Mutually Assured Destruction


eileen_icon.gif griffin_icon.gif malcolm_icon.gif

Scene Title Mutually Assured Destruction
Synopsis Pollepel's forcefield falls.
Date December 19, 2011

Pollepel Island, Bannerman's Castle

It's been two weeks since Griffin set Heller's plan into motion, and although he couldn't have anticipated that the Ferry had someone with a powerful enough forcefield to hold the military at bay, he has miraculously managed to avoid being discovered.

Rue Lancaster will hang for the murder of Amtullah and the attempted murder of Kaylee Thatcher, whose unconscious body rests behind one of Bannerman Castle's many doors.

Kaylee Thatcher, however, is not the loose end that needs addressing.

Word of another telepath has spread like fire on a dry summer's day across the island. He needs to get off it. Tonight.

Rain and hail sound like they're coming from the other end of a long tunnel. Malcolm Pitt's forcefield stands as strong as it did the night it went up, and shields Pollepel from both Heller's forces and the raging December storm outside. Wind screams through the trees on the other side of the river but the castle's courtyard is still, except for the occasional snap and flutter of wings scissoring through the dark.

The Ferry is on watch. Two guards stand outside the door at the end of the corridor, their rifles hanging loose on thick leather straps. One smokes a fat little cigarette that he rolled himself. The other maybe mutters something about opening a goddamn window. It's hard to read lips, and Griffin is at least fifty yards away when he rounds the corner.

There's no truly good way to sneak up to the door that houses the man creating the forcefield. There's only a few ways to do this — Griffin could just come barrelling out, risk getting shot, and take them out. Or, he could do the nonchalant approach that he has chosen. The man, wearing what appears to be black pajamas, round the corner casually, limping along as the ember of a cigarette lights the corridor around him. For all the guards know, he's just another guy, taking a late night stroll around the castle and smoking a cigarette. It's a small wonder he hasn't run out yet — he's certainly running low.

A respectful nod is tipped toward the two guards as the man saunters along, looking every part the insomniac who needs to just…walk until he can finally go to sleep.

At least, until he gets into range. His white eyes flare to life, telekinetic hands travelling at the speed of thought to liberate those guns from their owners; should this endeavor succeed, the butts of the rifles are driven toward both men's heads. He hopes this will be quiet enough that he'll be able to sneak in without alerting too many people to his presence.

Even as he does this, the balaclava is pulled from a pocket and slipped over his face…

Malcolm knew this day would come. It feels like only yesterday that he had a Sit Down talk with the leadership of this place about contigency plans, and adrenaline drugs, and things he'd hoped wouldn't come to fruition while he slowly fed and slept his way back to full strength, enjoying the comforts of shelter, because god knows that living beneath the shadow of debt is simply his normal state of being. From the Linderman Group, through to loansharks, from Humanis First, and now the Ferrymen.

He can feel the stretch of his amplified field like a second skin, immune to the blizzarding snow flurrying against its impervious barrier, contentedly dipping his spoon into thick stewed vegetable. Being confined to this space has not been an ordeal for Malcolm. Isolated shells of protection are fundamental. He tries not to think about what's outside, outside.

But this is just a room. A door. Men with guns.

Griffin is quiet to a point, but not enough to avoid Malcolm's attention. He drops his spoon into his bowl and stands up, a hand flying to the pocket of his cardigan, huddled inside oversized warm wool, leather elbow pads. By the time Griffin enters, he's reversed back to the other side of the little bedroom — a bed, a desk, a chair — and huddles in on himself. He is a tall man, with a permanently unkempt appearance, grey streaked in brown hair. No challenge at all.

The two men thumping to the ground, and the clatter of their guns landing upon the ground, is likely what alerts Malcolm to Griffin's presence. He could have gone after the new telepath instead of this tonight, but honestly…he would just be delaying the inevitable. Might as well just get it over and done with — it's something he's been hesitant to do, because he is acutely aware that he would be sentencing everyone here to a terrifying fate. He had hoped that he could just wait for the dome to go down, but it's become clear that it won't happen.

One of those telekinetic hands reaches out, pushing the door open to reveal the masked man, eyes glowing as he stares down his next victim. Not a word is offered to this one, not yet — he simply stares for now, memorizing the face of the man he is about to murder. He will always remember these faces. Amtullah, Kaylee, Rue, and now Malcolm.

His appendages lift his feet from the ground, prompting him to float forward eerily. Malcolm will feel hands upon his shoulders and hips, though none are there. "I'm sorry," he mumbles in a gruff voice.

Malcolm looks like a math teacher. An accountant. A divorcee at the other end of the pub. Hard done by, certainly, shadows under his eyes that will never leave, but so very ordinary that it seems impossible that he could be anyone of any importance, and to so many people. His hands are in fists, huddled against his chest, and he gives a full bodied twitch when that odd invisible pressure touches his body, attention otherwise fixed on the man seemingly levitating in front of him.

Twitches again at that gruff voice beneath the mask, the eyes that glow through the eyeholes. "What," he stammers out. "What do you want?"

He tries to shrink back against the force holding him. "Can't give it if you don't tell me."

Oh, how he wishes he didn't have to do this.

This is the first one of his victims who has really had a chance to talk to him. It gives the man pause. He doesn't like being a murderer. He doesn't want to kill people. That's why he is doing this in the first place — so he can stop doing this same song and dance that he has done for so long. So nobody else that he knows and loves has to die. So his newborn daughter doesn't have to face any of the pain that her older brother has had to deal with.

The question prompts a tear to glimmer in his glowing eyes. "I just want my little girl to be safe," he replies in the gruff tone, shaking his head slowly. "I want my son to be able to heal," he continues, drifting eerily closer. The invisible hands lift Malcolm, set him upon his feet. "They won't get that, though, unless I let them in." No explanation needs to be given for who he means by them.

"Right, right."

Malcolm's voice is barely above a whisper. "But, you see, if the field drops— if the field drops here, you know, we'll all die. All of us will die."

Outside — unknown to those inside, perhaps even unknown to Malcolm — the soft blueish tone of the dome-shaped fieldfield shivers, rippling across the surface. Beneath the snow gathered atop where the curve is at its flattest, blue light glimmers. It calms, a moment later.

Closer, the man draws, eerily glowing eyes sad as they gaze upon his next victim.

"If I don't get to be there for them, then that's how it is." He's willing to die if he has to, though he'd really rather not. "My little girl…she's beautiful, y'see." He draws a little closer, within striking distance of the man, his vectors still gently holding the man up. "I would die a thousand deaths to make sure she grows up not havin' to worry about any of…" He gestures out to his sides, "…this."

His feet touch down upon the ground, and then Malcolm will feel a pair of invisible hands slowly wrapping around his neck, even as the man draws closer. "I would burn the entire world, if it meant my son could live without any more worries from this bullshit war we've found ourselves in. If my wife could send our children to school without worrying that a fuckin' robot would abduct them on the way." He shakes his head slowly, the invisible hands tightening.

Fearful, Malcolm keeps his hands crowded against his own chest as he tries his level best to maintain eye contact with Griffin's moon milk gaze, breathing in harshly as that invisible pressure wraps around his throat. He can feel his own heart beat, now, as constriction puts pressure on important arteries, his windpipe, his grizzled chin lifting and face beginning to flush red.

He's coward enough that he can vividly imagine himself dying in this man's hands, such as they are, with the little needle charged with negating fluid bouncing out of his slack fist. At least then it'd be over. The field, his little life, the pain of his throat slowly being crushed. This tiny world he's entered, and protected for this long, crushed with it.

One long arm lashes out, empty hand clutching the front of Griffin's mask in a clumsy raking grab designed more to distract than to injure as his other hand drives the needle point home — a pinprick of pain that bites the soft underside of his jaw, Malcolm jamming the plunger down to pump its contents into bloodstream.

The cheap fabric of the balaclava rips downward, revealing half of the man’s face. It is his flinch away from this that distracts him enough for Malcolm’s needle to find its mark.

Well, shit.

The glowing milky white fades into green as the negation drugs rip away control over his power. So too does the firm grip of those invisible hands, leaving Malcolm briefly free from Griffin Mihangle’s grip.

It doesn't last long.

The man hisses out a string of curse words as his arms dart out, aiming a strong punch at the man’s jaw as the other scrabbles to find purchase at Malcolm’s neck. Just because he can't use his ability doesn't mean he can't get the job done. It just isn't as easy.

The thing about knocking someone out with the butt of their own rifle is that it isn’t a permanent solution to the problem. Griffin’s is this: There are people who are invested in Malcolm’s well-being. People whose hearts are still beating and whose heads, although bruised, are still attached to their shoulders.

One of the guards places a bloody hand on the doorframe, using it to pull himself up to his knees. A large gash seeps red above his left eye, impairing his vision, which is blurred and swimming, but in focus enough for him to realize the danger that they’re all in.

He launches himself at Griffin’s midsection and throws arms around the other man’s waist.

Griffin’s entire vocabulary at this point consists of hissed out curse words. The negated telekinetic is thrown off balance by the guard, stumbling off to the side. He pushes against the man as his other hand slips down to his belt.

He really didn’t want it to come to this. He just wanted to kill the forcefield fellow, and be on his way.

The hunting knife, long and matte black, slides out of its leather holder without a sound, aimed at the solar plexus of the man attacking him. He tries not the stab all the way in so as to give the man a chance at surviving this, though that attempt is likely to be fruitless in the struggle. Regardless of how much or how deep he stabs the man, he stumbles back away.

A furious look is cast to Malcolm as the telekinetic stumbles over to the other guard, who is not so quick to rouse. The man picks up the rifle near the poor guard, before turning to face Malcolm once more. A single gunshot is fired at the fallen man’s gut, green eyes on Malcolm the entire time.

The rifle is dropped again, and Griffin begins to advance upon Malcolm, blood-stained knife poised at the ready in his hand and a dark look set into his gaunt features, half covered by the balaclava as they are.

Malcolm is on the floor. He couldn't tell you why or when. The chaos of the guard suddenly launching himself inside, perhaps, the chaotic blur that followed that saw him on his knees and cowering towards the far side of the little room. He stares fixedly at the dying guard clutching his knife wound, focus snapped like a twig at the sound of a gunshot. He ducks like a cringing stray, hands flung upwards in trembling surrender.

"Please," he wheezes out as Griffin makes his approach. Blood making his matte blade shine, the gunshot in close quarters ringing in Malcolm's ears.

Before Griffin can take another step, his vision fills with faint blue. A gently curved forcefield snaps into existence barely an inch away from his nose, shearing off a sliver of boot toe where it cuts into the ground.

A step back will give him better perspective of Malcolm huddled and kneeling on the floor, central to the dome-shaped forcefield he's thrown up around himself. That it's a dome is a little inaccurate — more of a sphere, slicing powerfully through the floor beneath him and the wall behind him. Under his shifting, floorboards shift a little against the curved barrier. On the outside, well, it won't start snowing immediately, with some ways yet to fall, but the sudden wind that cuts through the window is deadly different to the stagnant air they've been enjoying for the last fourteen days.

On Malcolm's face, fear of Griffin has translated into horror at what he's done.

The negated telekinetic stops just short of the newly erected forcefield, brows raising ever-so-slightly. Oh, now this is a development. He turns his head briefly toward the window, taking a deep breath of the sudden fresh air that circulates through the space that was once entirely cut off.

Then, those green eyes turn once more to Malcolm and his force field, a faint smirk appearing on his half-hidden face. “Not a bad choice.” He watches the man for a long moment, blood dripping from the wicked knife within his hand, an amused expression dancing through his eyes.

Then, he turns his back to the man and his miniature dome. “Keep that there and I won’t kill you,” he murmurs, casting a glance back over his shoulder. “We can both live with this, or just I can live with this. You can change your mind…but something tells me you won’t.”

He doesn’t wait for a response; turning away, Griffin pauses only to wipe the blood off of his knife on the sleeve of the man he stabbed. Then, he steps out.

Someone will have heard the gunshot.

The hallway outside Malcolm's room is dark; the only difference between the corridor now and the way Griffin left it is the snow and sleet hammering against the windows. It leaves thick black streaks on the glass and fills the castle with a dull, roaring noise. Until a few minutes ago, the forcefield had been up for so long some of its inhabitants had momentarily forgotten the sound that heavy rain makes.

A sliver of light reflecting off a long metal blade of some variety is the first indication that Griffin is not alone. Drawn by the sporadic burst of gunfire from Malcolm's guards, a small silhouette comes into view. It's the middle of the night, and the sheer slip Eileen Ruskin wears to bed does not cover her pale arms or her long, slender legs, which glow like a beacon.

Her bare feet concealed her approach until now, when the sword inside the wolf's head cane she's always carrying is already drawn.

He can pinpoint the moment she pieces everything together because her face transforms from something soft and tentative to chiseled white marble.

The tall man, his ability negated, closes the door behind him. He's got blood on his hands; that didn't go as well as it could have, and he had to get closer than he normally prefers in order to bring down the dome that protected Pollepel from Heller's forces outside. For a moment, he just leans against the door, as if he can hide the memory of how far he has fallen by locking it in the room.

Green eyes turn, landing upon the metal blade, and then the woman holding it. The balaclava, ripped as it is to reveal half of his face, is lifted and discarded, dropped unceremoniously to the ground. It's not like she doesn't know who he is. Not like Eileen Ruskin hasn't interacted with him plenty of times in the past, more than enough to recognize him. His face is a stony mask, lips and brows set in a discontent line. He had been hoping to avoid her.

Griffin rotates the knife in his hand. It’s normally used for gutting and skinning animals. Not so far off its purpose tonight. "Eileen," he says quietly.

There's really no getting out of this; one of them will have to move first. Eileen decides it may as well be her. Kazimir's sword flashes in the space between them, and she she closes the gap in a lunge that she knows won't end the confrontation because nothing has ever been that fast — or easy.

Metal cracks against metal. Griffin blocks the initial thrust and pushes back against Eileen's forward momentum when he's sure she's leaning all her power and weight into him. The pair bursts apart. Eileen's feet carry her backwards.

The negated telekinetic has a good deal of unconscious combat training that makes him a difficult target to take down, thanks to the seven years he spent with The Company. He doesn't remember the exact training, but his muscles have never forgotten, his reflexes have never forgotten. Even with a bum knee, Griffin Mihangle is a formidable opponent.

The man follows through as Eileen skitters backwards, aiming a slash at the smaller woman's body that is deflected with a sharp crack by Kazimir's sword swung up at the last second; the telekinetic spins away, knife up and at the ready for the next blow that is surely to come.

There are three.

They land in quick succession, and each is more powerful than the last, although Eileen might as well be trying to hack down a tree. A feral scream claws its way out of her throat on the last strike as she surrenders to the swell of emotions ballooning in her chest.

Griffin killed Amtullah, not Lancaster.

Griffin stabbed Kaylee.

Griffin told Heller where the extraction team would surface at Cambridge.

It's this last realization that hurts the most. Eileen’s lips curl back over her teeth and she spits at his face.

The smaller knife is a bit less trustworthy than a large blade, but the sword clangs against Griffin's weapon three times all the same. His wrist bones are rattled with each strike; the final blow is deflected with a shove, and then Griffin brings the hilt of the blade back around to catch Eileen square in the jaw with a heavy blow.

"I didn't want to do this," he states, taking a few steps back to briefly catch his breath as Eileen reels. "Heller will kill my family if I don't. My newborn daughter." He hisses, then, darting in to strike at the woman again.

"Fuck your family!" Eileen barks.

It will be the only thing she says to him, because there is really nothing else to say. Her voice is already hoarse with the emotions she’s spent the last two weeks hiding behind a painfully-cultivated mask. She’d sent Nick for Epstein; help is supposed to be on the way. Unfortunately, in spite of her best efforts, Eileen’s heart rules her actions tonight and not her head.

There is no time to wait.

Kazimir's sword is longer than Griffin's knife, but Griffin's arms are longer than Eileen's. They can continue this in perpetuity, or one of them can give ground to the other, allowing for the intimacy to end it.

He is a threat to everything she has built and everyone she’s responsible for. The choice is easy.

Instead of blocking Griffin's attack with her weapon, Eileen brings her other hand up and catches him by the wrist. Her quaking, skinny arm holds his poised above her head.

There is blood from where he struck her. She tastes it in her mouth and feels it thickening into a dark, coppery film on her lips.

"I would burn you all for them," is the sharp hiss of a response to Eileen's shout, Griffin gritting his teeth. His free arm loops around her waist as her fingers wrap around his thicker, more muscular wrist, gathering her slender form up against him into a deadly embrace.

And then, he's pushing down hard, driving that long black knife with scratches of silver etched along its surface straight into the woman's chest. Heavily whiskered lips draw back to bare those white teeth, the man letting out a feral hiss as he feels the blade pierce through her flesh, feels the warm burst of blood against his fingers.

On his next inhale, Griffin becomes aware of a mass in the space between his ribs that wasn’t there before. His left lung strains against it, and as the adrenaline pumping through his veins begins to ebb, joy and elation give way to a sensation of pressure rather than pain. It builds in intensity until it demands his attention; when he finally looks, the culprit is probably not what he was expecting.

Kazimir’s sword fits neatly between two of his ribs, three quarters sunk into his chest cavity. He lacks the medical training to understand that the short, shuddering breath his body involuntarily sucks in means a punctured lung. Eileen, on the other hand, recognizes the crackling sound for what it is.

Something like triumph flashes in her flattening eyes.

Got you.

Her torso grows slack in Griffin’s arms.

Green eyes turn down to the sword sticking out of his side, the man’s face dropping to one of grave concern. Oh. Oh. So that’s something that he’s going to have to deal with now. His teeth flash again, this time in a snarl. Fucking bitch.

He reaches down, pulling the sword from between his ribs. This is turned in his hands, and driven up into Eileen’s gut, as a final parting blow. As the blood begins to soak out from the fresh wound, Griffin’s strong hands lift the small woman into the air by the neck. Fucking bitch.

He shoves her, hard, sending the woman crashing through the window to fall to the ground below.

The window disintegrates on impact, sending an explosion of fragmented glass shards showering down onto the courtyard. Warm air rushes out into the black nighttime void left behind and sheets of rain, swept up by the wind, rush in.

Eileen’s last thought before Griffin launches her out the window is that the two people she loves most are very far away. If there’s anything she regrets, it’s that she may never see Gabriel or Ethan again.

Then she’s gone. Griffin succeeded in doing what Kazimir Volken, Allen Rickham, Odessa Knutson, and countless others were never able to accomplish.

He’s probably killed Eileen Ruskin.

Staggering back, Griffin places a hand against the fresh wound, gasping for air as he leans heavily against the wall. Shit. He’s not going to die here. He refuses. With a cough, he begins to stumble away.

He’s got to get out.


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