Hypocupremia, Part II


colette_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif lucille4_icon.gif rue2_icon.gif ryans2_icon.gif

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Scene Title Hypocupremia, Part II
Synopsis On the hunt for Caspar Abraham, Wolfhound encounters something unexpected.
Date November 26, 2018

The remote reaches of rural Arkansas are consumed by nature. Miles upon miles of farmhouses, gas stations, truck stops, and strip malls are overgrown with a decade's greenery. In other parts of the country, rural towns like these weathered the war unscathed, but the exodus of displaced people fleeing the deep south left Arkansas ravaged by crime and violence.

Streets lay untended, winding tracks of cracked asphalt bristling with tall stands of grass. The autumn months have stripped leaves off of the coniferous trees, leaving just the tall and sparse pines for foliage against stickbare forests. Abandoned cars follow these wild stretches of roads, tires flat and windshields busted in. Some still have sun-bleached suitcases and trashbags tied to their roofs, picked apart by animals and the wind. There was no driving out from the danger of the war, no escaping it except by foot.

The sight of a mostly skeletal set of human remains on the side of the road indicate that, perhaps, not even then.

Hope, Arkansas

November 26

12:17 pm

Hope, Arkansas lies just twenty miles from the Texas border. Before the war it was already a city on the decline, shedding residents by the thousands every year. When the war came, Hope was burned to the ground by riots that followed displaced citizens fleeing violence further south. Today, trees and raccoons, tall grass and possum are the lords of the land.

The flight from New York to Arkansas on the Tlanuwa was a short one, leaving Wolfhound's armed aircraft in an open field just outside of the ruined city center. Epstein is on the ground for this mission, covering the Tlanuwa and flying co-pilot to Hana’s remote control. The mixed-makeup ground team participating in this operation is a patchwork from across three separate strike teams: Colette Demsky and Huruma Dunsimi from Wendigo, Lucille Ryans from Amarok, and Rue Lancaster from Keelut. Seeing these four decked out in their matte black AEGIS armor moving through waist high grass away from the city center is a sight itself, but adding a contractor consultant to the mix is another issue entirely.

Benjamin Ryans walks behind the wedge of some of Wolfhound's best and brightest, afforded a matching suit of AEGIS armor from Wolfhound's armory. The white EPSTEIN stenciled on the chest of Ryans’ armor explains why it looks like it's rarely ever seen combat use. The tall, marshy stand of trees they're headed toward is all that lies between the team and their ultimate destination.

Caspar Abraham.

The wilderness contrasted against the decay of settlements and cities is something oddly comforting for Huruma; the reclamation of concrete by nature, perhaps. It reminds her some of Madagascar, working alongside rather than destroying what they have.

One hand brushes against the wetland grass as the formation moves ahead, its owner on one flank; Huruma feels right at home in that armor, and it shows. Finding out about the job itself was a bit surprising- - but actually having the elder Ryans around again, that's what feels familiar. The girls are too, and even if Huruma picks up any adverse emotions, she feels reassured by this.

Rue is slightly less at home in her armor. It isn’t that she isn’t used to it, but that she’s more at ease blending in with her surroundings. The role of the ghost is one she settled into comfortably. To observe and to strike from far shadows is where she shines. This mission, however, calls for a different approach, and she’s just grateful to be along for the ride. It’s always gratifying to see intel pay off.

Even when it isn’t her own.

A roll of her neck and Lucille uses it to look over her companions, her father before flexing her fingerless gloved hands. There's a stillness to her thoughts, her emotions. She's locked in. This was a personal mission as much as a big opportunity for Wolfhound. A mask covers the lower half of her face, more for intimidation tactics.

Fingers glide over the hilt of her black blade, she's ready. «Is everyone ready?» the question is uttered softly through the comms as Lucille's eyes swirl to that luminous amber gold, pushing her biotic field around her she walks in front of the group, «Scanning.» For enemies, any lifeforms, she doesn't want to seem too overeager, there were answers here for her family. Holding up a hand to signal the others she begins to move forward.

It was an odd sensation, being out in the field like that again. Benjamin was feeling his age and down time a little, especially around these younger kids. At least Epstein's armor fit.. Mostly. It It was a little tight around the chest, where he can feel the penny necklace pressed into his skin. A rare sight is the hook where his left hand used to be. His disdain for it is pretty clear to Huruma. However, his weapons are modified to it and made it necessary.

This was also the first time he’s really seen his daughter in her role within Wolfhound. Not many parents get that privilege, so when she looks back at him, Ben gives her a small smile and a short firm nod of his head. It was tough hanging back, but he does, letting the others move forward. His mind going still, a void, as he becomes more observant of his surroundings.

«Trailer is past the trees,» Colette confirms from her side of the squad, brow furrowed and eyes unfocused as she assesses the visual area remotely. Lucille, in her range, feels nothing outside of the background noise of small life within her field of influence. Huruma, likewise, only picks up her comrades. Though as they trudge through the dense, swampy forest that begins to change.

Huruma, of them all, has the broadest ability to sense others at a distance. What she picks up first is wild and frightened. It feels like the kind of panic an animal might experience, but it’s juxtaposed against rational thoughts of hunger and pain that feel all too human. The psychic texture of these emotions is a blurring that she hasn’t felt since Madagascar, when she brushed the mind of Six, the deformed man that Edmond Rasoul kept as a pet. This feels hauntingly familiar.

Up ahead through the stands of narrow trees and tall reeds, there is a sunlit clearing of waist high grass roughly two acres across. A dirt road leads out from the property to the north, and a beat up brown pickup truck is parked on the road in front of a double wide trailer with a cheap satellite television dish mounted on top. Plastic lawn furniture, a barbecue, old tires, stacks of cordwood and other ephemera litter the backyard.

Behind the trailer, closest to the direction Wolfhound is approaching from, there’s a red-painted shipping container surrounded by a chickenwire fence. They can see the back of the shipping container, streaked with rust where the paint has worn away. There’s no good view of the front of it, but Lucille’s intel from Peyton said that it was locked with a chain and padlock. Whatever it is Huruma is feeling, it’s coming from the shipping container. The trailer, though, it’s just past the edge of Huruma’s perception.

Crouching in the reeds, Colette rests one arm over a bent knee and offer a look up to Lucille. «How do you want to proceed?» Dark brows raise, and Colette turns a blind-eyed stare back to the trailer.

As Huruma first smells that fear, her pace slows to study it a stride longer, before they wander closer. It isn't the kind of fear you get from something specific; it's a raw, more primal feeling, uncertainty and phases of despairing. Pain and wanting, just under the surface. Desires for survival, which she can personally attest are frightening things.

Her eyes seem to unfocus as they go, vision clear but psychic senses tuning in on the shipping container like a dowsing rod. The far-away look is not unfamiliar to the team; she's studying something.

The tall grass and brush affords them some cover, better than none at all; Huruma settles into the reeds with her eyes ahead, briefly examining the trailer beyond, and any lines providing power, or a generator.

We should cut off the trailer if we can. I am not close enough to read it.»" Her shadow shifts in the grass, head tipping towards the shipping container. "«If that is secure… let us leave it that way, for now. Abraham is our priority.»" Even if she feels the distress scratching dully from the inside out, they came here for a reason. They can rescue whatever poor creature is in there afterwards.

Lucille's gold eyes survey the terrain as they come upon the trailer and Huruma's observations are noted as she squats with both arms dangling over her knees, the shipping container being locked makes this a little easier and the tall woman nods her head. "«You guys,» Motioning to Colette and Rue, "«Camouflaged, make your way around the back of the trailer. Circle and make sure there's nothing to surprise us. The three of us,»" looking towards her father and Huruma, "«Approach from the front. Read the trailer and what we can beyond as they check. If it's clear and just one mental or bio signature. You knock on the door,», her father should be the one to face him. With Lucille and Huruma right at his back and with their skills and abilities, subduing him doesn't him to be an impossible task.

A trickle of doubt attempts to curl its way around her steadiness but it's shaken off with a mental shrug as she returns her gaze to Colette and Rue, "«Stay invisible and off to the side of the door, if need be you'll be right where you can intervene, he doesn't need to know how many of us there are as soon as he come towards the door.» If he opens the door to which Lucille doesn't think she has to tell her dad that he should just kick it in.

She'll wait a moment for any massive objections and then move ahead silently.

There’s a wary glance cast to the container and the possibility of what waits inside of it. Rue’s not looking forward to finding out just from the descriptions she’s already received in briefing. From her crouched place in the grass, she shifts her focus back to the trailer, watching for any signs of movement. She doesn’t have any special skill to tell her whether there’s a person inside or not, but she can see when a curtain flutters just about as well as anyone else.

When Lucille gives the command, the redhead nods. Staying out of sight is simple enough for her. Especially with Colette’s help. “«Copy,»” she replies succinctly.

Benjamin listens quietly, eyes on the trailer ahead of him. However, when Huruma tips her head toward the shipping container, he slow turns to look that way. She’ll feel a glimmer of curiosity, but then a more emotion that takes over and his turns back to the trailer and his daughters orders.

He has no idea if Casper would remember him or what he did to Ryans. However, it was the best plan they had. So shifting the rifle to his back, Ben pulls out his pistol and moves for the door. He training reminds him to not stand directly in front of the door, but to one side. He won’t knock until Lucille and Huruma give the all clear, so they get his full attention.

Taking Rue by the hand, Colette furrows her brows and both she and the redhead disappear in a shimmering mirage as though they were just painted out of the background. Only the bend of the tall grass gives away their presence. To Rue, it's a familiar cold darkness from training exercises. No light, just an impenetrable darkness and the slow, tentative pace that comes with it.

«God it's quiet here,» Colette chimes in over the comms. «Lawn furniture, old picket fence, I'm not seeing anyth— »


Rue hears it, Colette feels it, and she freezes in place at that sound. The photokinetic’s grip on Rue’s arm becomes vice-like and her free hand slaps hard against the redhead's chest. Don't move.

Huruma can feel the spike of panic coming from the back of the trailer. But she can also feel a sense of fear and tension in the trailer that Ben is approaching. It takes a moment for Huruma to register three different minds in very close proximity—

A shotgun blast explodes through the wall of the trailer and hits Ryans dead center mass. The wall deadened some of the force but it still takes him off of his feet and sends him down onto his side on the ground in front of the porch. There's a hissing coming from his armor, pellets embedded in the hardened ferrofluid plating. There's two soft vibrations from the armor that follows: 50% battery remaining.

Another shotgun blast fires through the door, leaving dozens of small holes and peeling back strips of wood. Then, a loud scream — reminiscent of both man and animal — rises with panicked quality from the shipping container and there's a crash of toppling furniture inside.

«Oh— oh my god,» Colette stammers over the comms during the shooting, «There's— I think there's mines in the fucking ground. I think I'm standing on a fucking mine!»

Huruma is focused on following the scent in front of her, watching as Ben moves up to flank the door. She counts them from the outside, fingers ticking out at her side. One. Two. Three. The last is…hesitant. She stays off of the porch, Banshee held in her other hand and at the angle of a partial lift.

Ben»" is hissed in his ear over the comm just before the wall explodes outward and throws him free of the trailer's meager porch. The second shot comes as what seems like a warning filling the door with scattershot. Huruma steps forward to stand over Ryans, Banshee up and poised as the screaming rattles the shipping container, and Colette's voice comes wheedling anxious into her own ear. Her stance is wide and it gives Ryans some cover to pull himself away.

"«Stay on it, Colette. Call the Tlanuwa.»" Huruma's voice is low, and the downward, slow shift precedes a moment of concentration.

The thousand arms of her ability spread outward in all directions, gaze prying onto each piece in play, invisible hands coiling around those she senses. Inside the trailer, it does the same, passing through flesh and bone to sink into the three minds ahead of them. She feels the newness of them, and marks them in her vast collection.

To her teammates, Huruma sends twin ripples of calm, drops that ghost through them like cool water. Focus.

It becomes those ahead which she lends much of herself to; her free hand flexes open at her side, and to the three Huruma sends a stronger wave of a warmer calm, contrasted to the one for her comrades. It is cloying, soothing, and serene. The feeling of security, the same which comes with trust in another.

"Despite appearances…" Huruma speaks at no small volume, her drawl carrying carefully to play into the peace she tries to press at them. "We came to talk, not fight. May we have an accord?"

D— »" Lucille stops herself as her eyes widen and she ducks, moving lightly to the side of the porch, Huruma having her dad's back she focuses on the job ahead "«Don't.. move.. Keelut 1 you have it?»" Whispering as she presses down low to the ground almost sliding under the trailer and porch area, out of sight. Eyes glow amber gold as she shoots the tendrils of her awareness upwards and back within her range to get a bead on one of the biosignatures.

Waiting as Huruma takes point and uses her ability and words.. demeanor to speak out to the people inside trailer. Caspar packed a punch. Not needing her eyes to scan the trailer she shifts her gaze trying to get a look at where Colette and Rue are and their predicament. Finger laid on her Banshee. This is fine. The calm that envelopes them is welcome and steadies the edges of her psyche, the part of her that is screaming for her father to get up.

Liza's boot plants on loose soil in casual, quiet step.

The blast sends birds scattering for the sky, Rue knocked off her feet by an invisible wall of force as Liza is tossed like a ragdoll in a different direction. Dirt, rock and broken vegetation rockets sky-high as the explosion cracks through the silence before anyone can breathe a word back over the radio, a dust cloud settling by the time the shockwave has passed in the time it takes to blink. Bruises already blossoming beneath Rue's clothing, tasting blood in her mouth and stunned into shocked, she will see out the corner of her eye the figure of Liza crumpled facedown, blood blotting platinum hair, and a leg missing half of itself.

Colette isn't rent to pieces by a concussive force. Rue isn't sent flying through the air to land in a twisted mess on the ground several feet away. Not yet.

The lieutenant's breath comes in shallow gasps. Behind her helmet, tears spill down her cheeks as terror makes her blood run cold. Not this. Not like this. Not again. It's only the empathic wave of calm being forced on her that keeps Lancaster from collapsing in a heap where she stands. Her urge to run back the way they came is nearly overwhelming. The sounds of gunfire have her ducking, though she keeps her grip on Demsky.

No. Keelut-1 does not have it.

One moment he’s making his way up to the trailer, the next, Benjamin is on the ground with Huruma standing over him. It takes a moment for him to get his breath back after having it knocked out pretty well. After a moment, Huruma gets a pat on her booted ankle, before he shimmies out from where she is straddled over him.

With a grunt, Ben gets to his feet again and straightens, with a stretch of his back. “«Nunnehi 1 to Tlanuwa, I’m going to get a look at that mine, see what we’re facing.»” Sometimes there were just more important things then a penny full of memories. Life of a young woman is one.

“«Keelut 1.Rue.»” Comes Ryans voice over the com. Dropping the callsigns to make sure she doesn’t mistake anything. The words are calm and measured, spoken softly, as he moves to sneak around the singlewide. He’s overly cautious, but then he doesn’t think they need more people stuck on mines. “«I need you to listen to me very carefully. Look behind you? Can you see where you came from? Look for footprints. You are going to have to go back, so I can get in there, but first be sure you are not standing on any of the mine with Colette.»”

The ka-chak of a shotgun racking another round, followed by a blast through the door angled in Huruma’s direction — but missing her by a large margin — is the answer of whomever is on the other side of that rapidly disappearing door. Huruma feels her calm being used to steady a point of resolve, panic replaced with certainty. Certainty used to shoot.

Lucille can feel three lifesigns inside of the trailer, all within her relatively short range. One is close to the door, heart-rate elevated, high blood pressure, all of the biological telltale signs of extreme stress. But it’s rapidly diminishing, whatever Huruma is doing is having a calming effect on the panicked figure.

Another lifesign is some ten feet away, deeper into the trailer, even higher heart rate and respiration, and Lucille thinks they may be having a panic attack. The third lifesign is faint, fading, and located adjacent to the one experiencing high levels of panic. Someone inside that trailer is dying.


Something inside the shipping container, however, is enraged.


As Ryans cuts his way around the trailer, Colette tries to remain calm. She sweeps the surrounding area for sight of a confident blonde weaving her way through a minefield, finding none. That’s good, she presumes. If Tamara isn’t here, the others might have this under their control. Huruma can feel the sense of fear fading from Colette, seeping out from her like water draining from a bucket with a hole in the bottom. “Go,” Colette says to Rue, trying to push the fear out of her voice. “Go, I think I can play red light-green light by myself.” She releases Rue from the field of distorted light, letting her see the world again, though Colette remains a distorted prism of warped light standing stationary in the backyard beside a pink, plastic flamingo.


The doors of the shipping container explode open, broken pieces of chain flying in every direction as a hulking, monstrous figure erupts from within, exhaling a braying cry like a wounded elk and a terrified man all in one. The monstrosity is twice the size of Huruma, proportioned like a human being but stooped in posture with forearms that extend down like a spindly gorilla. Too many additional arms writhe at the creature’s bare abdomen, six arms in total, each twisted and bent in unnatural directions and of varying size.

The creature wears patchwork pants sewn from multiple pairs of denim jeans and may have even had something of a shirt at one point in time. Of all its gith, its head looks tiny. Proportionately human sized, though two faces fused together, one at an odd angle coming out of half of the other face. Matted patches of blonde hair sprout from the horrible abomination’s skull and injection marks pockmark its limbs.

Hoo-roo-ma,” the monster bellows, sounding entirely like it’s calling for—

Huruma sees the beast, its blue eyes, its familiar face.


Or, faces.

Hanging back enough to watch the second shot blast apart more splinters of the door, Huruma keeps her Banshee trained; the hand against her ankle is a wordless gesture that tells her all she needs to know. The point of certainty that forms in front of her whispers which route to take next, the branching of emotions spreading like oil through cracks. The reaction speaks much of the person on the other side of the door, and it is in part what Huruma needed.

The mind at the front door comes under pressure once more; the calming effect lingers, though now comes a roiling warmth with it. A warmth that blooms in their gut, washing outward in a ripple of bliss, followed by a yearning, a dash of guilt, and lastly the circling coils of infatuation. A recipe, tailormade, pushing the overwhelming feelings of devotion through them.

Trust her. Please her. Submit.

"We came for Abraham." Huruma's voice comes dark and velvet, the echoes of the metal walls banging through the air to her ears. She doesn't have much longer to toy around- -

The break of lock and chain is sharp in her reception, causing her to backpedal in Ben's wake, keeping a fair distance from the trailer door so that she can pull the trailer into her field of view.

First, images of Gregor, Six, Madagascar, with the wheedling sound of anger and distress. It is much bigger than Six. Bigger than her. A mass of what seems like undetailed flesh.

The longer she stares the more she sees, from the scars of needles to the pained palsy of fingers and arms. It's eyes. The mind. It's voice, buried under deformity and the bulk of chest crushed up against bone and lung, deepening it to a crude call.

For her.

Though she does not abandon her mental grip on the trailer, another invisible hand reaches out in a tender gathering of the aura around what was once a man. Her heart bumps against the underside of her armor, breath heavy, pupils wide.

"Oh darling…" A heartfelt whisper, free hand lingering in a half-extension. "What have they done to you…?"

Huruma's calming effects and words linger over Lucille as she reads the lifesigns of those within the trailer, eyes widen a smidge when she feels the third, the dying one. A stray thought plays out the likelihood of it being Caspar in there. There's no more time for lulling and hypnotizing, that's made even more clear as the thing roars out from the shipping container moaning Huruma's name. A twist of her head with another fraction widen of her eyes, Huruma's calm curling around the nerves from seeing something so twisted in real life. Sliding out from under the trailer crouched by the door, a hand being raised in that direction and curling in on itself fingers twisting as she snaps her ability on the lifesign under extreme stress, Pressure. She thinks, encouraging the body to bend to her will. Intermingling her ability with Huruma's calming effect to hopefully drop the person within. One hand hefts her Banshee, prepared to go inside once the person is down.

Huruma's reaction is noted from her back to the lower wall of the trailer, eyebrows tick up, "«Take it down. There's no time, someone is dying in that trailer. Let's move.»" Her father would have to get Rue and Colette, the Ryans girl cursing herself but how could she have known about the mines?

Swinging her body upwards Luce scales the wall of the trailer with two gentle leaps, landing lightly limbs splayed out with amber eyes aflare she crawls forward to the lip of the roof just above the door of the trailer before gripping the lip and swinging in feet first.

Silently, Rue counts to five before forcing herself to open her eyes after Colette’s left her out of her field of warped light. After a deep breath, she nods. «Copy.» She’s trying to get a grip on herself, and detaching from the situation seems the easiest way to do that at the moment. “Everything’s going to be fine,” she whispers for her own benefit as much as Colette’s before she disengages.

Once she’s steady enough, she pivots carefully and starts to retrace her steps back through the grass as best she can. Years of practice looking for signs of other people’s footsteps has left her better able to find her own traces. And the heavy armor doesn’t leave the most subtle footprint.

With a nervous look, thankfully hidden, she lays eyes on the beast that’s broken free of the shipping container and says a silent prayer to whatever higher power might be listening. If that creature triggers one of those mines…

Rue pulls her gun and takes aim.

Spotting Rue and where the path they took ends, Benjamin makes his way that way, with a quick wary glance to the trailer. His hand grips Rue’s shoulder and gives a short nod before he starts to follow the much smaller footprints of the girls, his whole focus is on what he’s doing and the ground in front of him.

At least until the beast comes crashing out of the shipping container.

The sound has the old man pausing and turning just enough to hazard a glance that way. He does so just in time to hear it call Huruma’s name, which sends a sharp chill down his spine and a sense of urgency to his task. Ryans turns back to finishing his trek to Colette. “Alright Demsky. Keep hidden, I'm going to take a look.”

With a pop of knees, the elder Ryans kneels next to the young woman. With hook and hand, he starts the careful and tedious work of uncovering the mine enough for him to get an idea of what he was facing. “Lucille ever tell you what I used to do in the Navy?” It’s asked in a quiet and calm rumble. An odd thing for him to ask, very conversational; but to be honest he is just trying to keep her mind off of her situation a little.

Ryans can hear Colette’s breaths in small, shallow gasps of fright. She's calmer than she should be, all things considered, but she's still unable to shake the feeling of terror from her close proximity to almost certain death, depending on the size of the mine. Ryans asked her a question, though, and she only belatedly remembers that.

“I don't— no.” Colette’s response is small and frightened. “A— did you— hit people? You seem like a hitter.” A nervous bubble of laughter escapes her as she looks down, watching as Ryans parts the tall, brown grass and gets to the damp earth below.

It's some kind of IED. The metal casing is fashioned from a coffee can, with a distributor cap from an old car on top. The triggering device appears to be a pressure release switch, the kind Ryans was familiar with seeing in Vietnam. They'd be used as booby traps, placed under bodies and when they were retrieved, the mines would detonate. In Benjamin’s experience 99% of mines explode the moment they're stepped on.

This was designed this way on purpose. The why is baffling, but he can't at the moment look a gift horse in the mouth. As he feels around the mine further, he can see every side of it thanks to Colette being invisible. Whatever it is, it appears to operate like a bouncing Betty when triggered, and would launch an anti-personnel device up into the air before detonating.

He might be able to disarm it. He might accidentally set it off. Last time he'd ever done this, he had two hands.

And it wasn't in a firefight.

On the other side of the trailer, Lucille smashes through the already damaged door with an acrobatic flip. The gunman behind the door is knocked backwards and slides across the tile floor, his shotgun knocked aside. He's clutching his head, dark hair between his fingers, blue eyes staring wide at Lucille. He can't even fathom what's happening to him at the moment. He looks familiar, though, but Lucille can't place why. But it isn't Caspar Abraham, too young, too thin, too square-jawed.


Caspar Abraham lays some ten feet away in the tiny linoleum-floored kitchen, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the temple. Remarkably he's not dead, but he looks it. Kneeling by his side is a horrified looking young woman with long, chalk white hair. Caspar has a handgun still curled in his tight palm, the same side as the—


— he shot himself?

Scattered around Caspar on the floor are dozens of pennies and shards of broken glass from a shattered jar. There's stacks of pennies on the Formica table by the front door, shotgun shells and notepads beside them. The white haired woman stares at Lucille with tears in her eyes, hands shaking and covered in Caspar’s blood.

Please don't kill me!” The girl screams, raising her hands over her head.


Outside the trailer, the malformed figure that once Adam Monroe moves along on too many limbs, clamoring across the yard toward Huruma with bloodshot blue eyes locked on her far paler ones. “Hoo-roo-ma,” he slurs her name, closing the distance to her enough that she can smell the acrid stink of sweat on his mottled skin. He reaches up to gently cup Huruma’s cheek in one spindly hand.

Hoo…” Adam rasps, wetly, “roo-ma.” There's a pained sadness in the creature's eyes, desperate, hopeless, pleading. But then that all turns to rage once Rue comes around the corner and raises her gun in the beast’s direction. It screams a three-voiced cry and rises up to its full height of nearly nine feet.

The shock of what's inside that trailer does little to move Lucille on the visible surface, instead she doubles down on her objectives. There are the professional ones and then the personal, familial ones.

Everyone on this squad knew what Casper meant to her, to her father and the rest of the family. It was the reason she called out the names she did besides their obvious skill sets. She needed people on who would be sympathetic and have an emotional stake in this with her. The white haired woman gets a raised eyebrow as Lucille recognizes Kyla Renautaus, her gaze flicks back to the younger man who she assumes would be her traveling companion, one David Cardinal.

The Banshee is raised at the same time as her ability snaps out and wraps around Kyla, effectively blinding the woman as she pulls the trigger to incapacitate David. "«Renautus and Cardinal are inside, Ca-.. Caspar is down.»" Long legs take Lucille slowly to where Caspar lays, hands stilled raised and pointing the Banshee at Cardinal hoping to hold him until one of the others arrive. She ignores Kyla for a moment to look over the mess with bright amber eyes while kneeling next to Caspar, pressing her hands to the memory manipulator. Pennies and notepads. The man losing his life though.. "I will let you see if you cooperate." Her raspy growl not as rumbling as her fathers but the feeling of she isn't fucking around drips from her voice. "What happened?"

That firefight taking away Ryans' concentration hits a lull, at least in that moment Lucille breaks inside and Rue rounds the trailer, honing in as she was taught. The scream from inside the trailer tells Huruma something of the scene inside that her ability cannot, though that panicked source is kept in her peripheral, cautionary.

Huruma doesn't have time to spend wallowing in the despair of Adam's grotesque, but she doesn't shy away when he reaches out to her. There have been worse things to assault her senses, that very despairing making sure that she looks him in the eye, expression pained in mirror. Her gaze unlocks when he straightens up with a shout, instead fixing on Rue.

"Stand down." Huruma briefly steps between the two of them, giving both the verbal warning and one of caution that bubbles at their moods, layering both the woman and the- creature- with calm. Rue's aim is quite interrupted. "…I've got it." As far as Huruma goes, she expects Rue to listen. A half step moves Huruma just enough to look back up at the towering amalgam that she knows to be a man; it is then that Lucille's voice comes over the relay, filling the team in on the trailer situation. Good. The shriek of a Banshee is oddly reassuring.

"Adam." Huruma isn't even certain he understands her fully, but despite everything else she is quite gentle in her demands, stifling the strain in her voice. "…Look at me," Her free hand reaches up palm out to gesture him down. A calming pressure pushes against his anger and grief, and Rue gets a faint tickle of it as well. Everything is fine. "She is not here for you."

Lancaster’s weapon begins to lower when she sees Huruma has the… creature well in hand, but she frowns deeply behind her helmet at the order to stand down. Even more when her line of fire is completely obscured by her teammate.

Ultimately, the beast seems calmed by Huruma's presence, so Keelut-1 gives a short nod before she hurries off toward the trailer to back up her commander for this op. She's swapped out for her own Banshee on arrival. Her first course of action is to secure the discarded shotgun to make sure no one else tries to use it against them.

Her aim stays on Cardinal, but her gaze flickers to Renautus and Abraham. It doesn't look great. "«Keelut-1 to Tlanuwa-2. We're going to need medical.»"

Whatever anxiety the man has over the landmine, it doesn’t show, Benjamin’s voice is as calm as ever in comparison to Colette’s nervous giggles. “Hitting people, sure. I did that too. No, I was a SeAL.” He pauses to look up at her, give her a reassuring smile. “Explosives was a part of my everyday. Know my way around them blindfolded.” Not really, but she didn’t need to know that. His attention goes back to the device as he gently brushes at remaining dirt, mind working over what he’s seeing. Making silent note of how the wires are attached.

“Homemade, S-mine,” Benjamin murmurs looking over it. “Pressure trigger, so definitely keep still.” With his head pressed against the ground, he studies the improvised device. “If I can find something flat…” he trails off, Colette will barely hear him.

Pushing back up to his knees, Benjamin looks around. Finding a flattish pebble and a broken wedge of wood, he continues talking, calm… despite the nerves. “Saw mines like this all the time. Ha this idiot of an LT that….” The sounds of the fight have him pausing for a moment to listen. Then he offers Colette a bit of a smile, in the general direction of her hidden face. “… well, lets just say he was fresh out of school. He was one of those officers that got their rank at a school desk.” Laying back down, he digs more dirt aside to give him more wiggle room. “Stepped on one of these once. Had to do just this.” The rock is automatically discarded, but the stick he works at. “Blubbered like a little baby, not like you, Demsky. I have to say, your family is full of some of the toughest ladies…” At that moment, the stick snaps and he gives a low curse. He starts to get up again, “I need to find…” he starts, but something taps against his hand, before he pushes up to his feet.

Looking down, Benjamin realizes the penny that he wore around his neck had worked its way out and was swinging freely. The old man goes still and stares down at it for a long moment, silent and unreadable, even to Huruma. There is a blink and then another. Fingers curl around the dangling talisman and he gives it a hard yank, breaking the links that hold it there. He holds it up and lets out a breath as a mixture of emotions tumble through him.

Everything that was who Ben once was is on that penny.

He’d never forgive himself though….

“Alright Demsky,” Ben rumbles out, positioning himself so that he can see the penny slide into the gap. “When I yell run you go back the way you came as fast as your legs can carry you, just in case, this doesn’t work.” Ryans starts to press the penny into place. It would hopefully block the mechanism from activating. “I’ll be right behind you,” he says softly in deep concentration. This way he can be the first person the shrapnel hits, protecting her.

After a few adjustments and a twist of regret for what he was giving up, Benjamin pulls his hand away slowly, so he can see. Satisfied with the placement, he rolls up to his feet with practiced ease. He looks at the shimmering form of Colette and then shouts, “Run!”

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!” Colette screams as she sprints away from the mine, and Huruma can feel the spike of panic coming from her. As she runs toward the embankment sloping away from the back yard, her pace stays matched with Ryans’ longer strides. The pair dive down the shallow slope back the way they'd come, sliding in the tall grass.

Inside the mine, the penny slides, grinds against the pressure plate, and then slips out—

The backyard explodes.

Inside the trailer the blast is loud enough to blow out the windows. Metal ball bearings zip through the walls, punching holes in metal, ceramic, and wood with terrible ferocity. Lucille is struck dead in the chest by one of the ball bearings, causing her AEGIS armor to harden and absorb the blow, but sends her flat onto her back and blows the battery pack in one go. Her ears are ringing, breath knocked out of her.

Kyla Renautas lays on her side, hands cradling her head, curled up in the fetal position in Caspar’s blood, shielded from the bulk of the blast by his body. Lucille can feel the moment Caspar dies from the shrapnel of his own IED. David, hunkered by the refrigerator on his back, is likewise spared from the explosion, though shards of plaster and glass litter his clothes.

Out front, the explosion sends shrapnel through the house. Several ball bearings perforate Adam, would have perforated Huruma as well, but the hulking and multi-limbed beast interposed itself between Huruma and the trailer with startling speed. Blood weeps from the massive injuries, and the malformed Adam Monroe exhales a gurgling breath and drops onto his knees, wounds very slowly — too slowly — stitching themselves up. Huruma’s seen this before, in Claire. A stunted regeneration.

Rue is nearly knocked off her feet by the force of the blast, but manages to stay up on one knee. Her ears are ringing, hands shaking, and she can see Demsky and Ryans huddled together flat as boards down the shallow slope where earth is kicked up by the shrapnel. They're both fine, shaken but fine.

There's a smoking crater two feet across where the Penny used to delay the primer was left. All of Ryans’ stolen memories, everything the Company took from him… gone forever.

On the ground beside Huruma, the malformed and broken Adam wheezes wetly, staring up at her with too many bloodshot eyes. “Hoo-Roo-Ma.” The creature’s chest rises and falls slowly.

Kill. Me.

Somewhere in her hearing she hears that 'Run!' from Ben, and the ensuing cusswords from Colette. She knows they were handling the IED situation- - yet her focus isn't where it ought to be. It's on Adam when the copper penny slips from its mooring between triggers. She realizes a second late that she shouldn't be standing there. Flickers of old memories click around like slides; burning slums and torn wildlands, soldiers no more than boys with guns too heavy to hold straight. Mines haphazard under shallow graves. Always the smell of charred flesh and blood.

Though she flings herself down against the earth, Huruma knows there's a chance she'll still be struck- - likely, even. Yet, nothing pocks against her armor, nor pierces into her limbs. Huruma turns onto her side, armor dusted and eyes on Adam as he buckles to his knees. The desperation hitting her mind is worse to her than the deformation, or the smell of blood and sweat. The field of her ability picks out the lost- Caspar, hell- and those with the feelings of pain versus strained relief. Finding who remains able.

"No." Huruma's breath leaves her in an indeterminate growl. It could be an answer, or just shock. Maybe both. She pushes up onto her knees, bracing a shoulder against the droop of Adam's frame to hold him up. "We can help you…" The voice in what ears he does have drops low, close and careful with the psychic pressure of reassurance and optimism.

"You brought me back once, remember…?" Huruma whispers, jaw clenching and empathy coaxing him to listen. "I owe it to you. To give you some hope. Do not let it happen like this. Whatever- - this is- -"

Rue called the Tlanuwa before the blast, and Huruma chances a look at the horizon, anger bubbling in her blood.

Ears ringing and vision rotating it takes a moment for Lucille to gather her wits, breathing in a large ragged breath as amber gold eyes pop back open and she looks towards where her Banshee lies on the floor near the door. NO!! Mentally screaming as she feels the life drain from Caspar's body. Her head raises as she slowly sits up and rubs the back of her head. Biotic feelers search through David and Kyla and she gets to one knee. "«He's gone.»"

But pennies.

Lucille's hand drags itself over the surface of cold metal and she digs her fingers in, pulling a few pennies and slipping them into her pocket with a grunt. In case David gets any ideas (how he could right now who knows) but Lucille grateful for her armor extends the blindness to him again as she climbs to her feet, «Everyone report.» Please everyone be okay, please. Dad.

Rue gasps sharply as she drops to her knee, eyes wide and frantic behind the visor of her helmet. The blast was even worse than she expected, somehow. The world seems askew and her ears are ringing uncomfortably, but she hasn't been hit that she can tell. Lucille's voice on the radio is a reassuring one.

Their primary target is dead. Keelut-1 doesn't bother with her report, instead stepping up inside the trailer to begin the process of arresting and restraining David Cardinal first. They need to gather their secondary targets and get the hell out of here before they encounter any more surprises.

He was getting too old for this shit… Still Benjamin is pleased to still be alive, he lays prone on the slope, he coming up slowly after the explosion. There is a twist of something deep in his gut, but he doesn’t regret what he did. He may never know who he really was, but… Colette will get to live.

Worth it.

“You still with us, Demsky,” Ben asks over the ringing in his ears, making sure she hasn’t shut down or anything after that. Then pushing to his feet he surveys the damage and gives a low impressed whistle. That was serious firepower. His attention shifts to the mobile at the sound of his daughter voice and the new. Head slowing turning back to the hole in the ground. «”It’s… alright.”» He admits more for himself, then to sooth his daughter. Maybe it hadn’t full sunk in yet.

Reaching his one hand down to offer to the young woman, Benjamin says, “Let’s go see what was caught.”

Exhaling a shuddering breath, Colette presses a hand to her chest in a moment of uncertainty to Ryans’ question. Then, nodding, she swiftly reaches up and takes his hand in hers and levers up to her feet. The pair begin moving around the trailer toward the front, even as Huruma deals with the beast laying in a growing pool of its blood.

The creature, nearly warped beyond recognition to the man she knew, reaches out to her with a gentle, misshapen hand and laces too-long fingers between hers. “Not…” it wheezes, “your…” blue eyes stare at her, and for the first time in her life, she sees fear and pain in his eyes, “Adam.

Inside the trailer, David Cardinal is hauled up to his feet, still gasping for breath from having the wind knocked out of him and vacantly staring around with wide, blinded eyes. “We didn't do this…” David exhales breathlessly, “we didn't do this…” He continues to say, shaking his head. “You don't understand. We— we didn't do this.”

Kyla Renautas remains with her hands in the air, eyes reddened and puffy, tears wet on her cheeks. “He's telling the truth. I swear. We weren't here to hurt him. Someone else was here. Please, it wasn't us.” Regardless of that fact, Kyla Renautas had been on Hana’s list of known Institute accessories for quite some time now, since the Renautas’ involvement was first uncovered in Colorado.

Though she doesn't recognize the signatures of Kyla and David, her mind tracks the shift of Lucille and Rue. Then there is Colette and Ben, crawling up from where they'd taken cover. At least there is this- - Huruma need not worry for any of her team.

Her eyes fix on blue, the ink of her pupils widening some; she presses inward through the jumbled scramble of the man's mind, proximity and touch pulling the study in like a sieve. Huruma's gaze flickers when she blinks back, eyes shaded by a more sobered expression. It's… different. But the sameness is there, buried underneath in bits and pieces. She can see now that his struggling words are the truth, and his fear mirrors momentarily in the tension of her frame.

"Alright." It is a tentative agreement, yet an agreement all the same. Huruma's fingers squeeze against misshapen hand just once before she lays him to the grass.

Colette and Ryans turn around the side of the trailer just as Huruma draws the heavy pistol from her belt and places it between blue eyes.

One shot, measured precisely where she knows to aim, a crack of thunder caught by flesh and bone.


Is the only word that Lucille can think in this instance and she tilts her head as she keeps the blindness effect surrounding David until Rue walks in to restrain him as she walks closer to Kyla. Reaching into her back pocket, the zip tie is placed around Kyla's wrists as Lucille looks over her, reading her facial expressions, body language and lifesigns. "Who was it and why are you here? Kravid sent you on an errand?" Lucille is not nice. Not to anyone from the Institute. Not after Col… Berlin.

Looking over at Rue the brunette nods her head at the redhead: Thank you. She wants to say for Rumour being there, through her eyes widen as she hears the gunshot outside. The cold feeling of the pennies in her pocket she can feel, one of the notepads laying on the floor is picked up by the bio wizard as she thumbs through, looking for clues. "Obviously you wanted a memory he had here or you wanted one taken." There's a light shrug from the Ryans woman.

Whether the two prisoners are responsible for what happened to Abraham or not is irrelevant to Rue right now. They’re here and they’re wanted, regardless of their role in this absolute disaster. The speaker in her helmet crackles as she’s about to say something when the gunshot has her attention snapping back to the door she’d just come through.

Leveling her Banshee at Cardinal, she demands, “«Stay put,»” and steps out to investigate. The sight of Huruma standing there over that poor creature has Rue holding her breath for a moment as she runs through the scenarios of what must have happened for this turnaround. Ultimately, the result is that her teammate has the situation under control. A quick scan doesn’t reveal any other threats. She moves to head back inside.
It had been Ryans’ plan to go into the trailer, check on his daughter; but, the gunshot pulls his attention to Huruma and the hulking mess that was once Adam. He had been so busy with ensuring Colette’s safety, he hadn’t noticed that thing.. Since there is no immediate danger, Ben relaxes his hand from the grip of his own weapon and watches her for a moment. Possibly debating whether bothering her would be a good thing. While he considered, he motions Colette towards the trailer.

Moments later, Benjamin steps up alongside Huruma, his attention on the creature. “You good?” He asks in a soft rumble. She’ll know he is concerned, it downs out even disgust for the thing on the ground. “It’s a pity. I have questions for him.” The old man is not privy to what she knows of him. Though he suspects as he asks, “Was it even him?”

It’s not clear if Colette saw Ryans’ suggestion to go to the trailer. Her blind eyes are wide, fixed on the monstrosity laying at Huruma’s feet. Her mouth is slack, brows pinched together, first-hand accounts of the horrors the Ferrymen found inside of Staten Island Hospital rattling around in her head. When she moves for the trailer, it’s belated, rather than as a response to anything other than her own revulsion.

As Colette makes her way inside the trailer, she unclips her banshee from her hip and flicks it into an active state, eliciting a high-pitched whine as it powers up. She finds David Cardinal slouched against a wall, blinking repeatedly as if that will restore his vision. Whatever Lucille had been interrogating them about, Colette comes in mid-conversation and hangs back to try and pick up the particulars.

He did it to himself!” David barks back to Lucille, adrenaline spiked in panic from the blindness and all the sound of movements, screams, and gunshots he’s heard. “I swear, we were supposed to— ” David hesitates, breath hitching in the back of his throat. He bites down on his bottom lip, frustrated, and then exhales a sharp sigh. “We were supposed to bring him in.

“Caspar was awol! He— he’s been missing for years, no one was even sure he was still alive!” Kyla pleads as her hands are zip-tied. “He— we’re here on orders— Erica Kravid!” She parrots back the name Lucille asked for. “She ordered we find Caspar and bring him back to her. I swear, she relayed the orders to David directly.”

Fuck, fuck, fuck,” David hisses as he slouches further down the wall. “Fuck, fuck, this wasn’t supposed to— fuck.”

Flicking a look from David to Kyla, Colette circles around the room and examines the pennies and notes on the kitchen table, all spattered with blood, then walks over and takes a knee beside Caspar’s corpse and checks it twice for a pulse. A sigh slips from her, and she looks over to Kyla again. “Was anyone else with you?”

Kyla shakes her head in the negative. “Just David and I,” she murmurs. Colette looks up, over to David, then back again.

“Why him?” Colette wanted to shake as many answers loose now before she had time to cobble together a better story.

“I don’t know. Kravid’s orders,” is Kyla’s response. “I swear, I don’t know. She has my brother! I’m just following orders to keep him safe, please. I didn’t want to hurt anyone!”

Colette sighs through her nose and shakes her head, right about the time a voice crackles over the comms. «This is Tlanuwa-2.» Avi. «En-route, ETA less under 1 minute.»

Splatter rests in the grass rather than anywhere else, and whatever blood coursed through him soaks into the earth. Huruma is vaguely aware of her teammates surveying the situation as she takes a moment to lie a hand across the amalgam's brow before unfurling to her feet. There's no twitching at Ryans' presence when he nears, but there is very clearly a sharpness to the woman's eyes. They flick away from the dead and up to Ben.

She stares back for a few long moments, lips pursing before one last look to the corpse before turning her back to it. Tension lines her shoulders. "No, not particularly." Huruma answers softly, brow furrowed, troubled. She isn't good, no. She will be sooner or later.

"It was not. I do not know what this all… is." A sigh escapes her as she looks over her shoulder to the trailer and back to Ben. The girls are handling it, it sounds like? "I'm sorry. About Caspar. If it eases you, he was already on his way out."

Lucille's cold gaze stays centered on Kyla as Colette walks in and only then once she has the support of two of her comrades does she release her grip on the man's eyesight, eyes still glowing gold more for the intimidation factor she doesn't believe they are going to give any trouble. Not now. The way they are talking, Lucille comes closer to Kyla and looks her in the eyes, "I'm sorry about your brother." She doesn't promise to get him back, "Whatever you tell us can go towards grabbing him." There. A little hope.

With Avi coming in, Lucille leaves Colette with the active Banshee and she looks over more of the pennies and notepads. Taking his own life, Kyla and David showing up and Wolfhound showing up right as it all goes down. It could make anyone's head spin but instead of giving into the sensation the tall woman channels her emotions forward, there is information to be had. In her pocket, she rubs the surface of one of the pennies, all for these?

Keelut-1 is silent, mulling over Lucille’s shift in demeanor as Kyla reveals her tether to the Institute and Kravid’s orders. If there’s any sympathy on Lancaster’s part, it’s hidden away behind her helmet.

With Demsky to cover and ask the smart questions, Rue holsters her weapons and sets about cuffing Cardinal’s hands behind his back. He’ll have plenty of time to explain just how innocent they both are while giving them what they need to know to catch the big fish.

A steely gaze is flickered toward Renautus. That’s an interview Rue will have to pursue once they’ve satisfied Wolfhound’s goals. Her own investigation will have to wait.

Crouching down, Benjamin studies the thing, reaching over to close vacant eyes. It felt wrong to leave them like that, an act of compassion really. Giving it a little dignity. As the old man straightens he also turns his back on the thing. The apology gets a glance her way, out of the corner of his eye. He knows she’ll feel the twist of regret, but mostly, he seems… unphased. “I’m alright,” about Caspar. “There are more important things than knowing who I was.”

There is a slow shrug of his shoulders and Ben turns his attention to the sky, waiting for the transportation. “I guess, I am who I will always be.” A small smile tugs up at the corner of his mouth, though it is fleeting, falling again. “I learned the most important thing and that is the truth about me and Bradley.” He looks down at her again, “There may have been more… but that will have to remain a secret.”

Ryans motions towards the trailer with his head, “Come on, should see if they need help.”

Ryans giving the gesture he does means more than she would have thought. Huruma catches the sidelong look with a thin smile, faint. She can see that he means it, and he need not explain how. Ben's peace with simply knowing about Bradley… it is more than Huruma could say for herself.

One hand flattens against Ryans' back, and the tall woman beside him leans in to bunt against his shoulder with her forehead. A huff of air escapes her lungs, and that is all before she steps away. This is getting more tiring every time.

"Let's clean this up, then."

Inside the trailer, all David Cardinal can do is sit and stare blankly at his hands, unseeing. There is a broken, hollow shell of a man where once was a fighter. Whatever this defeat means to him, it appears to come with a note of finality for Kyla, there is uncertainty and nervousness, a hint of mercenary twists in her expression as she boosts up from the floor to a standing position while Colette holds her by the elbow.

“Where’s Kravid?” Colette asks, not expecting to get an answer. But when Kyla looks over to her, expectations are shattered.

Sunstone manor,” Kyla says with confidence, over the roar of approaching jet engines. “I— I can tell you exactly where that is. I'll cooperate. Please.”

Colette’s shoulder's tense, her grip on Kyle tightens, and she pivots to look toward Lucille with wide eyes. They'd come for Caspar Abraham, and instead they may have found something else entirely.

They came hunting wolves…

…and instead they found the den.

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