No Deceit in Death


bennet_icon.gif cat_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif patrick_icon.gif ryans3_icon.gif scott_icon.gif serrato_icon.gif susan_icon.gif tien_icon.gif

Scene Title No Deceit in Death
Synopsis One of the Ferrymen's council members turns against the others.
Date November 8, 2010

Staten Island: St. Joseph's Church

Visible through the holes punched out of the church's crumbling ceiling, the sky is still thick with stars by the time the pocket watch in Eileen Ruskin's wool coat strikes five o'clock: the appointed time of an emergency meeting called by Susan Ball that brings the Ferrymen's council under the same roof.

Or most of it. There are faces absent in the misty November gloom; among them, Abigail Beauchamp, David McRae, Grace Matheson and Catherine Chesterfield, who either did not answer their phones or trust their colleagues to make a decision with the network's best interests at heart. The woman who sent word a little less than two hours ago is missing, too, but it's the eighth of November and passage to Staten Island isn't always easy to obtain, especially with the end of the world about to blow in like a storm from the ocean.

Yuan Tien sits at the end of a pew, his large, old hands folded in his lap and his dark eyes focused on the church doors hanging halfway open on the other side of the room. Lamplight from the street outside floods in through the crack, illuminating the church's interior in washed out shades of silver and gray.

When he exhales, he can see his own breath. The same can be said of everyone else in the room.

It has so far been a quiet wait, and the air is so brittle and still that it almost forbids speaking. Say something and more than the silence will be shattered.

Nervous eyes and furrowed brow mark the face of Patrick Hale as he slides into the pew in front of Yuan Tien, giving the elder man a nod and what approximates a smile — a slight tightening of the mouth that doesn't quite turn upward. Patrick's dressed for work; it's not his normal day on duty, but just about every firefighter is "on call" today — just in case.

The battalion chief knows it's not "just in case." The visions, he and everyone in the room know, are not hallucinations but precognitive, and they know too well that they haven't done enough to keep them from happening. The fires willcome. The riots will come. The only thing he can hope is, that like with other disasters such as hurricanes and tornados, the forewarning will help temper the damage done — to city, to Ferry, to lives.

It's going to be a long day.

His green eyes flicker here and there, taking in the others and giving his polite nod of tacit greeting.

Serrato's there, plunked down on a pew, palm rubbing at his jaw in the early morning hour. It took a chunk of time to get here, kissing wife and child goodbye and heading out. Getting to here through means of the Ferry since he's not an individual who gets those passes to get around road blocks and curfews. A thermos filled with hot coffee beside him and some cardboard cups, a parting gift from his wife after the kiss to cheeks and lips, he waits with the rest for the meeting to start, taking note of who's come, and who's not. "So Beauchamp, Matheson and Chesterfield." he rumbles, arms crossed his chest. "Any ETA on when Beauchamp is actually going to do her council duties and show up? ANy word on the other two as well why they couldn't make it?"

"Alright, I'll make sure to voice that," murmurs Scott Harkness into his cell phone before flipping it shut against his chin. Looking to the gathering in this old, decrepit church, the weathered operator of the Hangar looks older today than he ever has before, looks tired with those dark circles beneath his eyes and blodshot quality to them.

"That was Matheson, she's keeping order at the Hangar while I'm here. She called to say she hasn't been able to get in touch with Chesterfield either. I think we're going to have to count her out. Did Ball explain to any of you what we have lined up to discuss this morning?" One of Scott's brows lift slowly as he walks not for one of the many abandoned pews scattered around the church, but a ratty old reclining armchair situated next to a demolished old picture-tube television that looks to have weathered the Great Storm with its chair companion/

Like begets like, and Scott Harkness' storm-weathered body folds down into the chair with a groan of fatigue, one hand rubbing at his forehead to try and inspire some level of awakedness that he can't quite muster on the zero sleep he's had over the last day and a half.

"Its a little last-minute to be making preparations for the broadcast," is Noah's view on things, turning to look over the faces gathered in the room. "Richard has the jammers going into place either yesterday or soon, hopefully they'll be enough to interfere with the transmission if all else has failed." If all else has failed seems to be the running motto of the Ferrymen as of late.

"Scott does raise a good question though, Susan didn't explain anything on the voicemail she left me either." Noah's tired eyes look to Eilen, as if the whisper of wings could tell him any secret he wants to know.

Not too far from the petite form of Eileen, but out of the way, a tall figure stands stoically, face darkened by the brim of his fedora a brown duster hangs around his form, tied loosely shut. He is not a statue by any means, his blue eyes study each member of the council with a hidden interest, but trying not to draw much attention to himself. Not that it is a feasible task by any means, since Benjamin Ryans is the odd man out at this meeting, being neither a member of the council or even one of the Ferrymen. He feels like a black sheep in the middle of a flock of white.

However, just because he isn't one of them, Benjamin wasn't about to turn down a call for assistance from Raith or Eileen.

Today was too important of a day, to hesitate when it comes to helping the very people that have protected him and the ex-agents. Though what he's hearing already had brows furrowing under the hat, tucked down on his head.

Any warmth that Joseph had received from his tea in paper cup on the ferry ride over feels like it's evaporated after the trek to the rundown church that he'd probably enjoy more if it didn't remind him of the blackened bare bones of the one who called his own back in the mainland. If no where quite as ruined. He sits on a pew, keeping to himself, silent and pensive and anxious for the day to unfold and reveal the visions of the future dealt unwillingly by his hand. How many will be self-fulfilling, Joseph doesn't know.

His fingers are laced together like in prayer, but he doesn't call for words now — at least let everyone get here, first, and he's already done in his praying this morning. He's bundled in black woolen jacket and cotton beneath that, jeans, sneakers, no visible signs of a holster or any kind of weaponry on his person. Having been told he's meant to be killing today—

Joseph would really rather not.

"Maybe something new's come up," he suggests, raising his head when he adds his voice to discourse. It's delivered grimly. It probably won't be a good thing.

"She told me that she has information from the Bureau." This from Tien, the eldest council member in the room, his thick black hair gone thin and gray in his old age, though he's shed none of the weight he packed on in his late fifties and early sixties. "And that it might affect our plans to evacuate. She wouldn't say anything more than that."

Bennet watches Eileen. Eileen's bird watches Bennet. It's a starling, fat and glossy brown with a long straw-coloured beak and flecks of what looks like frost on its breast and sleek little wings. When they gather in flocks, it's an impressive display that the rest of the animal kingdom would be hard-pressed to top, but this morning there is only one. Whether or not she says anything to the effect, she's grateful for Ryans' presence, and although she does not anticipate trouble of any kind, today is the one day that none of them can afford to encounter it and be caught off-guard. With Raith performing last minute maintenance on the Remnant's helicopter, courtesy of the Rico Velasquez, there was no one else available except for the man she sometimes shares her bed with, and Ferry matters are the least of his concerns. "When will we know whether or not the jammer succeeds?"

Patrick shakes his head. "Hard to tell, right? Depends how many people would've been affected, which is an unknown quantity, and who knows, some of them might be triggered to do things that aren't immediate, right? I don't think it'd be an instant effect, even if the signal goes through. And I don't think we can block every signal. Radio's tricky that way — even if every known antenna in the area's been jammed, there are hobbyists who built their own — some of them might've gone unnoticed by whoever's putting up the jammers… and some of the jammers mighta been found by whoever's maintaining them by the time the signal goes out."

He sighs, lifting a metal water bottle to his lips to take a swallow, as if the long speech was enough to wear out his softspoken voice.

"affect the evaction in a positive manner or complicate it more than it's already complicated?" Seratto inquires. "And with the Jammer that you are all discussing, will it jam the emergency broadcast system?" It's harmless enough inquiry as he unfolds one arm to pick up his cup and glance towards the entrance, waiting for Susan to magically appear in all her red headed splendor.

"Wonderful," is Noah's biting sentiments to Tien's revelation, pacing like a caged tiger across the church's debris-strewn floor. "Well, at least we're still par for course." It's the closest to sarcasm Noah chooses to offer, and as he turns to look at Scott on hearing the old soldier grumbling, one of his hands adjusts the frames of his wire-rimmed glasses.

"We'd spent weeks on this plan, between Jensen and Ryans' analysis of our evacuation routes, even if she does have actionable intelligence, there's just no time to recoordinate everything on such short notice. Not without losing something in translation along the way." Scott's hand comes up to rake back through his short hair, tongue sliding over the front of his teeth.

"Catch-22 situations like this is one of the reasons why I left the service," and with that frustrated notion, Scott's attention finally lifts over to Tien, as if hoping that was just the bad news and there's still yet something good to be delivered.

"Scott, you're whining." This from Joseph, whom, perhaps, is not one of those that regularly see eye to eye with Scott, and doesn't spare him a little bit of a verbal jab, as softly delivered as it might be. "We're here, now. Let's just sit tight and wait for what she's got for us, or maybe I'll start thinkin' early mornings are why you left the service." That's at least an attempt at good humour, Joseph rolling his shoulders inwards a little as if to relieve the ache in his back from either the cold or whatever labour he's put them under.

His hand wanders up to his crucifixes, but finds them missing, for the twentieth time. He sighs, lapses back into chatter as they wait. Some more. "Not that I can't sympathise — few rough Sundays had me questionin' my service."

The door opens to admit another person. It's a woman who walks through it, one who isn't Susan Ball, features stoic and eyes observant as she looks over those who arrived ahead of her. "Soldiers are out and about, saw a truckload milling around the area of the Rookery," Cat remarks as she slips hands into pockets of a jacket and moves for a seat.

A moment later, after noting the people who are and aren't present, she asks "The person who called us together isn't here yet?"

Eileen's leather gloves creak as she curls her fingers around the grip of her cane. The starling at her collar flicks a quick glance in Ryans' direction, studying his face for a reaction to this piece of news, though the Englishwoman keeps hers carefully guarded. For soldiers to have left the safety of the Reclaimed Zone and come this far north is almost unheard of. The last time there was a military presence in this part of the island, it had been in the days after the raid on the Institute's hospital facility, and even then they had not stayed for long.

Her mouth makes her concern visible, though the rhythm of her breathing does not change.

"No," says Tien. "Did you speak with her on the way over?"

There is a soft chuckle at Joseph's quiet reprimand of Scott — the man is whining. The Ferry Council is one that doesn't always see eye to eye. They've had their moments. Patrick glances up and gives a head shake at Cat's words even as Tien answers vocally. Tipping his hand, he looks down at his watch, time clearly an issue here — he's expected to be on call on Long Island, and travel may be difficult soon, if anyone's making the last minute decision to flee the city before the visions come to pass.

"Catherine," is a smoothly delivered greeting from Mister Bennet as he turns to Cat's arrival. "Nice of you to join us, unfortunately you didn't happen to bring Susan with you." Silent for a moment, he scans the eyes of the gathered council, then answers himself with a shake of his head.

"I'm not sure we can afford to settle in here for much longer," Noah warns, looking towards the shattered stained glass window, still too dark outside for sunlight to even threaten peering thorugh its shattered panes. "If the mulitary has moved up from the reclaimed zone into the Rookery than they're either moving away from something or they smell blood in the water."

"Either way," Noah says with grim certainty, "I don't want to be anywhere near them to find out which is which." That of course, leaves Scott looking from Joseph that he'd been fixing a lopsided grin on, to Noah.

"We can just leave if Susan's intel is this important." Though Scott doesn't want to be the first to say it, there is the consideration that maybe — just maybe — they should vote on how to act here. Or perhaps that's too much beaurocracy.

There is a shift of Ryans head now and then as he scans the surroundings, shoulders tense after of waiting for something, he even glances up at the ceiling a few times. He didn't use to be this paranoid, cautious — yes, but The mention of his own name gets Scott a glance, from the former Company agent. The slight amusement the old man feels isn't expressed, cause best laid plans and all…

If Eileen's bird is watching close enough, then it sees the thinning on his lips and the a straightening of his shoulders at Cat's news.

The concern is enough to prompt, the old man to step closer to the petite woman and her feathered companion, bending down a bit and rumbles a barely audible, "I don't like this, we should go," in her ear. Benjamin, might be paranoid, but what he's heard and the absence of the one that called the meeting, he has a right to be. "Not to step on toes, but how well do you trust this government woman?" Others might hear the question or not, but it's aims strictly at Eileen.

Ryans clearly has a low trust of the government at the moment. Go figure.

"Everyone's got a right to leave, if they don't want to risk themselves," Joseph says, a vote against a vote, in essence. He, himself, is not standing up, not making for the door, having had enough heart to hearts with the more outspoken of the group to trust this government woman. That's all he says, for now, hands linking back together and letting his black gaze crawl along the scenery around them.

"I've not seen Susan, no," Cat replies, her own awareness raising. "What sort of information is she supposed to be sharing with us here?" Her stoic features don't change much, however, except for the raising of a brow in a way some would call Vulcanesque.

"Is there a problem?" a voice wants to know from the front doors. Susan Ball appears in the empty space a moment later, dressed in navy slacks paired with a fashionable white pea coat that contrasts with the dark red hair she wears in a long, straight ponytail behind her. A matching scarf with a floral pattern flutters loosely in the breeze where she's standing, one slender hand braced against the door's frame for support.

She does not step inside. Her blue eyes move between the assembly of familiar faces, and maybe there's something apologetic in them when her gaze passes over Joseph and Scott. Her first question must be largely rhetorical, because she doesn't want for a response before she follows it up with a much softer, "Where are Abigail and Grace?" Then; "David?"

Her appearance cuts short whatever response Eileen might have had for Ryans, but her guard is up rather than down, and this is perhaps more telling than words.

Patrick nods at Joseph's words, and is rising to get to his feet, an apologetic look on his face as he glances at his watch again — clearly he's nervous about being where he needs to be for work — while he's a dedicated Ferryman, there are more innocent lives on the line today if the visions come true than just those of the people in the Ferry's keeping. As a firefighter, he needs to protect his community, which means he needs to be there, and the longer he's here, the odds of being with his battalion are falling.

As he stands he faces Susan, and he shakes his head, starting to sit once more now that the meeting's leader is here. "No problem. Just a little antsy, Sue," he says amiably, nodding her in. "Too short notice for them, I think. Can't get a call out to Abby."

There's the woman of the hour, Seratto lifts a paper cup invitingly to Susan. "Matheson and Beauchamp are no show. Little surprise for the second these days, the first…" The black man shrugs his shoulders. "We're waiting for you to come in and let us know what needs to change about the evacuation. Having issues getting onto the island?" He graces the woman with a friendly smile. "Chesterfield said there's soldiers milling about in the rookery. You didn't get seen did you?" Not that he's questioning her skills at getting around Staten. They're all here afterall. If they could make it, so could she.

Noah immediately relaxes when Susan comes into view. "It's good to know you made it here alright," Bennet offers, treading across the church floor with scuffing footfalls that disturb the debris as he walks, moving to come up on Susan, looking askance to Eileen and then Cat. "We were just discussing getting out of the Rookery, Serrato's concerns are valid and anything you need to relay to us we should be able to do on the move."

Looking over to Scott, Noah narrows his eyes, affording his back to Susan as he considers the church "We could head down to Beech Street, it's not far southwest from here, I don't think any major roads pass by what's left of it. It's not exactly happy territory to retread, but it might be a good place ot regroup and continue the meeting on safer footing."

At the entrance of Susan, Ryans straightens, stopping himself from reaching into the duster for one of the glocks, tucked under his arms. He's on edge. Even as his hand drops to his side again, he is far from relaxing and for the moment stays standing near Eileen, like some giant sentinel. Eyes narrow at the red head at the door, studying her with caution and suspicion, but his face is schooled into that neutral mask.

A glance goes up to the holes in the roof again, head tilting a little as if Ben's listening for something, through the conversation.

At the mention of leaving the church and moving to another location by Bennet, that gets an approving glance from Ryans. For him, sitting in place with soldiers milling about seems like a mixture for disaster. He doesn't say that out loud, he doesn't feel it's his place to point out the obvious. He does let a bit of worry furrow his brow as he glances at the bird on Eileen's shoulder, instead of the woman herself.

Resignation settles over Susan's face like a dropped stage curtain, and the dust it kicks up is still in the process of clearing as the doors yawn open the rest of the way, filling the church with the sound of shuddering wood and rusted hinges. What's on the other side isn't immediately visible, but it will not take a great effort of deduction for Ryans or the other council members to guess when she says nothing at all in response and the first can of negation gas goes bouncing across the church's concrete floor, trailing a thickening plume of foul yellow smoke behind it that rapidly expands in the crisp morning air.

Shards of broken glass spray outward as two more explode through two stained-glass windows — or what's left of them — and begin to fill the church with choking fumes with a chemical makeup specially designed to incapacitate those with the Suresh Linkage Complex.

Much later, it will occur to Eileen that there was nothing she could have done to warn them. Outside, the last thing she sees through the eyes of the remaining starlings clustered on the highest point of the church's roof is a cloak of invisibility drop, a platoon of soldiers at Susan Ball's back, and the shadow of someone in Horizon Combat Armor emerge from behind a chain-link fence.

The redhead's silhouette disappears in the swirling yellow haze. A moment later, the first shots ring out and a volley of bullets fling Tien off his seat on the pew.

This isn't an arrest. It's an execution.

Stumbling off the pew, Patrick throws his arms up to cover his head and face, to protect it from the slivers of colored glass. But at the first of hint the gas, he flings out an arm as he attempts to use his ability, to send a rush of wind in the direction of the now-hollowed-out windows, to push the choking fumes back out of this church.

Even as he does so, the medic training in him as him crouching over Tien, trying to staunch the bleeding while ducking his head and trying to protect himself.

Seratto's bolting the moment a canister is seen bouncing in, a split second hearing and seeing it. On his feet with an accusatory look towards Susan before he's heading for a window or some other opening to get out of the church when bullets fly. He's got no ability for the smoke to negate, save to obscure his vision as he's fleeing. He's got a wife, a child, and he's not got an urge to leave either any time soon.

When the gunfire starts, when Susan's platoon opens with their first barrage there is one man with his back to the door between them and the rest of the Ferrymen network. Gunfire pops and cracks loudly, blood blossoms in a plume at Noah Bennet's chest as he jerks forward, glasses flying off of his face. He spins from the force of the impact, another bullet punching into his right arm and exiting out somewhere near his wrist. The last shot hits him square in the thigh, tearing thorugh muscle and bone and darkening his camel-colored suit a candy apple red. By the time he's hit the ground, Noah lays on his back, glasses tossed off of his face an lost on the floor amidst the others in the swirling cloud of gas.

Blue and white lights flicker ineffectually inf ront of Scott Harkness' hands, an attempt to reach into his pocket dimension cut away by the negation of his ability. Severed from his storehouse of munitions, medical supplies, even so much as a //bludgeon'' by which to take out Susan Ball's teeth with, he is wholly and completely unarmed.

Scott's reliance on his ability for everything has left him woefully unprepared for this treachery and ambush. When he hits the floor, however, it's because no amoutn of negation gas can take away his reflexes and training. Crawling on his stomach over to where Noah lays, Scott tries to minimize his silhouette as much as he can, curling fingers around Bennet's jacket collar and dragging him behind one of the pews, leaving a dark red streak in his wake on the floor.

Shit! There is no time to really vocalize it, Ryans is too shocked. It's training and instinct that finds one of the glocks in his hand, even as he grabs Eileen to pull her behind him, shouting. "Cover, everyone! Quick!" With the yellow haze he can only for the moment, fire blinding in return at the door as he backs up for a place to duck behind.

His grip on Eileen loosens so that he can tug open the tie of his duster, to let him get to the stocked vest under it. He fishes a long cylindrical grenade out of one of the pockets, Benjamin came prepared. "What other way out is there?" He asks Eileen.

Tip of his trigger finger curls into the pin, as Benjamin turns his head a little, head tipping back some, "Get ready to move them! And do it quick." It shouldn't be too hard to hear the deep voiced man. He wishes he could give them more time, to prepare to move, but with hope… this is enough.

"Down!" Hopefully, the council members listen, cause after a glance at Eileen, Ryans rises from where he's crouched, pulling the pin on a flash bang grenade and letting it slide off his finger, as he sends the conister itself sailing towards the door.

Joseph's hand bunches in the fabric of Bennet's other shoulder of his jacket, helping haul the broad shouldered, freakishly tall Councilmember out of danger. This, after standing in shock, and then flinging himself downwards as the bullets began battering through the church. Still moving through this a little like it's a hallucination, but at least he has enough practice with them to be effective.

A hand goes back to where, on the rare days he is armed, a pistol might be. Comes up with nothing, as blind and listless as he when he wanders fingertips for his pendants since after giving them to Kaylee. Head down and knees aching from where they'd hit the ground, he's frozen a little like prey once he's helped Noah get cover, shocking ringing black-brown irises and still.

She's on the move before the bullets start to fly, getting toward the floor to avoid rising smoke and taking advantage of Patrick's wind cover when it arrives. Staying out of contact from that chemical is a priority, Cat won't be much good to anyone including herself if she goes under. Crawling across the floor when the gunfire begins, she's moving toward the most accessible exit point with no weapons at hand.

Patrick's ability cuts a swath through the gas, revealing to those still left standing an olive green truck draped in camouflage netting and at least half a dozen men in uniform, not one of them dressed in the biohazard suits of the Institute's handlers — only masks to protect their noses and mouths from the noxious chemicals. When it blows back on them, eyes water and squint partway shut, and a greasy film develops on their exposed skin where the gas comes into contact with it, but that is all.

The soldiers have no abilities to negate, and the Frontline officer who shielded them from Eileen's view is standing well away, rifle at the ready should it become necessary. When Serrato shows them his back, his clothes and skin are flayed from his spine by the gunfire, and he goes down hard, halfway to the nearest window, pieces of brightly-coloured glass still raining down. The shards gather in his hair and glitter on the floor around him, suffused with red.

On the floor, Tien clutches feebly at Patrick's shirt, not enough strength to keep their grip. A warning bubbles out of his open mouth along with all the blood, but it ultimately goes unheard. A stray bullet rips through the younger man's skull, snapping his head to the side.

That he's a fireman does not matter. That he and Serrato are respected members of their local communities does not matter. Catherine's social status and Scott's service records do not offer them any protection, either, and if Abigail was here her participation in Operation Apollo would similarly amount to nothing.

Ryans' flashbang, on the other hand—

A sudden onslaught of light and sound combine with the gas to fill the church and leave the soldiers outside reeling long enough for the survivors of the initial bombardment to get their bearings, or try to. Eileen is in no condition to tell Ryans which other way is out, if another exit even exists at all. They may have to make one; Susan chose the perfect location to stage her ambush.

She twists fistfuls of Ryans' jacket between her fingers and heaves wet coughs into his chest, shielding her face from the door even though the flash part of the flashbang will have no effect on her. She's blind, and the chemicals in the air are wreaking havoc on her asthma.

Toward the back of the church, a few meters away from where Joseph and Scott have hauled Bennet to cover, Cat will find that the air is slightly colder where a metal grate covers a narrow opening in the floor. It's an old building, and the older the building, the more likely it is to have architectural quirks like these. The opening beneath it is dark, but not so dark that she can't make out the steps of a rickety access ladder leading down.

The continued barrage of gunfire, the loud report of the flashbang and the confusion caused by the smoke and the sudden sights of blood everywhere instills a certain sense of disorientation in Scott Harkness. As he and Joseph are struggling to drag Noah out of the line of fire, Scott does not see what Cat does, does not see the back door escape, all he sees are crumbling walls marred by graffiti and now pockmarked by bullet impacts. Head down and pinned between two pews right beside Joseph, all Scott can do is try to find the worst of Noah's injuries and apply pressure.

That, and while he may not be the sort, pray for a miracle.

Maybe God will think it's Joseph, and cut everyone a break.

Head ducking down and eyes screwing shut as the grenade goes off, Ryans wraps an arm around Eileen's shoulders as if to protect her. Once his ears are ringing from it, he takes that moment to move. "Come on…" He rumbles out in that calm tone, hauling his burden to her feet and moving away from cover while the soldiers are blinded, making sure to keep himself between Eileen and the danger. He takes advantage of their disorientation, shooting a few rounds through the door as he moves towards Cat and the others, dragging the tiny, blind woman with him.

"Goddamn rats in a trap." Benjamin snaps out frustration, as he ducks behind cover again, with Eileen held close so that if she trips they don't go down.

Again, his hold loosens on the woman he's guarding, the current magazine sliding out of the gun to clatter noisily on the tiled floor, his free hand liberating another from his vest so that he can slam it home. He doesn't look the direction of the men working on Noah, but he still asks, "How's Bennet?", as he racks the slide and moves to start attempting to take shots again.

All he can really do is keep taking those shots at the soldiers, while the others find a way out. He's got a few more items tucked away, but best to save those for the retreat. At this point, Benjamin Ryans is even pondering that whole praying thing. The need it.

Joseph is prepared to run. He's prepared, even, to drag Noah along with him, with or without the help of Harkness, so long as he knows where to go, and that right now is nowhere. He isn't a soldier, isn't a doctor, just the pastor— ex-pastor, even— who guides them through prayer at the endings of their meetings, makes plans about education the children and scouting out locations, going over curriculums and seeing what books they can stock up on while the others make hard decisions.

He doesn't stammer out tell me what to do. Just waits for it to happen, his hands taking on a tremor. The most deadly thing on him right now is a set of keys.

"Three," he manages to croak out, when he registers Ryans' voice. "Three gun sh— shots."

She has to move, it won't be long before gas closes in and she forgets several years aside from bits and pieces acquired during other stretches of negation Cat's experienced. Flash-bang provides a measure of disorientation, but she presses on toward that grate and the opening where cool air emerges. Eyes find the access ladder and she starts down it, choosing to slap the floor sharply with a palm three times before her head ducks out of view.

The goal is to draw attention of fellow Councillors without at the same time alerting soldiers or the FBI bitch of an escape hatch.

One of Ryans' shots takes off a chunk of doorframe. The other hits something — or someone — with enough force to produce a pained exhalation of breath on the other side of the church.

The soldiers are wearing body armour. The same cannot be said of anyone on the Ferry's side, with the exception of the man defending them. Eileen's breathing has gone shallow, her back to Ryans' chest now as she leans against him for support. Joseph's voice lets her know that he's still alive, as is the person whose hand cracks against the cement. Even though she can't see, her dark head turns instinctively in the direction of the sound, and she braces her hand against the outside of Ryans' thigh. "Gun Hill," she mutters thickly, breathless. "Delia—"

Because unless she can see, she can't do a damn thing for Bennet, with or without equipment.

Looping an arm around one of Bennet's, Scott hoists the bleeding Ferryman council member up off of the floor and begins dragging him back during a lull in the gunfire, towards Ryans' position. Joseph's assistance is the only way that the pair can move Noah's heavy form without being slowed down enough to become a sitting duck. Pinned down as they are, Scott takes the opportunity to relieve Ryans of a glock, not bothering to check the magazine in trust of the former agent's foresight, chambering a round and blindly firing towards the incoming attackers.

Scott Harkness may have a tennant about not engaging in combat members of the US military, but right now he isn't sure what is attacking him, save that they are not operating under the rules of lawful engagement. It's enough moral leeway to press the issue with jacketed rounds.

Firing past Ryans, Scott waves Joseph over and with the motion of a hand directs the pastor towards the hatch in the floor beneath the grating. Moving an unconscious man down a vertical shaft is going to be a chore.

Six rounds left in the magazine, one in the chamber. Scott nods to Ryans, then jerks out a gun from his underarm holster and slides it across the floor towards Cat, trying to even the odds enough to—

Blood puffs up in the air as Scott whips around, gun dropped to the floor and hand clutching his shoulder where blood pulses between his fingers. A howl escapes him, and as Scott wrenches his eyes shut, he's sitting up on his side and crawling across the floor towards the hatch opening.

"Gone." Is the grim news he has to tell Eileen, even as he duck behind the cover and glances towards the sound of Cat's hand on the ground. "She up and left no word." His voice gruff near her ear like that, the stress of that revelation straining the tone. "Took all her personal stuff and… gone. Trying to save me." Ben's gaze turns towards where Noah lays on the floor, the worry for his long time colleague, cracking the edges of his mask.

While Scott takes up some of the slack, the ex-company agent, shifts Eileen enough to put her in line for the grate. His voice continues to be calm, it's natural for him. "This won't be easy, but straight ahead is a way down, stay low, move carefully. We'll —"

Then Scott goes down, Ryans head jerks that way, "Scott! Dammit. Sumter!" He snaps to get the pastor's attention and motions him towards the grate with his gun. "Go… Help get Bennet down there." Then he doesn't shove Eileen, but gives a small push in the way of the grate. "Cat! — " That's right he said her nick name for once " — help them!" Then another clip hits the ground and another replaces it and he starts firing again, as he starts to cover their escape again, His free hand is already checking pockets for one of his grenades, getting ready to buy some time.

Joseph winces when the other man takes a hit, dipping lower to the ground and freezing once more until Ryans' voice snaps him out of it. Anger at himself for needing that order barked at him is his primary motivation, crawling for the opening in the ground with an arm hooked around Noah's uninjured one, other hand gripping jacket and making that inch by inch drag for the opening. Glancing over everything in assessment, he looks to Catherine.

Scott got shot just to get outta this part, didn't he?

But he remembers, too, people cutting him down from a noose, the staggering rescue from the Refrain facility, and Joseph is determined not to be completely useless as he moves for the opening in the floor. "Bennet, still with us? Darnit— Cat, how we doin' this?"

Her head remains above the grate opening after slapping the floor just long enough to bring a hand back out and catch the weapon slid to her, which she tucks into a jacket pocket. Then, even as Joseph is asking her a question, she descends the ladder and vanishes from sight.

Some seconds later, her head pokes back out and she gestures toward Joseph to come there. Calling out is eschewed, it's her hope not to be heard by the soldiers and discovered in this endeavor. Should the Pastor oblige, she will quietly advise he come to the bottom with her, then they both can help Ryans lower the wounded.

And she hopes, really hopes, this doesn't turn out like one safehouse battle when Danko's neanderthals found the escape tunnel and attacked through that too.

At the grate, Eileen rolls over onto her back on the floor and reaches into the front of her coat, gloved fingers closing around the grip of the pistol she keeps holstered there. It will do her little good in this situation, but the gas swirling by the front doors, in the church's rotten rafters and rolling across the floor toward them at a steady creep provides Scott and Ryans with a limited visibility as well.

Her chances of hitting something aren't much worse, provided she aims in the right direction. As the effects of Ryans' flashbang wear off, another hail of bullets rains down wooden splinters, more broken glass and small chunks of brick and broken stone down onto their heads. Miraculously, the only casualties of this volley are the pews and the church's last intact window. Somewhere in the wreckage, the twisted remains of Eileen's starling, one wing blown clean off its body by the gunfire, flutters faintly in the breeze blowing in through the open doors.

The same breeze pushing the negation gas toward the grate, and toward Cat who has less than a minute before it consumes her.

Eileen raises her pistol and squeezes off several shots in quick succession in the direction of the gunfire with one hand, the other splaying fingers against the wall behind her, which acts as an anchor and provides her with a spatial point of reference. "Bennet first," is hissed out through her teeth, and it's for Joseph's benefit rather than Cat's for he is the one who asked.

Cradling the arm of his clipped shoulder to himself, Scott picks up his lost gun again, staying sitting up on his hip, hand raised, firing blind with his last five shots over the pews with the borrowed Glock to let the others start moving Noah's bulet-riddled frame towards the hole. At query, Noah has no response, his eyes partway lidded and lips parted, bewathing shallowly but having lost a lot of blood already. There's only so many places they're going to be able to take him.

With the last rounds fired, Scott slouches back onto his elbow, pulling himself across the floor towards the access hole, ready to descend as fast as he can with one good arm. At least — for his sake — it isn't a very long drop down to the bottom should he fall.

"Move it… I'm running low." Ryans growls out, starting to worry they are not going to have the time. Eyes going to the magazines laying on the floor. A few are snatched up and tucks in a pocket, "Hesitate much longer and he'll be dead anyway."


Ramming home one of a dwindling supply of magazines, Benjamin waits for another lull in the hail of bullets to send off a few more of his puny shots, bits of wood rest on the brim of his fedora, the fibers of the old hat keep them in place when he hazards another glance at the door, a shot or two more following before he ducks again.

Fortunately, there is nothing that Joseph is doing that suggests he isn't moving it. Levering himself down the ladder after Cat, he remains a foot or so up from the ground to make the transaction easier— secretly glad to be away from all the gunfire— and waits for someone to start, you know. Dragging Noah down the opening.

No one is. Everyone is shooting. Which is real manly and all but—

Hissing a curse, Joseph's arm springs out the opening, gropes around, grips Noah's ankle, and drags the man after him, sweeping in the second leg before he grips onto belt at his hip and tugs the rest of the way. What comes next is reasonably graceless, Joseph hooking an arm around Bennet's torso with his other hand practically taking the weight of both men. He's wearing a whole lot of Noah's blood by the time it's done, like some skind of initiation ritual.


It wasn't supposed to be this way. The idea was Joseph coming to the bottom so they can both help Ryans lower the wounded, but suddenly Sumter is descending with Bennet by himself. She reaches up to take the man's legs and work to ease him down into the tunnel. "What's going on up there?" she asks quietly. "I hope they don't figure out what we're up to. We need someone to check this passage out, too, see what's at the exit. I've seen escapes blocked before when attackers find the passage and come at us through it too."

A glance will tell the ex-Company man that everyone is about down the ladder. Good. The glock is tucked away in it's holster, with a finality, Ryans won't be able to use it on the way down, he'll be trying to get down there as fast as he can.

However, before he does.

"Time for a parting gift." Ryans says softly to no one at all, fingers pluck out a regular hand grenade from one of the pouches of the vest. This won't blind, but it'll hurt and force them to go for cover. It should also give them precious seconds to get away.

It's with a yank of the pin, that Benjamin Ryans leans out long enough to throw that grenade at the doorway, a small smile on his lips. He doesn't even wait to see where it lands or listen to the clatter of it hitting the ground and rolling to a stop. He's already hurrying to the ladder, with a quickness he probably wouldn't have if he was still the proper age physically.

Between Cat and Joseph, Noah's body reaches the bottom of the shaft. Scott, too, arrives at the bottom safely, his feet sloshing through several inches of stagnant water washed down the opening the last time that it rained. Topside, shapes begin to emerge through the mist and booted feet crackle over debris as the soldiers enter the church, advancing on the grate's location a few paces behind the gas. That it limits their ability to see as much as it hinders their targets is the only thing that's going to save the council.

One of them stops at Serrato's corpse to check for a pulse, another where Patrick and Tien have fallen. The younger man is pushed off the other with the toe of a boot, and two shots fired directly into Tien's chest followed by one to the head for good measure.

Eileen is the last of the council members down the opening with Ryans close behind.

The sound of the grate banging shut should tip the soldiers off to their location, but this is masked by the subsequent explosion that rocks the church and brings the roof down to cover both their escape route and the glistening trail of blood that would have lead them straight to it.

What is at the end of the tunnel is a question that the soldiers' superiors won't be asking until the site has been excavated and the remaining bodies thoroughly searched for in the rosy morning late, and by then— the survivors will already know the answer.

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