Lambskin - Splitter Saw


colette_icon.gif delia_icon.gif doyle_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif jericho_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif mcrae2_icon.gif monica_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

With NPCs by:

Scene Title Lambskin - Splitter Saw
Synopsis Vengeance served hot.
Date November 5, 2010

Northern Staten Island

When people speak of the Forgotten Borough and tell stories about the desolation and rampant crime on Staten Island, they are speaking of its northern half. Everything north of the Staten Island Expressway was the worst hit by the fallout and the first region of the island to be evacuated afterward. It is a highly urbanized region of the island with tightly packed residential homes, apartment buildings and businesses juxtaposed with factories and desolate stretches of abandoned highway, rail yards and miles upon miles of abandoned buildings.

Everything east Route 440 into Jersey City, also known as the Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway has fallen into a state of sickening revitalization under the monicker of the "Rookery", a neighborhood rife with drug dealers, rapists, murderers and criminals who had come to pick on the corpse of Staten Island after it had been evacuated, and simply never left.

West of the expressway are miles of residential buildings, factories and railyards that once connected Jersey City and Staten Island, now sitting in disrepair amidst rusting tracks and derelict train cars. This while northern end of Staten Island is still largely a no-man's-land, and only on the New Jersey side of the Bayonne Bridge that croses north into Jersey City has a police checkpoint designed to keep motorists out of Staten Island.

From the sky, it's clear the grounds' guards don't have scheduled sweeps. Not exactly. There always seems to be one or two out there though, maybe drunk but also high. Taking potshots at the birds— telepathically ridden or not— that sweep by. There's the tiny star-shaped sprawl of dead bat lying under one of the harsh white lights where a 9 took its wing off at the elbow, a dark pool of viscous blood beaded out below it and a moth gutted in its teeth. Somehow, the arc of bullet spray hadn't hit the light itself, though the bullet pitted itself neatly into the wall.

The whole of the dismal bastion of commercial fuckuppetry is rectangled by diamond-shaped iron. A cold stretch of tarmac, two vans inert and lights-off ont he outside. Behind it, the three warehouse buildings and te back wall are gray and huddle like dusty trolls, the lights occasionally on, seeping yellow incandescence through the edges and paint-blacked windows on the steel doors but there isn't much to see, otherwise. This district used to hold Chanel and Trader Joe's goods, be fraught with ingoing and outgoing trucks, QC personnel with smart clipboards and crisp shirts. Now it holds children, and there's a tall Nigerian man belching lungfuls of fire skyward as he laughs in the front yard. His companion makes a face but doesn't have a word to say.

Still, they're on a hair-trigger of some combination of paramilitary training, culturated violence, and narcotics. At the clap of leather shoes on sidewalk, both men snap to attention like lighting a flare. It's the black one who shouts first: "What the fuck you want, nigga?"

"I'm your fucking boss. I'm Delaware."And I wanna come in." The thin stranger hangs his fingers on the fencing and there is something herky-jerky off about his movements. Mr. Abel Delaware pissed himself five hours ago, even though they'd let him go to the bathroom an hour before that. Standing downwind of him is uncomfortable for the three who skulk invisibly in his wake, but it's probably worse for him, urine drying on the lining of his slacks, sweat sticky in every other pore. He quivers in the lanky lines of his suit. Seems smaller than the man Doyle had gagged with a pinch of chubby fingers in air and walked neatly into their truck, less than twenty-four hours ago.

That Honda is parked three lots over, now. Tucked into the dark space behind another warehouse. Two young women resting in the back seat, both of them lucid, but neither of them 'all there.' The vehicle was braked to a halt just below the fire ladder that goes fifteen feet up to the building's low-lying roof. And up there, two men stand on either side of Peyton Whitney the headset that crowns her dark head. One is old, bald, haggardly fierce in the face and the other is young, swarthy and wearing a sneer that shows teeth that glint like a scimitar's edge.

Both of them follow her eyes at the distance, but though they're all looking at the same compound, they can't possibly be seeing the same thing she does.


Delia is in the sea, but after a moment, the little girl decides it is a pool. The pattern of sunlight latticed through the surface resolves itself instead into the shape of tiles and there's a blur of an older child stilting long, lanky legs toward her, a plunge of movement. Coming nearer: a face intimately recognized as brother. A peal of laughter gone wonky from the cracking tonal shift of puberty and distorted further by the medium that lets them float, a fat arc of bubbles. It's been so long since she was allowed to go swimming, the idea of water's become an abstraction of itself, a pewter-colored ribbon they glimpse on their way to the Rookery.

Except for dreaming. Here, she reaches out a tiny, whitely starfished hand, and her brother takes it, pulls her up toward—

Northern Staten Island

"They're talking to the guards," Peyton informs Jericho and McRae. Gloved hands are tucked into the pockets of her jacket, a scarf around her throat. Her dark eyes appear all the darker as they stare straight ahead, pupils taking up all but the thinnest ring of iris as she watches through Delaware's eyes, studying the guards faces.

Jericho knows the drill — she's deaf to them since she's listening in on Delaware and company; thus, if he needs to talk to her, he'll have to tap her shoulder once to pull her from that audio trance, twice to get her to come completely back to her own surroundings.

Magnes is in costume, if one can really call it that. He's barely any different from a burglar, except he's in all white, with no holes in his mask to see or speak through. Over his voice modulator, his mask is zipped to his shirt, with his white leather gloves directly sewn on to it. His white cargo pants are tucked into white boots, with a long American Flag scarf flowing in the cool air.

He checks his equipment. White ambiguous pouches: Check. Guns on his hips: Check. Guns hidden against his ankles: Check. There's also the five foot metallic pole in his hand, but that part's not important yet. Right now he's hunched down, standing on air with his hand touching the roof, trying to carefully not make a sound while patiently trying to open a little hole to see through, right in the middle of the rooftop. As good a place as any to try and scout out the interior.

The White Knight is on an inquisition, and he's all out of inquiries.

Crouched on one knee three yards behind the man bound up in the unseen strands of a puppeteer's control, Colette Nichols is a phantom in the night, lending her own brand of stealth to others, swallowing them in the dark. Remaining as quiet as she can, the young teen's breathing is the only sound that gives her away, muffled as it is by a bandanna over her face. The creak of leather from her jacket and pants is subtle, much more so than the horrible stench of uric acid downwind of Mr. Delaware.

Today has seen a change in Colette's personal arsenal. Not in the vest worn beneath her layered clothing, but in her weapon of choice. Gripped tightly in both hands, a 12-gague shotgun loaded with bean-bag rounds is an unusually large weapon for the young woman to handle, but the time spent in the care of the Ferrymen has taught her that even someone as small as she is can learn to handle larger firearms.

She couldn't think of a gun big enough to bring to bear on these assholes.

This was the best she could do.

The it-sy bit-sy spi-der walked up the wa-ter spout.

The surprisingly deft and agile fingers of the puppeteer move in a slow dance to move the pimp's steps slowly towards the door of the building, stopping him when he's challenged by sound - because Eric Doyle can't actually see anything right now, hidden by the veil of Colette's power. The look on his face is grim, serious, thick dark rings hanging down beneath his eyes from a lack of sleep. He's dressed in a bulky sweatshirt and black sweatpants, his version of 'stealth gear' apparently, and a black ballcap whose edge shades his face. Waiting for the response to Delaware's challenge, he coos softly, "Just say what the puppeteer told you to say, little puppet…"

He'd promised to let the man live if he cooperated. He lied.

Monica is crouched next to Colette, also quiet and waiting. She's in all black as always, with a harness holding a holster under each arm. With guns in, of course! She has a knife tucked in her boot just in case. And those near her can tell, she's a little twitchy. With adrenalin already pumping, in the form of being super disgusted about what's going on up in here, her ability is already subtly pushing at her muscles. She just needs an excuse to start the ass kicking.

The good news is, of course, she has enough self control to keep that urge in check. For now. But she's got her game face on, so much so that she doesn't even manage a smirk for the puppeteer's whisper. Under other circumstances, she would!

Slumped in the bed of a truck with a tarp covering her, Delia's been sleeping since before the rest of them left. Her body's autonomous neural functions are really all that's left inside of her, the rest gone out for a jaunt the moment her eyes shut. This time, Hokuto refused to follow along, not blurring the lines of her morality by entering the mind of a child, even if it's to save them. It's a trait to be admired, one that Delia doesn't have.


— the sun and the sky. Out of the water the little girl climbs until she's shaking off on dry land with a giggle. It's a perfect day, the blue haze has been dispersed and everything is so bright and vibrant that it seems surreal.

"Hey!! Come look at this!! It's sooooo gross!!" Brother is yelling at something and reaching his hand toward her. On the end of his finger, the biggest, grossest booger that the little girl has ever seen in her entire life.

And it's about to touch her.

Northern Staten Island

The only gun that Eileen carries is holstered beneath her wool coat, and small enough that it can be concealed without adding any noticable mass to her svelte frame, which is clothed in shades of charcoal and black. The fabrics she wears were chosen not only for their durability but for functionality as well — it's important that she be able to move, and that she be able to move swiftly. In many ways, tonight is a trial run for the eighth.

Long, dark hair is worn in a tight knot at the nape of her neck to keep it out of her face. The absence of the lip stain and kohl that she tends to favour while acting as an ambassador for the Ferrymen network gives her face the appearance of a polished Grecian statue with pale marble skin and a smooth, jawbone chiseled out of the same stuff. She sits on the lip of the truck's bed, one booted foot braced against the cab, and the opposite hand resting across her breast, prepared to slip slender fingers into her coat and draw her pistol should it become necessary. The screech owl perched on her shoulder studies Delia's shape beneath the tarp, fixated on the rise and fall of her chest, then steers its lamp-yellow eyes up to the roof and the silhouettes standing watch there.

Her disability prevents her from joining Monica and Colette, but there is no dishonour in
guarding over Delia, either. She continues her vigil without complaint.

When shit gets as rough as shit's been on Manhattan over the past few years, you take what inkling of hope you can. In Delaware's case, this tenacity of spirit has dragged his criminal career out into agonizing extra inches past what probably should have been its best expiration date, and it's what leads him to cooperate now. If he says what the puppeteer told him to say, he'll live. The fact that he was referred to as 'little puppet' to his face was disturbing enough, but when the only thing you have control over is your voice and your attitude, well.

It's not like promising God he'll donate a quarter of a million dollars to a children's foundation and go back to his wife was working any better. "I'm moving all the cargo tonight," he rasps. "In person. Open this thing up. I'm over Grayson and Torgot's my fucking son-in-law. I sign the fuckin' checks that turn into your fuckin' greasy money bills. You want to keep your daily intake of pussy and crack, you'd better let me in, get that van ready, and get the little fuckers out here. I found a buyer who wants white kids. It's pay-day for everybody, and the sooner you fucking open up, the sooner we get paid.

"Now hurry the fuck up."

The fire-breather stares at Delaware through the fence for a long moment, tension ridging through the bulk of his shoulders and columned neck like the hood of a cobra. Abruptly, he snorts, and shoves the muzzle of his rifle out and Delaware finds himself staring down the barrel of Russia's classic asault rifle. Delaware yelps, puts his hands up, but can't back away. "The f—"

"Open the gate," the pyrokinetic snarls. "Let this ass-clown in and let's find out who's he is. We don't need to do our business out here."

His companion steps forward, fishing a key out for the padlock. Metal rasps, clicks metal, and the chain starts to slither loose, draw away in winking, rust-notched. However, all three thugs freeze abruptly, scrawl confusion across their grimey faces, when a noise leeches unexpectedly into the night air. Thin as tendriling smoke, unfamiliar to them as church bells or clean wine: the high, squealing pitch of children's laughter. It's the building furthest from the gate. The North.

The tall clairvoyant's frame stiffens slightly as that rifle is shoved in Delaware's face — it feels like it's suddenly in her own and it startles her, sends that adrenaline running through her even though she knows she's far away, unseen by the guard. Exhaling, she breathes as they open the gate to let Delaware in.

"They pulled a rifle on him, letting him in. Not sure they believe him, but they're getting in," she reports to the two men who flank her. Her brows quirk as they stop and look to north. "They can hear kids laughing…" she add, Jericho's and McRae's own reactions unseen and unheard by her.

From the outside looking in, Colette's presence continues to go unseen. It is the emergence of a shuddered breath when guns are drawn that gives her away, though only to those close enough to hear her over the sounds of Delaware's bowels loosening. Sucking in a sharp breath, Colette reaches out in the invisible dark and grabs a hold of Doyle's arm first, tugging at his sleeve as a sign, then moves to do the same to Monica's.

They've been using this signal the whole way up, move forward.

Colette's boots scuff across the asphalt, following Delaware and trying to keep that roughly ten-foot gap between them, both for the sake of her nose and the sake of noise being made. But once they're inside it's going to be little more than a sudden breakout of brief regret among the human traffckers and the noisy report of gunshots.

At least, that's Colette's plan.

When Magnes hears the shriek, he jumps from the building he's currently landed on, then softly lands on the next. Figuratively, at least, since he never lets his feet touch the roof. He extends his arms, and suddenly metal under him begin to pull away from itself, trying to open up like a small wound in the rooftop so he can look down and determine if falling through would result in a barrage of gunfire he does not desire.

At the happy ring of children's laughter, Doyle's eyes widen in the darkness… moistening his lips briefly, he draws in a breath of his own, exhaling it only as there's a tug against his arm. He nods, unseen to all but Colette, and then steps forward even as his hand rocks from side to side in a walking motion.

Forward they go, and forward goes Delaware in an awkward, jerking step that may be less suspicious when one realizes that he smells of shit and piss. Probably walking that way because he's wearing depends.

It's really sad when a pimp's sexual peccadillos leave them incontinent, isn't it?

The tug puts Monica on the move, her hands sliding her guns out to be more ready. She moves pretty quietly, especially considering the distraction of the ever so soiled pimp hanging around. She clicks the safety off on both weapons. Oh yeah, she's ready to shoot some goddamned child pimps. So hard.

The high pitched squeal gets louder and louder. It's interrupted every once in a while by a laugh only to resume screaming. Not only because those men are getting closer but…


"Get away from me!! Gross get away!!" The little girl runs and screams as she tries to get away from the finger. She can't help but giggle every time she gains a foot of ground on him.

"I got more!! A whole nose full!!" It's a threat he can definitely make come true but not in the wet grass he's chasing her around in. So fresh and pretty, the brilliant green is only eclipsed by the sun that sparkles off the water in diamond flashes, hitting their eyes and blinding them momentarily. "AUGH!!"

It's the sort of yell you'd hear from Charlie Brown just after he's finished trying to kick a ball. This time it's because the little boy slipped and wiped the snot across his own face.

Northern Staten Island

Eileen's owl hears it, too. So does the nightjar on the wing, but there is no need to relay this information to her companions; her feathered thralls can just as easily see that the others are already on the move. If they encounter any confusion or doubt about where they're to go, she will correct them—

But only then.

Somewhere in the recesses of the warehouse, there's a girl kicking her small feet, turning over in a cot that smells of stale sweat and not much else. Arm flung over her face, convulsing in giggles and knees forcing their way up out of their blanket. Eeeeee. Eeeee. Her voice bounces off the corrugated metal of the ceiling and wafts through the thin slice of space under the door, draws the stares of a half-dozen other children and hissing consternation. The child's voice rings out to where Magnes can hear it, louder now, female, and a dwindling note on even Doyle, Colette and Monica's ears, over the thunder of heartbeats and bated breathing.

"Sonofa." The gate rakes open suddenly and Delaware is grabbed by a sleeve, hauled inward. "Will somebody shut that little bitch up?" the Caucasian thug demands out of no one in particular, twisting his head aside. There's a faded tattoo up the side of his neck and his grip on his so-called employer's arm is full of enough brusque strength that not even Doyle's grasp on the man's legs is proof much against the tottering that his yanking invokes. It's like dragging a chair across a table, and neither he nor the pyrokinetic mouth-breather notice there's anything off about it.

Right on cue, someone silences Charlotte. Delia feels the connection break in slow-motion—


a sudden blackness thickening up glossier than shadows in the grass, drowning the spiny glint of sprinklers. A sea surging over the lawn. Her brother turns his skin inside out and his soul into someone old and rancidly ugly, catches up with sinuous swiftness. A beer-paunch that slams up densely into the small of her back and an arm around her throat. They go down and hit water, shock cold, and the oneiromancer is shoved out of her hostess' mind and body.

Northern Staten Island

"Shut up!" Male voices rocket through the roof, tricked gently by the wind into Magnes' ears. "Shut the Hell up. I fuckin' hate kids, and this is exactly why I hit hookers. The Hell do you think you're screeching for?" The last two words are broken up around a grunted pause of effort, and telltale squeak of pain wedged in after it. Noises on the register of knuckle to flesh, however, are too low a register to make it through the layers of metal. There's nothing else to greet the white knight but uglily minimalistic, functional architecture.

He doesn't, can't see a burly man pushing out of the other warehouse. Stepping out into the courtyard, an unlit cigarette in his mouth. Lifting his eyes to stare at the ludicrous crime-fighter in albatross-white hovering above their warehouse roof. Or the AK swinging up soundlessly in his hand, the manic pleasure that narrows his eyes. There's no radio-call out, no alarm raised. He merely takes aim, as if a young hero behind his mask is of no greater consequence than the dead bat in their yard. At least, it spares the nightjar flitting careful circles outside the light.

"Children laughing?" Jericho's voice is low and doubtful. His hand starts toward Peyton's shoulder, but McRae's stops him with a shake of his bald pate.

"The dream-walker," Shaman says, and his pupil subsides.

"A kid's laughing," Peyton murmurs, her voice soft and airy as it is when she is in her trance, for no reason other than that she can't hear herself speak. "But they said to shut her up and… it just … stopped." Peyton's teeth rake over her lower lip nervously, and her brows knit together as she watches, tilting her head as if to hear better, though it won't do any good.

What comes next is an inversion of the plan up until this point. On creeping through the open door with Monica and Doyle in tow, Colette unfolds her invisibility in a chameleon-like tidal wave of distorted light that spreads outwards in a wide dispersion from around her own dark-clad form and that of Monica and Doyle's.

Immediately thereafter, the invisiblity spreads to the men nearest around her; to Delaware, the man leading him, and whoever else is unfortunate enough to be within fifteen feet of the photokinetic and thrown into lightness dark.

Rising up from her crouched walking, Colette racks a round into her shotgun, aiming the gun at point-blank range towards the small of the back of the man leading Delaware and pulls the trigger. He may have been invisible, and it may be a bean-bag round, but when the 12-gauge goes off in an explosive report, the muzzle flash alone sends searing pain into the man's back, along with the concussive impact of the non-lethal — but still horribly painful and damaging — round.

Colette does much as she had been told once, leaning into the shot as she fires, letting her shoulder take the recoil even though the kick from the gun sends her back a few inches, her heels scuffing the ground underfoot. Letting the invisibility peel away from her victim after he's been shot while blinded, Colette reveals his frame as he's blown flat onto his face by the impact of the gun, even as she racks another round, ecjecting a smoking red shell casing from the side of the shotgun.

Colette fades away from view in a rippling haze of invisibility after the next round is chambered, leaving Monica and Doyle able to once more see.

Magnes turns around when he hears the shots, which unfortunately is enough time for two bullets to impact into the back of his vest, causing him to fall through the roof as opposed to flying through it. He groans, but he knows that if he lands on a kid, or lays there in pain, he's pretty much screwed.

His field of gravity is extended, and he immediately draws one gun, then another, rapidly firing at the man in the room. "Kids, get back!" his modulated voice warns, gravity pushing forward in case they decide to shoot in the children's direction.

The strings to Doyle's excrement-soaked puppet are cut, Delaware's knees collapsing beneath him as he drops down to the ground - just barely catching himself on hands and knees, trembling fingers curling against the floor.

"Hello!" A bright smile curves its path across the puppeteer's rounded face as he steps forward, sweeping his hand back up — and the pyrokinetic's arms jerk up as if snatched by ethereal strings. His other hand lifts, fingers touching thumb like a child making a bite-motion with a hand puppet, and his mouth snaps shut hard enough to chip a tooth. His eyes are cold as ice as he steps forward, clucking his tongue, "Now, now… I didn't say you could scream for help. That will be later."

A casual glance to the others, one brow raising as the unnerving smile lingers, "Shall we move on?"

With a large gasp, Delia sits up in a panic in the back of the truck. Her arms flail frantically, trying to get the tarp off of her, she doesn't remember covering herself up. The delirium of waking, especially in light of such a dream is a little disquieting.

Trying her best to calm her heving breath, she crinkles the tarp in her arms and hugs it like a security blanket. That man was quite possibly the most horrifying thing she's seen in years. Slowly, her breathing goes to normal and she looks up at Eileen. "I think I got one of them killed…" Her tearful admission comes with a wash of guilt that paints over her features in a thick coat.

And action! Colette opens fire and Doyle is… creepy and Monica runs herself off toward where the laughing has so recently cut off. Her guns are out and ready to use, but she's saving her ammo at the moment, for whatever adults happen to be behind those doors she's aiming to kick open.

It's possible she misses Doyle's casual words. In the running.

A hand at the back of Delia's ginger head steadies her, and if circumstances were different Eileen would be peeling away pieces of hair from the younger woman's tear-streaked face, but there is little time for tenderness. Neither is it appropriate.

"You don't know that," is as much a gentle reprimand as it is a reassurance. Metal creaks under the Englishwoman's shifting weight as she moves to stand, her hand falling away from Delia's head. That she touched her at all might be more of a surprise if they knew one another better; with the exception of a very select few, Eileen shies away from physical contact unless it's absolutely necessary, and in this case it wasn't.

A steel door implodes under Monica's boot, metal snapping and forcibly unhooked under the expert distribution muscular force. Before her, there spans a hallway, the clash of shouting voices, ringing of children's sobs, the dissipating echo of firearm discharge. Magnes sure as fuck hit somebody in there, but even as she moves into the broad hallway and around the corner, she can't see anybody, or not right away. The vast space inside the warehouse is partitioned with cage-fencing, tarps, boat freight containers, and fluorescent lights flicker sporadically from the ceiling. It smells faintly of ammonia, chlorine, organic salt, and marijuana.

She catches a glimpse of a man beside her. Just a split-second's image, a dark profile with a rather funnily expression of surprise upon seeing her, sweat-clotted dreadlocks, the fleeting impression of arms bent and legs moving at a gallop's pace, and then he's gone without a word. She isn't his target.

Doyle is. Rending pain bursts through the puppeteer's side and a knife appears in the fat man's ribs almost like an afterthought, dragged two inches through the folds of his flesh from navel to hip. You could measure it in an eye-blink, before the man reappears like an ink-spatter on the tarmac two yards behind him, his fingers still unfolding from the act of releasing the blade. "The fuck, coon?" he snarls, and the fire-breather's jaws strain visibly around the confines of his enforced silence, cheeks bulging, a lambent glow through the walls of his mouth, but he's as silent as Delaware's become, bug-eyed and still stinking.

Ironically, it's the man starfished on the ground with the bloody back who groans it in the end: "Invis'ble bitch. Fock'n' 'elp."

Sitrep is, arguably, a little clearer to Magnes and a certain industrious nightjar, having the benefit of height. Peyton long-distance. There's a little girl with her neck bent nearly in half, bulging like a strangled fish in the fingers of a burly man who has more freckles than fairness to his skin, and the fact that Magnes' gun put a hole in his other arm seems to have surprised him more than anything. His lip is curled, his mouth opening around the edge of some string of curses, maybe orders, some cruel punctuation to the fact he's hauling Charlotte up to block further fire.

More the problem, though. The three other men with him, waiting outside the girl's chainlinked cage, rifles already out because terrorizing ninety-pound children with large paramilitary weaponry is fucking classy. In an instant, the wall behind Magnes is chunky concrete Swissed and there is less air than lead cutting with terrifying velocity in toward the armor strapped across the young man's chest. It's by virtue of gravitokinesis that a bullet twanging off toward the cage of the boy to his left whines off to puncture tarp, instead, but virtue isn't proof against vice. Not for Magnes.

It's deafening— and it tells Monica where to go.

Booted feet skid to a halt when Colette feels a blank spot in reflected light when one of the kidnappers disappears from where he was and reappears in another, the invisible teen wheels around and leaves Monica unintentionally by herself. Unseen, the young girl weaves left and then right, booted feet making noisy report on the concrete floor as she makes her way back to Doyle's side.

It isn't stopping at Doyle that she intends to do though, as Colette drops down to one knee behind the puppeteer and shoulders her pump-action shotgun again, firing from a point of invisibility with a riotous explosion of another beanbag round towards the knife-wielding man. Hoping— praying— that having the advantage of a sneak attack will be enough to catch soemone that fast off-giard.

"Doyle's been hit!" Colette shouts into her headphone back to whoever is listening on the radio.

In this much chaos and adrenaline, she can't rightly remember.

Magnes covers his head, suddenly focusing all of his gravity on not getting his head exploded while bullets smash into his chest. He may have either some serious bruises or incredibly cracked ribs, but the front of that vest is ruined. He groans, quickly trying to fight through the pain so he can get up on to his knees.

That girl could be killed at any moment, he has to act quickly and not get the kids hurt. As soon as he's up on his knees, he slips a vial from a pouch, then tosses it to the ground to allow a large plume of smoke to rise and fill the room, leaping into the air under the cover of darkness. He's jumping toward the men, feeling around with gravity. He attempts to mentally cave the man's head in with gravity, the one holding the girl so he can try to quickly pull her up with the same mental force. He's not about to try and fight all the men with guns at once, it simply makes more sense to kill this man and get the girl up to the roof.

Asskickings can be dulled out later.

The other man is moving too fast even to see before there's a sudden flash of pain across Doyle's side — fast enough that it cuts without much resistance, not fast enough that the metal's heated to cauterize the wound. In other words, exactly the worst sort of fast.

As blood washes dark over his shirt, he lowers a hand towards his side, a stuttering breath caught in his throat before he collapses down to one knee in wobbling lack of balance. One big hand presses down against the wound, his expression contorting in pain, seeing the world through a haze of pain as he looks over towards the snarling question from the speedster.

Shaking, Eric's other hand lifts up… and turns, the 'mouth' formed by his hand opening as he does so. The 'coon' turns his head with it, jaws opening as exit is finally provided for that lambent flame in a sweep towards the man with the knife.

He's not being too worried about catching the two on the floor in the fire, either.

Looking up at Eileen, she gives the birg a bit of a smile before scavenging around the truck bed for her pack. Pulling it out, she opens it up and counts the supplies that she brought. "Just in case… I think I'm going to make sure I'm ready." Inside are a whole bunch of supplies liberated from the Gun Hill clinic, perhaps not the sanctionned usage of Ferry property but to Delia it's an acceptable one.

"He was the most horrible thing I've ever seen in my life… Like something out of a nightmare." An image she might not be able to erase for a long long time.

Trusting that Doyle and Colette will be able to handle themselves, Monica continues her running on toward that sound. her team has back up, but who do these kids have? (The answer may be something of a surprise!) And she's just trying to get there before there's a room of dead kids as her destination. Once she gets there, though, it's her turn to open fire.

The fact of the matter is… with adrenaline, fear and anger pumping through her system, it is really hard for her to aim for anything non-vital. But the fact that she has non-lethal rounds and that she doesn't like these guys very much leaves her not even trying to pull her punches. The shots she fires aim right for the back of the head, trying to disable the shooters.

Eileen must not disagree with Delia's assessment of the Gun Hill clinic situation. This is a trial run for the eighth, too. She's here for the children, but she's also here to see how Delia performs under pressure. What she can hear over the radio and see through the eyes of her nightjar has her mouth going flat and her muscles taut, back straight as she angles the owl's attention toward the roof. "David?" she asks in a quiet voice, firm and prompting.

David acknowledges Eileen's words with a nod, and a low string of monosyllables into Peyton's ear. The young clairvoyant reaches to grasp her headset and switches channels, abruptly. "Backup's on the way," she says, brusquely. "I don't know if they'll be there fast enough— they're gonna go in from the back wall and Doyle's out in front. We might need to get on the ground and do a diversion?" Snatches of speech between herself and the old atmokinetic bowed grizzled over her slim shoulder. "O-okay.

"McRae and Jericho can't get in there yet," she says, her voice crisp. "Too many kids they'll hurt. Eileen, you got anything?" It might be gratifying, on some level— that Colette is no longer regarded as one of them.

Her target, Doyle's target, blinks out of sight under a blurred flash of shotgun-fire and the golden scorch and roostertail of flames. When he reforms, he's smoking unhappily at the sleeve and there's blood dripping from his wrist. Ironically, the combination of accelerated metabolism and free cauterization! do wonders to balance out at an approximately normal rate of bleeding. This means the speedster is rather uncomfortable, but there are worse things than being uncomfortable. There's being on fire.

And both Delaware and the man on the ground are. Stench in the air, screeching. There's a hiccupy, erratic jolt of movement through the pimp's figure as Doyle's attention spreads thin over pressure and pain, and he seems rather determined to begin hobbling away and beating on his own sleeves at the same time. Flames lick at his ears, at the clothes of the man on the ground, and their hair is melting sticky, plastically-reeking lines onto the bare flesh of their necks. Kevlar isn't flammable, but a few organic parts of most people are.

Dreadlocks sway to a dreamy halt behind the pyrokinetic's shoulder. The speedster grabs his arm, turns. Points him dead at Doyle, and the gout of flame that follows goes ripping toward both the beleaguered puppeteer and his loyal companion.

Screams follow Monica into the warehouse, and greet her as she moves inward. Her first shot drops her target slackly onto the ground, a textured ketsup crater in the back of his head. Rubber bullets might be kinder than the best, but they sting like a bitch— and at point-blank range, are easily capable of breaking bone and one's skull is nothing more. The whites of children's eyes stand out at her from her peripheral vision, confused, uncomprehending. To them, Monica in the haze of dispersing looks no less barbaric and unrecognizable than the junkies and mutants who've played gaoler to them in the past months. She catches a fleeting impression of a toilet bucket streaked with blood, plain cots, plastic plates, small shoulders pressing against wire walls so tightly the metal would probably be rattling tinnily under the quaking of children if you could hear anything here over the shouts and firearm discharge.

Charlotte's tiny arms go around Magnes' neck, the thin skin of her inner-wrists smooth despite the bite-marks mapped along them. She's as blind as the men in here and fast-fading, but she can feel the difference somehow— in the helping hand that found her in the dark. Abruptly, the gravitokinetic feels no pain. His lungs don't fill right, there's a dizzying static of bloodloss telltale in the corners of his eyes, but he feels good. Better than good. Adrenaline like his veins are one big fuse and she gave him the match, summer refined to fuel and dumped into his blood, and the strangest semblence of joy.

The feeling doesn't fade. Not even after the first red flower of blood opens up on the front of Charlotte's gown, laps wetly onto his battered armor, and the second one rolls her head stringily onto his shoulder.

He dropped the other man though. The one who'd been trying to crush her throat. That's something. And Monica got one too: he can make it out now. He can make Monica out, too, a dim figure through the haze, smaller than the men yelling shit— horrible shit, like they didn't notice Charlotte, like they didn't even see what they just did to her, and maybe they didn't, because Magnes didn't let them— they're backing up. Into the corridor, turning to set rifles on the muscle-memory mimic too. Four. Five.

Eight of them.

Flames burn bright, hot and orange in Colette's periphery. On a scale of lumens, fire is a moderate source of light without any outside manipulation, it is also extremely hot and generally dangerous to be fully immersed in. Unable — or perhaps unwilling — to throw herself into the flames to shield Eric, Colette instead lets out a shriek of fright and falls to her side as she peels away from her invisibility.

Landing on her back the teen raises one hand up into the air, creating a whirling disc of light over her palm, even as the fire begins to spew and belch out from the pyrokinetics mouth. Booted feet kick backwards, scraping her along the floor as that disc in her hand burns brighter and hotter and the illumination cast by the fire seems to diminish more and more.

Dropping her shotgun, Colette shakes her wrist free to the jingle-jangle of her clip-on LED flashlight on her butterfly bracelet. Swinging it up into her hands and depressing the button with her thumb, it isn't just a beam of colorless light that slices out from her flashlight.

Flashlights don't cauterize flesh.

Passing through the whirling disc of firefly motes of light, the flashlight beam is refined in the lens of collected lumens into a slicing beam of laser light akin to a surgical laser, and with reckless abandon Colette whips it from side to side through the flames and in the general vicinity of the fire breather.

Magnes feels it, he feels incredible, like being fondled by ten Elaines. "You stay here, stay low, you'll be alright from now on." he whispers as he lays the little girl on to the roof, making sure there aren't any pesky snipers. "I'll be right back for you."

He grabs that pole on the ground, taking a deep breath, then jumps back down through the roof. As soon as he lands, he sweeps his pole in a horizontal arc, both trying to increase the gravity of the man to the right of him, then shift his weight into the others. No matter how it works out, he goes running forward, smacking the pole into arms, crushing elbows with invisible force, and above all else, fully expecting Monica to probably kick more ass than he does, like every other time he's met her.

"This pedobear picnic just got rained on." he says in the midst of his fighting, through his deeply modulated voice.

The mistake's realized all at once by Doyle as the speedster's preternatural agility carries him just past the lambent flames emerging from the other thug's gullet. One can forgive him for that, given that he's bleeding like a stuck pig, the deep cut through his side not having reached any internal organs - but still agonizing, a white-hot flash of pain that hasn't dulled in the slightest in the bare seconds since it struck home. In fact, it's only getting worse.

As that gout of fire billows towards them, he can't move out of the way, incapacitated by the wound in his side. His fingers twist in his hand, reaching in deeper than mere muscle and bone to shut the firebreather's power off at the source, the generation of heat cut off in mid-stream. It's not fast enough to completely protect him, his head jerking away as the first wave of fire splashes over him, catching his hat on fire and causing his sweatshirt to smolder, his exposed hand scorched with a stinging burn. But the skin isn't blackened, just reddened. It could have been worse. "Aagh— "

His burnt hand sweeps towards the speedster that's holding onto the fire breather, pained fingers clenching in a fist, trying to focus through the agony to lock the other man in place for just long enough for that laser to reach him.

As impotent as a 90 year old man without a steady supply of viagra, Delia's relegated to waiting for news in the back of the truck. The weight of the lives of the children inside weight heavy around her neck and with each count of the injured by the sightless woman, it only presses down on her more.

This is where the grim determination sets in and she hefts up the pack onto her back and scoots one of her boots in front of her to make certain that it's tied, then the other. "Eileen, can you tell me when it's safe to go in? I think they're going to need me very soon."

It's not rare for Monica to bust out her kung fu skills. She does it a lot! But it is rare for her to employ her Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dawson-slash-The Matrix Bullet Time moves. Mostly because she's not sure how she feels about that particular progression of her power.

But this isn't the time for existential, philosophical pondering of her ability, this is the time to kick some ass. Sorry kidlets. :(

Employing a mix of martial arts and Neo-style bullet dodging, Monica rushes in to start kicking guns out of hands and generally harming these guys. However, as she notices a body there she doesn't want to ass kick, she gives a quick, "Good to see you around, WK," complete with a quick wink hello. Then it's more ass kicking.

"Yes," is as succinct a reply as they come, directed to Delia and McRae both. At the same time, on the other side of the battlefield, Eileen's nightjar wings down and clips Magnes', snagging it with its claws in what is probably an attempt to seize the young man's attention. She can't communicate with him telepathically as long as she remains in her own body, but she does not need words to convey a warning. In his haste, and Monica's too, the pair has left their backs unguarded.

"Do you know how to handle a gun?" she asks Delia, then. In the event it becomes necessary, is what she wants to add but doesn't. It may already be.

Armor complicates the situation inside the warehouse. The fact that the wares, the children, don't have any is turning Charlotte cold and white on the roof and making a liability out of every tiny body huddled on the warehouse floor, the corners of their cages, but armor halves the impact of Monica's expertly placed limbs and the crush and sweep of the metal bar in Magnes' gravitokinetically-enhanced hands. She drops one. He gets up again while Monica is putting her elbow through another man's face. The burly man Magnes sends crashing backward into his cohort isn't going anywhere anytime soon, not with the audible crack of kevlar fibers splitting under impact, but the rangy, raw-boned thug he falls onto picks him up like he were no heavier than a hankerchief and flips him aside. Steps forward through whorling smoke.

And just as Monica's leg is completing the vicious arc of an axe-kick through another man's torso, a bony fist connects with her ribs. She feels the force behind that blow, more than the stringy musculature of its wielder ought to have. Waves of kinesis rippling shockwave through the muscle and sinew of her lean frame in what seems like slow-motion to her trained body. She knows, automatically, there's a broken rib, a couple bruises, seconds before she feels her boot-soles peel off the floor and is bracing herself, already, for the bouncing collision with the fence.

"Guys, get the kids out!" is Peyton's staticky burst over the radio. "Chuck and Ben are coming in through the back—"

But so is more incoming. The other warehouse door slams inward and three more thugs are in, sending bullets out over the children's crouching heads. A shotgun round punches a fist-sized hole through the pattern of chainlink and bursts like a warm egg against the side of Magnes' armor, presses him backward a few feet despite the stubborn resistance of his gravitokinesis. The young man's breath abruptly tastes like blood, and it's strange but not unaccountable, that he feels none of it more than the trace of the bird messenger's pinion feather along his cheek.

Colette and Doyle have three full-grown men screaming in their faces now, and Delaware beating a ragged retreat, his arms windmilling. The speedster is falling back, demoralized because his shaggily dreadlocked head is on fire like someone napalmed a palm tree, snarling. There's an erratic stop-start jolt to his movement, blinking in and out of sight on a near-predictable pattern, as he blurs between dual urges to attack and to get out and save himself and the agony in his scalp. He let go of the fire-breather. The fire-breather's sternum lays in two pieces laminated together by bordering muscle, and the blood filling his respiratory system has slaked the fires he carries in himself, leaves smoke belching out of crimson bubbles.

Perhaps the better priority, however, is the sight of other men running down and out of the other buildings. Running swiftly past the parked vans, toward the warehouse full of kids, ignoring them utterly.

"Shit— shit— " Colette hisses, dispersing the field of light in front of her hand and the laser beam. Her hand relinquishes grip on the keychain light and it returns to dangle from its chain around her wrist. She then goes to putting herself out where flames lick up one sleeve of her leather jacket and smoke rises up in thin tendrils from one lapel.

Brushing off the flames with gloved hands, Colette rises up onto one knee again aside Doyle where he's holding his bleeding wound. Panic has set in, eyes wide, one hand up to her ear as she twists around and leans forward to grab her shotgun off from the ground. "Guys! Whoever with the kids, there's dudes on the way! Doyle needs someone to get him out!"

Which implies, of course, that Colette won't be doing it.

Boosting herself up to her feet with a shove of one hand, Colette lowers her hand from her headset and takes a hold of the shotgun properly, racking another shell in with a cha-chack of the pump slide. "Eric, I— " she's already backpedaling away, "Get outta' here! I'll get the kids!"

As Colette begins to turn away from Eric and towards the building with the children in it, she turns towards where her body is peeling away like stripped paint, flakes of color matching her attire breaking away from her body as she turns invisible again, moving to follow the men headed towards the building the children are in and back up Magnes and Monica.

Magnes grinds his teeth as he once again starts dragging himself up, blood beginning to seep through his white mask. "Monica, get the kids away from here, anywhere, I'll try to distract these guys." He doesn't want kids getting killed, and he's not exactly sure how this is going to work, but here goes nothing.

He reaches down, pulling his lethal guns from his ankles, then leaps into the air, figuring the men aren't expecting that, and begins taking shots at their heads, sure not to actually aim in the direction of any of the children. He gets lower and lower, and once they're within the range of his field, he starts mentally grabbing guns and slamming them into men, doing everything he can to throw everything he has into giving Monica time to get the children away. "Come on! I feel like a goddamned Tamaranean!"

"Go! Go, get the— get the kids out of here," Doyle all but growls out, unable to shout too loudly due to the pain in his side; his face screwing up into a grimace as he splays his hand in the direction of the speedster. Sure, he can't move very far from where he's collapsed to his knees, but he can still move his slightly-burnt hand. A grimace that's almost a smile on his lips as he takes control of the man with the burning hair… and lifts his hand slowly to rest upon his head, knocking his own smoldering ballcap off in the process.

The speedster's hair doesn't 'knock off' though as his fingers delve into burning dreadlocks and his feet lock still on the ground. But the fire still spreads.

"Nobody… does this to kids and screaming… on my watch," he breathes out, his other hand lifting from where it was holding his wound together, catching sight of Delaware running away… and turning him with a twist of his wrist, blood-soaked fingers doing the walk as his charge heads right for the reinforcements coming out of the buildings. A strange man charging them in the middle of a gunfight? He's hoping the results are properly ironic.

Hopefully someone will come to help Eric before one of the gunmen spots him there.

Shaking her head to Eileen, Delia just leaps out of the back of the truck. "No," she calls out behind her, "I never learned!" What she does have though, are hypodermic needles filled with pain killers. Armed with one in each hand, she sets a grim look of determination on her face and begins running toward one of the buildings.

She doesn't have the ability of a speedster, but she's got a great set of lungs and has enough stamina to lap the island at least once… What she doesn't have is a good set of feet. This is why she always uses a bicycle.

All it takes is for one foot to slant in front of the other, this time left over right. With a single stumble, she cracks against the pavement, her body splayed out like starfish on the beach. She's not moving.

For the second time in two weeks (or four decades depending on how you're looking at it) there's a hypodermic needle full of morphine sticking out of her thigh… the dose is just too strong.

"Very noble," Monica says, falling back a bit as her hand comes to over her now broken ribs. It's fairly obvious she's in pain, but still, she nudges Magnes some. "I can't. You've got the power, float them out. What I can do is shoot things. So let me do that." And it's also pretty clear she's regretful she can't get the kids out. With her adrenaline making her power so trigger happy, it's probably not a good idea. Not to mention, she probably can't even… carry anyone at the moment.

Also, they're scared of her. Which is a shame.

And apparently, she's not giving him much of a choice because she just charges back in toward the gunmen, a little less smooth with her kung fu given the injury, but it seems to make her more aggressive, too, less finesse, more hitting. But she also seems to be aware of her position, and tries not to block Magnes from taking shots with those guns of his.

Eileen drops to a knee beside Delia, gathers her in her arms, and leans her back against the truck's rear tire. Her fingers curl around the needle, ease it from her thigh. A flick of her wrist sends it scattering harmlessly aside. She cups the unconscious woman's chin in her palm and tilts it up so she can check her pulse with her opposite and, dark head turned to listen for the thin rasp of her breathing.

Only when she's sure that she's going to be all right does she set off into the dark with a snap of her screech owl's tiny wings. She's reaching into her coat and unholstering her pistol as her feet carry her briskly in Doyle's general direction. If her birds can identify a clear path between the truck and the puppeteer, she'll take it. If not—

Well, that's what the gun is for.

On the other hand, armor is only really proof against Monica Dawson if it covers everything up to and including your face.

Inside the warehouse, she flattens noses, looses a man's teeth. A bullet from Magnes' pistol staggers another before he can get the word 'cunt' out properly, never mind angle his AK down the narrow slot of the corridor between diamond-shaped wire fencing. It's the unexpectedly gangly whelp of a thug with superstrength who's the hardest to take down— unsurprisingly. Monica hits him in the face and he spits blood in hers. She hits him in the neck and he gets his arm around her waist, only lets go when another shot off Magnes' weapon clips a fat notch through his elbow.

The children are screaming. Pulling up close to the doors, though. One intrepid tiny hand catches at the edge of the brick's boot, and he goes down backward with a yell, the sole of his shoe sliding frictionlessly over a puddle of human waste. He goes down with a stolid crack of his skull on concrete, a bounce, even as auto-fire goes snaking through the air, chasing Monica back into hiding around the edge of a raggedly perforated tarp. Before the thug can get up, though, his eyeballs abruptly roll back in their sockets, lids fluttering down.

Chuckles and a tweedy middle-aged man are among them, abruptly. The ex-ganger's lip is curled and he twists his head, narrows his eyes on his next target, and with enough effort to throb the vein in his forehead into visibility, there's another man falling, unconscious and bleeding like a fucking waterfall out of the wound skimmed on his forearm. His companion twists his pepper-haired head up, tries to find Magnes against the ripped ceiling, the spitting sparks of gutted lights. When he claps eyes on the gravitokinetic, they grow wide. He almost says something else, but what comes out instead is:

"I'll speed you up!" practically screaming: you have to, over the din in here. "Gimme a hand— we have to get the little ones out of here. The little ones."

The puddle of blood around Doyle's feet is bigger than his shadow is now, splaying viscous, smudgy where his feet and Colette's drew brush-marked shapes. Delaware's retreat slows when he glances over his shoulder and realizes the fat little to-be-corpse is literally burning his goon alive. That is kind of impressive, even if the fact that Doyle doesn't notice his other fear is materializing behind him, some asshole with a pistol and no love for dreadlocks. A cheerful, cocaine-hazed smirk over Doyle's shoulder for the speedster dying in bloody inches, a leisurely swing to the pistol lifting up to the back of the puppeteer's head.

"Pey," Jericho's hand descends on her shoulder. Pulls her out of her reverie with a shake. There's a lighter in his hand, and wind snatching at her hair, the edges of her skirt, toying with the space around her like a cat before its claws come out. "Peyton, we're gonna make a fire tornado. Diversion and evac. And people are going to die. Do you think it's too early, or can you get them out of there?"

McRae isn't even looking. The old Shaman's eyes have dropped down to the long strip of pavement below, something cold, nonchalant, like fatalism in his face, watching Eileen's figure silk away into the shape of the compound in the distance.

Too late to realize that the Reaper's scythe is barreling down in on Doyle, Colette Nichols has followed the brunt of the thug reinforcements into the warehouse. The black-haired young woman, under cover of her invisibility and the riot of noise from the battle keeps her profile narrow, waiting beside the entrance before popping in at their backs, booted feet tracking blood that gives her away, had any of them had the precence of mind to watch over their shoulders.

As she sweeps into the warehouse proper, Colette trains her ability first on an outward path, targeting the men closest to her with a rippling wave of invibility targeted mostly at their upper torsos. Heads are too hard to pinpoint in the movement, but keeping it so part of them is visible while effectively bliding them is key.

The moment that distorted wave of partial invisibility blankets them men closest to her, she braces herself near the back wall and opens fire. A noisy report of blam from the shotgun sends a beanbag round at a visible assailant from her cover of invisibility. The noise of another round racking in sends a smoking, red shell casing spinning through the air before she opens fire again.

She's doing her best not to go further into the room, but to sow just enough confusion among these sick bastards that she can clear out a path to the exit.

Peyton looks up, dark eyes turning from black to brown as she peers into Jericho's face, and she nods. "I think so — just… okay, let me tell them," she whispers, worried, curling her fingers around his forearm as her eyes go back to black to peer through the eyes of one of her cohorts. "«We're going to do a diversion — you need to get out now. Doyle, can you move or do you need someone to help you? Fire incoming,»" she speaks through the radio. "«Repeat, fire incoming, get out now.»"

As the speedster continues to burn, Doyle's bloodied hand drops back down to press against his side… and he takes a slow, shaky breath, leaving the man unable to move, to scream, anything but stand there and suffer as he slowly starts to work himself to his feet, grimacing as his weight pulls down against the wound.

Good thing of being pudgy. More fat to cut through. Bad thing - it pulls down against the wound when you move.

Unaware of the man with the gun behind him, he starts to turn back, pain jarring with his movements with the intent of heading back towards the escape vehicle…

It's like Pringles. Once you pop, you can't stop. Such is Monica Dawson in this moment. It's all for the kids. A millions bruises, a broken rib, the blood; it's all for the kids. And her own determination that they will not live another day like this if she has anything to say about it. And she does.

Her aim is to cover the retreat before she… somehow manages an escape herself, she hasn't really thought past 'kick some butt'. So when she steps out of her hiding spot, guns pointing ahead of her, she manages a smirk at the group of thugs there.

"Alright, boys," she remarks, "Let's dance." And she opens fire again. To the same effect, up close and personal. She can worry about feeling guilty later. And as soon as she's close enough, those guns flip around in her hand, so she can grip the barrel and use them as bludgeoning devices. Because she's mad. And in pain. And the kids and her friends. And she's just letting it all fuel her as she slips into a style that a few might recognize as a more street brawling type viciousness.

She learned that from Richard Cardinal.

Magnes quickly grabs the man's hand, and then his earlier euphoria is suddenly joined with the euphoria of seeing everything moving so slowly. The experiences all overwhelming his senses before he just starts moving. First, it's to the roof to grab the girl, leaving her outside as the white blur with the red white and blur scarf blows back into the building. He keeps a tight grip around the man, smacking anyone with a gun who stands in his way to the side with gravity. If they decide to break into little pieces, well, that's their problem.

Kids get dropped outside one by one, as well as anyone else nearby in the building, except, of course, the pedobear. He knows this is probably straining his wounds, but he's not worried about that. Once the children and everyone else are out, the last person he goes after is Monica. Gravity plows through the men she's been occupying herself with, and he quickly grabs her over her shoulder, carrying her quickly out of the building. The last thought that races through his mind? Would Barry Allen be so tempted to cop a superspeed feel?

The gunshot that rings out a few feet from Doyle's right ear doesn't blow apart that half of his skull, mix fragments of bone and pieces of brain turned to pulp. It does, however, spatter him with the stuff — sticky, warm, wet. All of a sudden, Eileen is there and the man that was standing behind him isn't.

She lowers her pistol, places a hand at the puppeteer's elbow to offer him physical support without forcing it on him. "Eric," is all she says, and all that needs to be said.

They should hurry.

They should. Even as Eileen and Doyle start to make their way out of the lot, there's a thread of flame thickening a spool of wind a precious few yards away. Peyton feels the fire flickering heat and light on her face, despite that she's listening and seeing something else entirely. There are long, coarse fingers wrapped around her own, a thumb V'ed around hers, reassuring pressure from Jericho's grip. He knows she knows it's as much to anchor her as to anchor him.

He's never mass-murdered a lot of people with fire, before.

The column picks up speed, turns its tall, circular brilliance in the night air. Begins to buoy gently into the street opposite the gate through which Eileen and the tubby puppeteer move, ponderously polite in that way. Moves toward the cluster of warehouse buildings. The sky is abruptly thick with something like dust, an unsteady fluctuation of atmosphere pressing like thumbs into the ears of everybody on the inside the warehouse, outside the warehouse, and as it begins to slither down the street, it sucks an eerie whine out of hinges and rivets in the derelict buildings on either side of the gray street, the unmistakable tinkle of a window imploding in its frame.

Tottering panickily back with their rescuers, the children huddle at the treeline. A motley lot, a boy with brilliant freckles, a blond girl who clutches her arms around Charlotte's chalk-skinned legs despite that Magnes is easily capable enough of carrying the Evolved girl by himself. Against the firelight intensifying in the distance, their eyes shine in the dark like pennies from the bottom of a wishing well, moving between the hideous spectacle of destruction moving slow-motion toward their erstwhile prison and the prison itself, as if even now, the men who'd guarded, beaten, and sold them might come and take them now. They barely notice the ones who saved them, until one bird-boned shoulder bumps into Monica's hip. There's a shriek, backward scuttle, dark eyes flitting away from fire and onto the movement mimic.

Precious few yards from the warehouse's steel door, Colette is in a unique vantage point to see the situation. The thugs regrouping, cursing. The coltish bastard with superstrength reawakening with a snarl, flinging the whole of a chainlink wall off him like he's merely getting out of bed. Where are the fucking trolls? Where the fuck did they go? Where the fuck is Coon? Disarray. Someone shoots another pointless hole in the ceiling, and there's unease rippling through the pack of them, unified by nothing more than barbaric, shared experience. Do you smell that?

Is that fire?

In the corner of her eye, Delaware's tiny figure is framed by the open door. Coming running back from down the street, a steeple of orange light and incinerating heat behind him. It's only a matter of time before the other men, too, make a run for it. That being said, so should she.

Magnes moves to usher the children to safety, trying to make sure they don't run off somewhere. "Come on, we're getting you to safety. I'm a superhero, White Knight, and no one's going to hurt you ever again." he assures as best he can, keeping his sphere of gravity extended so he can quickly grab one in case they do decide to bolt. "Misty Knight, little help?" he asks over to Monica, the grin practically heard in his tone.

Racking another round into her shotgun from her invisible vantage point, Colette flicks a look in one side of the warehouse door and then back in the opposite direction. With Magnes and Monica helping corrall the children, it falls to Colette to ensure the path to the exit remains clear.

Stepping into the doorway, she fires one shot directly towards the nearest of the regrouping thugs, little more than the sound of gunfire coming from an unseen angle and the sudden explosion of pain and platter-sized bruise where the bean-bag round impacts.

Of course, seeing a swirling cone of fire shaped like some mighty thumb of God come down to burn this entire Sodom and Gomorrah affair of the face of the Earth is humbling. So is the tiny sound in the back of Colette's throat as she backpedals away from the warehouse door.

"Back door— BACK DOOR!" Colette screams as she heads towards the children and Magnes, peeling into visibility as she racks the last round chambered inside of the shotgun, expelling the last smoking round out the side of the gun.

Colette is bolting towards the exit in the opposite direction from the whirling tornado of fire, whatever direction it's in. She's hoping, too, that one more round will be enough to clear the rest of the way.

Because she didn't bring any more ammo.

At the feeling of heat, Peyton's hand tightens on Jericho's and her pupils flicker for a moment, constricting and then dilating again with the adrenaline that rushes through her, her vision blurring out of the perspective she shares with Colette before returning. Her brows knit with fear as she watches the flight of the children and her friends, feeling a little helpless to do anything. Sweat from the exertion of watching and the warmth of Jericho's fire beads on her forehead despite the chill in the air.

"They're all on their way," she murmurs softly to Jericho and McRae.

"Aaah!" A startled shout as the gun goes off dangerously close to Doyle's head, and as his face is sprayed with sticky heat… an uncertain stare back at Eileen, half-deafened by the blast, and then he offers a shaky, uncertain smile. "Hey there. Going my way?" There's a certain amount of surprise, there. He didn't expect anyone to come back for him at all, deep down.

As she offers support, he leans into it; one hand still applying pressure on the wound, he moves to join her in their escape, keeping his head down and hobbling as fast as he can.

Finding herself enemy-free and lifted out of the building, Monica come out of her sort of… zone of beating things and turns her head to look at the White Knight. "Thanks," she says, her voice somewhat gruff. But she's not going to cry just now, not until things have a chance to settle in.

It's why she ends up standing by the trees, staring at the buildings a bit blankly. She does have the presence of mind to wipe the blood off her face. Or smear it, at least. Semantics. But when she's addressed, even by a name that's not really hers, she looks over Magnes' way and tips her head a little. Setting her guns down, she crouches down to be more on the level of the kids, particularly the one bumping into her. It hurts, but she manages with a grunt and a grimace. "It's alright now. It's over." There's a bit of a gesture, for the willing ones to gather her way. "Let's get you all out of here, yeah? You can spit at the building, if you wanna." It always made her little brother feel better, anyway. And then it's just a matter of getting these kids back to the truck. With a broken rib. Oi.

Eileen takes what weight she's able to support and no more than that. The hand that had been at Doyle's elbow moves to cover his over the wound. He keeps his head down, and so does she, but her glassy eyes are facing forward, focused on a point somewhere in the distance that she cannot see.

The screech owl leads Eileen, and Eileen leads Doyle, weaving the same path she took to reach him, but this time in reverse and with slight adjustments made on the fly — quite literally — to compensate for his injury.

If he's lucky, Delia will come to before he drops out. If he's not, he'll have to settle for Eileen's icy touch instead.

"Go," Jericho's voice harshes into Peyton's ear. A tug on her arm, his grip gentling before the urge comes to push. "Pey. You'll have to drive the fuckin' truck. Sorry: we'll see you back at the Sweat Lodge. Or the Lighthouse. Wherever you were gonna have to take everybody." There's a knot of unrealized movement twitching the shape of the Arab boy's long neck. He wants to look at her, but it's their situations are inversed now as the clairvoyant comes out of her fugue and his attention is trapped on the column of burning.

You must be able to see that thing from seven miles away. Taller than the other buildings, bright against the black of night-time.

The noise of its breathing fills the air. Rushing of moving gas, the rasping that chars asphalt and melts pitted glass in it, the undercurrent, overcurrent screech and crackling like a mad witch's laughter. The wind's blowing the wrong way, but despite that, they can all smell it, scorching ozone and superheated dust, updraft belching smoke into a near-invisible clot into the sky.

The children almost panic, but Monica's suggestion— it's so ridiculous. Brings a dangerously hysterical giggle into the boy at her side, a second before the spit goes out of a near-parched mouth, little better than a moist puff of air. Grimy, child-sized fingers hooking through her own, short nails rimmed with excrement but his feet move apace of hers, maybe even faster, and he can tell she's hurt. His mouth moves too quiet to hear: Come on, lady. Come on!

Tinny in Magnes' ear, another girl's voice. He can only hear her because she's screaming, her face streaming livid even as her small feet plug stubborn strides after him. "She's dead! Mister, m-mister, she's fuckin'— she's dead! Charlotte— Char—"

It's only out of their peripherals, blurred by adrenaline, periphery, or the translation of avian sight, but three of them see it. Colette, Doyle, and Eileen, when Delaware trips seconds before he might have swerved around an abandoned dimestore. His foot catching on something impossibly small. His arms windmill, and he's snuffed out like a moth on the wall of an electric bulb, diaper-rash and all. A flared kiss of heat, molecules discharged in a fffizzle, a last reaching hand vanished in a splayed-finger splash of shadow, and then where there had been a maniacally tenacious crime-lord, there's nothing.

A split-second later, tires screech up a yard from Doyle and the owl's wings flare, catching balance for the twelfth time in winds just short of a gale. Peyton shoves the door open. "Get in!" she screams, has to to be heard. "Hurry! I have to swing around and grab the kids. Delia's coming to— I think, she's just—"

The burning tornado meets the wall of the tornado, and the roof shreds like it is being scalped, a deafening wail of kinesis against metal. And for awhile, none of them can hear anything at all.

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