Operation Goliath, Part III


alia_icon.gif bennet_icon.gif cat_icon.gif claude_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

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Scene Title Operation Goliath, Part III
Synopsis Rebel's team on a mission to destroy the Institute's tracking satellite reaches their objective in Xichang, and the ground assault team moves to take Mission Control.
Date October 13, 2010

The noise of the truck's engine reverberates through the metal walls of the back of the lightless box truck. Tires squeal and gunfire is already pop-pop-popping, punching holes thorugh the sheet metal walls, tracking lances of sunlight in their wake. As the box-truck skids to a stop the back end fishtails out, and with one booted foot Noah Bennet kicks the back doors open, AR-15 assault rifle braced against his shoulder, immediately firing a burst out into the open air.

"Go, go, go!" Muzzle flash lights up the back of the truck as a brown-uniform clad soldier flies backwards from the burst of gunfire, arms windmilling before he hits the ground. Brows furrowed and rifle leveled to one shoulder, Bennet steps out of the back of the truck, sweeping his sights around the concrete lot of the space center, then turns to look up at the looming shadow of massive scaffolding containing an impossible large rocket, upon which a white shuttle craft is attached.

"Take the others, go!" Bennet shouts back to the man driving the truck, one whom hasn't bothered to even introduce himself to the team, visible only in the large side-view mirrors as a bearded man in a olive-drab baseball cap. Waving to Alia, Catherine and Huruma, Bennet turns towards the glass-walled structure of the command center, "Let's go!"

Do or die time.

Xichang Space Center

People's Republic of China

Huruma, head to toe in whatever body armor that she could find to fit, she descends with a small jump from the back of the truck, a seemingly seven foot wall of assorted pieces of urban mail. She ventures immediately to join Bennet at the fore of the group. If the slowly rolling field of bred fear ahead of her, the appearance in the armor, and the presence of several weapons on her weren't enough to set a soldier to tilt- the large, matte black gun that she carries positioned against her, ready to fire- that certainly will.

Huruma is no more than a few paces ahead of Bennet when she fires the barrel-fed shotgun at the first brown uniform to draw his pistol from its holster. It's not a BLAM!, it's more like a-

BOOM! The sound of a small cannon erupts from the automatic shotgun in Huruma's hands. Her aim is true, and the fragmented round that barrels ahead hits chest- the soldier's back all but goes up in a red mist. The shrapnel from the round's blast radius hits those men who are coming outside after him, soldiers or not.

Alia moves along behind Huruma, a small handgun in her grip, body armor over her sweater, sunglasses on, shoes tied, and in order… her senses are already reaching to find the security system's outer reaches, where she might be able to start disabling some of the automated calls for help at least, and buy them some more time.

Emerging behind Huruma, clad in black with body armor and face covered by a cloth mask as she tends to be for these occasions, with a helmet added to the mix on this one, Cat has an M16 rifle at the ready to fire on anyone seen in need of such treatment. It's a simple enough criteria, to define that need: If they're still standing and using or reaching for weapons after Huruma's blast, they're in need. And they definitely get it.

The explosive discharge of Huruma's AA-12 automatic shotgun is perhaps one of the most terrifying sounds heard across the Xichang Space Center. In the bright and hot sun beating down from overhead, the fact that this concrete platform is situated in the middle of forested mountains is a scenic but ultimately secondary backdrop to the more immediate danger of screaming Chinesre military caught with their pants around their ankles by a surprise attack well inside their borders.

The eight story Launch Command building is largely concrete, horizontal windows create a dark banding of tinted glass around each floor, and the entirety of the entrance side of the ground floor is— was— made of that same darkly tinted glass, except that the shotgun fire from Huruma has been blowing reinforced chunks out of the windows, white-spiderweb and plastic mesh mess sagging limply where once there was a window.

Soldiers that were pouring out from the front doors are cut down like saplings by a chainsaw, shredded apart messily by the gunfire. Staying behind Huruma, Bennet levels his AR-15 up and peers thorugh the dot-sight scope across the long divide of concrete tarmac to where a looming tower of gray-painted steel rises up like some sort of Jenga-block scaffolding around a black and white rocket towering ten stories tall, a space shuttle looking no different from a standard NASA design attached to the main rocket fuselage, boosters on either side.

Beneath the launch platform, a white box-truck has skidded to a stop, a trail of bodies in its wake. "They're on target, okay let's get insi— "

A sudden snap cracks through the air, followed by the sounds of shouting and gunfire coming from around the corner of the building's far side where five Chinese soldiers emerge, beyond where Huruma's emanation of fear is radiating panic and terror like a tidal-wave. There, Chinese soldiers drop to a knee, launching a volley of automatic gunfire back towards Bennet's team. Cat is able to drop two of them the moment they pop into view, having been sweeping for things that Huruma was not turning into a fine red mist. Three still stand to return fire.

The snap is from what is caught in the crossfire as a well-dressed man with short, chocolate brown hair in a buttoned-up black suit has a bottle of beer shattered out of his hand by gunfire. "Holy shit," is the feverish scream of Elias DeLuca as he wheels around, spotting— Chinese Military— staring him down. DeLuca is not alone though in his arrival, for all that his plea of "This is where the GPS said! This is where the GPS said!" It's sort've like an apology, even if not quite. It may not be the most comforting thing to Flint Deckard upon being dropped into the direct middle of an ongoing firefight.

Rigidly upright in a dove grey suit a few elegant shades lighter than the tarmac, Flint Deckard is freshly showered and clean-shaven, grizzled hair bristled into deliberate disorder short against his skull. The long slope of his jaw seems narrow without scruff; the stark cut of his cheekbones more artistically drawn than guant. There are circles around his eyes that make him look hungover. The rest of him looks kind of like a Company Agent. Standing in the middle of a firefight on a cement platter. Bewildered and a little put out.

"Okay," he tells Elias, "I might've gotten the time wrong."

A bullet skips off the pavement nearby like a cricket, and after a beat of further consideration, Flint reaches to unholster a grey semi-automatic out from under his jacket and sidesteps into the start of a run for the invading — force. That's already invading. "Thanks mom!"

Confident in Cat's ability to cover her with Bennet, the African motions for Alia to follow her the rest of the way inside. Huruma can sense the ripple in her field as she takes momentary cover in the already decimated front door of the command center. She allows herself only this time to recoil from the sheer noise made by the machine in her arms. It is no wonder that every bird within the launch center's range has decided to take wing, speckling the sky like a splash of diluted ink.

Taking up an immediate point at the window, Huruma onloads a few rounds towards the soldiers with automatic rifles.

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, yet again, in quick succession, the flashes of the exploding rounds literally digging craters if they should hit the concrete.

She doesn't wait to see if anything hits them; her primary concern is getting Alia inside without getting her brains on the wall, and anyone coming down the entryway is blown over by a devastatingly fiery wind. Incidentally, despite a thirty-two round barrel, and backup belted away in her pack, she seems to be saving ammo.

Maybe she found a date to take home. She's already buying him dinner.

Alia keeps alert as she can, even as she follows behind the MUCH taller Huruma. Her own skills are being put to work, and to the test, as she quickly disables any electronic security that comes within her radius of effect, and as an afterthought, scrambles up the computer network as best she can without overtaxing herself.

Picking off what Huruma doesn't get continues as Cat makes her way along with the group, also providing shelter for Alia versus return fire that might come their way before she can disable security and get them into the building. Whether or not she spots either Elias or Deckard doesn't seem to matter in all of this.

She simply hopes they don't get in the way of Huruma's gun, and quietly fumes that not everyone in this thing covered their faces like they should have.

Crouched down in the middle of the concrete courtyard, Elisa DeLuca was fairly certain that he'd put his days of being in the middle of foreign firefights behind himself. Reflexively reaching inside of his jacket, he withdraws the sleek and small handgun contained in his underarm holster, then looks around to spot Flint moving to join the others. "Jesus Christ," Elias curses as he looks up to the shuttle launch platform and the firefight moving towards the elevator at the bottom.

"Flint," is shot back over his shoulder, "24-hours, then I'm coming back, Lady's Orders." That Elias DeLuca could help with whatever insanity is going on here is undoubtable, but when you're retired from this life, you're retired from this life. Ram's Head does not have nearly as many firefights and he's pretty sure you can't get a Pastrami melt in Communist China.

Like an edit from a shoddy student reel, Elias disappears from sight, just as a bullet traces a path through the air where he was, skipping off of the concrete and buzzing pastr Alia's right ear. The shot looks to have been an errant round from over by the launch platform, since local gunfire has stopped entirely.

In the lobby of the command center, two horseshoe shaped desks rest on opposite ends of the tiled floor beneath the glow of now flickering fluorescent lights and tiled drop ceiling. Stairwell access' to the left and right likely lead up, and it's on the top floor of the eight-story building where Mission Control can be found.

Huruma can sense people hiding in the lobby, terrified people likely cowering where she can feel them behind the desks. Up above, there's anger and confusion coming down both stairwells, at least four people in each, about a floor away now.

There's elevators in the back, opposite of the blown-out entrance, three of them, for the daring.

"Alright," Bennet states as he steps in through the shattered front entrance in the moment of respite, offering an askance look to Deckard, brows furrowed. "Good to see you could make it, Flint." There's admittedly an edge of something cynical to Noah's commentary, for all that Flint Deckard disappeared only to conveniently re-appear right around the time the Company fell. Scrutiny in his tone and in his expression is pushed aside for when they are not in immediate threat of death, however.

"We need to get to the eighth floor, Deckard, Huruma, what's our situation?" Bennet flicks a look back and forth between the pair.

"Yeah," gravels Flint, who looks about as enthusiastic about his own presence as Bennet sounds like he is.

Fortunately(?) any further attitude problems he might be experiencing are mitigated by the muffle of his voice in the process of him pulling a knit mask down black over his skull. He was actually supposed to be wearing it yesterday, but he forgot. For some reason. In any case, being double-dog wanted for murder and treason in your own country is bad enough.

"Nobody with any balls left down here," reported without much feeling, he fumbles gloves on next. All things he planned on complimenting with a nice set of body armor, no doubt. "Guns are coming down at three and nine o'clock. There are people attached to them."

"We take th'stairs. I'll cover three o'clock." Huruma, ever practical, does not trust electronics when technopaths are involved- and besides- it is only eight floors. Perhaps easier to think for herself than Alia, who frankly, is probably not used to this situation. "You-" Huruma jerks her head at Alia, casting a scrutinizing look over the hiding places of minds she can almost taste in her mouth. "-are coming with me again.

"Leave th'grunts." Comes only as an aside, and anyone that speaks English in there now knows very obviously that hiding is doing nothing. They know people are there. Without waiting for at least verbal confirmation, Huruma adjusts her grip on the shotgun and stalks forward, her frame somewhat filling of doorways more than is usual, here.

Alia follows along with Huruma… Covering her back, so to speak. The little 9mm in her hands looks like a toy in comparison to the monster the larger woman is carrying. Likely beause IT IS. She keeps her head down, the 'near hit' from an accident already having her a bit spooked…

Entering the stairwell with knowledge there are armed persons on the way down, Cat has her rifle trained in a direction not covered by Huruma's portable cannon. A brief glance is sent around to verify locations for Bennet and Deckard, then it's eyes forward again and upward.

The moment Cat opens the stairs opposite of Huruma and trains her sight up, she spots several people in drab brown uniforms storming down the stairs. Her gunfire growls out with a high-pitch crack, sending the lead soldier tumbling forward down the stairs before return fire explodes against the wall beside where Cat popped in. Ducking back around the corner of the door, gunfire sends shards of concrete and plaster flying through the open entrance.

Opposite of where Catherine is, Huruma barges in to the 3 o'clock stairwell, black-armored figure muted in the dimly lit stairwell corridor as a wave of trauma and panic ripples outwards from her, battering the mines of the soldiers coming down the stairs and sending them scrambling backwards over each other. From behind Huruma, where Alia stands, the chomp, chomp, chomp clatter of her AA-12 reverberates with a noise like one might imagine a belt-fed grenade-launcher would sound like in that confined space.

By the time Huruma has eased off of the trigger, the walls are slick with dark stains and motionless bodies lay shredded on the concrete steps, body armor, firearms and soft tissue alike all torn apart.

Bennet moves to help cover Cat, unclipping a boxy packet from his tactical vest, depressing a switch and tossing it inside of the doorway with an underhanded throw. Cat recognizes the shape and whine of a flashbang prior to the shattering concussive burst and brilliant lightning flash inside the stairwell.

Bennet pops in through the doorway following after, opening fire up on the stairs, Cat coming out the opposite side behind him, sending men falling forward over each other down the steps, AK-47's clattering on concrete as they surf down past bodies to land at Catherine's feet.

"You've got comp'ny comin' from behind!" Flint Deckard doesn't recognize the mouth-full-of-marbles Lancashire accent coming from the skeleton ambling through the doorway, nor does he recognize the bone structure viewed in haze of blue and black. While Claude Rains is unseen to the naked eye, Flint Deckard's field of vision goes a touch beyond naked and enters invasive territory.

"There's a truck comin', canvas top, probably full've new friends who wan' t'meet us." The clip-smack-clack of a handgun being reloaded echoes in the air from where Claude stands in the doorway, looking back to the white box-truck he'd driven nearly the whole way back from the launch platform on its rims.

"I don't have any explosives," complained earnestly (and nasaly) to Lancanshire accent familiar or no, Flint remains between stairwells with two allies pinched off to the left and the other two to the right, both in the process of turning people to paste or noodle strainers, as the case may be. He was supposed to have explosives. "Does anyone here have any explosives?" demanded overloud of whoever is still huddled around a desk on the first floor, Deckard shoots near point-blank into an abandoned computer monitor at the utter absence of any response, in English or otherwise. It gives an unsatisfactory flashbulb pop and ozone sizzle as he turns to hustle after Bennet and Cat, brownish smoke drifting lank towards the ceiling.

"I'll go tell them we should hurry."

Huruma can't help it- when she surveys the mess that the shotgun leaves behind, she unabashedly leans her mask down to meet it halfway. It is a love to be written for the ages.

"I've got this gun, no bombs." Her voice is unapologetic, and she pauses in the stairwell to feel up the rest of the way, gauging if Alia might be able to go on if she has to do what she next asks. "This reaches one-hundred fifty meters. Should I intercept th'truck?" Huruma's smooth growl sounds somewhat- expectant. "Seems th'way is clear up top, judging by this- human jam I seem t'ave made…"

Alia doesn't wait, dashes upward as Huruma seemingly declares it clear… she instead relies on subverting the place's own security measures to check ahead. Namely, she grabs any cameras she can check on as she dashes upward.

Admittedly when a situation calls for explosives there'susually some on hand, that Flint Deckard is given one grenade is perhaps a bit like giving someone one scoop of ice-cream of half a cup of coffee— more is better. Bennet is silent during tihs weapons exchange, having produced a cell phone from his pants pocket, brows furrowed in scrutiny at the message relayed to the mobile which— should be getting service out here.

"Huruma…" Bennet calls out, eyes slow to tear away from the screen, "The truck is PLA Special Operations Response, it's the Chinese version of FRONTLINE without the fancy armor." Bennet's blue eyes track to the blown out windows, "Rebel says it's parked on the edge of the space center, tag someone to stay with you," and offered a bit more loudly to the room, "Huruma is taking volunteers."

Bennet is quick to jog ahead though, thorugh the stairwell Huruma had cleared and upwards. Minimal security initially in place, the Chinese military evidently was not expecting an armed assault on their generally un-strategic space center during time of relative peace.

Headed up the concrete steps, something wet squishes beneath Bennet's heels as he follows Alia up. "Don't get too far ahead," the man in the horn-rimmed glasses calls ahead, winding up the flights of stairs on the long ascent to the eighth floor.

"Ah'll stay," Claude offers from apparently across the room from where he was a moment ago, tucked down beside one of the front reception desks before slamming the butt of his pistol against the wood paneling. "Boo! Run, get th' bloody hell outta' 'ere!" Not being particularly fluent in Mandarin, Claude is certain that tone is more important than phrasing as he causes the hiding technicians and clerical staff to scatter like cockroaches, head down and hands over their head, fleeing through office doors with frightened yelps into back rooms.

"Anyone stickin' on f'thirds?" Claude asks, one boot scuffing against the tile floor as he eases into a crouch.

Grenade pushed into one hand, .40 in the other, Flint stops in his tracks when Cat actually produces what he was asking for. A trident short of the potential for true heroism, he dithers and slows, Huruma and Claude taken in vs a mental calculation of their odds against a red FRONTLINE.

Lean, lightly armed and even more lightly armored between the fine pinstriping of his suit and the mask, he has to factor in the rapid progress everyone else is making in an 'upstairs' direction before he resolves to stay and be electricuted/broken in half/made to think he is a duck until the the end of time.

That Huruma is familiar doesn't sink in until he's turned 'round to face her in full, narrowed eyes alternatingly bleached and chilly electric blue against the office lights flickering overhead. "Me."

Huruma keeps feeling Claude there, and it seems like any time she physically looks he is gone. She can only assume he's one of them. She smiles, thinly, at the news about who it is out there in the truck, eyes behind the shades of her mask narrowing in subtle pleasure when she examines Deckard virtually eye to eye. "Why, thank you. I needed a hand." Apparently to her, this is just hilarious.

"I'm taking a point. Tell Rebel t'page us if he finds out what they do-" Easier than trial. Huruma mutters, stalking into a backtrack to the blown out window that she had made moments earlier. She does as she says, perching herself behind the wall and peering into the scope attached to her gun, searching quickly for the truck.

Alia shouts clearly. "Cameras mine. No security ahead. One with me. Pad team unhurt." She doesn't explain how she knows that. She figures anyone who couldn't guess on how ONE person was going to hack mission control for a shuttle has to ask, wouldn't understand anyway. It's also a lot of words for the young lady anyway.

Alia focuses instead on getting the hell to where she's supposed to be. Namely, at Mission Control.

Progress doesn't abate, feet keep moving Cat up the stairwells with Alia and Bennet to provide support and protection for the technopath on whom so much rests. The rifle she carries remains at a ready position, alertness for possible trouble not discovered yet also stays.

Outside of the Mission Control building, there is a decidedly noisy approach of booted feet slamming down against concrete, a stream of some fifteen men in olive-drab and forest camouflage, modern military-style flack jackets and body armor, digital camouflage patterns across their uniforms, standard military-grade headgear with mounted cameras situated on top like unasthetically lobbed afterthoughts.

They are a far cry from the wizardry that went into the design of FRONTLINE's uniforms, looking more like a crack military unit rather than something out of someone's G.I. Joe inspired fantasy. When visual confirmation is made on both sides, the lead soldier drops to a crouch, a tinted visor angled over his eyes to protect him from glare. In an instant when he drops to a crouch, one hand is lifted and from it springs forth a rubbery barrier of frantically crackling electricity, sparking and sputtering, distorting what is behind it like the surface of water.

Two of the other soldiers form a triangle pattern behind him in crouch, raising their assault rifles while the rest fan out to either side of the shield, spilling around it. Six on one side, six on the other.

They can't all be Evolved, can they?

The immediate explosion of gunfire from the advancing soldiers sends bullets shattering against the front of the building, and it is by merit of the eveny spaced concrete columns supporting the overlarge second floor that Huruma is able to find solid cover to use against the incoming fire. Fifteen different minds all reach out on the edge of her senses, a different scent to each.

Many floors above, Alia remains at the fore of the group while Noah has started to lag behind, Catherine surpassing him on the stairs. The former Company agent slouches against one wall, hand on his chest, assault rifle pointed muzzle-first down to the floor, one hand waving the two younger women on. "Go— " he breathlessly states, "go on ahead. Keep going I'll catch up." He's not as young as he used to be.

Just one floor above, the eighth floor entrance door, according to Alia's view thorugh the security cameras, should open into the expansive Mission Control room, not entirely dissimilar from Mission Control at a United States space center. Only a few cowering technicians are hiding in offices on that floor, everything should be clear.

"I wasn't going to make that pun," decided so firmly that he had to've at least thought about it, Flint sizes her up until his overlarge ears detect the clap-trap approach of over a dozen pairs of boots on over a dozen pairs of evolved feet. Huruma's already moved off and electricity's already set to crackling when he turns inward again, thinks a second, and runs.

To the stairs. Not out a back door or anything, tempting as it might be. Long legs and a solid grip keep him from slipping around too much in the sick their first advance left behind, gelatin bits of heart and lung globbed to the bottoms of his shoes on his way to the second floor. His own rickety heart hammering faster than he'd like, he's quieter about sort've tiptoe-hustling up to the windows at the same side of the building, grey on grey when he resolves to shoot (kick, and shoot again) the nearest one out so that he can lob his solo grenade from on high. Wobbly arc angled to land just behind the advancing wedge, rather than just ahead.

Huruma tucks in after watching them form up, just in time, it seems. They are shooting first, of course. She stays up against the wall where she is, evidently picking a prime support in this ghetto command center. Considering what NASA has- it really is. When Huruma flicks herself back to the edge of the window, at the same time she is adjusting her scope to seek out the man she had witnessed pulling up the forcefield. While she can't physically do anything about him, she can feel Deckard panting around above her- and she knows, that somewhere in his head, he has a plan.

That said and done, Huruma relies on him to not to anything completely retarded.

Her scope seeks out the primary user, and once she can get him in that sight, the crust of her field spikes into pure terror, jolting hard and fast through him and those near him. All she needs is him to falter- and she sees fit to preempt it. half a second after sending that shockwave, she sends a second by squeezing in the trigger of the automatic shotgun.

Alia makes a run up the stairs, almost there to the goal… She keeps her weapon in hands… inexperienced as she is, even a monkey could be meancing with one, usually… Unless your downstairs where the big guns are.

Just behind Alia, Cat reaches the entry door and waits for Alia to make it openable. "I'll go ahead of you, see if things are clear," she states quietly. It just wouldn't do for the technopath to be in the open going through that entryway if there's a surprise laying just beyond. That rifle is still at the ready for use.

From his vantage point in the offices on the second floor, Deckard has a better sight on the approaching military force. He also happens to have practically balcony seating for the display of frantic kinetics coming from a grenade's concussive blast on concrete, sending shards of debris and dust up into the air and /launching five of the six men forward as shrapnel pulverizes their backs. One of the six grenade-focused men zips away from the explosion as his body shimmers with a bright glow, followed by a trail of illumination before he reappears in a flash of light and a streakof illumination catching up to him.

Unfortunately his panicked— what was that super speed? Teleportation? Whatever it is winds up with him skidding to a halt and then immediately jerking his head backwards as his face unexpectedly explodes around the mouth area in a spray of blood, teeth and vicera. The back of his helmet catches the bullet, even as he's spewing necessary facial components on the way back.

Blood hangs in the air, outlining the muzzle of a gun and a sleeve like paint on sky, and when the blood moves away, Huruma can feel Claude Raines circling around to find another, better vantage point. From Deckard's heightened perspective, it was clear that the teleporter or— whatever he was— moved right next to where the British guy was standing. Remarkably, he didn't seem to notice the gun pointed right in his face, either.

Huruma's more attentive focus however is ruining the mind of one singular soldier. Srambled back and on his hands and heels, the force-field generator tries to crawl away from Huruma, his shield faltering and fizzling away and then like a series of rapid thunderclaps her AA-12 opens fire, pulverizing his body like tenderized hamburger as it blows dark chunks out of body armor, implodes a portion of his helmet and tosses his corpse backwards in a tumble from the impact.

The two men who were crouching behind him open fire in Huruma's direction the moment the shield goes down, gunfire tearing chunks out of the masonry of the pillar she has for cover. As they rise and begin advancing in a slow crouch, alternating fire between one and the other, they're forgetting Deckard above them.

Of the people that got hit by the grenade, none have moved more so than painful writhing on the ground. Whatever abilities they must have had likely weren't helpful when their skin was replaced by fragmentary grenade shrapnel.

The remaining six are bearing down on Huruma's location, however, with one turning into a whispery phantasmal outline of a person, looking like a gas ripple in the air as he begins phasing on the move, another has stowed his gun and begun creating arcs of electricity between his gloved fingers.

Eight stories up, Alia Chavez sweeps her bare hand in front of the card-key reader of the mission Control room as if it were a proximity card, and the light flashes green, before promptly unlocking. Good on her word, Catherine pushes the door open and leads rifle-first into the room, emerging out on a half-balcony that overlooks unoccupied yet active command consoles. Flicking her stare around the room, she hears the sounds of crying in distant offices, to her right at the back of the balcony, hushed and fearful whispering joining those mournful sounds.

All Clear.

Cool. The influence of hangover fog and the dull ache in his skull temporarily ebbed in the face of the most graphic mass x-ray anatomy lesson ever, Deckard's starting to get a little wound up in the no man's land somewhere over Huruma's head. Blood's pumping quicker still behind the bare of his teeth against the long cut of his face, and it's only with some effort that he manages to back himself away from the empty window to look for things to push out of it onto whatever troops are still advancing.

The first desk he comes to is too heavy. The flatscreen computer monitor is too light.

Forty-two seconds later, a statistician in coke-bottle glasses and suspenders comes windmilling down from on high, screaming all the way. Even if he doesn't sink any battleships, it makes for an interesting diversion when he hits the ground.

A foot still in a boot follows. More precisely aimed.

Huruma knows too well she cannot stay here forever, but she is going to keep the cover as long as she possibly can. When her eyes find the half-dozen bearing down further, she opens her mouth behind the mask and lets out a seething, angry hiss of air. The soldiers oncoming are not prepared to know that she can latch onto several of them at once, the thorns of invisible vines crunch immediately down upon them like jumping into a glade of emotional brambles. Poisonous brambles. Poisonous, burning brambles, surrounding the perimeter of this sudden fortress.

On the physical side of things, her first shots are fired off at the electrokinetic, knowing all too well what they can set off even on accident. Firing explosives at one? Well- one of the better ideas right this moment.

As soon as Cat gives the all clear, Alia dashes in, finding a somewhat sheltered spot to sit. After all, she doesn't NEED to be at the console. She gives Cat a smile, then closes her eyes… and in a moment, her body is on autopilot, as her mind dives into the computers that make up the modern mission control.

Dives in. And takes control. All the data is at her fingertips, all the digital switches within reach. She projects a simple thought at the radio connection to the Shuttle. Ready?

There's not much she needs to do here, except keep watch and be ready in case trouble arrives. Cat busies herself with that fairly unbusy pursuit, and in the process memorizes the contents of a mission control room, Chinese version. Alia is undisturbed in her work.

Screaming surges through Alia's connection to the radio, howling, unending screaming.

There's multiple voices, at least five people, all howling in agony as their voices crackle over the comms. Some of them are splurting out cut-off phrases in Mandarin, others are begging for the pain to stop, Alia can't quite make out the rest, but they seem to be in excruciating agony.

This is coupled with the constant stream of gunfire noises coming from down below and explosions, it's enough to give someone a disorder.

Apparently, the people in the shuttle are not, in fact, ready to go.

Eight stories below, there is an eruption of electricity and blood as one of Huruma's HE rounds detonates inches away from the electrokinetic in a visceral display of separating bone and tearing flesh, the brief pyrokinetic display is but a pop compared to the discharge of electricity his body flares with on his way backwards thorugh the air.

The round had phassed straight through the phased soldier, but when Huruma's psychic shockwave of harrowing emotional content sets hooks into his mind, is breaks his concentration on his phasing as he tumbles out of it, losing forward momentum as he clutches at his head, staggers, falters and—


The scream of a man kicked out a window ends when he lands atop another human being, crumpling the phaser to the ground with a crash, followed by a few dislodged shards of glass tingling down around his toppled remains. Another one of the soldiers witnessing this skids to a halt, even as he slides and falls to one knee, holding his head and screaming eyes rolling back in his skull, crippled by ths psychic disonnance Huruma forces down on him.

The last one, though, zips past Huruma's snare straight through the air, coming like a human bullet up from a jump, pistol and knife out as he rockets towards the window that Flint Deckard had just launched a statistician projectile through, opening fire on the grizzled man on a direct path towards him.

"Ffff—," bitten off not quite quick enough, Flint waits too long to decide that Frogger is going to make it up to his level. One errant round squeezed off for the window in the process of him turning to take cover, he slides on hard-packed carpet damp with the shit he tracked in from the stairwell and only just keeps his feet. Until a bullet mushrooms through his ribs near his left shoulder and he drops, more stunned than he expected to be for as many times as he's been shot. Turns out it's not one of those things that hurts less the more times it happens.

Face blanched pale, he enters enough of a controlled writhe to roll over onto his back. Probably in time to get jumped on or shot again. Neither of which is going to save his assailant from the grenade pin glittering in his teeth, or the lump of bloody brown something balled into his left fist that at least, at a glance, remotely resembles the rest of the grenade.

She has to run out sometime. It was only a matter of time before Huruma felt the last round and has to begin the process of clicking in another. It's not a long process, thanks to the barrel, but she still has to literally keep down to do it, affording her only glances up to watch her back, so to speak. It looks like the truck itself has been largely untouched, to her. There may be someone inside- there may not. Point being, it's running, and not in a billion chunks.

That probably means that she is going to have to hold this ground as best she can, though- that leaping Chinaman may be a problem for Deckard, who she can feel in his shock and frustration. Huruma casts a look over the perimeter, edging away from the window into the lobby, hesitant in moving to pounce to Flint's aid- he knows what he's doing too, it is possible he can handle this himself. If not- well- she can solve that when it rolls in.

Alia growls, or would if she could in this state, and starts going through the preflight checks she can do remotely. Make sure everything is ready to go… just need to get everyone on board, strapped in… Thankfully, for her, maybe, she can't HEAR the explosions below due to, well, not being aware of her physical body right now. Down side… she's unaware of how time-critical things really are. It only takes moments to flip the right switches, memorized well in advance of this, and wait for the last few that need to be flipped, until the crew is onboard. She listens to the radio, and waits.

Things go from bad to worse quickly, as the distorted sound of what seemed like a distant helicopter reveals itself to be something other as, over by the launch platform, a matte black attack helicopter crests one of the mountains and begins strafing to get a better angle with which to brutally gun down all of the people trapped on the loading arm.

A moment later, there is an electrical crackle from up high on the loading arm where Ryans and the others are, followed by a harmonic rumbling as the interior of the helicopter bursts into flames, electricity crackling around the outside, before the entire vehicle begins pitching and wobbling in the air.

Just one floor up, the flying PLA soldier lands atop Deckard, knees at his side and gun angled down towards his head, fended off by a shove of an arm and a too-close discharge of the weapon that temporarily deafens the old man in his right ear.

A split second later the soldier is knocked bodily off of Deckard by a swift kick to the ribs coming unseen from the lanky British skeleton come ambling up to the second floor now that the coast is — relatively — clear outside. The flyer rolls over, gets to his feet levels his gun up, firing a shot over Deckard's prone form and into the frame of the doorway as framing. There's a yelp of pain and a crash as a scruffy, bearded British man comes fading into view, clutching his chest from the sharp pain of a handgun round hammering into his ribs, like being kicked by a mule thanks to his vest.

It's only on noticing the pin in Deckard's teeth that the soldier exhales what is probably some sort of curse as he scrambles back off of Flint, presuming the psychopathic man to be fully capable of suicide by grenade, and there's chances he might not be entirely wrong. But it's distance that the flying man tries to put between himself and Flint, heading back towards the window with a Peter-Pan weightlessness and the intention of not dying by a grenade clear in his expression as he blindly fires over his shoulder.

Several floors up, Alia begins the ignition process, continuing the ocuntdown that was aborted prior to her arrival in the control room. Booster tests had already been done, the priming sequence on the main thruster begins, creating a noisy rumble outside that the others can hear. Stationary as she is and trapped inside of the machine, Alia begins handling the remainder of the internal diagnostics and tests for pre-flight, warming up the engines, getting everything ready to burn the moment that it can be begun.

Watching the control room, Catherine spots a few researchers creeping towards a glass wall where they can see the mission control room better from their office, but the moment they see Cat and her assault rifle they're ducking down and hiding again. No— Cat replays the memory briefly— they were looking over her shoulder when they crouched. Eyes open and on the present, Cat sees a reflection in the glass behind herself, of a researcher with a pistol popping up from behind one of the rows of consoles as a shimmer of distorting light blurs away from him like some kind of chameleon skin, pistol trained on the helpless technopath.

Feet are also coming up the stairs to the control room, and there's a voice shouting in the hallway. "How much of the PLA is on its way?" Noah's voice, "Alright— alright, we'll be out of here soon. Can you hold them off or do you need to focus on the shuttle?" A pause as Noah nears the landing of the eighth floor. "Wonderful" doesn't sound sincere.

Powder burns stippled across the jut of his cheekbone and ear, one eye blossomed crimson around shocky blue, Flint struggles to resecure his grip on his own firearm even as the chinaman on top of him is wrested bodily off. Balled-up brown paper lunch bag tripped damp through his fingers, recaught and clenched, he stumbles on his way up to his feet, pulled pin still pale against a hot dribble of red through his teeth when he doubles over to brace himself not far from Claude's doorway.

He should have been on time.

A few sharp breaths huffed in irregular, blood gumming thick at the grip of his mask to his chin while gunfire continues to pit plaster walls around him, he bumps on into the stairwell, stooping to shake Rains along as he goes. They can totally make it up seven more flights of stairs. With the power of friendship!!

Wheezing and with one arm cradled around his midsection, Claude scrambles away from the room with Deckard, looking to the hazy blue-eyed man and the blood pulsing from his gunshot wound. "Y'don' look so good," he admits with a lopsided smile, because it's cute or something when he's sarcastic. Defense mechanisms are cute, right?

Seven floors up is a long way to go with a gunshot wound, and Claude stops about as far as the landing. "You ain't goin' up nowhere, not like tha'. C'mon, there's a truck outside these fella's must've come in. You ain't no shuttle technician, a'don' think." Down is less stairs.

Upstairs there's a rapid-fire pop pop pop over Alia's shoulder, followed by blood spraying across the instrumentation panels as the gunman falls backwards with a strangled sound, his gun clattering to the floor and body wetly slapping as he hits the ground. As Alia watches the controls, sending a pulsed broadcast of her request, Ready? over the radio inside of the shuttle, hoping for response, Better is making his way inside.

"We've got to get out of here, the PLA is on their way with reinforcements, we've hit the beehive and Rebel can't keep them from us. We have to launch the shuttle and get out of here now or we're never going to see home again." Looking askance to Alia, Brnnet's brows furrow. "How much more do we have to do?" It's asked not knowing that she can't hear him. Hana works differently.

From inside the systems, leaping from one pathway and linked circuit to another, Alia notices an open communications and digital video transmission coming from nearby. Ports are opened, power remotely activated, and with a buzz of electricity on one of the consules, Alia accesses the shuttles internal camera systems. There, she sees Linus pulling himself up into one of the seats, panic in his eyes, trying to buckle himself in while Melissa does the same.

Ryans however is climbing up the seats towards the crew access hatch, and Gael is nowhere in sight.

"We have to hurry," Bennet jerks his head to the side, looking back to Cat, eyes wide. "There's a truck waiting outside, I've got Huruma on securing it."

Alia waits… It's all she can do until that hatch is shut with everyone who's intact is onboard. Once they are… she eyes the last circut that needs closing… So close, yet so far…

Lowering the rifle as Bennet arrives and speaks with Alia, Cat makes another sweep of the interior, paying close attention for signs of more armed and/or bold people who might want to make a move like the fallen pistoleer. Noah is afterward graced with a nod as reply, she understands the need to depart sooner than now, but there remains Alia still at work.

She's left to hope the technopath surfaces five seconds ago.

"Neither do you," bit off with less humor and more of a vitriolic grimace, Flint clenches too hard at Claude's shoulder on his way to pushing himself away. Down. Because one flight is less than seven and moving down with gravity is ultimately more natural than trying to claw against it one step at a time. Also, as much as he wants to push buttons and quote David Bowie at a computer terminal in a space ship mission command room, curling up and going to sleep also sounds really nice right now.

It might give him time to think of how he is going to explain this to Bella.

"China sucks."

There, Alia sees it in her field of vision, Ryans leaning out of the shuttle door, dragging Gael inside from where he had fallen, pulling the other agent inside and the pair of them falling down into the seats. Linus has strapped himself in, none of them look to be wearing any sort of protective gear as they begin taking chairs and buckling down. The shuttle itself will protect against some of the effects of decompression sickness, but it's still going to be a terrible, terrible ride up from the surface of the Earth.

Seeing everyone inside and the hatch door closed, Alia resumes the countdown, followed by an automated mechanical whirring noise as blast curtains slowly close around the front of the building for the eventual waves of smoke that will be exploding across the concrete plain. Seeing Alia disengage from the system and slouch back to a less rigid posture, Noah rests a hand on her shoulder as he hears a voice crackle over the intercom.

«Launch in T-Minus 10 Seconds»

"We need to go," Bennet tucks his cell phoen into his pocket, giving Alia's arm a tug as he turns to Cat and waves her to follow. "With any luck the gas and smoke will cover out escape, but we need to get as far as we can before launch commences!" Without a moment's further hesitation, Bennet is rushing out the door and towards the stairs.

«Launch in T-Minus 9 Seconds//»

Down on the ground floor, the pair of battered and unshaven men — one in ski-mask, the other too sore to care about hiding his face — approach the rumble of an engine coming closer to the front of the building. Squinting up at the sky, Claude can't see where the flying PLA soldier went, but no one is raining bullets down from above, so perhaps away is as good an option as any.

Bodies lie strewn about the concrete, smoke and flames and a haze of gray cast by the expulsion from the distant firing of rocket engines in various stages of ignition.

«Launch in T-Minus 8 Seconds»

In the driver's seat of the personnel carrier, Huruma pushes her gun aside into the pessenger's seat, then turns dark eyes up to the shuttle, jerking a thumb to point into the back, eliciting Claude and Deckard to follow around to the rear of the vehicle, even whike one of Claude's hands presses wetly to Deckard's gunshot wound. "Y'know, a'lmos' thought this wasn't gon' t'wind up with broken ribs, runnin' fer m'life away from a foreign government. A'should've paid a bit more 'tention t'my gut an' just assumed anythin' involvin' Noah Bennet's bound t'wind up like this."

«Launch in T-Minus 7 Seconds»

Running down the stairs, assault rifle clutched to his chest as he moves, Noah Bennet's mind races with the implications of what has transpired here. A showdown with a foreign military power, launching people he knows may well not even return into space, and worst of all one of them a father. On his way down the stairs with Bennet and Cat's feet at his back, blood on his heels, Noah Bennet realizes that he asks too much of the people around himself, too often.

«Launch in T-Minus 6 Seconds»

Billowing clouds of white smoke fill the concrete plaza, roll over the truck and wash against the windows of Mission Control. Swallowed by the haze and fog, only the fiery orange glow of rockets firing and the chest-shaking rumble of a rocket preparing for launch can be heard or felt, it is like everything but the launch fades to muted quality.

«Launch in T-Minus 5 Seconds»

A dark silhouette in the smoke, the truck's headlights come on to cut a bright beacon for the others to see, even as the truck windows rattle and shake and the entire ground feels like it will split open at any moment from the shuddering vibrations.


The countdown echoes across loudspeakers outside of the building, halfway down from the eighth floor, Bennet stops by the fourth story windows where smoke is not so thick, his eyes wide as he sees the streams of fire spewing from the rocket, sees the loading arm hanging broken and on fire from what looks like some kind of impact or explosion.


Alia and Cat come down to the landing, seeing Bennet stopped there by the windows where the slatted blast shields offer horizontally banded views of the shuttle about to launch. "Godspeed," Noah whispers, it's the only thing he can really think to say that has any honesty in it.


In the driver's seat of the truck, Huruma squints against the hazeof smoke,s eeing the dark silhouette of the shuttle and rocket and the vibrant orange glow of flames. Hanging on to the back after having helped Deckard up and in, Claude watches the same vista, visible not in rear-view mirrors but clear out the back of the vehicle. Silence is his only response.


The rumbling reaches a crescendo and the launch platform has pulled away fully from the rocket, before the roar of the engines is finally put into effect of one of the greatest engineering marvels made my man's hand.


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