Footprints Of Nuclear Fire


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Scene Title Footprints of Nuclear Fire
Synopsis Operation Apollo continues with a raid on the Vanguard's ship-repair facility, Midgard.
Date January 6, 2010

Marion Island

At 06:00 hours, the USS George Washington will be departing for Marion Island, the largest island of the Prince Edward Islands region, south of Madagascar.

The moon is waning, it's light fading in the days following the lunar eclipse and its gibbous phase. It is like a slowly closing eye now, set against a field of dark, longing for sleep.

Intelligence gathered by Team Charlie in Russia indicates that this location is the last known Vanguard stronghold in the world, the last remaining place where the man we believe could have possessed the nuclear weapon codenamed Munin. We hope to find definitive proof of the bomb's location there.

The sun has long since disappeared behind the horizon, the sky is filled with glittering stars so manifold that they seem to be an infinite sea of diamonds. These points of light are mutely reflected in the sea, glimmering stones thrown across rippled glass. Amidst this night-time scenario, the volcanic island that sits upon these waters looks so lonely and desolate, a massive ice-capped mountain that comprises the peak of an underwater volcano that erupted just twenty-nine years ago. Much of the island itself is barren, a desolate field of rubble and volcanic glass, pumice and basalt.

At 21:00 hours, the USS George Washington's fleet will arrive at Marion Island, and a survey team will be sent to the coordinates of a military installation coded by the Vanguard as Midgard.

The thundering roar of helicopter propellors roar through the air around the east coast of the large island. Cutting over the ocean waters in low flight on their approach, four air-force Black Hawk helicopters loaded for bear approach the sharp, volcanic cliffs of Transvaal Cove, upon which an enormous meterological research station is perched. These helicopters make a fiery landing, guns blazing in a flash of white-hot tracer rounds that demolish grounded trucks and satellite dishes, peppering the installation in that hail of automatic gunfire.

At 21:30 an insertion team codenamed Apollo's Sword will make their way to the Midgard Bunker to search for signs of Mikhail Wagner and the atomic bomb Munin. Your coordination in this mission will be led by USMC Captain Adelle Sanderson.

Two additional tilt-rotor aircraft follow in a tight profile behind the black hawks, making their way towards the cliff face of the cove. These vehicles slow their approach, the whirr of their maneuvering rotor lifts echoing inside of the cabin where the insertion team sits in wait. Flashes of gunfire come from somewhere down by the water, but the roar of miniguns firing from the underside of the aircraft silences that small-arms fire popping. «Sword One to Sword Two,» Captain Sanderson's voice crackles over their linked SatCom communication gear, «We're going in hot.»

At 21:35 hours, Sword One and Sword two will make landing inside the Midgard bunker, neutralize Vanguard forces, and begin their investigation.

The aircraft approach the cliff face as if planning to crash headlong into it. It is only when the tilt-rotor planes come swerving around the ridges in the sheer cliffs that a sea-access bunker entrance is revealed. Large enough to serve as a concealed ship maintenance station, the enormous concrete mouth of the bunker yawns wide open. One of the aircraft after another flies into the mouth with expert piloting, wobbling from side to side as they meet with the winds howling across the cliff face. The aircraft continue their firing of the front guns on their way in, and from inside the cabin the sounds of bullets bouncing off the exterior is like the noise of a popcorn maker in full roar.

We expect to face heavy resistance from the Vanguard operative code-named Vidar and his remaining loyalists

When both aircraft touch down on something, the back hatch doors begin to swing open and landing ramps deploy. A squad of five armored marines move out first under cover of smoke gas grenades, M-16's rattling off constant gunfire as they clear the way for the insertion teams. Marines are one thing, skilled soldiers, but the powers of the Evolved can trump whole armies. This is why they were brought here, for their power, like weapons.

Good Hunting.

«Sword One to Sword Two we are receiving heavy fire from the port side!» Voices of the marines scream over the comms, and when the members of the insertion team come charging out of the back of the landed aircraft, they find themselves on the deck of a tanker ship, identical in design to the Invierno Tanker that the Vanguard had utilized a year ago off the coast of New York City. This concealed dock is a massive arched tunnel, with a raised concrete walkway on either side of the ship, with pillars to the right where soldiers in gray uniforms duck and move behind these concrete columns, firing at the approaching insertion teams.

«Sword One! On me!» Captain Sanderson screams into her headset as she leaps from the back of the aircraft, landing with a clang of her boots and a loud crack of her rifle opening fire. She rushes across the deck of the Verano, dropping into a crouch and spraying the space between two distant concrete pillars with gunfire. Then, expanding out from her like a wave of static electricity, she imparts years of US Marines training in squad tactics and sharpshooting to the team gathered around her by way of her unusual ability.

«Open fire!»

Noriko scrambles out of the aircraft to find herself once more surrounded by gunfire. Her eyes looking around at the bright flashes of rifle's firing. Her feet slip slightly on the deck of the tanker, but she gets herself towards Sanderson. The M-16 for the moment over her shoulder as she manages to get into something of a crouched position like the Marine.

The Asian finally reaches back to bring her M-16 out as she sprays a couple rounds down field towards where she thought she saw a muzzle flash. Though, her concentration is elsewhere, on the waves that lap at the tanker. The inky-blackness of the sea starting to rise up. Not all of it, but a good ten or fiften gallons worth. As it creeps up over the side of the tanker, and finally is at the height that the Asian is happy with, she tosses her head and the gallons seperate into hundreds of thousand of little water needles that fly to wear the enemies are. Perhaps blinding some, and perhaps killing others, but probably serving as a nice little distraction.

Patting her chest armor and tugging on the chin strap of the kevlar helmet, Claire hops out shortly after Sanderson, rifle coming up almost as soon as her feet hit solid ground. Her rifle jerks her body only slightly as she moves alongside, firing at anyone she sees. Unlike Sanderson who crouches right away, Claire take a moment to draw fire, to let others of her team join the group. Anything that hits her is ignored, since not long after I bloody bullet will clatter to the ground. This is what she does.

She needs this… after days of nothing, Claire feels almost in her element again. She allows herself to drop into that zone, alert but all emotions tucked away til her eyes seem almost emoty of anything. Those blue eyes flicker from one target to another, sending short bursts of bullets to unfortunate targets. Only after she's sure everyone is close does she crouch down near the marine.

Halfway between Madagascar and the south pole. Marion Island. Cat's familiar with it, having researched it when she studied maps to pin down the halfway points of north and south. She emerges from the craft not so far from Sanderson, armed to the teeth and clothed in both an appropriate Marine uniform and protective gear. Body armor, helmet, M16 with extra clips, grenades. Night vision glasses are also carried in case of need, along with the gas mask.

Then comes the enhancement provided by Captain S. "I could get used to this," she murmurs. Weapon is raised and targets are sought out, soon a burst of three rounds is fired at persons in gray uniforms just before she takes cover near other persons doing the same.

Dressed in the armor and armed as the soldiers are, Elisabeth Harrison is indistinguishable from one of them except for the blonde ponytail hanging down her back. As everyone starts moving forward and firing, Elisabeth considers briefly making the attempt to cause the targets to fall down and spew their guts out, but she'll keep that little trick under her hat since the Marine units and the gunfire seems to be having the intended effect. Instead, she sticks close to the second squad as they crouch and move around the far side of the aircraft's ramp and take firing positions using the aircraft itself for cover initially. She settles into a position to one side and looks down the long hallway. Isolating the sounds of this battle away from herself, she tilts an ear — or rather, she tilts her ability to manipulate sounds — down that tunnel to see what else may be coming after us from the rear.

«Redbird initiating infiltration… will resume radio contact when I get there.»

The words are barked crisply into the headset that Agent Cranston is wearing as the planes touch down, chambering a round in the M-16 he's carrying with a sharp clack as the weapon goes from being an interesting conversation piece to a deadly weapon in a single practiced motion.

A leap down to the deck, and he breaks into a dead run forward— darkness drawing over him, his form flattening until he's but shadow by the time he hits the front line, spilling over their feet like an oil slick that the sea in Noriko's power can't wash away. Bullets flash back and forth over him, ignored as he slithers past the Vanguard like a serpent's strike. Richard Cardinal's always done his best work from behind enemy lines.

Jumping from the craft shortly after Cat, Magnes dips into a crouch, unloading a good half of his clip as he slowly moves his M-16 from left to right, then thrusts his left hand forward and sends gravity-enhanced empty shellcasing forward with hundreds of pounds of force, raining toward enemy forces.

He ducks off to the side after thrusting the casings, moving behind a pillar for cover as he checks the clip of his rifle. "Don't lighten the rifle, shoot, thrust the shells, cover, don't lighten the rifle, shoot, thrust the shells, cover…" he mutters to himself repeatedly.

Claire's emotions may be void on the surface, but never underneath. This is how Huruma tends to keep track of her teammates; knowing them, tagging them with invisible bands. Now that they are on the move again, the woman has settled into it yet again. Having time to catch her breath was best for her- now, Huruma is at relative full-tilt as they disembark into the bowels of enemy territory, guns blazing. Huruma's skills amplified by Sanderson's ability brings her to one of those levels that most should be glad she does not have on a normal day. She is suspecting there may be more of that feeling in the coming days, of being far too qualified.

Huruma's one of the more notable figures visible now, as on Madagascar she seemed to be the average sized one. They hit the ground running, and Huruma has put herself with the part of the Sword team she has already been working with- simply because they will be able to see what she is intending, what with having seen. Rather than an ability to enhance the others or fire debris down the line, Huruma has that more subtle work to do- as soon as she locates the various soldiers that they are going up against, she begins littering them with doses of panic, tossing those streams about like hot potatoes.

If this is what the true FRONTLINE would have been like, had Arthur Petrelli's dreams come true, it is no wonder that he rose to such unimaginable power in that distant future. In the matter of four minutes, Sword One and Sword Two effectively secure the deck of the Verano. But is it not simply by merit of hail of gunfire, never that simple. The gray-uniformed Vanguard soldiers who respond to the infiltration are caught unawares of the attack, but despite outnumbering the insertion team twenty to one they are assailed by powers they could not hoke to combat.

Glittering shell casings from the marines are sent thorugh the air at the speed of terminal velocity, brass shells that would have impacted flat on body armor, had the Vanguard time to don any. Instead, these copper shells operate like frangible rounds, shredding the soldiers like ribbons of razor sharp metal that lance through their bodies, bounce off bones, and twirl thorugh their insides like so many burrowing pieces of shrapnel.

The soldiers are screaming as they die, not from pain or injury as much as it is fear and panic. They abandon their posts, drop their weapons and bolt in panic from behind their concrete pillars and metal partitions that once served as cover. Coupled with this, is the torrential downpour of flung water darts, needles of hydrogen and oxygen that punch through the cloth of their dress uniforms, spraying blood against the walls that thins and separates as if run thorugh a centerfuge, the water contained in the blood rebounding back on the people it was blown out of as a second volley of deadly water darts.

Captain Sanderson's automatic gunfire is joined in some unholy concert by the others as her blanket-effect ability smothers their skills and overwrites them with her own, turning the entire paired teams into a mechanically precise fighting unit synchronized as if they were all the same individual with different consciousnesses.

The sonorous hum of Elisabeth Harrison's infrasound throbs through the concrete walls of the submarine dock, pinging like sonar off of moving bodies that thunder down winding spider-webbed networks of tunnels towards the sound of gunfire. They are trapped in here with the coalition force of Operation Apollo, and this unholy union of Evolved abilities and military skill turns the first wave of soldiers into so many bloodied heaps… in just four minutes.

There is a brief moment of respite, when the gunfire stops and bodies have all fallen, the last shell casing rattling to the ground. Reflexive traits are brought to the fore by Sanderson's ability, an uncanny measure of an M-16's firing capacity from weight and vibration that is joined by a smooth and fluidic disengagement of magazines and a slap of a new cartrige in with a resounding echo of mimiced motions across several of the marines as her unified skills come into play.

«Bay secure! Repeat, Bay secure!» Elisabeth knows there is a second wave coming, fifty more soldiers running to what will likely amount to their deaths. This may not be the FRONTLINE of Arthur Petrelli's vision, but somehow here, Richard Cardinal can see what the man had been planning all along, and just how unbelievably terrifying the power of the Evolved — when united — can be.

Noriko hasn't even expanded the rest of her magazine. The hydrokinetic is much too used to relying completely on her power when it comes to winning a fight, and as the last of them die, and she doesn't feel her darts impactin anyone anymore, the gallons of water rejoin together, before beginning the journey back to Noriko, hovering above the ground, streaks of red drifting in the globe of water. Her eyes cast around for any more, and once the fifty more that were coming after them open fire, they will find the same needles waiting for them. Noriko breathing heavily with the effort expanded, but for the moment she is quick and efficient in keeping those around her safe, and that is what she tells herself that she is doing. She is killing to keep Sanderson, Claire, Huruma, Cat, and the rest of the teams alive. She isn't killing for the like of snuffing out life.

As the fire fight comes to an end Claire, lets her weapon lower to her side, held in one hand, for the few moments. Glancing down at the holes riddling her vest, the regenerator takes a moment to pluck a deformed lump of lead, covered in thick red blood, hanging from one hole. It's flicked away casually, sending it bouncing. A quick check to her rifle's magazine, ejecting it so that she can replace it with another fished from a pocket. Then slowly the rifle is lifted to wait for the next wave of bad guys.

They were fired on, and fired back. Did she kill anyone personally? Maybe. Probably. But Cat doesn't let herself think about that. A battle happened, it ended, and she's alive. "Elisabeth," Cat suggests with a glance her way and another toward Sanderson so she can perhaps endorse it, "maybe you could use your loudest projected voice and advise anyone else present that hostile acts will only get them killed. That they have five seconds to surrender, and any shot fired will get them all dead."

Fingers move, ejecting the clip in the weapon she holds and replacing it. With a click, it's seated into the firearm. "Though I doubt they'll be smart enough to take that advice."

Elisabeth listens with her eyes closed, taking a mental head count of what she's getting back through her enhanced hearing. «Another…. call it thirty to fifty coming down the pipe from our three o'clock.» She looks in the direction they'll be coming from, and then glances at Sanderson with a raised brow as if awaiting permission. At the nod, Elisabeth grins slightly. She loves pulling this shit, honestly. Stepping forward to the edge of the deck, she draws in a deep breath. There is no shouting, there is no need for her to speak in anything but a normal tone of voice. And yet there is sheer power and beautiful reverb thanks to the acoustics of the tunnel itself along with the enhancement of power. The sound comes from everywhere at once practically, and it carries clearly.

** "All Vanguard personnel, you are hereby ordered to stand down. Lay down your arms and step out with your hands up. Failure to comply by the count of five will be viewed as hostile action and we will respond with lethal force." **

** "One."
"Five." **

This, Cardinal knows, is the new face of warfare; a face that Humanis First and nation leaders the world over see in their nightmares, a face that the Evolved themselves are just beginning to be aware of. And this is but the barest glimpse of it.

The truth of it is, he knows that the destruction of Midtown was, truly, small scale compared to what many of his genetic brethren could accomplish - if they had the will and the madness to push their powers that far. It terrifies him to understand this fact, but nothing can be done about it. All that's left is to try and make certain the beast is leashed by the right hands.

As the last of this first rank of Vanguard fall, and that echoing countdown resounds off the walls, he'd smile - if he could - before moving on, flowing over a fallen soldier like the shadow of death stealing over his features as his last breath rattles on his lips. In moments, the shadowmorph's slithering into the bunker silent, unnoticed, to hunt down something vital inside - whether that be a security room, or the command center itself. An assassin and saboteur let loose in the midst of the Evolved's enemies.

Releasing a clip from his gun, one pops up from one of Magnes' pockets and he slams the rifle down into it, reloading with one hand. He's trying to act quickly, walking around with his left hand up, raising more empty shell casings into the air, preparing them to be used as projectiles as they float in bunches like small metallic clouds. "Is everyone alright?" he asks, though he's looking at Claire when he does so; he doesn't want to seem like a douche who doesn't care if everyone is alright!

Four minutes- two hundred forty seconds. Huruma is well aware of the short span of time that has occurred between planting her feet and now, when everything seems to go eerily quiet before the next wave appears. While the others take the moment to reassert themselves, Huruma takes it to send out a set of feelers around the bunker. Her attention pulls slowly back as Elisabeth speaks, and it comes from everywhere; she remembers Liz from perhaps one joint incident- but regardless it is new to see someone like her at work. Sound is very effective, no matter what it is from.

Huruma lifts her rifle as the woman counts down, adjusting it against the broadside of her shoulder and waiting in silence for the first appearance of more men.

The scream of a rocket propelled grenade is not the most expected of noises to come shrieking thorugh these concrete tunnels. Cardinal bore witness to that soldier's approach on the opposite side of the tunnel from him, and as that missile goes careening towards the aircraft ont he deck of the Verano, it wobbles in the air just feet away from Magnes' location, bobbles up and down like a spinning top without enough momentum, and then is flung out the entrance of the tunnel and towards the ocean, where it impacts with the water in a harmless blast of sea froth.

Gunfire comes next, popping blasts of small-arms fire, handguns and AK-47s, these men were never prepared to bear a full-frontal assault by an organized military force, half of these in the second wave aren't even wearing uniforms, they're plain-clothes engineers and technicians responding to the gunfire and ignoring the warning to surrender. The cult they belong to — of which the Vanguard verily classifies as — had driven them to this battle hardened edge long ago.

Water finds most of them, scything blades of paper thin water with a surface tension hard enough to cut clothing to ribbons and do far worse things to flesh and bone. Some of the soldiers are actually carried aloft on a cyclonic tunnel of slashing blades of water, raining down droplets of blood before their bodies are deposited into the hanger's waters with a splash.

Flashes of gunfire, screams, gravitationally projected shell casings, precicely fired rounds and a well-timed burst of psychotic terror breaks their minds, shatters their bodies, and sends some tumbling over metallic railings screaming like terrified children at the nightmarish horror forced onto them by Huruma.

Two minutes and twenty-four seconds following, and the entire tunnel goes deathly silent.

This time, there is no one headed to their deaths. The remaining remnants of Wagner's men, hiding out in the tunnels and passages that snake beneath Marion Island, will need to be ferreted out like foxes in their dens. «Sword One, Sword Two!» Sanderson calls out over their linked comms, «Fan out! Find the survivors! Capture if possible, but don't sweat dropping a cultist if you need to!» She pivots on her heels, peering over railings with her rifle scope. «Redbird, figure out where their security center is! Let's go!»

«The world's counting on us!»

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