vf_isa_icon3.gif vf_shaw_icon3.gif

Scene Title Marauders
Synopsis Isa and Shaw come face to face with a nightmare.
Date February - March 2018

On The Road

Shaw takes his time on the road, navigating the eerily quiet landscape of debris strewn streets. Dark eyes scan the ruined cityscape, pale knuckled fists grip the steering wheel of the jeep that he and Isabelle occupy. Half-empty packs sit between them, and firearms lay within reach. But right now, Shaw focuses on driving and navigating with his mental map and gut instinct of where is the best place to go for supplies.

That doesn't mean he doesn't have a physical map folded and tucked in a cargo pant pocket somewhere.

Shaw brings the jeep to a stop between a couple of buildings, tucked into the alley where it'll be relatively, hopefully, out of sight. "I think this is a good place," he says, reaching for his half of the pack and guns. "We should get some socks.”

“You always have the practical things in mind.” Isabelle admires that about her partner of almost a decade now, time really flew by. A white, dirty tank top and her hair loosely put into a bun, dark brown strands of hair falling into her eyes occasionally. Sitting back in her chair she looks over the wasteland as they drive through. It really did look like hell.

Taking her firearm but slipping inside her pack, holster and all, Isa slips out of the Jeep and her boots crunch on the ground. “Looks as good as the rest of this shithole. Wow I'm never going to not be sorry for bringing you here.” Though the pyrokinetic would rather he be there than anyone else. She had come to depend on the man. A hand goes to take the knife out that was her prize, her memory of Brenda’s death. She couldn't remember if it was her bone knife or the sister blade that Ling held that was stained with lost friend’s blood.

Fingering the edge of the blade before she slips it back into the holster strapped near her boot. Flexing her fingers she shoulders the pack and begins to move forward. The heat in the air around her a nice tropical warmth, comfortable.

“Kaylee’s feet reminded me, we need socks. It’s going to be cold,” Shaw explains as they step out into the streets. Well, he’s luckily attached to a pyrokinetic. But, thinking of others like the Ruizes, and trading supplies, it would be good to have some practical items. He shoves the keys into a zippered pocket so they’re secured and not noisy, then makes sure his holsters are strapped to him as well. Eve’s massive pistol weighs heavy on his left, but it’s within reach if he really needs it. The other more practically sized handgun sits at his dominant hand’s reach, but Shaw places both on grasping his pack straps. His last act before setting out is to lean over and give Isa a chaste kiss, as is customary by now between them. “For good luck,” intones Shaw with a light smile, and because he appreciates the warmth of her nearby.

Then he falls quiet, adopting the scavenger’s stealthier stance as they slip through the city streets. The man checks their surroundings out of old habit, having spent years skulking through New York City in those times hiding from the Vanguard and even before the world was infected and died off. “What else should we look for?” he asks his companion as they first step into street level bodega type store.

“You staring at another woman’s toes? Shahid this will not stand. You’ll have to stare at mine for longer later.” A smirk climbs onto her lips and Isa knew it’d get cold for everyone else but her. At least.. “Ah we’ll be fine. I can keep us warm.” Which Shaw knows but she doesn't mind giving him that reassurance that there's no future where she's not there keeping him warm. Pecking his lips with a wink, “For luck.”

Trailing just behind him, hazel eyes of the pyro take in their surroundings as they near the store and then step inside, “Food, weapons. A toy for the kids. A silent toy.” They didn't need Tickle Me Elmo altering the DOEA to their whereabouts.

“You talked to that crazy ass mystic lady.” The statement is delivered dry, she's not angry. A bit weirded out but Eve was nutty and maybe she and Shaw got along alright though Isa wouldn't trust that wild eyed demon if she said she knew the identity of her parents. “What the dick did she have to say?” Hand brushing over a nearly empty shelf.

Shaw looks alarmed at Izzy’s first words, stammering incoherently before catching the smirk from the pyrokinetic. Oh, it’s a joke. Her reassurances are definitely needed in that regard, and he welcomes the soft peck as well. Luck exchanged, when they slip into the store he slings his pack around and opens the maw of the bag wide. There are normal supplies, but he grabs other things that seem like they would be useful of what hasn’t been cleared out already by other scavengers or supply runs before. He’s in the middle of picking up things from the floor carelessly left behind as Izzy speaks up.

“Hm? Oh… you mean, Eve,” Shaw blinks up. “We um, talked about names, and stuff from before and now. Socks. Rainy day parades. Lady Zeus. And pineapple and pepperoni pizza with ranch sauce.” His expression drifts as he rolls back to a memory. Shaw still makes a face of uncertainty for that flavor combination.

Suddenly, he straightens up again and turns to Izzy with a lean in and wide eyes. “She said I’m the witness,” he tells the woman, “and that she knew she was supposed to talk to me. But why me? I didn’t ask…” His gaze breaks away further into the bodega and its ransacked, mostly empty shelves. There aren’t that many supplies inside here anyway, so he steps over to take Izzy’s arm and lead her onward, out the back of the store rather than the front and on to the next ones where there might be something more.

Isa’s nose wrinkles, so the mad seer was asking a bunch of nonsense. Per usual. “Pineapple really? Fucking kook.”

A roll of her eyes, “Well you've witnessed a lot of shit so no brainer there.” Voice gruff as she shifts through a few things on a nearby shelf before not finding anything worth taking. She smirks though, “Maybe it's good you didn't ask why. She might have roped you into some weird ass task that gets your beautiful face scarred.” Not that what they were doing right this second couldn't do that but psychics were… weird. Who knew what kind of shot they would throw you in? Oh that's right. Isa’s eyes momentarily narrow at the thought of Edward. Just like teleporters. “Never trust a precog, they meddle in all sorts of shit.”

Going out the back of the store she takes in the landscape again before the pair slip into another storefront, perhaps this one would have something more useful.

The streets are quiet as they step out. For a moment.

In the distance, the pair hear a sudden roar of engines. They're too loud, like someone has purposefully made them sound worse than they should. And when the first car turns wildly down the street the bodega is on, they see that's not the only modifications these cars have been through. The lead car has metal spikes poking out at all angles and no glass in the windows. Instead, the driver has a gun pointed dead ahead and mounted on the hood of the car. There is a gunman hanging out of the side window.

Both of them are wearing gas masks decorated with paint and bits of metal and bone to make them look more useful for intimidation than protection.

Three more cars pull out behind it. They're all similarly done up like some demolition derby, all with gas masked gunners hanging off or perched on top. Black smoke billows out of exhaust pipes as they charge their way through the ruined street.

“She seems nice,” Shaw defends of said precog, maybe disbelieving that Eve would do such a reckless thing as to send him on such a dangerous task. Or rather, more dangerous than what they’re doing now in the realm of scavenging like they’d done before in their virus-ridden world. But instead of going on, Shaw stops dead, freezing at the sounds of loud engines roaring through the streets. Split seconds later, he grabs for Izzy’s wrist and makes a hasty retreat into the second store that they were going to pick through.

Shaw crouches behind shelving, releasing Izzy’s hand so they’ve got both free. He stares in the direction of the street, hoping against hope that the scary looking scavengers in their gas masks didn’t spot them. But, he reaches to unsnap the small pistol holstered at his side and pulls the gun out. Shaw glances back over at Izzy, dark eyes wide and his mouthline flat. Four cars. They’re outnumbered. But, Isabelle is a pyrokinetic, and he’s very glad she’s on his side. Shaw angles his head towards the back of the store. Maybe they can escape that way.

“Of course she does it's not lik—” As Isa’s wrist is grabbed at the same time as the sound of the car tears into the space, the woman’s eyes grow wide as they hustle into the second store of the street but as Shaw let's Isa’s hand go she crouches and pulls her hand up near her chest. “Really? A death cult? Bones?!” She yells out at the street. Looking over at her man with a firm nod of her head. “Go for the heads.” Which is a no brainer for Shaw.

Eyes narrowing to slits as the heat in the air around them spikes upwards, Isa’s dark brown hair lifts in the hot wind as she steps out, a snake of fire wrapping up her arm from curled fingertips. She doesn't throw a fireball outright but instead narrows her gaze at the hood of the first car and twitches her head, causing an explosion of fire within the engine of the vehicle. Twisting her arm she lets out three foomps of fire that spiral into fireballs, her aim might not be the most effective seeing as she's diving for cover on the other side of the street.

Fire reflects in the woman’s eyes as she leaps through the air, the tail end of the flames kicking at the air behind her. Isabelle was done running in this world.

The lead car explodes from the front, sending it flipping backwards with a roar. Bodies fly out of the vehicle as it blows back, some intact— most not. The three cars following veer off the street and into side roads. The fireballs miss the cars, but she hits a survivor of the crash instead. Making it no survivors in the end.

More engines sound from the other end of the road, more distant but promising that they are more outnumbered than they thought.

Go for the heads? Shaw flinches in involuntary jump at the explosion of noise, flying bodies, metal smoking wreckage left behind in the street. The man stares at the cars pulling off into the side roads, and immediately calls after Isabelle. “There’s more! We have to go!” He can’t grab her this time, but he breaks into a run in the direction of their vehicle that he’d tucked into the nearby alley. Gun in one hand, fished out keys in the other, Shaw hurriedly shoves those keys into the ignition and gets the vehicle going. The squealing of tires and burning rubber scent fills the air as he jams the pedal with his foot. He’d not been trained in car chases, but he did know city streets. It’ll be a battle on the run.

There isn't time to revel in the success of destroying the lead car, there are others in pursuit.

Isabelle follows after Shahid leaping into Jeep while looking back towards the enemy in pursuit. Eyes narrow into thin slits and the pyro raises her arm, fire spiraling upwards towards her fingers and wind blows back her dark brown hair, fire… so harmful. Fire… it was her. Launching another fireball towards one of the cars as she uses the other hand to strap herself in the seat, wild eyes meet Shaw’s as he revs the engine and starts forward. “No pressure about the paint job, Lynette will have to be pissed!” It's the last thing they should be thinking about anyway though the thought of Lynette's face when they returned could only make Isabelle snort.

As Shaw guns his own engine, the Marauders form up behind the jeep and the pair can hear the shouts and chants from the people in and on the cars. Bullets ping off the body of their car and slam into the back of their seats.

The fireball has some of the cars swerving out of the way, turning down other streets or pushing their fellows off the road and up onto crumbling sidewalks. A less prepared car spins out trying to jerk out of the way and Izzy’s fire engulfs the back end. The driver rights the car, though, taking off after them again even as the inside of the car catches. Its speed does not help the situation.

Shaw can spot the other cars keeping pace with him through the broken buildings, but more worrying is the group that pulls to a screeching halt ahead of them, blocking their path forward. People pop out of the trucks and cars, taking up posts in nearby buildings to start firing on Shaw in an effort to take out the driver.

Though hardly any of his time spent driving in the brighter timeline involved much time as a getaway driver, Shaw has no time to reflect upon his inexperience. The lessons will have to be taught on the fly, and by trial and error, only the error in this case may result in a firey, explodey death.

Still, not the time to reflect on it.

“Hang on!” he calls to Isabelle, grasping the wheel and yanking it hard one way, then the other. His foot smashes the pedals, and the sensation feels like they’re about to roll. That’s the idea, anyway, to pop the jeep up on two wheels and slip past the barricade in a fashion that looks unnecessarily flashy. In reality, it’s desperate.

The paint job’s really going to get ruined on this run.

Izzy does in fact hang on, "Fuckkkkkkkkkk!" As Shaw performs his speed racer maneuver and she's holding on for dear life before realizing she can be of use.

A fireball swirls into existence above the Jeep, pulling on the heat in the area making it crackle and pop with strength as her hazel eyes shine with an inner light and a look of ecstasy crosses her features as she mentally spins the fireball in the sky, a tail of flames behind it making it eventually into a spinning ring of flames. The pyrokinetic releases it in the direction of the cars with eyes closed, praying for it to hit home.

The flash maneuver gets a stunned reaction out of the marauders making up the barricade. They snap out of it in time to dive back into their cars before a tire takes off anyone’s head. Once the jeep passes, they pop out again to start shooting again. A bullet slams into Isa’s shoulder. Another grazes Shaw’s cheek. But the shooting stops when the ring of fire flies toward them.

Some make it out in time to avoid the fire. The rest are left cooking. And the pair of travelers manage a chaotic getaway.

But it isn’t a clean one. Unbeknownst to them, a lone figure disappears from the collection of cars and reappears in their wake, tucked into the shadows of broken buildings. The figure follows their trail, watching. And learning.



Many, many apologies were made for the return of the Jeep in such a bullet-ridden condition. To make up for it, at least, Shaw and Isabelle came back with some fresh meat hunted down in the wilderness. The man’s ability to augment his own senses helped in this case. Isa’s shoulder injury has him concerned somewhere in the back of his mind, but to get rid of the nervous energy Shaw turns to one of the routine tasks that requires little thought and some watching. Chicken tending is a stress-relieving activity, one important to the well-being of the resistance’s food supply.

He doesn’t need to call them except to shake the can full of dried corn and other grains. Once the chickens are filed into the protective chainlink cage set up not only to keep predators out but to keep them penned in where they can roam without flying off, Shaw settles atop the empty feed bucket to watch the birds peck and scratch away in the dirt. He reaches behind him, plucking out an extremely beat up paperback book tucked into his pocket. He flips to a dogeared page, hunching down to pick up where he’d left off reading.

There’s barely a sound when Vör pops into the space behind him. Instead, his sharper hearing picks up her breathing moments before she leans over his shoulder from behind. Blonde hair falls into the corner of his vision, along with a crooked smile he’s more familiar with than he probably would like to be.

“Good book?”

Such is Shaw’s surprise, he barely lets out a soft yelp. He scrambles up, the bucket he was sitting on knocked over in the retreating stumble and the book drops in his wake. Hands clutch to his chest, fists clenched like he fancies himself a pugilist. But when he sees who exactly it is come to invade his quiet time, Shaw just about pops out his eyes at her. “Y-you, you’re…” stammers the man.

Coming around the way stretching her arm and shoulder with a wince, her flames had cauterized the wound but she still needed it dressed and the pain flared through her as she walks, Shaw's name is on her lips when she rounds the corner and spots the.. fucked up sight that was Vor standing over Shaw. Eyes grow wide and she stops with her hands up fast, looking from Shaw's face to Vor's. A glare is what the teleporter has earned and all of Isa's anger about just about.. everything fills her up. "Are you a psychotic bitch in every timeline?"

And then the back of Vor's jacket is igniting in flames.

Her jacket sure does.

She's just not in it anymore.

Vör pops out of view, leaving her burning outerwear to fall in a heap on the ground. She's not that far away, though, just behind Isa by a few feet. Under her jacket, she sports what can only be called armor made from leather and topped with chainmail. Hand made, but well made. She has no idea what Isa means about timelines, but the part of the question she does understand gets a grin.

"It's easy. You took something of mine," she says, likely meaning the many, many dead bodies left behind last time, "now I take something of yours."

She teleports away, far enough that they would have to really look for her. But maybe they won't, because a heartbeat later, Shaw disappears from where he was standing, leaving Isa alone.

With the chickens.


Izzy leaps at the spot he was just standing in, but he's gone. And the chickens mill about in chaotic noise as Izzy shakes and beats get fist into the ground. Flashes of Brenda's last moments in her mind and that familiar smile on Vor's face as she disappears, taking someone else from her. Someone important to her, someone she would kill for. She's burned people for less. The brunette sits there for a long moment, contemplating how she could have done it differently. Looking to the sky the pyrokinetic rises to her feet and jogs towards vehicles. She's going hunting.

Not Much Later

Last thing Shaw knew, he was tending the chickens. There was a blow to the head at some point, because his head hurts and a stream of blood has worked its way through his hair and down his cheek. It’s still wet and sticky, so things have happened quickly. Unfortunately, in the time between getting hit and coming to, the Marauders have tied his hands together and his ankles to a pair of metal hooks welded to the body of the van he’s inside of. The windows have been painted over, the only view of the outside is through scratches in the paint. And the front windshield.

Vör is in the front, talking to the driver. She’s replaced her jacket with another that’s too big for her.

One of the guards watching him is missing one.

What none of them are missing is weapons. Knives, guns, chains… they come in all varieties and most of them look to be individually modified. They like their personality to show. On their weapons. And their cars. Clothes.

Pain throbbing from his head where they'd struck him is what wakes Shaw, moreso than the jittering vibrations of the moving vehicle. The first signs that he's regaining consciousness is the wince he makes when he feels it all rushing back into his senses. The light even from the windshield and paint cracks is blinding. The van's got a squeaking axle of something rubbing on another thing. Something sour faintly stinks the air, maybe the amount of the blood sticking in his hair and on his cheek. Or the odor of leather and sweat.

It makes Shaw itchy.

Regardless of the guard watching him, Shaw groans softly and tries to sit up straighter. It's belatedly that he realizes he can't move his hands independently. It's very belatedly that he realizes who it is in the front passenger seat. His eyes round out again, and by almost reflex reaction he scoots away as far as he can. The ankle chains rattle noisily in the process.

One of the guards feels familiar, looks familiar, at least in certain ways. The face is shaven, where the one he knows now often has a beard. He nearly looked how he had in the Hub, but when he shifts to look at something else his eyes pass over him as if not even seeing him. Not recognizing him. As if Shaw was just a lump of potatoes in the back of the truck. Or a lump of rocks, possibly, since potatoes would be a huge haul in this world. The left side of his face is wrong. An old scar healed over now, that looks like a jagged burn that rips down his face, filled in by metal boring into his skin along his jawline and cheek bone. The eye on the left is also wrong.

A red disk sits over where his eye should be, attached to the metal bolted into bone, a soft glow of red. The metal disappears under dark hair, curly and unwashed, that looks as if it has been cut with a knife. Uneven and scraggly.

Something very wrong happened to Mateo Javier Ruiz.


The sight of Mateo's burn scar and the metal screwed into his face is rightly terrifying. Shaw's own dark eyes round out to the whites, and he freezes as the red eye sweeps over him. "A-akhi…" gulps Shaw quietly after a jarring jolt of the vehicle knocks him off his stare, startling him into saying something. Only belatedly realizing the man is not exactly his brother as he knows, Shaw wets his dry lips and tentatively tries again, "Ruiz?" A furtive glance is sent towards the woman in the front seat, as if she might overhear.

Ruia doesn’t hear, not Shaw’s gentle tones. She’s used to the gruffer, louder conversational stylings of her marauders. But the other guard hears and he reaches over to smack Ruiz on the arm. “Hey, this one knows you. He one of your old friends?”

Old friends because these days, his new friends take up a lot of his time. And use his knowledge to raid pieces of the resistance here and there. No branch is off limits.

Except the HQ. Until now, it seems.


It’s said so simply and without any sign of emotion, it’s hard to tell if there was anything there behind that single word. Mateo glances over, the single brown eye settling for a moment on the captured man, but then moving on past. There was still no emotion, really, none but a sense of boredom. “He wasn’t with them before. He must be new.”

That’s simple to, and for a moment his jaw tightens, perhaps painfully from the way the skin under the metal reddens. Whatever happened there wasn’t that old and looked somewhat crude. The skin still looked as if it tried to regrow around it, grow up against it.

Ruiz,” Shaw tries again with the establishment of some sort of rapport, glancing to the other guard, then back to the Plated Man. “What happened to your eye? Did you run into robots? Or… or did you make Lynette mad?” He has seen and knows, by now, the way the Lynette of this world has coolly regarded their arrival and the way she looks at the Mateo Ruiz of his world. And her temper. So, he assumes.

In study of the men and cautious checks towards the huntress he sees sitting in the passenger seat up front, Shaw also tries to figure out where they are. And, why he’s tied up. The first part is fairly simple, because he asks, “Where are we going?” As for the second part, he tests the knots with some twists of his thin wrists.

And then he remembers. “Eanqa’! Wh-what happened to—” The churn of his memory produces a throbbing in his head where he’d been struck, and Shaw winces.

It is perhaps the fact that Shaw is suffering from head trauma that causes enough delay for this to happen, or because he just would not expect anything like this to happen. At the very name, Lynette, there’s a flash in the eye that isn’t an eye and Mateo suddenly reaches upward. A sudden roar and woosh, and then two points solidify into portals, one next to the raised hand, one next to Shaw’s head. He reaches through and grabs the other man’s hair, and then pulls, until his head is suddenly sticking through the portal.

“Mention her again, and I’ll close it.”

Yeah. Something definitely went wrong in this world.

Definitely not expecting the sudden chaotic noise, nor the yank of his head through a portal, Shaw lets out a pained yelp. His hands start to reach for his head, but being bound, he can’t. All he can do is stare at the baleful glowing red eye on the face of a man who is supposed to be his brother in any timeline. Shaw swallows dryly, dark eyes shining wetly as tears form. “I-I’m sorry Akhi,” he utters with a wince and worried sidelong glance to the swirling, black and purple void torn through space. He realizes the title used out of habit and amends, “Sorry, Ruiz…”

“Hati,” comes in Ruia’s sing-song tones as she slinks her way to the back of the van. “The convoy needs to make it to camp,” she says, since the battery very much didn’t like being drained, “and so does he. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you get to have a chance at him in the Ring.”

The guard next to Ruiz grins— the Ring always promises a good time, a lot of drinks, a lot of betting, a lot of chances to let loose. Vör puts a finger on top of Shaw’s head and starts to push back through the portal, just enough to signal Ruiz to let go. “And you better hush,” she says to Shaw, in the tone one takes with a misbehaving child, “or I won’t try stopping him next time.”

That expression on Mateo’s — no, Hati’s — face doesn’t change at all. Even when he’s called Ruiz, even when the woman in the front says his old name, the one given to him during his time in Vanguard. Not even when she mentions the Ring. There’s a long moment where he just keeps a painful hold on the man’s hair, before he pushes his head back through the electric ring portal and then let’s go of it. The portals vanish as soon as his hand clears back to the other side.

Only then does his expression change at all. Pain. He must still be in pain. And then just tiredness. As if he’s too tired to care and looks away. As if the man suddenly just wasn’t even there anymore.

Or didn’t matter enough to him to look at again.

Weeks Later

Far too much time has passed since Isa last saw Shaw. It wasn't hard for her to convince Lynette to come looking for him— the hard part was tracking down a nomadic band of ruffians. Eventually, they followed a trail of devastation. Communities robbed and travelers murdered have led them to a small hill within the wilderness of upstate New York. Below them, a wide clearing houses tents and trailers, cars and moving vans and one large bonfire at the center. There's no sign of Shaw yet, or the woman who took him, but there's little doubt they have the right people. If their missing person isn't here, these people know where he is. The chains and bones and leather-wrapped weapons are enough proof. For Lynette anyway.


Their own jeep is far enough away to keep the camp from noticing their approach, and Lynette didn't bring any weapons with her. Isa has known this Lynette long enough to know she doesn't need them. She's crouched, looking down through a pair of binoculars. That is, before she holds them out toward Isa.

"See if you can spot your man."

For Shaw, the last few weeks have been a blur of captivity and bloodsport. Rowdy marauders have taken their turns putting him to the test, pushing and pushing until he had no choice but to fight back. That or die. His choices were made perfectly clear to him over and over. And over. The camp is a mix of violence and hedonism that has been difficult to witness. These people don't know how to enjoy much of anything if they aren't hurting something. And absolutely nothing is sacred.

He has been left in a tent, tied to the support pole and left with a pair of guards that haven't left him. They watch. Always.

He hasn’t slept in weeks either. Passed out from pain and exhaustion, sure, but the mobile camp has moved so many times, often into unfamiliar territory, Shaw has no idea where he is anymore. Or when it is. Or, possibly, who he is. The bawdy song being sung outside the prisoner tent isn’t even a bother anymore. He sits cross legged on the cold ground, forehead leaned on the pole he’s tied to, eyes closed and mouthing along to the words.

When it reaches a particularly X-rated portion of the lyrics, he even laughs softly for a moment. Then his expression falls to a sadder state, a sigh escaping involuntarily. Eyes open, taking in the blank canvas walls, his bindings. “H-Hey.” The call to the guards is a rough, dry stammer. “I got to take a piss.” It’s more likely he doesn’t need to go again. But the walk from the prisoner tent to the bathroom area could relieve some of the boredom.

And give him a chance to find Mateo again. The red-eyed man has featured in much of Shaw’s nightmares of late along with the huntress, but his promise to the Ruiz of his world had held true enough. In this life and any other, he would regard Mateo Ruiz as a brother.

But sometimes, brothers fight. And those times they’d been in the Ring, they had. Still, the time’s passing hasn’t shaken that deep belief. The fights have just made it a bit complicated.

This is the longest time that Isabelle has been separated from Shahid since they began traveling, she. Is. Not. Okay.

The brunette receives the binoculars and peers through them trying to spot her missing piece. She swallows hard and wordlessly hands them back. "Not in the open." The monotone she's been speaking in since he was taken rings out still and Izzy looks over at Lynette with dead eyes as she exits the Jeep and flexes her fingers as a breeze makes hair fly out of her face. She carries one weapon, it sticks out from her back pocket. A bone knife, the knife of the woman who murdered Brenda. The knife of the woman who has stolen Shaw from her.

A filthy bitch in each and every timeline.

"Ruiz killed her the last time she fucked with me." The memory makes her heart ache and she looks away to avoid shedding any tears, not now. Grounding her foot in the dirt the pyrokinetic finally looks over at her new (old?) friend, "She won't be that lucky now." Being burned alive had to hurt for longer and more than being sliced in two. At least Isabelle was banking on that. That woman needed to feel pain. It strikes Izzy in that moment that she still doesn't know the teleporter's name. Not that it would matter for long.

Since they arrived, the scarred Mateo hasn’t been very talkative. He’s kept mostly to himself, occasionally summoning a hole in the air to get rid of camp trash— which is slightly better than burying it at least. Though with Shaw knowing how his ability works sometimes he must have thoughts on where it actually goes.

He didn’t fight very much, either, and when he did he did so quietly and with precision. Had he ever seen Ruiz fight? Not really. Not like this, either. One thing he might have noticed is, despite using his portals to fight, he never actually jumped through them. Just stuck a foot and an arm through them at times, using them more to redirect punches. And at least once sever someone’s arm. Thankfully not Shaw’s.

He was cold and quiet and very much not the Mateo Ruiz he knew. If anything he seemed… empty.

While Shaw isn’t visible among the camp, he suddenly is, stepping out from behind a tent. His posture is very different from the other him, his manner of walking. He stops in front of a tent and speaks quietly to someone, then starts toward another tent. Shaw’s tent.

"Let's get a closer look."

Nevermind that binoculars let them see right up into the camp, Lynette isn't satisfied. She starts forward, keeping to cover mostly, until they're close enough to start to hear conversations in the camp. Most of them are fairly typical for a group of people that live together— not all that different from the ones that happen in the resistance. The difference is, of course, in the motives they live by.

Ruia appears in a blink, trailing a few steps behind Mateo. She skips to catch up to him, a polar opposite from his emptiness. She seems full of life. There's even laughter as she steps in close to Mateo's side on his approach to Shaw's tent.

Close enough that there's a low growl from Lynette.

“Hey, did you hear me? I said I gotta—” Shaw cuts off his words with a sneeze, a rattle of the chains and rope binding him resulting from the shiver. The man sighs out and slumps back against the tent pole, dropping to a sit on the cold ground. A few more beats pass and he starts to reach out with his power. Listening in on conversations and activities has been his main self-entertainment, even if at times he’s regretted overhearing some things. But at least it’d give him an idea of what the marauders camp was doing, and where this world’s Mateo Ruiz was. He worried about this Mateo, as he did with the Mateo he called his brother.

Which is why, when Shaw hears Mateo talking to someone else and walking towards the prisoner tent in that particular pace of his, and hears Ruia’s laugh, Shaw scrambles up to his feet. Another shiver slides down his spine, expecting the cold, red-eyed gaze at any moment to peer through the tent flap. That, and the teleporter could simply appear anywhere - a very disconcerting occurrence for his nerves.

Fire awakens and curls around Isabelle's heart as Ruia makes herself known. Fingers curl and she gives Lynette a look, that's the bitch. That's the fucking bitch, she all but screams with her eyes. She doesn't charge, a teleporter could just get away and if she grabbed Shahid and spirited him somewhere else… the pyrokinetic didn't think she would get another chance. The sight of Ruiz makes Isabelle's eyes widen. The scar on his face visible from her spot of cover she looks in on.

"Handle him, I'll get that bitch." She whispers to the blonde. Not that she needs to tell Lynette anything about dealing with Mateo Ruiz, she offers what comfort she can in a grime look and firm nod of her head. They were both here for their guys. At least Isabelle wouldn't have to hurt her own.

While one teleporter is full of life and joy in everything that they’ve been doing, Mateo is downright nihilistic. “We need to hit another shipment. We’ll starve if we keep taking prisoners that you intend to keep alive for fun and games.” It almost sounds like he disapproves of keeping those prisoners alive at all. He doesn’t even change the subject as he pulls back the tent flap and looks inside, those eyes falling on him. One of them certainly inhuman. “You should just kill him. He’s a waste of resources.” Yes, Shaw, he’s talking about you.

Yeah, this probably isn’t what she was laughing at, either. “Or do you have a good reason for keeping him alive? You think they’ll fix him up and make him a loyal pet for you?” Whatever that means. But as he says it he scratches the place where his skin and that metal that covers parts of his face meet.

Little does he seem to notice that this is about to turn into a different kind of conversation. The kind with fire, lightning and probably knives.

"If you wanted him dead," Ruia says as they step inside, "you should have done it in the ring. Isn't that right, Little Rabbit?" She turns to Shaw there, smiling at him as if he were a child to be pampered instead of a prisoner to be broken. She straightens up to look back to Mateo, a hand moving to her hip. "Entertainment is a good reason. The people need something to boost morale. The fights get their blood pumping. They inspire them for the next run. And don't worry," she adds with a broader smile, "I have another target already on the books. The scouts are busy."

When the pair disappears into the tent, Lynette looks over at Isa. "Sounds like a plan to me. You go left, I'll go right, we meet at the tent."

And that's all the planning she needs, apparently, because she straightens up and heads to the right. Lightning flickers in her hands and through her hair. She's going in loud. It draws some attention, and as she rushes toward two guards, they shout an alarm. It doesn't last long, though. Lightning builds up in her hand and leaps out to slam the first in the chest. It jumps from him to the woman next to him, and then to a third guard who pops his head out of a tent at the wrong moment.

All three are dead in moments, steaming in the cold.

The noise gets Ruia's attention and she looks back toward the tent flap. The sound of lightning is unmistakable. She gives Mateo an accusatory look. "I think your girlfriend is here," she says, huffing a bit before she disappears from the tent and reappears outside.

"Grab your damn weapons!" she shouts to the camp at large.

Fanning to the left, Isabelle flexes her fingers and the tents in her wake burst into flames, pulling on those instead of wasting her own energy, she funnels more power into the flames and watches as they spread, a trail forming along her arms as she flings a fireball into the chest of a man coming to raise his gun in her direction.

Running forward she points her index finger as a line of flames forms in the air, stretching it using the breathing techniques taught to her she expands the line and shifts it shape, twin points on either side of a triangular shape, the twin points rise and fall as if they are flapping. She was still working on more detail. Flames burst and pop into life along the lines imitating flames. With a grunt the pyrokinetic moves her arms and hands in syncopated motion, channeling the flames. Becoming one with fire. More flames course up her body and wreath around her.

The "Phoenix" of sorts soars above Izzy as she holds it and sends it barreling through tent after tent, a circle of flames soon to be surrounding them. Striding up to the side of the tent that holds Mateo, Ruia and Shaw. She gathers her fist and flames whirl around it as she thrusts a hand against and then through the fabric, smoke and flame curling up around the woman as her face slowly becomes visible on the other side.

Shaw's mouth goes dry as Mateo pushes the tent flap aside and sees the red robo-eye, and Ruia steps through into the tent. Dark eyes peering at the pair, he watches, but his focus wilts under the pet name given him by the teleporter. What fight is left in him flickers, desperate and despairing. A tiny match of hope. With the notice that they are about to hit a new target, Shaw looks up at them again. "Wh-where?" he dares to ask.

Just in time for shout of alarm from the guards, and the deafening boom of thunder that follows Lynette's lightning to shatter the air and relative silence. Shaw jumps, startled at the sudden sound. His reflex to cover his ears doesn't work with hands tied. Girlfriend? he catches. Then his eyes go wide again, and immediately he looks to Mateo. Oh no.

Not necessarily the sight, but the heat and fwoom-ing sound of fire sweeping the camp yanks Shaw's attention away. Heart beating fast, he scrambles to his feet again, calling out hoarsely, but with a renewed, ecstatic, possibly hysterical sounding tone. "Eanqa'!" The Phoenix has burst back into his life. Nevermind the real possibility of still being burnt or choked out by smoking canvas.

The circle of flames won’t slow Ruia down, Hati knows this, so while he gives her a look when she mentioned ‘girlfriend’ he doesn’t spare her another moment’s thoughts before he reaches to grab a large knife at his belt and reaches for Shaw, dragging him upward and twisting him around as a shield and putting the knife to his neck. “Looks like the Resistance is coming for you,” he mutters, even as the too dull knife presses against the throat. No one but Shaw would probably know it hadn’t been sharpened in a very long time. It could still cut, but not easily. Not without a lot more force than he was putting on it.

“I knew you would be more trouble than you were worth,” he mutters, kicking his way out of the tent flap with Shaw held before him. The partly metal arm held him too tightly to make escape easy, though there’s a lot of him still flesh and blood, even if that glowing red eye rested close to his own cheek. “Might be your lucky day. Could have some company tonight.”

Or he might get freed, but Hati doesn’t seem to be betting on that happening.

Technically, with his portals he should possibly be able to escape himself, but he doesn’t open one even as he steps out into the surrounding flames.

Lynette comes to a halt when she sees Mateo and Shaw. She looks between the two, like she might be trying to judge how serious Hati is about this. Apparently, she decides 'very', because she lifts her hands. Electricity fizzles off them, streaming harmlessly into the air as she lets go of her power.

"Let him go," she says, inching forward a little— testing the waters.

Ruia doesn't like that, though, because she pops in behind Isa and puts a knife to her throat. "Don't move." This knife is sharp, sharp enough to draw a line of blood from Isa's neck.

Lynette looks over at Isa. She gives her a slow nod. She looks back to Mateo. "I forgot to introduce you to our driver," she says. Behind him and Shaw, a portal forms, circled with white light. Lynette charges in, tackling Mateo through the portal.


Lynette is waiting near the jeep, up on a hill overlooking the camp. She has the other side of the portal next to her, ready for something to come through.

Eyes narrowed at the electricity that skirts just a little too close for comfort, Mateo doesn’t lessen his hold on Shaw until the woman brings up their driver. His eyes shift, and Shaw can immediately feel a change in him as he tenses in surprise and perhaps something else. He doesn’t have a chance to actually say anything, as a portal appears behind him and he finds himself getting tackled through said portal, releasing Shaw enough that the man could break out of his grasp and doesn’t get pulled through with him.

With a heavy thud, he lands on the other end, a loud POP ripping through the air. Part of his arm, the metal arm that replaced part of his own missing arm exploding in a violent burst. He convulses, the glowing red eye on his face cracking and going out as another POP rocks his head, the mechanical implant on his face breaking down. Smaller pops show other electronic devices failing after going through his portal, some that burn skin, some that cause blood to pour out where skin was ripped open. The mechanical arm drags lifelessly on the ground, a dead weight, some of the fingers twisted into strange positions where the joints popped.

The convulsions last only moments. There’s pain in his one eye, on the expression on his face, but even that doesn’t last too long. Soon he’s gasping for air, as if drowning. And perhaps he is. Because his heart is barely beating.

A pained yelp silences as Shaw’s manhandled up to his feet, knife to throat. He can feel it’s dull, but that doesn’t deny the possibility that Mateo would still stab him with it and leave him to bleed to death in the dirt. As he’s pushed out into the open past the tent flap, it’s hard to say if he actually feels relief when he sees Izzy and Lynette there. The more violently inclined of Lynettes gets a worried look out of rounded, dark eyes. When Ruia pops back in and holds his fiance at knifepoint, Shaw involuntarily gasps. Fear cycles with a new sensation: Fury.

Shaw has had time to fantasize some of what could have happened between this world’s Lynette and Mateo, but the possibilities always ended in a bad ending. This time, he still has hope. “P-please,” he utters to the two of them, but is unable to get out his actual wish - hope that they’d not re-enact what he could only imagine is the ultimate end of this continued rivalry. He doesn’t get the chance anyway, as Lynette comes charging in. Fight or flight kicks in. Shaw kicks out, wrenching away from the hold when the electrokinetic goes crashing into Mateo.

Almost at the same time, Shaw invisibly clenches onto his power. The field of visual acuity drops like a rock, those within range plunged into a blinding darkness. Except for him. Utilizing the precious few seconds of surprise, Shaw attacks the huntress holding his phoenix hostage. It’s not a fancy strike, but a wild yank at the knife-holding hand away from Isa’s vulnerable throat, a messy jab of a fist at Ruia’s face.

"Wrong move bitch."

As the handle of the knife Ruia holds heats up dramatically and Shaw wrenches her hand away that Phoenix ducks and crouches while blind. Staying where she is, she can feel the teleporter right there behind her. Fingers lift and the brunette woman grins darkly as she snaps her fingers.




The voice in her nightmares Isabelle remembers and she listens to it as she funnels all of her anguish and pain, grief and darkness into those flames. The scream that she emits sounds as if it trudges up from the very depths of her being, the pyrokinetic's body shakes and shudders as flames pop into life on her body and Ruia's, the color first a brilliant orange. Crackling as Isa screams and throws her head back, the air around her surges upwards, it's baking in this space. Smoke seeps out of her nostrils and wafts and curls around them. Release!!


Something either snaps or clicks into place for the woman because the scream stops and her head comes back down as she raises her arm and clutches onto Ruia's arm. No words exchanged but there's a push, the image of her mother and father in that burning apartment. The flames flicker and change to a bright blue. Roaring as it kicks around her body and up the teleporter's. Black smoke chokes the space.

Both Shaw and Isa can feel when Ruia tries to teleport away. She seems to skip under their hands like an old record, but without sight she doesn't have anywhere to go. There's a little noise from her, panic, before she starts to pull away from the pair. Isa has to scramble to keep track of her, but she can follow the scuffs and sharp breaths.

And then, the screams.

The fire is unavoidable. Her hair goes first. The leather and metal of her clothes melts into bubbling skin. Screams rip out of her throat, even when her legs fail and she drops heavily to the ground. Again, Isa has to work to keep her hold as the woman flails and twists. Not to get away, not anymore, but because of the pain. By the time the fire turns blue, her screams fade into wet gurgles. And then, to nothing. She still burns, even once she's gone.

On top of the hill, the trio can hear the screams, but it's hard to pay attention to them. Lynette rolls off Mateo and up onto her feet, ready for him to come back at her.

But he doesn't. She looks down at him, at his convulsing, confused at what she's looking at. Her double gasps sharply, covering her mouth with her hands. Lynette glances up at her— the woman who isn't her, but also definitely is.

"He's dying," Lynette Ruiz says quietly, her heart aching at the sight. She comes to drop next to him, her hand brushing through his hair. "You have to save him." She can't watch another die. She just can't.

"No— he's not supposed to— he's supposed to fight," Lynette counters, her expression contorted as she tries to process what's happening.

"He's losing! Lynette!"

"Go get the others. I need help," she says, and she seems to trust that Lynette will do so, because her attention turns to Mateo. Her hands move to his chest, electricity almost too easy to call on now. "You're not supposed to die," she says, her voice cracking. And for the first time in a long time, she hopes he can hear her. Her hands send a shock into him, controlled and brief, meant to urge his heart back into the right rhythm.

Lynette steps out of the portal and into blindness, leaving the pair on the hill for a moment. "Isa, Shahid, we need help," she says, since she knows at least one of them must be around since she can't see. "Mateo's dying." And by her tone, this is a bad thing.

Hard to say who's more surprised between Shaw and Ruia of when he actually manages to grab the woman. Once he does have a hold of her arm, he stills, heels dug back in the dirt, like a stubborn donkey who isn't sure what the lead wants. On top of that, his bound wrists aren't exactly helpful in holding on.

So he doesn't. Shaw keeps focuses on his power, focused on Ruia, a darting glance of worry shifting to Isa when the pyrokinetic snaps her fingers. Like a click of a lighter, the sound jolts Shaw into action with a reflex born out of time spent with the woman on fire. He dive-rolls away from the heat, his power released from the mental hold in the back of his mind.

He swallows down his shock, staring at the bubbling, burning mass that was the iteration of the terrifying huntress in this world, blinking at the brightness of the blue flames surrounding his beloved. Shaw remains at distance, singed around the edges himself, until the appearance of that light eating portal tears open in the fabric of the universe.

"Lynette?" It takes several blinks before he realizes this Lynette - the nice one - has come with a dire message. "Oh no," he utters in dismay, tone agreeing that any Mateo dying is a bad thing. He scrambles up his feet, wiping dirty palms on his equally dirty shirt. Looking back at Isa, he calls to her, "Eanqa', we got to help!"

He knows that by now, the rest of the camp has heard the screaming of their leader, and the kicked hive is coming to life.

There’s a lot of things that should have gone differently. The Lynettes couldn’t have known the effect the portal would have on the robotics that were attached to him, nor how much he had. Haggard gasps come from Mateo Ruiz’s mouth as he tries to breathe, and at least one Lynette can hear something in the noise in her head that’s new. A very unsteady heartbeat, like what one might expect to hear if they were listening to a hospital patient going into cardiac arrest. It’s an even less pleasant sound than the normal roar of the worlds.

”You’re not supposed to die.”

Those words found punctuation in a charge of electricity that shot through him, forcing his whole body to tense, his jaw to close. Any sounds he might have made were drowned out by the crackle of electricity, jolting his heart and his body all in an attempt to force his heart into a normal rhythm. There’s a sizzling smell of burning skin where it’s touching the metal, but in some ways that helps, because it’s stopping the bleeding. As the tension stops, he falls back flat, single eye sliding shut. A wheezing inhale can be heard, his chest moving under her hands.

She'll dream of those screams. They can join the screams of her mother.. of those children during the Vanguard raid. Isabelle allows herself a slow, dark smile as the flames consume Ruia and her, burning her clothes and leaving her stark nude in the tent. The shuffling and grabbing on leaves bruises and scrapes on the woman's body but the blue flames spiral and cover them from view mostly. Crackles and pops as she slowly stands to her feet, still holding what's left of her Ruia's hand. The only thing left charred, blackened bone. A souvenir.

As Lynette reappears and Shaw calls her name she nods faintly and continues to look down at the rapidly growing pile of ash and bone that was her nightmare, is her and Shahid's. "Burn for eternity Bitch." Spitting into the flames, they sizzle and crack as the pyrokinetic moves towards the portal and leaps through a woman bathed in blue flame.

Murder in her eyes because Isabelle is embracing who she is, this night pushing her over the edge. The only good thing to come is that her man is there, saved. By her side. She feels invincible with him by her side.

Lynette closes the portals behind them, making sure the rest of the camp can't follow them. They are stirrng below, but not in any coherent fashion. Without their leaders, either of them, some run, some grab weapons, and some turn around and go back to bed. Without Vör and Hati there to guide them, it's likely that the Marauders will need some time to sort out new leadership. And to see how many of them stay.

But for the pair of Lynettes on the hill, none of that matters. One stands next to Shaw, her hand over her mouth. The other kneels beside Mateo, forcing his heart to beat steadily again. She doesn't stop until he breathes again. Until she's comforted by the sound of his heart instead of terrified by it.

"We need to get back to headquarters," she says, her voice rough, "he needs a lot of medical attention." The Resistance might not have a hospital, but they aren't helpless.

A portal opens under Mateo, leading to the back of the jeep the group brought here. It jostles, but much less than carrying him there would. Both Lynettes go, too, huddled around him in the back and leaving Shaw to drive them home and Isa to protect them along the way. Lynette Rowan— the mean one— runs a hand through Mateo's hair while another rests against his ruined cheek.

In many ways, there's a long road ahead.

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