering between legs and onwards in a beeline to the monstrous form of Bao-Wei. "You have done nothing you think you have, Bao-Wei," her wispy voice taunts as smoke swirls at his feet, constantly moving and darting about. "You've only cemented the fate you told me would befall you. Expedited it, a truly amusing quandary." Smoke snakes up a monstrous leg, forming into something resembling Ling's human form. "How does that feel?"

"Ugly fucker hasn't got anything to say worth hearing," Jessica growls under her breath (and the sound of Wilby going off) as she steps away from Monica. Once she's sure Raith's tumble isn't going to blow them all to kingdom come, she brings her gun up to aim at the creature's heart and squeezes the trigger, her battle cry (if you will) echoing off the walls in chorus with the hail of bullets.

All it takes from Cong is a moment of respondent bracing, a moment of time where he centers his gaze on Lacombe and offers one outstretched set of talons in return. That is when the lance shatters, exploding into dangerous shrapnel.

Within seconds, Wilby sounds. Bao-Wei isn't quite ready for the impact, or the noise. His head jolts up, icy whiskers flaking off with the jerk. The round hits his shoulder, slams into solid ice- the shell on his back explodes from the underside out, spraying jagged ice in seemingly all directions. If he had been of flesh, this would be over. But he is surely not. Perhaps he senses Cardinal to his rear- or perhaps his hubris causes it- he moves. Lighting quick, as if the stumping slowly forward were a facade. Chances are, it was. Though there is a crater in one giant shoulder, and Jessica's rounds embedding into his chest, he lunges forward. Even then, the wounds seem to already be repairing themselves, ice rushing out of the floor when he comes over it.

Bao-Wei's lunging turns fast into a crawling. Talons sink into the floor, long arms yanking him across the expanse of floor towards Raith, shadows falling through and casting a spidery silhouette below.

A bellow, a boom, a snarling answer to a question that Ling should never have asked.


Of course, it's at that moments when things really begin to go to Hell. "Move! Scatter!" The sound of Bao-Wei coming at them is unmistakable, even if Raith doesn't yet know he's been singled as he pushes back to his feet and still manages to run towards the furthest wall that is not on the other side of the giant ice monster. Right now, his primary concern is not being caught. Even if he's only knocked down, that still might be enough for the ringing in his ears to be the last sound he ever hears. It could be the last sound all of them ever hear.

The problem of recoil is partially solved as Raith drops purposefully into a slide on one knee, spinning around to face his pursuer and firing his revolver a second time, using the forceful kick to spin himself back around so he can push off his knee and resume running. But if those crater's he's leaving are begin to repair over all by themselves, even Wilby is not a permanent solution. He can only hope the burst of heat he briefly felt when he was still on his face was not his imagination….

The shards of ice that shatter off the hulking form of Bao-Wei Cong clatter over the floor, bouncing off the fireproof suit that some downtown fire precinct is missing this evening. The rather crude and primitive looking contraption in Cardinal's arms is hauled up as he pursues the fleshless monstrosity at more of a careful walk than a run, which means that he's not catching up anytime soon.

Hey, he's on ice and he has concerns about the stability of this weapon. Hopefully he can catch up before anyone gets torn limb from limb… if his weapon of choice is even going to be effective.

Of all the days to not have a negator or some sort of telepath on hand!

Damn that gun.

Wilby's second round, enough to likely take out a tyrannosaur- hits him squarely between the twin arches of his horns, boring into the center of his spinal ridge. That too, explodes in a jagged scatter of shards- but what it also does is lift Cong off of the ground. He does not go tumbling, and he does not go sailing- his momentum had been carrying him forward so quickly, that the force of the gun and the offset of weight sends him into a sharp turn. The behemoth slams craw-first into the wall. Rather than splintering into chunks, however, he falls to an abrupt halt, torso half molten into the foot-thick surface.

The impact of the creature into the wall sends the basement shaking. And with shaking, comes cracking from up above. The stalactites hanging so sternly like teeth begin to fall; some are a meter thick at the base, tips pointed like sabers as they now plunge to the earth.

"…I told you not to say spiders," Monica says as that transformation takes place. In the ensuing chaos, she ends up having to dance her way around those falling spikes, but the mimic makes her way to a wall to sort of plaster herself against it. There is a glance around to check for Jessica, after all, she can still get pierced by things.

One of the falling spikes pierces straight through Ling's immaterial form, sending smoke scattering into an unrecognizable and shapeless cloud. It recollects and coalesces into a swirling mass, funneling back down and towards the ground, a whispery laugh just audible of the raucous noises now filling the room. This time, she keeps her distance, waiting to see what he does next.

Jessica ceases fire when The Creature Formerly Known as Bao-Wei begins to move. Rapidly. She's about to bark an order at Monica when Wilby goes off again, and all hell truly breaks loose.

The assassin's eyes turn up. "Oh, fuck." She dives forward, sliding on the ice across her belly and narrowly avoiding the jagged rocks crashing down. She rolls to the side and eventually slides into Monica, her back hitting the other woman's legs. Fortunately the N'Awlins girl is steady enough to keep her footing when she's collided with. "Raith!" Jessica shouts over the commotion. "Slide us your pack!"

When the rubble and ice from the ceiling collides with the floor there is a tremendous cracking sound. There was something Raith had said, about concrete and extreme cold coupled with moisture and variable temperatures. That same condition that allowed the team to break through the wall from the subway into the basement has also allowed for the meter-wide stalactites falling from the ceiling to shatter through the stone floor like Jessica's fist through the concrete wall.

Having just barely gotten his footing. Lacombe staggers up onto one knee only to feel the floor giving way beneath himself. He turns to scramble away, then feels the concrete slab he's standing on pitch towards a dark maw below, tumbling head over heels with a scream into the yawning abyss.

As the floor continues to crack and crumble, Raith is next to find his traction failing as the walls begin to split and shatter, sending sheets of ice tumbling towards the spy. Jessica falls past him, but she manages to grab a piece of rebar on the way down, catching Monica as her cousin-in-law falls towards the hole. Raith disappears out of sight and Jessica's grip slides down the corrugated piece of metal.

Already off-balance, Cardinal is falling into shadow while blood trickles between Jessica's fingers. As his body reflexively reverts into living darkness on the fall, Jessica loses grip, falling down into the dark, with Bao-Wei's massive half-molten and frozen remains falling behind her. The descent is only fifteen feet down into darkness below and the impact against the surface of cold water sends each tumbling person into the waters of another flooded metro station beneath the hospital.

Ice floats in the water and a gradually growing current seems to be driven by the atmokinetically increased rainfall.

The last to fall, Jessica hears something over the headset that was provided to her for this mission, watching the light of the upper floor fading away, the terse voice of Hana Gitelman crackling over the comms sounds like she said, «//Air strike inbound! Two jets pass over in 10 minutes to level the facilit— »

Then there is just the rushing sound of water in her ears.

When the floor begin to slip away, it's Raith's first clue that that the mission parameters have 'deviated' from their initial settings. When the world slides past him and he falls out of sight into the abyss, the only thought to cross his mind is how much the whole situation sucks. Now, Liette will never find out what becomes of the Man with No Name.

Or maybe she will. Although he drops his rifle in the process, Raith's frantic twisting all him to slip his pack off and pitch it away as he falls. He painfully lands in the water, and his pack does not violently detonate when it does the same. When RDX gets too cold, it becomes shock sensitive. But only if it crystallizes, and that takes time. Meaning that everyone's day has not just become twice as bad.

It's still pretty bad.

"Oh, bloody hell." It's a very British oath that's muffled inside the hood that Cardinal's wearing as the monstrous creature they're fighting slams into the wall hard enough to shake the ice - one booted foot sliding a bit to one side, though he catches himself just in time before he falls. Then the hanging icicles begin to fall like hurled spears, shattering against the glaze of frost beneath their feet where they don't crash all the way through it.

Then the entire floor gives way. Sometimes it doesn't pay to get up in the morning.

Flesh and metal and fabric subsume into shadow, all blending to darkness that lands silently in the midst of splashing and rushing, smeared across the surface of the chill waters like unreflective oil.

Monica clings onto Jessica when things start to go down hill a little further, and when the two women go falling… well, Monica is lucky enough to have a cousin that cares. With Jessica's back taking the brunt of the impact when they hit the water, Monica makes it her job to make sure Jess gets back above the surface right quick. Just in case.

"You okay?" is her first question aimed for the blonde before she looks around for the others. "We've gotta blow this sucker and get the heck outta Dodge…" She did just say 'heck', yes.

Ling is luckier than the rest, wafting on the air where she had been when the falling began. But she is not one to remain inert, smoke swirling down towards the wet depths below. Forming into a more humanoid shape as she descends, she comes to a stop just above the water. Unfortunately, she without a way to help her team mates. For now, all she can do is wait to see who's okay, and for Bao Wei to present himself more readily.

Monica drags her cousin up out of the water, and Niki comes up gasping and sputtering. "Oh my God," she cries. She's not nearly as hardened as her alter ego, and everything she's just seen within the confines of her own mind with Jessica in control has her more than just a little overwhelmed. Wide-eyed and shivering, she nods her head heavily at Monica.

Then, she stares up. "Take a breath," she tells the other woman just before dragging her under the water with her to hopefully lessen the impact that will be Bao-Wei crashing down around them.

One set of talons claws for a footing as the floor caves in, Bao-Wei Cong's serrated shadow up above scrabbling for purchase purely out of shock. In a moment, however, he breaks loose and lets fall. It is likely just enough time for the others to have tumbled freely out into the chilly running water below, some out of it.

Cong hits the water with a resounding smack of solid to liquid- BOOM- shell hits wall, arm hits brick. Scraping ice on stone sounds like nails on a chalkboard, loud on the descent. There is a second boom when he hits the floor below the water with the ridge of his back. The ice seems to instantly collapse in on itself, monstrous shape speeding to move under the surface. The water around his landing point is already turning frigid. Somehow, it contains itself- the creature, a thing of frozen water, should by all intensive purposes freeze it solid. Whatever is happening, Bao-Wei Cong has disappeared under the surface of the water.

He reappears again, moments later; not as a towering golem-

-but as a series of towering, frozen spines that arc rapidly out of the surface of the water and back down again, sharking his spine into visibility amidst them, all while a growl reverberates through the stonemasonry.

Ice bubbles up from the murky depths as Lacombe surfaces with a scream. His face is sheathed with shingles of ice, one arm nearly frozen solid as he treads water, trying to reach the shallows near where the rail platform is. Masonry is still falling in irregular chunks down from the ceiling, and as Lacombe scrambles and splashes through the water, he leaves chunks of dirty ice behind and slush in the depths, feet occasionally touching down on the bottom before propelling himself up.

With his back to the spines as they emerged from within the water, Lacombe had no way of knowing that there's something swimming around in the murky water. With something as amorphous as a creature made from living ice contact with any body of water must make distinguishing Bao-Wei Cong from the other solids below difficult, and if his previous size were any indication…

…he may have just landed in a very optimal placement.

Lacombe swims for the rail platform. Raith swims for the rail platform, although with much less difficulty, as one of his arms is not encased in ice. Wilby, dearest Wilby is still clutched in his hand, interfering with swimming, but no way he's going to let know. He had to lose the revolver or the rifle, and the rifle will be easy to replace. The fact that he's even still alive is miraculous enough. He'll trade his rifle for his life, gladly: He's not a stubborn Marine like, oh, Sarisa Kershner. All he needs to do now is get out of the water, regroup, reassess and then take appropriate action.

"Get out of the water!" A sharp hiss from the shadows on the water, mingling with the sifting of construction materials and sloughed-off ice into the water's flow as Cardinal watches those icy spines split the water and then vanish beneath, "Get the hell onto the platform!"

There's a brief glance up as Monica takes that breath, letting Niki shove her back under the water to avoid certain squishing. After the splashes and thuds of the Ice Man hitting the water, Monica resurfaces with a deep gasp for breath. She still has Niki right there with her, yanking her up, too, even if she doesn't need the help. And just in time for the cousins to get a look at those spines. And they do not look friendly. Cardinal's call gets her attention and she nods to him before her attention turns to the blonde. "Come on, Nik," Monica says ungently, tugging her along while she makes their way toward the platform, too.

Even though she's in less immediate danger than the others, Ling doesn't have to be told twice to get away from the water - she doesn't want to be close in the event Bao can manage to catch her off guard as he did once before. Smoke wafts up through the air and to the platform, Ling reforming a bit away from the rest, taking her knife into hand once she does.

Niki takes in a deep breath of air when she resurfaces. She doesn't realise right away that instinct dictated she retrieve Jessica's prized gun from the water after their fall. She only notices when she begins to swim toward the rail and its awkward bulk impedes her. If you love something, let it go.

But if you share your headspace with Jessica Sanders, you had better hold the fuck onto the things that she loves. With Monica's insistent tugging - she's unsurprisingly the better swimmer of the two given her ability - Niki makes her way to the wall.

Divine intervention may be one word for it. Incidentally, he invoked such a thing in his answer to Ling. Now, perhaps, she will glimpse why. The ridge sinks under the surface again, only to come up in three places at once, on various sides. Bad news.

When they vanish below again, there is a stony silence from below. It lasts only a few seconds, though it may seem like an eternity.

The surface breaks- literally. Ice forms thin on top, shattering as something lunges up and out of the river. Something of thick, dense ice- something that gets longer, and longer- and longer, a serpentine form arching from the water into haphazard hoops. Made of shining, murky scales and stark bluish spines, the group now must contend with a dragon lurching madly about. The face is long, crocodilian, snapping shards of frozen water with sabre-teeth, that one golden discus shimmering in its skull amidst a thousand delicate streams of ice. Curled nails reach out like eagle's feet to grab at the platform; the mouth opens wide- and the creature screams.

The shrieking roar is loud, sharp, and very much as monstrous as before.

A feral scream comes from Lacombe as if to challenge the shrieking roar of Bao-Wei's monstrous form. The Cryokinetic lifts himself up on one bleeding leg, a hand held out and brows scrunched together, eyes wide and wild and ice flaking down off of his frozen arm now that he's on the shallows of the rail platform. Ice still crusts up his legs, but when he throws both hands out to Bao-Wei it is with every single bit of effort and mental strength he has left.

Not to shatter the beast, but the hold out his hands and freeze the monster in place much in the way a puppeteer like Eric Doyle would freeze a living person. The jaws of the icy beast freeze in the open position like some yawning beast that has forgotten when to stop.

Sweat trickles down Lacombe's forehead, blood runs down in a thin line from his nose, and yet he is still smiling. "Someone…" he grumbles before slipping into French with one quick of his brow.


As the great icy dragon that was once a man that Richard Cardinal had sat down to poker with erupts from the dirty waters that sluggishly flow through the abandoned subway tunnel, and as Lacombe's feral smile flashes through the air while he holds the beast frozen for a moment, the way to end this becomes clear.

After all. He'd seen Jaws too.

The shadows on the wall disgorge the shadowman in the fireproof suit, one hand lifting to tear the hood off and toss it to one side as he reaches down to help haul his comrades onto the (relative) safety of the rail platform.

The tank on his back is shrugged off with a grunt of frustration, one of the straps clinging stubbornly before he jerks it free, and he thrusts it at Jessica — or Niki, or whoever she is. "Let's give 'im something to roar about," he says, looking over, "Raith! Get that peashooter of yours up!"

Niki tosses Jessica's gun up ahead of her and pulls herself up out of the water, yanking Monica up effortlessly the rest of the way by the back of her jacket once she's found purchase on the stone. It takes her only the space of a few seconds to realise what Cardinal's expecting of her.

Palming the canister, Niki winds up…


…and lobs it at the creature's open jaws.

Water-logged body armor makes climbing onto dry land difficult, on account of the extra weight. It's no surprise that Raith more rolls onto the platform than climbs, resting on his back for just a moment while he works up the strength to move again. And then Cardinal wants him to do what? Oh, right. Flammable liquids. Without so much as sitting up, the ex-spy raises Wilby up, the weapon feeling twice as heavy as it really is. And then, 'pull.' Raith is without doubt one of the best shots the Ferrymen have to offer, but this is so much harder than it should be. And yet, even when his entire body is rocked by the recoil he can't probably prepare himself for the lump of lead and metal that leaps out of the revolver's muzzle sails along the exact trajectory that it needs to.

Thus yanked up, Monica gets to her feet and gets to some cover while Niki tosses that tank toward the monster. She lets out a heavy breath and turns to watch Raith. She can't help it. If anyone were watching her instead of the impending explosion, they'd see her eyes white out completely as she observes the shot fired. Or rather, the man firing the shot. Don't mind her, she just likes to collect things. >.>

A dragon. Of course. How delightfully fitting that what she believed would be Bao-Wei Cong's last moments of life were going to be spent being what he desperately loved - a flying dragon. The poetic irony is far from lost on Ling, a wide smirk forming across her face as she watches, shaking her head.

It can only last for so long before gains a better idea of what, exactly the others or planning, or at least some semblance of recognition as to what the others are planning, and she almost seems to explode into a plume of smoke, sliding out and up - not close, but certainly over the edge of the platform, as if to get a better view.

The only thing heard from her is quiet, whispery laughter carried across the echoes of the cavernous walls.

The moment Wilby's shell penetrates the canister of the home-made flamethrower concocted by Devi, there's a brilliant flash of light and flame that erupts in Bao-Wei's draconian face. The explosion is only the beginning of the effect though, as Wilby's armor-piercing round punches through the canister and alights on fire, sailing in a blazing line towards Bao-Wei, punching into the back of the dragon's throat and erupting in a shower of ice crystals and continuing towards the cracked and weakened wall holding back the runoff and rainwater from the rest of the flooded metro station.

When Wilby hits the cold concrete, it is again the example of what happens to brittle concrete weakened by ice and moisture. The entire wall explodes in the same expansive speed as the rolling ball of liquid fire that consumes Bao-Wei's inhuman form. Sloughing shards of ice break apart, and the massive frost dragon's body explodes like a brittle ice sculpture struck by a baseball bat.

Concrete, rebar, and thousands of gallons of murky runoff water comes exploding into the tunnel.

Lacombe's whooping hyena laughter fills the chamber, mixing with Ling's sinister and serpentine hissing laugh as the water washes over him, swallowing him into its depths. Niki is tore free from her feet along with Monica, sucked down beneath the swirling water in the same crashing wave that knocks Raith down onto his backside and crashes into the adjacent wall. Pinned by water and flowing ice, not yet sucked out into the subway tunnel like everyone else, Raith has the remarkable frame of mind to holster Wilby against the rushing tide.

A body is sucked past him through the water, surrounded by shards of ice; a pale corpse of a tiny young woman sucked out by the force of the water filling up the passage. Song Ye, free of Bao-Wei's icy grasp, joins the others. Seeing another wave of water coming crashing at him, Raith closes his eyes and steels himself before it crashes on him and the wall.

Then he too, joins the others in darkness.


When young Icarus began to delight in his daring flight, he abandoned his guide.

The sound of the ocean is a soothing thing, lapping surf crashing over sandy beaches. Rain pattering down on wood joins the noise of the surf, and as Jensen Raith opens his eyes, he finds himself neither in Heaven or Hell, but back on earth, laying flat on his back on wet sand beneath a boardwalk. It's too uniform a position to be where he'd have washed up.

Drawn by desire for the heavens, Icarus soared higher.

Beside Jensen, Jessica Sanders lays on her side, unconscious and brows pinched in a perpetually put-off look, while Monica Dawson lays on the other side. There is no sign of Lacombe, no sign of Ling Chao and certainly no sign of Doctor Bao-Wei Cong.

His nearness to the devouring sun softened the fragrant wax that held the wings: and the wax melted.

Further out from the boardwalk, standing beside a mossy pier with a cell phone in hand, Richard Cardinal stares up at a plume of smoke and flames twisting beyond the piers, beyond the Staten Island shores, to the fiery glow of a building that was once the Staten Island Hospital.

As he fell from the sky on molten wings, he cried out for his father to save him, but ultimately plunged into the dark sea below.

The waves crest and crash down onto the shore, dark water pooling around Cardinal's ankles as firelight illuminates his face. When Jessica stirs to consciousness, she can barely make out anything but the sound of the gently falling rain and the roar of the surf, and little else matters save that her employer and her family are safe.

Daedalus, Icarus' father, called out for his son in fear after seeing the boy fall in flight.

"Kershner. This is Agent Cranston," Cardinal murmurs into the phone, eyes halfway lidded in languid stare at the ruins of the Staten Island Hospital.

It was then that he caught sight of the feathers on the waves, and cursed his inventions.

"Messiah just hit a target on Staten Island… I'll be by your office in the morning."

He laid the body to rest, in a tomb, and on those sandy shores he swore…

…never again.

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