Labyrinth II - Break Down The Walls


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Also featuring:
NPCs by Chinatown and the inimitable

Scene Title Labyrinth II - Break Down The Walls
Synopsis The diversionary team set to create a distraction for the infiltration team does just that.
Date October 10, 2010

Braintree, Massachusetts — Outside the The Institute Psychic Training Facility

For the diversionary team, this whole afternoon, so far, has been made up of the wrong kind of heat entirely.

The sun burns an effulgent white-hot eye, cyclopean, not a cloud in the sky. Despite that neither Niki nor Monica need to wear disguises over their body armor, it's still suffocatingly hot inside the black stuff. Their van is parked a block down from Peyton's, perpendicular to the street and further away from the facility, and there's no way for the young clairvoyant to see either of them. Their vehicle, however, squats rectangular, faintly tilted toward the gutter, and white in the harsh light of day.

It's a minor miracle that the conifers and beeches trapped in their square-shaped hankerchiefs of dirt haven't caught on fire or wilted down to a gray wisp. The air-conditioning's going full blast, shifting the pale strands of Niki's ponytail and cooling Monica's gunsure fingers through the side-vent, but it kind of hurts to even look at the world outside the windows.

Quiet, as the minutes tick by and shadows lengthen fractionally. Trainees go streaming by the darked-out windows, beelining toward the T green line's promise of refrigerated beers, family dinners, or ventures to the outlet stores, ventures for friends, the last of the weekend's daylight hours to be stolen — outside of the daylight. Middle-aged aspirants and eighteen-year-old recruits alike. It's odd: through the window, these larval Institute operatives are various smiles, complaints, waving arms, only a handful armed. Far from the bogeymen that Staten Island and the tightening noose of American law is beginning to paint them.

Peyton's voice crackles out on the radio. "«…someone in your heads.»"

Niki exchanges a glance with Monica. She's long since quelled the instinct to reach up and touch her ear as if that will allow her to better hear the radio. "Should have expected that," she mutters in a low voice. Of course there'd be a telepath of some sort, if that's what the snippit of radio chatter is really implying.

A hand absently smooths over her hair. Niki doesn't need to adjust her ponytail, but a part of her is restless. She reminds herself that her hands will be plenty busy if things start going sideways. A bead of sweat makes its way from her temple and down the line of her jaw. It has nothing to do with the heat.

It's a terrible day to be the team sitting out in the sunshine, frankly. And usually Monica's schtick runs along the whole… cover of darkness motif, so this is not the most comfortable she's been. And she grew up in the South.

Focusing more on her lap than the world out there, Monica lets out a bit of a sigh at Peyton's voice over the radio, and she looks over at Niki, too. Telepaths, sheesh. And Niki isn't the only restless one, as Monica's fingers tap out a rhythm on her knee, and her foot taps out a harmony against the floor boards. It isn't that she wants to start fighting… it's just the waiting that gets to her.

"«don't trust…»" Peyton's radio scratches again — unfortunately she and they are not telepaths, and they have to rely on this comm system that cuts in and out; perhaps a car driving by is interfering with the signal with their radio. With a gasp, she suddenly reports to Monica and Niki, "«They just shot at Francois — told Deckard to duck. They either know Francois' a spy or the telepath's in the security team's head, too, I guess»"

Peyton's voice continues, snappish and irritated, especially given the fact that people are shooting at people inside and it's no time for being rude,: "«Deckard, Colette, Card can't hear when he's in shadow, make sure he knows there's a telepath around.»"

Out of the sky, a grackle descends, wafting the air briefly with short, black wings, disturbing the shape of Niki and Monica's van hood with its smooth-edged shadow. Fierce yellow eyes stare through the windshield at them an instant, blink quick as a strobe, and abruptly the bird launches skyward again, pinions fanning hot air.

In the distance, the administrative building's three-layered shape doesn't seem to change in the slightest. That is, until Niki's pale eye catches a faint wrinkle of movement, the diminutive dark shape of an armored and militarily armed figure moving away from his post at the metal detectors that preside over the lobby front of the Braintree facility like it's a Boston public school. The shape of the rifle swinging down is easily mistaken for a shift of his silhouetted arm, but she squints, makes the right assumption.

Though the Xerox machines and phones are still being manned, something is happening. Despite the emotion rough in Peyton's voice, Niki and Monica can't feel a thing besides the heat trying to seep in through the walls, the habituated pre-combat tension jangling in the air.

"They've been made," Niki murmurs for Monica's benefit. "Or they're about to be. See that guard?" She gestures with a tip of her head toward the man shifting from his post, bringing down his rifle. "He knows something's up." Peyton's transmission only confirms that and Niki winces.

"«Give us the word and we'll be ready to move,»" the blonde says over the radio. Though Niki isn't about to sit around and wait for the word. "Let's find you a perch." She reaches out for the door handle, a tilt of her head suggesting Monica follow suit.

Monica does look, peering toward the guard. "Huh." It's a mild reply, but as Niki starts to climb out of the van, Monica is all too ready to do likewise. "Think one of these other buildings has an empty room I could borrow?"

Her fingers keep up their tapping against the body of the van as she walks around it, scouting around a bit for what's around that's high enough. "I always liked working indoors better than a roof…" But, of course, she'll take a roof, too.

A few moments later, Peyton's querulous voice — one can certainly imagine her using it back in her paparazzi princes days — comes back over the radios in their ears. "«Is that him? Is that the right one? Get him and get the fuck out of there, already — Monica, Niki, head's up, I think it might be almost time»" she hisses into the headset. "«Nichols, tell Cardinal not to fucking die, all right? I'm not doing the mourning thing again»" she says, her words cruel with bitterness.

With the full glare of the sky overhead, it's impossible for Niki or Monica to determine just from looking at the wind-worn brick office building which of the rooms are vacant, if any. Easy enough to get in, though— the doors swing open easy, even on a Sunday. The escalation of tiled stairs smells faintly of mothballs and cat piss, and the directory promises a full scope of three stories before the roof ought to open up overlooking the gulf of the street. The 'foyer,' as it were, is cramped quarters and faintly dust-streaked glass.

Enough sunlight comes through that they can make out the directory on the wall. Black letter-blocks, the removable and replaceable kind. 206 and 204 have no name at all, and 318 carries an inscrutable asterisk beside it.

You could measure eons in the cadence of Peyton's voice, straining underneath the weight of a psychic onslaught that Monica and Niki can only quizzically guess at. In here, there's nothing but quiet, the occasional cry of an oriole panting gently in the shade of a brittle willow bough. The Sunday seems to make good on its promise of death to business as efficient as Monica's rifle might be to persons of a biological persuasion, until— until there's a sudden squeeeak of a door opening around the angle of the stairwell, overhead.

There's a faint look of distaste at the name Nichols in her ear, associating the name with Colette's older sister. With Linderman. "I hope bringing the kid wasn't a mistake." Not that Peyton and Monica are much removed from that distinction either.

The sound of the opening door has Niki pressing Monica back against the wall instinctively. Her brain works quickly, running through her head the possible scenarios and how they might play out. She's just guessing. Pressing a finger to her lips for Monica to be quiet, she roughly guides the smaller woman with a hand on her shoulder on and on her hip, all but hauling her to the space under the stairwell. She then begins to quickly climb the stairs with her chin up, carrying herself like she belongs in this building.

"We'll see… gotta get field experience somehow, right?" Monica looks over that directory, a single finger tapping until she hears that squeak. And she knows better than to argue at this point, so she ends up pressed into that little space, silent, but listening. She's getting twitchy to do something, and it only heightens as she makes herself stay still.

The radio blurts a blast of static as it comes into their ears again, Peyton's voice sharp but earnest: "«Eileen says keep moving. The fact we know they're in our heads is an edge. Stay alert. Don't trust your instincts — don't hurt one another. Monica and Niki will cover you as soon as they can. Keep moving.»"

After a pause, she adds as if in afterthought, "«Don't make this a waste of time, all right? It's not like I have a lot of it.»"

Though a brown leather jacket is a stupendous fashion decision given the weather, the hapless orthodontist who's wandered into the middle of the to-be warzone stares at her like she's a little mad for that, and incredulity borders on suspicion. BDUs and a case the size of a sniper rifle and furtive feet would have drawn a different caliber of attention, probably, and there may or may not be a race issue floating around here that would have placed Monica at a disadvantage as well.

"May I help you?" Crows' feet around the eyes, a blouse that looks like the ruffled edge of a wedding cake, the woman purses thin, brown-painted lips at Niki with enough disapproval in her narrow face as it is. What she actually thinks Niki's business here on a Sunday is, she is to polite to actually state aloud, but there is something excruciatingly precise about her eyes traveling down the blond woman's frame, then up again, and then a pinch of her brows, a vicious gossip's curiosity darkening behind her eyes. "I suppose you'll be heading for 304?

"Honestly, he's already been served, if I recall. It was a schlubby spectacled fellow dressed very unconvincingly like a UPS man." Static bursts across the line in Niki's ear, cloys Monica's hearing of the ridiculous conversation going on seven feet above her head.

Served. Subpoena. Niki flashes a quick smile, pausing in the stairwell to respond to the woman. "They pay me to do a job," she offers with a helpless shrug. The static burst in her ear doesn't draw a wince outwardly, somewhat practised in ignoring the radio by now. "UPS? Really?" She rolls her eyes. "That's original."

There's a good-natured smile and Niki gestures back toward the doorway. "Would you mind ducking back inside? Save the poor guy some embarrassment. Wouldn't want him to get suspicious, either. This would be the third one this week that figured me out and didn't open the door." Her tone is kind of dejected. It's hard to earn a living!

If Monica could give her ear piece a weird look, she would at Peyton's continued… well, bad attitude is what Nana would call it. But when the static comes over, she winces a little before tugging it out of her ear a bit, to better listen to Niki and this woman up there, but it's not so far that she won't hear if the static cuts off.

There is a sudden squawk of static panic, Peyton's voice imperative and loud. "«Go, go, go! Diversion team!»" Peyton shouts, followed by an irritable and nonsensical smattering of French of all things. "«Je ne suis pas un enfant foutu»".


A second later, her voice is softer, confused, then vitriolic. "«What the — Why the fuck is Hiro there? Tell him to take his cranes and stuff—»"

The words are cut off abruptly, though a heavy and exasperated sigh on the other end will at least assure Monica and Niki that the interruption of the clairvoyant's tetchy diatribe was not due to any foul play, but rather self-discipline on Peyton's part.

It's go-time, and this bitch thinks Niki is either working for the legal offices or for — a different industry: impossible to tell. She steps slightly closer, her flat heels clicking on the concrete of the landing, eyes shrewdly narrow and sidelong on the blond woman. "I can see right through you, Missy," she says, latching onto the woman's declarations like razors. "I know you have some ridiculous costume on underneath that. I would like to remind you that your line of business is completely illegal in the state of Massachusetts.

Apparently, Monica believes Niki can handle this, because when the signal goes over the comms, she dashes out of hiding and rushes up the stairs passed the two other women and up into the roof. The rooms are probably empty, but there's no time to deal with it if they aren't.

Of course, Monica also knows enough French to get a chuckle out of Peyton's message there. >.>

Peyton's vitriol seems to have dissipated when her breathless voice comes over the radio. "«Hiro took Francois. I saw Hiro there — and now Francois is missing,»"

After a pause, the clairvoyant pulling her emotions in to keep her mind on the task and the safety of all of her colleagues, not only the missing Frenchmen, she adds, "«The security is heading in the direction of the diversion»."

Under the brunt of Monica's shoulder and the twist of her hand, the door scrapes open, leaving a round edge of rust scratched out onto the concrete. The sun comes down like a shovel in her face, a dazing blow of sunlight, or would be if the thrill of adrenaline wasn't screaming through her ears. Her arms act of their own accord as her feet measure the distance to the edge of the roof, skill that transcends mere muscle-memory. The rifle practically puts itself together, click-clack, upper, lower, the grip firm in her dusky fingers, and the scope aligning itself with mathematical precision down the nozzle.

The orthodontist falls at Niki's feet like a particularly rubbery manikin, tightly-wound hair unravelling slightly. The blond woman has barely broken a sweat, of course, or wouldn't have if there weren't a greenhouse's worth of warm air trapped in the spiral staircase with her. An instant spent with her head cocked assures her that no other doors are opening out of curiosity for the racket that Monica made going up the stairs, and then the instant after that, there comes the unmistakable moan and shuddering clangor of klaxons, whinging up from across the street.

High-alert, audible for blocks around. It won't only be the security personnel asking questions and converging across the Institute's training campus, now. If it's a tell, that there's no proportionate burst of sparrows, corvids, and roosting passerines fleeting the cacophony, it's not one that anybody at the Institute knows how to interpret.

Niki wastes no time in dragging the woman back through her open door and shutting it up behind her. She then hurries back down the stairs and bursts out of the building, making a bee line for the nearest parked car.

She's about to create one hell of a distraction.

Lifting the weight of the vehicle would be effortless enough. If it were compact, and vaguely box shaped. It's that whole centre of gravity thing that starts to mess things up. But all the same, it doesn't take Niki long to hoist an old Honda from the mid-nineties up from the pavement, steady it, and throw it toward the building. It's red, her favourite colour, and it leaves flecks of that paint on the ground as it goes tumbling and then skidding along.

It's almost like the girl herself doesn't even notice she's doing it, until she's crouched there on a rooftop with a place and aimed sniper rifle in hand, a finger starting to squeeze at the trigger. Now, Monica Dawson doesn't kill people. But it is sometimes difficult to make her ability miss the mark, especially when the adrenaline is pumping through her system and her heartbeat pounding in her ears.

"«Goin' silent,»" she reports before she pulls her earpiece out of her ear and starts focusing herself. Knees. Knees are good. And that's where her bullets start flying toward on those visible guards. Pop, pop, pop!

Nobody expects the automotive inquisition. Nobody was really expecting sniper fire from the rooftops, either.

In all of three seconds, the streets outside the Institute's training campus are a wreck of broken glass, crumpled wood, a bumper popped off and a license plate flying through the air like a playing card, a handful of glittering window-glass huffing out onto the courtyard while the mainstay of it implodes, as per engineering regulation, inward amid a dervish of flailing civilian bodies. Blouses flash pale as the underbellies of fish, diving flat to the floor where the secretaries had already been crouched. There's the errant curlicue of somebody's tie flapping up.

In seconds, the figures of three burly security personnel are crowding out of the lobby's suddenly paneless facade. They set off the metal detectors as they go, a shrill warning overlapping with the whine and clangor of the klaxons that continue to wail like starving children. Scattered radio report comes in time to send the two men toward the back of their cluster off to the sides, seeking cover enough to fire back at the sniper, but the one leading the charge groks it too late: his boots scrabble for purchase but go skidding on glass, his rifle up an effort, belated, to fend off. Well. You know.

Flying cars?

With Monica silent, Niki has to trust in the younger woman's instincts to avoid shooting her as she dashes along, intent on leading the security guards on a merry chase, preferably out into the open. "«Talk to me, TMZ.»" For all that Peyton is open about using names over the radio, Niki is hesitant to do the same. "«Give me some idea of what's going on in there. Do I need to go in?»" Has it gone completely to hell inside? Does she need to get back to the van with Monica and get them all out?

It seems Monica can focus enough to miss Niki as she dashes around, although sometimes when a guard gets to close to her cousin, Niki might hear the bullet whizzing past to lodge itself in a leg or shoulder. She's keeping them off the blonde, despite the woman's supernatural strength. But when they're not closing in on Niki, Monica merrily maims many.

Well, maybe not merrily.

As the security personnel flood en masse toward the front of the building, calling for police back up and whatever other agencies that might end up including, Peyton snaps out of her seeming trance; black pupils constrict to their normal size in her mahogany eyes as she scrambles out of her seat in the back and into the van's driver's seat.

"«Get to the back, I'm coming to pick you up. Niki, just head to the back, they're coming out.»" Without Francois, she doesn't add, her chest hitching but she manages to bite back the sob. "«Driving, so my eyes are my own. Nichols, Cardinal, you guys on your way? Get to the back — security's heading to the front.»"

Punching the accelerator, the van does nothing and Peyton's heart drops for a split second before she realizes that the car isn't on — shaking hands grab the keys in the ignition and turn a little too vigorously, grinding the engine before letting up, and the engine roars to life. Once more she punches the pedal, lurching forward to speed toward the rendezvous point behind the facility.

Out in the front of the campus, it's too rapidly becoming apparent that the two in the front aren't going to get to their cohorts in the back. At least, not before reinforcements come massing up, but they're limited only in one direction, there. In the distance, sirens begin to flux through the gaseous heat of the atmosphere.

Niki's bootsteps ring out clack-click-click as the guards recover. The floundering man in the fore gets to his feet, only to dive backward when a bullet kisses the smooth stone terrifying close to his feet, a shout evacuated boar-like out of his lungs as he throws an arm up to shade his eyes, brow furrowed to find the origin of the shots. He doesn't see Monica on the first sweep of rooftops, and when he does lock onto her on the second, the audacity of his lookout right out there in the open is rewarded by the rip of a bullet grazing his arm, opening up a rift in his padding with it.

He has no way of knowing whether or not the round had originally been intended to take off the whole limb at the socket. He goes barrelling backward, cursing, blood burbling up viscously dark to slick the ground. "Up there! Rooftop! Red brick!" —and abruptly, a tiny mushroom of red dust opens up a foot below Monica's perch. Their marksmanship isn't bad, for a bunch of government hired yahoos.

Niki makes a show of bringing her hand up to press against her ear as she continues running full-bore. She's hoping Monica notes the out-of-place gesture and puts her earpiece back in. She waits a beat or two before addressing her. "«All right, Joanie, time to find an alternate route. No way are we catching up to the others.»"

She comes skidding to a halt at the curb and wraps her hands tightly around a parking meter, pulling it up and out of its concrete foundation with a sharp tug. Rather than turn around with the intention of attacking her pursuers with it, however, she marches quite deliberately up to a fire hydrant.

And absolutely smashes it with the meter, sending water spewing up into the air and adding a bit of cover as she goes tearing off between buildings to try and give the detail the slip.

Monica does catch it, with her watchful eye on her cousin down there, and she pops that ear piece back in. The nickname gets a sheepish blush from the girl, which would seem a little out of place with the sniper rifle and all if anyone were up there to see it. "«Okay. Up for a daring car chase or should we—Shit!»"

It's something of a rarity, Monica letting loose a curse, but very nearly being tagged by the enemy is definitely one of those times. She ducks for cover and her hands deftly work through packing her weaponry away, "«Well, I think they found me. I'll meet you down there.»" Which means, escape planning is up to Niki while Monica shoulders her burden and makes a run for the edge of the roof… and jumps right off.

She hits the roof of the neighboring building in a roll that brings her right back up to her feet and she runs for the next edge, where she drops down between two buildings, a foot striking the wall a few feet down to propel her to a balcony on the opposite building. From which she drops to the next level, ricochets between brick walls and eventually hits the alley between in a low crouch. And then it's just a matter of running to meet Niki.

The van Peyton drives (none too well — she is not a frequent driver, thanks to a suspended license early in her driving career for a DUI she didn't commit) slows as it nears the back of the facility — no radio communication from those inside makes her nervous, and Monica and Niki's dialogue in her ear tells her not to wait for them. "«Lemme know how what's up, girls»" she says, her eyes dilating once more to check on the world from Cardinal's view, to see just where the rest of the team is — hopefully close. "«Talk to me, team…»"

There's water falling from the sky.

Granted, rocketing up there, too. Shreds visibility on the ground, sleeting a wet, white translucency through the intensity of sunlight. The three Institute security men on the ground blend their sprinting course in with four, maybe five people dressed as civilians, but Niki and Monica know better. When they open fire, bullets come shredding through the skein of water going up and water coming down— and two rounds slam heavy into the back of Niki's vest. This isn't the raw luck of mundane humans. No, their aim's too good, and the fact that they are pistol rounds battering her back rather than LMG ramming her off her feet is telling enough.

The students are coming back. Piling into cars, too, judging from the slamming of car doors, braiding in with the sinosoidal clash of dopplering of squadcar sirens. The chase is mounting, fast as Monica and Niki's hearts jackhammer behind their teeth, and however deft their strides on their respective terrain, it's unlikely they'll be able to outrun vehicles moving full-speed along the roads of Braintree even if the nearest ones are jammed up with cars standing on the wrong ends.

The smell of dander and the cloying of organic matter starts to steep in, coalescing in the wind, along with the clutter of smaller shadows on the ground gathering to form a strange ambient half-darkness.

The chilly spatter of water makes Niki's ponytail stringy, scatters beads on her jaw and squeaks wet prints out of her boots, mists Monica's profile as she tumbles onto the next rooftop on lean legs.

Niki actually chuckles, albeit breathlessly. But only once she's certain Monica's on the move, and that she didn't get tagged by the Institute's security. "«A car chase would be more thrilling in the Cadd-»" Her words are cut off, replaced by a gutteral sound in the back of her throat. Bullets pelting into her back are enough to catch her almost by surprise. "«They've got marksmen.»" Which is a rather banal way of suggesting that they've got SLC-expression on their sides. "«Down the rabbit hole. Go. Go!»"

Her cover hasn't worked nearly as well as she was hoping it would. The parking meter is dropped with a loud CLANG! on the pavement, abandoned for the sake of speed to get out of sight. For a moment, Niki envies Monica's skill to jump between buildings the way she does. That'd be really convenient right about now. Her boots slap wetly, loudly on the ground beneath her. Hazards a glance back over her shoulder before scouring the path ahead for a manhole cover she can tear open to grant her passage to the sewers.

The next volley of gunshots fired towards Monica don't manage to break brick, in fact the rounds never reach their intended target either. It's hard to see at the speed bullets move, but the distortion of a round whipping in an arc through the air to double-back on the men firing it sounds like a be buzzing at light-bolt speed. There's a puff of red, this time sanguine more so than brick as one of the sharpshooters is struck by his own magic bullet, followed by the other jerking back and away as his round punches through his hand, then zips up through his arm, into his cheek and out the side of his face on the other side.

With the sharpshooters having fallen, there is no visible cue that anything odd is going on, until the presence of a Ford Taurus bobbing ambulatory up through the air wobbles and pitches in side, then comes crashing back down with a smash of metal. The car, held aloft on unseen strings, drives through the front door of the administrative building like a battering ram, followed by the metal framework of the door peeling back like wilting flower petals, twisting and snaking in the air and then flying away.

The source of this wanton and needless destruction is not readily apparently, until the gleam of sunlight catches round lenses of circular eyeglasses in Niki Sanders' periphery, where a man is strolling casually across the parking lot, hands tucked into the pockets of his tan slacks, brown windbreaker unzipped to reveal a casually flannel shirt, mousy brown hair swept back atop his head in demonstration of his receding hairline.

Three car doors, two parking meters, a muffler and a tire encasing an entire wheel drum orbit Niklaus like planets would a sun. A few scattered pennies have been thrown into the mix as well, those older ferrous ones mixed in and able to be magnetically manipulated.

Monica spots him first by merit of elevation, Niki by merit of armament, but as Niklaus turns away towards the sound of sirens, he doesn't look particularly worried. One hand lifts, a single finger raised, the universal gesture for wait for it.

"«Okay, I copy that.»" She does love using the radio speak. She'll giggle over it later. For now, she's running along to try to stay out of sight and under some sort of cover. And she does so, of course, by weaving up and down as well as side to side. She's a spry little thing. "«Hey, Niki…»" she starts to say at all that destruction, but when she spots Niklaus and his satellites, a smirk comes to her face and she finishes into her mic, "«Tell your brother he is late.»"

But she stops where she is, which happens to be on a second floor fire escape, crouching down. She's taking that finger seriously.

It's a good finger to take seriously, given Niklaus hadn't even really needed his hands to wreak the chaos that lies inside the radius of falling hydrant water there.

Overturned Ford, three more cars rear-ended up the belly of it. A shotgun window shatters, and a bloody hand hiccups out of it, a hiss of pain; the whites of eyes showing out, somebody else's face screwed up in the gloom of a windshield behind. Whether or not the trainees qualify as monsters already, they do feel pain.

Somewhere out there, hundreds of yards off, a chopper's shouting maydays. There's the bleating of propellers in the air, dangerous to anything else in the sky— but there are birds swooping in around the windshield to crash into the passenger and pilot from behind, riding the riffling downward pressure of air to scrabble bills, small claws, filling the air with an orchestral mess of varying cries, ducks' wakks, corvidaes' croaking, the harsh yowl of a gull and, out of nowhere, the kreel of something heavier and wider at the wingspan.

When three dozen black and yellow eyes catch sight, too, of the finger that Niklaus raises skyward, the ragged multitude of avians funnels away from the earth, peeling upward despite that they had had their sights set on the obvious marks. The squadcars beginning to pounce red and blue light off the building's faces, the goons swinging LMGs and combat boots out in pursuit of the two women, however desperate the distance between them grows. Sewer portals gleam wetly on the pavement.

"«We're clear,»" Peyton's voice grits through the comms, tinny, thin, but unmistakably reassuring. "«I can relay to Eileen if you need more backup.»"

"It's about fuckin' time, ya blunt instrument!" Niki calls, altering her route to hurry in her half-brother's direction. She's pleased to see him. Boy, is she ever. She stays outside of the orbit of debris and makeshift weapons, but doesn't really come to a full stop just yet. Instincts telling her that she shouldn't rely on Niklaus' ability, and assume it'll keep her out of the line of fire. She allows herself a moment to slow to a jog and turn around to face the way she came, catching her breath while staying alert for the next threat.

An askance glance is cast to Niklaus when Peyton gives the offer of extra backup in the form of Eileen. "«Get yourselves out of here. We're good.»" Niki watches cars smash into walls and each other, watches the way hands reach through broken windows, grasping for something she suspects is largely intangible. Her expression is entirely impassive. "Any problem with the sewers?" she asks out of the corner of her mouth. A gesture is made for Monica to come join her.

"«Yeah, turns out we've got back up,»" Monica adds to Niki's message to Peyton. And at the gesture, she climbs down the fire escape in a more mundane fashion and comes trotting over to Niki's side. "I'm going to laugh if we end up in the sewers on every mission, Nik," she says to the other woman, "Laugh and then make Rich buy me new shoes."

"Sewers," Niklaus scoffs as he removes his glasses and folds the arms closed, setting them into his right breast pocket. "That is only safe in the movies," blue eyes alight over the top of Niki's head, and the sounds of distant engines, sirens, everything seems so impendingly close. "We will walk," is Niklaus' brave assertion, "then we will steal a car," as if they have all the time in the world. "But first," all of the junk Niklaus has been using as shielding falls down around himself, clattering noisily to the concrete as one hand lifts up, his chin tilting back and eyes closing. "We need to stall pursuit."

Perhaps he should have told everyone not to bring electronic devices they cared a lot about.

One moment Niklaus looks in steady concentration, the next moment there is a ripple of distortion spreading out from him like a shockwave, blurring the air. It causes headsets to fzzt out and spark, and as it passes by metallic objects there's an electrical crackle over their surfaces before they ground out. The pulse spreads out from Niklaus like an ever-expanding bubble spread with electrical lights.

Buildings go dark, security alarms stop screaming, generators die, computerized car brains are fried, police sirens shut down, traffic lights cease working, dogs and cats living together.

It spreads for about a block, sparking and crackling in every direction from Niklaus before finally fizzling and fading away, having stalled approaching police cars, blown transformers and knocked out power for an entire city block in the heart of Braintree. The city sounds quiet, all of the sudden, the chirp of birds scissoring through the air and the occasional spark and sputter of a power transformer high on a telephone pole.

The EMP burst kills everything electronic, including whatever precious research data the Institute had been gathering from Teodoro. That, admittedly, wasn't a part of Niklaus' plan, his design was more spitefully oriented. Looking to Niki, the German arches one brow and crooks the corner of his mouth into a tired smile. For all his boasts of strength and confidence, he's trying to hide how much that took out of him.

"Now we walk," Niklaus states quietly, turning around and taking his glasses out of his front pocket, sliding them up on the bridge of his nose with two fingers, sunlight glaring in the round lenses as he turns his back on his half-sister and Monica.

Now they walk.

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