Hunter and Hunter


carmichael_icon.gif hana_icon.gif

and various Homeland Security NPCs

Scene Title Hunter and Hunter
Synopsis Carmichael hunts Hana hunts Carmichael. He brings rather more friends to the foray than is properly fair. She still wins in the way that matters most, to her mind.
Date February 22, 2009

Somewhere in the Ruins of Midtown

Being bait is difficult work. Leaving just the right number of breadcrumbs to serve as an effective lure; not so many that it really arouses suspicion. Of course, with as rare as glimpses of Hana are to Homeland Security and the Company, those on her trail are bound to suspect unkind intent now that her profile occasionally appears on their figurative radar; but perhaps her infiltration of Carmichael's office was a mistake on Hana's part, and now they just know where to look.

It could happen.

Then again, it's the ruins of Midtown Gitelman's trail leads into this morning, broken silhouettes of buildings outlined by soft winter sunlight.

Maybe she's desperate. There are no cameras here, to give away her position; nothing but a broken and fractured neighborhood, where technology is a forgotten memory; if Hana could lose her pursuers anywhere, it would be here.

The buildings look like something tore off their tops, leaving ragged stumps behind; something did. Entrances and exits are buried beneath heaps of rubble: coarse-hewn concrete blocks in all manner of irregular shapes and sizes, twisted and warped steel rebar, the piercing glitter of sunlight reflected by swathes of glass dust. It's a place where a person might disappear, dodging behind rusting cars and piles of debris. At the same time, it isn't as ideal as some other places; there are no real opportunities for altitude, and Hana is just as limited in perception as those who hunt her.

Except in matters technological. But… Carmichael took those precautions.

Here and now, it all comes down to which one of them took enough.

Whether fortune or fate is involved in Hana's decision to slip into the ruined scar of Midtown isn't a matter that will be resolved any time soon. Precautions to be taken against an ex-Company Technopath are difficult ones to muster in a period of just a few days. But Hana Gitelman's slip-up at the offices of the Department of Homeland Security have led one thin and faint trail for Jonathan Carmichael to follow. Fate or fortune, it's something Goodman would have asked years ago, it's a part of that old friend that Jonathan still clings to — the old soldier still in there somewhere.

Inside of the ruins of an apartment complex, Carmichael's squad has barely managed to move ahead of Gitelman's predicted position. Three times now she's changed her course through the city, three times they have had to quietly retrace their steps. The ten man unit, however, has more going for it than most in that regard.

While dressed in the black fatigues of Homeland Security capture and retrieval members, the black-clad figures joining Jonathan Carmichael tonight are no more government employees than they are ordinary men and women. Three of the ten serve an explicitly important role in this mission, managing non-technological stealth.

"All clear. Target is proceeding down 34th street by adjoining alley." The voice projects across a span of what was once a four-lane street into another burned out building. This pin-point precision of sound manipulation belongs to one of those three team members, utilizing audiokinetics in their apprehension, while still maintaining a tactical advantage that they would be denied without their communication devices.

"I read you." A subvocal whisper from a man sixty feet in the air, hovering behind one of the crumbling monuments to entropy that claws up at the skies. His self-propelled flight allows him the ability to follow Hana from a distance, serving as eyes in the sky even when altitude would not normally be possible.

"I read you all loud and clear." The voice of Jonathan Carmichael, the third of the Evolved members of the unit, commanding this squad as they follow Gitelman's movements through the buildings nearby.

But no amount of audiokinetics, tricks of flight or other Evolved abilities will ever truly be able to trump the most valuable field asset, one that Hana Gitelman has in spades; experience. While this is a game of Cat and Mouse, Jonathan Carmichael is yet unaware of which side of the game he's playing. Which is exactly how Hana prefers it.

All the cues she usually counts on are not in evidence now. Cellphones. Radios. Is everyone where she thinks they are? Half observation, half purest conjecture — did they change something, between back there and right here? Move someone? Or are the hounds following the trail laid before them with the fidelity she needs?

Time to find out.

Hana Gitelman is not about to be flanked by the attempted pincer movement of the squad's two teams. The woman abruptly springs from half-stealthy creep through the alleyway to an all-out sprint; where they are hampered by the crumpled corpses of abandoned edifices, their blocked doors and choked corridors, she has the length of a street stretching before her, less clear than desirable, better than the alternative. The Israeli woman, dressed in black leather and charcoal-faded jeans, dodges the one car in the alleyway and breaks left down another. She passes out of the aviator's sight behind one fractured structure, appears beyond it, disappears behind the next… and then isn't seen to continue on.

"She's on the move!" One sharp whisper high in the skies calls out, "Sharp turn down — Christ I can't see any street signs — sharp turn down nearby alley, headed to 41st street!" Swooping down and flying through an arch of broken stone that was one part of the masonry around decorative windows, the airborne agent presses his boots to the side of the building, kicking off as he lowers himself down another ten feet, circling around to try and find where she went.

"Bravo Team, move south. Alpha Team, follow me." Orders relayed and funneled through the air in condensed waves of sound by the audiokinetic, Carmichael and Alpha Unit break out from the bombed shell of a department store they had been waiting in, boots hitting concrete as they emerge through long destroyed display windows. The sounds of crunching glass, shifting rubble and the noise of their breathing all silenced by the operarive of Bravo Team, watching from his vantage point at the corner of the street from within a first floor window. The remainder of his unit begins making their way through the building, slowed by the rubble, collapsed ceilings, and long abandoned furnishings of the office space in their attempt to rejoin the hunt.

The airborne agent, unable to keep his visual lock on Hana, drops down another ten feet, flying below a string of old clotheslines still somehow dangling between windows in the alleyway. Now only forty feet in the air, he cruises at the low altitude, coming to land on a fire escape, unaware of just where Gitelman has tucked away for cover, "I still can't see her, Sir."

"Don't you dare let your guard down for one minute, she's out there. She can't just disappear from—" Carmichael's orders are barked out through the subsonic link, and then break up into so much whispers and barely audible static as line of sight with the audiokinetic is broken.

"Sir? Sir?" His voice, now audible to Hana, displays his agitation, "Shit."

Forty feet. It's tempting — but Hana has a purpose, and the spotter, however annoying he might be, isn't it. She can and will wait. All things come to those who wait — and Alpha Team is most definitely coming.

Inside the building she chose as refuge, there are no lights. The chemiluminescent stick the woman carries is carefully shielded, illuminating only the floor before her feet; Hana moves with cautious deliberation, matching reality with memory and making for the point of ambush she staked out a while ago. Unseen from the windows, half-shielded by a crumbled wall, with clear sight of the entrance corridor — and an escape route through the hole left when that portion of brick collapsed.

The only problem with ruins is that they collect dust. And dust takes footprints. Fortunately, it's unlikely Alpha Team will take the time to study the floor, between poor lighting and the frantic need to not let their quarry get too far away; won't see the traces suggesting something less obvious than the new tracks was brushed out.

More likely, they'll be studying the narrow, rubble-strewn hallways that lead from the lobby and wondering just where Hana might hit them from…

Carmichael's unit arrives from across the street, moving down the alleyway that leads to the building Hana has ducked into. Once in line of sight with the aerial spotter, Carmichael brings two gloved fingers to his eyes, then points up into the air. The black-clad man climbs up onto the fire escape railing, then quietly drifts up into the air as if hoisted on thin strings. One swift series of hand gestures orders the other four men with Jonathan to split up in the alley, search for avenues of escape she could have used. This tactic divides Jonathan from his four additional men, and while they search, they're careful to keep a wide distance on the line agent, likely giving him a wide berth to utilize his ability. It's obvious now that he's using himself as bait, to try and draw Hana out to strike at the one, lone Homeland Security agent without backup.

Around the other side of the building, Bravo Unit emerges noisily, boots crashing down on concrete, trashcans knocked aside as they quickly storm the other side of the building, peering in windows, taser-rifles armed and held out as they begin to move inside. Their angle of approach is opposite from the entrance to the building Hana used, and she can hear their approach — likely a distraction — coming several rooms away in the fire-damaged husk of this old structure.

"Anything?" Once more under the benefit of the audiokinetic, the aerial agent scans the streets from above, looking down through the pale winter sunlight that filters in thin, dusty rays between broken panes of glass from the crumbling facae of a nearby skyscraper.

"No sign of her, Sir. She's got to still be in the area." The report from above, relayed to Jonathan, has the lone agent moving quietly past windows in Hana's line of sight. Like most of the structures here, these buildings all had the glass ruptured from them during the shovkwave that tore them apart. His visage fractured in what little panes of broken glass still barb up from the window frame, Carmichael pauses, turning to look at some other noise, a noise not Hana Gitelman — but to him, every creak of the buildings, every sound, every sharp whistle of the wind just might be her.

If everything Goodman has said is true, she's more dangerous than he is.

The men she can hear aren't her concern. It'll be a while before they can puzzle through the rooms to a connection not blocked by decaying structural elements; not long, but long enough.

Hana takes the bait.

The evidence that she's done so, however, is most anticlimactic; the soft thppt of an air-powered gun giving away her location, the sharp sting of a needle sinking into the junction of neck and shoulder, just above the edge of Carmichael's bulletproof vest. Lower than the Israeli would've preferred. High enough to deliver the drug it carries into flesh rather than Kevlar.

All subtlety is abandoned, for the moment, as abruptly as her position; Hana bolts through the collapsed wall and into the warren of half-demolished rooms beyond.

If Lady Luck smiles, the drug will work immediately; or Carmichael will be surprised enough to hesitate just that necessary heartbeat. Enough for the ex-operative to escape. With a smile, she might slip through the tightening cordon formed by the rest of Alpha Team, or at least get in the first hit and make a hole through which to flee.

If Lady Luck frowns…

Hana Gitelman will be in for a very profound migraine.

One hand reflexively moves to his neck, and Carmichael wheels to the wall, shoulder smashing into it as Hana is already in motion. For a moment the shock of impact and the sharp pain has him guessing as to whether or not he was shot in the neck. When his fingers find purchase on the dart, he growls out, "Target's moving! She's inside! All teams advance!" He doesn't opt for the subvocals, not anymore; this just went from a game of cat and mouse to a foxhunt.

Ripping the dart out of his neck as his other team mates start coming back from further down the alley, Carmichael makes a bolt into the building, and in the back of his mind, he can feel an undulating wave of pressure build down his spinal column, boiling up and out through his head like pressure released from being in a high altitude. The mental shockwave is like the disorienting effect of a concussion grenade, lacking all of the actual brunt force. Cutting through the walls as if they were rice paper, this invisible wave of telepathic force assails her mind, weaker than it should be in the proximity, like running head-long into a wall. The Ireaeli's vision blurs, spots appear in her vision and extremities tingle, but she remains mobile, remains capable, not some floundering and limp victim on the ground like many of Carmichael's other targets.

Through the building, Bravo teams moves quickly but struggles with the barricades of debris and impromptu walls made by the collapse of the upper floors into this one. A tangle of old wires, shattered fluorescent light fixtures and ceiling tiles serve as a curtain through which Hana's slowed motions are obscured.

Hearing her hustling footsteps, one of the agents rushes head on at the sheet-rock wall between himself and Hana's position, erupting on the other side in an explosion of white powder and plaster, stumbling to fall on his side, rolling with the collapse of his weight through the wall to rise up on one knee, leveling his taser rifle. There's a click and a flicker of red as the darts whizz over Hana's shoulder, leaving his single-shot weapon pumping useless voltge into a cubicle wall.

Half a smile, that Hana can still move; she's trudged through miles of Arctic snow, can survive a desert on little more than wit and sheer determination. She's too stubborn to surrender anything that isn't taken by greater force, and so she keeps moving. All her limbs still work. Complete feeling in them is somewhat optional.

It's not enough of a smile. The drug didn't work. Or — it didn't work fast enough.

Luck, that the taser fire misses; Hana was slowed enough, dazed enough, that the dart-gun completes its level on the taser-agent's face only after he takes the first shot. Thppt.

The Israeli woman follows it, throwing the gun aside to free her hands. A kick is too complicated for her impaired state; involves too much shifting balance, courts a higher risk of failure. A palm-strike instead, to finish what the small, distracting dart provided set-up for. The movement of feet, arms, torso, hand is automatic even now; Hana's thoughts are elsewhere, straining her ears in search of telltale sounds.

How close behind is Carmichael?

All the agent can do is let out one sharp cry as the dart punches through his cheek just below his eye. He flies back to the ground, hands reflexively ymoving up to where the length of steel jabbed into his face. He thrashes around on the ground, even as Hana moves past him, unable to focus on anything other than the intense pain and disorientation of what just happened.

Hana moves as quickly as she can, out through a doorway and into the remnants of an old cubicle farm from some business long since brought to ruin by the bomb. Behind her, through the hole in the wall the agent made, the remainder of Bravo Team comes charging in, one dropping down to check on the fallen agent, "Man down, man down!" He shouts back into the corridor as the others rush through the entrance Hana had gone into.

Further away from Carmichael, or at the best as she can imagine, the feeling in Gitelman's extremities begin coming back, the tingling fading, her reflexes sharpening again. Ducking low and moving between the halls of old cubicles, the Israeli stays out of sight of the three Bravo Team members moving through, each one splitting up from the other, taking different paths through the grid of office space. Not more than thirty yards away on the other side of the office, a blown out glass wall views the front street and an avenue of escape.

The problem with outside… well. There's still a flier out there. Possibly others; she can't be certain of her count, in the chaotic fog of conflict. And the dartgun is somewhere in her wake; not that Hana is unarmed, but she had it for a reason. Even if the most pressing reason is also somewhere behind.

She tries it anyway, a shard of glass opening a line down the length of her left forearm, others snapping underfoot with a characteristic crisp crackle. But Hana doesn't charge into the open street; she hugs the exterior wall as closely as the scattered rubble allows, always presenting obstacles where she least desires them.

One eye on the street; one eye on the sky. Ears stretching for the sounds of footsteps nearby, agents trudging through the same sorts of debris that makes her course less than smooth.

So close. So very close.

So very far away.

The crackling snap of taser darts fly out the window following Hana's attempt of escape, striking concrete and crackling out over her shoulder with a whirling sound of unspooling tethers. "She's back on street level! Go, Go!" One of the agents shouts, and while Bravo Team struggles to run the length of the office, it is the sudden and deafening roar of concussive shockwaves that sends Hana off of her feet, glass flying into the air, clattering against the ground of the building from a deep, bass-filled sonic eruption.

Audiokinetics, far more than just sound manipulation as evidenced by the destruction of Consolidated Edison. She had popped right into his field of vision; the masked Agent moving forward across the concrete from the mouth of the alleyway, one hand raised to his mouth as if some vestigial somatic component of his ability.

The ringing in Hana's ears caused by the concussive sound wave is matched only by the sensation of vibrations in her bones. Boots storm down the length of the office, men coming out of the windows in the time it takes her to get back up from the ground, taser rifles on two of the men still loaded, raised and primed with a high-pitched hirring sound of electrical impulse.

Limping, one hand at his neck, Jonathan Carmichael comes out behind the audiokinetic, gloves padding at the bloody spot where the dart had driven into him, "We've been looking a long time for you, Wireless…" The words are strained through clenched teeth, wholly unaware that even her capture here is not defeat, all a part of some greater, overarching plan. In that one, small respect of being a planner, it is where Edward Ray and Hana Gitelman might have found some measure of similarity.

Dark eyes flick from Carmichael to his two taser-wielding companions. The audiokinetic can see her; she doesn't struggle to spot him. Refuses to show the lingering disorientation from the sonic blast, although it's there to be seen, thinly masked by determined dignity, by the anger that crackles in flavors both hot and deadly, bitter cold beneath the Israeli woman's skin. He can see the calculations; the recognition that she has been cornered at last, though defeat is a word Hana Gitelman's vocabulary does not encompass, save in the context of other people's.

He can't see the signal she ceases to send. The digital message which had been laced through the air all throughout their game of cat and mouse, holding back two messages. Even this contingency, Hana considered.

Dark eyes level upon blue, unblinking. The only response Gitelman offers Carmichael is a slow, thin, darkly feral smile.

You only think you've won.

The crackling snap of the taser darts striking Hana send the Israeli down to the ground, muscles tightening, pain shooting up her limbs as she collapses to her knees, then down onto her side as they proceed to spark and sputter with the electrical discharge. In a way, it's like a group of hunters having taken down a wild and dangerous animal, and to her credit that is exactly what Hana Gitelman appears to most — a wild and dangerous creature; unpredictable and lethal. Rubbing a hand at his neck, Carmichael signals over to the audiokinetic, even as the other agents who are left standing remove zip ties and gags, preparing to bind the former Company agent for travel.

"Find the flyer, have him contact Mister Goodman," Carmichael mutters, that hand still working over the dark wound, "Tell him mission accomplished." Blue-gray eyes focus down on the dark haired woman on the ground, wariness already prickling the back of his mind from that look he saw on her face before she fell, that smile that will continue to haunt him tonight.

"Tell him Hana Gitelman is back in Company possession."

One message, sent to Teodoro:

The first part is an address. The address of Carmichael's residence. The second adds instructions.

"Get what you need from him tonight. He's been drugged; his power will not work, but I cannot promise the effect will last into tomorrow. There are too many variables.

"Don't try to contact me. I will reach you when I am certain it's safe; until further notice, assume prior methods of communication may be compromised. Use them only when absolutely necessary. Others in the Ferrymen have alternate routes; we've discussed this before. Not as rapid, but as secure as can be arranged."

The second message, to key members of the Ferrymen, including Grace, Jezebel, and Meredith:

Go to ground.

February 23rd: Hold On

Previously in this storyline…
On The One Hand

Next in this storyline…
Who's Side Are You On?

February 23rd: Coffee Break
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