Dragonslayer, Part VI


adam_icon.gif dumortier_icon.gif hahn_icon.gif hull_icon.gif joy_icon.gif noah_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif sophie_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

niklaus_icon.gif reed_icon.gif

Scene Title Dragonslayer, Part VI
Synopsis The Battle of Detroit nears its end…
Date February 28, 2020


Noah Bennet’s voice echoes through the old house. There are no lights on when he comes in from the stoop, slowly shutting the door behind himself. It is raining outside, a steady and hammering rain. He looks up to the ceiling, then around to the furnishings that appear cleaned but unused.

Walking over to the fireplace, Noah finds photographs of his ex-wife, his daughter, and his late son. He picks one of Lyle up off the mantle, and tears well up in his eyes. As he puts the picture back, Noah’s head tilts to the side in subtle display of acknowledgement.

“Whoever you are,” he says to the air, “you can come out.” Slowly, Noah turns to put his back to the hearth, lifting his hands. “I’m unarmed.”

“There is a handgun in your ankle holster,” a man says from the kitchen in an obvious German accent. His heavy footfalls allow Noah to easily track his movement, and when the tall square-jawed man emerges into the living room, Noah recognizes those wire-rimmed glasses and that stark profile.

“Niklaus Zimmernan…” Noah says, slowly lowering his hands. He knows the gun wouldn’t do him any good against Niklaus, and he’s confident that Niklaus understands that as well.

“Yes,” is the German’s casual response. “Why have you broken into this house, Mr. Bennet?”

Noah bristles. “This is Sandra’s house, unless she’s…” he looks Niklaus up and down. “Remarried?” He doesn’t believe that for a moment.

“This house is the property of the Deveaux Society,” Niklaus says with a look down to the floor as he takes off his glasses, cleaning them with a handkerchief from his suit jacket. “Your ex-wife hasn’t lived here for some time.”

Noah’s eyes narrow. “How’s that?”

Niklaus exhales a slow sigh through his nose, then puts his glasses back on. “Why are you here, Mr. Bennet?”

“I’ll ask you the same thing.” Noah asserts with heat behind his voice, losing his patience. “What’re you doing here? Is the Deveaux Society following me?”

“Yes,” Niklaus says with a shrug. “Mr. Bennet, whenever anyone of your profile makes a move, the Society knows.” But there’s no matching ire behind Niklaus’ voice. Just a subtle hint of emotion. “You did not hear, did you?”

Noah steps away from the fireplace and closer to Niklaus.

“Hear what?

Seven Years Later

Greenwood Cemetery
Bay Ridge, NYC Safe Zone

February 27th

6:45 pm

“How’d it happen?”

Walking through the headstones on their way out from the graves, Clover Hull makes herself a narrow silhouette. Though it’s been unseasonably warm for February, there’s still a bitter and damp chill in the air, especially in the early hours of night.

Noah Bennet walks at Hull’s side, hands tucked into the pockets of his coffee colored jacket, head down. “Cancer,” is his answer. “Breast cancer, she survived the whole war with it. Operated her Safe House here in Brooklyn, shepherding refugees north.” There’s a tightness in his voice, an evident pain.

“I came back in 2013, right after the war ended…” Noah explains, rolling his head to the side. “She’d already passed away.”

Hull responds with a few shallow nods in rapid succession. “I’m sorry,” she says with a look up to Noah. “I… “

“It’s alright.” Noah says with a hint of dismissiveness in his tone. “I’ve had a lot of time to grieve. It’s just…” he shakes his head. “I can’t live through this again.”

Hull nods, frowning at the thought.

“We won’t let that happen.”

But Hull has no way of making that promise a reality.

One Day Later

Noah’s Safehouse
Bay Ridge, NYC Safe Zone
10:37 am

There is a certain atmosphere inside this safe house, a down home cottage charm. Though the brownstone doesn’t look to have had many residents over the last few years, its furnishings are decidedly pre-war, and not the kind that are found at second hand markets these days. Old furniture, well-loved and well-used, but not having seen the elements or the side of a curb.

The fact that there’s old photographs here makes it feel like invading someone else’s personal space. But that some of the photographs are of a young Claire Bennet in a cheerleader uniform puts everything into perspective. The mantle over the fireplace shows a curly-haired and smiling woman with her arm around Claire, a proud mother. There’s a teenage boy with shaggy hair and a stooped posture who doesn’t want to be included in the picture.

There’s no photographs of Noah Bennet in this house, however. That omission feels intentional.

Dumi!” Comes from the kitchen, where tinny music plays over a small hand-crank radio. They’d been listening to WSZR all morning. “How many eggs you want?” Hull asks as she steps into the doorway, a carton of eggs in one hand and a metal spatula in the other.

The house is one that he'd have rifled through if he'd passed it any other time.

The house still gets a once over.

He can't help it. Dumortier, of course, left no trace of himself. Practice makes perfect. Snooping around has its merits when it came to information, at least. The pictures don't help his comfort level, even if it looks like he's made himself right at home. When you're so used to staying god-knows-where at any given time, it's easy to camp down.

"Hm?" is what Hull's call for him gets, followed by a look up from what may or may not be an old photo album he's swiped from a dusty nook. It'll get put back, it's fine. For now, though, Dumortier claps it shut to toss on the couch and sweeps up onto his feet; shirt half-buttoned and hair still in the tousle of the AM, he has a smile working at his cheeks. "Two's fine, chere…" Rene sidles his way into the doorway beside Hull, a casual hand finding the small of her back as he ventures past to the kitchen.

"These must be done. They smell decent enough," Dumortier stops at the stovetop's other side to tip back a cast iron lid. Sliced potatoes, nothing astounding. He'd found a mutant, eldritch spud hiding in the back of the pantry. It became several perfectly normal ones in short order.

There's a muffled squelchy bubbling sound from down the end of the counter. Sophie is courteous enough to look sheepish as she places a tiny hand over her grumbling belly. "I hope they're done. The smell so good." The little femme fatale had a nose for two things: food and books. A small dusty paperback is left off to the side of the countertop she's supposed to be cleaning - a task she's delayed by intermittently trying to spy on, or steal nibbles from, Hull's cooking.

The trio of wayward halflings seem to have settled in well enough, a testament to their lack of roots perhaps? Or, their resilience? Some might even daresay it's optimism!

Because that always bodes well…

Hull cracks a smile, then brandishes her spatula at Dumortier. “You, button your shirt up the rest of the way you’re distracting the cook,” then angles it at Sophie, “and you get your fingers out of the potatoes.” Both directives are delivered with a playful smirk.

The sound of the front door opening draws Hull’s attention, turning her focus to the tall and broad-shouldered silhouette of Noah Bennet stepping in from the rainy streets outside. “No, I haven’t.” He says into the receiver of a phone pinched between shoulder and chin, folding his umbrella closed. “But tomorrow morning I’ll— hold on I’m getting another call.”

Noah leans the umbrella up against the wall by the door, then checks his phone.

1 New Message

“It’s a text,” he says to the person on the other end of the line, “It’s important. I’ll call you back.” As Noah ends the call and sets eyes on the kitchen, his focus squares on Hull, then down to his phone. His brows crease in worry.

praxis aircraft over detroit

“Aren’t you supposed to be providing remote assistance to Wolfhound right now?” He asks Hull, swiping over to his messages and keying in a response with slow thumbs.

bad news what r they doing?

I am,” Hull says with a wave of her spatula, stepping back into the kitchen and out of Noah’s line of sight. “They’re just lifting off from dropping Cyrus off, we’re too far away for me to do anything remotely.” Nearby, Hull’s laptop is propped open on the dining room table, showing a map of the United States and an aircraft’s flight plan. “I can make eggs and save the world.”

nothing yet

Noah gently slips past Sophie and into the kitchen. “That’s very admirable,” he says, offering a brief look to Dumortier followed by a somewhat judgy look at his attire. There’s a soft chime from his phone of another notification, followed by four more in rapid succession. Hull tilts her head to the side like she heard something else entirely and drops the spatula to the floor with a metallic clatter.

oh heck
oh no
mr bennet
play the video!!!

Hull backs away from the stove, hand over her mouth to suppress a small gasp. She looks over at Noah a second before he hits play on the video with a shaky hand.

Crowds of people are running for cover in a large concrete plaza near an amphitheater, where several figures are gathered at the top of the concrete steps. Most of them look like soldiers of some kind, dressed in drab gray and black tactical gear. One of them is a tall, dark-skinned man in a sleek plum-colored suit. His blue eyes look to flicker and glow in the small video.
That man holds the arm of a woman by his side, dressed in a flowing red gown with gold floral patterns on the sleeves. Even though she’s made up with gold lipstick and red eyeshadow, even though her blonde hair is braided behind her head. He can tell who it is.

It’s Claire.

Noah’s throat tightens in a dry swallow.

Dumortier literally waves off the playful scolding from Hull, turning off the stovetop before one-handedly fussing with the rest of his shirt. At one point he absolutely intended to do it up. Distracted. He keeps an ear on the door when it slides open, and rather than tend to his own business he is more than ready to turn around and refocus. Rene leans against the counter as Noah steps in, eyes darting between he and Hull's exchange.

Brows furrow as Noah gets a slew of messages in succession. Dumortier crosses his arms and stands straighter, a glance given to Sophie. Hull's reaction before even Noah's makes sense thanks to her gift, but the content is disturbing even before the video gets played back. All that he gets is the tinny sounds of whatever is playing there on Bennet's phone.

"Easy," Dumortier lifts a hand and allows it to hover just at Hull's elbow, half expecting the young woman to stumble. "What's happening?”

Sophie offers Hull a smile that would better pair with a halo than the bounce mess of green around her little face. But, just as the cook turns away to consider the opening front door, a quick, furtive hand snatches another piece. “Oo! Ha-hot!” The crispy potato square bounces back and forth between her palms before she tosses it up and catches it in her mouth. Lips drawn open in a tiny ‘o’, she huffs at the burning morsel as Noah slips by her. She meets Dumortier’s glance a moment later with a lofted brow.

Her throat bearing the brunt of the burn when Clover’s shock sets the atmosphere in the air on pins and needles. With worry wrinkling her countenance she peeks around Noah, hand hovering over his bicep as though afraid to make actual contact. “Bennet?” Her voice is uncharacteristically small.

“I need,” Noah starts to say, but his voice is hoarse. “I need a minute.” He turns off the video and takes a few steps away, shakily scrolling through his contacts.

Hull looks between Dumortier and Sophie, shaking her head with wide eyes. She backs away from the three, forgetting the stove and what’s cooking on it entirely as she makes her way to her laptop. With a touch of her hand Hull switches from the monitoring she was doing to live news feeds. “Jesus Christ,” she says with a shake of her head, flipping through Michigan news stations. “Praxis Heavy Industries is— they’re attacking Detroit?”

There’s a look of exasperation and confusion in Hull’s eyes as she plays a video feed:

«To the people who have persecuted my kind for hundreds of years,» Adam Monroe’s voice rings out across the broadcast, «to the frightened and pathetic among you who orchestrated a genocide and escaped your justice by hiding yourselves in the current American administration…» Adam steps closer into frame, covered in all but his head in a suit of armor that looks like some sort of advanced powered armor.

Hull shakes her head in disbelief, one hand clapped over her mouth.

«Today we say no.» Adam rests a hand on the side of some sort of massive, four-legged walking tank. «Today is the last day of humanity, when the ashes of your civilization will grow wet with the blood of traitors and cowards alike. Today marks the day when the Children of the Eclipse rise up to take their rightful place as heirs to the world.»

“What the fuck?” Hull says through her fingers. “What the fuck.

As Adam moves his hand off of the leg of the tank, it stirs to life as though it were some great beast. At the far back of the aircraft, the rear bay doors begin to open, filling the aircraft with a howling wind. «Today your world burns and from its ruin we will build a better one!»
«Humanity had its chance.» Adam proclaims to the camera. «They wasted it.»

The broadcast ends and Hull slaps her laptop shut. “They’re all the way in Detroit!” She practically croaks out the words. “How— the fuck are we going to— I…”

“Yes, hello?” Noah’s voice sounds distant in the living room, hiding any pain and confusion behind a well-practiced mask of professionalism. “I’d like to call in that favor now.”

Naturally, Dumortier's first instinct is to find out what the hell is going on. That means following Hull over to where she starts directing her computer, and easing into the space just to her side where he can still see and not be in the way. Questions form immediately, and Rene zips them back, mouth tightly pressed as he watches her work.

"Detroit…? …Qui est-il?" It's a murmur to himself, confusion painting a more vivid picture the longer the feed goes. The slap of the lid brings Rene back out of his fog, and he immediately picks up Noah's voice in the next room. Rather than remain where he'd been vulturing past Hull, Dumortier steps away and glides near-silent into the den behind where Noah's taken up. "I'm guessing this is where helping comes in." He didn't exactly sign up for World War Michigan. "Who's the monologuing megalomaniac?"

Sophie's dark eyes and little mane of green turn, silently following Noah's retreat. She's still staring off at the empty doorway when…

That voice. There's a shudder, Sophie's shoulders wrenching up, her head jerking aside in an instinctual cringe. The bites the tip of her tongue visible as her narrowed gaze slants towards the laptop. Chest heaving, she watches. Slap. The laptop closes. Snap. Sophie's gaze reclaims some focus. Immediately she steps forth and catches Hull's elbow.

"It's okay. This is okay. We know where he is now and-…" Sophie looks towards the sound of Noah's voice, nodding subtly and repeatedly to herself as she trails off.

«Show me where you are and give me two minutes to change,» returns the chipper voice of a woman with a New York accent on the other end of Noah's phone. It's an accent yet to be dampened by ten years of living out in the Pacific Northwest.

It doesn’t take her the whole two minutes. She can’t hear the urgency in Noah’s Company Agent voice, maybe, but the fact he’s asking for the favor means it’s urgent.

So when the fiery-haired teleporter steps out of literally nowhere and into the hallway, she’s still tugging on one black boot over a fuzz green sock. She smiles when she sees Noah and offers him her hand — more to keep her balanced while putting her boot on, before she finally stomps down to get her foot fully in place.


"Miss Whitaker," Noah greets in smooth but steely regard.

“You got a video of where you want to go?" Tamsine asks. "I need to visualize it — the more real-time the better or we might end up in the path of something we don’t want to be,” she tells him, her dark brown eyes glancing to the kitchen where she hears the voices of Sophie, Hull, and Dumortier. “This a one way or round trip ticket?”

“Holy shit!” Hull yelps when a woman emerges from out of nowhere into the house. She startles away from the table in the kitchen, looking from Tamsine, to Sophie, to Noah, to Durmortier and back again. Suddenly, pieces fall into place and Hull fixes Noah with a stern look and throws a dish rag at him.

Why did we drive cross-country if you have a teleporter!?” Hull shouts.

Noah fixes Hull with a piercing stare. “Because she only owes me one favor.”

Hull relaxes some, looking at Tamsine with a slow shake of her head, followed by a quick look to her laptop. Instead of reopening it, Hull grabs her phone and transfers the codec of the video from laptop to phone wirelessly, using herself as a bridge. “Detroit,” she says, handing the phone with the video paused over to Tamsine, then shifts her attention to Dumortier as she talks, “the monologuing maniac is Adam Monroe.”

Hull takes in a deep breath and turns her attention to Sophie. “He’s got a lot to answer for.”

“Dumortier, there’s a duffel bag upstairs under the bed, could you get it and bring it down here?” Noah asks, but it feels like a directive.

“Sophie, in the basement there’s a cardboard box above the dryer, take the gas canisters out and bring them up here into the kitchen.” Noah continues.

“Clover,” Noah says fixing a look at Hull, “do whatever you can to keep surveillance on what’s happening in Detroit. Do not lose sight of Claire.”

Then, finally, his attention comes to Tamsine. “Thank you, Miss Whitaker, for coming on such short notice. This will hopefully be a round trip, but you don’t have to stick around.”

Lucky for him, Dumortier hears the noises of surprise before he sees Tamsine; he pivots away from his slinking after Noah, immediately sizing up any potential threat in the red-haired woman who has graced them with her presence.

So this is how it is, huh? Teleporting?

"Yeah, yeah, I know what a go-bag is." Rene starts his response even before Bennet finishes, and on his way upstairs gives Sophie a more heavy look. Between her reaction and the name he only half-knows, there's an obvious intention to pry. Later.

Prickling like an edgy, trigger-happy porcupine, Sophie’s head jerks towards the unfamiliar voice in the same instant that a thin, aerodynamic dagger of black steel finds itself fitted comfortably, naturally in her small fingers. Once it’s clear that Tasmine is an invitee instead of a trespasser, she gives a jut of her chin - less apology and more meer acknowledgement in the bob of springy patina-hued curls. She steadies her threadbare nerves with a deep breath, a side-eye given to the closed laptop as if she expects Adam to crawl out from between the crack like something out of The Ring.

Noah’s voice, the authority of it, cuts through the waking nightmare and strikes a cord with something that’s become second nature - the simple black and white of following orders. Her gaze cuts sharply away from the tech. “Right-o.” The only sign of any lingering discomfort is in the way her thumb rubs at the seamless point where hilt meets blade, her own little worry stone of sorts. She slips down to the basement, leaving the door cracked behind her.

Taking the phone from Hull with a grin for the younger woman, Tamsine studies its screen. She arches one red brow at the revelation that the voice performing the evil villain monologue belongs to Adam Monroe.

“You’re fucking kidding me,” she says, tipping her head to listen, her eyes narrowing as she hears more of the speech, nodding as the voice rings all the worst bells. “Can I just say, dodged a bullet there? Jesus Christ. He just shot to the top of the evil exes list.”

With a shake of her head, Tamsine tilts the phone toward Noah so he can see the screen. “Tell me where you want to land, Bennet. You remember how this works? You guys won’t see you’re going — just gotta trust me and follow in my wake. We’ll be going in a little blind — so pick a spot that’s not likely to have a truck driving through it when we beam in,” she advises.

Noah nods, waving to Hull who is opening her laptop and already pulling up a map of Detroit. “The aircraft are here,” she says, pointing west of the city center. “There’s sightings of aerial drones in this area,” she adds with a circle of her finger, “so…”

“Let’s go outside, say 2 miles.” Noah scans the map, then taps an area of green. “Macarthur Bridge Park, wide open public space.” He turns to Tamsine. “As soon as we get to the other side, you head home and take care of yourself. We’ll call in if we need an exit.”

“How’re we gonna catch up to what’s going on?” Hull asks, closing her laptop and tucking it into her bag. At the same time, there’s a sound of a door opening at the front of the condo, keys jingling and boots treading across the floor.

Noah turns, watching as a tall, blonde woman comes in off the street and offers her a knowing nod. “You’re just in time,” he says to her.

“Have you ever hotwired a car before?”


Some Time Later

Outside the Raytech Renaissance Building

Detroit, Michigan

A chevron of five AEGIS-armored Raytech security personnel emerge from the west side entrance of the Raytech Renaissance building into absolutely chaos. Traffic is gridlocked on the main road, with some through traffic peeling down the road that loops around the Renaissance Building.

“Clear!” One security officer says, a little too soon. As he looks up over the western parking garage, he can see the circling swarm of black, arrowhead-shaped drones whirling over Hart Plaza two blocks away.

Richard Ray and Zachery Miller emerge from the building onto the street, with Diana Hahn alongside them. “Sir, this isn’t advisable.” She says in a tense tone of voice. But Richard can barely hear her over the sound of his own heart beating and his own voice rattling around in his head.

What he doesn’t see is Niki Zimmerman.

Scanning the sidewalk below the northwest tower, Richard can see a smeared blood stain on the sidewalk and an earpiece that looks like some sort of bluetooth communicator. There are two angular footprints that do not look like they were made by a person that track through the blood — likely some sort of bipedal machine — but there’s no sign of Niki.

“Psalm 23-4, Hahn.” Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Richard doesn’t say it like a joke, but there’s some dark humor there nonetheless as they walk beneath the shadow of the Raytech towers, death carried within him, and a rod or staff by his side. The silver wolf’s head of the cane is beneath his fingers as he walks down the sidewalk at a brisk step. His expression kept carefully flat, his eyes not even lifting to the drones in the sky.

The stain of blood, the tracks, have him stopping dead in his tracks, his intent cut off before he even I got a chance to try it. “What— where is she?” Did someone steal her body? He notices the metal footprints, and then he’s quickly hustling over to crouch beside the communicator, picking it up and bringing it up to an ear to listen and see if it’s still active. Probably not. What would it pair to? “Do we have video coverage of this plaza, Hahn?”

It is somewhat less effective to do a side-eye with just the one eye, but Zachery finds himself shooting one at Richard's psalm pull nonetheless.

He's following shortly behind, coming to a stop to lift his face to the sky, watching the drones for a moment. The sight further straightens his back, something pulling at a corner of his mouth as his shoulders square back. For all intents and purposes he looks, next to Richard, like a slightly confused desk worker who accidentally but with full confidence followed the wrong person.

"Really?" When he turns his gaze back down again, at the ground, then at Richard, he asks on a breath that sounds like it would rather have been an incredulous chuckle, "That's what we came out here for? A corpse?"

Regardless of his snark, he takes a few steps in the direction of the fresh tracks, following their path and observing the streets beyond with limited field of vision and more limited range yet on other senses.

“If nothing took out the cameras,” Hahn says, pulling out her mobile device, “it’ll take me a minute to RDP into the— ” Hahn is cut off as the ground shakes and seething ribbons of emerald colored light with vibrant sparks of lime-green energy stream up from over the roof of the parking garage from Hart Plaza. Hart pauses and looks to Richard, tensely, then waves for the security detail to fan out.

Hahn doesn’t remark on the noise or the light, or the sound of nearby gunshots as several of the drones circling the plaza are shot out of the sky and collide with nearby buildings. She works as fast as she can, thumbing through prompt after prompt of security logins. “Jesus— Christ,” she stresses once she’s finally in.

“Hold,” Hahn says, thumbing through cameras while trying to keep an eye on her surroundings, “hold…” and then finally she finds this footage and rotates her thumb backwards in a counterclockwise circle, rewinding the time stamp in 15-second intervals. Eventually, Richard and Zachery can see a shift in her expression and her vigilance rise.

Taken,” Hahn says, turning the phone to Richard. The angle is high up and far away, more than twenty feet, but it clearly shows one of the bipedal war machines developed by Praxis Heavy Industries kneeling beside Niki and picking her up and carrying her away to the north, quite possibly through the lines of stalled traffic.

“I can send a detail out after it if you— ” once more Hahn is cut off when the sound of a woman screaming in the distance suddenly turns into a high-pitched whirring sound as another one of the arrowhead-shaped drones comes careening down into the roof of the parking garage, trailing smoke and fire.

Hahn moves to stand between Richard and the distant explosion. “Sir! It is not safe out here!”


The single word is spat out as Richard watches that brief video, head lifting to turn a bleak look northwards in the direction that the body of one of his oldest friends, a once-lover, a confidante and someone he cared a great deal about… was carried off by one of Adam’s robots. “Yes, Miller, that’s why we came out here,” he mutters, just-audible in all the raucous noise.

His jaw tenses, but he turns away from the north road with a hard swallow. Maybe they still have a supply of the regenerator’s blood somewhere. Maybe they can bring her back. He can pray they do, at least. There’s no way he’s going to catch up to a robot on foot.

Hahn starts to speak, then, and he looks to her just before they’re cut off, and he twists to look off in the direction of the explosion. Then Hahn is in front of him, and he glares back at her for a moment before his expression softens - just slightly - and he admits, “No. No, it isn’t. Not for you all, I…”

Fingers tighten on the head of the cane, paling a bit from the pressure of the digits against silver. “How did I let this happen?”

It’s a rhetorical question.

Zachery - considerably less desensitised to the sound of gunshots than his present company seems to be - looks from building entrance to Hahn, to Richard, and finally to the scream and the explosion. He shifts his weight, restlessly, but doesn't move from his spot.

If safety was his main concern, urging for the group to head back into the building would be an easy choice. But, as far as he can gather, this isn't a situation where easy choices are terribly relevant. His face turns to Richard again, brow knitted — fuck rhetorical questions. Voice steady and clear for the first time since today's chaos started, he asks, "So what can you still make happen to help?"

“Sir, last I checked your ID card does not read Atlas, so stop trying to put the world on your shoulders.” Hahn says with a cock of one brow. “Right now we have a civil crisis on our hands. We have people locked in traffic up the street,” sirens in the distance are blaring, “and that’s probably DCPD on their way right now with the National Guard.”

Hahn turns to angle a look over to Richard. “What’re we going to— ”

The roar of a vehicle’s engine cuts Hahn off as she spots a tan SUV come off the road by the riverside, mount the curb and come to an abrupt stop on the sidewalk outside of the Raytech building. Hahn unholsters her sidearm as multiple people begin to emerge from the vehicle and her security team raises their Banshees defensively.

The SUV is half a block away, but even at this distance the Raytech team can hear shouted conversation from the passengers as they pile out.

Hull, get me cameras! I want to know every angle of this plaza!” Noah Bennet steps out of the SUV with a handgun in one hand and a duffel bag over his shoulder. From the passenger seat, a teal-haired young woman carrying a laptop under one arm hops onto the street and looks up at the sky wide-eyed.

“Un fucking believable.” Hull says with a wide-eyed whisper as she watches the schools of black drones zip through the sky. “These aren’t networked, they’re running on independent AI. Wolfhound has full control over the Ziggurat, Asi says she can’t connect to these.”

Richard immediately recognizes the surprising face of Rene Dumortier, though for entirely different reasons than Zachery does from providence as the blonde climbs out of the back of the SUV. Dumortier is joined by someone else Richard knows: Sophie Barton, one of the Guardians.

Last out of the SUV is Kara Prince, to whom Noah tosses the backpack. “Make sure you don’t hit Claire with those.”

Of all the streetsides in all the warzones in all the world, Noah Bennet has to drive onto this one.

As soon as the man is recognized, Richard draws in a breath… and then lifts a hand towards the security team, raised high and then lowered in the universal 'stand down, not an enemy' gesture. "Good question, Miller," he says, lifting up the cane and releasing it only to catch it by the haft before starting to briskly walk-jog towards the SUV, "Looks like I've got some more pieces on the board now."

One hand lifts up to the bluetooth communicator he's got tucked into one ear as he walks, murmuring, "Alia. Friendly technopath looking for local camera views. Since we already have control, can you give them access to save some time? Keep private building feeds private, of course."

"Bennet," he calls as he heads closer, "I hope you've brought an army with you in that fucking SUV there!"

Zachery's approach, meanwhile, is far more unhurried. He follows, one hand resting on the side of his left pantleg, glancing beyond Richard and lifting a hand in wordless greeting to Dumortier — even if the expression that comes with it is solidly stuck on a furrowed brow of 'what the fuck'.

Which promptly graduates to an expression of 'no, but really, what the fuck' once he spots yet two more familiar faces, real and fake eye narrowing as his other arm comes up for an utterly puzzled shrug of a gesture at Dumortier again. Hi?

The sound of the last car door slamming shut is delayed, as the dismounting driver is distracted by the sound of Bennet's name being called out as soon as they all mutually disembark. Kara Prince and Richard Ray have never actually met, but she recalls his face, his assets, his reputation from everything leading up to the confrontation at Sunspot.

Of all the places in the world Richard Ray could be, naturally it had to be here, where the sky was opening up in a colorful aurora.

Of course.

The backpack hits her with a thud, contents checked with a glance before she slings the strap over her shoulder, bag worn messily off her side for easier access. It would have been better if they'd been able to get closer, but with the stalled traffic, they'll just have to run double-time. "It doesn't discriminate, Bennet, but I'll do my best." Back in the direction of Richard and co, the munitions chaplain finds interest in Zachery of all people.

"Miller, I'm going to need you to pay me back for those ice packs." Kara calls out to him with a simple gesture of her hand. He doesn't look to be favoring one leg over the other any more, so with luck he'll keep up. "Whatever you're doing, leave it. On me."

She looks back to Dumortier for a moment to indicate she's including him in this call to arms, digging out one of the objects clanging in the bag as she steps off the curb after Noah. It sails toward the center of the agrokinetic's chest. "Don't point that at yourself in any way before you throw it. It's Round-Up, not Miracle-Gro."

It is, in fact, neither of those things. It's a canister of fucking negation gas.

"You have one to two seconds after pulling the pin before it starts going off," she continues, but already she's looking forward again, distracted. More curtly, "Bennet, you have a plan of attack yet, or are you taking suggestions?"

Hand down in the bag, Kara stops in place just long enough to consider Richard again out of the corner of her eye. The rifle slung across her back continues to hang for now, no need for it yet, but its time is surely coming. With a gruff dryness, she asides to Richard, "You intending on standing around… or adding to it?"

"Someone learned to drive in Grand Theft Auto." Sophie gets an earful as the SUV piles out; he's not bitter, promise. Dumortier has barely put his boots on the ground before he's face to face with just perhaps the last people he expected. In a manner of speaking— his face is turned to the sky, wide-eyed, before anything else. When he does meet Miller's eyes it's with a throwing open of his arms as if he were always supposed to be there. Here's the party. "Apparently I volunteered for War of the Worlds, Handsome."

Thankfully he still has his hands out when Kara chucks a weapon of war at him. It's a haphazard catch, somewhere in between Hot Potato and the certainty that it is, in fact, Agent Round-Up. One to two? How is that even—

"Hey there, Dickie." It's not a pet name used terribly often and Dumortier chirps it when he spots the well dressed, very non-Dickie-like Richard Ray. His smile is a flash of white, hands finding a safe spot on his person to stash the canister. It's hot like an ember to him. "Hear you're flush these days." Always a moment.

"Soph, be careful of intake valves. Apparently that could be a thing." Rene gives one more look to the sky, the tension in his shoulders betraying his state.

Sophie pops down from the SUV with a little thud of her combat boots, a quiet thing lost in all the chaos that draws her attention upward. "'Da fuck?" Tint hands adjust the criss-cross trio of belts around her hip as she makes to scan the street, only to find… "Hey, it's stoner boi! Hey, Shroomster!" Sophie gives an enthusiastic floppy wave at Miller.

Turning the wave onto her poof of faded patina-green curls, she freezes at the sight of Richard jogging towards Bennet. "Well, there's a face I could never forget," the lilt of her words matching the tilted incline of her smile. "Fancy meeting you here." She winks and bobs her shoulders once, and just like that her gaze sharpens and her attention swivels to her team already fanning out as if by instinct. She picks a quick beat by Dumortier. "Oh, don't you worry about me. What I'm after isn't anywhere up there. You just worry about that can there, hm?" She aims to catch Hull's eye and give a quick encouraging dip of her chin.

Noah Bennet?” The surprise comes from behind Richard and very swiftly in front of Richard as Diana Hahn moves up with quick strides to the former Ferryman.

Noah raises his brows over the frames of his horn-rimmed glasses, at first not recognizing Diana, and then…

“Ms. Hahn, you’re looking well. But I don’t have time for this right now, my daughter is over there,” Bennet says with a gesture to the square. “You want to settle an old grudge, you do it after she’s safe.”

Hahn tenses for a moment, exhales through her nose with a look to Richard, and seems satisfied with that. She stands down, looking at the plaza and the green light spilling up from beyond view over the parking garage between them.

“We can talk while we walk.” Noah says to Richard. “And you know as well as I do that an army isn’t my style.”

Hull has stopped in her tracks, at some point along the way across the street she hooked into the feed of what was going on across the street. Her eyes go wide, lips part, and she looks at Noah and…

…says nothing.

She doesn’t how how to tell him what she sees over there. About what happened to Claire.

About how they’re too late.

Instead, she stammers out. “I— I have to— I’m— I’m gonna need to stay with the truck. Wolfhound needs me in the Ziggurat any minute, I can’t—” She shakes her head, swallowing back emotion. “I can’t.

Noah mistakes her apprehension for fear and waves Hull off. “Stay, keep low, stay out of sight. You should be fine.” Right now he only partly believes that’s true, but it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make for her to save his daughter. If only he knew the truth.

“Sorry to disappoint you, Kara,” Noah says with a guilty crease of his brows, “but I’m playing this one by the seat of my pants. Let’s improvise something on the way over there.”

“Ms. Hahn,” Noah then directs a look to her, “is the shortest route to the Plaza through that parking garage?”

Hahn looks at Noah, then at the whitewashed parking garage and nods.

Noah claps a hand on Richard’s shoulder, “Then come on. I’ll fill you in on the way.”


Renaissance Center Garage
Detroit, Michigan

“You need to get up.”

Three quadrupedal machines stand like obedient dogs in the fluorescent-lit ground level of a parking garage currently under construction. Caution tape cordons off areas where asphalt has not yet been laid, and these massive machines that stand six feet tall at the shoulder hum with an electrical charge in their idle state.

You have to do something.

Nearby, close enough to hear the ongoing conversation, eight soldiers in Praxis Heavy Industries’ private military company, donned in heavy AEGIS armor carrying backpack-powered Banshees await orders. But their commander is incapable of delivering them.

Adam. You have to make a call.

Adam Monroe sits on the floor of the parking garage, dressed in a suit of ANCILIA armor, helmet opened to reveal his face. His shoulders are slouched, eyes distant and unfocused, jaw slack and lips slightly parted. There is a sword at his side, not the Kensei sword, but a fine blade nonetheless. But it is practically forgotten.

In front of Adam, a dark-haired Japanese woman in bohemian fashions crouches barefoot on the ground. Her dark hair falls over her shoulders, her eyes are glassy with tears. Joy cups one of Adam’s cheeks in one hand, trying to get through to him.

You have to keep fighting.” Joy insists. “I’m at the plaza right now,” she says, and it isn’t a lie. Eli Carnegie once held the ability she does now, to create hollow copies of himself; part real, part illusion. His death in Mount Natazhat was her boon, in this one instance.

Adam shakes his head, swallowing audibly. “We failed,” he says with a hoarse voice, blue eyes angling up to Joy. “Ben’s dead. The missile’s destroyed. Niki’s…” his vision swims, jaw trembles, and he shakes his head. “We failed.”

“What do we do next?” Joy insists, trying to pull him out of this state.

I don’t know,” Adam rasps, weakly. “Years, billions of dollars, all of it… isn’t enough.” He looks up at her, tired. “It’s never enough. She always wins.”

Joy sucks in a sharp breath, looking back over her shoulder. “Go!” She says to the soldiers. “Go the plaza, find me, follow my orders.”

It’s not the weirdest directive they’ve ever been given.

The soldiers nod, motioning to the west and sending the quadrupedal robots galloping ahead while their paired handlers each move to follow them, gear jingling as they run alongside the machines. With the soldiers deployed, Joy turns back to Adam, shaking her head slowly.

Kensei,” Joy takes his face in both her hands,

Kōfuku shinaide.1


Outside the Renaissance Center Garage

“…and that’s about the long and short of it.” Noah says as he stops hustling, looking at the long parking garage surrounded by construction tape and flanked by tall cranes and bulldozers.

“We cut through the parking garage, come straight out at the plaza. Kara, I want you focused on Naidu. Shoot to kill. Negation if possible without risking Claire.” Noah doesn’t call out any other friendlies, his focus is laser-honed.

“Sophie,” Noah looks over at her, “I need you to stay as mist, ground fog. Follow at my heels in my shadow. If Monroe shows up, he’s yours. Otherwise,” he motions to Kara, “watch her back.”

“Dumortier, as soon as we get in range of your ability I want you to lock Naidu and his squad down with roots, vines, whatever you can.” Noah instructs, then looks over to Richard, Zachery, Hahn, and the security detail.

“You don’t have to come with,” Noah says, “but it’d be appreciated. I know you were close to Claire too.”

As Claire’s father started to move towards the parking garage, Richard had followed. That disliked nickname earned Dumortier a dirty look; Kara, for her part, got a confused one. He started to say something once in her direction, a question that started with ‘Jul…?’ but he cut himself off before it became anything that made sense. Sophie almost got a smile. It wasn’t a smiling kind of day.

“Noah— Noah, listen… Noah. Bennet— “

Richard kept trying to get a word in edgewise, but Noah was just bulldozing his way through the conversation, and it quickly became obvious that it’d be easier just to let him talk, and he gave up until there was a space for him to verbally elbow his way in.

“One, yes, we’re coming with you.” He apparently volunteered Zachery with that statement. Hahn and her security team volunteered themselves when they started wearing the uniform they’re wearing. “We’ve also already dispatched a team to the plaza, so if you all could try not and negate or shoot all the people in Raytech liverie out there, guys, that’d be appreciated, thanks.”

“Two, do not bother with Monroe even if the fucking idiot shows up. He’s not the problem here. Mazdak is. Also, there’s an entity over in the plaza right now that can rewrite genetic codes and give itself any power it wants on the fly in there, so if you see Eve or anyone with glowing golden eyes, get that gas on them before they kill us all without lifting a finger. If shit goes weird, Bennet, let me take the lead. You aren’t properly briefed on the situation.”

Three, your daughter is already dead. That one’s silent. He remembers Eve and Odessa’s trip to the past. He remembers that the Entity can raise the dead.

And he prays for that resurrection for Claire as loudly as he prays for Niki’s unlikely survival right now. They need a miracle, and the only God that seems to be listening doesn’t seem to be on their side.

Which Zachery can only hope is the right one. Either way, he's chosen it now, and though some errant discomfort has him occasionally gritting his teeth, he finds himself walking just ever so slightly taller in more familiar company.

For the most part, he's been quiet, but no less alert for it. He walks alongside Dumortier, glancing between those speaking while putting his own questions and complaints on hold. Except that every mention of Claire causes an increasingly sharper look thrown at Richard.

Which brings us to now. Every moment of complicity seems to have deepened the lines on his brow, and he rolls his jaw while throwing a look of careful consideration around.

It's a look that ends with a thoughtful stare across to Noah, who Zachery hasn't spoken to at all up to this point. When he opens his mouth to finally do so, his words are clipped with urgency as if he's expecting someone to stop him when he says, loud and clear, "Your daughter is dead."

Your daughter is dead.

Your daughter is dead.

Ten Years Earlier

Greenwich Village

There's a tension at the corners of Noah's eyes as he stares down at his little girl.

"Claire,” Noah says with a near-exasperated tension, “federal agents practically turned your mother's house inside out looking for you. They questioned Lyle, they questioned your mother, they had a warrant. Claire, you could've jeopardized your mother's safety, you know what she does for the network, you know she takes risks. This stupid and childish game you keep playing is just going to get people hurt."

"Stupid and childish?" Claire asks, she can't believe she's hearing that, glancing up at him again. Anger smolders in her eyes. "You stay hiding in those shadows, Dad. You're good at it. I'm tired of keeping my head down. I've got centuries ahead of me, I can't keep hiding."

"Besides, Mom knew what she was getting into when she joined your group." Claire hisses out between tightly clenched teeth. Deep down it is killing her to say it, to force those words out. "I'm sure you warned her about getting involved, just as much as you did me. She’s still there." There is a pressuring building behind her eyes, threatening to fill her eyes with tears.

And the words just… spill from her in a rush of despair and fury. Claire's wall, the one she's carefully built brick by brick is cracking. "Just like I wasn't supposed to go through the worst fucking hell in my life, when I stepped on to that damn aircraft carrier. The break-in wasn't supposed to happen that way. In and out that's it. Shit happens, Dad." Her eyes start to glisten with unshed tears. "Shit happens. You either learn to endure, or you fall. I'm sure Mom will do just fine, she has you and Lyle."

"Don't you dare pull that Claire, don't you dare try to make yourself not a part of this family. Claire, you have no idea how hard I have fought to protect you from people like Howard Lemay, and now you've gone and put yourself on his radar. Howard is a dangerous man, Claire, a dangerous man whose loyalty to the Company is questionable at best." There's an urgency in Noah's tone, much as there always is when he's trying to make Claire feel like daddy knows best.

"I've never tried to keep you away from me, Claire, from us. You could've come to me and you didn't, and now you're in this— this mess and there's nothing I can do to get you out of it." And from the sounds of the way he's saying that, it kills him inside.

"Clairebear… I have been trying to protect you for your whole life. All I've ever wanted was to know you're safe, because I love you." Noah's brows furrow behind the frames of his glasses, and he steps forward to clear the distance between himself and his daughter, thick fingers curling against calloused palms.

"Let me help you…" It's hard for a man his age to implore something so simple from someone so young, but for Claire, there isn't a mountain that Noah Bennet wouldn't try to move, or a river he'd endeavor to part.

He can see Claire's jaw working as she fights the welling of emotions, the wall is crumbling, her pain starting to show for all the world to see.

Damn him for being here.

"You can't always save me, Dad." Claire rebukes him softly softly and from the heart, tears slide down her cheek,

leaving a cold trail.

Present Day

Noah Bennet says nothing, merely stares.

But the moment that Hull had stopped walking, Kara knew something was wrong. She had, in plain terms, a bad feeling about what was going to be faced when they reached the plaza.

Zachery's words throw it all into blunt relief.

And after her head snaps in his direction, it only slowly turns back in Noah's, her shoulders settling. In a moment, she makes up her mind, shifting her rifle forward for better grip.

Noah Bennet won't settle for loss. But she imagines he'll settle for revenge.

"We get a long-range shot on Naidu, Bennet. We make it clean, and then we go." This is her counter-offer to his plan, to Richard's. She gives Sophie a meaningful look. It's her buy-in she hopes most for, the additional weight to hopefully persuade Noah off a path suicidal for them all. "It's a warzone out here, and the last thing we need to do is get the kids killed in it." Hull, and Sophie.

She doesn't need to stress that she doesn't want anyone else's daughter to die, too. The point perhaps makes itself.

Jaw set, Kara glances back at Zachery for just a moment, a stiff nod given in his direction. Acknowledgement for his call in speaking, and acceptance of the fate pronounced.

It's grim, but it is what it is.

The further that they get into the meat of things, the more suspicious Dumortier grows. Reading body language is a step above just words; they're hiding something, of course they are. Why now? This isn't the time. The ones he came with get a smaller look of concern, but as he falls in step with Miller, the latter is the one to get a relatively hairy eyeball.

Wait, wait, hollup. Mazdak? Hamster wheel squawks to a halt. Incidentally, it is also when Rene sees the lurking preparation in Zachery's expression. Revelations aren't quite as shocking to him— poor girl, sure, it's terrible news for Noah and apparently Richard— yet it also knocks down the reason for being here a few pegs. There's the robot apocalypse too, but— that's not really his job.

His nerves are already on edge, not having quite expected all of this when he said he'd help. Dumortier's jaw sets, a sharp look towards Kara, then Richard. Coulda led with that, Ray.

Sophie is delayed, having lingered a moment behind to place a gentle hand on Hull’s elbow and give an inquiring look. No words. And, finally, a nod - an unspoken promise. The same promise she’d made when she saw the pain in Clover’s eyes once before.

Now her tiny boots jog silently to keep up with the longer-legged crowd, a thin fog following after her in tangle, coiling, confused spirals. She inclines her chin at Bennet’s order, but it doesn’t get to drop in full agreement - first Zachery and then Kara’s words undercutting the whole game plan. She winces, not daring to find their “team” leader’s expression at this gutting announcement. Instead, she holds Kara’s insistent, nearly telepathic gaze. Her throat works a visible effort over a growing tension therein. “I’m not a kid, Kara…” It’s said more quietly than expected - apologetic and yet set in its resolve. “I haven’t been a kid in a long time, and I ought to thank Monroe properly for that if I get the chance….”

The little, curly-haired woman does her best to hold Kara’s gaze with a touch of softness and yet… There’s something there, a faint and sharp glint not unlike the twinkle of the tiny blades hidden about her person. If Kara had just given her the chance last time… If she could have taken Monroe out before… No, this time she couldn’t follow Kara’s command. Not again.

It takes this long for Noah Bennet to comport a response to Zachery, stepping around Richard to close the distance on the doctor quickly. He stands there, tall and severe, eyes wide and face flushed red with rage. That Noah took out his gun in those few footsteps isn’t missed, and Zachery can see it shaking in his clenched hand. He affords Richard a look, piercing and hot. Did you know? it all but says.

It isn’t is it true? Richard knows those eyes of desperation. Noah can read the room, he can separate the knows from the don’t-knows. But the only thing keeping him from a rampage is the sliver of hope that they’ve underestimated her. But he fears — with her deteriorating condition — they hadn’t.

Noah’s jaw works open to say something, but a distant scream cuts him off.

We’re fucked!

British, furious, echoing from inside the parking garage.

Sophie and Noah turn toward the voice like a pair of cats hearing the chirp of a bird from the tall grass. Suddenly there is a direction for that paternal rage, and Bennet says nothing and begins advancing on the parking garage.


Renaissance Center Garage
Detroit, Michigan

“It’s over!” Adam screams, pushing himself to his feet with a violent wave of one hand. “We lost, we were outplayed. We can’t beat it!

Joy stares at Adam, her throat working up and down in a tight swallow. “Adam,” she says through her teeth. “Your children are out there dying for this fight and you’re going to lay down your your sword?”

Adam nearly forms a response, but notices something amiss nearby. The quadrupedal robots that had marched off with their squads have come to a complete halt. The machines enter a rest mode, kneeling down like sleeping cows, the cannons on their backs retracting and collapsing into an unarmed state. Confusion dances through the security team, struggling to bring the machines back online.

Joy follows Adam’s line of sight to the machines, then looks back and sees him taking a few awkward steps forward toward the security team. Worry crosses her features, she lays a hand on his arm and he shakes it off.

What the fuck is the problem?” Monroe barks at them. One officer turns, a tablet in hand that he turns to face Adam showing [SECURITY LOCKOUT] across the screen. Adam’s eyes search from side to side, his hands curl into fists and he is hit with yet another escalating cascade of failure.

“Director we…” Suddenly, the security officer drops the tablet and pulls his Banshee from its sling over his shoulder.

He’s not looking at Adam now, but past him.

Moments Earlier

Renaissance Center Garage
Detroit, Michigan

“Find Monroe, shove a canister of negation gas down his throat, cut off his head. If he keeps regenerating, keep cutting.”

Noah says through his teeth as he enters the parking garage heedless of whether the rest of his team is even following along.

The painfully blunt statement from Zachery has Richard whirling around to shoot a look at him that - if it could kill, it would. He’d say something scathing here. He would. But there are questions about if that’s true now and he doesn’t have time to deal with the other man.

He’ll have that talk2 later, assuming both of them actually survive what happens in the next ten minutes.

There’s no way that Noah can miss the flash of pain in Richard’s expression when he looks back to him. “There’s still— hope there, she’s not necessarily— ”

Then he’s stalking off, and he swears under his breath, following the other man at a brisk jog to catch up, “Noah, it wasn’t Adam! It’s all a fucking shell game, it’s— Mazdak, it’s Naidu that’s pulling the strings here, he’s the one who had her taken, same as me, same as Nathalie— !”

"Stow it, Ray. Bennet wants to shoot Monroe instead of Naidu, you're going to hear no arguments from anyone else here. And if we're lucky, this one of him is one without regeneration to begin with, so it'll be even quicker to work out." Kara is already picking up her pace, fishing out a can of negation gas from her bag. It gets passed to Noah as she overtakes him, but then another goes right into her hand. The considerably lightened bag sways with her steps.

"I'll go first, handle the negation— stop whatever other ability he's carrying with him," she decides, simply by virtue of being the fastest. She looks back to Sophie with a tip of her head in the direction of Monroe's voice. "Clear the way for you."

"Hang tight," Kara says to the others, nose of her rifle lifted as she jogs with it in one hand and the canister in the other. She'll do everything she can to shake any possible deja vu to the last time she came face to face with Adam Monroe. It begins with making the first move.

"If he thinks his day's bad, it's about to get so much worse."

If there's anything communicated in the way Zachery holds himself when Noah steps up to him, it's that he anticipated this kind of reaction. Nevertheless, his jaw screws tight and his shoulders square back in preparation for something, fingers tightening around one of the canisters Kara had given him earlier. His head angles just slightly to keep Noah's face in the center of his vision, but he keeps quiet. What he felt needed to be said is already out there now.

A lack of full understanding shows in the crease of his brow, but his uncompromising stare back into the other man's eyes holds despite the threat of violence. Because why should any of this be built on lies, especially this particular one?

It is also a lack of understanding that leaves him still standing when the rest of the group begins to move.

It’s a half a heartbeat or less that has Sophie moving in tandem with Noah, instinct and mutual scorecards driving both forward without hesitation. The little warrior gives a subtle since as Kara’s voice curls over her shoulder. It’s not their first fray, but it is the first time her instinct is NOT to follow her friend’s orders… Hang tight.

As Kara zips past and a hand around the canister makes her intentions clear, Sophie’s eyes shine with a new appreciation. She gives Kara a sharp, supportive nod - a simple gesture meant to bear the weight of so much more left unsaid. In that moment soft swirls of mist leach out from around Sophie’s boots and begin to weave like a phantasmal ocean waves in Kara’s wake. Sophie herself becomes less material, a transparency making her fuzzy around the edges as though through an unfocused lens. She holds a safe distance, allowing the broiling silver-gray mist to leach ahead of Kara and offer cover as she herself frays at the edges - ready to strike.

It is not misunderstanding but reticence that keeps Dumortier lagging behind; he watches Noah bluff his way around and the others pursue, left to give Zachery a sidelong look.

"So how has your day been?" Uncertainty turns to a cocksure smile, because of course it does. Rene tucks his fingers under his collar to pull up a gaiter, covering the span of nose to neckline. You know. Gas. He reaches into a pocket and promptly shoves a second one into Miller's hand. Forcibly if needed. Take it, jerk. Dumortier is more than happy to let Kara and Sophie swoop in like some kind of avenging angels. Rene steps away then, walking backwards a few paces.

"You coming to see the show?" He is. The agrokinetic reaches back into his coat pockets— nowhere near the canister— fingers curling around whatever he's keeping there. "Someone'll probably get shanked." Dumortier turns on a heel and strolls on after the rest.

Zachery has no answers for the first of these last two questions, except in the form of a chuckle stunted by sheer dissociation as he looks down to what he's been handed. Then, after he watches Dumortier walk away from him, he looks over his shoulder. Considering, just for a moment, the answer to the second of the two questions.

He could leave. Maybe unwisely. Instead, he pulls the gaiter down over his head and adjusts it while answering, "Let's find out who."


"What the fuck is the problem?” Monroe barks at them. One officer turns, a tablet in hand that he turns to face Adam showing [SECURITY LOCKOUT] across the screen. Adam’s eyes search from side to side, his hands curl into fists and he is hit with yet another escalating cascade of failure.

“Director we…” Suddenly, the security officer drops the tablet and pulls his Banshee from its sling over his shoulder.

He’s not looking at Adam now, but past him.

“What the fuck is that?” Adam hears the guard say as he turns to follow the sight-line, seeing a billowing cloud of gray mist filling the parking garage, rolling toward their position. Adam braces, blue eyes tracking from side to side. “Ambush— fire fire!

Caught off-guard by the sudden emergence of the obscuring mists, the security team pivots and moves into a firing position, though without a clear target to fire at. Two Praxis Security officers take a knee, steadying their oversized Banshees ahead, while two take up firing positions behind them. There is no muzzle flash, no pop of gunfire, but just a familiar high-pitched whine as they blindly fire heavy Banshees into the mist. The sonic disruption has no effect on Sophie, and without knowing precisely where to fire the blasts are not targeted enough to score a direct hit on any of the approaching assailants.

Richard can hear a high-pitched tinnitus whine of a close shot, as can Kara, with her right ear left ringing and teeth in the right side of her jaw tingling from even something as simple as a near miss.

The Redbird Security team closes in around Richard, keeping a close proximity to him with their own handheld Banshees out, likewise unable to see the approaching enemy for the rolling bank of mist. Hahn sticks close to Richard, wincing as she steps out of a brief sweep of those massive Banshees, ready to drag Richard away if it comes to it.

It is Joy that reacts with a timely ability. With a raise of her hand she conjures forth a roaring gust of wind that howls through the parking garage. The force of the wind is so strong that is disperses Sophie’s mist form, scattering her around the parking garage. She’s dealt with this before, it’s only a setback, and it only kind of tickles.

But when the mist is cleared, Joy’s eyes snap wide when she sees the impromptu strike team concealed within it. Kara at the fore, rifle and canister, Joy’s lips part in an expression of sheer disbelief.

Adam, spotting Richard, looks bewildered. Apparently he hadn’t expected to see him.

“If you have one fucking brain cell in your goddamn head, you will not start releasing expired negation gas in a fucking parking garage, you’ll kill us all you goddamn lunatic,” is Richard’s scathing recitation in Kara’s direction, fingers tightening about the dark wooden haft of the wolf’s head cane he’s carrying before he’s surging forward with the security team into the all-concealing mist that is Sophie Barton.

Things are too dire to even think any innuendo about that.

The familiar scream of a Banshee’s cry cuts through the mist near his head, and he jerks away from it instinctively with a grimace— and as the mists are swept aside with aerokinetic force, he points that cane directly at the British immortal that’s caused everyone so much trouble.

Red King to Black Pawn Two.

“ARE YOU FIRING MY OWN GODDAMN WEAPONS AT ME, MONROE? HAVE YOU NOT FUCKED UP BADLY ENOUGH TODAY? If any of these assholes’ weapons so much as squeak in our direction again, take them down,” the last hissed out the security detail, weapons already at the ready coming up and taking aim in a clatter of plastic and metal to train towards the four, the resonant amplifiers of the Banshees coming live, “Leave the leaders to us.”


Listen, though, some people deserve getting a canned dose of war crime applied directly to their face.

And Richard shouting is a good enough distraction for one to hurl one such canister through the abruptly cleared area.

"Or don't," Kara advises with a grunt as she pitches the canister directly at the feet of the armored immortal. "We're flexible." The metal of the canister clatters as it hits the floor, a thick cloud of negation gas exploding from the end of it in a single burst rather than the pluming stream she remembers from the war. No matter. Hands suddenly free, she braces the rifle against her chest, turning on Joy and firing two bursts squarely at her chest.

She looks real enough to Kara, after all.

Another canister comes sailing over shortly after the first, this one from further back, and by Zachery's hand — which proves considerably less precise in that it flies a little ways past Adam and lands closer to the security team.

He's only just caught up as Sophie's mist form disperses, finally moving at the rushed pace the situation calls for and veering somewhat off to the side of the rest of the group, as if it will spare him the brunt of the expected retaliation. His gaze is glued to Joy's form and once he knows he should be able to, he reaches out to try and get a read on her physical state, on anything he might point out to help.

Except he doesn't begin to. He can't. Confusion shows in the knit of his brow over the mask, and he stops in his tracks to call, "She's not there!"

This sort of encounter is one that he is more familiar with— distraction, bluffs— less so the exploding things. Dumortier is far away enough to get a good view of how the canister reacts after so many years; he doesn't know the details of the weapon, but he knows it's not as potent as it should be, in some way.

He also knows that authority looks pretty good on Richard. Apparently. Figures. As the scene expands to include the contents of the half-finished garage, Dumortier draws an unfurling shape from his coat and sticks nearer to the side than the front line.

"You still like hitting things, right?" Rene knows he does, looking to Zach and jerking his head towards where construction supplies lie patiently to be used, half-covered by tarp. Rebar hits hard, et cetera. Cell-powered power tools are nice too, if not. The object in Dumortier's grasp spreads with cracks and the smell of sap; the crude shield forms from his arm, a squashed contortion of pine branch and root. He holds it between himself and the skirmish when he moves, strafing the group around towards the rear.

When his boots hit the dirt in the unfinished construction, the crust of the ground shifts. A moment later, snake-like shapes lurch under the dirt. The invasive prick of weeds dart up the legs of the Praxis security team, slipping between tiny gaps and pressing onward and upward.

An errant whistle undercuts the mounting chaos as the Sophie-mist is dispersed by a sharp wind. The hazy particles shift in color from silvery gray to various colors, all gossamer as the light cuts through them. In a sharp, obviously sentient turn the gaseous molecules coalesce into three distinct serpents of vapor before twining away and converging in a spot behind one of the garage's thick pillars flanking the Paxis guards.

Sophie gasps as she forcibly slams all the individual molecules back together into solid bones and dark living flesh. Hands bracing the concrete pillar at her back she leans out to get a look at the battlefield. As long as the negation gas is around Adam and his security detail, she doesn't dare venture close. But, she's not a one-trick kinda pony….

From around the pillar a garish yellow-brown gas begins to wind its way from Sophie's boots out towards the trio of Banshee-wielding guards. Sophie grits her teeth, growling audibly, as she focuses on containing the mustard gas to the area directly around her targets, sparing her Island of Misfit Evo team from the choking effects. Even still, her dark gaze darts to Adam, looking for any opening in the negation plume or sign of weakness.

Shock and horror comes over the Praxis security forces at first as the veiny strands of weeds slither up through pant legs, invade boots, and begin to cocoon their lower extremities as they push up through the packed earth yet to be paved over. But it is when Sophie releases a voluminous cloud of chemical warfare that they are wholly and bodily overcome with pain as their eyes redden and swell, throat dries, and skin burns at the contact with the yellowish-rust colored gas.

Joy’s attention locks not on the mist-manipulator, but on the canister spinning around at Adam’s feet. Monroe seems concerned about the gas, but more shocked to see Richard than anything. Joy raises a hand, fingers spread, and then a gunshot shuts whatever she was about to do down entirely as Kara’s shots hit home.

The second Joy is hit she pops like a child’s balloon, unraveling into a swirling paper-mache mass of shadows and colors before evaporating entirely. Richard had seen that ability only once before, on Mount Natazhat: Eli Carnegie, the replicator.

Bennet doesn’t seem too surprised as he turns his own attention on Monroe, firing the remaining nine rounds in his magazine dead center mass. Adam’s advanced body armor stops the rounds dead, with each slug clattering to the ground as the ferrofluid armor reforms its shape faster than AEGIS does. Adam backs out of the negation gas, hissing under his breath and coughing from the combination of the concentrated negation gas and Sophie’s chemical warfare that has effectively divided the parking garage in half.

Praxis Security is incapacitated, doubled over and gagging from the mustard gas, weapons dangling from their power cord tethers to their backpacks. No amount of body armor prepared then for facing down biological agents they weren’t expecting. As Adam scrambles backwards, trying to get through the parking garage to the plaza, he looks back over his shoulder with confusion and frustration.

“Sir,” Hahn asides, “I’m getting the feeling you’re not in control of this particular situation.” She looks through the fog to Monroe, raising her sidearm and closing one eye as she trains on him. “He doesn’t have a helmet, give me the signal and…”

“Non-lethal only. We need him alive. There’s a dozen more just like him, killing him’d be pointless,” Richard replies quickly. He doesn’t deny the first one. He’s absolutely not in control of the situation. The disintegration of Joy gets a frustrated glance; so close, and yet so far.

Hahn grimaces, lowering her sidearm. She isn’t equipped for that and the banshees security has are well beyond maximum effective range. “Might make me feel better,” Hahn adds under her breath.

Adam Monroe is getting away.

“Yeah, me too,” is Richard’s sympathetic response in a low growl under his breath. It’d make him feel better too. “Be right back.”

That is probably the worst thing that you can say to a security officer, but as the colour bleeds out of the man and he spills away into nothing more than a shadow upon the ground, there’s not exactly a lot she can do about it. The edges of his obtenebrative form are smoky-edged instead of clean, the tension of the situation making the restraint of his other ability increasingly difficult.

And he’s off, at the speed of dark, after Adam Monroe.

Zachery shouts Joy isn't really there, but the message doesn't reach Kara's ears until after she's already fired. She's ready to write off her shot entirely, to curse her luck, but the strangest thing happens… Joy does react to the shot. Not only does she react, she pops.

Most people don't explode upon being hit, and the streamers Joy turns into upon taking damage bring Kara to freeze in place. A horrible overlay occurs over this moment, one where Adam—

Adam turns to ribbons of thread made from flesh, his unbeing caused by a waif with molten gold eyes, and

Three seconds pass, but it might as well be an eternity in a gunfight. Luckily, her freeze doesn't get them shot, killed, or worse. She takes in a sudden breath, jolting back to the moment at the precise timing she feels as though she should be rocked back through space from a violent kick to her chest.

But nothing's happened— She's still standing, and Monroe is getting away.

"Sophie— clear the gas and we'll follow." she calls out, no sign given of her fumble now that she's snapped out of it. The dryness of her mouth is only for herself to know. Kara narrows her eyes when Richard Ray coalesces into shadow and surges straight through the smoke effortlessly, shifting a glance to Noah. If he tries to charge before it's safe, she means to intercept him, going as far as to take her steadying hand off her rifle in preparation for it.

Just as Zachery's footed away some tarp and snatched up a crooked piece of discarded rebar (Because of course he does, Dumortier), Zachery finds himself looking up at the rest of the group in bewilderment. Between the gas, Sophie and Richard, there's enough jarring reads on bodies to leave a look on his face that reads as bad aftertaste — even with said face being partially obscured by the borrowed mask.

He gets moving quicker this time, taking after Kara with a bob up and down of his new makeshift weapon to try and gauge its weight on the way. "On we go."

Several of the security forces feel the plants continue to creep up, in some places even slipping under the surface of skin. They stop there, rooting them in place for the gas to take over. Dumortier falls back from the vicinity of the heavy gas, more than intent on never letting it touch him— ever. He trots further out into the relative open of the garage's skeleton, where he gets a second look at the sky, and the shadows moving through it.

"God, this is some Terminator shit." Well, it is. The haze cutting him partway off from the others is given a berth, and his eyes catch the shadow wheeling its way through, slinking after the retreat of Monroe. "Ugh." Rene's acquiescing is audible. He starts after the pair in their retreat, roots lurching from the ground in his wake. Once he can get in range, they surge ahead and seek out the ankles of Richard's quarry.

Elbow bent, the empty hand hovering near her hip takes a clawed shape and churns over slowly. In response the mustard gas seems to coil around the Praxis Security team like the muscled cords of an anaconda, constricting and crushing inward - pressurized by an effort to force itself into skin, eyes, and orifices. Her gaze is intense now, rage clearly misdirected on this trio as she watches them writhe against the deadly vines and gasses…

Kara’s voice cuts through Sophie’s vengeful ire, her attention snapping to the rest of the battlefield, the team, Adam… escaping! Her boots are already beating out a pursuit as she sweeps her arm wide before her.

The mustard gas swirls as if it were alive, parting in a foggy curtain to allow the corporeal to pass through. Richard, in his shadowy form, has a headway on the others as he slipped between the entangled Praxis Security forces. As Kara, Dumortier, and Zachery pursue the chemically-negated Adam, the Raytech security team Richard had left behind is uncertain of what to do.

“Follow, but keep out of the way.” Hahn says, offering a quick look to Noah Bennet who moves along beside Kara. “Let the professionals handle this.”

As Noah moves through the ankle-deep fog, not waiting for it to fully clear out, he catches sight of one security officer struggling to try and pull a sidearm out of a vine-encrusted holster. Noah in a single, fluid motion raises his gun and fires it point-blank range at the security officer’s head, dropping him to the ground. Bennet lowers the gun as he continues walking, soon breaking into a steady jog once the gas has fully parted.

Up ahead, Richard is nearly closed in on Adam, moving without hindrance of tired legs or heavy armor. But that moment, when Adam turns back to see the slithering shadow creeping up on him

the unexpected happens.

There is a shockwave that shakes the ground, it feels like an earthquake for all that the earth upheaves and buckles under everyone’s feet. What comes next is a white flash, like that of an atomic bomb detonating except that in spite of the dread terror the light creates in Richard, it doesn’t hurt to be exposed to. Adam nevertheless shields his eyes, recoiling from the brilliant glow and when it washes over him he exhales a scream that sounds like it is split into a dozen voices before he is simply reduced to nothing but crackling embers of crimson energy that flicker and pop and leave no trace of him behind, much like what happened to Eve at Sunspot.

A split-second later there is a high-pitched static roar that closes in like the sound of a tidal wave, followed by a shockwave of crimson light that tears through the parking garage. The light washes over Adam, consumes Richard’s shadowy form and forces him back into a corporeal state in a stumbling half-stride. As the light passes by Richard, those behind him can see haunting silhouettes of what look like invisible people around him; vague humanoid shapes devoid of detail or features, that quickly become invisible again as the shockwave washes over them.

When the blast wave hits Kara and Noah it feels like an electromagnetic bath, a warmth floods their skin, tingles in their bones and passes out their back harmlessly. The light washes over Dumortier and Sophie in a way that leaves swirling strangelets of rainbow light twisting and worming their way through the air until they crackle-pop out of existence.

The wall of light keeps moving, roaring over Hahn and the security team, the Praxis officers, and follows all the way out of the parking garage without causing any obvious harm save for Adam’s sudden and violent disappearance.

But that light, it came from the plaza.

And God said, “There there be light,” and there was light..

Those are the words that briefly pass through Richard’s mind as the light washes over him from the plaza ahead, certain to the core that this was at last the final mistake he’d made. The same mistake as his future self, trusting to the invulnerability of darkness only to burn away to nothing in the light.

But instead he finds himself stumbling back on solid feet, one arm flung up to protect eyes that aren’t burning the way they should be confronted with such crimson radiance. Before him, almost close enough for him to touch, Adam is consumed. The twisting crackle of scarlet energy fading away reminds him of Eve. It reminds him of something else, too, and briefly he wonders something about Tyler before forgetting the thought for the moment.

As the wave of light passes, as the last dancing motes and twisting lines of eldritch not-light pop and crackle out of existence, he takes a breath. Is everyone behind him still alive? He doesn’t need to look, he can feel them. One fading rapidly; the death of Adam’s goon like a brief blossom of pain before it’s gone. But his team and his allies (however tenuous) are still there behind him.

He looks back to the ramp through the parking garage, towards the plaza.

Takes a breath.

“Well, let’s go tell God to get off my lawn, then,” he says, and strides forward.

The white light flooding past Zachery leaves him with understandable confusion painted on his face, grip tight on the metal in his fist where his knuckles are shoved against the ground from the shockwave knocking him almost completely over.

He squints into the brightness over a raised hand, only just seeing Adam being unmade up ahead with a grimace that might look sympathetic if only it had enough time to form. When the next wave of light reveals the shapes around Richard, he promptly pushes himself up off the ground and lifts the rebar in his grasp in slightly too aggressive reflex — just to realise the shapes have gone already by the time he's properly opened his eyes.

He twists around for a quick scan of faces - Dumortier's and Kara's in particular are lingered on - just as Richard's announcement brings a grin to his own. He laughs, a graceless thing born clearly out of shock more than anything else, but finds himself pushing on forward along with Richard either way, rebar idly bounced upward. "Finally, you've said something I can agree with."

Kara is disgruntled as she follows, sticking close to Noah's side. She doesn't flinch, doesn't blink as he dispatches the Praxis guard. After all, they'd been on the verge of doing the same to them. But the light…

"Bennet, get back—!" she manages to say, grabbing hold of him and pulling him behind her… only for the light to do nothing as it passes through them both. She sees the ghost of persons in Richard's shadow for the blink of a moment that they're there, and then she's left to contemplate the hum that passed through her. She lets go of Noah, looking back to him to ascertain his safety, then shakes her head to herself and looks forward again.

Whatever the hell that was, they're about to find out.

"Sophie," Kara calls back for the young woman, wary about what lies ahead for them outside the garage. "Stay close."

Rene can feel the tremble underfoot through the reach of his influence, and his expression mirrors the fact, only for a few seconds. There's an earnest yelp of fright at the flash, and with one arm thrown up over his eyes, Dumortier barely makes out the dissolution of Adam, and the new, humanoid shadows dancing around Richard. Neither one makes any sense—

"Ah!" Another shout, more punctuated than the last, when he too gets the wave through him. The sounds of fright are replaced by noises of discomfort as light flickers around him and the motes of color go twirling. Panic set in, somewhere between the flash and the brush of light. Dumortier stumbles to a knee, hair half-loosened and eyes wide. A quiver of his frame balances when he puts a hand to the dirt.

"What the fuck was that?!" The agrokinetic's shout is just the tiniest bit shrill, brows knit hard and arms around himself as he moves after the others. "Are you fucking kidding?! What the hell are you talking about?" God? The fuck?

The rocking earth takes Sophie to one knee several paces behind and aside the space where Richard’s slithering shadow has taken the lead. She casts an assuming glare back at Rene, only to have the horizon slice of cutting light to wash across them. The small vengeful woman cringes instinctively, tucking her head down beneath a poof frizzed, dusty curls. When she looks up the last wisps of Adam’s existence fade like bloody fireflies. “NO!!” Her boots kick up dust and gravel as she rushes forward, only to skid to halt as the last strange sparklers around her snap and crackle out of existence. She cannot help but look up, reach out, and scowl thoughtfully. At least for a moment, before her scowl comes back around to the place where Adam had stood moments prior.

Steam is wafting off her shoulders. For a moment one might suspect even Kara’s voice could not reach her where she’s gone. Then she rolls her shoulders, sheathes her throwing knife, and marches silently in Kara’s wake.

There are still sparks crackling from the ground in crimson motes when the last of boot of the main group leaves the parking garage. The three remaining Praxis officers that weren’t gunned down pull themselves free of the roots and vines that had entangled them, looking around the parking garage in abject confusion. One of them has the foresight to bend down and pick up the datapad that controls the now dormant robot, brushing dirt off of the screen.

The click-whine of Banshees coming online has the officers raising their hands in surrender as Hahn and the Raytech security team close in on them. There are barked orders, Praxis security officers getting on their knees and folding their hands behind their heads. There are victories in small margins, and losses that fall through the cracks.

On the far end of the parking garage, Hull approaches with her eyes wide. She scans the structure, looking around for any sign of Noah or Sophie. Hahn pays her no mind as she reaches that group, kneeling down to pick up the datapad for the dormant robot nearby. Hull brushes the dirt off of the screen, looking at the red on black message displayed.


Hull’s brows furrow together and she taps the reconnect button.

Connecting to PraxicNet…
Connection Failed: No Network Detected

Hull’s brows furrow, and her consciousness slips elsewhere as she takes a few more steps forward.

She misses what was crushed under her right heel. Amid the vines and roots that Dumortier had called up from the ground. A blossom of a flower, ground under Hull’s boot.

An eight-pointed blossom of startling color; red to orange with vibrant yellow stamen.

New growth.

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