Long Walk Home


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Long Walk Home
Synopsis Me and you had a long walk home, so we decided not to cry.
Date November 9, 2011

Somewhere Outside Jade City, British Columbia, Canada

Eventually the sound of the chinook was unchallenged, no noise ran against it. The initial reunion was loud. After flying for a while, there was nothing but silence. Many different eyes looking out of the chinook overlooking the normally beautiful and serene Yukon landscape. Today the natural beauty had a sinister aura about it. The silence was eventually interrupted by plans. Quick, choppy sentences of denial or affirmation dictated what would happen to this force.

Most of the survivors of the Natazhat strike team have moved on in the direction of Hollis' cabin. Keeping to tree lines to avoid some unfortunate outdoorsy family driving by the team of heavily armed and battle weary soldiers, sauntering through the snow.

Brian Winters has finally finished sinking the chinook that provided their escape into the Kluane river. Its last evidence of life being the waves the chopping blades sent through white rapids of the water. A bobbing head can be seen swimming desperately towards the shore. Brian Winters who sank the helicopter, not keen on dying one more time on this day is swimming hard for shore. Eventually making it, the man begins to shake in the throes of hypothermia before.. He disappears. Stepping away, the Arkham suited Brian straightens from where his other body just disappeared. Having reabsorbed his copy, the man walks forward to join the rest of the stragglers of the caravan. Many Brians had already gone ahead, impromptu stretchers crafted for the grievously injured and being hauled towards Hollis' by different pairs of Brians.

The armored Winters finally takes off the helmet, his flesh still sizzled and red from Olivia Roland's loving touch. His grey eyes watch the river take away the helicopter. By the time it got drudged up, they would all be long gone.

His helmet is held by his side, his gaze gradually deadening as he turns to take up the rear of their marching caravan.

In the cover of trees, Monica is using the length of her sleeve to wrap the stump of her arm. She doesn't need that sleeve anymore. And while she probably should have gone ahead to get real medical attention, she did not. She still has one arm, one gun and ninja kicks, so she still deems herself useful to the group. Or maybe she's just not ready to think about her personal loss. There have been so many losses today, her arm is easy to push to the bottom of the list. "You think our tracks will be gone by the time anyone looks for us here?" she asks, looking over to the others, then to their tracks in the snow. But who knows where the helicopter will be found, if the river does its job.

Peyton tried to urge Monica to go with the earlier group, in small, quiet murmurs. But as long as Monica hung back, so did Peyton, shaking off admonitions for her to move ahead with the others as well. She's stopped crying, for the time being. When the others begin to move, she does, as well — her boots are not made for cross country snow marches, nor was the apparel she wears. She had not expected to leave the facility today, especially not with those beside her now. Someone's wrapped an emergency blanket around her at some point, which she's wrapped a little tighter and draped over her head to keep warm.

She glances at the footprints in the snow when Monica speaks. "There's a lot of land," she says quietly.

Exhausted and just.. Emotional would describe Lucille Ryans' current state of mind. Though the emotional bit stays wrapped up in a ball deep in her gut not touched or allowed to express itself until she has a moment alone. Her face is unflinching as she falls in in between armored Brian and Peyton and Monica. Her former tight and high ponytail now sags and she just has no heart to fix it even.

Little Miss Badass is deflated.

Her lips pressed into a tight line she stares ahead, her father and Huruma were up ahead with the other majorly wounded. Her blue-gray eyes lock onto Monica's figure noticing one arm being gone and she shudders inside. Seems like more people than her father lost a limb. It seems like everyone lost something.

"By the time they search close enough to find foot traffic here. The tracks will be useless." Winters' voice is level but empty. The whirr of hydraulics assisted movement competes for drowning out his voice as he approaches. "We just need to get under tree cover so we can't be seen from above. The sky is our enemy right now, not the ground."

Brian looks at the other stragglers as he catches up them, tucking his helmet under one arm. "Monica, do you need assistance, we can get one of the stretchers.." Looking at her, it seems like he already knows the answer, cutting off his own question he nods curtly. His attention goes to Peyton. "Been a long time since I've seen you." Walking at the back of them occasionally his hand will come up to their back to make sure they are able to trudge through the snow comfortably.

"Good point," Monica says to Peyton, followed by a nod to Brian. She looks up, like maybe she hadn't considered the sky just yet. "Let's try to move fast, anyway." For numerous reasons. She looks over at Lucille, an eyebrow lifting when she catches the woman looking at her missing arm. And this fuels her reply when Brian addresses her again.

"Nope. I'm good," she says, her voice firm. Nevermind how Peyton had to help her get out of the facility. Her gaze moves over to Peyton. "The faster we move, the warmer we'll be."

Brian gives a nod, going to fasten his helmet back on rather than carry it. And takes to taking up the rear of the group the constant whine of his hydraulics disturbing the otherwise serene landscape surrounding them.

It takes hours. A few stops, Brian mapping out in his head what direction to go according to other Brians in other places looking at GPS, maps, google earth. But the caravan continues on.

It's dark when Hollis' cabin is finally in sight. Their approach is not to the front door, but to the back. Brian's thick boots crunching a twig in a clearing. He pauses looking around. Not too long ago, this spot was the place of a snowball fight as they trained in their new armor. The hesitation only lasts so long before he's pushing forward. A few flashlights shine on the cabin. Flash on. Flash off. A rhythym of lights shining at the cabin. A stratagem used by the Ferry. We're friendly. We're coming.

The more injured of the group are going first, on stretchers, with Brians. A Brian at the lead finally calls out loud. "Hollis! It's us! We've got wounded!" At the back, Winters trails behind Monica and Peyton, having been completely silent for most of the trek back.

When they start off, Monica only takes Peyton's hand when most of the group is already ahead of them. Apparently, it's okay if Brian sees her needing some help. Or she just can't wait any longer. Once she's got her sea legs, though, she lets her go so the other woman back focus on keeping warm. It's a challenge, especially once night falls.

Seeing the cabin, Monica takes a look around before breaking from the treeline and heading for the door. She also hasn't said much, either, even when they reach the cabin, she seems solemn and subdued. It isn't normal for her. When one of the Brians calls out, she jumps a little at the broken silence.

For a while, walking, Peyton seemed a little more at ease — if cold and tired. The silence is almost companionable. But as they close in on the group ahead, she seems to have grown smaller again, her arms tightly wrapping that blanket around herself, her eyes downcast, to avoid catching on the gazes of others — those she's hurt. Those she doesn't know, but probably know who she is.

What she's done.

Peyton's tired gaze raises, too, at the Brian behind her when he calls out, though she doesn't jump, and she puts a hand on Monica's back to soothe the little jump from Monica.

Before that flashlight even began to signal their message, the lights in the Fitzroy cabin began to light up one by one, until every window shined a beacon in the dark for the weary travelers. Hollis is out the back door with her rifle in hand when Brian calls out. Lit from behind by the picture window that overlooks the landscape out back of her property, it's difficult to see her face, but her fur coated and capped silhouette shines golden from the warm light.

They can see her counting, one hand lifted, finger bobbing as she counts heads, like she did before. She isn't sure if she's supposed to count each Winters as one or separate. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. "I've got water boiling on the stove," she tells the lead Brian when he sets foot on her back step. Her voice is steady, expression passive, like she had been expecting them. Expecting this.

"Bandages out on the counter. Needle and thread. The basics. It doesn't seem like you were followed…" There's only the slightest upturned intonation in that least syllable. Maybe it's because they aren't running for their lives or shouting, but Hollis seems certain that they don't have anyone on their tail. But the fact that they're arriving like this at all, in two sizable groups instead of smaller batches tells the woman something about who's not with them.

With Hollis, the lead Brian brings up a hand to set on her shoulder. To deliver news that is already known. "They had some sort of pylon. It killed her and some of me almost immediately. I am very sorry Hollis. Miss Stack was a lovely individual." He forces some measure of empathy into his voice, trying with all he can to stray from the deadened monotone he is ranging around at this point in time.

Brians get the wounded in, Huruma, Ryans, the rest are ushered into the cabin and medical care continues on all those still injured.

"Got any estimate on the closest store that doesn't close around here?" The vehicles are still here. And one Brian is already rounding the cabin to start one of them. "I'll go get us more supplies. Though I expect it to be a long wait."

At the back of the group, Winters is still moving along with Monica and Peyton. "Sorry." He murmurs softly to the pair of them. "Didn't mean to startle you." The sound of the hydraulics gear, which must have been maddening to listen to for hours finally pauses, despite the cold the man is slicked with sweat. These things probably weren't designed with the intent of day long hikes through the wilderness.

Monica gives Peyton a grateful look, if a little sheepish. But her attention turns to the cabin as Hollis appears in the doorway. "We have some pretty bad off," she notes as if she is not included in this category. "I think the rest of us just need a pillow and a blanket." Sleep would do them all some good.

Her sheepish expression comes back when she looks back at Brian. "It's okay. I just spent the whole walk expecting something to jump out at us." Some/thing because robots are a thing that happened. She's not entirely sure if someone made it out of the facility alive.

Peyton's long neck turns to look back in the direction they've just come from, as if to check to see if anyone's or anything is following them. She looks back, her eyes catching Hollis' accidentally before Peyton's dark-eyed gaze drops away again. Brian's words about the pylons draw a visible shiver from her, though it could be attributed to the cold. As people move forward into the cabin, she stays near the back of the group, keeping her distance from anyone other than Monica and now Brian.

Hollis nods stiffly, but doesn't otherwise acknowledge the information she's been given. She can't. There are people to tend to, and they have to come first, before her own need to process.

"Nothing stays open this late around here. But… Jade City down the road," they passed through it on their way here the first time, "has a service station. The house is attached. You go pound on the door and tell them Hollis sent you and they'll give you whatever you need. They know I'm good for it."

As the others begin filing in, Hollis ushers them inside, to the warmth of the cabin, with light touches of hands on backs and shoulders. There's no horror or pity on her face as she surveys the damage, just compassion. "It'll be okay, sugar," Hollis tells Monica in her accent that reminds the other woman of home. "We'll get y'all back on your feet before you know it." The hand placed on Peyton's shoulder lingers a moment, as though to convey the welcome without words.

"I'll do that with one of the cars. But.. When I said closest. I mean.. I can drive all night, need be." The explanation falls silent as the pair of women and himself come walking by.

Other Brians are still tending to allies as the armored Brian finally goes to sit inside the cabin. He holds out his hand and another Brian appears, fully clothed, in the padding that comes from under the battle suit. The Brian that was just made begins undoing the clipping and strapping on the suit. Although he had just appeared, he is moving as sluggish and as tired as the Brian in the suit just was.

Out front an engine starts, headlights flick on, and a car is leaving the long drive.

Back in the cabin, Winters, while having his manservant undress him, looks up. "So… What happened?"

At the touch from Hollis, Monica looks up at her and the absence of pity seems to make her relax a little. She's gonna need some time before she can handle pity. Once inside, she sits to pull off her shoes and the socks under them, since they're now soggy from the snow. She didn't wear shoes for a winter stroll, but for fighting things.

She only looks up at Brian's question. There's a beat before she tries to answer. "A time machine got knocked off kilter." Apparently, that is meant to explain everything that went on in there. Until she thinks to add, "And he turned Magnes into a black hole."

Peyton unwraps herself from the blanket, which was serving to both to protect her from the cold and to hide her pregnant form. She glances at Brian when he asks what happened, unsure what he means, but let's face it, she wasn't going to be the one to answer that question anyway.

Monica's words make her look away again. She's probably the only one who is mourning the loss of that particular he, in addition to the rest of the losses. Magnes — was sort of her friend. And she'd been unkind to him the last time she'd seen him. Her brows draw together and she moves a little farther away, her eyes unfocused as she stares out the window, another flood of tears welling up in her eyes and threatening to spill over her bottom lashes.

There's some measure of understanding when Brian tells Hollis he can drive all night if needed. "In that case… Dease Lake, little less than two hours further down, has a hospital. Or you can keep goin' all the way to Terrace. But that's almost ten hours." There are trade offs to the seclusion Hollis enjoys. This is one of those times where it's a detriment. She frowns thoughtfully and pats him on the shoulder before she sends him inside ahead of her. After one last look out the way they came from, she steps inside herself and shuts the door.

"Beds upstairs are made and ready for those who need them," she announces, her voice strong and even. She doesn't need to shout to be heard above this crowd. "If y'all can make it up the stairs on your own, and don't need medical attention, go 'head and go on up." Most heads lift and eyes watch her when she asks for some order to this chaos she's inherited. Only one consciously avoids looking at her at all.

Nicole Nichols pretends to be too concerned about the younger woman held in her arms to actually look when given instructions. With Lucille Ryans' help, they carry the unconscious Colette up the stairs to find rest.

"Dease Lake." He affirms, "That's where I'll go." He then, just goes in the cabin with the rest of them.

Brian is finally freed from the trappings of the armor. Though the suit is quickly scooped up by the Brian who had taken it off him, and with the help of another they are moving it outside without a word out to the truck with the camper.

Slick to the bone with sweat he stretches his hand up, and disappears. The Brian who had been talking to Hollis absorbing him, and just a pile of clothing falls to the ground.

"Yeah. I noticed the Magnes part. I guess I was asking, how did that happen?"

Monica glances to Peyton, a worried look on her face. But since she doesn't know what to say to make her feel any better, that gaze returns to Brian. She lets out a heavy sigh at his revised question. "I'm not sure. He said something strange and it set Magnes off. His power just went wild."

She pauses a moment, sitting forward and leaning on a knee as she stares ahead. "I should have shot him. I had the sight line, I had the opportunity, but I didn't." I could have stopped this isn't spoken, but it's there in her words anyway.

Peyton doesn't turn at Hollis' directions, either. Her eyes close when she hears Monica and Brian's words behind her. "It's not your fault," she murmurs, barely any breath to give her voice any depth of tone. She swallows, as if that little bit of speech was painful. She turns, glancing at the stairs that some of the others are taking, and then to Monica, a tacit offer to help if she needs it. She doesn't offer, in so many words, though. Her eyes linger on Colette's unconscious form as Nicole and Lucille bring her up the steps, and then she looks away again. Her eyes close and she takes a shivery breath.

Hollis' blonde brows hike up to her hairline when one Brian absorbs the other. Don't see that every day. She makes her way across the expansive room, shrugging off her coat as she goes and hanging it on a hook by the front door before she moves into the kitchen where the water has started bubbling away on the stove. No explanation is owed to her, and so she ignores the quiet conversations happening around her and her home. When she needs to lend an ear, she'll be there. For now, she sets about triage and treating the wounded.

"Wouldn't have worked." Winter glances at Monica's profile. "I shot at him, into his orbit. Bullet got stopped. Just floated around with everything else." Winters dips his head down, looking at Monica. Speaking more to what is unsaid. "Bullet wouldn't have done it."

Another Brian steps up to Hollis near the boiling water. Blood still on his hands from dealing with Huruma. "I assume you can keep people here a few weeks, if needed? I know this wasn't what you were planning for. If I can facilitate at all. I will."

"I could have got him before it got that far." Monica straightens up, rubbing her hand over her face. When it drops to her lap, she looks over at Peyton. If she hears her reassurance, she doesn't argue. Maybe because fault is a touchy subject right now.

Instead, she stands up and reaches out to Peyton. "Help me up the stairs? Starting to feel those falls." She could probably make it on her own, but it's true that stiffness has set in. The cold might have held them at bay, but she's feeling her injuries now.

The tall brunette is holding a hand to her mouth; Peyton's shaking hand doesn't quite cover her trembling lips as she struggles to keep herself together. The discussion of staying a few weeks draws her eyes that way, and it's maybe just about now that Peyton feels she really has no place. Staying here with the people she watched get injured and hurt seems like punishment that is deserved but not wanted.

She looks like she's just about to bolt when Monica's touch brings her focus back to the woman at her side, and Peyton nods. "Of course." Her voice is thick, raw from tears and cold. She tightens her grip on Monica's hand and lets the other move at her own pace toward the stairs, Peyton's dark eyes cast down to avoid eye contact with anyone else.

"Y'all can stay as long as ya like," Hollis assures Brian in a tone that almost sounds like she wants to add don't be silly. But then she's shaking her head, voice low. "When y'all showed up here with your serious faces and your fancy armor… Well, this ain't my first rodeo." Brown eyes track Peyton and Monica as they begin to make their way up the staircase, making a note to herself. A promise.

Previously in this storyline…
Ouroboros Part I

Next in this storyline…
A Hole in the World

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