Et Sanguinem Harenae


cesar_icon.gif devon_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif emily3_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif geneva_icon.gif lance_icon.gif lucille_icon.gif shane_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Also featuring

biel_icon.gif louise_icon.gif

Scene Title Et Sanguinem Harenae
Synopsis A multi-agency task force strikes against an illegal fighting ring, getting more than they bargained for.
Date January 30, 2020

Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, aboard a cargo ship

Out of the blackness of unconsciousness comes the slightly grayer darkness of a dark room. As senses awaken, a few things become clear to Geneva and Faulkner as they drift up out of their chemically-induced coma, nearly in tandem.

Each sits in a cage, large enough to just allow them to sit without too much discomfort, but no room to hide in its corners. The bars are not only a couple of inches apart and made out of cold metal. Somewhere below them is the roar of conversation of a few hundred people. Beyond that, a slight hum.

There is the strange lack of power in their bodies — whatever feeling their ability has within their bones or nerves or mind, it’s been turned off, like a shorted fuse. Any grasp for it will come up empty.

But neither is alone. There is one other prisoner — Faulkner can see Geneva and Geneva, Faulkner, their cages near but not close enough to touch.

Footfalls can be heard somewhere else in the room, but too far beyond the shadow’s veils to see their owner.

Faulkner drifts back to wakefulness like a small boat being pushed towards shore by the tide. The first thing he really notices is how distinctly uncomfortable he is. Awareness crystallizes rapidly around that. This is not his bed. This is not, at first bleary glance, somewhere he knows at all. And he sure as hell did not put himself in a cage.

Fear begins to grow from awareness, sure as brighter light makes the shadows grow deeper. He reaches out to the shadows and finds nothing, nothing at all, and the fear surges higher.

They've come for me. Isis must've set a foot wrong, or maybe the Book Club just decided to clean up their ledger. They've come for him and now here he is. Negated? Or… something worse? He doesn't know, and the fear is almost worse than knowing the worst to be true. How had they gotten him?

He tries to remember, but towards the end his memories start getting hazy. He'd been running, getting his exercise in; he'd slowed, getting ready to hurdle an obstacle, and then there'd been a sudden pain and he'd slipped and…

He can't pull the rest of that memory together, anymore than he can call the shadows to him.

Okay. No use in panicking. Don't panic, then. Don't. Instead, he looks around, tries to see what he can take in. There's someone else here. Another prisoner. A girl; no one he knows. Why is she here? Another victim? He can hear the muted roar of a crowd below — that's odd — and there are footfalls nearby. This arrangement is probably temporary, then. Are they being held for transport?

His gaze drifts again to the woman in the cage, but he doesn't speak. Not yet. Better to avoid drawing the attention of whoever's lurking over yonder for as long as possible.


Those are the reverberations of Geneva thumping both of her hands as hard as she can in tandem against the metal bars of her cage, which, as might be expected, succeeds in accomplishing literally nothing apart from causing her to go reeling back in pain from the impact afterwards.

In any case, Faulkner can plainly see that his fellow prisoner-in-arms is fully awake by now as well. More than just awake. The young woman's bright-blue eyes are wild through a gap in the long, disheveled blonde hair draping across her face and profile.

And unlike him, Gene appears to have no reservations about drawing attention from whoever it is that's near them. Her words practically fall out of her in a drug-slurred panic: a weakly struggling ridge of anger, trying to find purchase in some sense of clarity. "Fucking Christ. What the fuck is this. Who're you— what is this?"

Somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, aboard a helicopter

The ride to the cargo ship from the Coast Guard vessels is just a few moments long. The dark night sky would help to camouflage the black helicopters en route to the destination anyway, but a couple of special agents’ abilities do even more to mask the arrival of the aircraft from both human vision and equipment.

Sound is another issue, but one that another member or two of the taskforce probably has in check — Veronica’s asked Liz and Lance to help keep the hum of the blades to a minimum to the best of their abilities.

Soon enough, the cargo ship comes into view. Peering through binoculars only reveals a few guards out on the long deck, looking relaxed and at ease. Pairs are stationed at front, back, and each of the sides, looking completely unaware of the hovering danger from above.

The ladders are dropped, along with the quicker route for those who know how to rappel: a rope without foot holds. “Diaz and Ryans, Gerken and Harrison, Clendaniel and Epstein, Bishop you’re with me,” Vee rattles off, shaking her head at the last names that match people she knows better than the people in front of her. Definitely weird. She points to each team respectively. “Bow, starboard, stern, port. Take them out humanely if possible. Cut off their communication. Whatever’s below decks, we want the element of surprise.”

They’re all equipped with tranqs, weapons, comms to communicate with one another, and of course, handcuffs, but some of them may have abilities they prefer for temporarily putting an opponent out of commission. “Let’s go.”

Mostly to herself, she mutters, “Epstein, Ryans, and Gerken, try not to get hurt. I don’t want your relatives on my ass.” She glances at Liz. “That goes for you too, actually.”

Elisabeth slants an evil look at Vee; she's wearing her helmet, dammit! Black-gloved hands move to check her clips and her line — the brief refresher course she had in this method of incursion doesn't quite feel like enough. The best part about what she can do is stealth mode for the helo.

The blonde pulls in a low breath and asks Lance, "You ever fast roped in?" She herself has only done it once.

“I’ll be fine, but I’ll watch my back, Agent Aunt Sawyer,” Lance replies with the sort of grin he’s been perfecting since he was five years old, eyebrows going up before he looks back to Elisabeth, rolling his shoulders once to get used to the weight of the gear he’s wearing, buckles rattling a bit. “Nope. I don’t fly that much, and most of the climbing I do is without ropes or anything.”

Because of course.

That grin returns to Elisabeth, and he tightens the straps on his gloves, “So this’ll be a primal first time.”

Cesar throws a friendly smirk over to his assigned partner, Lucille, and lifts a gloved hand to Veronica acknowledging the position he and the Wolfhound responsible for. "I'll be sure to leave some for you, Ryans," the SESA agent offers in competitive banter. He hasn't forgotten their cooperative work in the raid a month prior. He finishes up his equipment check, then looks over to the younger SESA operatives on the mission. "Nor mine," he intones alongside Veronica's warning. With that he finishes and waits until the signal is given to drop.

"Do try to keep up Diaz," Lucille stands with the agent and gives him a soft grin before its back to business and her light blue eyes scan the room. Emily and Lance, her gaze stays on for a moment longer. They had good chaperones but it was a little bewildering seeing the young blonde there in her full physical capacity, the wonders of healing truly never ceased to amaze the Wolfhound operative.

She's checked her equipment twice over, cleaning it all while she meditated during the trip. The quip from Veronica has Lucille smiling and shaking her head. "I will hold my irrational family at bay," The Ryans family had a rep.

Her hand goes to her side and curls in on itself. Waiting for the word.

Emily meets Lucille's gaze when she looks over, jaw set. When she moves on, the younger woman drops her head, tentatively adjusting the equipment that still feels all too foreign on her. The blue of her eyes moves fluidly as she peers down into her palm, flexing her hand.

This was the sort of shit she yelled at Devon for getting into, and look where they both were now.

Eyes close for a moment as she draws in a breath to steel herself, gloved hand closing into a fist. Volunteering had seemed like such a good idea until this morning, when all the little pieces snapped together in a way that made her realize too late what she'd gotten herself into. SESA was going to jump the boat, and they were going to head in by helicopter. Which meant she would also be with them, engaging on a mission that only began with this wild mid-air adventure they were about to embark on. Fuck, Emily repeats to herself internally. It's a mantra with many meanings, many emotions.

When she opens her eyes again, there's ice in them. She shoves it all down with a slow inhale, exhaling away any errant doubts that still hang over. Her head turns slightly to Devon by her side. "Ready?" she asks calmly.

"Your instincts are good," Shane's voice comes to Emily as he passes her. There's a brief little flare of a side-smile as he does a brief attempt to help the trainee. It's deadpan, firm in tone. "Trust them." A pause. "And him," Shane flicks a gesture of his head towards Devon.

Shane Bishop, at Veronica's side, returns his attention to his equipment; he's done some efficient checks through it, his personal items that he's come to rely on over the years ready and loaded up. Shane may have no special abilities at all, but the slim, short agent makes up for that "lack" in other ways: overcompensation in preparedness and experience.

A shoulder rolls slightly to Emily’s question, a form of acknowledgement that the question was heard and not so much an answer. Devon’s face, framed beneath the helmet of his AEGIS armor, shows nothing of his thoughts as he looks on to the boat they’re approaching. Only a hardness, an internal wall separating self from duty, noticeable within his eyes by those he’s closest to. With each mile gained, he’s grown more distant, detached from what surprises or challenges the job might hold. It’s a survival technique that still comes far too easily.

“Yeah.” Voice quiet, he redirects his attention from studying distant targets to getting into position. He starts for one of the rappelling lines, pausing at Bishop’s comment. For an instant, his brows furrow, but he makes no other sign he’d even heard the agent’s comment. He looks back at Emily, tips his head as a signal to follow.

One gloved hand grabs the rope, the other checks that weapons are secured. “Stay close,” he advises as he rocks the handgun in its holster. The sling holding the Banshee from his shoulders is given a slight tug. “Follow my lead and keep your helmet on.” Dev looks up, studying Emily. Worry briefly flashes through his gaze, but the facade he’s built covers it quickly. “You get into trouble, you call for me or you haul ass to Liz and Lance.”


“Oh, they’re awake!” says the chipper voice of someone just out of sight. “Let’s get this show on the road.” The footfalls come nearer, two sets, and eventually out of the shadows step two figures into the dome of dim light cast by a fixture somewhere far overhead. At first, they are no more than gray figures, perhaps a man and a woman, but as they near, things get more nightmarish and surreal. Their faces are obscured by masks, with the woman in a cat face and the man in a panda face.

“I’ve got him,” says the woman, moving to the more quiet of the two prisoners.

Geneva can hear Panda mutter under his breath and behind the black-and-white mask, “Of course you do.” He’s not keen on being volunteered for the angrier bird in a cage. So to speak.

“Don’t worry. This will only hurt for a second, and you won’t remember a thing later,” says the Cat as she lifts a syringe with a long needle in it. Her bedside manner is terrible, truly.

“Why can’t we do this when they’re still asleep?” mutters the Panda, and Faulkner, through terrified eyes can probably see the Cat’s eyes roll behind her mask — it’s clearly a question already asked and answered.

“The cocktail needs to be administered right before they fight. You know this.”

Fuck. Little Miss Loudmouth over there had to draw attention. But wait. Fight? There are implications there. And suddenly the roar of the crowd makes sense; it is a holding area of sorts. Just not quite what he was expecting.

The situation he's in is already looking less scary than the nightmare scenarios his mind had conjured. It's still pretty scary in its own right — he's been snatched off the streets, he's in a cage, and now some masked nutjobs are coming at him with a needle that looks, from this vantage point, to be roughly the size of a harpoon — but he'll take Jigsaw over Freddy Krueger any day of the week.

"My parents always told me not to take needles from strangers," he says to the Cat, with as much sardony as he can muster. It's empty bravado, of course, and a lie to boot — his parents were already dead by the time he was old enough to remember anything they might have said — but it sounds witty and it's the best he's got on short notice. "But since I expect you're going to say that shots are mandatory… mind telling me what you're giving me before you stab me with that thing? And what is this, for that matter? Are you just going to throw us in a pit and have us fight or something?" He eyes the needle warily; given the volume of the cage he's in, he's not going to be able to do a lot to dodge it — especially not now, after he's just awakened from whatever they'd dosed him with to put him out in the first place — but he's hoping to at least hear some answers.

Even if it's probably not going to do him one bit of good.

Fuck indeed.

It's unclear just how many of the same logical implications Geneva has managed to absorb out of their shared surroundings, but whatever she has or hasn't, it's enough in her head.

When the forms of Panda and Cat emerge into enough clarity from the shadows, the girl feigns a withdrawal into a sort of heavy, surly quiescence, perhaps to Faulkner's temporary relief— though she does not stop glaring daggers through the rift in her long hair all the while at the conversation taking place outside the bars.

But the moment that Panda makes the mistake of drawing right up next to her, without warning she slams into the metallic lattice again, this time with the brunt of her shoulder via the limited space that the cage allows. CLANGGG—

"Fuck you, you fucking sickos—"

“So well behaved,” the Cat murmurs, seemingly pleased that Faulkner is apparently going to be well behaved. “They are sterile.” Her eyes flick over to Geneva and there’s the sound of a muffled chuckle behind the mask. “We may be sickos, but we are not unsanitary sickos,” she says almost primly.

The syringe is tap-tap-tapped to get out any air bubbles. “You won’t remember anyway. Something to make you angry and something to make you forget it all.”

She tips her head and sings, “Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall.”

With that, she watches him carefully before moving forward, needle aiming for his shoulder.

The Panda has jumped back a6nd is eyeing Geneva for a moment. “Why can’t we have the dart guns?” he laments. It is a wonder he has this job — how does one get a job like this, anyway? What’s the job application like? It’s a thought for another day.

There isn’t a lot of room for Geneva to maneuver away from the long arm of the needle, unfortunately. The Panda strides quickly over, fingers poking through the wire to grasp at Geneva’s shoulder on one side but the needle jabs at the other arm.

Great. Faulkner's never been a heavy drinker, but it sounds like he's about to get an enforced tequila bender. Also an enforced bar fight, isn't that nice.

Except quite probably worse than that, if they're snagging people off the streets and stabbing them full of drugs. He eyes the Cat and the syringe she's got — the syringe with the long, long needle — with a distinct sinking sensation. Less fear, though; that's diminishing to a more bearable level, because if they're worrying about making sure he's not going to remember anything, that implies that he's going to be alive enough for that to be a problem.

Assuming that's not a lie, of course. That, too, is a possibility.

"How very Carrollian of you," Faulkner says drily, watching her every bit as carefully as she's watching him. Unfortunately, the circumstances make the outcome a foregone conclusion. Even if he dodges the needle the first time — even if he can successfully dodge it indefinitely (which he can't) — he's still stuck in a tiny cage. Sooner or later she'll get him… and the energy he spends trying to avoid that is energy he won't have later, when circumstances (hopefully) aren't as dire. He grimaces a bit as she pokes at him, but he doesn't bother trying to dodge the needle.

Despite the futility of the situation, which Geneva can't possibly be unaware of, she continues to contest her fate with everything that she has. One thing is certain— she needs no help with that part Cat had mentioned about getting angry. She's fucking furious.

Gene manages to bash that floating needle away from her exactly one more time before Panda finally succeeds in stabbing her with it, though perhaps more messily than he would have liked.

Panda doesn't get to come away from his ordeal totally unscathed, however. In that little fracas between them, Gene manages to suck up some of the saliva in her mouth and spits a small, vicious glob of it towards Panda's eye. Most of it is stopped by the bars, but some of the trajectory makes it outside.

“Gah!” is the sound of disgust from the man behind the Panda mask as he scuttles backward and mops at his face with the cuff of his lab coat. “Animals,” he mutters as he moves out of the sightline of those in the cages.

Cat has an easier time of it. “There’s a good boy,” she says sweetly to Faulkner. “I’ll be rooting for you. Hopefully you’re preserving the energy for the fight.”


Veronica watches as each of the teams queue up to descend into the unknown dangers that way below. Her eyes linger on the exchanges made between the various members of the team, but her dark eyes show no real worry that this motley crew is the right crew for the job.

At the moment, it’s the only crew for the job.

“Go,” she says, gloved fingers pointing to those closest to the open doors of the helicopter. She hangs back until the end, taking the rappel line to catch up with those ahead of her.

The teams drop silently into the center of the deck, luckily behind each of their targets’ backs. The deck stretches out about a thousand feet from bow to stern, and about 100 from one side to the other. Teams Starboard and Port will need to hit their teams quickly due to the short distance, in case the four guards notice their guests before the task force is ready to be noticed. The teams hitting the stern and bow may find themselves a little outside of the cone of silence if they don’t try to snipe their targets from a distance. The sea’s high winds and the clunky ammunition make that a chancy undertaking. There’s one chance to do it right, as the guards carry assault rifles — unlike the SESA, Wolfhound, and SCOUT agents.

Once all of the squad members’ boots have hit the deck, the bird begins to rise, to pull away and take a vantage point higher in the sky.

So far, their targets remain unaware they’ve got company. “Go,” mouths Veronica to the teams. She glances over at Shane to be sure he’s ready to move, then darts closer toward the two guards, waiting to get closer before she’ll shoot. Not too close. She aims at the one directly in front of her, leaving Shane to do the same, before firing from about 20 feet away.

Cesar touches down on the ship deck and immediately moves to a side to make room for Lucille and the others. Once the signal's given, he raises his weapon of choice and nods to Lucille before they move for the ship's bow, quick and quiet being the aim using whatever walls and on board containers they find as cover. The agent keeps the Hound in peripheral sight at all times as they proceed.

When they spot the bow-ward pair, Cesar indicates to Lucille: one-a-piece, and he'll take the left-side guard of the pair. Closing the distance, he waits for Lucille, then presses the attack with X-LRAD pistol raised. Soon as his target comes in range of the sonic gun, he presses the trigger, no warnings given.

It's a weird sense of deja vu for Elisabeth, looking at Lance. Last time they 'flew,' he was carrying a baby and she was carrying Aurora as they landed in the ocean. Shaking off that mental image, she swiftly grabs the line. "When your feet hit the deck, peel off toward the stern and I'll peel off toward the bow. We have enough range between us to keep the entire center of the ship covered, but if we split far enough apart to minimally overlap, we can cover more of the length. You keep the helo silenced as far as you can reach, I'll aim for the bridge deck to see if I can keep the ones up high from sounding an alarm." It's a big ship, but the bridge deck is a smaller target and she doesn't have to try to reach them if she can make them all puke their brains out.

With a last look at Vee, Elisabeth drops on the rappelling rope toward the deck below. Once on the deck with her partner, she swings her Banshee around so it's at the ready, but her attention is fixed upward to the control room. And she doesn't hold back, hitting as hard as she can with the subaudible vertigo-inducing sound waves.

It wasn’t the same Lance that was with Elisabeth then, either, but the situation is oddly similar; fortunately, this time there aren’t any babies involved. At her instructions, he dips his head in a brief, quick nod. The nautical terminology doesn’t go over his head - he’s been on a few ships in his time, mostly back and forth along the river when he needed to.

He flashes her a grin, too, just before they drop with the ropes — the agile little fucker landing deftly on his feet — and then he’s moving with a duck of his head to move stern as suggested. The tranq pistol he was issued is out of its holster as he moves, reversing the sound-isolation field to keep the sounds from outside getting in. Anyone in his range won’t be able to hear the helo at all anymore.

The rope is released as soon as his boots touch the deck of the boat, and Devon holds that position long enough to give Emily a steadying arm when she drops in after him. As soon as she's got her footing, he's moving again. Banshee raised, set to incapacitate, he follows Lance toward the back of the boat.

It isn't until they're past the midpoint that he surges forward. The non-lethal weapon is lifted a fraction, brought to readiness as he passes the younger man.

A quick hand signals for Emily to mirror him, breaking to one side while he goes to the other, not flanking but splitting like a maul to firewood. As the shape of a hostile begins to reveal itself, Devon's finger tightens around the trigger, firing a blast of sound energy at them.

Shane's voice by Emily draws her to turn her head, brow lifting. Her instincts? Usually, she'd agree, but this is so far beyond anything she's used to doing, she's not sure they're valid. So, that leaves his second bit of advice. She turns to Devon at her side as the group prepares their jump down, noting that everyone else is taking the rope down.

She swallows hard and steps up after Lance and Elisabeth disappear into the night. It's Devon's direction she follows, remembering the pointers he'd given her. The last thing she remembers is taking in a deep breath.

Emily hits the deck hard, soles vibrating. It takes longer than it should for her to let go and move on, but she does. She's hyper-aware of the smoothness in motion she lacks compared to the others dropping in with them, but keeps her attention focused ahead. Feet moving, she hastily brings the Banshee away from her person and steadied it with both hands. Devon's hand-signal needs a doubletake before it registers, then she follows quickly.

This part of things doesn't feel as foreign as it should. In fact, it feels eerily similar to the Maya experience back at the World's Fair. She checks her distance from Lance as she advances, worried about her luck in not being noticed, but also being worried in taking the guard out rather than just rattling him with the Banshee. She dares to get within 15 feet, trusting their sound bubble, before she pulls the trigger.

Agent Shane Bishop landed just before their final member, Veronica; he'd landed and moved neatly to the side into the nearest cover. Once she landed and gave word, he was directly behind and off her right shoulder, quiet, nimble and low. A survey of the ship gave him a choice to slide over part of a raised separator on the deck to the opposite side of it, fearless on the slick ship deck, trusting his agility to keep him on his feet. He drops to one knee smoothly as Veronica takes aim to fire, expecting to take the target on the right, as he's certain she heard him move to that side: hopefully, both of their targets will be struck, one after the other.

Lucille's feet touch the ground silently but firm, squatting a little to absorb the shock before she is moving in towards Cesar's side. Her eyes come alive in the form of a hot amber glow. She wills herself to remain calm and not to let her emotions cloud her judgement.

Still she can't help but feel a burning need for revenge, for the time she had lost. Her lost agency. The god damn broken arm.

Cesar's nod is returned and as he fires his weapon the tall woman charges towards the guard to the right. Leaping forward with arms outstretched to try and take him down on impact. Twisting midair as her ability blossoms from within her and then outwards.


Sending her biotic influence over his vitals to ignite his pain receptors.

The multifaceted tactics each work, in their own way. The L-Rads send the guards into a fit of pain and disorientation, most of them crumpling to their knees and incapable of anything but inarticulate groans. Lucille’s more physical approach results in the same, though with a few expletives thrown out by the guard before he passed out from the intense pain.

In a matter of just a few moments, the guards are disarmed and handcuffed, their radios taken so the team can listen in on any of their chatter. Strangely, the control room is devoid of human personnel or no doubt Elisabeth’s sonic assault would have had them on their knees in surrender as well. The only crew on the deck are the guards. The ship itself isn’t in motion, its anchor dropped into the fathoms below, but the motor runs, keeping the ship’s electrical system running.

As the guards begin to regain mobility and coherence, some of them begin to protest. “We didn’t know what they were doing here! We just signed up as security detail!” one of them calls out from where they’ve been handcuffed to the ship’s railing.

Those listening to the chatter catch an exchange: “«Five minutes to show time. Get your ass to the arena, Duncan!»” an irritated voice murmurs. “«On my way, boss,»” is the harried reply.

“Where are they?” Veronica demands. “We’re going to sweep the ship and find out anyway, but your sentences will be a lot shorter if you cooperate.”

The eight guards share a few worried glances with one another.

Emily has a distracted look on her face as she comes to stand beside Veronica, just as eager for answers as the Agent is. Something feels strange about all this, like it's somehow similar to the event Astor had asked for her help in dismantling. She blinks slowly as the realization sets in, shoulders sloping down while she tucks the Banshee back by her side.

God, what if this was it? What if something happened to him and that's why he never came back and—

What if this was when she was meant to use her ability?

Her brow furrows. The realization, true or not, fills her with a sense of purpose she'd otherwise been lacking with her nerves. "You should listen to her," she tells the man who had shouted out, turning to him. The layer over her voice is subtle, save to him. "If you really had no idea, if you disagree with this, you should tell her everything you know. What are they doing out here? Where's the arena?"

She stays steady, her attention on him in particular. It's hard to ignore the feeling in her gut trying to establish a tether between them causes; the flood of emotion and intuition back from him as she tries to convince him her intuition on this is better than his might be. But she stays firm in her belief— it is right, it is just that whatever is happening here is shut down, and that he help them do it.

Cesar points out, "Five minutes isn't a lot of time to cover this whole ship." Looking over to Veronica, he nods in solidarity with her interrogation of the guard. Either way, they'll get into the bowels of the boat eventually. "We can split up," he notes to the taskforce gathered. "Gerken, Bishop and Clenandiel take the bow. Harrison, Ryans and I take stern. Sound coverage on both sweep teams, and we can converge at center. Sawyer and Epstein stay on deck in case anybody's flushed out, and if they manage to get more info about the arena location out of these guys, we'll shift on the fly." He glances to each face. "Sound good?"

The unhappy guard listens to Emily. A few of his compatriots shake their head at him, trying to keep him from talking. But he looks more than willing to spill the beans in order to save his own weathered hide.

“Arena’s in D. Fight’s about to start,” he blurts out.

Leaving off her own attack on the bridge once she's able to ascertain there's no one in it, Elisabeth turns to Cesar. "Give me a minute, I might be able to pinpoint location," she offers. With the guards all handcuffed and confined to this area, she might have a chance. Her range on a lot of things like concussion waves is pretty far, but she's not sure how far she can actually reach for the kind of seeking she's doing now. She's never tried to do it more than 40 or so feet. But… she can walk the length of the deck and focus downward while the others question the guards.

With her weapon still held at the ready, she murmurs to Cesar, "Walk with me?" It requires narrowing out all the engine sounds, the sounds of the water, the ship, the electrical hum. Narrowing down on sounds around her until all she can hear are the heartbeats of the people closest… and then stretching out to see if there are others in that range down below them anywhere within her reach. It's not exactly the shortest thing to do and it takes pretty much all her focus. She'd like to not get her head shot off. She's even wearing the damn helmet, Vee!

"Yep," Shane agrees immediately, a bit of a flip of salute of left hand follows it. And, with the order given, Shane Bishop promptly is moving towards the bow of the ship to begin his sweep, expectant for the other two given the same direction to be moving into position that way as well. Shane checks on the position of Bishop and Clendaniel as he begins the sweep methodically.

In the stairwell, though, Bishop encounters a guard, face to face, directly after opening the door. Shane had already been moving sideways, so the abruptly raised weapon was not aimed at him. Shane dodges back and uses the door as a weapon, knocking the guy back a step, and follows it up with a lunge. The stairway makes it difficult and there's a brief struggle that involves Shane's forearm getting bashed hard into the metal rail.

A look shifts to Cesar as the older man lays out the plan. Devon's head nods in agreement. Divide and conquer, and improvise when needed is what he does best. He turns to address Lance and Shane — the latter of whom is already headed off into the unknown. He can't help but shake his head slightly and look at the younger man.

“And they call me reckless,” is a murmur to himself. Then, actually speaking to Lance, “Give him a head start.” Since the guy isn't waiting for a sketch of how to proceed. “Do your best to cover me, but try to avoid getting shot at. My armor’ll hold up longer than your vest.” He slides a look to where Vee and Emily still stand with the handcuffed security detail, then turns for the stairwell.

“Stay close.” It's probably an unnecessary suggestion, but Dev isn't taking chances just now. He starts down the stairs without a look back, moving with the practiced caution of a soldier entering hostile territory. His Banshee, primed for use, is raised for whatever non-friendlies might be encountered. «This is Clendaniel, proceeding to level D.»

Lance has nothing to say about being being accused of recklessness, given his own tendency to adventuresomeness and the way he drew the attention of SESA in the first place. Nope. Not a word. Just a quick grin and a thumbs-up of agreement to Devon before he’s focusing on the path that Bishop led up the stairwell.

The sound of the trio is kept restrained to their group, nothing at all audible past a foot or two - which may be why the guard didn’t realize there was anyone opening the door until it was too late. As the struggle begins, he brings his tranq gun up - but doesn’t fire, since with Devon in front of him and the tight confines of the stairwell it’s hard to get a clear shot.

And tranq’ing a superior agent would probably look bad on his record.

Lucille's nostrils flare as she hears the voice, as she sees the guard there before them. As Vee questions and Emily does something that would usually draw all of Lucille's attention but she doesn't say a word before she's going on the direction of the stern, looking for a way deeper into the ship.

The cat woman's face flashes in her mind's eye and she shakes her head as she continues to move forward, ability turned on as Radar. Watching for pings of biological signatures near her range. Her hands flex and curl into fists, she's feeling the anger more than she should. Lucille should have told them that she was apart of this in a more meaningful way but she figured she would be able to handle herself.

Coming face to face so to speak with the people who violated her and all those other people hits different.


The drug cocktail feels simultaneously cold and hot, like dry ice in their veins. Suddenly there is a humming noise and as they begin to descend, the prisoners realize they are being lowered into whatever lies below. As the floor drops, the sound of the crowd swells in volume.

It takes a few moments before they can see anything but eventually a surreal nightmare comes into view: hundreds of people encircle a ring, a fighting arena meant for them. Every one of the audience members wears an animal mask, juxtaposed by evening gowns and tuxedos. The faces of swans, goats, stags, rabbits, some realistic and others grotesque or whimsical, combine into an outlandish image that makes everything seem like night terror — one that Faulkner or Gene could just will themselves to wake up from if they tried hard enough.

If it seems funny, there are guards with very-real guns surrounding the perimeter of the ring. These soldiers too wear the masks, adding to the bizarre contradictory stimuli; one particularly tall and strong looking man carries an AR-15 while wearing a lamb mask.

“Ladies and Gentlemen! Make your final bets and Take your seats, for the final event of the season is about to begin. Verus and Priscus are tied, with five wins each, and tonight is the finale to determine which team is the champion!” The emcee is a dapperly dressed man in coattails and a red vest to go with his baboon mask. “I hope you brought your flashlights, because for Team Verus today we have a manipulator of shadows, while Priscus presents us with a woman who can roast you alive with her bare hands. It’s about to get hot in here!”

The crowd roars louder and louder as the descending platform carrying the two cages finally comes to sit at one end of the ring. The cages immediately collapse on all sides. The prisoners can feel the drugs beginning to kick in. The anger is palpable, tastable, like metal in the mouth. Some of it is rational — At their captors. At the situation. At those hundreds of stupid creature masks staring them down.

Some of it isn’t. The anger toward the stranger beside each of them, the reasoning part of their brain tells them, is just a physical byproduct of the drug’s effect. But that lizard brain doesn’t really care.

What’s more, they can feel their power returning.

Faulkner's lips tighten at the Panda's muttering, at the Cat's cooing. Animals, the Panda had said… and it's mirrored in the Cat's behavior, too, a bit. She's cooing at him like someone would at a well-behaved animal — one who holds still for a petting when you're half afraid he might bite. The descent that follows brings new sights and new horrors; the crowd he'd heard below is a ghastly spectacle. Every single one of them, too, is wearing an animal mask. Animals. It's a joke. It's a sick fucking joke. The lamb with the build of the gorilla and the AR-15 drives the point home: everyone's pretending to be something they're not. So what does that say about the only two without masks, himself and the girl? Easy enough: the suggestion is that they're wearing the best masks of all. They're pretending to be human, when these fuckers think they're just… animals. Dogs. This is a dog fight, and he and the girl are to be the dogs.

Knowing that should matter. Knowing that he's been drugged to be angry should matter, too. It really should. But the rage he's feeling is strong enough that it feels like it's gearing up to claw its way out of his chest and murder everyone it can reach on its own, leaving the rest of him behind like molted snakeskin. He can feel his heart beating faster, his fists clenching hard enough that his nails bite into the palm of his hands. He is literally seeing red. And…

… he feels something else, too. He can feel his shadow. He looks over to the girl. Roast you alive with her bare hands… Fire, then. Not a favorite. Still, if the stupid loudmouth bitch can throw fireballs… maybe they can cause some collateral damage. Roast some of these beasts-posing-as-men-posing-as-beasts. Find out what they smell like when their flesh cooks. Hear what they sound like when they scream.

Faulkner knows that that is objectively wrong, in some distant part of his mind that isn't infected by the song of rage and bloodlust coursing through his veins… but he also knows that the thought of these animals burning, bleeding, makes him very happy right now. He draws back from the girl, never taking his eyes off of her. Watching her. Waiting.

A tense tremor runs down the full length of Geneva's spine as the effect of whatever drug she had been injected with begins to take hold. When compounded upon the natural stress and hatred she had already been feeling, all she really perceives for the first few minutes is an inundation of whiteness.

An ouroboros in her head of numbness, ice, and burning, each one in endlessly shorter turn.

And then, the rage.

Everything around Geneva, from the sea of animal faces to the guards closer to them menacing them with weapons, seems to be a washed-out and incomprehensible din of noise. She can hardly bring herself to track the progress of both their cages as they are gradually lowered onto the floor of the arena, but her eyes, red-rimmed with a confusion of emotions, never once leave the face of Faulkner either.

Even as Faulkner steps away from her to begin with, Geneva advances towards him the space of one single step, the air around the one fist curling by her side already shimmering into a blurred, brilliant haze that is somewhat painful to look at directly.

In the thrumming silence of that prelude to— what? She seems to be waiting for something as well, the slow, stabilizing drumbeat of a red haze hot in her ears.

The tension between the two facing off is palpable, and the crowd responds, primal bloodlust in the mob as they begin to chant “Fight, fight, fight!” like middle schoolers at a lunchtime brawl. The incongruity between their savage cheers and their Armani suits and Gucci gowns is as surreal as the masks they wear.

The top row of seats seems to be where the VIPs sit — a box seat of sorts, with more comfortable seating than the metal benches of the rest of the spectators. Around them are a few more guards as well, their own special service.

A thin woman in a red gown and a white rabbit mask stands and holds her hand to the mouth of the mask, cupping it to help augment the muted voice that issues forth. “C’mon, Shadow! Don’t let her get first blood, ya hear?” Though she’s far away, the high-pitched and slightly nasal quality of her voice cuts through the basso thrum of the rest of the crowd.


With no one in the control room or compass deck having spotted them, quick chatter between Veronica and the Coast Guard sees one of the smaller vessels drawing nearer.

“We’ve got them covered. Join either team, unless you’d rather stay here with me,” Sawyer informs Emily, giving her the option of whether she wants to face the upcoming fray or not. “I’ll get them loaded and join you down in D. Keep to the rear of the group, follow the others’ leads.” Her dark eyes look appraisingly at the younger blond woman and she adds, “I might need you for helping to interrogate them later. You’ve got a knack for it. I usually have to play bad cop a lot more.”

As Liz walks the deck, except for that fracas in the stairwell and the descending members of the taskforce, she can’t hear any heartbeats in the first level… or the second… the third is harder to pinpoint, because the thrum of hundreds of heartbeats and the roar of hundreds of voices cheering nearly overwhelms her sensitive ability. At least four hundred people must be gathered together, at the center of Level D.

The arena.

In the bow stairwell, the guard taken by surprise has size and weight on his side as he wrestles to try to get his gun centered on Shane while he’s got him on the rails, so to speak. The pair behind him have him covered, though, thanks to the silence afforded by Lance and Devon’s LRAD blast sending the guard to his knees clutching his head and dropping his weapon. One more for the collection.

Jesus fucking Christ. Elisabeth's hand flies to the side of her head, instinctively as if she's actually hearing the noise despite the helmet. Into her comms, she says, "Guys, we have a huge presence in the lower levels. Best guess we're talking at least 100 people, maybe a lot more." She doesn't usually hear this kind of thundering going on, so she cannot possibly give an accurate count. "Amidships. Center on bottom level."

Emily's expression falls at hearing they're too late. A fight? Then comes Liz's pronouncement of the sheer numbers aboard. The young woman turns to Veronica, suggesting quietly, "We might need more backup." Hundreds of people…

She shakes her head quickly, then looks over to Liz and Cesar. It looked like the shift on the fly time was about to happen. Emily jogs away from the group of subdued guards to join the other two still abovedecks, ready to follow them down on the other stairwell. She draws the tranquilizer gun, ice hardening in her eyes. "I'm with you," she tells them on approach, though it's like to be obvious.

With the plan to cover the ship abruptly shifted when information is revealed, Cesar doesn't sound in much better spirits. If anything, the tension just ratcheted up. "Sonuvabitch. Hope you all got some training with crowd control," he notes through the radio.

But that does give an idea, one that comes when he looks over his half of the group. "Perhaps we're about to find out how might your abilities all stack, yeah?" As they head down the stairwell, he lays out his thoughts. "Epstein, you got the firm voice to let 'em know that we're the authorities and here to take in the parties responsible. Harrison, boost up the sound so they all hear it nice and clear. Ryans and I will keep our half covered. Bow team can cover their half if anybody's going to run from our point, it'll be right into their arms. Coast Guard's going to need a lot of ships or trips," he adds, shaking his head at the thought of the ratio: Hundreds against 8.

“Let's not go rushing into the mouth of the beast,” Devon quips as he steps over the downed guard. He cracks a slight grin at Shane, brows pushing toward his hairline. It's a small jab, an easy reminder to work as a team.

Tightening his cradle of the Banshee, he takes point this time. “Gerken, keep to the center and work your sound magic.” Confident of the younger man’s sound suppression abilities, Dev leads the way down the stairwell. Down into the belly of the whale.

"Only a little bit chewed," Shane quips back to Devon as he and Gerken approach. Shane rotates his arm, rubbing the bruised forearm once and attending to moving the guard aside in case they need to make a quick escape using the stairs, before he follows, taking the rear position naturally without issue.

"I've been here," it's said softly over the comms but Lucille walks forward with eyes widening as she takes each step, her mind assaulted by the memories of the injustices done in this place.

She sees a man, he seems gentle until they did something to him to make him wild,feral. Lucille too.

Her heart rate ramps up and her hands clench and unclench as she begins to take the stairs fast, "They brought me here to fight. My arm was broken," Lucille growls and she feels the usual iron clad control she has over her will, her emotions cracking at the very seams. It had been splintering since they arrived.

No. More.

One thing is certain, she's not listening to anyone's orders. Her hand lifts and pulls the device out of her ear, dropping it in a chest pocket. As she descends her eyes go wildly from side to side as more and more begins to come back to her. Lucille's body slams to a halt as she almost passes Level C.

The Wolfhound Operative hustles through the door and her eyes go wide as she sees what lies in front of her.

“Alright, but let me know before you fire that thing,” Lance observes with a tilt of his head towards the sonic weapon in Devon’s hands, “When I say no sound gets out, I mean it. So either get them inside the barrier or let me know to drop it.” They hadn’t worked together before, so he has to explain on the fly - a quick rattle of words as he moves in the middle position, tranq pistol held up, finger off the trigger.

He skips a step, though, hesitating at what he’s heard over the comms. “Lucille…?” No response. “Fuck.”

Shit, he just swore over comms. Nobody report that.


Heat. He can almost feel the heat around her fist from here. It's not a problem, though; the only part that worries about that is the weak part, the part that's made of flesh and blood. Light. That's a problem. It's bright enough he can barely look at it. But… she's not coming at him yet. She was foaming at the mouth earlier, but now she's second guessing? God damn it.

The comment from the peanut gallery earns a narrowing of his eyes, a slight glance over to the side; his hands remain at his sides, but all the fingers on both hands curl inwards for a moment. All except the middle ones, that is. The VIPs have their own ring of goons, though, and even as maddened as he is, he's pretty sure taking a crack at them is not going to work out well. His fingers unclench as his gaze shifts back to the girl, his lips curling back into a grimace. "This is the only way out for either of us," he growls in a low voice… then, raising his voice, he snarls, "Come on!"

His clothes ripple on his frame, the shadows beneath rippling, congealing from a mere absence of light into substance. He extends a hand towards her in warning. As he does, his own shadow rotates, as if someone had moved the lights… then it darkens, thinning, and elongating as it stretches along the ground towards the girl, trying to wrap around her legs and throw her. He wants to get some range; if she can throw fireballs, he's going to have to keep her at a distance in order to provoke it. If she can't… well. He'll have to play a closer game, then, but being out of glowfist range is also great.

Geneva makes no sign of even having heard the woman's jeer from up in the crowd.

But it does not matter. Her own long moment of breathlessness comes crashing to a rude end as Faulkner's living shadow whips into her, sending her lurching to her knees as she violently overbalances. Only her palm, hurled downwards beneath her just in the bare nick of time, saves her from going completely sprawling. One crunch against the unforgiving ground, one small outcry of pain later—

The illumination around her fist, which had briefly guttered out as she had fallen, comes back stronger than ever as she rights herself.

Whatever spell had been cast over her is broken. She is fuming. Something less like a simple snarl and more like the agonized growl of a wild animal escapes from her twisted mouth, and in that instant, she overflows with hatred for Faulkner's mocking face.

A crescent of sun-bright, shimmering heat goes sailing back towards Faulkner's face, lobbed as though Gene were pitching an oversized softball. Long before it physically reaches him, he can feel the harshness of heat stretching fingers towards his skin. How it longs to sear all of the flesh from his bones.

No. How she longs.

The crowd roars its approval as the fight begins, first in the form of tenebrous tentacles of shadow and then in the glaring heat of bright fire.

The Baboon emcee calls out, “This is the finale we’ve been waiting for! What a show, ladies and gents! Let’s hear it for Shadow! Let’s hear it for Fire!”

The crowd is on their feet. It’d be exhilarating if their very lives weren’t on the lines.

Every time either of them look at the members of the goon squad, their fingers are already on the triggers of the weapons they bear. Any use of power against the VIPs or even those in the cheap metal seats will be short lived, if satisfying.

It’s a dizzying display — everywhere the fighters look, except for at one another, is a surreal nightmarescape that fans the fire of the synthetic rage that’s pounding through their veins.

Faulkner's been waiting for this, and the girl delivers. As he sees her wind up to pitch, his lips curl into a smile, a look that is very nearly mad exultation; it's the kind of look you might expect to accompany crazed cackling and shouts of it's ALIVE!!!!

Then she makes her pitch, sending a shell of… something… at him. Something bright, and hot, and fast.

But Faulkner's waiting for it.

He throws himself to the side; he's quick enough to avoid having his brain melted by whatever the girl is packing, but it's close enough that he can feel the blast's heat on the side of his face. His hands slap the ground as he lands, fingers digging into the sand. He looks back to the girl…

…but he doesn't miss the way the guards at the edges of the arena have tightened up their stances, looking like they're ready to bring those guns to bear. Loudmouth would probably be able to roast a few goons with her fireball trick, but it doesn't look like she'd get a second shot. Which… might be acceptable, except that there's a chance he'd get murdered, too. He might be able to get one of the guards by surprise — might even survive long enough to kill two of them — but he'd still end up dying. Fuck.

Okay. Fine. Operation Unfriendly Fire is tabled for the moment. Time for a new plan. One hand curls into a fist, trapping some sand within, and he pushes himself to his feet; all the shadows and darkness he's gathered, feeding it into his own shadow, reshaping it… forming a weapon. A heavy ball of pure darkness, joined to his feet by a thin tether.

Then he lunges forward. He doesn't bother with any hand motions this time — why should he, when he can move shadow with a thought? Instead, he just brings the ball hurtling around from the right…

…as he himself comes in from the left, twisting and bringing his left hand around with its fistful of sand.

If Geneva were any more lucid at this particular juncture in time, she might have actually paused in her tracks to take note of how cool Faulkner's impromptu creation was. A fucking flail, made out of literal darkness?


As it is though, she bays out a laugh that barely sounds anything like one, mangled by fury and fervor and a mental conflagration of ten different kinds of energy— the last of which echoes on unabated even as her subconscious makes a split-second decision for her, causing her to twist away heavily and gracelessly from the dark ball that comes swinging her way.

Scylla vs. Charybdis. The handful of soft, stinging sand catches her full in her left eye. Half a second of expectation may as well have been none at all as she staggers off a little ways to painfully paw as much of the particles from her eyeball as she can in a single swipe, mouth frozen in a frustrated snarl. But it does mean her retaliation is vicious and immediate, taking the form of a leaner, pointed shard of translucent heat that slits through the air in the direction of Faulkner's abdomen out of a palm that had been half-hidden at her side.

“That is some dirty pool!” crows out the Baboon emcee when Faulkner throws sand in Geneva’s eyes. While it’s hard to see facial expressions behind the fixed features of each animal mask, It’s easy to tell which of the crowd’s menagerie is on whose side. They split fairly evenly into triumphant praise on Faulkner’s parts, or cries of outrage for Geneva.

The red gowned White Rabbit at the top leans forward with anticipation, pounding the back of the bench in front of her, but the Stag beside her simply turns his dark eyes, barely visible behind the hooded brow of his mask, on Geneva to watch her response, then back to Faulkner, to see how he evades this one.

Faulkner's lips twist into a savage grin as his opponent slips aside, evading the massive sphere of shadow, causing it to slam into nothing but the sand… but she's maneuvered squarely into the arc of sand coming from his other hand. He doesn't have a great deal of time to congratulate himself, though, because he's not the only one who's had that idea. He sees his opponent's own backhanded attack coming only the instant before she launches it… too late to do anything but try to twist out of the way —

— and that not entirely successfully, either. He avoids getting the sixth degree heartburn that probably would've come from a direct hit, but her shot still draws a line across his left side, melting a hole through the side of his shirt and showing skin beneath, already starting to redden. His grin twists into a grimace, shadow flail immediately dissipating as his right hand claps over the burn… and that, too, starts to sting, the burned material of the shirt giving a secondary sting to his palm. He can already feel it starting to throb, but it feels distant; the adrenaline and… whatever else they'd given him… seems to be keeping it at bay, for now.

He doesn't have time to dwell on it anyway. Not now. She's made her move; time to capitalize, to strike back! Now, while she's open!

So he does.

This time it's not his shadow that he brings to bear, but his foe's; behind her, her own shadow darkens and rises up, its hands melting into tentacles that lash out, trying to wrap around her arms and pull them behind her, to pull her against its suddenly solid surface —

— as Faulkner continues his twisting motion, planting his feet, his own left hand curling into a fist as he winds up and strikes, fist hurtling forward in a heavy punch, driving straight at the girl's solar plexus.

After all… whether you're fighting a fire or a person, taking away their air is generally a solid strategy.

There is a hard exhale from Geneva, one that is part-exertion, but also part-triumph at seeing her opponent's ball of shadows disperse into a million empty particles of air as her lance of heat successfully meets his side.

Something about the contorted expression that materializes on his face keeps her own gaze bound there, as though mesmerized. No: maybe it isn't what’s on his face itself, but more directly, what she had done to elicit such a reaction. The yawning tear in his shirt that had not been there only a moment earlier, jagged threads curling over in smoldering, blackened fibers. The angry rawness of the wound that is forming on the patch of skin visible beneath.

It's a spectacle that she spends too long watching. She suddenly finds both her hands wrenched behind her, eliciting a cry from her that is cut violently short but a few seconds later at the fist that drives into her abdomen. Both of her hands and wrists glow with white-hot halos of heat in anguished reflex, but it does little good— she's bound fast.

Still breathless, in a bid of desperation, Gene attempts to drive herself down to her knees in such a way that one or more of her fists will be able to protrude even a little bit from her twisting back. Just for a moment. A moment is all she needs. From those splayed, wretchedly upended claw-grips, a recklessly wide prism of heat blasts in Faulkner's general direction.

It's unfocused. It'll be a miracle if any of it actually hits him, despite the size of the projectile. The goal is just to get her hands free again, and the rest of herself as well.

Faulkner can feel the light radiating from her arms, feel it through the shadows he commands like an itch, a sting. It's not quite a burning — his opponent has kindly given him recent experience with that particular sensation — but it is most definitely unpleasant. One thing it is not, though, is unexpected — he'd been prepared for his opponent to try something like it, which is one reason he hadn't just gone for her hands.

What he hadn't factored in — what he probably should have — is the secondary effect of her little gambit. The shadows binding her don't loose their grip, but they do grow a bit more elastic. Enough that her desperate dive is able to get her the angle she's seeking, enough to send her wild shot in something approaching the right direction.

"Fffshit," Faulkner hisses… but if there's one thing freerunning is excellent preparation for, it's reacting to obstacles. He turns his forward lunge into a twist to the side, evading his opponent's alarmingly large blast — it's still close enough that he can feel the residual heat of the passage, but thankfully it's not close enough to melt his skin off or set him on fire. "Fucking," he snarls, a furious effort of will causing the shadows to shift their grip to her upper arms and constrict violently… as he unleashes a kick, again aiming at the girl's solar plexus. "Play dead or something! I don't want to hurt you!" he hisses, hopefully low enough that the goons won't pick up on it. Admittedly it's probably only about half true at the moment given that he's hopped up on murderjuice, but oh well.

"Hnngrkkk—" With no real way for Geneva to defend herself from it at all, Faulkner's second kick lands cruelly and squarely on its target; she would have been bent in half at the impact point and sent stumbling backwards, if those shadows weren't keeping her tightly trapped on the spot. The wildness in Gene's eyes is beginning to diminish as pain rises into her vision, clouding it out.

Just before his shadows oscillate further up her arms and constrict her up into an even tighter, more hopeless bind than before, she manages to gather her wits together enough to focus all of her willpower into one last blast gathered from between all of her clawed fingers.

Unlike the haphazardness of the last blast, this one is tightly and strongly directed— an almost laser-like beam of glimmering and dangerously heated air, cutting towards the dust at his feet and slanting swiftly upwards from there.


As Lucille veers off to level C, stenciled paint on the walls tell her exactly where she doesn’t want to go: Galley, Dining, Sleeping areas are all skipped as she heads toward the center of the ship. She can remember that feeling of the floor dropping out from beneath her, until that cage ended up on the arena floor below. She remembers too well the Cat-masked woman and her needle.

Eventually one of the stenciled labels alerts her: Staging Area isn’t an ordinary room on an ordinary cargo ship. The fact the owners of this particular ship brazenly painted that on the wall speaks to their arrogance. They aren’t expecting SESA, Wolfhound, or SCOUT — which will hopefully work to this small team’s advantage.

The door is unlocked. Inside, the roar of the crowd is deafening, coming through the hole in the center of the floor. Peering down, she has an bird’s eye view of the fight below. The chains that connect the floor panel give her a short cut to the Arena, albeit a dangerous one.

It’s that same arrogance and lack of defense that Veronica Sawyer is banking on, despite the numbers reported by Elisabeth. Hundreds of spectators versus trained (sort of) agents, many of them boasting SLC-E abilities that have seen much, much worse.

As the rest of those task-force members get to Level D, the outskirts of the ship are empty, but the closer they get to the center, the noise of a crowd can be heard. The stencilled signage points the way to the Arena from either end of approach. At each end, an open arch brings the teams into the arena — there’s nowhere to hide, but the backs of guards ringing the perimeter hide them a bit from the eyes of spectators on the other side. A quick head count reveals several clusters of guards, ten total.

They’re outnumbered.

Especially when taking into account the three hundred or four hundred spectators in evening gowns and tuxedos, all wearing animal masks. Some smoke cigars, others hold champagne flutes (some with straws, to tuck neatly within the mouthholes of the masks). None of them look like they’re prepared for a fight.

Eyes flash gold as Lucille takes on the sight before her and she feels anger. Gripping the edge before she reaches for the chain with murder in her eyes.


Adrenaline burns through her system. Her senses become alive as she drives forward with catlike reflexes.

She searches for the woman with the Face like a Cat. She doesn't wait though, she won't get away. Lucille tells herself that as she slides down the chain and then she's out in open air. Arms spread wide as she dives, curling in on herself as she nears the ground facing her feet downwards. The withering shadows and blasts of heat bring the woman back to the Crucible, to the War. These two didn't have a choice though.

She slams onto the ground in a crouch, head lifting upwards to give a defiant stare to the crowd. That's right motherfuckers, I'm back.

She almost calls for them, the two combatants but already knowing that they might just turn on her Lucille instead wastes no time charging towards the spectators and hopefully that bitch.

Keeping close with her team, Elisabeth has her weapon's barrel pointed at the floor as she gives Cesar the point position. As they pause at the doorway, the sense of sound waves coming from the arena has continued to batter at her, alarming the audiokinetic. She's pretty sure her head count is nowhere near right, the closer they get. And that sense is proven right as they get within eyeshot of the crowd pressed into the lower deck. She stops, then looks at Emily. Her tone is urgent.

"Count to two. You don't have to shout or anything else — by the number two, I'll have a feel for your voice and from there, I'll lace it with subsonics when I amplify it." A wry grin quirks one side of her mouth, though there's no humor to it.. "Crowd control is one of the things that makes what I do pretty cool. You talk, I'll lace it, and hopefully most of them will act like sheep and just huddle together. Keep your instructions direct and to the point — they're more likely to follow them."

The moment they reach the arena deck, Emily's stomach sinks. She sees the spectators first and are floored by them, by the sheer number as much as by the juxtaposition of their masquerade finery against their cheering for blood. She moves on past them quickly, looking for the guns, finding on the arena floor— but she never gets to counting them all because her eyes have gone wide seeing who else occupies the arena.

"Geneva!!" For all the urgency of her exclamation, she's just another voice in the crowd.

That's her best friend down there. These fuckers kidnapped—

Liz's voice pulls her back, reminds her of what they needed to do. Her eyes are still wide as she turns to the audiokinetic, but she nods and works on steeling herself. She lets out a short exhale, eyes closing and chin tucking as she murmurs to herself, "One, two…" Then she lifts her head and her posture, speaking from deep within even with her eyes closed. She lets the command of it flow, gripping the gun in her hand tightly.

"~Attention— this is SESA. Everyone remain seated where you are. You are surrounded by law enforcement. This ship is surrounded by Coast Guard.~"

As Lucille drops into the arena, they become a little more than just surrounded.

"~Stay peacefully where you are or you will be met with force. These fights are over.~"

Only then does Emily open her eyes, murder in them. What she'd like to say, what she'd like to do to these people doesn't match the professional tone she'd just used in the slightest. She raises her tranquilizer gun and looks out over the arena, jaw set as she waits expectantly for her order not to be followed in some way, to have an excuse to do what she'd like to.

"Ryans, stay with the team! Damnit." Cesar's protest whittles to a mutter once it's clear the lady-hound has slipped off to attack from a different angle. "No es mi circo…" Shaking his head, he looks to the remaining pair, pulling forward as he's assigned to point. Which is nothing compared to the circus that's presented once they open the doors to their side of the arena.

He doesn't recognize the fighters. But he does recognize the immediate threat of the armed guards standing with their backs to them. While Liz and Emily make their announcements, Cesar accosts the pair of guards, pistol raised. "Drop your weapons and hands against the wall, now."

The roar of the crowd drowns out everything, and Devon turns back to signal Lance to drop the silence field. It’s not useless but the younger man’s strength will be needed more for what’s beyond the doors. He eases through first, eyes tracing out the mass of crowd — spectators and guards alike — then lift to seek out the team coming through the opposite side. Alerted by Cesar’s yelling, he looks up to see…


His voice is a mutter, irritated with the other hound’s choices. «Try to keep her alive,» he calls over the comms. But don’t jump into the hornet swarm if you don’t need to.

While orders are cast about to drop weapons, Devon turns to the group of guards nearest his team. “Neutralize, don’t kill if you don’t have to.” The strategy is simple enough and he makes good on his own words by leveling his Banshee on the cluster and firing. “Fan out, but don’t let them split our team.”

If Faulkner's attention hadn't already been focused low, he might have missed the heat laser, with potential consequences ranging from unpleasant to crippling. As it is, though, he sees it carving its way towards him, melting to a thin line of glass in the sand as it comes at him.

Comes at him fast.

Isaac tenses and leaps to the side.

He's not fast enough.

He evades the worst of it, but even a near miss is too close; he lands in a roll but he can already feel the flames clawing at his leg, can see his right pantsleg on fire.

He doesn't waste his breath swearing; instead he drops to one knee, scooping up handfuls of sand and beating at the offending pantsleg until the fire is out…

…and the one thing he does not do, while in the midst of this, is let Little Miss Firestarter slip out of his grip. No, if she's hoping he's going to let that happen, she's shit out of luck. He rises slowly to his feet, the pain of his burns and the murderjuice coursing his veins and the sheer fucking frustration he's feeling all coming together to make him legitimately consider murdering her dead

— which, happily, is the exact moment that someone shows up and starts shouting about putting a stop to the fight.

Faulkner's eyes flicker to first one side, then the other, feeling the rage seethe in him as he tries to weigh the factors and the circumstances, as he tries to gauge potential outcomes.

None of them seem particularly golden; kind of an 'out of the frying pan, onto the serving platter' feel to a lot of them.

Alright then. When circumstances are unfavorable, the best course is to bide until that changes. He flashes his opponent a smirk, swallowing his bile to do it. "Looks like it's over," he says, taking a step back… and as he does, the shadow holding Little Miss Firestarter seems to dissipate, freeing her. "Call it a draw?"

Faulkner takes another step back, eyes flickering to the guards and the guests, waiting to see how they're going to react to all of this. He hopes some of them try to run; maybe it's playing into what they think of him, and maybe he should try to be better, but right now the idea of seeing some of these hypocritical assholes get brutalized makes him very happy indeed.

He hopes his opponent in all of this feels the same way, hopes that she's able to get a grip on herself… but it's always been his experience that hoping for the best should be paired with preparation for the worst. That's why he keeps his eye on her, why he never quite turns his back, and why he still has his awareness threaded through her shadow; if she doesn't live up to his hopes, the instant she tries something on him he's going to grab her by the ankles and see how far he can throw her.

If she does live up to his hopes…

…maybe he'll be able to help take down some of these masked assholes. Happy thought, that one.

Agent Bishop follows the rest of the team down into the main deck D, where all of the activity is going on. The massive number of people is going to make this whole situation very hairy indeed. He moves laterally, following the lead of the SESA agent in charge, prepared to follow orders as necessary to contain the group as much as possible.

For Geneva, Faulkner's hopes for her are the last possible thing on her mind, whatever they may be. Even the tantalizing sight of him beating out the bright, dangerously lithe little tongues of flame eating at the fabric of his leg does not hold her for long this time; it's a sight she forcibly relegates to the side of her vision at the new distraction swarming its way into the peripheries of the arena.

And what a distraction it is. Inside the iron rhythm of hot, drug-induced heaviness still lancing through the darkness of her skull, she is in no state to comprehend most of the things that are being shouted, nor even half of what she is seeing; it's as though all of it is coming at her only after being hopelessly filtered underwater.

The confounding commotion of the newcomers—



It's a strange twist of fortune indeed that makes Geneva seemingly forget all about Faulkner so immediately after he lets her go: for better or for worse. Panting from everything that had just happened, and without pushing aside the obscuring curtain of now-ridiculously bedraggled hair that had fallen down over half her face again, she shoves a heel into the ground behind her and allows a long, obliterating distortion of heat to ripple outwards from her curved hands—

—right over the top of Faulkner's shoulder, straight into the nucleus of the nearest cluster of guards.

The reflection in her eyes, an overlay of a vivid new kind of doggedness over the rawness of the old desperation, betrays her full knowledge of what it is she's doing.

“I feel like we should have entry music,” Lance quips under his breath as he walks down the corridor behind Shane and Devon, keeping the barrel of his tranquilizer gun low and his head up to watch for any immediate threats.

As they start to come up on the arena, the amplified echoes of Emily’s voice have him grinning to himself; the silence field drops at Devon’s direction, the nonlethal weapon coming up—

— just in time to see past the pair of guards and into the arena. The young agent’s smile vanishes from his lips in an instead, eyes widening in shock and anger as he recognizes one of the fighters that’ve been kidnapped for this bout. “GENEVA!

Trained instincts kick in. A tranq dart is fired at one of the guards caught in Devon’s blast in an almost offhanded shot, fired from the hip as he breaks into a sprint to get past them and into the main arena.

Most of the crowd roars its approval as Lucille comes swinging into the arena, thinking it’s part of the show. After all, it’s a big finale! But the top row of VIPs is up on their feet and the guards as the guards closest to Lucille take aim —

Just as Emily’s voice fills the arena, instilled with an ethos that doesn’t match the nervousness of the young woman as she closes her eyes and speaks, thanks to both her own talents and Elisabeth’s enriching subsonics. Some of the guards pause, looking for the owner of the voice, unable to see the team coming up behind the guards in the entryway.

One still shoots, machine gun stacattoing at the Wolfhound. Lucille is boosted and the icy adrenaline helps to mute the pain when after a few quick hits to her armor, one breaks through, tearing through her sleeve. She can feel the heat and smell the copper and salt of blood, but it’s a mere distraction for now.

Less so for the spectator in a cuckoo mask that suddenly slumps over into the lap of the unicorn-masked man beside her.

At the same time, Geneva’s blast of heat toward through the same guards and his two partners. The first takes the bulk of the blast and it throws him backward, screaming in agony at the blistering heat that scorches his face. All three guards’ armor keeps them from catching flames, flame retardant as they are. If only they were wearing helmets.

Number two, despite the heat of the blast, turns his focus toward the taskforce team, clearly captivated by the directions to stand down; Number three is less compliant, turning to Geneva to shoot — his rifle emits not bullets but a negation dart that hurtles through the air toward the firestarter.

The trio of Liz, Cesar and Emily coming up behind the pair of guards find little fight; the guards drop their weapons, doing exactly as asked. On the other end, Devon’s Banshee sends the guards writhing to the ground, with Lance’s hit adding insult to injury, leaving Shane to swoop in and handcuff the pair.

Guards four, five, and six are also having a mixed reaction to the directions to stand down. Four shoots at Lance when the young man comes running into the arena, firing another negation dart whooshing through the air, where it makes contact with armor. Five takes aim at Devon, automatic weapon spitting a few rounds but not quite connecting — he at least shoots toward the exit and doesn’t hit a spectator instead.

The spectators are not made for this and begin to scream, some of them staying in their seats as directed though covering their heads. The further away from Emily and Liz, the less impacted they seem, but by and large, they seem to know it’s safer to let this battle play out.

The baboon makes a break for it, trying to run past Faulkner to get to the exit.

The top VIP section seems unaffected, higher than the rest of the seats and farther away. Unfortunately, this means they’re trapped as well. There’s no easy way out.

The Ryans woman doesn't hear any of them. Just the noise of the ensuing chaos around them. Lucille's eyes focus on the guard with the machine gun aiming at her.

When the bullet slices into her arm she flinches and hisses but the boost she's granted herself makes storming through the pain possible but it informs her next choice. Her heart pounds as she snags the line inside of herself that leads to a certain aspect of her ability.


Her ability unfurls in her immediate vicinity as it seeks pain receptors to flood. With powered limbs she launches herself upwards to the railing of the VIP section, bringing the literal pain with her. Gold eyes wild with anger, she tells herself this is for the others. The two down in the ring now but she knows it's just for revenge.

Devon’s attention pulls up from the guards at Lance’s yell. His eyes then angle ahead of the younger man, to the arena. To the competitors where he sees Geneva.


It lacks eloquence, and it's a rare thing for the younger of the Hounds to drop choice words. That discovery, not even the being shot at, marks an occasion to say what he's really thinking. The Banshee is pulled from his shoulders and given to Bishop. “Keep us covered,” is all the instruction the agent is given

He turns, barely two seconds spent on the handoff and shift in strategy, and starts after Lance. A half dozen steps in, Devon drops a hand to his sidearm and rocks it free. Long and purpose-driven strides still carry him toward the arena floor, but he makes the time to line up a shot without losing pace, and several successive rounds are squeezed off at guards 5 and 4.

Emily's almost surprised to find her command being followed as they come up on the guards, her anger still simmering. It's a quick thing to produce her sole pair of handcuffs and approach the one nearest to her, binding his hands behind him since he's surrendered.

But then she hears gunfire.

Her anger breaks, alarm taking place as she whirls around to see what happens. Lucille stands— but she sees the spectator behind her slump over. "«They've got live rounds.»" she announces mechanically into the comms, more for the benefit of those who aren't on the floor with them. Her heart starts racing.

So naturally, she panics when she sees one of the guards lift his rifle to fire on Geneva. The need to act takes hold of her from her gut, her words coming from her in a forceful shout. "Drop your weapon!" is her message, but he's already shooting. From her vantage, with her experience, she has no way to differentiate immediately that he's not firing bullets at her friend.

All she can do is respond to gunfire with gunfire, even if what she's carrying with her is nonlethal. Her adrenaline gives her a frightening clarity as she lifts her tranquilizer gun, lining up the shot on the guard who fired at Geneva.

Cesar kicks away the dropped weapons and moves quickly to put the other guard of the pair in restraints. Reflex has him duck and lean from the heat of Geneva's flaming attack, but it draws his attention to the arena and the top section where the VIPs make their retreat. Emily's announcement confirms.

"«Move in,»" the agent calls through comms. "«Secure the guards first, then the combatants.»" He moves to follow after Emily when she heads further into the arena to engage the remaining guards on the far side. Seeing Lucille charge the VIP section, he swears. "Fuck. Harrison!" He motions to draw Liz's attention to the lone Hound.

Well, shiiiiiiiiiit. Elisabeth's eyes flicker to where Lucille Ryans just launched herself upward. There are days when she thinks about the old Horizon armor. It'd be fucking useful just about now. Pivoting on the ball of her foot, the audiokinetic heads up the back of the crowd toward the steps that will carry her up to the balcony level. The tranq rifle in her hands is nonlethal, but dammit, she doesn't want to have to tranq one of her own! Instead of trying the comms, Liz pulls on an older memory. "~Lu, heads up!~" Enhanced to carry directly toward the Hound, the last time she used those words, she'd been showing off that Horizon armor — maybe, just maybe, the simple words will bring the young woman's attention back to her. And maybe, just maybe, she'll pull back her power enough to not put Elisabeth on her ass in agony.

Faulkner jukes to the side the moment Little Miss Firestarter hurls her fireball; he glances at her out of the corner of his eye, her shadow trembling the tiniest bit as the fury he's feeling and the pain from his burns seethe within him, whispering in his ear to do it do it do it now do it fast finish it

But he restrains himself, hesitates for just a moment, and that is long enough to see that she's not attacking again, hadn't been attacking him in the first place. In that moment, he loathes her, loathes her so much it almost feels like a physical thing, constricting around his chest hard enough that he can barely breathe for the force of it. Nevermind the guards, nevermind the spectators or the cops or the possibly-also-a-cop who'd jumped into the ring and is now leaping off into the middle of the VIP section like Wolverine — at this specific moment he absolutely despises Little Miss Firestarter so badly that it very nearly causes him physical pain.

Faulkner knows, of course, that that's just the murderjuice talking… but it is screaming into his brain, and it is loud. It's strange, really; even when they were fighting he hadn't hated her as much as he does now. Maybe it's because murdering her would've been an option then. Maybe it's because he had had options then, bad and limited as they may have been. But now the goddamn cops had to go and show up, and so he has to behave and he has to be a good boy and control himself again and he hates it. Resents it.

Faulkner is aware, intellectually, that this line of thought is significantly off base for him, and that he is not okay right now. He is also distantly, if grudgingly, aware that the loathing he feels isn't entirely Little Miss Firestarter's fault. Isn't even entirely directed at her, for that matter. He's just… finding it very hard to care, right now.

So he shifts his attention elsewhere. He doesn't take his eyes entirely off of Little Miss Firestarter, but… there are other things to focus on. Not things that don't fill him with rage and loathing — there aren't any things like that here and now — but there are things that aren't as… immediate. The guards groaning and writhing over to the side, for example. Or the berserker-cop in the VIP section. Or, best of all, the guard who'd just received complimentary cosmetic surgery from a fireball. He is quite obviously down for the count, due to apparently having had his face melted off; Faulkner finds that at least mildly pleasing. Sadly, one of his partners looks like he has some fight left in him, bringing up his gun and snapping off a shot at Miss Firestarter; maybe she'll get killed after all. Wouldn't that be nice. Would that be nice? Reply hazy, ask again later; there are gunshots going off from multiple directions at the moment, which is probably a problem, but it is also yet another thing he can't do shit about at the moment. Just like everything else here.

Faulkner's breath hitches in his chest; it takes him a moment to realize what it is. He's giggling. His eyes bug out a bit as he tries to stop it, fails, tries again and fails again; the quiet sound is something even he finds disturbing, but it won't stop

— at least until he sees the baboon-masked MC trying to run for it.

There is a problem he can do something about.

The giggling ends, cutting off as sharply as if a switch had been flipped, and abruptly Faulkner is okay. Well. No. He is not okay — he is not even close to okay at the moment — but maybe he's functional again. His manic expression shifts, smoothing to something almost placid as he snags the shadows beneath the MC's feet. They darken for a moment… and when the MC's feet hit the ground, instead of falling on sand they fall on something else — something pitch black and slick. Something that affords zero purchase; less than zero, actually, because even the slickest natural ice wouldn't actively seek to throw his feet out from under him.

It’s around the time that Lance feels that dart tink off the upper arm protection he’s wearing that he realizes hey maybe this was a bad idea. Which it was, of course, but that’s Geneva out there. At this point, stopping motion would just make him an easier target. So he ducks his head down and continues.

“Geneva, this way,” he calls out, sweeping an arm behind him towards the now-secured entrance to the arena, motioning as well to— is that a man with a baboon mask? It’s enough to give him pause for a half-second before his gun comes up, the next tranquilizer round chambered and snapped off towards the unfortunate MC that’s already about to step somewhere with less-than-adequate friction underfoot.

“You too, buddy,” he calls over to the other arena fighter. Who hopefully won’t go all ARENA MURDER on him.

Unlike Faulkner, the inferno of artificial emotions setting Geneva's blood ablaze isn't quite so neatly directed at any singular focus. Not Faulkner himself. Not even the gaggle of guards she'd targeted, the majority of whom are pawing at their now-melting faces.

Rather, it is as though her vision is wrapped in a single swathe of fabric cut wholesale from pain. She has to fight down a flash of sudden, ravenous hunger that compels her to round on Faulkner and throw her next wall of heat directly into him, being the closest to her still.

But the zip of the negation dart past her that just barely avoids grazing her earlobe jolts her attention back to where it matters. Her deeply reddened eyes whip back up, finding the muddle of new arrivals again after a swift moment of searching. Some of those faces are beginning to look strangely familiar to her, like the lines of figures emerging from the fogbank of a dream; too blurred, yet somehow also too painfully sharp.

"Lance?" It's a confused-sounding slur of a syllable that rolls out of her mouth like a heavy stone.

The understanding stops there. Either Geneva does not hear the instruction to head towards the entryway of the arena, or she hears it and blatantly ignores it. Rooted to the same spot, the raggedness of a howl-like noise piling in her throat, she unleashes a tendril of brilliant, white-hot heat lashing towards the baboon-masked MC’s face as he crashes to the ground, the timing coinciding precisely with Lance's tranquilizer round.

Devon’s shot connects with the fifth guard, but the fourth manages to throw himself over the barricade ringing the arena, where he shoots wildly at the group coming from the east side of the arena — bullets this time. Most of it bounces harmlessly off of the Horizon-armored trio, but Faulkner finds himself winged by one that tears across his outer thigh, ribbing fabric and sending a white-hot flare of pain.

That spike of pain strangely gives him some clarity, some focus he might not have had a moment ago, as the rage induced by the cocktail seems to be waning, for both Faulkner and Geneva — at least the rage at one another. Their situation and captors still give them plenty to be angry about.

The Rafiki in coattails never stood a chance against the triple tag team of Faulkner, Lance, and Geneva. The man stumbles, taking one-two-three stagger steps before Lance pings him. As he flails to find the dart in his neck, the tendril catches his mask on fire. Made of paper-mache, it ignites immediately, as he falls to his knees. He manages to pull the mask away but covers his face and falls to the ground in writhing pain. Thanks to Lance’s dart, he’ll be sedated soon enough, scorched and in need of the burn unit’s help.

Hopefully he’s a rich asshole like the rest of these folks and can afford good plastic surgery.
Lucille’s quest for the top seats is a challenging one, full of obstacles in the guise of masked spectators, some stubbornly sticking to their spots no matter what happens to them. She has several rows of people to climb over. The areal effect of her ability makes this even more of a challenge as people writhe as if to get away from whatever’s causing the onslaught of pain — making her pathway to the top a mass of squirming bodies. Two rows up, she finds herself face to face with a certain familiar cat mask, the eyes behind evoking in her that sense of deja vu. This is the woman she vowed to kill, the one who so cruelly mocked her in her fight so many months ago.

Emily’s second attempt to get the third guard to drop his weapon is followed up with her own shot, but her shot goes wide and hits the already subdued guard beside him. Still, Cesar’s approach, along with that of Veronica and a couple other armed SESA agents apparently pulled from the Coast Guard vessel, make him drop his gun anyway. He drops to his knees as his partner slumps to the ground beside him.

At the top of the VIP section, the White Rabbit and the Black Stag look frantically for a way out, along with their other VIP guests. As they see Liz storming up from the west, they scurry eastward. But the only way out is down… into the blood and sand.

Emily just barely refrains from firing more shots when she misses, trying to be cognizant of the others who are entering the arena on that side. There's no time to feel relief or a sense of victory as those on the north side of the arena are all brought to order, because the guard who's jumped the barrier on the south side is firing indiscriminately on those to the east…

Devon. Lance.

She rocks from heel to toe for a moment in indecision, uncertain if she'll get a clean shot from this distance, but unwilling to get much closer and potentially be in the line of fire herself. Her gaze flits for a moment to Devon, and seeing his gun drawn decides maybe it's better she try and fail than he try and fail. She takes longer to line up her shot on him, silently grateful he's currently shooting in the other direction. She draws in a breath to still her sway any further before firing. Go down. Emily wills him, hoping for the best. She’s not got many shots left.

Cesar ducks for whatever cover there is out of reflex as gunfire from the other side of the ringed arena erupts again. At least it's not aimed in his direction, and he uses that opportunity to secure the guards on his side. He then turns just in time to see the fiery and assumed demise of the Baboon, and that spikes an alarm in the agent.

And that's enough for Cesar. Entrusting the captured arena guards to Veronica and the other agents, he heads for the next part: secure the combatants. The SESA agent unhooks a field-injection dose of Zodytrin and charges towards more immediately dangerously powered of the pair - Geneva. Cesar leap-tackles for the heat generator, hoping to using surprise and his bigger size in knocking her down long enough to administer the negation drug.

The seconds that it takes the guard to throw himself over the barricade is used to its fullest. The spent mag is dropped in exchange for a fresh one, as measured steps still carry Devon toward his target. The sounds of gunfire ring out around him, noticed on the edges of his senses; the smell of sulfur and sweat and blood mingling with the screams of bystanders blanket and buffer the danger he walks toward.

Eyes shift to the side for a fraction of a second. He sees the trio led by Lance taking down the baboon masked fellow. He blinks. Eyes open again to see Emily taking aim on one of the remaining guards. Teo has taught her well. He blinks again.

Iron sights line up on the last known location of the guard he's targeted. Devon holds steady in his approach, unwilling to become too narrow with his vision in case the guard has moved. He waits until he's got a shot — it may not be perfectly clear, but he's taking it — and squeezes the trigger in successive groupings of three.

Lucille's body lands hard in a crouch in the row with the cat faced woman, slowly she stands with golden eyes lifting to lock onto hers through the mask. She doesn't banter or swear at the woman but she does raise an eyebrow. Not exactly what you were expecting, huh?

Preparing to charge forward with adrenaline boosted movements, the sound of Liz's voice booms upwards and in her direction. Lucille's eyes narrow and she instead leaps forward towards the cat faced woman, gathering with her all the agony she had been spreading out. Fashioning into a fine point in her mind it stabs straight for the other woman, blossoming to envelope her body within Lucille's control.

A hand is raised to grab the cat's neck as they collide. That woman might be wearing a feline mask but Lucille felt like an actual big cat in this moment, a jaguar prepared to rip the jugular out from her enemy.

We are not so different…

That voice echoes in the back of her mind, that unfamiliar voice she had heard over the radio months ago.

You and I…

Then Lucille does growl.

“Whoa there, Gene…” The baboon-masked man goes down, and Lance steps over beside him on the sandy floor of the arena, both hands lifting a bit in supplication - tranq pistol pointing away from everyone, “…easy, easy. Come on, focus, you— “

Then Cesar comes out of nowhere with a side-tackle that would make Mister McMahon proud. He winces.

“— fuck,” he finishes, hoping his superior officer can get her down where gentler words were interrupted before he, too, gets his face melted and becomes the next Harvey Dent. A twist of his hand flips the pistol into a more ready position, and he swings it towards Faulkner before firing a sleepy-time dart his way in a quick shot.

Reaching the top level, still a distance from Lucille, Elisabeth has the tranq gun prepped but she doesn't fire. Her voice is calm in Lu's ears. "Ryans, do you need an extra set of zip cuffs?" She moves slowly, approaching the younger woman carefully. She has no idea what Lucille could do to her, but she's counting on getting through to her. Don't fucking make me shoot you, Lu. The grim thought isn't spoken but reflected in Liz's steady blue gaze is a stern warning. "You've subdued the perp adequately, bind her up." She holds position while she watches Lucille's reactions. "You did good, Ryans. Your dad'll be proud as hell."

It's been a while since she had to talk down one of her own. On some level, she almost wants to let Lucille take her revenge — but it's not the right thing.

"Ngh," Faulkner grunts, the impact of the bullet staggering him. It's more a noise of surprise than pain, though the pain slams into him a split second later. Despite the shock of it — or perhaps because of the shock of it — the impact brings with it a semblance of clarity…

…just in time to see one of the police — or whoever they are — come flying over the railing and tackle his opponent to the ground, wrestling with Little Miss Firestarter and another fucking syringe.

On another occasion, Faulkner might marvel at how drastically his feelings have changed. Not a minute ago he'd been idly hoping that the girl would go and get herself murdered entertainingly… but now? The sight of seeing her pinned down and menaced by the armored goons he'd thought had been there to save them elicits in him a violent rage, a sense of betrayal.

"Get off her," he snarls, voice low and angry; Little Miss Firestarter's shadow starts to darken and twist —

— and it's in that moment that he feels a sharp sting in the side of his neck.

One hand flies to his neck, and abruptly he remembers the guy standing next to him; he turns his head, sees him standing there with that fucking gun pointed at him, and he realizes that he's been shot. Or tranquilized.

He'd do something about that, except…

… except…

Suddenly he's… feeling heavy. Sluggish. The strength is draining out of him. Internally he shrieks in helpless rage, but he can't… quite… find the energy to get it out.

The Cat-masked woman had told him that whatever was in that injection they'd given him would make him forget at the end; maybe it was always designed to end in a crash, and the tranquilizer is just bringing it on early. Faulkner doesn't know… but there's one thing he can't afford to forget.


"Heh," he laughs — a bitter little chuckle, accompanied by a cynical sneer in the moment before his knees give out, dropping him to the sand. What a fool he'd been to hope. There's still a battle going on, and the assholes who'd thrown him into this miserable little bloodsport are still up there… but as much as he wants to get up and do something, the lassitude coming over him is just… too… heavy. His eyes slip out of focus and he falls forward, face-first onto the sand; his eyelids are already starting to droop, and there's nothing he can do to hold them open. The only thing he can try to do is hang onto one thought. One fragment of a memory for when next he wakes.


It's the last thing Isaac Faulkner thinks before his thoughts come unraveled and darkness takes him.

It's with a hwhoomph of fused shock and rage that Geneva goes down beneath Cesar's much larger, armored bulk, the eye-watering glare around her hands winking out like candlelight smothered by a dark tarp.

Betrayal? Friend, enemy—

she does not understand anything anymore, if ever she had understood a single thing today to begin with.

From the ground, successfully flattened supine with only her head and shoulders painfully raised, Gene nevertheless wastes little time in scrabbling like a wounded animal. One of her balled-up fists punches upwards towards Cesar's sternum as it angles heavily above her— though 'punch' is probably too generous a word for such a sharply truncated motion, trapped underneath the SESA agent's weight in the way that she is. Momentum and physical space aren't her intent, however, so much as an offering of simple, straightforward burning as her newly rekindled hand presses up.

One last rage against the dying of the light.

This second betrayal of a needle inside her today would not be made without a trade.

Already, the acrid, oddly acidic odor of some metallic substance cooking inside the lining of Cesar's armor is rising to fill the air around them— just as a familiar little sharpness of pain is rising in the deepness of her own neck.

Emily’s shot is a good one, finding the final guard and making him stagger, one hand clapping to his neck as he feels for the dart. His stutter steps change his trajectory a little, so that Devon’s bullets miss, one, two, just wide, but the third strikes him in the shoulder to send him spinning and to his knees.

“«Send down the paramedic unit.»” Veronica says into the radio, as she surveys the damage done to friend and foe alike in the arena, moving in the direction of the victims in the arena. Kneeling beside Faulkner first, she moves to put him into the recovery position, taking his pulse to be sure he’s just been sent for a nap by Lance.

With all of the guards down, the only threat left are the audience members. The few leaving their seats, untouched by Emily’s persuasive direction, leave with their hands up as the backup agents begin crowd control. Up in the stands, the Cat in Lucille’s claws screams as the agony floods her body, even as everyone else in the area gets a reprieve. Behind the mask, her eyes stream tears. She looks to Liz as her potential savior, stammering, “Please, please make it stop.”

Cesar’s got his own dose of pain to deal with as that punch from Geneva heats up the ferromagnetic fluid of the chest plate of his Aegis armor, instantly scalding hot and burning that first that fist-sized area on his sternum, but beginning to spread if he doesn’t move fast to remove it.

Veronica moves closer to aim the Banshee at Geneva, unaware of Cesar’s predicament, despite the acrid scent. Still, she doesn’t have a clear shot without taking out Cesar too. “It’s okay. We’re trying to help. Stand down. We know it’s not your fault,” she says, voice calm. “We’re here to get you out of here, okay?”

One of the other agents speaks into a megaphone: “You are all under arrest. Do not try to resist arrest or things will go worse for you.” After she reads the litany of Miranda Rights, she adds, “Remove your masks.”

As the masks are removed, surrealism becomes an even more disturbing reality. There are some familiar faces among the crowd. Most disturbing is one in the top row: Louise “Ouisie” Noble, a tobacco plantation owner and a Republican presidential candidate. She holds the white rabbit mask in trembling hands. More stoic, but with angry dark eyes, the man beside her takes off his black stag mask. Few would know, but some might recognize him as the owner of a European pharmaceutical company that soared after the fall of America during the Civil War. Others among them are familiar faces of the rich and hateful of America and Europe.

Cesar expected resistance and even the scrabbling beneath him. "Calmate, coño carajo," the agent swears, grunting with the punch to his chest and effort of trying to secure the spitfire underneath him. Until, that is, she's almost actually spit fire - from her fist. At first he's too occupied to notice. It doesn't take much longer as the heat, then the pain, spreads across his skin and deeper.

"Sunnova FUCK!" Cesar yells, quickly abandoning the plan to pin Geneva, and rolling off as if he'd been actually set aflame. His helmet's tossed off, followed shortly by the superheated torso covering being yanked over his head and flung down, revealing bared upper body that he slaps at to smack away bits of exposed, leaked ferrofluid. A move he further regrets, as beads of sweat gather on his brow from the throbbing sharp pain.

Someone else will have to cuff the heat-generator as he works on simply breathing through it. But, it doesn't stop him from staring up at the spectators as they reveal their identities, his surprise and shock (and outrage) barely contained.

There’s still a tranq gun in Lance’s hand, and he’s got a pair of cuffs even— but he doesn’t move to use either on the girl on the sand, certainly not as swiftly as he made the decision for her opponent. (Sorry, Faulkner!)

Instead, he holsters the gun and jogs over to her side - dropping down to his knees in a slide that kicks up some sand. “Gene,” he calls insistently, a worried look flicked after Cesar before looking back to the Lighthouse girl, one hand reaching to her shoulder, “Geneva, it’s me, Lance. Gene, just relax, okay? Just go limp, it’s gonna be okay, we’re here. Just relax, the danger’s gone.” Instinct kicking in, hands flickering in hand-sign, Relax, calm, it’s okay.

To help her focus, perhaps, his power bubbles outwards to cut off the sound of gunshots and the roar of confusion, rage, and fear of the crowd, giving her some merciful science with just the two of them within it.

Emily shoots, and down goes the guard. She winces when he takes the shot to his shoulder, but the shots that went wide didn't appear to hit anyone in the crowd, so… there's that relief. She looks across the arena to Devon, her gun lowering, expression inscrutable save for that she tries to find his.

Until Cesar starts swearing and tearing his gear off as he peels away from Geneva. His pain's source is an easily-hazarded guess, and Emily finds herself quickly flitting in his direction. She knows the kind of heat Geneva can put out. Shit, she breathes, looking at the leaked fluid that Cesar tries to sluice the liquid off of him. She winces in sympathy as he's successful, but at cost. "You going to be all right? Any more on you?" Emily asks, hoping to help minimize any injury he's at risk of still taking.

When his attention goes to the crowd, hers follows shortly after. Emily wouldn't even pay any mind to the unmasked faces except— she think she recognizes one. She blinks, suddenly feeling this is a bit more surreal than even before. She starts to turn back to Cesar, but a second recognizable face is seen out of the corner of her eye, and a chill runs down her spine.

These were powerful, influential people. Even arrested here, who knew what they were capable of. A deep discomfort settles into her bones. "Cesar, let's find you some first aid," Emily suggests uneasily.

Time is moving slow for Lucille, not slow enough that Liz's voice isn't heard clearly and with her ability to boot. The younger woman bristles but her head turns a fraction towards Liz as she continues to bore gold eyes into the cat woman's. Her mind flips fast through a rolodex of actions. She settles on one before she gives it too much thought.

"You're lucky," With a faux cheery tone before leaning in, "If I were you," Snap Lucille's hands move to break one of the woman's hands. "I wouldn't want to ever get out,"


The tall woman moves forward and kicks the woman to the ground at Liz's feet. "She's all yours." Her expression is troubled and her eyes don't flare back to their normal gray blue. "I need some air." Leaping over the railing to the level just below and taking the other bleacher stands one leap at a time.

There is nothing Elisabeth can do for the cat-masked woman who screams as her bones are broken. Lucille is too volatile for the blonde to be able to stop the younger woman and it happens fast. She breathes out a slow breath, though, as Lu at least does take the direction and get clear. The fact that Liz is going to have paperwork out the ass for this and that Lu may have charges pressed… well, she'll deal with that part later.

Moving forward, Elisabeth crouches next to the masked woman to flexcuff her wrists very gently in front of her and remove the mask as the bullhorn blares out Miranda warnings to all in the building. Into her mic, she murmurs, "I need EMS on the top tier." Oh this is gonna be fucking ugly.

Drug-fueled adrenaline still has Geneva trapped in a state of cold, time-dilated hyperawareness, but signs of physical weakness are beginning to show through fine cracks in her facade. Exhaustion and exertion grip at her seams from beneath: insidious touches that transform her into darkly shattering glass from within. Her eyes are rounder and redder than ever.

As Cesar rolls off her, grappling with his sizzling armor, he rolls right out of her presence of mind in the same motion. When she stumbles to her feet several half-frozen moments later, enveloped in the merciful aura of silence projected outwards from Lance, she finds herself drawn towards this uncanny occurrence like the unanticipated beacon of calm that it is.

An eye in this hurricane of animal masks and firearms and tumultuous bodies and—

With a stagger, Gene raises her hands up above her abdomen, weakly but stubbornly.
I don't…

It's a sign-message that she never finishes. Instead, she wavers, huffs out a silent grunt as though of bitter, laughing resignation, and collapses to the arena floor hands-first.

After the last guard finally goes down, Dev takes a visual accounting of the arena. The crowds are less teeming with panic and more under a sort of controlled chaos. The tangle in the center is a mess he's inwardly relieved he doesn't have to mess with. Lucille’s actions aren't missed, even though he can only guess what the agonized screams mean. He looks away when the cat-masked woman is kicked aside.

He finds Emily looking at him, meets her gaze. She's safe, uninjured. His firearm is holstered as he tips his head to her in a silent acknowledgment of a job well done.

The injured are left for those who know how to deal with them. Devon knows enough first aid to help any one of the injured, but since there's people to do that he leaves it alone. Hands freed, he takes his helmet off and claims a seat at the edge of the arena, giving law enforcement its space to do its thing, too.

“Cool his burn!” Sawyer barks to one of the EMTs who has just come in, making their way for the more obvious cases in need — Cesar isn’t one of those at a glance, but they missed the reason for his half naked status. To keep that burn from doing more damage, it’s essential to cool the skin down as soon as possible. The SESA agent nods to Emily in thanks for looking after her coworker, then surveys the rest of the scene.

She exhales. The job is done. Perhaps not well done (well, except for those Geneva’s fried with her powers), but done. As the EMTs begin their work, the arena begins its transformation from a maritime coliseum to a triage unit. The audience members are subdued enough to let themselves be herded and frisked, though some cry and others glower or swear at their captors.

Resisting the urge to say ‘We’re going to need a bigger boat,’ Sawyer instead says to her contact on the Coast Guard vessel, “«We need someone who can captain this thing back to shore.»” It’ll be easier to transport the audience, while also bringing back the boat for evidence. This Sawyer is not the ship captain (or pirate) that Elisabeth had to contend with not so long ago.

When Lucille bounds down the stairs, leaving the Cat woman clutching her hands together and wailing, Sawyer looks up into the bleaches and then to the younger Ryans woman. “We’ll talk later,” the SESA agent says, in a sort of ‘I’m not angry, just disappointed’ tone. Liz is given a nod of thanks for her work in defusing the situation.

Finally, Sawyer’s eyes make it to the VIPs who are waiting for the people in the bleachers below to be processed, and turns to the agents handling that section. “No special treatment,” Sawyer says in a flat voice.

For any of them.

While most of the task force members take the helicopter or the smaller Coast Guard ship back to shore, for the cargo ship, it takes a few more hours. Eventually it makes it back to shore and the arena is emptied of the audience, nothing but a hollow pit of bloodied sand.

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