Nil Admirari


cat_icon.gif colette_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

magnes_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif raith_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

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Scene Title Nil Admirari
Synopsis Is Latin for: never be surprised. The Ferry's raid on the CDC vans containing the vaccine does not go as planned.
Date April 21, 2010

Interstate 280

To some, it's like Antarctica never left them alone.

Blistering cold wind whips across a treeless expanse of open parking lots and a vast stretch of windblown highway. Just outside of Newark New Jersey, a lonely stretch of Interstate 280 looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie, not a snapshot of the world as it is. Windblown snow has made dunes in the parking lots flanking either side of the interstate, shifting hills of bleached white that blends in with the gray horizon. The air is so cold it's hard to breathe, skin stings and flesh tingles with the deadening of nerves from just a few moment's exposure.

With the lay of the land so flat here, the interstate doesn't need much road maintenance compared to the other parts of this highway, the wind has kept all but a dusting of fine powdery snow across its ice-patched surface. Just off this stretch of desolate highway in near whiteout conditions, a lone weigh-station that would service tractor trailer trucks getting on the Jersey Turnpike should be abandoned from the weather.

Half of the weigh station's single floor building has collapsed from the weight of snow, somewhere beneath the tunes of white there's cars buried in the parking lot. But two white supply vans parked out front of the building aren't abandoned vehicles left exposed to the elements, they're examples of cause and effect.

The law of physics states that for each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Last night an action caused a CDC vaccine shipment to be raided violently and left two members of FRONTLINE injured. Pacing around the lead van, two men in black uniforms with flak jackets and heavy winter coats on are the reaction.

"Radio's out…" One of the Stillwater Security officers states, M-16 held down at hip level, goggled eyes scanning the snowy horizon. "I ain't picking up shit. The boys up front tell you anything?" The other security officer shakes his head, looking in through the front window of the truck to the driver.

"Nothin'…" he notes with a furrow of his brows, "said we got orders to relocate here, nobody in the other van's even answering when I try to radio them." There's a squint from the security officer, and he looks back to his partner. "Why're their windows tinted?"

"Beats me, this is fucking pointless let's get back inside, I'm not freezing my sack off waiting out here." As the two darkly dressed security officers move towards the back of the lead parked van, the wind picks up, blowing snow across the drifts and swirling higher into the air.

The addition of an armed security detail is a reaction they hadn't banked on.

Parked a quarter of a mile up the interstate behind a collapsed billboard advocating registration in boldface are two unmarked pickup trucks painted black, sans license plates to prevent identification. Binoculars allow the occupants of both vehicles to observe the entourage at the weigh-station from afar, while the billboard itself shields them from view. It's fortunate that the sky is overcast; if the sun was out, it would reflect off the snow and make it impossible for anyone to see anything without the use of sunglasses.

Behind the wheel of the first vehicle, Tasha has the best vantage point and can clearly see the two Stillwater security guards disappear around the side of the van after their exchange. In the passenger seat beside her is Colette, with Magnes in the back, leaving the three remaining members of the ground extraction team to the other pickup in a similar arrangement with Eileen and Helena up front and Odessa Knutson, Ferrymen ally, occupying the rear.

There were supposed to be twice as many pickups and twice as many operatives assigned to the ground, but both the weather and word of what went down on Staten Island last night has reduced them to six, not counting the pair in the helicopter on route. Altogether, eight isn't a bad number. It just isn't ideal.

Ballistic vests, acetylene torches for cutting steel, balaclavas and 9mm pistols on loan from the Dispensary's basement armory are standard for operations of this nature and have been made available to everyone on the ground, but the most important pieces of equipment in everyone's possession are the two-way shortwave radios that make communication possible. «Oliver, what can you see?» Eileen is asking, and Cat and Raith in the air will hear it too, clearly audible even above the roar of the helicopter's rotors.
The people in Helena's truck get the benefit of her ability; the inside is reasonably warm without being stiflingly so. She has remained quiet thus far, content to let the orders get issued by the people who know how to handle such things. The 9mm has been tucked away in her jacket with the safety on - she doesn't like guns, but she'll use it if she has to. "We really shouldn't be surprised." she murmurs as she stares through the white haze. "I just wonder who got to them first."

The visiting Ferry member peering through the binoculars furrows her brows as she tries to make sense of the view before her. "Two guards. They're looking for something, I'm guessing the vans, they look a bit frustrated or confused. They have rifles. M-whatever you call 'ems," Tasha says quietly. "Ah — Looks like they're heading to the back of the van now."

«Oliver, you said two guards,» comes Raith's voice over the radio. Although he is in the helicopter overhead, he is in no condition to fly it: He's short one limb at present. But he is available to provide an extra set of eyes, and to coach Cat in the event the weather starts to sour. He also serves an important role in providing operations command, having the best vantage point of all. «Just the two. Are you sure that's all of them?»

Instruction manuals are her friend. She knows the helicopter's mechanics and operations entirely, with just the time it took to read. From there it wasn't so difficult, discovering how much strength needed be applied to use the controls and the right degree of touch for desired results, things which no book covers accurately. Beyond that, Cat knows, is just the perhaps weighty issue of in-flight catastrophes which books also don't cover. But for that, she has Raith in the other seat.

"I might buy one of these," Cat muses to the wounded man across from her, "if I can find an American bird for a similar price."

Wearing a simple white surgical mask, Magnes sits in the backseat, arms crossed over his black jacket with plenty of zipper pockets all over the sleeves. He's also wearing black denim jeans and a pair of black snow boots. "I just hope they're not ridiculously repaired, since someone already tried to do this." he says half to himself, half to the other people in the truck with him.

Odessa leans forward to peer between Eileen and Helena's seats, trying to get a better look at the action out of the front windshield. She has never been so practically dressed in her entire adult life, she's sure of it. She's even wearing pants as opposed to a skirt or a dress! A darkly patterned camo jacket that she may have lifted from a military surplus store, her blonde hair doesn't peek out from the balaclava, black pants made for warmth and easy movement, with her gun tucked into the back of the waistband the way she's seen done in the movies. That's sound logic for doing anything, right?

Her boots, however, still have heels on them — let's not get crazy here — though they're the chunky sort with treads one might actually be able to brave snow with. In her head, she wonders if this is what ninja look like. Except who would know what ninja look like, since no one ever sees ninja. That's kind of the point of—

Oh right. There's a mission happening here, isn't there?

"You know, I know a real easy way we could do this," Odessa utters under her breath, mostly for Eileen's benefit. She already knows the answer to that. And suspects she can visualise the dirty look she's about to receive for even suggesting it, too.

"Why do I feel like we're sitting at the kid's table on Thanksgiving?" Colette asks wryly as she slouches back in her seat, green eyes distantly focused on the snow on the street beyond them. Bundled up in a heavy winter jacket, fur trimmed hood up and her balaclava rolled up to her forehead for the time being, Colette looks less anxious than one might imagine a teenager about to enter a hostile situation like this might be. Looking up into the rear view mirror at Magnes, Colette offers a mildly apologetic smile, still a bit awkward around him after her blow up the other night.

Unclipping her radio from her waist, Colette depresses her walkie's call button and arches her brows. "We can't see much down here because of the snow, but it looks like just two. They're in the lead van… nobody's moved in the back one." Reaching out to take Tasha's binoculars, Colette raises them up and squints, slowly shaking her head. "We've got… I dunno. Two armed, assault rifles. Looks like one driver and no pessenger. Rear van has tinted windows, can't see diddly."

Letting go of the button, Colette hands the walkie back over to Tasha, nodding her head once as she reaches out and slaps a gloved hand reassuringly on the other girl's shoulder. "Tash'," she shifts her focus over to the driver belatedly. "When we drive up, stay cool. Everything'll be alright, Raith and Eileen are backing us up and they're super awesome, everything's gonna' be alright. I— I know this is probably like wicked scary, but," the brunette's nose wrinkles, "I freaked the fuck out the first time i was ever around people shooting. I— I dunno what you did back up north so just… we'll figure it out."

Looking back over her shoulder, Colette squints at Magnes and reaches her hand from Tasha's shoulder to rest on Magnes' knee. "Okay, remember," theyd' been over this enough, but it's a point Colette can't stress enough, "our truck moves in and blocks in the front van, Helena's covers the rear. Magnes you pop out and do your thing, we're playing by like— guessing— stuff… s— so," Colette's dark brows furrow, "The main objective is getting the vaccine out of refrigerator units in the back of the trucks. Don't— hurt anybody too bad, okay? Just… get in and get out."

Turning to look at Tasha, Colette's dark brows furrow. "You stay in the truck, got it? I might have to get out and help Magnes, but just— if they start shootin' get down. Eileen's in charge, if she says go— go. Doesn't matter what else is going on, okay? Once we get the vaccine we're out. You've got the most important job, and that's making sure we all get home safe."

Far down from where the trucks are parked, out front of the collapsed weigh station, the unarmed white vans of the vaccine shipment show no further signs of movement. The security detachment that had been scouting outside of the vehicle have returned to the back doors of the front vehicle, gone up inside and shut the doors behind themselves. The wind picks up again, stirring snow up from the drifts, and everything seems still and silent save for those eddies of snow and ice.

The glance Odessa receives in the rear view mirror doesn't contain a dirty look, and she can be sure of it because Eileen hasn't pulled her balaclava over her face yet. While Colette is reviewing the plan with Magnes and Tasha, the Englishwoman is going over it one more time in her own head. «Varlane,» she says over the radio, «we're going to need you to raise both the vans a few inches off the pavement so they can't go anywhere. Knutson, if we encounter any resistance, you know what to do. Once we're clear, Chesterfield sets the helicopter down and we divide the payload between the trucks and the bird. In an ideal world, we're on the road again in twenty minutes.»

She looks over at Helena in the driver's seat and has no other instructions except: «All right. Let's box them in.»

To be fair, Helena's had hard, flat eyes for Odessa since they started out on this little Deathrace 2000 reenactment, but she hasn't said anything and hasn't evinced any desire not to cooperate, or prevent Odessa from cooperating. With gloved hands on the wheel, Helena mutters only loud enough for Eileen to hear, "Wouldn't Daddy be proud." Yeah, the tone's a bit wry, and understandably so.

The truck wheels spin briefly in the snow, ill-inclined to go anywhere, but only for a moment. Helena grabs the stick shift, moves into reverse, lets the truck gently roll back an inch, and then pushes it into drive again, re-tractioning and able to move forward once more. The delay was mere seconds, and after a few moments, Helena has the truck in position on the road.

"Repaired?" Tasha says, dark eyes flickering to the rearview mirror to Magnes' masked face, before smirking at her comrade in the front seat. "I think the whole mission is the kid's table with the exception of the old guy in the wheelchair in the helicopter," Tasha says wryly — she's used to an older Ferry group in Boston, and it's strange to be with so many people her age or so close to it. A little frightening, too, really, even though she'd never admit to finding their youth anything less than inspiring. "Maybe we're the only ones insane and stupid enough not to stay home," she adds, with a cynical smirk.

As Colette answers Raith's question for her, she relinquishes the binoculars and smiles at the reassuring words of her new friend. "I'll be okay," she promises the other 18 year old, though she might look a touch pale. She stole vaccines recently but in a much more boring and safe way — an unguarded warehouse is mundane compared to this Mission Impossible shit. When she hears Eileen's directive, she nods, putting the truck into gear and heads in to block the first van as Colette instructed.

And like that, everything begins falling into place. «Bring us in closer,» Raith says, briefly switching his headset from the radio to the helicopter's intercom, so that only Cat hears the instruction and they don't run the risk of confusing everyone else, «Easy on the collective, but not too easy. We drop altitude too fast and that's the end of us. Watch out for gusts when we get closer to the ground.» Flying a helicopter is different than flying an airplane because the rotors are constantly changing the airflow over the body, creating pockets of uneven lift that never balance. Whereas many airplanes tend to stay in mostly level flight in the absence of operator input, helicopters tend to crash. «You're doing just fine so far. Keep it up.»

The flying machine moves closer with the request given, the woman piloting it moving hands on the applicable controls. Into the helicopter intercom, for Raith only, Car remarks "«I hear you. Not so worried about gusts on the ground, I believe Helena will think to keep wind away from us when we're on final approach, but my eyes are open.»" A pause there as she looks out at the ground.

"«That's one good thing about snow. Makes the wind visible.»"

«I can't lift two whole vans like that, but I've got this covered.» Magnes confidently says as he slips out of the truck, then flies incredibly low, only a few inches above the snow. He slips beside the first van, holding a hand out close to a tire, altering gravity so it's pushing from every direction. It's that Super Mario block trick, getting something to just stay in one spot, period. He goes around doing it to every tire, on both vans, trying to stay out of sight, then slips back across the snow when he's done, heading for the truck again. «They're not going anywhere.»

Odessa isn't entirely oblivious to the looks she's receiving from Helena, but sher certainly doesn't blame the other woman for them. She did kind of sort of maybe a little bit help to engineer a virus that could have wiped out the world, so she can accept a dirty look or two. Her bad.

When Magnes gets out of his truck to do his thing, Odessa bites back a curse. "What is he-" The other women in the vehicle can't see the way her lips pull into a grimace, but they can see the way her eyes narrow in a wince. "I've got this." Leaning forward again, she holds onto the back of Eileen's seat with her good hand and holds the taped one palm-outward toward their targets. By all outward appearances, it seems as though Magnes has just gotten extremely lucky in not being seen by anyone in either vehicle. Once he's back at the other truck, her hand drops again with a heavy exhale of air. "We're good."

Tasha's not waiting for Magnes to get back, and the second truck is already moving once he bails out. Both trucks kick into action and they're following the rooster-tail of snow that is kicked up behind Magnes' controlled falling that he calls flight. Oversized studded tires wrapped in chains thunder thorugh the snow before hitting pavement, and the vehicles roar down the interstate before turning in to the weigh station. Concentrating on keeping the focus of gravity inward on the tires, he watches as the first black truck comes roaring up and over an embankment of snow, jostling its driver and passenger before pulling up and blocking the front of the lead van.

Helena's truck bursts up over a snowbank afterward, landing down on the pavement with a bounce that nearly sends Odessa into the roof. The tiny blonde driver gives a snap of the wheel and sends the truck spinning like an snapped open switchblade before coming to stop sideways behind the rear van, blocking its back doors shut.

From the air everything seems to be going well, no sign of movement from any of the trucks thanks to Magnes' gravity stick, until the vans are blocked in. The rear doors of the lead van burst open and the first black-clad member of the Stillwater Securities operative inside comes thundering out towards the front truck, assault rifle leveled on the windshield. "Move your vehicle! Move now or we will open fi— " Colette about jumps out of her skin when he starts barking orders, and the teen thows up both of her hands as her pupils jitter and grow to swallow her irises, leaving them a sliver of green. In that instant the Stillwater operative disappears in a dappling of invisibility that brushes from head to toe, leaving him swallowed by darkness in a panicked yelp, though he doesn't blind-fire for fear of hitting the people he's protecting.

A second and third Stillwater Securities agent come out from the back of the lead van, headed around the opposite side from the first. One moves down alongside the rear van, barking orders to Helena's truck. "Move your vehicle now or we will use lethal force!" The third steps around and stays beside the lead van, assault rifle trained up on the front of the truck with Tasha and Colette inside.

While all this is going on, a fourth Stillwater security member steps out of the back of the truck, face covered in a balaclava like the others, but he's not carrying an assault rifle. Even this soldier's pistol is holstered at his waist, and instead he's sliding gloved fingers along a sheathed fixed-blade knife on his vest, thumb hooking thorugh the ring pommel on the end as he slides it out, staying between the two vans, head quirking from one side to the other, like he feels something.

The rear van with its tinted windows remains inactive, no motion can be seen inside and with the back doors blocked, only the sliding side door — which the front van noticably lacks — could be means of departure for anyone but the driver and passenger.

This is Eileen's cue to pull on her balaclava, and although her instinct is to fire two shots through the truck's windshield at the man shouting orders at Helena, she intends to keep her promise to Abigail and use lethal force only if it becomes necessary— which the Stillwater Operatives seem to think it is. «Varlane, hold your position.» There's no time to praise Colette or Tasha for their work, but the fact that she isn't addressing them over the radio is a clear indication that they're doing their jobs and doing them well.

«Knutson, shut the whole thing down. There's too many of them to do this any other way and we can't risk casualties on either side.»

Instinct overrides, as Helena observes the man through the slits of her own ski mask, a hand lifting off the steering wheel to press against the window shield. The sudden, forceful manifestation of her power is easily seen in the flurry of of snow that sweeps against the man sidelong, though momentarily it may not matter given Odessa's ability soon wielded. The atmokinetic's expression is quite calm, for all that the man was shouting at her and guns have likely been trained - between Moab and the delightful hospitality of Humanis First, Helena has become a bit hardened.

As she drove, Tasha pulled on her own black mask. Once the operatives come running at them, her breath catches in her throat and her eyes grow wide — her expression is mostly lost behind black nylon, but the light brown irises express her worry and fear. She glances over at Colette when the other girl squeaks and then makes the man disappear from sight. But when the other aims a gun at their window, she does nothing but squeeze the steering wheel, waiting for directions — like Colette said.

She doesn't know just what the blonde in the other truck can do, but she exhales slightly to hear that Eileen has a plan. She stares at the man outside her window, her heart pounding so loud she feels it might break out of her chest, sure that everyone in the car can hear it. Breathe.

Messy, but in a progressive fashion. This is more or less what Raith was expecting going into this operation. maybe not this messy, sure, but all things considered, this is still pretty good. Come in with overwhelming force, take about the enemy's ability to retaliate, and seize total control of the situation. And thus far, that is exactly what all those kids down on the ground are doing. Somewhere in his heart, the ex-spy feels one of those swelling, fuzzy feelings. Perhaps this is what a proud father might feel like.

Magnes holds his position, which is essentially suddenly increasing his weight and sinking deep into the snow while he watches as all the chaos begins to ensue. No one's telling him to go out and fight, and he's not going to go out and screw with whatever plan they happen to have at the moment.

Odessa is all but crawling between the two front seats to get a better look at what she's dealing with, since Helena's driving just about threw her to the ceiling and then to the floor. A quick sweep of the scene with her eyes is all she needs before she's holding her palm out and everything stops. With her functional hand, she's pointing out the guard with the knife. "He's gotta be Evo. And I'm getting some seriously bad vibes from the van we can't see into."

Stopping this much activity while allowing other activity to continue is still a feat for Odessa, no matter how much she boasts. "Let's do this quickly."

Seriously bad vibes, she says.

The tricky thing about frozen time, is that everything is so still.

Time is a perception of the passage of one moment to the next, and with snow frozen in mid-air like stars in an impossibly white universe. A Stillwater security operative is in mid-air, arms flailing, rifle lost to the air, arms and legs at wild angles from where Helena Dean swept him off his feet — she sometimes has that effect on men. There should be no forward, no backward, no up or down, no movement. But then there is, out of sight of Odessa and Helena, out of sight of everyone except the chopper, that black clad soldier in the vest sliding his knife around in one hand, masked head cocked to the side, one gloved finger raised silently to waggle back and forth in the air as if to say: bad, Odessa, bad.

By the time the knife-wielding security operative moves out from behind cover with fluidic grace and cat-like gait, left hand unholstering his sidearm and raising it in the same motion to five five rounds through the windshield at the lead truck. Bullets shatter the windshield, one buzzing past Eileen's head and punching through the headrest of her seat, exploding the back windshield near Odessa. Bullets lose some momentum and tend to tumble after going thorugh glass, especially 9mm rounds, so the next shot aimed at Helena is likewise an unfortunate miss, the other shots serving more as distraction as they whip past Odessa's reflexively ducking silhouette.

The moment Odessa's concentration breaks however, everything goes sideways in less than five seconds.

The first: The Stillwater security operative that Helena launched thorugh the air lands on his back in the snow, rifle still airborne.

The second: The knife-wielding man with the pistol is gone in a flash of black and a blur, followed by a creaking clomp in the back of the truck and he's suddenly behind Odessa standing in the flat bed of the black truck.

The third: Colette shifts her focus from the man she'd made invisible first to the one threatening Tasha, leaning over towards the drivers' seat to hold out her hand towards him. Her pupils grow dark and wide again, and he disappears.

The fourth: A spinning M-16 that was flung into the air by the man Helena attacked with wind collides with the back of an invisible security agent's head, seeming to bounce off of thin air before flipping end over end and landing in the snow. A body-shaped impression in the snow beside the van comes next.

The fifth: A black-gloved hand reaches into the back of Helena's truck, grabs Odessa by the hair and drags her out of the vehicle, then in a blur of black he's away from the truck and Odessa is thrown down to the ground. "Ain't never met nobody 'oo could slove me down, love." Comes the crisp British accent of the masked soldier, "Sorry s'gonna' be a short meetin'."

Then: The side doors of the rear van burst open followed by an eruption of automatic gunfire in front of the sliding door to clear the way, though thankfully no one was there to be in the path of the gunfire. Out from the side of the van, two men in white plastic suits with black faceplates emerge. Radiological-biological-chemical: RBC; these are the suits worn, the hissing respirators, the men who raided the Ferry. Inside of the van, stacked two high, a pair of matte black plastic cases large enough to be coffins are plugged into a series of monitoring equipment. That van, that van running on vaccine shipment schedules likely does not contain any vaccine at all.

«Sterilize the area.» Comes the crackling orders from the respirator masks of the Institute retrievers in the RBC suits, «No witnesses.» Were the foomp from one of the Institute men's under-barrel grenade launchers actually a grenade Odessa Knutson and her speedster opponent might actually be dead men. But when a metal canister hits the snow and sinks in part way, the ffffssss of yellow gas that hisses out doesn't signal death, but something very close too.

The speedster disappears in a blur of black, winding up ducked behind the lead truck, watching a once-blinded security officer struggling up from the ground where he'd fallen, searching for his rifle in the snow. The gas blossoms out and soon swells to start filling the space between both vans, affecting Odessa first. It's a filmy, stinging, horrible gas that tears up the eyes and leaves an oily residue on flesh. Even without breathing it in, Odessa can feel a low, throbbing headache begin to set in as she's affected by the Institute's negation gas.

Where Magnes is crouching, he can see the knife-wielding speedster and the other security agent who was blinded getting up. He grabs the M-16, goggled countenance lifting up to settle on the truck with Colette and Tasha inside. Colette keeps out hand out, brows tensed, trying to focus on the men she's keeping invisible, but when the gunfire from the rear van kicks in she's not focusing on any of that. "Tasha get down!" Colette screams as leans in front of the driver and grips the steering wheel tightly, a silvery flow of invisibility beginning to spread from everything she touches, and to Tasha, the world just goes black a moment later.

On the outside, Magnes can see the truck's exterior peeling away, blowing like strips of paint on the wind before the entire pickup just disappears from sight, bullets slamming into it from one of the Institute retrievers firing alongside the van as well as the Stillwater officer near Magnes also firing in the same direction, both unable to see their target. A noisy clink-clank-clunk-clink of 5.56 rounds peppering Tasha's truck sounds out, but the damage isn't visible. Another burst of gunfire, plunking and clunking bullets, shattering glass, Colette screaming and everything's dark.

Something warm and wet runs down the side of Tasha's face in the dark

Invisibility fades, light slowly bleeds back in and there's a weight in Tasha's lap. She can hear Colette whimpering, feel something warm on her lap, and as the bullet-riddled truck comes back into view, Colette is laid out on her side across the other teen's lap on her back in a twisted posture, two white plumes of stuffing blown out in the front of her jacket and a bloody mess at her right arm where the sleeve is shredded and down feathers are soaked crimson. Sputtering flickers of color and light erupt like spots in front of a person's eyes erratically, fireworks without sound.

Any notions Eileen might've had about vows made to Abigail disperse around the same time the Ferry's plan does. As Hana said: woosh. This time, Eileen does return fire through the windshield, which no longer has any glass in it to provide an obstacle. A moment later, she's popping the passenger side door open and taking cover behind it as she raises her eyes to the sky and seeks out the shape of the helicopter circling like a great hawk overhead.

«Raith.» No exclamation point required; in spite of its low volume, Eileen's voice is very terse, stretched taut by an undercurrent of urgency that wasn't there before. Even if he and Cat can't hear it from above, the rattle of sporadic gunfire is audible through their headsets and visible as the occasional muzzle flash below. «Oliver and Nichols need cover fire. Now

Booted feet crunch through ice and snow as she emerges around the side of the open door, pistol held out in front of her, and makes a break for the rear van containing no vaccine, coming up alongside the driver's side. «Varlane, let go of the vehicle in the back if you haven't already.»

«I don't think there's anything in there we want anything to do with.» Helena doesn't quite have the heart to pull her gun, but crouching slightly, she moves her snow flurry over Invisiboy, making sure he's coated nice and thick and well, visible. «Everyone cover your ears! In FIVE. FOUR. THREE. TWO. ONE.»


Hopefully the Ferrymen team has had ample warning. Everyone else - and for that matter, most of the windshields - would not be so lucky.

The topsy turvy world of time stopping and things disappearing finally stops being simultaneously too slow and too fast — a paradox that Tasha had never felt so keenly in her life before now, and will wish devoutly never to feel again. As she feels that warm trickle, she knows what it is even before she is thrust back into reality. "Colette," she whispers, instantly pulling the scarf she wears — the same purple and green one from earlier — off her neck to wrap around that damaged arm, looking for any other injuries.

Tasha's eyes are a flood of guilty tears — she knows the other girl was protecting her pushing her down, when she is there to help them. "Dammit," she says, reaching into her jacket for the revolver she carries, in case anyone comes to try to harm them more. "Colette, honey, can you walk? Are you with me?" her voice cracks and she wipes her eyes, blood smearing across cheek.

«Colette's hurt bad… can't see through windshield to drive… what's the plan?» she manages into the radio.

Well, that wasn't supposed to happen. The next sound that Cat hears, once everything goes to hell in a real hurry, and Eileen has spoken into the radio, is Raith's voice: «Don't rock the boat.» Anything she has to say will be lost to him, because he disconnects his own headset- gripping the cable in his teeth- and unfastens his harness before carefully, with some difficulty, and somewhat painfully, climbing out of his chair and, ultimately out of the cockpit and into the back of the chopper. Impossible to miss the sound of Helena Dean going to work, even from a distance and inside the helicopter. A brief crackle sounds in everyone's easy when Raith jacks his headset back in. An instant later, he clips another harness to the wall, securing himself against falling to his death, and throws the side door opened to relative chaos. «Bring us in, Cat.»

Despite having only one good arm, the ex-spy braces the butt on the M1919 machine gun against his chest and yanks back the charging handle, chambering a round off the ammunition belt loaded earlier. «Tasha, there's a pack in the back seat of your truck. Inside is something that looks like a cellphone with clear plastic at both ends. If you can, grab it.» Raith does grabbing of his own, pulling a head-mounted electro-optical monocle off of a nearby hook and pulling it over his head. Vision is his left eye remains normal, but vision in his right is replaced with brilliant white nothingness, a quick button press of which switches nearly everything to black, save for the key details of white spots along the highway. «That's an infrared strobe light.»

She's accustomed to the sudden wall of sound, having been near when Helena brought out that part of her arsenal before. Nothing is said in reply to Eileen's call for fire support, or to Raith's instructions. Cat holds the craft level so as not to rock it and makes approach, bringing them to where the weapon Jensen mans can be applied on the situation below. She scans the ground below, taking in the battle which develops.

"«Negation gas in play!»" That should cover the cloud she's spotted down there.

That's it, it's just too much, and Magnes starts looking from person to person, trying to assess the situation as quickly as humanly possible. «I'm not close enough to release the tires, and I set them to be stuck for fifteen minutes.» is all he says to that, quickly covering his ears and wincing at the thunderclap.

A hand is extended when the loud sonic boom passes, and soon there's another crack, a much quieter, more grotesque one. The speedster's knee bends backward, and the gravitokinetic raises and runs forward from his crouching position, thrusting that stillwater man far to the side with gravity, then snatches the gun from the speedster when he makes it over to him.

"Screw this!" he exclaims, placing a hand against the speedster's back to try and hold him in place and use him as a human shield, then sticks the gun under his arm and starts frantically shooting at the attacking men

Odessa's met very few people she's been unable to stop, and a speedster is definitely new to her. She's shrieking and thrashing about as she's grabbed by what hair sticks out the back of her balaclava and hauled through what remains of the back window of the truck and out into the snow.

And things just go from bad to worse when the canister hits the ground and starts spewing that awful gas. She has enough presence of mind to hold her breath without taking in a huge lungful of air first, but she's quick to discover that that isn't saving her even. She knows the awful feeling of negation. It makes her ache clear down into her bones. Tears running from her eyes and dampening the fabric covering her face, she attempts to scramble away from the terrible yellow cloud.

While she may have had enough wits about her to hold her breath, she didn't parse Helena's warning on the radio quickly enough. The deafening thunder catches her by surprise and her hands come up to her ears just a bit too late. She doesn't even hear the scream that breaks past her own parted lips.

The cinching of that scarf around Colette's arm earns a whine of pain from the young girl, tears streaking down her cheeks and eyes wrenched shut; she never even had time to pull down her mask. Blood darkens the scarf and the brunette has a gloved hand at her chest, breath wheezing and it's clear she's trying to catch it. Thankfully, the exploded front of her jacket where bullets punched thorugh down padding isn't turning red, and the vest she wears saved her life, at the expense of feeling like she was just kicked in the chest twice.

No intelligible noises come from Colette as her hand shakily moves up to clutch over her bleeding arm, green eyes opening and fresh tears rolling down the sides of her face where she lays. "I'm fine, I'm fine— I— I'm fine— " she repeatedly hisses out, though the fact that she's unable to move out of Tasha's lap and trembles with shock is indication that she isn't fine. "I'm okay— I'm okay— I'm okay—" Colette whimperingly repeats, those tiny flashes and pops of light around her flicker-snapping erratically in and out.

When the speedster's legs break from a sudden increase of gravitic forces down on his body and the only sound he can make is a throaty scream as his hands fumble down towards snapped legs. The Stillwater agent sent flying bounces on the icy pavement, skids and comes to a stop some thirty feet away from where the vehicles are parked. Thorugh the windshield, Tasha can see the driver of the lead van cowering for dear life in the front seat.

The man who had been invisible and now was partly buried in the snow by Helena is writhing around on the ground clutching his ears, stunned and deafeted and having been bludgeoned about the head by a flying gun.

The Institute retrievers are both staggered by the blast of sound from the thunderclap, one missing Eileen sneaking past entirely, and another staggering towards the van after her in a dazed state, for a moment the gunfire has stopped, until Magnes opens fire on the white-clad men from the institute.

Unarmored, bullets rip through the lead retriever's RBC suit, blood spraying from perforated plastic and vinyl as he staggers. The retriever's faceplace shatters from another shot as his knees buckle and he goes down, collapsing to the ground with a drooling pool of crimson darkening the snow beneath him.

The rear retriever fires blindly in Magnes' direction, bullets popping up as plumes in the snow all around him, two hitting the body he's using as cover, and four more making it through the body and hitting Magnes in the vest. The force dampens when it goes thorugh the now corpse Magnes is holding, and it doesn't quite knock him off of his feet.

Then, standing in the haze of swirling yellow negation gas, the still standing retriever stays stationary for a moment as Magnes raises his gun to him, and then crackling through the respirator, a voice makes a steady demand of Magnes.

«Turn your gun on your allies.»

He's very persuasive.

Likely the helicopter will see it before anyone else, but eventually, they'll hear it too. The hum of an engine that gradually becomes a roar as a pickup truck comes tearing down the highway as if it didn't know or couldn't see the road block that's occurred out here in the middle of nowhere. More likely, however, it it's speed is because of the road block that's occurred out here in the middle of nowhere, and desires to join the party. If Cat in her infinite wisdom does not recognise the truck as the Remnant's, Raith might, even from his position.

Gabriel can see the billowing yellow smoke, recognises it too, long before be brakes the truck, it's nose veering off into snow before it can reach the weigh station proper. There's a moment when he seems to simply disappear from within the pickup truck—

and Odessa will know it, a sudden stillness as time stops and the sound of the cardoor open and cracking shut fills the silent space of the world gone still, but if Gabriel notices that she's unaffected by this effect, he doesn't show it

— and reappear several feet away from it. The matte black handgun clenched in his left hand isn't as charactertistic of Gabriel by those who know him — unless you were ever Vanguard or were there in Madagascar.

Eileen spurts past the van. Like a bird in flight, she adjusts her course based on a series of swift mental calculations that occur faster than she can consciously process them. She can't use it as a weapon if the wheels are locked, and even if she could, her priorities have shifted in the brief time that's elapsed since the idea first occurred to her. She diverts instead, hooks a gloved hand around the collar of Odessa's jacket and hauls the blonde off the pavement and onto her feet.

She's still feeling the residual effects of Helena's thunderclap in her gut as she wraps an arm around the other woman's waist to steady her and brings her weapon around to address the newest threat—

Which isn't a threat at all. Behind the material of her mask, green eyes grow bright with recognition, then ice over with a steely kind of anger that doesn't require an accompanying scowl for full effect. Her attention shifts from Gabriel to Magnes in the next instant, and her body instinctively tenses against Odessa's. «Varlane, don't—»

Ears ringing and trying to focus on Raith's directions instead of the red blossoms that stain both Colette's and her clothes, the purple and green scarf now just an indeterminate dark where the blood has seeped through, Tasha turns to look over her shoulder for the pack.

To Colette, she murmurs, "You're going to be, I promise," before thinking to tie the loose ends of the scarf around Colette's neck in a kind of makeshift sling. Tasha then pushes the other girl down to the floor of the truck — as gently as possible, her dark brows contorted with worry.

"Get down and try to hold pressure on that with your good hand. I need to find that strobe thing so Raith can find us and get us out…" She doesn't see Gabriel's approach or the man outside with Magnes. Once she pushes Colette to the floorboards, she turns to rummage in the backseat, finding the pack and within it, the device. She turns it on, peering at it in her hand. «Okay, it's on» Tasha murmurs, sliding it onto the dash for now, before reaching for Colette, to add pressure to her wound and to grasp her other hand tightly.

Oh, hell no. Persuaders are just another form of mental mind fuck, Helena has long lost her patience for this sort of thing. For her next trick, Miss Dean will utilize the winds to push the gas back, but with Eileen out of the cab and Colette bleeding, it seems that there is very little Helena can do beyond keeping the gas from her partners in this particular crime. And then…

«Tasha.» Helena's voice comes across the comm, urgent as the truck she's in rumbles to life. «Tasha, I need you to be ready to pick up Eileen and Odessa if I can't make it back around.» What in hell is she doing?

She has to it fast. Has to commit before her target can realize what's happening, make the choice before there's no going back. Helena skids the truck around and then flattens her foot on the accelerator, pressing it to the floor as she zeroes in on the Persuader at a sideways angle from Magnes.

«Okay, now-» Raith's radioed instructions abruptly stop when he sees the new truck, his truck, appear. «Hold onto it. You can't see it blinking, but I can. Someone is there to help. Stay inside the truck unless I tell you otherwise, we are moving in to extract you.» Inside the truck or not, however, Raith keeps the machine gun decisively aimed at the battlefield, just in case he needs to put lead down. He just might, as it appears that Helena is about to try something ill-advised.

Magnes immediately begins running as soon as he sees Gabriel, leaping in a forward flip over Helena's car, then landing on the other side to continue running. He's completely focused after getting the suggestion, completely ignoring the radio as his gun raises and aims at Gabriel. "Allons-y." is all he says, before he completely opens fire, trying to kill him.

It's odd to be caught on the other end of another's suspension of time. It happens so rarely to Odessa. Discombobulated to say the least, she's staring blearily up at the form that steps out of the Remnant vehicle. Her eyes must be deceiving her. Everything seems to move a little slower in a metaphorical way, all abilities aside. "Sylar!" She can barely hear herself shouting his that name.

Odessa's stomach churns a little when the world resumes again and Eileen hauls her to her feet, throwing her arm around the woman's shoulders even as one wraps around her waist. Her boots slip on the ground briefly from her own lack of balance, swiftly countered by the leverage provided. She's gasping in a breath, staring now at Magnes and clinging to Eileen. When Helena decides to gun it, her eyes go really wide. What is— What are— What is happening?

"McGruff knows French?" is all that Odessa manages. There are no words.

«Turn your gun on your f— »

The Institute persuader doesn't get a chance to utilize his power a second time as he is soon flattened by the balck pickup truck peels out, turns and drives head on over him. Smashed into the grill and then rolled over by two of the tires, tangling his body up as he rolls along the ground, faceplate shattering from the impact and helmet denting. An air hoze from his suit comes loose, spraying the air from his rebreather around wildly.

In Tasha's truck, Colette curls her legs up as she's shifted down to the floor, head resting against the hump at the center of the truck near the stick shift, most of her body in the passenger's side footwell. She's whimpering still, jaw clenched and eyes shut, this is the first time in all her injuries she's been shot, it hurts more than the laser at Pinehearst did.

With the persuader down for the count, the lindering effects of his ability still remain in play. Eileen catches in her periphery movement in the snow, one of the downed Stillwater securities operatives shifting around in pain, but not quite getting up. With Magnes barreling at Gabriel though, everything has gone wildly out of control.

This is only exascerbated when in the back of the Institute van, Eileen recognizes something. Those two black plastic containers, roughly the size of coffins, she's seen them before, seen them in the basement of Pinehearst. They resemble the casket like iron lungs that Gabriel had been contained in, similar in their connection to the beds that the pregnant mothers in Madagascar were contained in. On the side, glowing red lettering shines brightly: PR.2NC9-73 Contained, PR.2NC9-74 Contained.

When Helena's truck roars past that van, the vehicle begins to skid on the ice beneath the snow, she rapidly turns the wheel against the skid, hand over hand turning back and forth, but eventually that black truck continues even after she pumps the breaks, momentum driving ot forward to crash head on into a nine foot high snow drift, an explosion of ice particles and snow shoots up into the air and Helena's seatbelt yanks against her chest, keeping her securely locked in place and not through that exploded windshield.

The truck is now buried up to the front tires in the snow, a ratcheting of the stick shift into reverse only results in spinning tires, the steering wheel yanks left and right, no luck. It was a daring maneuver, but this truck's going to need to be towed out of here, or more likely, left behind.

And they still haven't secured the vaccine.

Gabriel's eyes go wide. It is kind of comical, the flat discs of brown surrounded now by white with thick eyebrows angling up into pure increduility, before his mouth sets in a line, something more like exasperation. Too much to think that maybe they got past this point, and as Magnes charges, Gabriel decidedly takes off at a run right at him, even as muzzle flare flashes from the gun pointed with dead certainly. One bullet goes whizzing past his ear, and the next looks like it should rip through his throat and take pieces with it.

It does pass through the throat, but this does not seem to have the desired effect as Gabriel, unscathed, charges up from the snow and onto the asphalt of the weigh station. As far as he's concerned, Magnes can keep firing at him all he likes.

Rather than point his own firearm towards Magnes, he only extends his hand — which might be worse — and a gunshot-like BOOM sounds out through the space. A wall of concussive force slams into the gravity manipulator, enough to send a grown man flying through the air. The same air that's since been cleansed of the choking gas thanks to a weather witch's manipulations. When he hits Magnes, he doesn't stop right there — allows his body to become solid once more as he moves for where Helena has nosedived the car into snow.

The ambient feeling of fear in the immediate vicinity is something of an adrenaline hit when he breathes in deeply, the scent of it stronger than fumes. Gripping onto the tail end of the truck, Gabriel attempts to secure their ride, preternatural strength bunching through his torso, straining his arms, as he goes to tow the truck— and Helena with it— back out by hand with a groan and shriek of metal. Slow going, but effective, and the whole thing shudders once when its back wheels hit the ground.

The coffins in the back of the van are something Eileen can attend to when the air isn't filled with the sound of gunfire, shattering glass and warping metal. The boom created by the Ferry pickup slamming headfirst into the snowdrift is almost as loud as Helena's thunderclap had been at this proximity, but that's nothing compared to the concussive shockwave that Gabriel unleashes on poor Magnes, who should be happy he's wearing a ballistic vest. She turns her head away when he goes sailing past, cheek-to-cheek with Odessa, and squeezes her eyes shut until her hair is no longer blowing around her face.

When her eyes open again, she's releasing her grip on the other woman and easing her back against the side of the van in case she can't remain upright by herself. Her gaze moves between the two Stillwater Security agents on the ground and the driver's side door of the van that's supposed to be carrying the vaccine.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

As she moves away from Odessa, she levels her pistol with the nearest agent's head, pulls the trigger once and then does the same to the next. For whatever reason, the driver is spared similar treatment, and Eileen pulls the door open instead, weapon at the ready. "Get out."

«Okay,» Tasha's vague answer comes after both Helena and Raith deliver instructions for her. She lets go of Colette's free hand to pick up and hold the strobe device. Peering over the dashboard while trying to stay low, except for the hand holding the light, Tasha watches the ongoings with wide eyes while murmuring soft reassurances to Colette — reassurances she has less and less faith in as suddenly Magnes and Gabriel attack one another.

When Eileen shoots the men in front of the truck, Tasha's eyes close and she looks away, down at the floorboard, then she tracks Eileen's motions through the mirrors of the car. «What do you need me to do, Eileen? I can get Colette off with Raith and help you with the van or whatever you need,» she manages, her chin lifting slightly as if to muster her own courage, even as she glances down and gives Colette a crooked smile. "I think we're okay now," she whispers. "We'll get you to someone who can help you."

With the truck freed, Helena backs it up further once Gabriel is out of the way so that her driver side door is on even keel with him. "Hey sailor, need a lift?" Her tone is utterly deadpan though, almost bordering on bitter - but it doesn't seem to be bitterness in his direction. She'll give him a few moments to make up his mind before pulling out so she can trundle back toward the collective. «Eileen, do either of the vans have what we need? Or anything we should take?»

«Well, that cleaned up nicely,» Raith remarks to anyone who cares enough to listen, «Bring us in. Stick to the plan, but load the wounded into the chopper, we'll airlift them out. Tasha, keep holding that strobe, but you can turn it off now. Get Colette out, we'll take her with us.» For now, Raith abandons the machine gun and removes the infrared monocle he's wearing. Time to get out of 'Rambo mode' and into 'Medic mode.'

Magnes easily releases the gun, and quickly yelps when he goes flying from the concussive force. He slams into the ground, sliding across for a few feet, then lays there, groaning in pain and holding his stomach with both hands. He was already very bruised, including his face, and this hurt a hell of a lot more than it normally would have.

Odessa allows herself the comfort of the van at her back a few moments before pushing off and supporting her own weight again. She watches impassively as Eileen dispatches the men on the ground. Not the way she would have done it, but much kinder than the way she would have done it, certainly. Watching Gabriel's display of strength is far more interesting to her, but she can't keep her eyes on him. Too much emotion rolls in her gut and makes her feel sick in ways that are more emotional than physical, and nothing she can begin to understand or explain. She attributes to the stray tear that runs down the curve of her exposed cheekbone to the lingering effects of the negation gas.

The driver of the truck needn't ask a single thing from the masked woman emerging into the van as he pushes the driver's side door open and tumbles out into the snow. Wrapping his arms around himself he staggers a few feet ahead of the van, eyes wide before hunching down in the snow and then scrambling back and running for the partly collapsed weigh station as fast as he can.

Inside Tasha's truck, Colette's swallowing noisily, chest rising and falling painfully and hands trembling. She's still crying, but silently so, and Tasha's reassurance is coming with spluttered agreement of "I-I know, I— I know." She can hear Raith's voice crackling over the radio, and in a way the notion of an evac (and a helicopter ride!!) sounds brilliant at the moment.

"I knew we— were gonna' be okay," Colette breathes out the words, eyes clenched shut and blinking away the tears in her eyes before she looks back up to Tasha. "I was— worried a little, I— I guess." Hearing the noise of the helicopter approaching, Colette closes her eyes and breathes in deeply, exhaling a shuddering breath as she feels snow and ice blown in through the shattered windshield cold on her cheeks.

Reaching up and over herself, the teen grabs for Tasha's hand that had been holding pressure on her wound, squeezing gently with gloved fingers, tongue sliding across her lips slowly as he tries to work the dryness out of her mouth and the taste of bile. Colette mouths something, words, but whatever it is isn't interpreted properly. She knows, though, that's what matters.

This wasn't how it was supposed to go at all.

Having backed up from the truck, Gabriel gives Helena a small slice of a smirk before he's looking over his shoulder to regard the rest of the scene, including a severely downed Magnes with more than just the wind knocked out of him. The sound of men being put down doesn't get a bat of an eye from the serial killer — he instead tips a look up at the descending helicopter, then the scurry of the truck driver. Killing off the loose ends isn't what Gabriel considers to be his job, and so—

Out of all the familiar faces he can spy, he starts off towards the collapsed Magnes, shadow falling across the younger man and looking him up and down. After a second, Gabriel blinks as if clearing his head of some distracted thought, and he offers out his hand to help him up, the other one still loosely gripping his gun, which he nudges into a coat pocket as afterthought.

Raith is giving Tasha the orders that Eileen would have if he hadn't spoken up first, and it's just as well; her attention is split between the driver and her surroundings. She keeps her pistol trained on him as he's rabbiting away, the broad expanse of his back a clear target that she does not open fire on. It's only when he's out of earshot that she addresses her teammates over the radio, then lowers her weapon once he disappears from view.

«No vaccine in the rear,» she tells Helena. «Cargo's more valuable. Knutson, go take a look at what's in those coffins.» She can see from where she's standing that, coffins aside, they won't be leaving the weigh-station empty-handed. The van that the driver just evacuated contains what they came for.

Just not in the abundance they'd hoped.

Exhaling through her nostrils, she peels the balaclava off her face and drops her arm to her midsection, gloved fingers curling at her side. She isn't hurt or bleeding, but physically exerting herself so soon after being shot in the stomach was a mistake that she'll be paying for later. For now, she occupies herself with watching Gabriel's back as he offers Magnes his hand and starts piecing together the snarled words that she's going to have with him in private.

"Stay, I'll come get you from your side," Tasha murmurs, extricating her fingers from Colette's grip and squeezing the other's hand once more before opening her door and hopping out, boots meeting the snowy ground below with a crunch. She holds on to the truck as she runs around it, looking away from the dead bodies in her path like a child looks away from a needle at the doctor's office — if she can't see it, it doesn't exist, right?

The neophyte manages to get to Colette's door and opens it. She grabs the pack from the backseat, shoves the strobe back in it and throws the bag over her shoulder before reaching for Colette's good hand to help her out and to lead her to the helicopter.

"Once I load you, I'm going to help with the vans. I'll see you soon," she promises, leaning forward to hug the other girl, angling her scant frame so that she doesn't press against Colette's injury. "And Colette… Thank you." It wasn't lost on the newcomer that the other girl protected her. She maneuvers carefully to get the injured girl into the aircraft before heading back to help the others.

«More valuable than the vaccine?» Suffice to say, Helena is intrigued, and driving the truck back over to the collective, deigns to put it in park and actually climb out of the vehicle. The road rash of the Institute's persuader is not even looked at, as she moves to join Odessa and Eileen. She wants to see what - or who are in those coffins as well.

One good arm or not, Raith is still on hand to help those that need it into the helicopter. And, whatever this more valuable than vaccine stuff is, he'll happily take that inside as well. Especially if it's more valuable than the vaccine. «Good job, everyone,» he says over the radio, «You all did a good job, today. Mission accomplished.»

"I don't know what happened… and you're still alive?" Magnes sounds as if he's in a great deal of pain, pulling himself up with Gabriel's help and following. "I thought you were alive, and then I learned it was some old man with your abilities. And now you're alive again. I'm confused and in a lot of pain right now… Wait are you gonna date Eileen now?"

On the ground, with the helicopter rotors still turning in much loudness and disturbance of air, Cat turns to watch over her shoulder as people and maybe things are loaded aboard. She's also now starting to process things. "Gabriel Grey is alive too?" she muses, head shaking. "Note to self: no one is actually dead unless I see the body myself, And maybe not even then. Did he actually get shot like they said, or did he illusion it to seem done in?"

Moments later Cat's chased that thought away, mind turning instead to Eileen and her comments. "«What've you found in there? I'm very intrigued by any Institute secrets.»"

Odessa has yet to use her radio except to listen, and she isn't about to start now. Stepping past what's left of the man Helena ran over, she only just goes out of her way to not get bits of him on her boots. She has a sudden craving for cherry cobbler. Where did that even come from?

Climbing up into the van with the coffins in the rear, Odessa turns to look over her shoulder at Helena. "This was a trap," she says in a way that suggests she knows is stating the obvious. "Maybe these are for us?" Though the way the sides read Contained has her sceptical. That they might be empty is wishful thinking. It doesn't take her long to figure out how to open the apparent containment units. She just hopes that doing so isn't going to compromise whatever is inside. Or be detrimental to the health of those around the vehicle.

"Qu'est-ce que c'est?" Odessa muses absently as she peers inside the first of the coffins. Her eyes have that too-wide quality that they always have when something's piqued her interest. That ravenous need to find an answer to a nagging question. It's a look one of the assembled here is very familiar with. What could the Institute possibly have wanted to hide here?

Limping in her awkward steps across the snowy weigh station to the awaiting helicopter situated in the parking lot, Colette's green eyes settle on Gabriel standing with Magnes, and there's — despite the pain she's in — the ghost of a smile spread across her lips as she just nods her head to her one-time mentor; of course they were going to be okay, Colette thinks to herself, Gabriel was there. Blind faith aside, the teen is hoisted into the chopper, one arm cradled to her side in a makeshift sling made out of Tasha's green and blue scarf now mottled with blood.

Colette turns, wincing at the pain against her sternum, then takes a shuffling step over to one of the helicopter's seats and slouches down into it, looking ahead at Cat in the cockpit, then over to Raith apologetically, as if simply because the mission didn't go over with flying colors, and despite Raith's praise, it was a failure. Fleeting though that is, Colette's never satisfied with her results, never satisfied with good enough.

When Odessa gets up into the back of the van with the tinted windows, it takes the blonde a moment to discern exactly what to do with the console of keys situated atop the container. She can see a dark silhouette shaked like a person through the glass on the top of the container, and vital sign monitors displayed on one side, all very advanced, very neatly arranged. Were this van full to capacity, they could likely hold eight of these cases.

Fingers clicking across the keys, Odessa is quick to find a way to disengage the locks on the top case, accompanied by a hiss of pressure when the hermetic seal is broken. Warm air turns into fog when exposed to the cold, and then lid of the top case whirrs open on hydraulic hinges, revealing a woman dressed in a white medical gown tied at the sides, her body willowy and thin, skin pale against the supple black leather of the containment casket's interior. A respirator covers her mouth and nose, IV tubes hooked up to her arms, and Odessa recognizes the tubes of sedative hooked into the lid of the container from her medical days with the Company, the same cocktail used to keep some Level-5 prisoners in a medicated coma.

But with the lid open, the IV's disengage their flow, and slowly, the willowy blonde's eyes flicker open, little more than black pools surrounded by glimpses of white.

She turns, looking to Odessa, lifting one rail thin arm up to reach out for the doctor gently, a flaky white powder sloughing off of her skin when she contacts the air, and doctor Knutson can hear her rasping, half conscious words; "Where are my babies?"

They've found the former Moab prisoner come monster, the Sandman; Maeve Buchanan. But for all the horror that Maeve's rasping voice elicits from her drug-induced state, the still sealed coffin below where Maeve is contained holds something even stranger, a living package that once opened, will reveal a whole new host of questions.

For Jensen Raith, the contents will open up a door to his past he'd thought long since closed…

…and a glimpse of his future.

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