Endgame - Resonance


alistair_icon.gif brian_icon.gif conrad_icon.gif scott_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Endgame - Resonance
Synopsis Phoenix, along with two allies from the Ferryman make their stand at the Consolidated Edison Power Plant to stop the Vanguard.
Date January 28, 2009

Queens, Consolidated Edison Power Plant

The struggle of life is ever changing…

Wind-driven snow clings to parked cars and sidewalks, and the few people out on the streets to brave this blizzard are bundled up tightly to fend off the cold. The end of the world, it seems, doesn't wait for fair weather.

It is an ever-escalating battle to carve out a name in history for one's self. To leave behind a lasting memory which says "I was here, remember me."

Coming in off of the water, the wind is cold and damp. It's the perfect atmosphere for thick snowflakes and wet, heavy snow that causes cars to slip and slide on the icy streets. On the north side of Queens, facing the East River, life goes on as usual, blissfully unaware of the threat that is hanging over this city — this world.

These moments carved in time, epitaphs of those who have come before, serve as a reminder to the ones who will come next. To learn and grow from our mistakes, to celebrate our triumphs, and to honor our legacy.

Surrounded by twelve-foot high razor wire fencing, the Consolidated Edison Power Plant is an old and archaic-looking structure amidst a busy traffic artery in northern Queens. The building has stood for one hundred years, serving as an auxiliary power station for much of New York, with the jagged and broken skyline of Manhattan barely visible from the snow across the East River. The old, brick building — covered with the leafless stalks of crawling ivy — looks so reminiscent of that early 1900s style of industrial architecture. Three towering smokestacks rise up from the central building, churning out billowing clouds of cottony white smoke that blends with the heavy cloud cover and falling snow.

When our time comes, it is the legacy that we leave behind that will be remembered, what we leave in people's hearts and memories. Of the actions we have taken, the deeds we have done, and the life we have lived…

Through the chain link fence, in the ice-encrusted rail-yard at the power plant's back lot, train tracks pass through an opening in the fence, sliding chain-link doors smashed aside and left to hang open in the blizzard. Stopped in the rail yard, one small freight engine with three boxcars and a flatbed show no signs of settled snow, and the tracks they came in on look recently cleared by its passage.

For better, or worse.

«I've got visual.» A calm, collected voice crackles over Conrad Wozniak's communications headset, «One freight transport rail-car, and a yellow box truck. They beat us here.» Alistair McKeon, logistics support for the Ferrymen, currently positioned one block from Consolidated Edison in room 413 of the Sheraton. «No conformation on movement, it looks like something was unloaded from the train. I— can't see if there's anything else in the yard, too many physical obstructions.» He pauses, the radio silent for a moment's time, «You're going to have to be careful going in, with all of these boxcars there's plenty of places for an ambush, but this is definitely the way they came.»

On a day like today, it takes all the help one can get. "Affirmative, keep us informed." The response comes not from Wozniak, but from an unexpected addition to Conrad's team. Crouched down a low embankment that leads to the subterranean rail tunnels is a grizzled looking man in his late forties. "Your call Wozniak," stern eyes flick over to the designated team leader — it might rankle Scott Harkness a bit to defer to someone else's leadership, but this isn't his plan and it certainly isn't his usual team.

Straightening up to look over the top of the embankment to the rail yard, Scott squints as he stares through the snow, ducking back down with a shake of his head. "It doesn't look any better from my angle, can't see the rear entrance." Scott cranes his head to one side, mouth obscured by the upturned and buttoned collar of his black jacket. "I'm ready when you are," he adds, tapping the muzzle of his pistol to the side of his leg, a slow breath drawn in through his nostrils and pushed out with equal deliberation. He really is too old for this.

Clad in her expensive all-black leathers and helmet - kevlar weave, ribbing, and plating might have their uses tonight, as might anonymity - Ygraine crouches near Conrad. Hunkered down as much to conserve body warmth as to try to be unobtrusive, she does her best to hold back on the shivering that the combination of cold and nerves seeks to provoke. Unlike her companions, her armaments consist of nothing more than a few of the smaller tools from her motorcycle maintenance kit, a utility knife, and a prepaid anonymous cell phone with its simcard removed and stored in a separate pocket. Indeed, from behind the shadowed safety of her helmet she still casts occasional wary glances towards her team-mates firearms.

Even if this is supposed to be Conrad's show, he's not the type who puts too much store in being in charge. He's just the decision maker, not omniscient. "Huh." He takes a moment to think over the reports he's hearing in his headset. Which is in his pocket. Hey, his ears don't work, so why bother putting it in his ear? He's in borrowed black BDUs with a loaded M-16A3 and five spare magazines. Pretty heavy load, really. The rifle has been more or less ignored so far, remaining slung cross body, muzzle down. He hasn't messed with it except to load the thing. A black watch cap covers his scalp. Just straight business tonight, no sports teams. No color. And no helmet either, because he hates the things.

Anyway they don't work. You get your bell rung and all that happens if a bullet hits it is it leaves a neat little hole and contains the brain splatter.

"Move on target. Engage in response only. Do not initiate. Let's see how close they'll let us get before the Hell starts." Hopefully these people are professional enough to understand Con's orders. He thinks they're pretty clear. And with a quick look given to Ygraine and offers her a grin and asks, "You ready to get us in?" She's gonna be the one helping them get up walls, after all.

Ygraine mostly stifles a soft sigh, keeping her breathing slow and regular as she used to do before races. "Pick a spot, and I'll walk you up. I can shift two at a time onto the wall easily. If I'm to relay more inside it'll slow us a touch - and more, if you want to move with any sort of overwatch. I'll have to shuttle back and forth if I'm to get two groups over the wall."

Shifting his jaw to one side, Scott casts an askance look towards Ygraine, noticing only the knife she carries. His brow tenses, and something is bitten back from being said, "The quicker the better. I'd like to be up and over before anyone notices — the fence is only twelve feet, so if you can let us drop once we're over and we're ready for the fall, it should be fine." Thinking like a young man, Scott winces at the thought of bracing for the fall, rising up to look over the slop leading towards the rail yard at the back of the power plant. "Alistair," he calls out into his headset, "How's civilian traffic on the adjacent streets?"

«Busy and slow, the storm is locking up traffic, and this is a busy section of town at lunch. We're going to have a lot of uninvolved people dangerously close to where this is going down.» Scott winces as he hears the response, shifting across the snow towards Ygraine, then looks back up the ten or so feet up the hill to the wall. "Once we're inside, are we going to hit the front doors and go through the offices — there'll be staff on duty, or should we head in the way they did?"

Conrad seems either not to notice or (more likely) not to care about the stinkeye looks being given back and forth. It's just not the time, it would seem. He has an answer for Scott though. "We'll go through the offices. Staff's likely to be less of a problem and might gum up the works for the bad guys." Then he points at Ygraine, "You're only taking some of us over. Me, him," points at Scott, "him," points at Brian, "and yourself." He redirects his attention to Scott, kind of figuring the guy for a handy lieutenant in this situation. "I want the rest of our people moving careful and playing it conservatively on conventional entry. Take the attention off of what we're doing. Any thoughts on that? Now's the time."

"So long as some part of you's within six inches of what I stick you to, it's your new 'down'. Jump off, and normal gravity'll reassert itself to make you fall. But you can just walk up one side of a free-standing wall or fence-post and then down the other, so long as it can bear your weight. The object's what pulls you, not a particular side of it", Ygraine explains quietly, hoping that the brief version of her ability makes sense. "The charge lasts for a few minutes, if I don't refresh it - you're free to wander off without me. But it's just a single wall or other object. I need to reset the charge every time you move to a new wall, ceiling, or whatever. But for getting in - pick any above-ground entrance and I can get you there, offices or otherwise. If we want someone up high to watch from out here, I can do that quickly now. Otherwise, I'm as ready to go as I'm likely to be."

"W-what?" Snapping to attention the moment that Conrad motions to him, Brian looks up with eyes wide and a disbelieving stare on his face. "I — Oh, God, sorry I — Things aren't going good in New Jersey. The team — "

"Not now." Scott cuts Brian off, moving around Ygraine to stand by the replicator, one hand slapping down on his shoulder, "Focus on what we're doing, now what everyone else is, or it'll be just as bad here." Looking up to the smoke stacks of the power plant, Scott begins to creep up the hill towards the fence, crouched down low to the ground. He looks up towards the top, then thorugh the fence towards the rail-yard beyond. "There's an engine running in there somewhere," he squints, through the haze of the wind-driven snow. "Alistair, you have visual on any vehicles back there?"

«Negative, Scott. But there's tread marks all over the place, maybe they have some industrial hardware, I'm not sure…» The crackle of Alistair's voice over the communication links grows quiet for a moment, then chimes back in again, «I just got movement by the front windows on the second floor, looked like people running. I can't quite — » Over the low humming sound of an engine running in the rail yard, there is a distinctive popping sound of automatic gunfire far off in the distance. Scott hisses, even as he knows what got Alistair's tongue in a knot, «Shots fired inside, I repeat shots fired inside.»

Looking down the slope to Ygraine and Brian, Scott nods up towards the top of the fence, and Brian hustles up the hill, tugging down his ski mask with one hand while he steadies his rifle with the other. With two fingers, Scott motions to Ygraine, then the fence, keeping his eyes trained thorugh the chain-link towards the rows of boxcars and snow beyond.

Conrad responds immediately to the shots fired call (he can hear everyone's earpiece anyway. The challenge is just filtering the noise) and says, "This is our shot. All units move in." Then he's moving for the fence. "Forget the gravity thing here. We don't have time to go over by twos." He rushes the fence and goes to his knees, slapping a hand on the ground right by the fence.

There's a barely-audible (because it's so low in the range of human hearing) sonic shockwave that with a FWOOMP sends the dirt around the base of the fence erupting in a trench. In the snap of a fingers it puts a pretty good sized little ditch leading under it to the other side and leaves the bottom of the fence significantly mangled and somewhat out of the way in the process. As dirt rains down around him, Con waves his immediate team forward and then gets to work going under the fence himself.

Ygraine's head jerks around to let her study Brian for a few moments… then she swallows quietly, nods, and rises to her feet, holding out her hands for the first two passengers to take. "Press up against -", she gets as far as saying, before registering Conrad's pre-empting of her plan for a more stealthy entry. She flinches at the unexpected dirt-snow eruption, flipping down her visor before jogging slightly to one side, springing onto a still-intact fence support. It groans, under the addition of her weight, but she scampers up it, then flips over to the other side, dropping the last few feet to crunch heavily into the snow. A second later, and she's moving over to haul a portion of the mangled wiring aside to make easier the exit of the comparative laggards of the team.

"Shit, shit." Brian mutters under his breath, clutching his rifle to his chest as he tries to block out some of the sensations from his other selves. The blast of earth and snow has him ducking down with his AK-47 pulled in close, gloved fingers still cold, no amount of layering seems to get the chill in the air out of his bones. All of Brian is cold, all six of him scattered across the city, including the one here.

When the debris settles, and he spots the trench, there's a grimace on his face before Scott gives him a ginger push on the shoulder, sending Brian stumbling ahead before his feet start working again. One foot in front of the other, and Brian drops down into the trench, ducking as he crawls beneath the fence and climbs up again.

Scott looks up at the top of the fence, watching Ygraine nimbly bound over it with gravity no longer hindering her. There's a faint, appreciative smile before he quietly speaks into his comm, "Going in, Alistair. Keep us updated." He hustles past Conrad, sliding down into the trench before scuttling up behind Brian to climb back up onto the snowy ground, pushing up through unearthed gravel and ice. Staying crouched, Scott rushes across the rail yard, still some three hundred feet from the back of the power plant. He stops with his back up against one of the boxcars, raising his pistol as he looks down one length of it, then another. A hand signal is made, all clear, and he keeps his position, eyes focused towards the sound of that huge running motor that is still out of sight.

Right. They're through now. Con watches Scott and nods curtly at his hand signal, running forward. "Ygraine. When we get there, get us to those second floor windows. Scott and me first, then you and Brian." This is where they have to make time for gravity tricks. Or at least it makes better sense to him.

Ygraine moves to catch up with Conrad. "I can put all three of you onto the wall and let you walk up. There's just a limit to how many resets I can do simultaneously, unless you all grab onto me and we fall onto it together." She's hurrying, talking in a low, tight voice while her head swivels to and fro, scanning her surroundings - visor once more raised to clear her field of view.

Brian scrambles from the ditch, spewing ice and gravel behiind his boot as he runs, "Guys, guys, Jesus — the ship, the Invierno, they're — " The cold stare Scott fires down at Brian shuts him up, but the haggard and ragged breathing the young man gives doesn't do anything to quell his obvious anxiety. Each one of Brian's duplicates — despite being outwardly identical — seem to have very subtle personality differences between them, and it just so happens that anxiety looks to be a bit high in this duplicate.

"Con, you hear that?" Scott nods his head towards the boxcar, and the sound of an enormous idiling engine running somewhere between twenty and thirty feet away, closer to the back entrance of the power plant. He creeps along the side of the boxcar, getting to the corner, looking up and past the three other lengths of train cars between him and the power plant, then looks back to the others. "We've got about a two-hundred foot run to the wall of the plant." There's another series of audible pops, more automatic gunfire. "Alistair, anything?" Scott calls out into his headset.

«Negative, Sir. I can't see movement from where I am now, but I can hear the gunfire over the comms. There's still no sign of anything out front, but I do have a visual on the three of you.» There's a brief pause, and Scott's eyes drift to focus over at Conrad as he listens to the voice coming over their headsets. «On the next row of train tracks, about twenty feet from you, you'll find a yellow box truck and a flat-bed rail car — the one I mentioned before you went in. It definately looks like they moved something off of it. I can't see any soldiers, but I wouldn't be surprised if they posted sentries between you and the entrance.»

Ygraine nods quickly to Conrad, gives Brian another deeply worried look, then takes a deep breath. "I can get someone up to take a quick peek over the top of one of the cars. Few people ever look up, even on guard duty", she says with the certainty of someone who's spent a good bit of time far above street level. "Or we just run."

"Yeah I heard that. It sounds like a fuckin' tank." Conrad gives Scott one of those long-faces, as if to say sarcastically that they're in for a fun night. Brian and his nerves are, for this particular moment, ignored. He glances at Ygraine and says, "Slight change of plan. I'm gonna check out that engine noise, you and the others get up inside and try to stop the gunmen." Con glances at Ygraine's beltline, noting that she's missing perhaps vital pieces of gear. "With your knife." He offers a grin toward Scott and says, "Try to keep them from getting their asses shot off, man. I'm on the radio!"

With that Con takes off at a brisk trot, unslinging his rifle and holding it at the ready while he tries to get a look around the containers and maybe get a visual on what's making all that noise. "All units move in. Engage active gunmen." Time to stop being conservative.

Rolling his tongue inside of his cheek after he watches Conrad move off, Scott quietly turns to Ygraine and holds out his pistol by the barrel towards her, "Take this, and help me up on top of the boxcar." Without his gun? "Quickly." As Scott talks, Brian jitters away from the boxcar, watching Conrad rush ahead to investigate the noise, but he hangs back, because orders are orders right? He hesitates for a moment, looking back to Ygraine with his brows tensing, ski-mask admirably hiding his anxiety as reports of what is happening across the city filter thorugh his link to his duplicates into his mind.

As Conrad rounds past the blue-painted boxcar, and deeper in to the rail yard behind the power plant, a surreal sight fades into view as he looks between the two rows of parked trains just on the other side from where he had been speaking to the others. There is a sudden noise, a loud and whirring hiss of hydraulics and motors, as an enormous piece of machinery turns its long turret towards the pair.

Between the two sets of railroad tracks, obscured by the height of the boxcars, is parked a fully operational tank. Laden with heavy armor plating, this hulk of the battlefield looks old and war-torn, scars from bullets making up the sides of the turret and left flank, along with weld points where its ablative armor has been repaired. As the turret turns and the barrel levels down towards its target, a figure in urban camouflage drops down inside of the vehicle, closing the hatch with an audible thunk.

Ygraine's latest gulp is her loudest sound of distress thus far, coinciding with a widening of the eyes at mention of the word "tank". Still, she nods and quickly moves to do as instructed. Professional racing might not have taught her to deal with guns and violence, but she's used to danger and massive adrenaline rushes. Scott gets grabbed by one arm, hurried to the edge of the boxcar… and then the world flips.

The side of the car is now down. The ground is a… snow-covered wall. The sky is _sideways_. And his brain - well, it bumps against the front of his skull, while all the soft tissue and liquid in his body suddenly become subject to a 90-degree switch in gravity. Ygraine, however, is already trying to tow him up - along, whatever - the side of the car to the top, there to let him see over the top, and tell her whether or not he wants to get onto the roof. Either way, she'll very shortly run back down, and jump off the side to rejoin Brian, gesturing urgently towards the building.

Con wide-eyes at the tank and keys his radio, saying distractedly, "Holy shi…I mean…that's uh…an affirmative on the tank." It's not often Conrad's surprised, but where these guys dug up a TANK is beyond him. He ducks out of sight for a moment, trying to figure out how to handle this. Tanks are mostly steel. Steel's not quite as easy to bust apart with sonics because it's malleable and ductile to an extent, not brittle like stone or ceramics.

Just to be sure, Conrad peeks around the boxcar.

Yeah. Tank's still there.

"Shit." Con mutters again, this time to himself without the radio. "Uh…uh…uh…" He looks around, thinking fast. Then says, "Fuckit." and rounds the corner at a run, rifle up and preparing to pop anybody that looks like they're gonna shoot him. He's gonna see how close he can get to the tank.

It's like rock climbing and falling all together, both are sensations that Scott is familiar with, neither of them usually at the same time. At least not while going up. He lurches along the wall, hands pressed down to the railcar as if expecting to fall at any moment. Once his intestines and brain all are on the same equilibrium, he scurries up the side of the car on his hands and knees, then slides down the top of the boxcar as if falling down a wall. Not quite prepared for this, his feet spread out, heels digging into the roof of the boxcar, scraping through ice and snow as he slides on what is now his down. His feet strike the short railing on the top of the car, bracing his weight. Too old for this shit.

"Conrad, fire in the hole." Holding up his hands, scott concentrates for a moment as a whirling clinder of white light flashes around his his palms, coupled with flashing latticework of different shades of blue. A moment later, where once his hands were just air is now a LAW — a light anti-tank weapon. Leaning forward, legs braced awkwardly due to his new sense of gravity, Scott leans up enough to see the top of the tank, then presses down on the launcher's trigger. There's a loud whistling shriek and a blast of smoke and flame as the rocket is fired out from the weapon, spiraling down towards the tank to explode against its right flank.

A shower of metal, flames and smoke rises up in the air, a misleadingly large explosion. The armor itself is designed to explode, dramaticly to reduce the force of armor penetrating ammunition and ordinance. Scott picks up on this, it's new military technology welded onto an old beat up Russian T-80 tank.

"Conrad!" Scott shouts over his headset, "That armor, it's ceramics, layered plates stacked on top of each other! I'm not going to be able to do anything unless I keep punching at one hole, or you pull a rabbit out of your hat!"

A thunderous noise heralds the firing of the main cannon in Conrad's direction, immediately followed by an eruption of dirt and concrete that blasts high into the air as a tank shell detonates part of the ground, missing the target but sending a concussive shockwave that nearly knocks Brian off of his feet. The force of the blast upends one of the boxcars further away from the group, sending shrieking metal and groaning steel up into the air and crashing back down again, raining pieces of exploded debris all across the rail yard.

Brian runs, it's the best thing he can do, run, straight towards the power plant. He runs right past the tank, towards the sheer wall of Consolidated Edison's brick face, shoes skidding in the snow as he passes by the smoking crater the tan made, ducking beneath showering debris falling all around him, praying, praying that Ygraine is behind him.

Ygraine is indeed close behind. Her boots weren't designed for sprinting, but large soles and heavy cleats give her fairly good grip on the snow, and she is very fit. When she nears the wall, she again jumps for it, landing in a crouch before part-turning to offer one hand to Brian, intending to haul him bodily onto it, then start moving him up towards the 2nd storey. She knows that he responds badly to the lurching shift, but right now she's short of time for sympathy….

Ceramics? There is a God. And He must hate these guys. Conrad grins and is just about to reply on the radio when the tank takes a shot at him and he goes sprawling. Not because he's hurt, but because even he is subject to the throes of shockwaves. Picking himself up, he blinks a spits dirt out of his mouth. Somehow when you take a dive you always get dirt in your teeth. And that nasty earthy taste…you just know a dog crapped there a week ago. Shudder!

Con half-crawls, half stumbles to his feet in an attempt to keep moving, and pulls himself together enough to focus on the tank. Part of that focus effort requires he stand still for a minute though. Here's gambling nobody shoots him for the couple of seconds this takes.

Whoever's inside the machine is already correcting their aim, bringing the turret to bear on Conrad. On one guy! Jesus who wastes a tank shell on a human being?! Con stands there, staring at the tank hard and dropping his rifle on the dirt while an invisible bubble forms around him. Even from hundreds of feet away there's a sense of thrumming intensity as Conrad does something he's only ever done once before.

It happened the day he lost his hearing. Sonic energy is simply kinetic vibration carried through matter. Like any other kind of energy it is truly indestructible, per Newton's Laws. It can, however, be converted into other things and channelled, consolidated, and focused.

Feet planted shoulder-width apart, Conrad's palms are open and held before him, facing each other like he's holding an invisible object. Between his hands is the epicenter of every sucked-in soundwave from a football field's radius.

To everyone in the immediate area sounds progressively begin to doppler in an uncanny manner to where everything sounds like it's gone a pitch down, down, down, until for a brief second there is no sound at all in the area. It's like the world has been put on a mute button.

And then Conrad presses his hands toward the tank.

There's no noise when this happens, not to anyone outside of the blast-cone. It's like everyone is, for the moment, deaf. But the tank and its occupant(s) for a brief fraction of a second realize the titanic force of a sonic event the like of which has been seldom experienced since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or perhaps the Tsar Bomba test of the Soviet Union in October 30, 1961. In that one area of the tank is compressed that much destruction. It does indeed fail to obliterate the tank itself, but everything brittle flies apart in shrapnel and the vehicle itself is lurched backward and bounced once, landing off-kilter and looking like an invisible giant gave it a hard kick.

Like a rush normal sound returns to the area all at once, and there's a sense of a distant thunder roaring out into the distance along the invisible line between Conrad, the tank, and the horizon.

Sometimes a simple glance over the shoulder is one of the scariest things you can do. A glance could tell him that Ygraine didn't make it, that she wasn't as fast as him, and she got taken down. A glance could tell him that the whole mission is ruined, and that the world is over. Brian doesn't look back.

Relief floods over him, as Ygraine surpasses his run and leaps onto the wall, looking very cool while she did so. Throwing his hand up, the replicator attempts to do the same cool move. But he fails. Dramatically.

One foot connects with the wall, after taking Ygraine's hand. But as it does, a harsh yelp emits from his throat, and his one foot fails to keep him balance on his new ground. And so, the young man falls on the wall. Slamming against it he lets out a very pained sound, one hand going to his chest. And he actually whimpers. It sounds like he might start weeping right there, his face a mask of pure agony. Really overdoing it for a little slip, or his adjustment to the gravity change.

Brian looks in really condition and for what reason is not entirely clear. But he grasps at his chest, while distractedly trying to crawl towards where he is guessing Ygraine is at.

The tank bounces and skids across the ground as it is skinned like some great lizard by the sonic shockwave, ripping the ablative armor off of it. The hulking machine crashes down after rising up on one tread, the barrel of the tank gun bent at a skewed angle towards the sky from the force of the shockwave, bolts blown clear out of its bracings. The tank is immobile for a few moments, engine grinding and choking as the fan spits pieces of metal out from it. Black smoke begins to pour out of the top of the vehicle. From the roof of the boxcar, the ringing of tinnitus in Scott's ears may take days to fade, but he cannot argue with what he just witnessed Conrad accomplish.

«Scott! Conrad! Are you alright! What the hell was that!?» No time to answer Alistair over the comms, if Scott can even hear him. The old soldier climbs up to one knee, holding out one hand as a whirling cylinder of white threads of light corkscrew until a small missile appears in his hand. Loaded into Scott's LAW, he rises up onto his feet and aim's down towards the tank, even as motion seems to finally stir from the beast.

There is a squeaking and grinding as treads move, followed by the groaning strain of the tank's engine as it rotates in place and beginsto right itself in the space between the parked trains. The hatch of the T-80 pops open, and the soldier from before quickly settles into place at the gunner's station, manning the anti-aircraft cannon on the top of the vehicle. The black barrel swivels quickly and independently of the turret, opening a barrage of automatic gunfire through one of the boxcars with a shredding of metal and an eruption of sparks and flying steel, his aim is horrible, possibly from the aftereffects of COnrad's supersonic vibrations to men contained in a tin can. The boxcar is cut through like darts through wet paper, punching enormous holes in the freight car. The soldier manning the anti-aircraft cannon pivots in the opposite direction, opening fire with a loud and bass-filled thump of automatic gunfire. Bullets rip across the street with tiny blasts of exploded concrete from each shot.

From where she is set on the wall, Ygraine can hear shouting from the second flood, "Heinrich has engaged intruders! Repeat, Heinrich has engaged intruders! Orders?" There's quiet for a moment, then more voices, staticy, coming through the now blown-out second floor window. «Abandon the roof, tell Deiter down in the tunnels to inject the canister into the pipes and evacuate the facility. Repeat, abandon the mortar, package will be delivered by the tunnels.»

The soldier's response is a simple, yet grim one, "Yes, Herr Volken."

Ygraine leans forward, reaching down to grab Brian by the shoulders and start trying to haul him bodily up the wall. She lacks real power in her arms, but she's putting her weight into it. "Whatever's up, pull yourself together!", she hisses at him. "There're people being murdered up there!"

Then she hears the voice and its response from afar, and activates her microphone to mutter hastily into it. "Tunnels. They're going for the tunnels. Mortar's on the roof, but they just got an abort. They're "delivering the package by the tunnels", and someones to "inject the cannister into the pipes". Plan?"

Doing that particular trick, that much at once, leaves Conrad seeing stars. The last time he did it the wash from the shockwave forever rendered him deaf. This time it simply dazed him, but he's also better at using his power these days. He takes a step and then turns, belatedly remembering to pick up his rifle. "Almost…forgot…" he mutters breathlessly, holding the M-16 in two hands but not looking like he's in shape to shoot straight with it. The stiff run he uses to cross the ground toward the building is enough to get him out of view of the tank, he hopes. "Tank's not out of the fight. Somebody finish that fucker off." he says to his radio.

His knees, partly to his feet, back to his knees, then finally to his feet. Brian stands as if shocked, looking downwards taking slow labored breaths. His eyes still wide. Though slowly the pained look slowly transforms to something else.


The rifle is unshouldered, and as Ygraine asks for a plan, Brian's feet are already in motion. Safety, off. Sprinting up the wall towards the second story, the only warning the three vanguard soldiers have of his arrival is a feral cry he lets out shortly before they all die.

Sliding to his knees a few feet before the blown out window, Brian slides up the wall, his gun pointed downwards.

And there they are, down inside the room, standing sideways. At least for a little bit, after a flurry of gunfire, a loud yell, and splatter of blood the three man are laying sideways, rather than standing. "Don't move!" He yells, pointing his gun threatingly, scanning the rest of the room. Though his warning words, come a few seconds after he kills all the men, at least the thought counts. His chest has a dramatic rise and fall as he scans the room. Then he looks back down, to Ygraine.

"Clear." He lets out softly.

No other sounds come from in the room after Brian clears it, save for the clinking clatter of shell casings bouncing down the brick wall against the tug of normal gravity. «Scott, Conrad, anyone!» Alistair's voice cries out over the comm links, «What's going on down there?»

Scott scowls, flipping his headset away from his ear with one hand, training his vision through the flipped up scope of the LAW, one eye squinted shut. "On it Conrad." He replies into the mic, targetiing the open hatch where the soldier is manning the anti-aircraft gun. There's another loud pop and a shrieking hiss as a plume of smoke ejects from the back of the LAW, followed by the glowing flare of the rocket as it propells itself through the air and into the soldier perched in the hatch. Scott falls down to the roof of the train the moment he's fired, and the resulting explosion sends a cascading wave of debris, flames and smoke in every direction, along with a rising and expanding ball of heat and flames up from the vehicle itself.

The rocket punched through the soldier and into the tank, blowing it apart from the inside, sending bouncing and skidding shrapnel of the vehicle raining down along the rail yard. Laying on his back, chest rising and falling with labored breaths, Scott lowers his earpiece back down and exhales out, "All clear, all clear…" He gives himself a moment, just a moment to breathe, "What's the plan?"

«According to what I was told about the Phoenix meeting, the steam pipes can be used as an injection system to ferry the virus through the city, it was listed as one possible situation we'd have to handle. I — I don't know how — » Alistair falters for a moment, trying to get himself back together as he watches the smoke rise up from a block away. «The steam pipes are in the sub-basement of the power plant, connected by a rail system accessed through the back door. It's roughly sixty feet below street level, the whole area was used for coal transportation, because — »

"Alistair." Scott barks out, "Enough with the history lesson." Rolling on to his side with a groan, Scott's hand moves up to his earpiece, looking down to the smoking remains of the tank, "Wozniak," his eyes scan thorugh the smoke and snow, trying to find the man, "What're we doing?"

"If it has a large enough air-shaft we can open, I can run us straight down to it", provides Ygraine, sounding almost absent-minded, her thoughts mostly trying to grasp what happened to the tank, Brian silencing the occupants of the room, and the fact that they still don't have a plan other than the "come up with something" so helpfully suggested by Edward. "I didn't hear the message being relayed to the guy with the cannister - Brian… stopped that."

"Get in there and clean house." Conrad says on the radio, checking his rifle to make sure it's on semi, not safe. "People, I already told all units to move in and engage. Get to engagin'! Ygraine, go back Brian. I think that was an AK I heard firing in there." The tone isn't so much barking as it is insistent. It's action time, basically. He eyes the steel doors that block the rails that lead down into Edison and trots that way briskly, keeping his eyes up.

Brian is too busy engaging and getting to the action to listen to orders. Even if Conrad were to tell him a direct order to back off, it's doubtful he would follow it. He'll be in a hell of a nightmare later when he recounts for his actions. But for now, the rage feels good, it takes away the pain.

To his feet, backing up, and then with a running start he leaps over the window and lands thickly, throwing a hand down against the wall to catch himself as he runs up towards the roof. Jump, land, run, jump, land run. And soon he just jumps…

And the world becomes normal again. Kinda. His feet raising up and off of the wall, Brian lands in an awkward crouch on top of the crouch, facing six vanguard soldiers. Again he pumps the trigger, the trigger feels so good, even though he knows it shouldn't. One down, two down… click.

Brian gives a wide eyed look down at his AK-47, which has somehow run out of bullets. His gaze then goes up, like a deer in headlights to the remaining four Vanguard soldiers.

The soldiers on the roof that Brian fails to drop immediately reach for their weapons, even as the replicator begins running along the side of the rooftop, peppering explosions of gunfire cracking the concrete slabs under his feet as he just barely leads the gunfire. Ducking behind a brick chimney, Brian reaches for his pistol, gunfire shattering off of the brick around him.

As Conrad walks down the rail tracks, past the burning wreckage of the T-80, he finds the train tracks converge to one set, descending a sloped concrete passage down into the ground, past flickering, yellowed lights recessed in rusted iron cages in the ceiling. Far down the hall, his selective and amplified hearing can pick up the acoustics of boots on concrete — running — and getting further away, along with the distant crackle of two-way radios.

"Wozniak, are you going in?" Scott moves across the roof of the train car, watching Conrad disappear into the freight entrance of the facility, "Damnit." Looking for a way down off of the rail car, Scott swings his legs over the side of the roof, then drops down and lands on the gravel in a crouch that he is slow to rise from. "FitzRoy, Fulk," he calls out over the headsets, "What're we doing? If that virus gets out through the pipes, we don't want to be in that building."

The further and deeper Conrad moves into the bowels of Consolidated Edison, the more staticy and patchworked his comm systems become, the crackling pop of the radio giving only fragmented sentences now, as feet of thick concrete begin to block and distort the transmission.

Eventually, Conrad's descent diverts from the rail cars, a raised foot-walkway moving out onto a catwalk that loops around and emerges in another portion of the power plant. Conrad comes to a large and spacious chamber beneath the power plant, where whirring power-generating turbines run twenty below where he emerges on a catwalk. He can see the train tracks embedded in the concrete, as well as some sixty soldiers in urban camouflage wearing black tactical vests, moving through that lower floor, all armed with automatic weapons.

«Affirmative. Parcel en-route.»

He can hear the sound of radios, his manipulation of sound drawing out and filtering their noise.

«We've got the pipe open, ETA on delivery of the canister.»

«Less than 60, I can see you down the hall. Advance unit, prepare for evacuation. We don't want to be in here when the canister pops.»

Ygraine dithers momentarily — go up when the threat's down? — but after a brief hesitation, she also heads towards the roof. Moving at something of a tangent and with less disregard for her safety than the enraged duplicator, she spends the short trip using knowledge provided by watching too many clueless film-heroines to check Scott's pistol for a safety.

"He's engaged", she mutters tersely into her mike, a moment before she pokes just enough of her head over the top of the wall to be able to see what's there, helmet a small black shape against the night. Seeing Brian more than engaged but in serious trouble, she brings up the pistol, braces herself, and fires two shots at the clearest of the Vanguard foot-soldiers. For her, she's shooting straight down, gravity aiding her against recoil and making the weight of the weapon an aid rather than a hindrance to aiming. As soon as she's fired, however, she steps back down the wall, then runs ten strides along it before peeking up from her new spot.

"Yes, I'm fucking going in. Like I told everybody to do. Scott, if you ask one more time what we're doing I'm gonna come find you kick you in the nuts I swear to God." That's Con, talking to his radio. Although maybe every third word actually makes it out over the air.

Wozniak's following the sounds of the footsteps, realizing that he's sweating. As cold as it is outside, he's sweating. Man he's getting too old for this shit.

And he comes out upon a bunch of commandos. Great. Conrad flattens himself against a wall, peeking at them from around a corner. Time to think on it a little bit. He can piece together what's going on here, but they're probably trained fighters. If he goes out there openly, they'll shove that M-16 up his ass and then go and shove him up Scott's ass, not to mention what they'll do to whoever else they find.

Well. He could always just…cheat.

Conrad closes his eyes, back to the wall. His lips move only slightly as his voice echoes from the large chamber, "Hey, bitches." The voice is loud enough that it ought to drown out even the machinery down here. "…Let's Go."

Around the corner he steps, thumbing his M-16 on three round burst and suppressing the sound from it so that it makes no noise at all. The perfect silencer. The only sounds are the whipcracks of the 5.56mm bullets as they zip through the air and the sickening meat-smacks as they tear through two of the soldiers who made the mistake of standing too close together. That's two down. Somebody forgot to tell these guys that body armor doesn't help a whole lot against full metal jackets at ranges less than fifty yards.

"«Uh. Hey.»" Brian says, on his radio. Glancing around his chimney as another spatter of fire clatters against it. One more down by Ygraine. Good job Ygraine! Pressing his back against his cover, "«I'm going to jump off okay, grab my hand, please.»" He intones, before giving another glance. And then his gun is firing off unaimed, sloppy shots, just as a cover to run like hell back towards the edge of the roof. Letting shots off behind him, Brian ducks in his run to quickly unsecure and steal a grenade from one of the corpses he put down just a bit ago.

And then it's jumpy-time, gun dropped. Grenade held tight, and hand out, a leap of faith hoping to God that Ygraine will catch his hand. Or he'll just fall all the way down.

Conrad recalls an old arcade game, whack-a-mole, a simple little game where you take a rubber mallet at hit some plastic moles running on pistons that pop up out of holes. The memory comes back, because as he watches the spark of bullets hitting concrete and chips of stone flash by his vision, he can't help but feel bad for all the moles he whacked as a child.

Pinned down by the roar of automatic weapons fire, Conrad can seperate the chatter from their radios over the popping clatter of gunfire.

«Parcel delivered.»

The soldiers fall back, moving behind the turbines for cover from Wozniak's intermittant leaps out from behind cover, spraying silent gunfire down in the direction of the Vanguard soldiers. By the time an eights both on their side hits the floor, there's finally payment delivered back, in the form of a bullet whizzing up to slide thorugh the side of Conrad's knee, causing his leg to buckle as he slouches against a concrete pillar, bullets rattling around him.

«Advance unit, I hear gunfire, SitRep.»

Blood pulses out from the ragged tear of cloth, flesh and bone. It's a flesh wound, but it's a painful one in an inconvenient spot. A few droplets fall down through the catwalk, spattering on the ground below.

«Unknown number of shooters, we're pinned down at the turbines. Where's the payload?»

Pressed up against the concrete pillar, there's the occasional crackle or pop of words coming over the headset when Conrad positions himself just right, able to hear bits and pieces of what Brian is saying.

«Canister deployed, we've got less than a minute beofre the steam ruptures the canister and spreads! Fall back!»

Being a leader means making the tough choices. Making the judgement calls.

«Affirmative, withdrawing.»

Fortunately, Ygraine had just stuck her head up to check on what's happening when Brian sets off to make his leap of faith, and is able to break into a sprint along the edge of the building. Even so, she doesn't catch his offered hand. Instead, she dives forward to slap her own gloved palm against his shin as he sails past her, setting herself as his new source of gravity as she falls towards the wall.

Unfortunately, he retains his existing momentum, yanking her sideways, sending the pair tumbling down more than a storey of the wall before - helped by his weight adding to her own - Ygraine comes to a halt, and with her Brian. "Merde. Merdemerdemerde", she gasps, shunting his gravity back onto the wall and staggering to her feet. "Move. They saw where you jumped."

Getting shot HURTS. Conrad goes down with a shout the shakes the very large room. "FUCK!" he shouts, wincing and lying down to make a lower profile. Okay. So starting a firefight with these guys? Probably a shit idea. And of course he can hear everything these guys are saying. So he's got less than a minute? Great. Could he even stop this? Is that possible? Maybe. Into his headset Conrad says, "Hey. Anybody can hear me? Get the hell out of the building now. Get out. Now. Get out, or die. I say again, get out, get out, get out." See, if he says "get out" often enough maybe one of those will come through clear in the static.

Laying there against the concrete floor, Con lets the rifle slide out of his hands and flat on the floor. Minea loaned him that thing. With a sigh he contemplates that he's sorry she probably won't be getting it back.

Conrad presses his right hand against the floor, sniffing once and clearing his throat, and then concentrating again like he did earlier. What he did earlier, with that tank, was conducted through the medium of air. What he's doing now is almost identical, except this is going to be conducted through the foundation of the Consolidated Edison itself.

The plant begins to tremor.

After tackling Ygraine to the ground, Brian gives a lazy little smile to her before his gravity is jerked back to the wall. "My hero." Comes the soft words as he flicks the clip of the grenade and sends an arching throw over the roof and hopefully to where the remaining soldiers were. Starting to move back down he starts to murmur, 'What should we do?' but when Conrad's repetitions come through on the radio over and over, he gets his answer. "I think we should run."

Ygraine first grabs Brian's elbow to help him to his feet - then she's urging him towards the ground. "Jump!", she instructs from a good six feet up, hitting the ground and rolling through a minor explosion of snow. She waits a moment to snare Brian once more, hauling him into motion after his third gravity-shift and second crash-landing in a few seconds, then dashes past and through the wreckage of the tank, cornering to get the ruined boxcar between her and the building before putting in a rush for the fence. "If you need my help, say it now!", she directs into the microphone, intending the comment chiefly for Scott.

Watching Ygraine run past from several meters away, Scott looks up and then towards the plant where Conrad had run to. His lips press together in a thin line, eyes scanning the structure, "Wozniak." He doesn't move, doesn't start to edge away, not until he can feel the vibrations in the ground. The whole rail yard begins to rattle — the burning wreckage of the tank shakes and shudders, the building creaks and groans as windows pop and shatter as the foundation rumbles, causing the walls to bend and flex from the tiny vibrations. "Wozniak!"

«Scott, I don't know if he can hear you, the radio isn't picking up everything that deep!» Alistair comes over the headset, «What's going on? It feels like an earthquake over here!» Feeling the world shaking under his feet, Scott looks up to the roof of the building, then takes a hesitant step back. Conrad's in charge, and when the man in charge tells you to get your boots moving and your ass out of the fire, you fall in line.

Scott, though, is a stubborn old goat. Watching the building for a moment longer, he considers going inside, going in to help, to do something. But it's the echo of Alistair's voice over the comm system that keeps his feet from going forward, and instead motivates him to backpedal away from Consolidated Edison, and towars the fence.

The vibrations grow stronger, more intense, the entire rail yard begins to shake violently as snow slides off of the roof of the plant. Cracks begin to form in the smoke stacks, thin streamers of smoke billowing out from the fissures, mixing in with the white haze of snow against slate-gray skies.

"Everyone, get back! Keep going towards the river!" He can feel the shake now, building, growing to an impossibly loud crescendo as Scott throws himself down into the trench, ducking beneath the split fence before climbing up through snow and gravel, wheezing breaths drawn in through old lungs.

Linking onto Ygraine, Brian mostly grabs onto her as they run to the ground and towards the fence. Finally he is able to run without relying on her for support. And so he sprints at the fence full force, and is soon leaping up to jump up and climb up and over it.

Ygraine hadn't expected Brian to try to go _over_ the fence this time, and watches him scramble up and over with some measure of concern. Then, once he's safely down she resumes running, leading the way for the other two, path zig-zagging somewhat as she stumbles over obstacles and bumps half-hidden under the covering of snow, making for the river as instructed.

Conrad doesn't really register that he's lying in a pool of his own blood. That leg wound is really gushing, and it's gone numb. Which is just as well because that helps his concentration. And the vibration of the floor effectively gives him a back massage. That's kinda neat too. All sorts of harmless, warm little mundane thoughts like that occupy him. It's part of his meditation, if you will, that he uses to focus his power. For some reason he grins. This is gonna be…impressive. Big. Epic. Other words apply too. Like the one he mutters to himself in the chaos, "Groovy."

Parts of the ceiling are staring to come down. This place wasn't built for earthquakes. It just wasn't. The shaking does intensify for a while, getting to be pretty severe until all at once the vibrations stop.

It's not silent for a long time. How many seconds are left until the steam ruptures the canister? However many he's got left, it only takes about five seconds for the trembling of the power plant to halt. It's not just the trembling though. It's all the noise as it once again significantly and eerily dopplers down progressively into lower and lower tones and finally all goes silent.

The energy is not gone, simply concentrated throughout the very foundation and solid structure of Consolidated Edison itself. And then Conrad does the very last thing he will ever do as he releases all that energy like a rubber band he's been pulling on. When it snaps, the power plant itself quite literally flies to pieces.

The ground swells in a semi-crater surrounding the plant. The fissures formed in the Earth itself allow river and seawater to rush in with a titanic gush. The greater part of the plant complex itself goes both upward and out as it simply evicts itself from the map.

Somewhere far from here, the ghost of Nikola Tesla is very likely smiling. "Edison" Consolidated indeed…

The struggle of life is one with a definitive beginning and end.

The ground shudders against the haromonic resonance created deep with the bowels of Cosolidated Edison. The whole city feels like it is shaking apart as car alarms chime loudly, motorists skid off of the road and collide with snowbanks from the thundering of the streets. The ground buckles under the strain as concrete around the facility begins to split, ripping up in layers of snow, ice, pavement and earth, bristling with arteries of pipeworks that act like some great sounding pipes, sending the low rumbling groan of Conrad's sonic vibrations echoing across the city, and then everything goes silent…

In the end, we are given the choice to go quietly into the night, to lay down and die, or to go out as we choose. To take our fates into our own hands, and determine once and for all that we are masters of our own destinies.

The walls of the power plant suddenly crack and split, while Scott, Brian and Ygraine run down the icy slope towards the rocky coastline of the East River. There is the resounding thunder of splitting stone, and the smoke stacks topple down onto the building, and a rising plume of gray dust blows up high into the air. Ripples push away from the shoreline, ripples caused by the vibration of the land against itself. Covering his ears, Scott looks up to the power plant as another crunching rumble sends it sinking down into the ground, walls collapsing as streets finally buckle and collapse entirely, caving the subterranean levels of the power plant in on themselves.

We will make our mark on the world, as faint or as indelible as we choose to make it.

The cloud of debris and dust only grows larger, and the shockwave of the collapse sends the three tumbling head over heels down the rocky ice. Boucnign off of rocks and sliding across ice on their way down, Ygraine's motorcycle outfit protects her the best from the tumbling fall, while from his vantage point a block away, Alistair McKeon watches the entire lot of Consolidated Edison sink into the ground in a massive, crumbling heap.

People will remember us, for the choices we make.

Dashed on the rocks near the river, Scott shakily rises on one arm, blood training down his forehead from a deep gash at his hairline. Blood blurs his vision on one eye, looking up to watch the plume of debris rise higher and higher into the snowy air, the low rumbling hum of subsonics fading, giving way instead to the bleary whine of police sirens and car alarms.

The sacrifices for our ideals.

The cloud of debris blows outwards like a rolling wall of choking gray, rushing past those collapsed on the shoreline of the east river, bathing them in stone dust and debris, swallowing them into pitch blackness and haunting patches of murky gray and choking dust.

But most of all, they will remember the life we lived.

The dust cloud rolls out to sea, slowly dispersing, leaving Brian, Ygraine and Scott caked in fine gray powder, and with the dust settled, there is nothing but a crater where Consolidated Edison once stood, a giant smoking crater in the ground. Scott breathes in, a dry and rasping breath, then leans forward on his hands and knees, "We — " Another breath, he's too old for this. "We have to run." The sirens approaching are as good a sign as any to affirm this, "Wozniak?" He presses two fingers to the earpiece of his radio. "Wozniak come in."


The the people left behind, will carry our story on…

Jaw clenched tightly, Scott closes his eyes, pulling his radio off of his head, fingers curling around it as it folds into his tightly clenched fist.

…so that no one forgets we were here.

January 28th: Endgame - Suffer The Children
January 28th: Endgame - Tripwire
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