Monochrome Delirious, Part V



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f_nathan_icon.gif mitchell_icon.gif munin_icon.gif peter3_icon.gif woods_icon.gif

Scene Title Monochrome Delirious, Part V
Synopsis The travellers are confronted by the Wicked Witch. Blood is shed and things go from strange to stranger.
Date May 5, 2009

I don't want to set the — vrrt

Boots stomp in a rhythmic beat against cracked pavement as three dozen men in charcoal gray uniforms march towards a sagging building of steel and concrete slouching off of the western shore of Staten Island. Plumes of smoke rise up from cracked stacks belching soot high into the heavens, while the rasping caw of countless ravens fill the skies with their terrible shrieks.

I don't want to set the — vrrt

The Braedenford Steel Mill resembles something of a cankerous sore on Staten Island's gangrenous carcass. This broken and half-sunken building meets the lapping and swollen shoreline of the Hudson with dying grace. Despite its decrepit condition, the old foundry miraculously still works, though staffed entirely by men that look to be members of a private military contract, their uniforms marked with snarling wolf heads on the shoulders, grasping a sword between clenched jaws.

I don't want to set the — vrrt

"This isn't how it's supposed to happen…" Deep within the bowels of the steel mill, amidst sweltering heat and choking soot and ash, an iron cage dangles sixty feet over a concrete vat filled with a luminous measure of molten steel. Suspended in the cage, James Woods looks more out of place than a man in a tuxedo in this situation should. Fingers wind around the bars of the cage, his eyes following the length of chain that keeps him suspended, one controlled by a lever high on a catwalk, manned by one of the Wicked Witch's soldiers. "We're supposed to go to the Wizard first," he whines out, resting his forehead against the bars.

I don't want to set the — vrrt

Lined up shoulder to shoulder on a catwalk facing the dangling cage, Odessa, Peter and Vice President Mitchell stare at the ashen-faced men and their strange headgear — old coal-miners helmets and gas masks. "Why aren't they talking?" Mitchell asks out of the corner of his mouth, giving an askance look to Peter, as if not knowing better than to really ask him anything in particular. Peter just helplessly shrugs, turning a transfixed look towards the higher catwalk as the clang and pang of approaching footsteps announces the arrival of the guest of honor.

I don't want to set the — vrrt

Fluttering wings of gossamer spotted with charcoal fly free from deeper in the foundry, backlit by the glow of molten steel in the vats beyond the one Woods is suspended over. Here, a woman of both beauty and macabre dread strides with a certain high-nosed confidence unusual to her waifish frame. Eileen Ruskin looks little as she did when Odessa last saw her, she seems to carry herself taller, shoulders squared, brows lowered. Her lips crook into a sly smile, and the black leather jacket she wears is adorned with a ruffled feather collar and trim on her sleeves.

I don't want to set the — vrrt

Her heeled boots clang heavily on the catwalk, matching in some off-key rhythm with the clink of a steel tipped cane she carries in one hand, quietly rolling her thumb over a scar on the brow of the wolf's head. "And you, my dear, what an unexpected pleasure." She moves to the edge of the higher catwalk, facing Odessa and her entourage at gunpoint. "It's so kind of you to visit me in my loneliness…" dark eyebrows lower to give her feline expression something of a more steely quality.

I don't want to set the world on fire, I just want to — vrrt

This isn't the Munin that Odessa remembers, and the dark circles beneath her eyes and sallow look to her bandaged skin shows a lifetime of poor decisions and old wounds that seem to refuse to close. Blood seeps through the yellowed cloth that wraps around her throat and hands in places, the same discoloration on a bandage covering her cheek. This, as Woods had said, isn't how it is supposed to go at all.

Odessa is still trembling and breathless from her transport to this stronghold Munin has built for herself. The fear of heights quickly overrode all higher thinking, leaving Miss Knutson completely powerless. Even now, her fingers twitch restlessly at her sides to no effect. It's all she can do just to remember to take in lungful after lungful of air. One hand reaches out to grasp Peter's as if to borrow strength from him.

"Eileen," the brunette intones little above a whisper to her former compatriot. "I don't understand. What… What's going on here? Why have you taken us?" Odessa's brows form deep furrows upon her forehead. Lips work soundlessly to find words that don't seem to want to be realised.

Tilting her head to the side, Munin arches one brow and whirls that damnable cane around her fingers to rest against a shoulder. The exaggerated motion is a prelude to her beginning to strut across the iron catwalk, passing hazy green eyes over each captive one after another. "Would you believe me if I told you," the cane whips around, pointed down towards Odessa, "I wanted your shoes?" Peter and Mitchell both look flabbergasted for a moment, even though Woods is merely nodding in understanding as if that was as normal as cherry pie.

After a moment of attempting to keep a straight face, Munin breaks out into a laugh that turns into something more hissing as she lowers a hand to her side, wincing, using the cane to keep herself held upright, fingers curled around the wolf's head. "I have you here because I want you to kill the Wizard. I thought that might be just a touch obvious," her eyes narrow to slits, lips pressing into an equally thin line. "I want you, and you, and you…" each repetition of the word comes with a point of the cane, "to go to the Emerald Tower, and kill that fat old bastard. Then," her lips creep up into a smile, showing a little blood on her teeth, "I'll let your little dog go."

"'Ey, ey wait a minute!" Woods protests from within his cage. "First off— why ain't I allowed to go on the assassination mission? I'm a bloody Company Agent with over two hundred and thirty field hours!" His brows lower into a look of frustration as he sticks an arm between the bars, wagging a finger down at Munin. "Second, I am not, nor have I ever been, a bloody dog."

There's a snort from Munin, followed by a dismissive shake of her head as she levels her eyes back down to Odessa. "The alternative, of course, is that I drop your man into the molten steel." Her head quirks to the side, tangled locks of ink black hair spilling down over her forehead to cover one eye, the other alight with the glow of the threatened steel. Woods chokes back on his own words, lurching back inside of his cage with steepled fingers.

"W-well, what're you waiting for— go on— go kill the Wizard or— some nonsense like that." Grimacing, Woods peers down from the cage to the vat of glowing liquid steel below, then leans against the bars with a slouch of resignation. "Mum, I know you told me my life was goin' to end up all sorts of horrible. But you never said it was going to end as a poor man's homage of the second Terminator movie…"

Odessa cranes her neck so that she can look up at Woods. "I will come back for you," she promises. "And I would rather have you at my back, for what it's worth." She manages a sheepish smile, looking somewhat apologetic for a moment before her features school themselves back into something more neutral, if not frosty. "All right. I'll kill him. If you double cross me, though, you know you're next." She unwinds her hand from Peter's, finding strength in her anger, pointing an accusing finger at the witch. "If you harm a single hair on Woods' head, I will make you sorry. Do we have an understanding?" Dark eyes narrow as pale lips purse tightly. Do not test me, the expression says.

Munin seems largely surprised, head canted to one side, lips pursed in thoughtful silence. Then, with what amounts to little more than a fitful shrug, she waves one hand in Odessa's direction, pale green eyes wandering up and down her. "It's… not quite that easy, of course." A cawing and crowing comes from inside of the foundry, followed by the emergence of smaller birds fluttering and scuttling up from the foundry floor, perching on railings and exposed beams. "They're going to keep an eye on you," teeth show again, partly yellowed, reddened on the edges with her own internal bleeding. "If you fail to finish the Wizard off…"

At a gesture of her cane, one of Munin's soldiers flips the lever, sending the cage shooting down a few feet before jerking to a stop, all the while eliciting a girlish scream from Woods. "Oh for fuck's sake come on that's molten steel!" Woods clambors to the edge of the cage, fingers wrapped around the bars, "Who does this? Who does this? Seriously!?"

Smirking, Eileen lets her eyes wander back down to Odessa from her vantage point. "You can take the Arthur-Kills bridge off of Staten Island into New Jersey to find the Emerald Tower, from there you're home free. Just get inside, get to the wizard… and…" Munin raises a hand, pressing a finger to her temple before clicking the hammer of her thumb down, and makes a ka-psssh sound with her lips. "Easy as that, right?"

Tense and still all the while, Peter shoots Odessa a troubled look, his lips parted in a wary expression not entirely unlike a somewhat tired puppy. It makes the seriousness of the situation a little more flat. Mitchell, however, shoots a glare over Peter's shoulder in Odessa's direction, voice tight as he finally speaks up. "You— can't seriously be considering this. He— the Wizard is the only hope left in this world…"

Odessa's hands come up in an instant, reaching out toward the cage as it starts to drop. "No!" she cries. Her whole body begins to tremble again as she turns her attention back to Munin. "There won't be a problem. Now you let him alone." She doesn't expect any sort of verbal acquiescence, and so she turns her attention to her companions.

Well, that could have gone over much better, couldn't it have? Odessa blinks first at Peter, and then at Mitchell. "I don't know if you've heard," she begins, "but I kind of was working on a virus to kill the entire Evolved population. One little wizard isn't going to make me lose sleep. Now you either come with me, or you switch places with Woods. Do you understand?" The look in her eyes doesn't match the severity of her tone. Odessa can only hope that there won't be any further protest. Not here, anyway.

Of the three not in a cage, all have devils rather than skeletons in their closets, which makes any form of rebuttal against Odessa of the non-verbal variety. Munin, however, has plenty more to say on the manner, clanging her cane down on the railing of the catwalk. "Oh, and Odessa… don't go blowing yourself up again." Her head quirks to the side in punctuation of her sentence, hair sticking to sweaty and sooty cheeks, soon pulled away with spindly fingers.

"Come on now, don't tell me you go evil that quick." The voice comes neither from Peter nor Mitchell, and is punctuated by something as exclamatory as a gunshot despite being spoken in such an understated manner. The first shot rings out across the catwalk where the guard manning the cage lever was standing. The force from the .38 special sends him vaulting over the railing on a screaming path to the shop floor below. Standing in one of the blown out windows that views the moonlit skyline of Staten Island, it can only be one bearded man in a suit holding a smoking pistol, and that man is Nathan Petrelli.

"Son of a bitch!" Munin hisses, pushing a soldier in front of her as she awkwardly hobbles back on her heeled boots against the catwalk surface. "Shoot her! Shoot him! Shoot someone!" Immediately recognizing his brother's voice, Peter moves to steps in front of Odessa, one arm outstretched as a hail of gunfire comes barreling towards the brunette — only to be redirected around them along with a low rumble of the catwalk from the magnetokinetic ability.

"God damnit is everyone here out of their minds!" Mitchell ducks behind an iron girder supporting the ceiling, looking over to Nathan. "You didn't happen to bring a spare did you?" The crooked grimace on Nathan's face comes without much surprise as he hops down from the window, then springs up into the air in flight, coming to land on the catwalk Munin stands on. Mitchell's eyes grow wide, watching Nathan take alight into the air, a shocked and confused expression on his face.

"Nobody tries to manipulate my little brother," he murmurs, opening fire onto one of the guards with another round from the pistol, sending that one crumpling to the metal underfoot, "except me, understand?" There's a flicker of steel as Munin wrenches the sword from within the cane, knocking Nathan's gun away with a practiced motion of one gracefully thin arm. She steps forward, lunging in before sliding the whisper-thin blade between his shoulder blade and pectoral, the blood flowing out only heightened by her entropic presence, making the wound bleed harder, the pain intensified.

"Where's your courage now, mister President?" Munin leans forward, twisting the rapier edge with one crook of her wrist, sending Nathan down onto one knee. "Left it in your lion costume, did you?" One dark brow rises slowly, and Munin begins to encroach closer to the president's personal space, leaning into bring her lips close to his forehead. "I don't think I heard you that last time," she notes with a sweet smile, before twisting the blade again, eliciting a howl of pain from Nathan. "Oh, do speak up…"

"Peter!" Odessa ducks behind the man as he moves in to protect her, whispering a heartfelt thank you. She shuts her eyes tightly, listening to the sounds of bullets and twisting metal. Then, the sound of a blade through skin, muscle and tissue. Her eyes snap open. Nathan howls and a fire glows in the woman's irises.

The world stops for Odessa Knutson. Everything frozen in the perfect stillness of time. Faintly, she smiles. She hasn't quite lost her touch. Slowly and carefully, she makes her way along the catwalk in her high-heeled shoes. Gripping tightly to the railing, she keeps her eyes on her target to force herself not to look down, lest she become dizzy and lose both her balance and her concentration. Why did it have to be up high? Trembling, she crouches on shaky legs to retrieve Nathan's gun.

When time begins once more, the barrel of the .38 is pressed to the back of Munin's head, punctuating Odessa's firm order. "Stop."

Wet lips creep up into a slow smile as Odessa manipulates time to her advantage. The slender woman unwinds her fingers from the wolf's head of the cane, lifting her hands up into the air in the universal symbol of I give up. Her eyes close, one brow rising up just a touch higher than the others. "You don't have the guts…" she whispers, and that whisper is carried on the cawing and shrieking of the birds nestled up in to the dark recesses of the ceiling. "Or do you? I wonder if my babies can pull them out of you and find out?"

Wrenching the sword out of his shoulder, Nathan exhales a hissing breath as he staggers back on the catwalk, leaning on one arm as his brother widens his eyes and flies up to the walkway behind him, wrapping one arm around his shoulders to help him keep his footing. "Hey, Peter… long time no see." There's a crook at the corner of Nathan's mouth — not amusement but more discomfort, Peter's leaning his arm on the wounded shoulder like an imbecile.

"I knew you didn't abandon us." The conviction in Peter's voice is astounding, especially when concerned with his brother. Time — and the apocalypse, it seems — does actually heal all wounds.

"Um, hello…" A voice dangling above a pit of molten fire calls out. "Hi there, remember me? Oh, I'm fine, it's nice of you to ask, this pit of fucking lava is wonderful!" As if to show Woods that things can go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye, one of the fluttering ravens that descend from the ceiling come to settle on the lever for the cage, and with a loud clink the cage begins its screaming descent back towards the bubbling orange brew in the concrete cauldron. "Oh for the love of Chriiiiiist!"

"Believe me, I won't hesitate." Odessa somehow figures that blowing Munin's brains out wouldn't solve the world's problems, though. There's something more at work here. She flickers a brief smile in Nathan's direction, expecting no thanks from him in return for what she's done. Necessary acts require no gratitude.

Woods' voice grabs the attention of the temporal manipulator and she lifts her head. For half a second, she wears an exasperated look. I was getting to you, okay? But then one of those wretched birds intervenes, filling Odessa with horror and dread. She shrieks and shoots her hands out toward the cage once more, an attempt to catch it without actually catching it. Once again, time stops for her. This time, it takes her a few moments of steady, deep breaths before she feels confident. One hand slowly pans away, palm outward. Fingers pulse in Peter's direction, bringing him back to motion. "Petrelli," she hisses urgently. "You've got to get Woods out of that cage, or get to the lever. Can you do one of those things?"

Gasping, as if for some obtuse reason he was holding his breath while time was frozen, Peter looks down to Odessa with wide eyes. "Oh good I thought I was having a seizure." In all remarkably dense seriousness, Peter hesitates and glances over his shoulder to the cage, then further away to the lever and the bird. "I ah— " he swallows, flicking his gaze back to Odessa before winking at her and clicking his tongue. "I'll go wrestle the bird and the lever."

Giving a nod of his head, Peter takes a hopping step back, then just vaults over the catwalk railing and lands on the third tier, weaving between Vanguard soldiers frozen in time as he makes his way towards the switch, ducking below feathers and wings frozen in time, nudging birds out of the way with leering stares and extended fingers, trying to keep his face as far away from them as he can while somewhat flailingly moving their frozen forms out of harm's way.

One flick of the wrist later, and the switch is flipped back up. Of course, it could have been handled with so much more grace if Peter hadn't entirely forgotten that he has telekinesis and magnetokinesis. His selectively spotty memory really is somewhat unbelievable.

Odessa watches Peter's movements, eyes flicking between him and the suspended cage. Doesn't he have abilities that could be doing all this much more easily? Regardless, she lets him do it his way. So long as it works, that's all that matters. She trains her open hand on the cage once more and then nuzzles the gun back against Munin's skull. With a wave of her free hand, time marches on. "Enough," she demands. "You obviously don't think you can kill the wizard yourself. You need me. You want my help? You abide by my rules. My companions and I are leaving. Is that understood?"

The cage comes to a jerking stop at about eye level with Odessa, and sprawled upside down with his limbs stretched out like a cat trying to prevent a trip to the vet, Woods fills his cage. Panting and wheezing, he makes eye contact with Odessa, chest rising and falling as he nods his head slowly, wiping st his face with the back of his sleeve. It's the most thanks he can manage without passing out entirely.

"I could kill him,' Munin purrs out the answer, eyes languidly moving to the side to peer down at Peter, then up to where Mitchell had disappeared into the shadows of one of the beams, "but I could never get into the Emerald Tower. He knows me," her eyes travel in a slow path back to Odessa's general direction, unable to see directly behind her. "You're free to go… except for the dog in the cage. That's insurance…" there's a bitterness in Munin's tone of voice, tongue wetting her lips as she turns her heads a bit, trying to get a look at Odessa over her shoulder.

"Oh for the love of god shoot her!" Woods cries out, rolling onto one side to shove a hand through the bars of the cage, "I'll bloody pull the trigger if I have to!" His fingers open and close in a grabby motion towards Odessa, but the sudden caw and shriek of a bird perched atop his cage makes him jerkingly withdraw his hand back inside of the bars. "Never mind. I like it in here."

"Then you can't kill him, then," Odessa responds to Munin's claim. "If you can't get to him, then you can't kill him." Reiteration that she's needed here. "We used to be friends, Eileen. What happened to you?" With her free hand, Odessa's motioning for Peter to rejoin her. "Get your brother outside. Mitchell, too. I'll meet you out there. The witch and I need to chat." To punctuate her point, she nudges the barrel just a little against the back of Munin's head.

"The world happened," is the Witch's only sneering response to the gun at the back of her head. While Peter urges Nathan back, the once President hesitates for a moment, resting one hand on Peter's as he takes a step towards Munin, brow lowered and eyes steely in their setting on her. He looks from the matchstick thin girl swathed in ever-bleeding bandages, then back to Odessa with an uncertainty in his expression.

"Are you sure you want to be left alone with her?" Nathan breathes out the words, one hand clutching his still-bleeding shoulder, wincing as he realizes the pain only gets worse the closer to Munin he gets. There's a moment's pause, and he swallows dryly, looking back and forth between the two women before reconsidering. "We'll… be right outside, I guess." He edges back towards Peter, even as Mitchell slips out from behind one of the metal columns where he had been ducking all this time. His motions are seen only in Odessa's periphery, but Nathan catches sight of the assault rifle a moment too late.

The loud popping of gunfire is the best clue into what Mitchell has planned, spraying hot lead up onto the catwalk haphazardly, stray bullets pinging off of the bottom of Woods' cage, bullets perforating bloody bandages and a leather jacket, causing a wet, choking sound to come from Munin as the rounds rip through her shoulders, midsection and legs, upending her and sending the girl's thin frame over the railing, even as another stray bullet accidentally rips through Odessa's shoulder, spinning her around and tossing her crumpling into the railing.

Munin's descent is silent as she whips past a shrieking Woods' cage, and drops into the molten steel without so much fanfare, save for a sloshing plop sound as her entire body disappears in a tiny gout of flame and smoke. Woods' mouth hangs wide open as he watches the display, looking up to Mitchell who breathes in and out with heavy, rasping breaths, hands trembling from adrenaline as Woods' mouth works open and closed with faintly whispered words.

"What a world…"

It happens so fast. Too fast. Odessa curses herself for not paying more attention to the heartless bastard. She collapses against the railing of the catwalk, screaming and clutching at her shoulder. Tears stream down her cheeks, feeling as hot against her skin as the molten metal below that swallows what was left of her friend. For all the tough talking before, Odessa's reduced to a trembling, whimpering mass now, staring down through the grated metal at the plumet below.

"Andrew, Christ." Nathan pushes away from Peter and takes up into the air, soaring between the divide of the catwalks to land down at Mitchell's side, snatching the gun out of his shaking hands. "What the hell do you think you're doing? You didn't have to— " he looks back up towards Odessa, then down to where Munin plummeted into the molten steel below, only to look back again with brows lowered. There's no real accusations there, it's what had to be done, but it doesn't mean Nathan has to like it.

"Odessa," Peter hisses, rushing across the catwalk with clanging steps to crouch down at her side, one arm wrapped around her back, the other resting a hand on her shoulder. The warm and wet discharge of blood from the gunshot wound pulses between Peter's fingers, and he looks up with a wild-eyed expression towards where Woods sways back and forth in the cage.

"She's dead. You killed her." Woods' tone is somewhat jaded, a weak and half-focused mumbling as he stares down into the pool of molten steel far below. His lips smack together, head lifting up and eyes unfocusing for a moment before he mumbles out, "what a world," and then promptly slouches back to whack his head against the bars with a grunt.

Odessa's head tips back in tandem with the cry that sounds from parted lips when Peter presses his hand to her wound. She focuses on her breathing, trying to keep her mind clear. "Woods," she says between gritted teeth, "Get Woods. I'll be fine. Just get him out of there."

…hasn't been entirely conducive to interrogation thus far. She's been drifting in and out of consciousness for a few days…

A ghostly susurrus of words spills out around Odessa, words that no one but she can hear, hauntingly kept to the periphery of her pain-blinded senses. Peter crouches down by Odessa's side, his words now more of a dead and blunted muffle of something said through a closed door, even as he motions to somewhere inside of the facility, then leans in to get a better look at her wound.

…found out a little about Zhang, and that he's dead. She seemed broken up about that…

Nathan turns from Mitchell, flying up to Woods' cage, fumbling with the latch, even as Odessa's head swims in a boiling sea of white-hot pain and warmth. Peter reaches up to press a hand to her cheek, two fingers depressed to the side of her neck. The unfamiliar stir of echoes comes from his lips now, a voice not entirely his own coming in poor dubbing to whatever it is he's truly trying to say.

…wouldn't work at all. Let me put the record back on, then we can talk in private…

The world lurches, spins, and twists, and Odessa finds her eyes rolling back into her head from some swimming concoction of pain and delirium as Peter pulls and tugs at the sleeve of her dress, his words just a painful echo in the back of her mind, before static crackles and pops come back and fill that void of emptiness with more familiar sounds.

I don't want to set the world on fire…

Even as she begins to pass out from the pain, and from whatever's flooding her senses in the sticky-sweet aroma of smoke, there's something comforting about it, less so than terrifying.

I just want to start, a flame in your heart.

It's just that this rabbit hole is so very deep.

Previously in this storyline…
Monochrome Delirious, Part IV

Next in this storyline…
Monochrome Delirious, Part VI

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