Push Comes To Shove


benji_icon.gif carol_icon.gif cat_icon.gif eli_icon.gif huruma3_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Push Comes To Shove
Synopsis Bait is stolen from the jaws of the beast when a small group of terrorists discharge an important patient of the Institute.
Date July 17, 2011

The Commonwealth Arcology

The bottom-most tier of the immense, state of the art multi-level underground arcology sprawls empty, dark and eerie, snagging glimpses of steel and concrete beneath the sweep of flashlight illumination. Turned upwards, the light tapers away before it hazily distinguishes a ceiling made of crossbeams and rock. Construction machinery are as still as skeletons at a burial ground, rebar caging off sections where wall may be, bricks and slabs of concrete lay stacked and rubble in piles all create strange shapes and good cover from absolutely no one. This place seems almost abandoned, and that's because it is. Progress has stalled, money spent elsewhere, leaving only the two levels above them as functional and populated. The place is huge, in sharp constrast to the claustraphobic, dripping tunnels it took to get here.

It's also cold, despite the summer day twinkling merrily above ground. Benji gives a shiver beneath her jacket, boots avoiding where it seems collected puddles of moisture spread the deepest on uneven terrain, and follows the path her flashlight makes with eyes gone wide in the darkness. Fear is manifested in prey-like caution and alertness, sensitive to even the slightest sound that doesn't seem like it comes from the foot steps and movements of the three people she is with.

Which is why, when a fabricy thud of something landing behind her crumples down on a patch of relatively dry concrete, she jumps, only barely catching flashlight before it can fall with a clatter. It's likely a good thing that the solitary weapon (besides quick acting sedatives charged into syringe needles) she does have, a handgun, wasn't being held at the time. The light swings around to the sets of white, industrious fabric, glinting off the plastic of a face mask — suits designed to cover enough that the pile looks like melted bodies of retrievers than just empty sacks of fabric, in the wrong light.

"Ladies, gentlemen," echoes a voice, and Eli levers himself down from his perch on the machinery. "Punctual — I like it."

Dark clothing is the order of the day, worn over body armor to protect her chest. The face is covered with a balaclava as Cat is accustomed to using on operations such as this, and she comes armed with an M16 rifle and a few clips of extra ammo. Thought was given to using some of the biohazard suits she acquired long before becoming a fugitive, when Maya was a guest and measures were being lined up to safely train her in ability control, but they were left behind. Retriever suits fill the same purpose and are far more fitting with the mission at hand. She turns at the sound and the male voice behind her, hands close to bringing that weapon to bear, but the words he speaks and the apparent absence of hostility spark restraint of that impulse.

"It's bad form to be late for a party," she replies dryly, "when the host has made such impeccable arrangements." Eyes sweep over the man's form, committing features to indelible recall

"Gentleman." Huruma's voice is as darkly lit as the rooms down below, and her eyes seep out of the dark, above the little flare of an LED torch in her hand. No time for campfire faces, but still, the light casts dark shadows up on her face. "There's jus'one." Not a soul can say that she is not, at least- accommodating. Her clothes are dark, and lightly padded. Enough to hamper something coming at her, but only just. The tall woman stalks up behind Benji to peer overhead, light aimed past her at Eli's ruddy face, and the expression on her staying quite unreadable.

"I am not in th'habit of being anything but." Huruma finally smiles, a ghostly white against flashlights, shadows, and her skin.

Gentleman, certainly.

Vincent is looking more professional than acts of terrorism typically call for: kevlar fastened fast over a white dress shirt and darker slacks. The stenciled print worn grey across the back reads DOEA in bold lettering — as defunct a designation as there ever was.

At least he's wearing athletic shoes. Black to match, naturally.

He is not wearing a balaclava.

He isn't talking much, either, quiet if not outright unfriendly company in the cavernous gloom. Occasionally he vanishes altogether, black fog stirring restlessly along from one of the procession's flanks to the other. This is not the type of thing that he does often. It's been a while since he's really even had to storm an illegitimate castle in a law enforcement capacity. Moving up the ranks will do that.

He jolts when the others do at Eli's arrival, terse irritation black in his eyes and lean in his jaw when he stiffens and turns. Stool pigeons are assholes.


Except that anything he might have said on that account is waylaid by Huruma's correction, and he's left to baffle warily for a moment before his eyes fall inevitably (awkwardly) upon Benji. Connecting the dots. Somehow.

An insincere and belated, "Good to see you." will have to do.

Predictably, Benji stays quiet for now as the other three offer both greetings and correction, and in the dark, shy flush rising red from her neck to cheekbones is at least obscured, taking to instead step forward and peer closer at the offerings tossed before them.

"Likewise," is just as insincere, obligatory, while Eli shifts an uncertain look from Vincent to Benji to Huruma, before jolting a shrug to cast the correction away. "Well, whatever you are, it doesn't matter — these things," and he nods at the pile of uniform and equipment, "are sort've one size fits all. Whenever you're ready to go, the place is going to go into fire drill mode. The second tier— the floor above us, will lock down and seal off sections until they give the all clear, the first will start evacuating. This," and Eli tosses the item to the person closest, Benji awkwardly catching the item between her hands and flashlight, a plain black keycard upon inspection, "will get you in and out, but I only got one for you. I'm taking off the way you came before shit hits the fan."

"And how will we know where Mrs. Praeger is?" Benji asks, setting down the flash light as she reaches to collect one of the uniforms.

Eli tips a nod to Vincent. "He's seen the blue prints. Get to the north wing, and from there, you might want to ask directions." His eyes flicker over the array of weaponry within his view, particularly the rifle that Cat happens to be carrying, his mouth twisting. "I'm sure you got your ways."

"Does the rifle work counter to the disguise in this place?" Cat asks tersely, eyes flashing across his face before moving on to the gear provided for them. "The retrievers I've seen all carried these." Time isn't wasted, she props the weapon carefully against a tunnel wall and sets about the process of getting into uniform. Whether or not she's also seen the maps and therefore has an idea of the interior from them goes unsaid.

Huruma shifts forward, her eyes roving from man to suits, to the few with her. She is not as obviously armed as Cat is. That does not mean that it is not there. Somewhere. It also means she is reluctant to disarm herself to do as Cat does. She has to, however, taking great care to choose one weapon from her personal stash and put it aside. It's a midsize pistol, matte black and heavy as it gets set down. Thankfully, the suits are one size fits …most. Huruma's is a bit snug in some places- but it serves well, and as she gives Vincent a coy little smirk, she flips up the hood and facemask.

The empath can still feel everything from in it, and the vision field is something to be desired- pros and cons, Huruma can suppose, as she takes up her pistol again, peering once over herself- this feels so strange to her, to boot- to perhaps find a place to stash the pistol. If she has to carry it, she has to carry it.

"…I never wan't'be in one of these again. If I can… help it." Her voice out of the apparatus sounds raspier, more like a growl. Or maybe she is actually growling- they cannot see her face, anymore.

For all the seconds Vincent wastes looking distastefully down after Eli's offering of gas-mask endowed garbage bags, he makes short work of actually putting one on. His shorter stature may make it easier for him, but the final product doesn't bag around his ankles.


Some uncomfortable adjustment around the face mask later, he tucks his own semi-automatic sidearm inelegantly down into a pocket. Because they must have pockets. It's hard to operate as a villain without them to pull things out of. "It flatters you," he tells Huruma, once he's zipped a zip and velcroed the last velcro. And then to Eli, a simple, "Thank you."

There are pockets, as well as belt-like holster-type harnesses on which negation gas canisters can hang from, and in this case do not. The garment is both simple and complex in that it is well-made and durable and slightly too warm for comfort, and Benji goes through the same awkwardness of disarming and rearming herself, fidgeting with the straps that promise to fix the mask in place, before clutching the keycard back in hand once all dressed up. Eli shakes his head once at Cat, and backs it up with a verbal; "No one will second glance you for that." If there are other reasons, they aren't enough for Eli to verbalise.

Probably he's just being snarky, although he doesn't shrug away the thanks leveled his direction — through the mask, it's hard to pick out the tone of voice that slants intention on it. "No problem. Good luck." And that, certainly, sounds sincere.

A second later, and he's slinking down the path they had taken, swallowing himself up in the darkness with a fleeting patch of light cast across his backet when Benji picks up her flashlight, and just as she turns it for the likeliest direction, the caterwaul of fire drill sirens begin to cry out as distanced as the call of something wild in the desert. The group moves not quite in the same uniform trek of a militant unit, tuned in to predictability of each others movements, but they certainly look the part. The keycard works as promised — up the stairs and into an interstitial space of concrete and low lights, and then, quite suddenly, they spilled out into brightly lit hallway where the sirens ring ever louder, almost making the walls vibrate with the cacophony.

A viewing window is in immediate sight, and a man and a woman in professional clothing, a lab jacket on the latter, can be seen rushing for the door out of their laboratory, and inaudibly cursing when it proves not to yield to their efforts on the handle, or even the swipe card the man repeatedly tries to run through the lock.

At the other end of the hallway, they see a momentary flash of a team of five, dressed just as they are, swiftly moving passed — they aren't stopping to let people out. Benji can't help the automatic step back to shrink near the wall, before steadying herself and her resolve, taking pistol in hand and glancing back through the tinted plastic towards where she— thinks— Vincent happens to be.

Moving along the hallway, rifle over her shoulder, Cat is alert and letting as many details as can be seen through the reduced vision of retriever gear be taken in. Faces of the professionally clad pair rushing out, the five-retriever team, the lab itself and contents. With their objective not yet in sight, the time for action hasn't come upon them.

"Don'be a prick. Unless you really think so, then by all means…" Huruma pockets her pistol carefully, taking a moment to bob her hips to one side. It- is more disturbing than comical, in its playfulness. Or both, if you like that sort of thing. Still weird. That's the end of that. Huruma rights herself and steels, ready to go just as the sirens call out above them. She follows without another word.

Huruma keeps along the wall, for the most part, head swiveled to stare steadily down the hall, and into the window of the room where the pair of labcoats seem to be stuck. She addresses the three with her first.

"Let's go. B'fore w'linger too long."

Vincent is broader than Cat. Also stiffer about the shoulders for all that his mask is the same generic obsidian blank. But if build alone isn't enough, it's be hard to misidentify the gloved grip at Benji's elbow that places him(?) firmly back into line as Lazzaro manuevers past to lead the way.

"If anyone shouts for your help or attention, don't even turn your head," passed back after the first couple of minutes spent making the same observations everyone else does may go without saying. All the same. He's leading a gaggle of terrorists, here. Not.

You know.

Capable people.

Also he does not flirt with Huruma after that initial jibe, heeding warning for what it is. She is large and disturbing and eats people, he knows. Or has read reports.

He takes the first right instead, mask tilting slightly up to mark the passage of a directory sign overhead on his way past rolling trays of freshly sterilized tools. Petris dishes. Brown boxes sealed with transparent packing tape marked FRAGILE and CAUTION. Two more turns spill them out into a thicker artery of traffic — one that he's quick to cross rather than attempt to blend into the flow. It seems like a lot less walking than it actually is, but the change from one side of the main way to the other is distinct: while silvery tools persist, they've taken on a more ominously complex design overall. Some observation windows are blacked out with curtains. There is a tray of generic-looking cafeteria food abandoned before it could be served.

They pass a couple of milling doctors, scientists, researchers, whatever they're supposed to be — a man calls out hey for assistance over the noise of the alarm, because the doors aren't working, where the fuck are they supposed to be, but are left to stand and wonder in the corridor. As instructed, Benji doesn't even deal them a glance, moving only to unlock doors as needed — she is reasonably sure that all three of them can handle a gun better than she can, and occupies her hands with the electronic locks blinking red as they power their way through.

Spilling out into their last stop, without further incident, they came across the glass sliding door that leads into the relevant laboratory. As locked down as every other portal, they can catch a glimpse of a large room, another unlabeled doorway sealed off only with flimsy, thick plastic strips as one might find on freezer doors, and silver examination tables, sinks, viewing rooms. Moving bodies show them that this place isn't empty of personnel. One man in a suit and sweatervest is talking irritatedly to two younger men, both of them doctors in scrubs, one with his face mask loose around his neck.

It's where they need to be, and blue prints didn't tell Vincent or any of the others where exactly Carol Praeger is stashed in this wing — just that she is here, beyond the sealed sliding doors. Benji fidgets with the keycard, disinclined to immediately barge in as she steps out of immediate view of the three beyond the door. "If we can— overpower them, get the information we need, I can put them under," comes from a life-preserving standpoint. As well as an excessively loud gunfire and ammunitions preserving standpoint.

No movement out of line is made, nothing done to call unwanted attention on them, as she moves along with the group. Just walking in the needed direction with alert eyes recording all she sees. On reaching the destination laboratory Cat halts while Benji works to open the doors, weapon remaining across her shoulder to avoid giving those inside any inkling hostilities might be afoot until absolultely unavoidable. As to what move they make next, she's following Mister Smoky's lead.

How strong and willful can doctors and guys in sweatervests be? Maybe this is one big reason Huruma is here. It has occurred to her, before now. She sighs audibly, peering over heads. Huruma is not as inclined to sidle out of the way of the doors. "If we get inside, I can, I should think." Fear is a lovely moderator, isn't it? Huruma lifts the pistol from her side, letting it hang in her grip at her thigh for the time being.

"Push comes to shove, I do not have to shoot them." Beating them sounds …reasonable.

"Please don't," doesn't really count as asking nicely on account of the fact that Vincent isn't asking. The speed with which he makes up his mind (or doesn't need to) is enough to confirm Huruma's suspicious, anyway. The fact that she and Cat have experience beating the hell out of people certainly influenced his decision to pull them aside, abilities aside. "Shoot them, I mean. Unless they shoot first." Then all bets are off.

And that's it. He nods to Benji, silent go ahead to open the door. "Ladies first."

There's a half-smile somewhere behind breathing aparatus, and, seemingly unworried about the capability of the three past-generation heroes of her time, Benji steps forward to unlock the doors, with a beep and a hiss of mechanism. It's quiet, but not quiet enough to not cut through whatever pissy conversation the three men are having just yonder, who swiftly turn in time to see the reassuring sight of armed security who can unlock the doors. "Thank god," the older man states, breaking off easily from the two doctors to turn his attention to the four new personnel emerging on the scene, even if the one who just opened the door is all but primly side stepping as if to get out of the way.

And not the doctors' way. "When was the last time there was even a real fire?" is Sweatervest's complaint, unable to really catch the eyesight of any leader-like figure in the group but certainly trying hard to. Doctor2 stands passive and expectant to get back to work, but from Doctor1, Huruma senses a faint twang of anxiety that comes with the sense that something isn't right. and all of them can see the step back, the glance away.

"Bullets are noisy," Cat replies dryly to Vincent's commentary, "and might not be called for here anyway. I think they might suddenly just get scared and run away. Or become very talkative about what we need." Even better than needing to take time beating anyone unconscious, that. She enters once the door is opened, taking position just inside the doors to observe while others file through behind her, with attention focused on the one who stepped back and glanced away just now. There's no attack just now, no physical move toward the man.

Huruma can play a part, if need be. She fills out the suit, but not enough to betray her gender; the hang of it from her shoulders makes it harder. She steps forward, lifting her gun-free hand to motion the doctors and Sweatervest to one side of the lab. Step aside, it says. Whether or not they listen to her, Huruma is going to cross the room to inspect the far doorway, where it sits covered with plastic slats.

She saw the movement, and she felt his fear. What Huruma tries to get him to think, for the moment, is that there is absolutely nothing that he needs to concern himself with. Security business as usual, you see.

"Yes," Vincent agrees, re: the noisiness of bullets. "They are." Then they're in like Flint. Or he is. The rest of them are in less like Flint.

He allows Benji to go ahead of him before he follows Huruma's lead, leaving Cat to fall into step or stand guard as she sees fit. Too self-assured for tension to creep any deeper than its spine-stiff default.

Any second now.

"Excuse me?" is a demand echoed at the backs turned to him as the so-called retrievers make straight for the side door. The rest of the place appears to be more or less empty — there are a couple of monitors showing empty observatory rooms, a viewing window into an operation room, cabinet drawers, lab equipment, freezer doors. Doctor2 is quick to simply get back to business, sitting down at a computer monitor while the muscle does what muscle will do and Inspect Things or whatever, the gentle takataka of his typing filling the room beneath the sound of humming equipment and Sweatervest's footsteps as he decides to leave through the reactivated doors, a scowl printed on his face, glasses adjusted on his nose.

Doctor1 relaxes beneath empathic influence, but not quite enough to go about cleaning beakers or preparing chemicals to inject into the eyeballs of Evolved or similar, standing and watching before finally following with hounddog protectiveness over his workspace, taking off his mask. "Nothing's gone in and out of here, gentlemen, but if I can help you with anything— ?"

Even through the retriever suits, it's cold in here. Cold and white, clean enough to shine, with cameras in a similar shade of plastic staring down at activity from the corners of the walls, and in staggered order, the ACTS containers hooked into outets and panels and machinery rest like futuristic silver coffins. They bear no identifiers, settled at waist height, and monitors that read things like heart rates and brain activity are plenty telling as to what is inside them. Benji's hands squeeze a little harder on the gun she's holding.

There's a squeak as Doctor2 leans back in his chair to see what's going on.

Moving with the group, eyes scan the silver coffins and quickly determine there are no names provided, but it's equally clear they're not unoccupied. Speculation occurs within Cat's mind as to the occupants, but the time isn't quite right to go exploring each of them one by one. No, there remain other options before it comes to that.

Huruma casts a long look at the man that leaves in his own huff, determining that he is not, at the moment, worth pursuing, but the swivel of her head towards Vincent's suit is probably to let him know that it is fine if he needs to, because she looks between the two a second time, before stepping free of the cooler doorway, head turning to the pair of doctors in the lab with them. What was she expecting? Can't be sure. Maybe something like this, maybe not.

"What are your levels of clearance?" She masks her voice enough, behind the apparatus, staring with that shining panel down to both of them, smooth voice turning stern. Threatening. "I am going to need your identification numbers."

Do they have those? Are they important? Huruma honestly has no clue. What matters is that she sounds like she knows everything privy to her, and is now asking for recital of them.

Aware of the cameras more than he is the one guy leaving snittily out the back, Vincent draws to a halt somewhere around the room's middle. Near enough to see the ACTS. Atmosphere latent enough for him to get a good long look.

"We don't have time," he says, not so much suddenly as abruptly. Impatiently, maybe.

"We're being monitored." Matter-of-fact, he turns to regard the pair of scientists with the blank screen of his mask. Miniature cyclops. "Take us to Carol Praeger or we're going to kill you and let her," 'her,' — he raises his left hand to point flatly to Huruma, "bag up your tenderloins to go while the rest of us find her ourselves."

Either way, this gets instant locomotion.

The guy at the computer is rewarded with his proximity or lack thereof, diving behind the rigid panels of stainless steel workbench with his arm all but sweeping the items off of it — including the telephone, landing with a clatter by the time he's disappeared on hands and knees. Doctor1, who had followed, his expression twisting into puzzlement at being asked to produce identification numbers, flings his hands up in instant surrender or maybe some sort of warding gesture. "Yeah?" he asks, shakily, some blind and uncertain piece of loyalty insisting he make some attempts at resistence. "You going to dress her up in a suit and mask too and catch the train on out of here?"

Benji, while not quite confident enough to go after the other doctor on her own, breaks off from the group to explore her way down the coffins, though she isn't about to start to try and wrench them open one by one to find the appropriate Evolved. Gun pocketed, she moves off towards a silver door set into the wall, glancing up over the warning labels before opening it. No keys or helpful computers inside, but vials, and she can't help but dance curious fingers over a rack of them.

Feeling confident that between Vincent and Huruma the doctors can be subdued or persuaded to talk, Cat does what Benji doesn't. She goes for the nearest of silver coffins and sets about the process of opening them one by one. But the dreamwalker does get a question asked of her. "See anything back there that'll help us with this situation?"

The sound that Huruma makes when she stalks forward is chilling; on her side of the suit, it is an angry snarl. On the outside, however, it comes out as a screeching, curdling growl, rasping through the mouth like the call of some sort of eldritch creature. Her hand in the suit may be buffered in force, but her grip is as strong as ever. Her free hand latches onto the first doctor's neck, fingers plunging bluntly into his windpipe, while a wave of terror sweeps through him. Huruma wastes little time.

"Your face would make for a lovely one." Her words hiss out through the mask as she brings him down forcefully on the nearest flat surface, aiming to knock most of the air from his chest. As for the one that is clawing about to get under the desk, Huruma trusts Vincent's eyes enough; whether or not he intends to do something about a phone within grasp is another matter entirely. One would hope.

Vincent's flat, "Cat," isn't exactly an order. An indicator, maybe. Directing her attention to the superhero who's just swept the desk with himself. A mild will you handle him, please. Because he looks like he could use a nap.

He's moving for the coffins meanwhile, mask drawn away and suit unzipped as he goes. Arrogant, maybe. But it's easier to hear him without it on, and he's about to have to start shouting things rapidly at people. Like, "What've you got?" to Benji at the inset door.

Huruma, he trusts, has the interrogation angle covered pretty well on her own.

The same desire for ease of movement and communication means that hood is swept back and mask has been left to clatter on the floor. Less arrogant, more the fact that she is— from the future. And this, by the time Benji has things in her hands, hesitating over who to answer, from Cat's gentler question to the italics coming from Lazzaro. Glancing back towards where Huruma is spidered over the yelping doctor. "Sedatives," she reports. "And stimulents, if we want her on her feet. Adynomine and amphodynamine for abilities. And others that I don't know about." Picking out one vial of near black fluid, she skates a glance over the identical containment pods.

"Nnrrhgh," is what the doctor wheezes out when Huruma manhandles the air from his lungs, fingers splaying, curling. "God— the— that one. I need to unlock it." That one appears to be a pod located only one other down from him, gaze pointed towards it without risking moving much else beyond that, initial struggle tempered down into tense stillness of caught prey.

The guy with the phone— has his phone. Security is on speed dial. If he's saying anything, it's in hissed urgency.

Hearing Vincent speaking her name causes Cat to turn in his direction, seeing him approach where she's tried and failed to open one of the coffin devices, and bristle slightly. Mentioning names in the field like this, so nice. "They don't open the way I've seen them work before," she tells him tersely, while turning to see only one of the doctors under control, the other with his phone, and Vincent joining her at the coffins. So she backtracks, slinging the rifle off her shoulder and aiming it squarely for the top of the phoning doctor's head. Giving him a concussive nap is her intent.

Benji's reply isn't verbally acknowledged. Cat's become busy with other things now.

Huruma knows better than to try and wrench someone away from a phone when she knows they have already been able to use it. It is a waste of energy for her to bother, and Cat seems to have it under her purview. And in a place like this, speed dial is speed dial for a reason. So she leaves the other one, for now, and centers the glassy eye panel onto the man under her grasp.

"Key?" The woman in the suit refuses to let him up, mask tilting closer with her insistent question. The doctor can feel his emotional state in a downward spiral, no doubt- from confusion, to anger, to fear- and it grows like a weed. A very thorny, very invasive weed.

That's what everyone gets for working with someone who is not a professional terrorist!! And who doesn't care overmuch for the exposure of his own identity. Ignorant of his gaff accordingly (they can snipe at each other about it on the ride home), Vincent hesitates at the options presented him by Benji at about the same time Cat swooshes past to dispense of tattle tale over there under the desk.

"Pocket the amphodynamine. Don't put anything in Praeger unless you're sure she can survive it." He shakes off the last leg of his suit as he says so, handgun retrieved from the canvasy pile as he goes. A glance Huruma-wards marks progress in that direction. A glance Cat-wards includes a reluctant, "Sorry," for re-directing her.

There's a whud as said tattle tale is taken down, the kind of impact that something harder than a skull makes when it hits a skull. The line on the other end, should Cat check or notice it beneath the echoed sirens still screeching strong beyond the door, is recently dead.

The doctor is reduced to mouth sounds, at this point, a trembling hand digging into his pocket at awkward and slightly undignified angle, producing something plastic and metallic and highly specialised. "It— her n-number's— eight-six-t-two-zero-zero-one," is stammered out, with hopefully enough clarity that the number combination is correct instead of, say, only one zero. The key is left to clatter on the table he is pinned to, trembling with mixtures of rage and fear, disproportionate to the already alarming scenario playing out around him.

The door Benji had opened is shut almost politely, amp in hand, along with the adrenaline-based stimulent and only giving Vincent a nod. She'll be the judge of that, for all that she doesn't actually share the same qualifications as her mother when it comes to vitals, drugs and hospital machines. But she does know a thing or two about sleep-manipulating medication.

With the phoning doctor now at least seemingly unconscious, his comm device is picked up and checked. "If there was a call, it's ended now," Cat reports. "Whether or not he got any word to people outside this room is unknown. Best to presume he did." The masked head turns toward Huruma now, where she menaces the doctor who has become cooperative, to make a terse request. "Ask him who's in these other containers, and how to get them out. Might be useful when we leave if they've also got a crowd of escapees to handle."

Then she turns her attention to spotting cameras in the room with an eye to ending surveillance by them.

Huruma watches the trail of his hand with her eyes, only moving her glove to pluck the card from the tabletop. She hisses in his ear before letting him lie, peeling her grip away from him before turning to go for the metallic coffin. "I have better things t'do. He is all yours, if you want him…" Her words to Cat are passive; she does not intend to free anyone that they are not after. If Cat has plans, she will have to do them herself.

Huruma approaches the pod that the doctor gestured to, giving it a cursory look-over before slipping the card in, and punching in the passcode. In her experience, fear does not make for liars; she holds a breath regardless.

"Quickly," is exactly the kind of needlessly irritating encouragement Vincent specializes in, his approach stayed somewhat by necessity: he hangs back a little ways, between the coffins and Cat, should either scientist suddenly prove to be more than meets the eye.

Also closer to the door, where angry retrievers are due to storm their little fort any second now.

As for the change of words between one female accomplice to the other, he says nothing and makes no ruling. As long as what he came here to do gets done.

The mechanical sound that follows the beep beep of the lock responding to passcode comes from no really discernable location save for a subtle shift in the container's lid. Opening it is a matter of digging ones fingers in and urging the machinery to do its job, a light flicking on within not unlike the responsive illumination inside a refridgerator. Wispy smoke not unlike Vincent's own incorporeal form comes shuddering out of the growing openings, only it's a cold, stark white, clearing to show the small, wan woman lying prone within. A tunic of light, hospitalish cotton is shapeless over her body, and while she is not the shape of someone starving, she is on the uncomfortable side of thin. Blonde-grey hair has reduced as well, becoming wispy, shadows under her eyes for all that Carol Praeger seems to be getting all the sleep in the world. An oxygen mask covers the lower half of her face, and tubing is in a tangle, meant to maintain her.

Benji makes a sound of sympathy, moving forward without apology to peer inside, then up at the monitors, observing no real change to them in her slightly shifted environment. "Let me— I can help," is all she says to the other three, hands hovering over the form inside. She has, unfortunately, done something like this before.

The doctor has since melted into a collapse where Huruma's released him, shuffling off to cower against the wall and breathing in shakily. His attention is fixed away from the terrorists, towards the door covered in plastic strips, and beyond that, the opened sliding doors that currently remain empty. But in the periphery of hearing, there's the sound of a squark of radio from behind, and the coming thud of foot steps, quick enough that movement shifts by the door. Then, quite promptly, a canister goes skittering into the main room, already spewing yellow gas, whorling beyond the plastic strips.

The rifle she holds is shifted back into position for firing should the need occur, as Cat turns her head in various directions. The sound of radio and approaching footsteps makes the cameras irrelevant, attention goes from them to the others and the operation's current status. "Time's up," she asserts darkly. While quickly moving to join the others at Carol's opened container, she issues a sharp demand to the now cowering doctor. "Tell us who else is in here!"

Whether or not there's a reply forthcoming, her next words are for Vincent and Benji, head turning toward each of them one by one. "If you've got amp, he might need it."

The rifle she holds is shifted back into position for firing should the need occur, as Cat turns her head in various directions. The sound of radio and approaching footsteps makes the cameras irrelevant, attention goes from them to the others and the operation's current status. "Time's up," she asserts darkly. While quickly moving to join the others at Carol's opened container, she issues a sharp demand to the now cowering doctor. "Tell us who else is in here!"

Whether or not there's a reply forthcoming, her next words are for Vincent and Benji, head turning toward each of them one by one. "If you've got amp, he might need it."

Huruma's hands are sure as they go about opening the casket pod, propping it open so that she can peer inside, past the sheaf of cool mist. She looks over the small woman with both inner and outer curiosity. Probably unsurprising; mysterious is mysterious, wherever it is. The taller woman peers over Benji's head as she hovers in, lifting it when she feels the pitter-patter of minds coasting nearer. A fresh hiss of air comes out of her mask.

"Company's coming." She finally chimes, taking up a lingering stand beside where Benji works at the woman in the pod, effectively watching over them for the time being. "I hope they don'want t'stay for dinner." They can hear Huruma's sneering, just about. The pistol in her hand shifts, masked head pivoting to watch the doors.

"I'm only taking one, amp or no," Vincent is quick to cut in, firearm held securely in an obscurely out of place kind of way — upwards and slightly aside, so that it isn't pointed at anyone or anything. Old habits. "Any more than that and we might start losing limbs."

Because safety first. Even when raiding a government compound for kidnapped hostages, apparently.

He's last to the open container, and the least easily read, eyes flicked blackly downward, expression unchanging past a breath slower drawn than the one before it. Company's coming. "Back the way we came is our best bet. There's more than one way down."

Two syringes clicking together are placed within reach, distinctively black fluid marking them for what they are even before one can narrow their focus on the lengthy name printed in tiny letters on the label. "If it's only one, then take her," Benji says, stating the obvious thing out loud to avoid the time consuming fumble of possible misunderstanding. A needle is uncapped, and then plunged into the reduced meat of Carol's thigh, the plunger depressed, the solution injected. It doesn't have any immediate effect — she's disconnected from any monitor that would tell the story of a heart soon to beat faster.

"Then Huruma should take a needle too. Catherine and I can— " Shoot people? Pretty much. She flashes a look upwards at Vincent. "Take care of ourselves. We'll meet you in the tunnels." She's already dropping the emptied needle, picking up her handgun. They need to go.

"Morris, nine-nine-eight-two-four-one. Durmont, seven-six-eight-eight-zero-one. Those're the only two I know, I— I don't— I work in— other divisions a lot, like with— plants and— " is stammered out of the traumatised doctor, beneath all the noise and Benji's suggestions, apparently onto something. "Mostly just ph-photocopying, you know, this is my first wee— day here— "

The doctor's words aren't acknowledged, despite temptation to give him a blistering lecture about his work in this place. Time is up, and Cat with her rifle at the ready is watching the doors in case hostile fire needs to be answered. She goes into motion with intent of making her way out, presuming Vincent will extract himself and the rescued Praeger spouse while Huruma and Benji are with her.

An unconscious wince for the thoughtless plunge of Benji's needle to Carol's thigh is evidence of humanity buried somewhere in the dome of Vincent's skull. Then it's to business, Carol tugged carefully upright with one arm manuevered around back of her shoulders so that he can position her across one of his. Kong-like. Fortunately she's at least — slightly smaller than he is.

"I'll return once I'm certain she's secure," isn't quite in line with Benji's posit, but Lazzaro doesn't look like he cares overmuch. He is more offensively durable than most of them, for all that he's also the most easily vanished-from-the-scene. "Be careful." …Is an order.

Then he collapses, vapor churned murky grey-black into nothing faster than its direction can be easily tracked by the eye.

Huruma will pass on it, wordlessly. Unless something happens that it is her only option, she has heard and seen enough Refrain horror stories to know better than to trust mysterious syringes. The mask simply peers over at Benji, before it turns away, and Huruma moves towards the border of the room. She feels Vincent and Carol's minds flake further away from them. Be Careful. Sure.

Huruma will be as careful enough to counter the bluntness of the bodies coming down the hall. She holds her pistol with both hands at her waist, positioning herself so that she can use what little field of vision she gets to concentrate on sight over sound, or feeling. When the others come into view, they get the full-force shot of fright loaded into her ability's catapault.

The amp is pocketed, then, Benji biting her tongue against insisting on the firepower it provides — now is not a time for argument. She follows the lead of the two women, fear hiked up higher than it has been since, passing by the doctor who doesn't seem inclined to push his luck, and the other lying crumpled and maybe simply feigning unconsciousness as they move through the plastic strips, out into the main lab. Darting out into the hallway, she is inclined not to ler herself come between Huruma (or Cat) and sharp aim — emotional or not.

The fear hits them like a mack truck just as the security team come around the corner, scattering and yelling out muffled, decked to the nines in white and masks and guns, though hard to tell from here if the bullets are live or not — in the past, they have used rubber. In the past, they also use negation cannisters, and a silver can goes skittering across the ground as soon as both groups are in sight of one another in the wide corridor, spitting yellow smog in a trail that will be fit to haze and linger unless interference persists — and there is an unused fire existinguisher hanging off the wall just by the sliding doors, should anyone be quick enough to act.

Benji is more focused on taking cover when the first hail of rubber bullets comes firing, launching herself around the corner and crashing into the next door. They have not yet disabled security keys, haven't yet determined to corner them, and the lock gives beneath her fumbled efforts to allow them through.

Untroubled by the release of negation gas, Cat follows Benji's lead in taking cover and making it through the door once it's opened, rifle still trained at the area behind them. Her concern over rounds fired by their opposition is lessened, they don't have the telltale sounds of and visible effects of impact produced by metallic bullets. This fact spares the attackers a return volley from the M16, but she has no intention of sticking around to be struck by any sort of ordnance.

Huruma's posture stiffens at the sight of the canister, and even though she fully expected it- and is protected from it- the sensation of the gas lingers as a memory. She tracks after Benji and Cat like a magnet, once they have gone through the door under cover. Her pistol pops once, twice, careening single shots out into the din where the retrievers come. Less to hit, more to make them take cover themselves, so she can watch some backs properly. "How many doors?

"Until th'last?" Huruma starts and finishes in pieces, busied with slinking her torso along the wall to watch the progress of both the gas and the suited guards.


This is breathlessly echoed ahead, some small distance between she who is focused on getting the portals open and she who is intent on providing suppressive gunfire puncturing into white walls and driving back would-be charging villainry, squeaking boots against the floor to double back and get cover. Door One, as it's been numbered by Benji, is set into the wall rather than blocking off a corridor, security card run through the lock and shouldered open, heavy and steel-like and showing off the dark interior beyond — a dimly lit stairwell, all industry and grey and yellow-painted machinery in contrast to all the white and glass and silver of the second tier. Benji is moving, skipping steps, all adrenalised retreat and barely tamed panic rather than staying to beat back the forces.

Cat would be next to follow, until something unexpected wings around and fires from the opposite end of the corridor, a dull ache of impact that seems to numb her gun-arm and send her careening into the wall as the door starts to swing closed. "Freeze!" bellows a voice from the source of firing, as if maybe he didn't get the memo that you're supposed to say that before you fire, rubber bullet or not.

She's been hit before in battles. Rounds to the chest that body armor kept from piercing through, but still hurt like being struck by several sledgehammers and left bruises. Live rounds in a leg. Once a bullet to the neck that almost made it curtains. She grimaces behind the mask from the impact, and might be a little slower, but Cat has no intention of freezing. It takes less concentration, in her view, than battling off the effects of Agent Carmichael's psychic blast long enough to reach the biohazard container and wreck it with her thermite grenade.

She bolts forward, aiming herself for that now closing door.

There's no sound effect to accompany Vincent's re-entry into the scene — just a furl of ominous bat wing black and obscured vision that swallows Cat up from behind. Strong arms buckle across her chest in the beat it takes him to churn back into obscurity, bullets real and rubber alike snipping harmlessly through the fog. In and out again.

Huruma, in the least that she can do for Benji, is cover her escape; some people are made for war, and she does not consider the next-littlest Ryans to be a natural. A quick study, yes. But not a naturally chaotic creature. If the African sees the door on its last venture, she does not say a word, even as Cat leaps for it like a fishing bird above a pond, springing into motion. Huruma feels Vincent coalesce before she glimpses him, lividly stonefaced behind the mask of her suit, pistol gripped in one hand.

Even when she moves for the door, the empath knows that it is going to be closed. The cool metal presses hard on her palm when she finds it behind her, locked sturdy in the mouth of the wall. Huruma turns her shoulders forward again, mask tilting up and pistol hovering lower, to face the retrievers coming nearer, more than ready to begin doling out punishment.

At least two men die, swiftly in the case of one and slower in the case of another, before a flashbang is thrown. It's nothing Huruma might not know how to protect herself from, but has enough of an edge that when the overwhelming wave of firepower comes, the possible Mexican stand-off against empath and her pistol is cut shorter than it should be when a bullet does not pierce her kevlar but it and its second follow up tips her game off balance. More might have died, otherwise. It could even have been her.

It's dark, when the door shuts. Enough that Benji fumbles around for her flashlight, the beam jerkily swinging wide around in time to see the faintest wisp of black smog before it goes into its natural invisibility, and no third party, Catherine Chesterfield or Huruma. A thin sound of an exhale seems to cut through startling loud down here even with the thunder of gunfire going on beyond the door, and Benji remains frozen on the staircase for a good three seconds. Then she's moving again, with less bounding exuberance than before but still efficient, steel staircase rattling beneath the heavy impact of her steps, numb to the feelings of anxiety and guilt that will prove to flood out victory, or at least, war with it.

Somewhere, in the dark, Carol Praeger is rousing, and she doesn't have the voice in her throat to scream. A dry and cracked sound from parched mouth, like the crackle of fire-burned twigs, and a wheezing, wordless plea of confusion. She doesn't know that she isn't safe yet, but she also doesn't know that she soon will be.

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