Operation Hercules, Part I


adrienne2_icon.gif dearing_icon.gif maddox_icon.gif robyn3_icon.gif rue2_icon.gif

Scene Title Operation Hercules, Part I
Synopsis Following up on intelligence from Kyla Renautas, Wolfhound travels to the California Dead Zone to bring an end to the Institute once and for all.
Date January 10, 2019

Flickering fluorescent lights sputter and spark.

A loose power cable swings from its remaining mooring on the concrete ceiling. Showering sparks of electricity rain down from the cable’s broken end, blooming bright in the billowing cloud of dust floating in the air.

Rue Lancaster lays on her back, powdered white by pulverized concrete. Blood runs dark and red at her brow, rolls down her temple and disappears into her hair. She can hear approaching footsteps, booted feet grinding broken glass into concrete. Her body aches, breath knocked out of her, vision blurred.

She turns her head, looking in the direction of the dark silhouette moving toward her, and sucks in a sharp breath. Looks to the red fire axe they're carrying in one hand.

No.” Rue splutters the word out, eyes wide with recognition and fear, pushing up onto one elbow to get up as fast as she—

The axe comes down with a scream.

One Day Earlier

The Bunker

Rochester, NY

January 9th

05:30 am

“The information we've gained from Kyla Renautas pinpoints the Institute’s nerve center here.”

In the dimly lit conference room, Avi Epstein stands in front of a large display monitor, motioning to a map of the California coast. Outside, it's still dark, and the city lights of Rochester glitter against the black. At the long table in the conference room, the entirety of Wolfhound stands at the ready for this operation.

“Sunstone Manor, a private residence held by a well-hidden shell company that traces back to Erica Kravid, the second-highest surviving member of the Institute.” On the screen, the map of California zooms in on a valley in the hills. Coordinates on the screen display 34°04'47.3"N 118°51'40.7"W. “The manor is a three-story above ground structure likely outfitted to accommodate Institute leadership.”

The map then changes to a spectrum analysis. “Hana secured use of the Lacrosse satellite from the government, allowing us to get a radar view of the terrain. It indicates a substantial underground complex below the manor’s footprint that extends out to the sea.”

With a click of a handheld device, Avi overlays a division of five small teams around the Sunstone compound and their support. “We’re going to be breakin formation, moving in two to three-person units to cover as much territory as possible. The Major and I will be offering logistical support for each insertion team.”

“Dearing, Lancaster,” Avi puts the spotlight on team 1, “you'll be accompanied by Agent Quinn.”

One Day Later

Sunstone Manor Grounds

Los Angeles, CA

January 10th

1:17 pm


The Major is going to cut electronic defenses. That means the automated turrets they have on the grounds will be disabled.

Bursting out from the underbrush at the perimeter of the clearing where the looming brick edifice of Sunstone Manor is concealed by high hilltops, James Dearing breaks into a sprint out across a flat and grassy field.

Perimeter guards are on patrol, we’ll jam comms. It's up to you to clear them out.

Leaping into the air, Dearing tackles a patrolling security officer in military surplus body armor and gray fatigues to the ground. One elbow reeled back and a single punch sends the guard limp to the ground, leaving the remaining two for Robyn and Rue.

We won't be able to remain hidden for long, but try not to go in shooting. Buy as much time as we can.

The remaining two guards turn, stagger back shocked and look at the red smear on Dearing’s armored fist. Frozen for a moment in panic. One calls out over a radio, “Intruder on premises!” But no one is listening on the other end.

As Robyn Quinn emerges from the underbrush behind Dearing, she looks less than amused. She doesn't sprint like Dearing, but she does move to try and at least keep pace with Rue. As he lays a single fist into one of the men, she unclips the sheathe at her side. Settling her gaze on the guard yelling into his radio, a small smirk forms on her face.

The gap between them is closed just as he turns his attention from his radio and from Dearing to her. Close quarters combat is something that isn't always her strong suit, but she at least knows how to be quick and to the point - in this case literally, drawing up her knife and slipping into a gap in the man's armour just below his throat. It never actually occurs to her to use something less lethal, but that's how it goes.

"Seriously?" is a question she actually asks in a surprisingly casual tone, looking away from the man sputtering and choking on his own blood and over at Dearing. "One punch? I'm glad I've never managed to piss you off." Reading all the dossiers she wants is never the same as seeing someone in action.

The third guard is felled when Rue uses her momentum to throw him over her shoulder and to the ground in one fluid movement. There's only the barest grunt to betray the effort required. A swift stomp down of her boot sees that her target doesn't move again. With that finished, she straightens up and shakes her head at Robyn's commentary.

With a wave of one arm, Keelut-1 motions the way forward. This is only the first obstacle cleared. More lie ahead.

Shaking bone and blood off of his glove, Dearing rises up to stand. “I… just meant to incapacitate him.” His brows raise in a helpless, what are you going to do gesture. But then he pauses, double-takes at Robyn and looks down to her knife as he starts walking toward the manor. “I thought you were just an observer? Does SESA make you keep track of bitches you knife?

Dearing doesn't seem to care for Robyn’s retort, because he breaks into a jog immediately afterward, building up speed and momentum as he approaches one of the back doors of the manor. Security camera mounted on the eaves stare blindly down at the rear entrance, no longer Sunstone security but Wolfhound’s eyes through the major.

When Dearing reaches the door he only slows by a few steps, reaching out for the doorknob and just tears it out of the door as he fluidly pushes the door open into the house somehow without breaking it off of its hinges. He skids to a stop inside, sidearm coming out as he sweeps the room, signaling back to Rue and Robyn that they're in the clear.

Lips thin as Robyn notices Rue's chastising shake of her head, and Dearing's commentary has her take a moment to look down at the knife she carries, wiping as much of the blood off as she can in a quick motion before it's slipped back into her sheathe. "I suppose that was a bit much," she offers back in a quiet voice, unsure of what had quite driven her to such an extreme measure.

Oh well, a voice in the back of her head remarks, one she appreciates for its avoidance of any guilt she might feel over the matter. It helps keep her centered, focused as she moves on forward, giving Dearing a bit of a berth as she follows behind him and Rue. Her sidearm is drawn as well, raised and ready to go. Even with Dearing’s assurance, she sweeps through the room, looking carefully for anything out of place.

As Dearing runs ahead, Rue turns to Robyn. “Don’t worry about it,” she tells her friend, aware that she might have come off a little more harshly than intended. The last thing she needs is for her teammate doubting herself this early into the operation. “C’mon.”

With a pat to Quinn’s armored shoulder, Rue is off after Dearing at his signal, drawing her sidearm as she goes. With the first room clear, she moves ahead to a door on their right, stopping to listen before she makes a move to push the door open.

There's a noise across the building, multiple footsteps breaking the silence. “That's Noa’s team, right on time,” Dearing offers, looking around and finally noticing the state of the manor. Everything is dusty, disused, and seemingly abandoned. There's no sign that anyone has been actively using the manor in weeks. He steps over old, broken glass on the floor — a shattered plate and teacup — then moves toward the northeast corner where a closet door faces the room.

“Major said the elevator to the basement’s in there,” Dearing indicates with a motion of his gun to the closet door. “She didn't say where the access panel w— ”

There's a soft chime from inside the closet, followed by the closet door opening to reveal a narrow but deep elevator with brushed metal walls and a grated floor. Dearing raises a brow, then rolls one shoulder. “Right. Technopath.”

Rue notices something in the room, hung on the wall beside some tacky paintings of landscapes, an 8x10 photograph of a young, curly-haired boy with sad eyes and a small frown. That she recognizes the child sends a chill down her spine.

That's a photo of Magnes Varlane. Age 8.

If there was any doubt at all that they may not have been in the right place, it vanishes at the sight of that photograph. Shaking her head, she slowly steps back. It takes a long moment before she's able to tear her eyes away from the image of young Magnes.

Turning toward the elevator, Rue closes her eyes behind her visor and waits out the shiver that wants to run through her frame. Once she's shrugged off the shudder, she steps forward into the elevator car. The uneasiness does not abate.

"You don't get used to it, do you?" Even after all this time, Robyn isn't entirely used to technopaths herself. But, with the door open, she follows after them - their destination is clear after, and Dearing's right - she is still an Observer, even if she is taking a more active role in this particular mission. Even if she didn't really talk to anyone about that much before hand.

With one last look around the room, her eyes fall on Rue, her reaction to the painting observed with curiosity and a small dose of apprehension. "What is it?" she asks, quirking an eyebrow as she moves up alongside the team leader, looking over to the picture. She never saw childhood pictures of Magnes, any sort of recognition escaping her.

Dearing doesn't comment on Rue’s state when she enters the elevator with Robyn. Instead, his eyes are up on the small dome security camera angled down at the elevator passengers. There's no buttons in here, just a hand scanner. When Dearing gives the camera a thumbs-up, the hand scanner illuminates as if it was reading something, then the doors slide shut with a soft clattering of metal followed by a gentle chime.

As the elevator begins to descend, Dearing holsters his sidearm and reaches over his shoulder to draw his shotgun from its leather holster. One by one, Dearing methodically chambers green-shelled bean bag rounds into the shotgun. Once eight rounds have been loaded, he racks it with a noisy cha-chak. “Those Banshee are nice, but I like making sure they stay down when I'm not pointing my gun at them.”

Dearing’s shoulder's rise and fall in a careless shrug, followed by a tip of his eyes up to the ceiling of the elevator, then around inside. “This isn't exactly up to fire code, what with the lack of stairs…”

"Nothing," Rue says absently, waving Robyn into the elevator ahead of her. As they begin to descend, she watches Dearing chamber the non-lethal rounds in his shotgun. "Can't say I blame you." He can hear the smirk in her voice even if he can't see it on her face behind the helmet.

Her head swivels one way then the other as she takes in the elevator car, considering how lucky they are to have Nambiza on their side to make sure this thing functions for them without a stairwell to break into. "Rich people are so eccentric," she quips.

Wrinkling her nose at Rue's non-response, she chooses to let it go rather than inquire further - there would be time for that later. Instead, she busies her with making sure what she's brought with her is similarly ready to go. After Rue's voiced concerns, she carries little in the way of anything more explosive than a pair of "just in case" door breach charges, instead carrying her banshee on one hip and a pistol on the other.

For lack of a nonlethal option beyond her banshee, she keeps it drawn for the moment, leaning against the wall of the elevator. "If you had more money than God, wouldn't you be?" Offering a shrug of her own, hey eyes move to the elevator in anticipation of what she imagines waits for them in ways of a welcoming party.

“I plan to be one day,” Dearing says with an uncharacteristically chipper flash of a smile. “Eccentrically rich, I mean.” Nearly as fast as it began to move, the elevator slows to a gradual stop. There's a soft chime, followed by a hiss of pressurized air that blows in to the elevator as the doors open into a concrete hallway with sparking power lines hanging from broken ceiling conduits, flickering with electricity.

The sight causes Dearing to tense as he briskly lunges out of the elevator with shotgun raised, moving ten feet ahead before stopping short. “What the fuck?” Dearing says as he steps back, pulling up one foot like a cat that stepped in a puddle. Because he did.

Stringy red fluid sticks to the bottom of Dearing’s boot like molasses and cherry cobbler spread out with a mop. A moment later and Dearing makes a gagging sound and turns toward the elevator. “Fuck, oh god the fucking smell.” The lights in the elevator flicker, gutter, and go out as the entire car loses power.

A loose wire sparks in the distance. Robyn can see in the dark what Dearing can’t, what he stepped in on the floor were liquified human remains. There's bones and clothes amid the gore pile some two inches deep; a gelatinous sludge of pink slime lathered over lab coats, security uniforms, and abandoned firearms.

Suddenly this all feels very familiar to Robyn.

"I thought I was going to be a famous dancer and have roses thrown at my feet after every performance," Rue admits with a shrug. Fame over fortune, though the two tend to go hand in glove. To say she wanted one without thought to the other is more than a little disingenuous.

When the doors open and reveal the hallway, Rue's immediate concern is the sparking electrical conduits. It's only when Dearing exclaims that she really sees the gore ahead of them. "Jesus fucking Christ," she breathes out. Maybe there won't be much left of anyone to find, if this is any indication.

But the worst of them always seem to be behind the horrors like this, not the victims of it.

At least they have the benefit of not being able to see all the viscera and carnage as well as Robyn can. Any sarcastic remark she might have had on the tip of her tongue is lost, hand rising to cover her mouth as she stares out at the room, eyes widening.

"Oh no," she whispers, sliding her banshee back into place at her waist. She swallows hard, taking a half step back from the door as events of years past momentarily flash before her eyes. "No no no. This- These were people," she breathes out, hand still over her mouth." Slowly, she looks over towards Dearing, and then to Rue.

"I- Oh God. If we- If we have another Arcology on our hands…" It's taking a lot to keep herself calm, but it's just barely working if the way she shakes her head is any indication. Her CZ75 rattles a bit as she draws it, taking a deep breath to calm herself. "This… this is not going to be…" fun? Well of course not.

The noise Dearing makes when he clicks on his shoulder-mounted flashlight is somewhere between a retch and a strangled yelp. Gun drawn and stumbling back with slipping steps toward the elevator, he scans the corridor with shaky and uneven breaths causing his gun to bob up and down rapidly. He flicks a look back over his shoulder to the elevator as he backs up inside and slaps the close door button.

And nothing happens.

Motherfucker,” Dearing hisses as he hits the button three more times. Then tries the button to go up to the surface. Nothing. “Fuck this fucking place,” he stammers, scraping his shoes on the ground, leaving trails of veins, plasma, and hair in their wake. “Fucking— Christ what the fuck. What the fuck!?” Unlike Robyn, Dearing had never experience anything like this before.

One gloved hand comes up and bounces ineffectually off Rue's helmeted face. The hand drops back to her side and she sucks in an audible breath to steady herself. She'd read files and looked at photographs, but nothing could quite prepare her for the actual sight of this horror show. Her eyes scan the grisly scene in front of them behind her visor as her hand lifts again to rest against Dearing's arm, nudging him aside.

"I'll take point." Turning her own flashlight on, Rue swallows down the lump in her throat, lifts her sidearm, and forges ahead.

The rattling of Robyn's pistol slows as she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. A part of her appreciates Dearing's reaction to this… carnage. It helps her feel a little less helpless and taken aback by it all. Like she's not overreacting to something she's seen before. Taking a few shallow breaths, she nods when Rue takes point.

Notably not flicking on her own shoulder mounted flashlight, her eyes scan around as she steps out after Rue. She eyes a discarded automatic rifle, but seeing the mess around it she decides to leave it be. If she's going to procure anything, it's going to be something not covered in the sticky remains of another person.

If that's even possible down here.

"Did… either of you ever do research or read any of the reports from Albany about… the medical wing of the Cambridge Arcology?" The way she swallows back a retch as her eyes comb over one particularly disgusting collection of once was people shows her feelings on the matter rather clearly. "Be prepared for anything we have to shoot to not go down easy." It's probably the best advice she has right now.

Dearing just shakes his head, he hasn’t paid much attention to the trials for a lot of reasons. As he comes out of the elevator, he trains his gun back up and moves to fall in beside Robyn. The squelching sound of boots on sludge carries down the corridor, right up until the trio reaches a T-junction in the gradually curving hallway. The lights here are flickering sporadically, there’s signs of a struggle, more molten bodies laying in sludge-covered heaps on the floor. Security teams are rendered into a viscous gelatin with translucent bones covered in wet uniforms and body armor.

Dearing trains his gun down on one mass, shaking his head slowly. “What the fuck does this to people?” He asks in a whisper, not really wanting an answer. Up ahead there’s a pounding sound, a slow but rhythmic banging of a metal door. Dearing’s face goes ashen as he turns, flashlight shining down the corridor toward the rows of metal doors. Nearly all of them are open to the hall, reminiscent of solitary confinement prison cell doors. One is shut, and the pounding is coming from behind it.

Then, muffled and barely audible, “Is anyone there?” Another loud series of bangs. “Hello?” Dearing stares at Rue and Robyn, wide-eyed, and waits for orders.

The sound underfoot is hard to tune out, a small tick on Robyn's face twitching with each step. Answering Dearing's question - ignoring whether or not he may want one - proves difficult not for lack of words, but because of the need to swallow back a retch every few moments. "Genetic experimentation," she replies to him in a low voice, eyes scanning across the room in the vain hope of seeing something that doesn't turn her stomach. "I was lucky not to see… much, but this…" Another swallow. "Cellular breakdown on a catastrophic level. I think someone at the trial called it, uh…" She tries to laugh, but it sounds hollow. "Cherry cobbler?"

Her shoulders tense, pistol raised up as she tries to focus ahead. "Never heard of it on this sc-" She freezes when she hears the voice and subsequent repetition of banging, and like Dearing, she looks towards Rue for instructions. This could be bad sits on the tip of her tongue, but that's beyond obvious at this point so it goes unvoiced.

Rue holds up a hand to halt her team's advancement at the sound up ahead. It also doubles as a moment to allow her lurching stomach to calm. These had been people with lives and families, many of them likely conscripted into their roles, held here by threats and fear. At some point, they made a choice. Someone else can take up the torch to mourn their loss. Lancaster has a mission.

Striding forward with more confidence than she feels, she again motions for her team to stay put, to cover her as she approaches that sealed door. "Yes," she calls to the speaker behind the door, watching down the hall to be sure she doesn't attract any unwanted attention. "Who are you?"

A bloody fucking prisoner, what does it look like!?” The voice from the other side of the door shouts with a few solid slams. Dearing eyes Rue, then glances at Robyn as he moves to one side of the door and waits for a signal to act.

“Please just let me the fuck out,” the prisoner shouts from behind the door, “before he fucking comes back and remembers he forgot to fucking kill me!

Dearing squints, looking from Rue to the door. “Who? Who is coming back?”

Pete fucking Varlane! He fucking killed everyone! I heard the fucking screams!” Whoever’s on the other side of the door is British, that much is clear from his accent. “Please! Just open the fucking door! I’m unarmed!”

"It's not pretty out here," Keelut-1 warns the apparent captive. "Have your hands where we can see them. I'm going to open the door."

Rue nods her head to Dearing and Robyn, then juts her chin toward the door. With her firearm held at her side in one hand, she throws the bolt and turns the handle of the door with her other, pulling it open as she steps back. Behind her helmet, her gaze is wary and she lifts her gun in a two-hand grip.

The scowl that forms on Robyn's face at the mention of Pete Varlane shows how she feels about that particular matter, looking over as Rue as she moves to open the door. Her own firearm is held up, having mostly stopped clattering from her shaking as they've moved forward. Mostly. A little bit of that anxiety still shows through.

She takes a deep breath, and her hand still, waiting to see who it is that emerges. "I have a question for them, Keelut-1, if you don't mind," is asked with a casualness that belies the unease Robyn feels. She's not about to start asking random questions without her squad leader's permission, at least.

Dearing nods, grabbing the door handle and just pulling it off. Metal clatters down on the other side of the door, and when he bangs it with the side of his fist the force bounces the door open. Dearing steps back, gun up, flashlight shining through the doorway where a short and wiry man with a pale complexion hides his eyes from the bright gleam of the flashlights in an otherwise unlit concrete cell.

Dressed in a gray tracksuit, the prisoner steps forward, squinting against the light as he lowers his hands. “Who the bloody hell are you people?”

No one recognizes James Woods. Because he died a decade ago.


"Wolfhound," Rue responds, squinting at Woods behind her visor. Has he lived under a rock? Her eyes don't quite make it to the ceiling as she considers that this sort of constitutes just that. "The way back is closed off." Her head tips in the direction they came from, back toward the non-functioning elevator. "You'll either need to find someplace to hide, or come with us." She expects neither option to be especially appealing.

"Go ahead, Nunnehi."

Robyn squints at the man as he stumbles out into view, lowering her gun about half way. She chooses not to further complicate things by offering her own SESA identification. A glance over at Rue, and she turns back to him - perhaps, mercifully, without her flashlight shining into his eyes. She motions him closer to her, but doesn't yet lower her weapon. "The same question goes for you, I'm afraid."

Eyebrow quirking up, she smirks at him as she turns to look down the hall ahead. "First, you would do best not to look down. Second, we need to know what happened here. Besides Pete God Damn Varlane." The name roll off her tongue with a contempt that is perfectly reserved for… well people like Pete God Damn Varlane. "Do have any idea where he may be?" Turning back to him, she looks into the man's eyes for a moment, before posing her last question. "Have you encountered an Adrienne Allen here?"

Of course Woods looks down. That may be what makes him so silent, what causes his face to contort into a disgusted expression that has some sort of inscrutable sad-sack edge to it. Pale with worry, Woods mumbles, “Not fucking this again.”

Then, remembering he’s being held at gunpoint by a trio of whatever a Wolfhound is, he looks up and seems detached from the moment. “Yeah uh, I’ve— been locked in this fucking cell for God fucking knows how long? The only people I’ve seen are doctors, and bloody Pete, and Hiro fucking Nakamura so— ”


“Allen?” Woods’ parrots back with a furrow of his brows. “Doctor Allen? Blonde, French?”

"Hiro Nakamura?" Rue's never had the pleasure of making the time traveler's acquaintance, but he's infamous. Especially in the circles she runs in. As far as anybody knows, however, he's been dead for years. Then again, maybe this is a version of him from long ago, and he's still dead. Time travel is weird as fuck.

Rue shakes her head quickly. "Yes. Blonde, French. We're hoping to retrieve her." Which is the nice way of saying they hope to arrest her without incident.

Robyn's eyes slide over to Rue at her choice of wording. Retrieve. It's a lingering gaze for a moment before she looks back to Woods. "What in the hell is Hiro doing here," she murmurs - she is familiar with the time traveller, and something about the acknowledgement of his presence doesn't seem to sit well with her.

"Yes, Doctor Allen." Reaffirmation of Rue's acknowledgement, just in case. "What has Pete Varlane been doing?" seems like a more immediately relevant question, eyes looking back around her. "'Not this again' was about my reaction," she adds with a hint of amusement. Now, knee deep in the slime of former people may not be the best place to play twenty questions, but here they are.

“I don’t think he’s still here,” Woods says, trying to scrape the pink sludge off with the heel of one shoe, “Nakamura tossed me in the middle of a wildfire a few years back and said sorry and some shit I didn’t understand and he can go straight to hell because that’s where these assholes picked me up.” Woods hisses through his teeth, firing suspicious looks up and down the hall.

“I didn’t see what happened…” Woods finally explains, looking over at Robyn. “I just heard it,” and he doesn’t elaborate. “I haven’t heard screams for a while. I— I don’t know if anyone else is alive down here. I heard gunshots not too long ago, was that you three?”

“Uh,” Dearing looks to Robyn and Rue, then back to Woods. “No.” Then, with a quick look to Rue and Robyn his expression asks the obvious Huruma’s squad? But they were coming in from a remote HVAC system, they shouldn’t have beaten this squad down.

“The fuck are we doing standing here let’s get the fuck out!” Woods hisses in a loud whisper.

“Yeah uh,” Dearing eyes Woods, “the elevator’s fucked. I don’t know how big of a fan of stairs these assholes are, but apparently not much. So…” He looks back over to Rue, one brow raised.

Despite feeling positively bewildered by Woods' explanation of how he knows Nakamura and how he came to be here, Rue's expression and posture remain steady. "So," she begins, "this has officially become an escort mission." Deep down, Rue Lancaster is still a video gaming nerd. "Stick with us and we'll do our best to get you out of here."

With a deep breath, she again takes point, beginning to move down the mess of a corridor. "You know how to use one of these things?" She hefts her gun up a little higher for a moment to indicate which of these things she's referring to. "What's your name again?"

Robyn stares at Woods similarly dumbfounded, before taking in a deep breathe. "It's good to know that Hiro is still - always was? - an ass." Her expression is flat and impassive at the words escort mission. She doesn't have the context for it Rue does, but it speaks for itself, and the look on her face tells well enough of the disdain she feels for this situation.

"The only way out is through." Nodding to Dearing, she raises her pistol and readies to move forward. "So… what. You've just been held in there? And Nakamura was…" Something occurs to her after a moment, furrowing her brow as she looks over to Woods. "What year is it?" She quirks an eyebrow, curious at his response.

“Yeah yeah. They,” Woods motions with his gun down the hall, vaguely indicating them, “asked me that too. An’ they were a bit shocked when my answer was 2008 and they came back with 2013.” Woods ejects the magazine on the gun and checks the rounds, then snaps it back into place. “I’ve been their bloody lab rat for— fuck, it’s twenty-fucking-nineteen now ain’t it?”

Woods eyes the gun offered out to him suspiciously, then takes it in one hand. “I was a bloody Company agent for fifteen years, I know how t’fire a gun.” That admission elicits a sidelong look from Dearing to Rue and then back to Woods.

“Look, I don’ know what they did t’me. I don’t know if all the batshit crazy visions I’ve been havin’ are because of that, or if that’s just an after effect of being kicked in the ass through time. Truth be fucking told I’d rather not know the answer to it, because I’m pretty fucking dead in most of those visions.” Woods looks over at Dearing, who is giving him the most curdled look, and then brandishes his gun down the hall again. “Are we gonna’ go do whatever the bloody fuck it is you all have t’do t’get me out’f here or is big and handsome here just gonna make googly-eyes at me all day— night— whatever bloody fucking time it is.

«This is Wendigo-3,» Colette’s voice crackles over the comms, «We found a hidden freight access at the power station off-site. Looks like this is how the Institute got material hardware down to the labs. There’s something in the superstructure of the concrete, it’s blocking our comms from reaching the surface. We’ve found dead security guards, no sign of hostiles. Someone else might be here. Team 3, Team 1, you down here with us?»

With her sidearm relinquished to ensure their new addition is able to assist them once things get harried (there is no if in this scenario), Rue hefts her rifle instead. "Good," she nods her head. "Let's get us all the fuck out of here in one goddamn piece."

The team lead's head cocks to one side as the radio goes live in her ear, indicating that she's listening. «This is Keelut-1. We read you, Wendigo-3. We're surrounded by corpses and we've picked up a passenger. Our way back is inaccessible. Continuing forward.»

Company agent earns a bit of a side eye from Robyn, pursing her lips. She knows better than to judge all former Company agents at face value - coming to know several in varying capacities teaches that lesson very well. Still, that moment snap judgement has her shaking her head as she raises her side arm back up.

"Freight Access…" Looking over to Dearing, and then Rue, Robyn gives a small shrug. "At least there's still a way out if we can't find any stairs or get the elevators working." She falls silent afterwards, thinking on Woods' retelling of hisvisions. "Well…" she says quietly, before looking over at him. "You're not the only one." It's maybe meant to be reassuring. She isn't sure. Her gaze lingers for a moment longer before she looks back on ahead.

Scrubbing his hands over his face, Woods looks like he’s at his wits end as he moves in between Robyn and Dearing. The latter of the two gives the Brit a look up and down as he handles his firearm. There’s a look of suspicion, of distrust, but it goes unsaid. Woods, looking like he hasn’t slept in days, catches the look and has less impulse control.

“Do I have something on my fucking face?” Woods snaps at Dearing, who grimaces awkwardly and rolls his eyes.

“No. It’s fine. We’re just arming strangers,” Dearing says with a bitter tone, briefly flicking a look to Rue before squaring back to Woods. “Just point that thing at people other than us.”

Woods rankles his nose and tilts his head to the side. “Well it sure sounds like your boss trusts me with a bloody sidearm, so maybe— ”

“She’s not my boss,” Dearing snaps back perhaps a little too quickly and a little too defensively. While the pair are arguing as they walk, their conversation is drowning out another coming from further down the hall. Robyn and Rue heard it for a moment, two people angrily conversing that weren’t Dearing and Woods, concluded by a sharp and short-lived scream. Given that the hallway is curving past emptied offices, the source of the noise appears to be behind a closed door that reads Exam Room.

Rue bristles when Dearing snaps, thankful for the fact that it’s hidden behind her helmet. Garnering respect and getting her team to actually fall in line has not been the easiest of tasks since she was appointed to the position of First Lieutenant. To hear Dearing say that is wounding.

Fortunately, she doesn’t have to order the two men to stop bickering, as something else has punctured the tension and reminded them of the bigger mission. Rue picks up her pace, rifle held at the ready as she makes her way toward the door.

"And former Company," is Robyn's contribution to Dearing's comment about arming strangers. She is less put off by Woods than him, and even she looks a little surprised when the comment slips out. Trying not to call attention to it, she turns her eyes back ahead, sweeping her aim across the room. "Ná bac leis," is an Irish phrase that probably sounds like gibberish to almost everyone else present. "It'll be fine."

Her head snaps towards the source of the voices, towards the Exam Room.She stares for a moment, before a smirk absently starts to form on her face. "Well. This is probably about to get messy." A small shrug, and she raises her pistol and starts towards the door.

Dearing doesn’t notice the hurt, hidden behind a helmet. Given their last conversation, it’s possible he wouldn’t care if he did. Dearing’s relationships with everyone, his commanding officer included, have always been transactional. With a finger to his lips in a shush motion directed at Robyn, Dearing makes his way to the door and takes a one-handed grip on his pistol.

As they close the distance on the door, Woods offers a look to Robyn and Rue, keeping close to them. “That’s where they’d check on us after they… after they hooked us up t’the fucking carnival rides here.” Woods whispers with a motion of his gun to the door. “Small room, like a hospital exam room. Table, cabinets. Close quarters, one exit.”

Dearing looks back to Rue and Robyn, then without waiting for orders rips the door clear off the hinges and backwards with a clang to the floor. As the door tears off its hinges, Dearing steps out of the way to give Robyn, Woods, and Rue clear shots at—

Turning to look wide-eyed at the door is a tall and fatigued looking man in a blood-soaked gray sweater. His hair is graying at the edges, cuts on his face rapidly sealing shut. He’s familiar from Wolfhound’s dossier of Institute personnel, but only because he was supposed to have died in the Mount Natazhat explosion.

Bruce Maddox.

Behind Maddox is an exam table with arm and leg restraints, currently occupying a desperate-looking blonde woman likewise recognizable from Wolfhound’s more recent files: Doctor Adrienne Allen. Maddox has his hand on hers, a vice-like grip. Rue, Robyn, and Woods can all clearly see bullet wounds on Maddox’s body closing up.

Oh, fuck me,” Maddox splutters.

It’s a conversation they can have later. One about how he’s supposed to have her back, including with lip service. Rue’s anger is directed inward for a fleeting moment, furious with herself for possibly having given Dearing reason not to respect her. But there’s a convenient target that presents itself, allowing her to direct her disgust in a way that might at least prove semi-productive to the mission.

“I’m only going to say it once,” Keelut-1 warns, rifle trained on Maddox. “If you don’t want more holes in you, you’d better listen the fuck up.” Her finger curls around the trigger. She’d like to fire a warning shot into his shoulder, but spite won’t get her anywhere good. “Let Doctor Allen go and step away.”

It's probably lucky that Rue is the first one to speak up in reaction to seeing what's inside the room, and not Robyn. From the scowl on her face, her posture, the quickness with which she trained her gone on Maddox - it's clear that her first intention, upon laying eyes on Allen, was to shoot the other person first and ask questions later.

The impulse is pushed aside at least long enough for Rue to finish what she has to say, Robyn glancing over at Dearing and nodding. Unlike Rue, she does fire a warning shot - a controlled and precisely aimed shot just off to his side, rather than directly into him. She's been working too hard to find Adrienne Allen for this to go sideways now.

"If there is so much as a twitch," she takes the moment to add, "you won't see what happens next comin'.

Robyn Quinn.” Maddox says with a kick of one brow up, and in that instant there’s a dawning look of recognition. Then, everything goes dark.

Rue, Dearing, and Woods’ world is thrown into total darkness as Robyn feels her ability activate against her own will. But what she sees in the darkness they others cannot is Maddox shielding his eyes as if expecting a sudden flash of brilliant light. He scrambles forward in the dark, pawing helplessly. “What the— fuck— you’re a photokinetic not— ” he stammers, having lost sight of the door.

“Where the fuck is he!?” Dearing shouts, brandishing his gun wildly at the wall, Rue, another wall. Woods closes his eyes, starts slowly backing up. It isn’t fear, he’s retracing his steps. This isn’t his first rodeo, but Robyn is the only one uniquely equipped to stop what’s happening, even if she can’t turn her ability off.

Don’t let him get away!” Comes a French-accented scream from Doctor Allen.

Initially, Robyn is taken aback the most as her name is spoken out loud. It's jarring enough that she's taken out of the seriousness of moment. Left befuddled and confused, she isn't quick to notice as the lights go out around them. At least, but until Maddox says something. You're a photokinetic. That brings her back to herself, eyes refocusing in a room too dark for anyone else to see, and too awkward for much maneuvering.

But not too dark for her.

"Pas si vite," Robyn intones, trying her best to match Adrienne's accent; it sounds even more put on than usual in that moment. They can't see the smirk that forms on her face as she moves in an attempt to intercept Maddox. "It's funny how time changes things," she remarks in a faux casual manner, brandishing her knife up in her other hand. "Is, or was? Matter of perspective." She reaches for his collar. "I figure we got a moment. Stay! Let's talk about it. Got a few questions myself."

There's a curse bitten back, stifled to a frustrated growl behind her teeth as Rue struggles to see in the dark. It's unwelcome and uncomfortable, but not entirely unfamiliar. After all, she's run drills with Demsky. Stepping back carefully, much like Woods, she retraces her steps and listens for sounds of their quarry's approach.

Robyn's voice, so very calm in the face of this blindness, is both welcome and disconcerting. And that Maddox recognized her and called her out by name in the moment before the blackout is another point of concern that she'll contend with when she writes up her report. It's going to be one hell of a thing, if they get out of this mess with their wits intact.

When Maddox is seized by the collar he hunches like a housecat caught eating a fern. “Okay— just don’t— please don’t shoot me.” Hands up in the air, Maddox releases his control over Robyn’s ability, and the lights begin to creep back from the edges of the room, ending with the shadows coalesced around Robyn’s body until everything has returned to normal.

“What the fuck was that?” Dearing asks, gun momentarily trained on Robyn before it squares on Maddox again. Dearing eyes Rue, waiting for instructions, but remains a broad-shouldered plug in the doorway of the exam room.

“Uh… folks?” Woods says quietly from the back.

You,” Dearing looks at Maddox, “pull that shit one more time and I’ll snap your fucking legs off. Where’s Institute leadership hiding?”

Guys?” Woods says again, a bit of an edge in his voice. At the same time, Doctor Allen fires a worried look over to Robyn, as still as a placid pond, unwilling to draw attention to herself. There’s palpable fear in her eyes, likely from the situation she found herself in with Maddox, but possibly also what Woods is getting on about, which Rue is in a perfect position to see.

A red point of light in the darkness down the hall from where they’d come from.

“Uh, is that… one of you?” Woods asks, going a bit pale as the sound of footsteps begin thumping down the hallway, heavy and resolute. Someone is coming, someone heavy.

Robyn's eyes meet Dearing's as he sweeps the gun towards her, and she stares at him for a moment before looking over at Rue. With a heavy sigh, she shrugs. "Surprise!" she deadpans, waving her hands in a vaguely jazzhands like motion. This is certainly not how she wanted her evolution of her ability to go on record, but here they are. "I do darkness now." Before anyone responds, she raises a finger. "We can talk about it later."

Releasing Maddox, she points a finger at him and offers a sharkish grin. "And don't worry. If you try that nonsense again… well. What he said."

Her attention moves from them and Woods to Adrienne, whom she immediately sets about freeing from the exam table. As she unstraps the other woman, she looks over to Woods, registers what he says, and then begins to hurry. "I've been looking for you for months," is a muttered comment. "So let's get out of here before someone comes to fix that."

Rue Lancaster is screaming internally and pushing down the desire to snap something about professionalism, which may be something she has trouble with from time to time, but not out in the field. Not like what she perceives this moment to be. Only a tip of her helmeted head in Robyn’s direction betrays the flat look she’s wearing behind her visor.

When Woods calls for their attention, Rue’s head immediately snaps up to bring her attention back to the hallway they came from. Her eyes get wide, trying to see through the darkness to determine what’s headed their way.

The answer is obvious: Nothing good.

“No,” Rue answers Woods with a shake of her head, lifting her rifle to point down the hall and hoping that the caliber of ammunition is going to be enough for whatever the hell has such heavy footfalls. “Get the fuck out of sight,” Lancaster instructs her team in a low hiss. Ducking into a room with no other exit may not be the right call and so she steps further down the hall, putting herself between whatever’s coming and the team she’s assembled. She’s giving them space to move.

“Oh fuck me,” Woods hisses as he rounds the corner of the hallway out of sight, rather than boxing himself into the small exam room. Dearing takes a knee, picking up the door he’d torn off the hinges, holding it tightly in one hand the way someone might a folded up cardboard box. Dearing looks at Rue, then at the red light in the darkness as the whirr-click-whirr sound of servo motors gets closer.

As Doctor Allen is unstrapped and her only partially-tied gag removed, the blonde scientist sweeps her legs down off of the table and freezes when she hears the sound. A hand comes up, grabs a hold of Robyn’s bicep. Adrienne’s blue eyes stare piercingly at the photokinetic. “They’re liquidating the facility,” she says in an urgent tone. “The Director sent the call this morning. We have to get out of here or we’re all dead.

Braced and waiting for whatever is coming down the hall, Dearing levels his pistol in one hand up at the red light. But through the darkness it is not a Hunter that comes marching into the dim light of vest-mounted flashlights. It is a man. Or rather, something made in the image of one.

Fuc— ” is as far as Dearing gets before machine gun fire explodes from that end of the hall. The heavy chunk of a high-caliber machine gun comes with the flicker-flash of tracer rounds. Concrete explodes from the impact of the first two rounds, and inside the examination room Adrienne ducks and covers her head. Dearing steps to the side, bringing the four inch thick steel door up in front of Rue. There’s loud pong, pang, plank sounds as bullets leave dimpled protrusions in the steel.

When the gunfire stops, Dearing lowers the shield enough to see a clear look at the humanoid machine marching forward, red eye lensing to a narrow point as he ejects its magazine and reaches for another. “Robot!” Dearing shouts, opening fire with his handgun as each round reflects with a spark off of heavy armor.

Whatever Rue was expecting to come down the hall, it wasn't that. "Shit!" As Dearing raises up the makeshift shield, she ducks behind it, huddling up as small as she can in her armor. The trouble with robots – humanoid or otherwise – is that the brain of the works may not be in the most immediately obvious placement.

All the same, she'll feel better when she blows its stupid robotic head off.

Taking aim, Rue draws in a deep breath, holds it, and pulls the trigger twice in rapid succession, then ducks back behind the relative safety of cover the unhinged door supplies. "Move!" Keelut-1 orders, waving her arm further down the hall. A sharp look is thrown at Robyn. "Cover Doctor Allen and go." She squeezes off another couple rounds of suppressive fire and and turns to Dearing, her arm braced against the dimpling steel.

Options are weighed silently. If this is a Hunter, it shouldn't target her. But if this is a liquidation, then it's highly likely that no lifeform is safe. "Grab Maddox and get moving," Rue tells her second-in-command. "You wanna live, dick for brains?" she asks the scientist. "Follow us and do as you're fucking told. I guarantee you we're way better company than whatever party Varlane's got planned for you."

"Don't have to tell me twice!" Robyn looks at Adrienne and nods to her, before pulling her along with of her. With the surprise! of her ability blown, she would love to use it to keep them some sort of hard to see, but she knows better than that when it comes to Institute robots - nothing she can do right now matters.

"I'd like to stay alive at least once." Muttered to herself as she pushes forward with Dr. Allen in tow, she's barely paying any mind to what's happening behind her. The way out is through she repeats to herself, an echo of her earlier comment. Only just enough mind is paid back behind her to yell to Rue. "You better not die back there, Keelut-1!"

Making sure that she is somewhat between the robot and Adrienne, Robyn presses on ahead. "I have a door charge still!" she calls back, as if it might help in this situation. But with the look of the winding hallway ahead, it seems unlikely… though she has he doubts about any of them wanting to come back this way.

Both of Rue’s shots ricochet off of the machine’s head casing, landing a little to the right of the glowing red lens. The machine emits a garbled squawk of mechanical noises from an external speaker, ejecting a magazine with a clatter to the floor as it smoothly reaches down to its waist to grab another even as it continues its slow progress forward. Adrienne requires no instructions on running, and she hurries alongside Robyn.

“There is un entrepôt — a warehouse — we can access to escape!” Adrienne hisses as she runs, looking back to Maddox who is scrambling away from Rue and Dearing as fast as he can.

“Are you out of your fucking mind!? That’s where they’re moving the last test subjects!” Maddox shouts ahead at Adrienne. “We can cut through the Heisenberg project lab and double back, there’s a ventilation system we can crawl up through! It’s too narrow for that thing!”

Êtes-vous fou?” Adrienne shouts at Maddox, breathlessly. “I don’t want to be in some tiny vent with that thing behind us!

“Aye, my fucking vote is for not recreating a scene from aliens!” Woods whisper-shouts with his hands wildly flailing, “let’s go with her idea!”

At the rear of the group, Dearing fires a side-long look at Rue as he backs up with the shield. “On the count of three,” he says, and she’s seen this posture before. She saw it at the dam when they first met.

“One.” The robot clacks a new magazine in place.

“Two.” It raises the rifle up toward Dearing and Rue.

Three!” Dearing hurls the door in an underhanded toss like a discus, sending it spinning end over end to collide with the machine and knock it off of its feet and into the rear wall. There’s a shower of sparks as the robot collides with the concrete and then crashes down to the floor. Dearing slaps Rue on the back as he turns, preparing to race down the hall after Robyn and the others.

Rue nods her head as Dearing begins his countdown. She knows exactly what he's going to do, and she's prepared to spring the moment it happens. "Nice throw!" To her credit, she only half-staggers at the clap on the back, pivoting on one foot to turn tail and run after the others. A toothy grin is hidden behind her helmet as she pour on speed to catch up.

Neither option presented by their Institute wards strikes her as terribly appealing, but options are slim and few. Lord only knows what horror might wait in the warehouse, but the idea of trying to crawl through the air ducts with a group this size and with a machine-gun wielding robot in pursuit seems equally disastrous.

"Warehouse!" Rue shouts after a moment of dithering. At least they'll have the ability to fight back after whatever might be there to stop them. Freedom of movement sounds infinitely better than her mental image of getting stuck in her armor.

The call of "warehouse" comes as a relief to Robyn, even if she can't show it as she runs. "Oh, thank god," she breathes out, glance over at Adrienne - she agrees with her, a vent is the literal last place she wants to be at the moment… thought a warehouse that could basically be a carnival tent of horrors probably isn't much better in the long run.

But at least she won't feel cramped if she dies there, right?

Looking to Adrienne, Robyn nods to her. "Which way?" is less a request and more a demand, spoken with an insistent urgency to make sure no one forgets the situation they're in right now, if they could. "J'espère que vous avez raison à ce sujet. Pour tout notre bien." A look is offered over to Maddox, waving for him to catch up to them.

"Sorry, but we don't really have time to deliberate," she offers, pulling out the small explosive change in her bag, a look offered back towards Rue as she presses forward. She's sure this looks less than sane in the eyes of literally everyone else here, but anything that'll help she's willing to offer.

Gunfire tears through the air on Rue’s heels. Concrete blasts off in small chips, ricochets bounce around the corridor. Rue is clipped in the back by a Ricochet, her armor hardening into a protective plate right before the impact. It sends her staggering forward, but it only creates a hiccup in her gait. Dearing is jogging backwards behind her, firing into the dark at the red light shining from the machine’s head.

Move, move, move!” Dearing shouts, ejecting his magazine and snapping another into place. The loud report of the handgun blasts into the darkness, muzzle flash briefly illuminating the terrible machine making steady progress on the retreating team.

“Don’t fucking yell at me!” Woods shrieks back at Dearing, “When I see a bloody killer robot of course I’m going t’move!

Up ahead, Maddox pants and gasps as he runs, feet clapping on the floor and one hand pressed against the wall; out of breath and clutching a stitch in his side. He’s not a runner. Adrienne stops by his side, snarling as she hooks one of his arms around her shoulders and helps him run. She fires a look over to Robyn, “Je ne sais pas qui tu es,” she says with a hasty breath, “Mais merci! Je pensais que j'étais mort. J'étais prêt.

Up ahead, a pair of blue metal doors inset to the right wall are marked with a dark red bloodstain. There’s a slouched scientist’s body, blood staining his white lab coat, hunched against the door. “Jesus Christ, Philippe.” Maddox barely has time to process his coworker’s corpse before Adrienne is pushing the doors open, revealing a hallway lined with empty gurneys pushed against the walls. Adrienne quickly waves Robyn and the others in. “Quickly! The warehouse isn’t far!”

A burst of automatic gunfire fills the air, and behind Rue she hears a piercing scream accompanied by an electrical snap-crackle. She turns in time to see Dearing going down on one knee, blood spattering the ground beneath him. The battery pack on his armor has overloaded from absorbing too many shots. Mercurial ferrofluid leaks from the back of the armor, dribbling down his sides. He breathes in heavily, struck in the back by the machine’s gunfire.

The robot continues to advance, but there’s a rapid series of clicks from the gun. It brings one hand down to its hip, no more magazines of ammunition carried. It drops the rifle with the clatter to the concrete floor and begins to advance on Dearing with its bare hands.

At the sound of the scream, Rue skids to a stop, slapping a hand on the wall to give her the momentum to spin herself around. “Dearing!” Panic attempts to take hold, but Rue shoves it down. It doesn’t serve her. “Keep running!” she shouts over her shoulder to the others. “Get them to safety, Nunnehi!”

Raising her rifle, Lancaster fires round after round into the metallic monstrosity. “Get up!” she cries, hoping the order is enough to spur him, along with whatever adrenaline may be coursing through him. The space between them is closed as she dips down, slapping another clip into her magazine as she goes, before grabbing her second roughly by the arm. “Get up!


Hearing Dearing's named called out finally snaps Robyn's attention away from Adrienne, back to her friend and their potentially perforated partner. Eyes widening, she takes a half step back towards them before Rue's words stop her. Thoughts race a mile a minute as she considers her options - proceeding on ahead with the two they've managed to corral so far, or going back to help Dearing and Rue, but potentially putting all of them in danger.

Teeth grit, and she forces herself to smirk. "I swear to God if I look back over my shoulder and either of you are dead…" She squares her vision with the robot for a moment, narrowing her eyes as she considers what she could do to help. A hand clenches into a fist, trying her best not to remember the times she could do something about this with her ability.

"Get the hell up, Dearing!" She echoes after Rue as she turns away them, giving up the pretense of codenames for the moment. Looking to Maddox and Adrianne, she quickly moves after them. "Allons-y! Go!" She can discuss who she is with Adrianne later.

Rue’s gunfire does little to deter the forward movement of the machine, though in the dim light she notices chunks of its ablative armor blasting off of its body with each shot. Whatever they’ve been doing it’s whittling down its ability to resist further attacks. What amounts to covering fire for all that it’s damaged the machine has managed to give Dearing time to pull himself up, struggling to maintain his footing before clop-stomping a few steps ahead. He’s leaving a drizzling trail of blood in his wake, one hand clutched at his side and barely holding on to his sidearm.

But Rue’s selfless moment of loyalty to her squad soon costs her. The robot moves in a sudden forward burst of speed, slamming into her and knocking her to the ground. It winds back with one hand, slamming down on the chestplate of her armor hard enough to knock the wind out of her and deplete the remaining energy in the battery pack. She can feel the quick vibrating pulse at the small of her back indicating as much.

When the machine raises a hand up again and brings it down, Rue hears the whining sound of servos struggling to move as Dearing has taken a firm grasp of the robot’s wrist. Bleeding, he fights against the robot’s significant strength and against his injury’s blasts of pain telling him not to, he hauls the robot bodily off of Rue and slams it against the wall. If it weren’t for her, he’d surely be dead right now. Remarkably, Dearing didn’t leave Rue to the same fate.

Grabbing Rue by the collar of her armor, Dearing hauls her to her feet in prompt repayment and the two break down the hall to catch up to Robyn, Maddox, and Adrienne as the robot struggles to pull itself to its feet.

Up ahead, the trio at the fore of the escape come bursting through a pair of double doors at the end of the long hall, passing by bodies of Institute security operatives in standard body armor, laying in pools of their own blood. Adrienne skids through one of the blood pools, a hand clasped to her mouth. She looks back to Maddox, but he’s barreling past her and sheet white from the sounds of combat at their rear. Maddox turns left in the hall, clearly knowing where he’s going, but comes to an abrupt stop at the sound of gunfire coming from up ahead.

Oh fuck,” Maddox hisses, backpedaling right into Adrienne. He jolts at the contact, wheeling around wide eyed. “We’re boxed in! We’re dead! This is it we’re all dead!” Adrienne grabs Maddox by the collar and shakes him back and forth, staring him down as she does.

Get a hold of yourself!” Adrienne reprimands, smacking Maddox across the face. Skidding to a stop, Woods looks back at Robyn, still holding the sidearm he’d been given.

“If tha’s the bloody way out, we shoot our way through? I mean, that’s how we handled it in the Deveaux Building when those tin-men were— ” Woods flinches, blinking, “not you. Wrong you. Fuck me.” At the same time a chirp crackles over Robyn’s radio, and as Dearing and Rue close the distance they too begin to hear something coming over their comms. Whatever is interfering with their signals down here seems to be breaking up again, perhaps a closer proximity to the broadcast source.

The voice is recognizable.

«Is anyone out there? Repeat, this is Wendigo-3, we’re under fire from hostile machines in a warehouse. We have civilians, requesting support!» The gunfire on the radio is the same as the gunfire heard up ahead.

It’s Colette’s team.

«Wendigo-3, this is Keelut-1. We are en route to your position. We’ve picked up civilians as well.»

A moment ago, her life was flashing before her eyes. Those metal fists came down on her chest, she tried to gasp for air, then prepared for a horrible end. She expected to feel her ribs crack and the whole cage cave in.

But there was Dearing.


«Keelut-2 has been tagged.» That much is delivered in a matter-of-fact tone. She hasn’t had the time to assess just how badly he’s injured, but she knows it’s not good. «What’re we coming in to?>

«Heavy fire!» Colette barks back. «We’ve got heavy hostile resistance, making a fighting retreat! Three civilians with us, Kravid is dead. Rendezvous by the stairs up at the freight elevator!»

Wrong you. The look that Robyn Quinn gives James Woods in that moment is baleful, almost malicious. "Yeah. Wrong me," she replies flatly, looking back over her shoulder as they wait for Rue and Dearing. It's not hard to gather what he means, not with what she's seen and where her mind has been at the last few weeks. "Probably dead."

The odds seem in favour of it.

But Dearing and Rue, both in bad shape, brings her a bit back out of her anger at Woods and instead redirects it at the other two. "What the actual fuck were you thinking?" comes tumbling out of her mouth first, moving to pick up a gun off one of the fallen and bloodied bodies. "I'm glad you're both okay," is less of an afterthought that it sounds, "but this just means we have to get out of here even more."

Colette's Team.

She wasn't sure how much her darkness could affect machines, but she has a feeling they're about to find out. Her pace slows enough to allow Dearing and Rue to better catch up, motioning to Maddox and Adrienne as she moves. "Come on, then. Strength in numbers."

They're gonna need it.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License