Quietus II


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Also featuring

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Scene Title Quietus II
Synopsis An impromptu rescue team descends into the cellar to liberate Rue and Calvin as the siege on Pollepel Island reaches its climax.
Date December 19, 2011

Pollepel Island, Bannerman's Castle

Below Bannerman’s Castle, the sound of mortar rounds roll like thunder overhead and dislodge fine particles of brick and dirt from the low cellar ceilings, filling the air with a fine, smoky haze. Somewhere, something is on fire; those who have descended into the island’s bowels can hear it crackling through the castle’s ventilation system, or maybe that’s the just the sleet washing off the broken ruins above.

Outside, a maelstrom of birds wages war with Heller’s forces; Eileen had told Avi and Benji to run, and judging from the distant screams that echo through the cavernous underground, they may have made the right decision in heeding that warning.

Death will not come from the sky. It may, instead, come from the river. Silt-heavy water roils around ankles and calves as the extraction team moves through the cellar’s narrow corridors. Those who have seen the blueprints to the castle will know what this means: One of the explosions that rocked the island in the last few minutes has ruptured the system that separates the underground portion of the castle from the waterway on the other side of the embankment the Ferry built its holding cells into.

Pipes creak and groan inside the cellar walls. Rue Lancaster has never heard the sound of brick straining to contain several thousand tons of water pressure before, but she’s well-acquainted with it now. It bears down on her cell from all directions while the rapidly-rising water creeps up to her knees.

The river will claim her, one way or another.

Rue had been waiting for someone to come fetch her, to bring her back topside one more time just to swing from the end of a rope. But first, there was… rain? No, sleet? Weather that shouldn't be touching the walls of the castle for the protective dome in place. The sudden sound of it means that their shields are down and they are no longer safe.

When the first explosions thunder through the stone halls – through the stone – the young woman is looking frantically for over and ducking instinctively at the sound the second blast. This place will hold, won't it? …Won't it?

The walls make an awful sound and begin to shudder. For a moment, she thinks she'll find salvation, that she'll be able to crawl through a gap in the wall and back to safety.

Then the water begins to pour in through cracks in the wood. "Oh no. Nonononononono!" She'd been prepared to hang, but not to drown. She's watched enough true crime drama during both her stays in the hospital to know that it's supposed to be a horrible way to go. Converse sneakers slap over stone and water alike as she hurries to the door to her cell and rattles it as hard as she can, trying desperately to jar it from its hinges just enough. All she needs is to be able to sneak through. She's so very thin, it wouldn't take much at all, right?

Nothing. The water rises and nothing else gives, except for a section of wall, pouring more water into her prison past splintering wood and dislodged bricks.. She screams now to be heard over the roar above and the rushing waterway. Her entire cell is threatening to collapse around and on top of her.

"Help! Help!"

Quinn had been outside when the dome had come down, wishing she could stare up at the stars or clouds - being outside at night, nothing protective on her face, had become something she has learned to relish in the last month. The dome made that harder, however, as it collected with the precipitation falling in the outside world.

Until, suddenly, it wasn't there anymore.

She'd managed to get inside before the snow and sleet began pelting everything in earnest. But there hadn't been time to dwell on that particular horror. There were others that required more focus. The almost certainly impending attack by Heller's soldiers. The immediate evacuation that was sure to occur.The strange sound of birds on the horizon.

But there's one person that has all of Quinn's focus.

She hadn't wasted much time in starting toward the castle's depths, the Model 39 she's basically claimed as her own held tight in hand.

Thankfully, she isn't alone in this endeavour.

Quinn’s partner in rescuing is Noa, of course; the young woman had also been outside and when the dome collapsed, suddenly opening the island up to the wrath of the skies above, she had run for the castle. Evacuation should have been the first word on her mind, but instead, it had been rescue. And of course she had run into Quinn with the same mission.

As she runs, the technopath radios out Maydays to any of their allies not on the island to come help. Hana, first and foremost. She also does her part to play interference with Heller’s troops, silencing messages, shrouding them in static. Finally, she messages those on the island:

«Quinn and me are getting Rue! Try to hold a boat for us if you can. If not, we’ll find another way.»

Luckily Quinn doesn’t hear those words or she might argue.

The loud bark of a single dog echoes down the flooding corridor. Rue’s cry for help is answered by a sloshing sound in the water, followed by the sight of a shaggy and mud-caked german shepherd with a black muzzle that’s gone mostly gray. He lets out another loud bark and circles in front of the cell, sloshing through the frigid water building up on the floor below. The dog rises up on his hind legs, putting his front paws through the opening in the bars and makes a keening whine sound as he laps and licks at Rue’s face. It’ll be okay, the dog implies, ears perked forward before he gives another loud bark down the hall. The tag dangling off the dog’s collar says JUPITER — NYPD K9.

For now, Rue isn’t alone.

One floor up, in the besieged Bannerman’s Castle, Quinn and Noa hear a familiar voice crying out. “Tamara! Tasha!” Barreling through a doorway into the mess hall that serves as a hub for most of the other corridors in the castle, Colette Nichols skids to a stop when she sees the mess hall is empty. Her blind eyes sweep around the room, and she calls out again. “Tamaraaaa! Tashaaa!” There’s panic in her voice, and Colette backpedals, her extremities trembling. She’s draped in little more than a too-thin tanktop and a pair of jeans borrowed from Tasha. Judging from her bewilderment, she may have been asleep when all this started.

“Get the fuck out of here you psychopath!” Comes a hollar from another side of the mess hall, as Avi Epstein enters through a different door. He carries his M90 in one hand, belt fed ammunition slung over his shoulder. “There’s boats evacuating, the other kids are probably on it already!” Except one of them isn’t. Somewhere along the way Avi lost Benji and managed to pick up a terrified eleven year old girl who is holding Avi’s free hand, tears streaming down her face.Tangled black hair comes down to her chin, and she seems larger for her overstuffed winter coat.

Colette pivots toward Avi, fires a look at him with brows furrowed, and then there’s a sudden — sharp — whistling sound. “Get down!” Avi sweeps the young girl at his side up into his arms and dives under one of the mess hall tables and Colette throws herself to the ground, covering the back of her head with her hands as a mortar round strikes somewhere nearby. The windows to the mess hall blow out, sending shards of glass, fragments of stone, and wood flying into the room.

Avi coughs, struggling up from the debris, still cradling that girl in one arm. “You ok kiddo?” Avi’s single eye focuses down on her, and with jaw trembling she gives him a nod. “Fuck this fucking place,” he grouses, getting up and noticing Quinn and Noa arriving just after the blast. Avi mumbles something to the girl, and she hoops her arms around his neck as he lifts her up, cradling her with one arm as he stands.

Colette shakily pushes herself up onto her knees, coughing noisily. The surgical scars from the Institute are visible as they trace lines across her arm, a wide and thick scar cutting across the right side of her throat. When she “sees” Quinn, it’s for the first time in what feels like years.

Unusually for Quinn, Colette is the only thing in the room that is in color.

“Ok, kid, seriously, fuck,” Avi isn’t sure what orders to give, now that the flesh-rending swarm of birds has set on the island. “We gotta —” A distant dog bark echoes from down the corridor, and Avi angles his head in that direction.

Jupiter,” Colette hisses, she’d entirely forgotten about Judah’s dog.

From the broken windows, three soldiers dressed in green fatigues spill into the mess hall — or maybe they used to be green. Either rainwater or blood has drenched their clothes in black. An errant, distracted spray of gunfire sweeps across the tops of the tables and punches bullet holes in the back wall just meters away from where Quinn and Noa are standing.

They aren’t aiming for anyone in particular, but rather anything that moves. The lighting fixtures overhead are still swinging from the concussive force of the last explosion when the generator in the cellar finally goes out, plunging the room into darkness.

Rue knows when it happens, too; the damp cellar air fills with a shrill crackling as the rising water penetrates the generator’s inner-workings and causes a structure-wide shortage with a boom like a truck’s engine backfiring. An instant later the electric lanterns that light the cellar blink out.

Upstairs in the mess hall, the soldiers are shouting something about headlamps and night vision into their radios. A burst of white noise answers them. Static. Screams.

Noa has a little more luck. «Hold on,» a shaky voice pleads over her channel that she’ll recognize as belonging to Ingrid Ryans, who shouldn’t be anywhere near the island with her lack of ability and combat experience. And yet: «Please just hold on. Help— help is on the way.»

The fires burning outside provide those inside the mess hall with enough ambient light to pick shapes out of the dark. The three soldiers taking shelter from the storm outside cut tall, blocky silhouettes as they move away from the broken window, deeper into room. Colette and Quinn will hear a heavy series of solitary, successive wingbeats; Avi and Noa will see the shadow that glides after them in a slow, measured pursuit. Of the three, only one catches the movement out of the corner of his eye — too late. He spins on a heel to face it and swings up his rifle, but the heron is already on top of him, and drives the full length of its beak through his throat.

One boot squeaks out from under him. No chance to even cry out as he loses his balance and goes down in a pile of thrashing limbs and wings.

Fantastic. Her rescue is a german shepherd.

Even through the cynical swell of emotion, Rue does manage to find some calm as Jupiter jumps up and seems to tell her that this is somehow going to work out. One hand reaches through the bars to rest on the dog’s head, scratching behind the ears as worried eyes look toward the staircase, waiting for sounds of human footfalls.

Then the lights go out. She’s silent at first, the unseen shaking of her shoulders and tip of her head to rest against the bars keeping her inside are the prelude to her quiet sobs. “You don’t want to stay down here,” she whispers to the animal. “You’ll just drown with me.” Or the floor overhead will collapse and she’ll be crushed to death. Neither option is terribly appealing.

Slowly, a deep breath is drawn into her lungs, one more effort to secure a rescue - not that she can imagine anyone wants to see her live through this after what Eileen said to her before. “Somebody!” she cries out loudly enough that her throat hurts afterward. “Help us!” Because at least maybe they’ll save the dog.

Quinn has tunnel vision. Determination carries her through the mess hall. She's glad to have Noa with her, which she has has let the other woman know about ever fifteen steps they've taken. Other than that, she's said little. Eyes locked ahead, pistol constantly at the ready as she makes her way through the dull black and grey halls. There was little that could've stopped her in her tracks through the mess hall.

Colette Nichols manages just that.

Quinn skids to a stop when she hears, and then sees, the younger woman. It had been forever for her too, but that isn't what makes the moment feel like time slows and stretches out into eternity.

It's the sight of something that isn't just black, white, or some drab mixture of grey. It's pale peach skin, faded jeans, a tank top that isn't quite the kind of dark she's grown used to. It's colour that gives her pause, that draws the breath from her lungs almost as strongly as the day she realised that she had lost much of her vision, over a month again. She's sure she looks mildly insane, the way she stares at Colette, her own scar visible to the other photokinetic as her grey eyes widen in surprise. It almost hurts - in her heart this time, rather than her eyes - seeing what has to be a trick of the light. A subconscious wish made manifest in the other photokinetic.

It isn't the sound of gunfire that draws her out of that moment. She's grown more used to that than she's comfortable admitting. It's when the bullets lance by her and into the nearby wall that she snaps back into reality and staggers in the other direction with a small shriek. She reaches up with her pistol and fires twice, not sure if she actually hits anything. She doesn't wait to find out.

She looks up at Avi and Colette, and turns on her heel. "Don't stop! Keep moving!" That seems like an appropriate thing to yell, and she follows her own instructions with a stumbling step. She has no idea what's going on with those birds - she could probably guess if she paused for even a moment and thought about it.

But there's no time to stop. Not right now.

"Rue!" she shouts out, hoping the other woman will be able to hear her, because she sure as hell can't hear Rue over the chaos happening around her.

“Avi, Col-” calls out Noa to the figures up ahead when the mortar hits, grabbing Quinn as the shudder and boom take her slight form backward, but she manages to keep her feet. She too tips her head when Avi does, the ringing in her ears keeping her from hearing the dog. The sounds in her head don’t help but she’s unwilling to cut herself off from listening to the radio communications on either side.

When the soldiers climb through the windows and shoot, she ducks, pushing Quinn down with her instinctively, before she fires a few shots out of her small pistol. Simultaneously, she pushes a cacophony of sounds, a garbled mess of noise and static, at the channel used by Heller and his men.

The sight of the heron, dark as it is in the shadow-dark room, makes her eyes widen. “Eileen’s helping. Let’s get Rue,” she says, unaware of just how and at what price that help has come.

«We’re heading to the cellar. Generator’s out,» Noa reports back to Ingrid as she runs after Quinn. She’s not sure what Ingrid meant by “hold on,” but they’re forging ahead anyway. «And you be careful! Where are you?» It’s been a long time since she’s seen her fellow time traveler.

Pivoting toward the downed soldiers struggling under the birds’ murderous intent, Avi indiscriminately fires at point-blank range with the heavy assault rifle into the men. Bones shatter, body armor is torn asunder, the birds are torn into shreds of feathers and bone, and muzzle-flash lights up the galley. A tinnitus ring is everyone’s gift from Avi’s merciless execution. He knows where Rue is, no one needs to hear her cry for help to follow him. Without so much as a word, he turns toward the arched doorway in the galley that leads to the root cellar, which mercifully connects to the holding cells.

Colette only comes out from behind the tables when Avi’s stopped firing, and for several long moments she’s just trembling there — freezing cold, terrified, ostensibly alone. Watching Quinn and Noa divert toward the direction she’d heard Jupiter barking in, Colette pushes up onto her bare feet and pads across the floor. Swallowing tensely, the young woman looks around, eyes the sausage and cranberry sauce that is left of the soldiers, and walks through the warm blood at the rear of the group.

In the stairwell to the basement, Avi stops and grimaces, turning back to face Quinn. “You,” he insists, thrusting the black-haired girl into Quinn’s direction. “Take this fucking kid, please.” She can see how badly he’s limping, the brace on his leg twisted and misaligned from all of the physical exertion. He’s visibly in pain, but he needs both hands.

The dark-haired girl reaches out for Quinn’s hand, but is content to walk on her own when the giant silhouette of Epstein sets her on the steps. Quinn’s hand prickles like February cold at the young girl’s touch. “Her name’s Nat,” Epstein elucidates before turning away and barging down the stairs.

At the rear of the group, closing in at Noa’s back, Colette reaches the doorway to the stairs and squints against the darkness. She holds out one hand, and manifests swirling motes of vibrant blue butterfly-shaped swaths of light. They flutter down the stairwell, winding around Noa, Quinn, Nat, and Avi. She isn’t sure why they’re going to the basement, but with the lights out most of them will need a light to lead the way.

Lights made, Colette reaches into the back of her waistband and pulls out a folding knife, opening it with a snap.

«Um,» is Ingrid’s immediate answer to Noa over the radio. «Hold on.»

There’s a barrage of tinny gunfire. Tires squeal in the background of the transmission. Walter Trafford is cursing someone out in his stepfather’s native French and Ingrid is bubbling over with apologies.

The dead soldiers’ radios are snapping and popping, too. Their superior, likely somewhere on the other side of the river, at the edge of the maelstrom outside, demands an update on their position. When none comes, the channel clicks off.


Below ground, the explosions manifest as ripples in the water’s inky surface, and in vibrations that both Rue and her rescue party can feel in the marrow of their bones. Colette’s light casts macabre shadows on the cellar’s crumbling stone walls.

«I’m back,» says Ingrid. «We’re en route. There’s gas— Walter doesn’t think he can get to you. Have you seen my mom and dad? Are they okay?»

There’s no response to her cries. Rue rests her forehead against the bars of her cell and listens to the sounds around her. The destruction up above. The water pouring in over the floor and rising steadily. The groaning of weakening supports. The sound of footsteps on the stairs.


With renewed fervor, Rue leans back and starts pulling at the door of her cell again. “I’m here! Please, somebody!” She looks to the dog again and points him toward the stairwell. “Go find them! Find them and bring them down here! Tell them Rue’s trapped in a well!

It works for Lassie, doesn’t it? Rue hasn’t got a lot of options available to her at the moment.

When Colette brings up light, blue butterflies that weave around them as naturally as anything else, Quinn reflectively raises a hand up and over her eyes. "Are you outta y'r mind?" Quinn asks to Colette - both about her lack of shoes and attire in general, and about the light making its way where god knows what could be waiting.

When a kid is thrust her way, she looks up at Epstein with incredulous disbelief. "Fuck you!" she offers back - her mind certainly isn't on protecting a child right now. But still, she's certainly not going to turn away a child, taking on of Nat's hands and pulling her close. "Hey, Nat," she mumbles. "Name's Quinn. Stay close, an' I'll make sure you're okay." As best as she can, at least.

The stairs down to the cellar seem to go on for forever. What should be a short job feels like it lasts an eternity. Quinn's eyes close half way, trying - for a moment - to not worry about her vision, about light, about gunfire, or about a child. Instead she just tries to listen, hand
tightening around Nat's.

Rue's voice snaps her back into reality, and her eyes widen. The pistol in her other hand held up and pointed forward, she looks back to Nat. "Come on! We have a friend t' save!" Try not to be scared goes unvoiced, because she knows nothing about this girl, and Quinn can only imagine that she's absolutely terrified.

Because as much as she tries to not show it, Quinn kind of is.

«Jesus, are you-» Noa begins when she hears the gunfire, Walter’s voice, and the chaos in the background of wherever Ingrid is radioing her from. She pauses, her brows drawing together as she concentrates both on her feet and the path ahead of her and the voice on the other line, so to speak. She nods, though it’s silly when the other woman can’t see it.

«Ryans was helping people get to the boats. I haven’t seen Nicole but I’ll ask» she sends, glancing to the child that Avi shoves off on Quinn and offering the girl a quick, ‘hey, it’ll be okay’ sort of smile. She probably doesn’t sell it very well, given that they’ve all traipsed through viscera and are heading into a flooding basement.

“Big Walter and Ingrid are en route but we may be on our own. We should hurry,” she tells the others, who aren’t on the channel the two future children are sharing via Noa’s ability. To the general island population, she asks, «Anyone got eyes on Nicole?»

When she hears Rue calling, she moves faster. “I can go ahead.” It’s dark, but she’s used to “seeing” in the dark, having been blind in her past, as well.

Colette's butterflies nearly gutter out for a moment, concentration disrupted by the sudden cold. Whispered cries of "fuck, fuck, fuck" escape her as bare feet sink into icy waters. Each step is like walking on broken glass and Colette lets out tiny, shrill noises as she moves. She can't focus on anything else right now, just the cold and the light. Butterflies in Quinn's periphery show vibrant blue against a field of grayscale emptiness; winged beacons of impossible color.

Nat doesn't seem afraid, to her credit. Though the girl's cheeks are streaked with tears, they come wordlessly and without emotion shown on her face. She makes only the tiniest of sounds when she enters the cold water, a soft whine and a scrunch of her brows as she squeezes Quinn's hand tighter. That prickling cold feeling so strong now.

Up ahead, Avi lets out a shriek as he raises his rifle. Then, realizing the thing barreling toward him down the hall is a friendly dog and not a man-eating robot, he hiccups out a strangled laugh. "Fuck, Lassie's here? Great. Great." He and Rue may not be related, but in a lot of ways they are.

"Rue! You stupid trouble-making good for nothing piece of shit!" Avi howls as he follows Noa down the tunnel and pushes past Jupiter, who hurries up to Colette's side, nosing and sniffing at her neck and licking her face as she bends down to greet him.

"Good boy, Jupe," Colette whispers shakily, taking fingers through wet fur. "M'gonna get you outta here," comes further hushed as she brings up the rear of the group.

With Noa leading the way and Avi at her back, the group progresses down the tunnel to the barred door of Rue's cell. "Fuck, FUCK!" Avi shouts as he pats down his side, then frantically looks around. "Fuck I don't— I don't have the keys! They're on— " The keys to Rue's cell are on the only person Eileen trusted to let her out.


Colette is the last to catch up to the group, trembling now from the cold. She sees Avi's panic, hears what's missing, sees the bars and the redhead imprisoned within. She slides one hand along Jupiter's side reassuringly, folds her knife closed, and slides past Quinn and Nat to come up to the bars.

"You're — you're gonna be ok," Colette offers to Rue, as she takes a knee in the freezing cold water. "I— I can— " Raising a hand to the lock, Colette draws in shivering and trembling breaths. "Look away," Colette's brow strains and she makes a pained noise in the back of her throat as the butterflies go out and she is illuminated by a bright flare of colorless light and a ka-snap as the light is concentrated between her palm and the lock. Showers of sparks fall down to sizzle in the water.

Water that's rising, water that might beat light to the finish line.

Metal bleeds, drips, forms beads of silver that sink to the bottom of the flooded corridor when they strike the water. Rue feels the heat radiating from Colette’s hands, which is surprisingly similar to the lack of sensation in her extremities where the winter chill has taken its toll.

The lock’s inner-workings sputter. Abruptly there is a lack of tension in the door’s frame and it pops open a fraction of an inch, just enough for bruised fingers to wedge inside and force it the rest of the way open.

Rue is free.

«Oh no,» Ingrid chimes in over Noa’s radio. «Oh no oh no oh no no no no!» A series of impacts punctuated by the snapping bones and splintering glass go off in her ear, followed by a roar of wind and crunching metal as the car presumably rolls over.



Three times.

Noa hears the ragged sputter of somebody’s breathing — maybe Ingrid’s, or maybe Walter’s — and a dull cacophony of birds. Like the radios left upstairs on the remains of the soldiers, it snaps off.

They’re alone again.

“Avi!” Rue shrieks, reaching through the bars to grab on to the man’s arm. It’s the first time she’s ever used his given name. “Oh, please. Please don’t let me drown.” With one of Colette’s luminescent butterflies hovering near her face, he can see her eyes shift to look at this gun, then back to his face. Don’t let me drown is not the same as don’t let me die.

The light winking out and the heat radiating from the bars of her cell - from Colette - brings her back from the abyss of choosing between ways to die. “Oh God,” she breathes out to the younger woman. “Thank you. Thank you!” When the lock falls apart, Rue disengages from her unlikely kindred spirit, drawing her arms back through the bars quickly and clumsily enough that she hits her elbow hard enough on a crossbar to make the metal sing, and she curses, clutching it for only a moment. Then, she’s cramming her fingers into the gap created by the broken mechanism and shoving her way to freedom.

With the door open, she cries out again. “Noa!” Her bestie came for her. And she’s getting a great big hug now. Rue’s matchstick limbs tremble with relief just as much as the cold and numbness that’s slowly working its way through her.

The hug disengaged, Rue turns to stare in disbelief at Quinn. It isn’t that she doubted her ex-partner would come for her - not after their last conversation - but something about seeing her actually here stuns her into silence. She reaches out to grasp Robyn’s upper arms with a quivering smile on her lips. “Quinnie…”

Her hand still gripping Nat's, Quinn stops at the last step of the stairs - she isn't going to force the young girl to tread her way into the cold, flooding water, and she as much as she wants to be right there, there's already a crowd. And maybe someone should stand back, keep an ear out for anyone else deciding to come down to clean up - or the reverberating sound of beating wings bouncing off the narrow stone walls. That, and she'd rather not watch as Colette makes a move to separate metal from metal. She doesn't want to look into that bright light, assuming it would hurt her eyes.

But, well, once Rue is freed, all of that reason briefly escapes Quinn. Releasing Nat's hand, she offers the girl a reassuring look. That's all she is for a moment, is looks. A thankful smile flashed to Colette, even as a distinctly blue butterfly continues flutter around. That would be enough to again take her breath away. But there's Rue, disentangling herself from Noa, and she's offered the same comforting, reassuring smile that Nat was, stepping down into the cellar to meet Rue. Rue's hands grasp her arms, and she makes a split second decision - no thought, just action - to do her one better.

Quinn matches Rue at first, hands on shoulders. Quickly they slide up to Rue's cheek, then up further, fingers lacing into the taller woman's red hair. Up on her toes, Quinn pulls Rue to her, and into one of the deepest kisses she has given any woman in years. It takes a lot to keep tears from welling up, even as the cold air stings at her stitches. Anyone who doubted she would be thrilled to see Rue released is very quickly proven wrong.

Though it feels like it lasts forever, at least to Quinn, it's only a few seconds later when she settles down on to the flats of her feet and smiles. "I told you y'd make it outta there. Now f'r step two." Getting off the Island. Releasing Rue, Quinn turns back to Nat and starts to make her way back over to the girl, a hand offered out to her as she turns back to the step so that Nat doesn't have to hop into the water.

"Is there anyone else we need t' worry about here?" Because she has what she came for, and she is absolutely feeling that selfish right now. "I'd hate t' get caught in a cave in after all a' that, y' know." Her gaze settles on Colette, the distracting mess of colours in a monochrome world that she is, and her head tilts to the side expectantly. "Haven't seen Tamara about, by the by," Quinn offers to Colette, remembering that she was yelling her name earlier. Quinn imagines she wouldn't still be here, knowing what little she does of the other woman.

“Rue!” calls Noa, relief in her expression and voice just at seeing her friend, even though they’re still in danger. She is going to say more when Ingrid’s voice and the violent noises of the background — that Noa can only imagine — fill hear ears. She stops short, her eyes wide and face wan, lit dimly as it is by the ephemeral butterflies Colette’s summoned to light their way. A hand comes to her mouth, and the teenager looks shaken by whatever she’s heard.

«Ingrid! Walter! Are you okay? What’s going on?» The question is futile, falling on proverbial deaf ears, most likely — she doesn’t have that hum of the live connection in her head. Radio silence is deafening.


She’s shaken from that when Rue grabs her, and she hugs her tight. “We gotta go,” she says, her voice thick as fear and worry manifest into tears. She releases Rue into Quinn’s arms next as she backs away to head up and out of the flooding tomb.

Colette has the temperature of a cadaver in Rue’s embrace, all the color drained out of her face and extremities trembling. Jupiter is circling her in the water, making whining noises, ears pricked forward. Barely registering the embrace, Colette turns her attention to Quinn in an entirely vestigial movement of her eyes. “S-She’s not here, which —” her voice hitches, trying to reason it out, “which means she’s with somebody who needs help,” Tasha goes unspoken, like a prayer.

“That— That m-means we’re ok,” Colette wraps her arms around herself, moving away from the door and to Noa’s side, seeming in complete agreement that they need to evacuate as soon as possible.

To his credit, Avi is calm and collected at the moment, if somewhat traumatized in his silence. “Where th’fuck is Benji?” He asks under his breath, leveling his automatic weapon against one shoulder. “Kid, lights,” Avi barks, and — unrelatedly — Jupiter barks as well, to try and get the humans moving forward.

Colette raises a hand, conjuring more luminescent blue butterflies of living light, sending them fluttering down the corridor and dancing around the others gathered in the flooding basement. They reflect in rippling mirror on the water’s surface, in each other’s eyes. It’s only then Colette actually sees Nat by Quinn, and the teen’s brows scrunch up in worry. “H-Hey, it’s… it’ll be ok,” she whispers, but Nat isn’t having any of it.

Teary-eyed, the young girl looks up to Colette and shakes her head. “She’s almost gone,” is the first thing Nat has said since Avi unceremoniously dropped her off on Quinn. “She’s almost gone,” comes as a whisper after, and the tiny girl is trembling beside Quinn; not only from the cold.

By the time anyone within the group hears the sound of company (legs dragging through knee-high river water, steam breathed into dark air, a quiet mutter), company is practically upon them. The reach of drifting butterfly light finds Benji Ryans Jr first, pale skin soaking up blue glow, the rest of her — inky hair and wardrobe — more a part of the shadows. She looks a little like a stiff wind could knock her over, but then, that's par for the course, and often deceptive.

From the back of the group where she emerges from the depths of the cellar, it takes some doing to spy the most familiar silhouette of them all. "Noa," she calls out, more instinct than strategy, just barely managing audibility over the sounds of rushing water and voices and chaos. Relief, and something more anxious.

She also isn't alone.

The figure that dredges up out of the darkness in Benji’s wake hangs back like a feral cat avoiding a porch light. Calvin’s taller — cuts a meaner figure on the fringes of butterfly glow, with wild hair and eyes that shine with a fiendish light of their own.

At the display of Ferry Togetherness they’ve come upon, he closes them. Slowly. Momentarily overcome by the effort required to stifle the rise of vitriol at the back of his tongue. Freezing water has had time to crawl up the sides of his skinny jeans; his shoulders are stiff with the cold, hands jammed up into his armpits.

Anything he might’ve said anyway is whisked out from beneath him at the sound of Noa’s name — he slices his eyes open again to see, breath spent foggy through his teeth.

His t-shirt says: PRIMAL. He doesn’t have a jacket.

Reunions should be a cause for joy, bittersweet though this one is.


Whatever words Noa might have for Benji or Calvin are cut off by the low chug-chug-chug of helicopter blades passing overhead, above ground, which is possibly the worst decision the aircraft’s pilot could have made. What happens next could have been predicted by anyone with the sense not to take off inside a swirling maelstrom of slanting rain and densely-flocking birds.

The rotor clogs, stalls. Avi recognizes the telltale whine and shudder of the helicopter’s engine straining to keep six tonnes of metal aloft.

It’s about as effective as tying a helium balloon to a small elephant.

The helicopter carves into the side of the castle and explodes on impact into a wash of light, heat, and sound that hurls those closest to the stairs off their feet. Chunks of broken stone and brick cascade down from the ceiling and plummet into the water like localized bombs. One piece strikes Benji with enough force to crack open her skull — she’s fortunate that it glances off her shoulder instead, and fractures her collarbone.

Skin splits. Bone splinters. Blood from the wound blossoms and saturates her waterlogged clothes, invisible against the black.

She goes down. So, too, does the entryway leading back upstairs.

They’re trapped.

Well. Quinn’s actions were entirely unexpected. When the kiss is broken, Rue is left blinking away her surprise. They will talk about that later. When they aren’t about to die. She doesn’t let her ex-lover see her smile when she turns away and starts to approach the little girl on the stairs.

Her attention is momentarily broken. They’ve got company now, and that voice that calls to her best friend is familiar. “Jiji!”

There’s no time to ask questions or express relief. Rue may not know what it sounds like when a helicopter is besieged by a swarm of birds, but she knows the sound of trouble when it’s closing in. “Hold on!” Lunging out then, she grabs Nat under the arms and drags her away from the stairs before they can collapse. She goes tumbling backward from the force of it and lands on her back, in the cold water, arms wrapped protectively around the girl.

"Who's almost gone?" With Rue released, Quinn's attention snaps back to Nat. Benji and Calvin's arrival would almost get lost in everything if wasn't for the terrified look Quinn gives around the room when she hears the sound of the helicopter's rotor failing. Her feet lock in place, eyes wide as she looks towards Colette and her tauntingly blue fluttering butterflies.

The next thing Quinn knows she's face down in the dirty water - exactly the kind of place her stitched up face needs to be, obviously. Blown off her feet and into back deeper into the flooding, crumbling room, she gasps for air as she pulls herself back up to her knees. She's shaking, noticing that a chunk of rock has fallen just short of crushing her hand.

Silently, she reaches up and pulls wet hair out of her eyes, looking back at the remains of the staircase, and then over to Colette and Avi with horror in her gray eyes. This is what I get for being so sure of myself, she thinks. She doesn't pull herself to her feet just yet. She just stares for a moment. She doesn't even noticed the injured Benji yet.

"Well what th' fuck do we do now?!" she practically shrieks. She had been fine just moments ago, but this had brought her back to a dreadful reality.

“Who?” Noa says, eyes and voice soft for the girl younger than she is — it’s distracted though, as she’s listening for Ingrid’s voice, for Walter’s voice, and hearing instead the churring sound of that helicopter that she doesn’t think to pay attention to. Benji’s voice has her gasp for breath and she looks that way, both fear and relief in her expression at finding her down here. She opens her mouth to speak when she sees Calvin and her brows knit together in an even more confusing mix of emotions. There really aren’t words for it.

Nor for anything else.

She’s thrown off of her feet and into the water — whatever had been dry no longer is. It takes a moment for her to sit up and shake off the stun that numbs everything for a few seconds. When she can breathe again, she glances around to take in the damage — the entryway is noted, and then the crimson spill on clothes and water on Benji. She begins to crawl toward her, until she gets her feet under herself again.

«We just lost our way out of the castle!» she sends to any Ferry radios listening — no doubt, anyone still nearby has seen the helicopter plowing into the side of Bannerman, so how isn’t a question that will get asked. Instead of what she wants to say — send help — she swallows as tears begin to spill out of her dark eyes, even as she reaches for Benji. «You should leave us. Get out while you can,» is what she says instead — though none of it’s spoken aloud, she hasn’t yet learned to keep the emotion out of her internal voice — it bleeds with fear and grief.

“Hey,” she says softly to Benji, assessing her wounds, before looking up at Calvin to help. First aid isn’t her expertise. She doesn’t speak, but the plea is there in her eyes.

Epstein’s head swims, vision blurs, the weight of the gun he's been carrying disappears with a splash into the water. Blinking against the darkness, working his mouth open and closed against the tinnitus, he tries to piece together what just happened. Everything comes back in blots of recollection and muted shapes.

Nearby, Colette is pulling herself out of the icy water, having fallen backwards into it. She's soaked to the bone now, can barely feel her bare feet, can't stop trembling. She tries to focus enough to create light, but all she creates are amorphous blots of illumination like fireflies that flicker and dance through the air. She's cold, scared, and possibly hypothermic. Jupiter finds her, keening a whine as his nose presses to the side of her face. The old dog canters around in the water, barking once loudly when he's around people in distress. No one outside will hear him this time.

Nat never answered either inquiry as to who she was crying about. The blast saw to that. Flecks of rock cut her face, scratches at her brow and in her hairline, some deeper than others, a few deep enough to make her bleed more than superficially, dribbling out of her hair as she pulls herself from the water. The child sees Benji, his condition, sees Calvin, parses none of it. Instead she just stands in shock, breathing rapidly and hugging herself.

Avi sloshes past. Fumbling at his belt. “Get back,” he slurs to Quinn and Rue, hoping they can corral the children. As he approaches Benji and Calvin he's unhooking a grenade from his belt. The blast in an enclosed space would probably kill everyone in the room, even if t managed to loosen some of the rubble.

But if they had a blast mat or — in Avi’s case — a big enough body, it might shield them from some of the harm. “Move,” he gutturally instructs Calvin and Benji. He's hoping someone else comes up with a better idea between here and the stairs.

If not, at least he could die trying.
Benji doesn't quite slip all the way into dark water, catching herself on her knees, thrown against the wall with all the grace of a puppet with snipped strings. It's likely that no one sees the slip of silver disappear into the murk, the skinny wolfheaded sword she'd been holding close falling from her hands and sinking to the bottom of the hallway, and she herself has forgotten it too as that hand blindly gropes at her shoulder. She wouldn't be surprised to find it missing, or on fire, or a ruined mess as the shock of broken bone and torn muscle begins to latch on.

Diluted crimson paints that hand, soon enough, her next exhale a whine.

Oblivious, too, to the sounds of Noa lunging closer, to what a collapsed stairway means or that it's collapsed at all, and she certainly misses the grenade held in Mr Epstein's hand. She does register what he says, and feels a little guilty that she is incapable of doing as asked.

"Hey," she says, to Noa. She thinks she says that. It might just be hhh.

Calvin surges up out of the water with fist-sized lumps of stone still punching through the chop around him, brains rattled, ears ringing, ginger mane spiny with river muck. He registers Noa’s tears and Benji’s blood as if through a two way mirror, looking down on the pair of them without any compulsion to react. Someone’s (practically) shrieking.

His, “— fuck’s sake, stand her up, see if she’s spurting,” could probably stand to be less acidic, in the face of Noa’s look up to him.

The one-eyed ogre lurching towards him with a grenade is of greater immediate concern from a purely utilitarian standpoint. Sheridan is smaller, but the only move he makes is to step to Epstein’s advance in a snit, right hand outstretched behind him. With a silvery flick, Benji’s sword — turns sort of dead-fish-like just under the surface, and sinks again.

Great. Good.

Magnetic efforts stooped sideways down into a graceless, UFO catching grope at the wolf’s head in the water beside him, he comes up with the blade in a watery huff that’s more Dobby than Dumbledore.

“I know you’re a human but try using your brain for two fucking seconds.” Shivering, toothy. There’s no strategic benefit to jabbing the pointy end at Avi like a 7-year-old in a gradeschool production of Pirates of Penzance, but he does it anyway. Huuuman.

“Where’s the water coming in?”

He casts the question off into the not quite dark past Avi, hoping beyond hope there’s someone sane and focused enough back there to answer.


Two syllables of chiding disapproval float out of the dark. They're followed by an outburst of splashing as a dog surges forward into the wan illumination cast by Colette — a fawn-colored, fluffy dog who pads up to Colette and whuffs companionably at her, then promptly redirects to commiserate with Jupiter. Curiously, she's wearing a harness.

"There is no up," Tamara continues as she too walks out of the shadows, her steps splashing hardly at all, marked contrast to Misty's entrance. Layered in vest and long-sleeved shirt, wearing a backpack and carrying something unidentifiably jumbled, the sybil pauses to give the group a contemplative look, her gaze pausing briefly on Avi, Benji, and Nat in turn.

It seems Colette spoke too soon.

Her gaze flicks to Calvin, and Tamara tips her head back whence she came. "That way," she supplies, even as she resumes walking in the opposite direction — past Colette, who gets a reassuring touch to her shoulder, and over to where Rue is sheltering Nat. The seeress casts a brief smile to Rue, then drops to one knee, accepting the inevitability of cold water soaking into the rest of her clothing. A glance over her shoulder, an extended hand, and a soft word summons Jupiter to them.

"This is Jupiter," Tamara tells the girl, providing her with something mundane and safe to focus on — something that is neither cold darkness, catastrophic explosion, nor alarmed adult. Each word is spoken with careful deliberation, though only those who know the seer are likely to recognize the effort involved. Shaking out the bundle she carries reveals it to be a second harness; Tamara sets about fitting it to the older dog. "You keep a hand on him, and he helps you, okay?"

Giving the dog a brief but thorough scratch around the ears and neck, Tamara rises, steps back. "Jupiter, say hello to Nat."

A hydrokinetic might be able to answer Calvin’s question better than Tamara, but she isn’t wrong. Those with feeling in their lower extremities might still be able to sense the low drag of the current pushing through the corridor even as the water sloshes and swirls around their legs as if unable to determine which direction it wants to flow in.

«Tycoon Six is down,» is the latest chatter over the military’s frequency.

Anyone could have told them that.

«What’s the status on Rowan and Ryans? Do we still want them alive?»

«Negative. Eyes on the river convoy. Long range artillery moving into position.»

The transmissions do not bode well for the evacuees who took off across the river in a desperate leap to reach the opposite bank, but Noa has other problems to worry about.

The rising water, for instance. In the time since the helicopter slammed into the side of side of the castle, the torrent has jumped from her knees to her thighs and is swiftly inching up to her waist at the speed of an impatient lover.

The direction Tamara is pointed narrows. In the darkness, even with the hazy blue glow of Colette’s butterflies, it’s easy to get turned around in the cellar regardless of one’s familiarity with the castle’s compact layout, but she seems like she might be leading the group toward the storm drain that’s supposed to flow out into the river and alleviate situations like the flooding they’re up to their hips— waists in.

The young girl in her arms is held above water, but Rue is not so fortunate. She can see distorted shapes above her in the darkness from where she lays on the floor, below the current. After she processes what’s happened - more accurately, after she tries to breathe - she sits up abruptly, coughing and sputtering the water out of her lungs as Tamara approaches - the smile is returned, if pained - to pair girl with dog.

She’s starting to lose feeling in her everything now. When she stands, she wrings out her hair to try and mitigate some of the problem, but with the water rising as quickly as it is, she knows that isn’t going to be very effective.

Everyone has someone to look after them now, or they can look after themselves. Rue takes it upon herself to once again look after Avi. Humans gotta stick together. Striding over, she lays a shivering hand on his arm. “Come on. Put that thing away.” She’s afraid he’ll lose focus like he did at the Ark. Like he did for a moment when she was able to catch his gaze. “I need you to help me out here, okay?” Her hand finds his then and gives a little tug of encouragement to follow where the seer directs.

The quickly rising water forces Quinn to her feet, coughing and sputtering as she rises. She isn't quite going numb yet, but she wishes she was. The way she hurts after the helicopter's collision reminds her of how she felt after the surprisingly numerous grenade explosions she was a victim to in Cambridge. Her entire right arm hurts, and she feels like if she actually looked she'd either see something stuck there, or least a lot of blood.

So she doesn't. Instead, she focuses on the fact that she's lost her gun somewhere in the water. Water that is quickly getting higher, so she looks up and around. Noa, Benji, Calvin - Calvin? - are handling each other, and she's not sure what she could do anyway to help them. With Rue trying to talk Avi down from whatever probably entirely justified insanity he was about to enact, Quinn stares at Tamara for a moment. "T-Tam?" The Irishwoman is wholly taken aback by the other woman's arrival, before looking over at Nat and Jupiter. "When did you-" She had just said she hadn't seen Tam, and here she was. Sure, this parsed with what she'd been told of Tamara in the past. Why not.

Turning her full attention to Nat, she too offers the young girl a smile. "Hey, kiddo," she says again as she scans the water to make sure it's not in danger of swallowing Nat. "It's gonna be fine," she mumbles. "Eventually. Keep it t'gether a little bit longer." Her voice is low, and someone who knows her well enough - Rue, maybe even Colette - can tell she's not just just trying to convince Nat. The look she gives Colette afterwards cements it. Convince me we're getting out of this alive, show me a colour that makes me feel better, she thinks.

Distracted by Benji, by Calvin, and the radio in her head, Noa still manages to throw a withering Gitelman glare Avi’s way.

“You don’t need to play martyr and you may do more damage than good. We’ll find another way,” the teenager says flatly to the man, though it’s mostly lost under the arrival of Tamara who is pointing out just that.

«They’re gonna use their long-range artillery» she informs those listening to her on radio, that might not have caught the chatter on the enemy’s radio chatter. Even as she does this, Noa does what Calvin says, helping Benji up to examine the damage. She pulls off a scarf that’s wound tightly around her own neck, thus still mostly dry, to wrap around the wound on Benji. Her small, deft hands press down to help stop the bleeding. This work doesn’t keep her from angling a narrow-eyed glance up at Calvin.

“Take care of Benj. If she dies, I’ll kill you,” she says coolly. “You okay to walk?” is more gently aimed at the injured.

Colette moves with the languid speed of someone who's been swimming all day and just got up onto land. She's sluggish, even as she approaches Tamara and wraps freezing cold arms around her more sensibly dressed shoulders. Initially there's relief, notes of cool blue light turn fiery orange when she's in proximity to the seer, but as Tamara leads them away the reality of the situation sets in. If Tamara is here, either they're in more danger than Tasha, or she had to choose. Colette's stomach twists into knots at the thought. Yet, she follows behind without hesitation.

Strangely, Calvin elicits a double-take as she passes by him and Benji. She squints, trying to recall where she's seen him before, but it slips away like a misremembered dream. Instead, she offers Quinn a worried look, and follows Tamara into the darkness.

Nat is a waterlogged slip draped in too-soaked clothes now. Her once cold-resistant puffy jacket is sopping with icy water and she's exhaling shuddering breaths between blue lips. Jupiter urges her forward, the dog feeling her fingers wound in his collar, gently trying to urge her forward. But when Nat looks up to Quinn at her reassurances, it comes with a grim comment. “But she's gone,” Nat exhales the words with cold tremor to her breath, as if it's not fair, whatever it is she's speaking of in her state of shock.

It's taken Avi this long to react to anything. The flourish of Calvin’s near-jab, Noa’s sensible snipe, Tamara’s persistence. Rue manages to get him out of his vacant stupor, gets him to clip the grenade back to his belt. No that was a bad idea, of course it was. Obviously.

He looks at the ginger former prisoner — both of them, actually — and huffs out a bubble of anxious laughter. “Yeah, right?” He's not sure what he's responding to, he just knows he has to say something over the ringing in his ears and the throb of his erratic pulse.

He doesn't leave the tunnel, waits to follow behind Benji and Calvin to make sure they make it out fine. He can figure out who's supposed to still be locked where later. “If there is a later,” he says with no context, aloud, to himself.

He's fine.

As Noa's hands press down on the wound, Benji hisses in protest, suggesting of a deeper injury, but clamps down on any flinching away. On her feet with that assistance, at least, and the blood coming thick and fast does not appear to have any arterial enthusiasm behind it. White spots are exploding in her vision, anyway, and her hands clamp onto Noa in turn to keep herself steady. The rushing black water as high as their waists does something to help matters, a shift in gravity.

"You mean swim," she says. It's humour, fluttery and tense in her throat, but there. She curls her more operative arm around Noa, walking with small, water-logged, mincing steps, and decides to reassure, on that delay; "Shh. Calvin's helping now."

You know. As opposed to before.

Glances in the semi-dark prickle at the back of Calvin’s neck — Noa’s most of all. At the sound of a threat pinned to an order, he turns his head down after her, cold water running quick off the scruff on his chin. His eyes shutter dark, then back to life with a fluorescent flicker.

“I believe you.” Sincerely, he does, a kind of fleeting it’s fine glance cast to Benji in discreet aside.

But Avi’s making moves!

A bristling swivel back to the latest development in that saga reveals that Rue has him in hand. Calvin lowers the sword, feathers smoothed under a shivering breath. His eyes stay wary, pinned to Avi’s belt, and back to Rue as if in warning. Keep pappy’s hands off the pins, please.

Sword pushed down awkward under the band of his belt, he comes up out of his pocket with a syringe instead, frozen fingers thick in their fumble with the cap as he splashes along at the rear. He winds up uncorking it with his teeth, barrel rapped against the bend in his left arm when a flick of his middle finger proves too sophisticated an undertaking.

“Who builds below sea level in the middle of a river?” muffled conversationally around the cap in his teeth as he goes. Humans, that’s who.

The water's become deep enough for the dogs to have to paddle instead of walk. As she sloshes through the water beside them, Tamara gently redirects Nat's grip from Jupiter's collar to his harness, folding her fingers securely into place. "She is," the seer affirms softly, offering the girl a brief — albeit wet — one-armed hug.

Tamara pushes forward, patting Quinn's arm as she moves past, one hand lifting to a lambent orange mote as if it were a butterfly she might touch. It isn't, of course. Misty paddles through the water with her, looking concerned but game — trusting wholeheartedly in the humans to get her out of what's becoming a distinctly worrisome situation even by dog standards.

Tamara herself presents no question, no uncertainty, and no hesitation as she turns into a corridor. Its brickwork arches easily twice as tall as any of them, and at least equally wide… but it's only a dozen feet or so down its length that they traverse before the seeress draws to a halt. Tamara glances back over her shoulder, orange and blue glow painting the profile of her face. "This part," she tells the others, "I couldn't do."

At the end of the corridor is a grate.

Roughly fifteen feet across and ten feet tall at its highest point, it was built to prevent exactly the sort of situation that this small group of survivors now stands chest-deep in. In the event of a flood, water is meant to flow out through the gaps in the bars and out into a cement slough carved into the side of the hill that the castle stands on.

It isn’t that the construction crew hired by the Maxwell Corporation cut corners to reduce spending on an already over-inflated budget.

The trouble is the blockage on the other side.

Colette’s glow illuminates a clog of debris and bodies dense enough to prevent the water in the cellar from obeying the laws of gravity and emptying out into the Hudson.

They might be able to find a gap and squeeze out through the other side by picking their way through limbs and broken chunks of stone if more than a ton of metal did not stand between them at the different sort of chill contained in the crisp outside air.

A look passes between the two gingers and Rue nods her head in understanding. Don’t worry, I’ve got him now. Her hand tightens around Avi’s, and together they trail along behind the others. Her gaze fixes on Benji’s back, worry etched into her features.

When they come up on the blocked grate, Rue’s shoulder sag. Now more than ever she wishes she had an ability. That she could do something to help the people here. Instead, she’s all trembling limbs and shaky breaths and barely contained panic. Her face tilts up toward her chosen companion, searching for answers there that she’s sure she won’t find. What the hell are we going to do?

When Tam pats Quinn on the shoulder is about the time she's starting to finally go numb, silent as she trudges along in the water next to Nat and Jupiter. Her eyes are half lidded, cast away from any of the light Colette produces. Instead, she stares down at the murky and rising water, occasionally looking up at the others as they form shapes of grey in the dimly lit corridor. Several thoughts race through her head, each of them increasingly grim. We're going to die here echoes in the back of her mind again.

As Tamara speaks up again, Quinn slowly looks up, eyes settling on the grate. Blocked, with little visible way of escape. "No," she breathes out, dull grey eyes widening. "No no no no no n-" With each successive repetition she pushes forward, moving as quickly as the water will let her to the grate, grasping both her hands around the bars. Where Rue manages to hold her panic somewhat at bay, Quinn does not. "What fresh fuckin' hell is this?!" she shouts, her response to this new crisis echoing off the stone walls. She trembles, eyes and hands shaking as she bangs a fist on the metal bars. She used to be better at keeping herself together through this sort of madness. But she's never quite stared her possible death so directly in the face, not even in the Arcology - at least, not by her reckoning.

At least it keeps her from thinking about how disturbing the actual blockage is.

She takes a series of deep breathes, hanging her head for a moment. "Avi, gimmie that grenade," she mutters out, letting her shoulders slump a bit. "Gimmie."

“Good,” is a less than clever response to Calvin’s words but Noa quiets otherwise, and slides a hand around Benji to offer her scant weight to support the injured. Her brows draw together as she looks at the syringe in Calvin’s hands, then ahead to the grate blocking their exodus.

“If we could stop trying to explode things, that’d be great,” she says wryly, having somewhere picked up on the tone from a movie she’s never seen — pop culture wonders abound.

“Cal?” The question is tentative — the shortened name, a sharp juxtaposition to her death threat just a moment before. She’s now looking to him to help save their asses.

Softly, to Benji, Noa murmurs, “Something’s happened to Ingrid and Walter. I can’t reach them.”

Colette is silent, arms wrapped around herself, shivering against the cold she's ill-equipped to deal with. Her jaw trembles steadily, the amorphous and incandescent shapes drifting around her flickering like a candle about to go out. The blockage at the end of the hall is too great for her to cut through before everyone either drowns or succumbs to hypothermia. She looks back at Tamara, eyes wide and helpless.

Nat is equally unqualified to do anything other than tremble. She has her face in one of her hands, huddled up beside Quinn, sobbing uncontrollably, the other gripping Jupiter by his harness. The noises she's making are pained, keening sounds. Nothing intelligible, just the mournful crying of a deeply traumatized child.

“No,” Avi says far belatedly to Quinn. He looks down to the grenades at his hip, then over to Rue. He remembering seeing that goddamn cane move in the water, go to Calvin’s hand. Epstein puts a hand on Quinn’s shoulder, moves her and Nat aside.

Still holding Rue’s hand to keep himself steadied and grounded, he flicks a one-eyed look back at Calvin, “This isn't a human task.”

In the interim seconds as they move together, Benji has begun to shiver in earnest. She also can't all the way feel things like toes or fingers, but she doesn't need those to lurch forward, clutching Noa while still trying to bear some of her own balance. Wits about her enough to see the grate, but concern about what it means for them flows on by like the rush of rising water around her.

So that when Noa says that, a new clench of worry grips her insides, turning her head to to look at her, eyes clear and sharp.


They have to get out of here. The low rumble of Epstein's voice beneath the higher pitch of the crying child has her shifting with Noa, aside, letting Calvin past with the kind reflexive half-thought of someone casually familiar with what happens next. All the same; "Where were they? Ingrid—" —shouldn't be here. Walter, honestly.

Calvin is the caboose of this misery train — a brambled, scrubby shadow at the back with a needle in his arm. He’s just drawing it back out when he hears Avi’s echo of his earlier inflection and lifts his head, dribbling like a beast at a waterhole, eyes burning coals in the dark.

Ridiculous to think that of the two occupied cells down here — Rue was in one, and this thing was in the other.

Ahead, the grate groans, girding against its own colossal weight before it shudders and shunts inward at its center. Wet sifts of crushed stone slip out through cracks in the ceiling; the metal wrenches and cracks where it’s bent, shedding loose-toothed chunks of cast iron. With a twist of constriction and a spine-tickling crunch, the seam widens its own gape — a vertical, jaggedy gap in the bars, wide enough up the middle for a man to shamble through sideways. One that hopefully nobody’s in too much of a rush to wriggle through.

Calvin lowers his syringe-wielding right hand, and the grate cracks the rest of the way in two — the left half collapsing outward, into the mosh pit, the right twisting in slow motion, half a ton of snarled iron falling in towards the group. Steam flashes along the leading edge as it goes, heat radiating off the iron just shy of a glow.

It’s never really dangerous, of course. He nudges it off course from flattening any puppies or little girls. Drags out the fall to allow for harrowing escape and all that, assuming Avi isn’t last one out of the way, in which case he’s on his own.

He just does it without moving. Or saying anything

Instead, he waits for the fall to splay his syringe hand and cuts a look at Noa and her Benji boa, like. Are you happy now? Still hanging back, despite a lingering look at the blood seeping through the scarf she’s applied to Benji’s neck.

There is a boat on the other side of the storm drain.

Past the pile of rubble and sodden bodies, which the dogs navigate first, using their noses to seek out the fresh air bleeding in between the loosest gaps in the debris. Smaller chunks of stone are cast aside by hands with some effort, and the larger pieces edged out of the way with all of Avi’s weight behind the stronger of his two shoulders.

It takes time, which is something that is impossible for anyone in the cellar to have a real understanding of until they breach the clog and emerge onto the shore. In a few minutes, water will be running white through the path they cleared and reduce the earth they’re standing on to mud. By morning, the embankment will be gone.

They will, too.

The boat, a small fishing trawler with the words Oar Place Or Mine? stenciled on the side in cracked black paint because someone a very long time ago thought it was funny, creaks gently as it rolls in the waves twenty feet off shore, tethered by an unseen anchor that Calvin will be able to sense but not see.

In the distance, somewhere on the other side of the river, gunfire shines like a sparkler on the Fourth of July. A convoy of retreating Ferry vessels looms beneath the shadowy treeline. Something flashes silver in the water and a round shot from a mortar ignites the sky.

They’re better off floating unnoticed downriver than trying to cross.

Injured though she may be, Rue pitches in to help clear the barricade between them and their escape. Most of her damage doesn’t extend to her ability to lift and lever anyway, but numb fingers and terrible trembling make it difficult. By the time it’s done, her nails are broken worse than they already were, blood gathering at her fingertips that she doesn’t even notice.

When they finally make it to the embankment, Rue heaves a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank God.” She looks out at the boat, lips twitching just faintly at the name on the side - because her sense of humor hasn’t been completely numbed by the freezing water just yet - and starts toward it. She has enough sense to realize something is holding it down, because it isn’t tethered to the shore and it’s not drifting away. “I can—” Rue silently debates the wisdom of wading into the water to try and retrieve the boat so no one else has to get more soaked than they already are. Again, she wrings out her hair. “I’ve got this,” she decides, and strides ahead of the pack to retrieve their getaway vehicle.

A whimper escapes from Quinn lips as she's pushed back aside, her request so firmly denied. Probably for the best - she just wants out, no matter how it's done. Still, with her one thought on how to get away done - and really, it was just a repeat of Avi's earlier attempt - she falls silent, pulling Nat back away from the grate with her. Loosening the child's grip on Jupiter's harness, the Irishwoman pulls the sobbing child up into her arms, hoping maybe to comfort her the slightest bit as she watches on ahead. Eyes shift a bit at the mention of Ingrid, Walter. If she wasn't feeling so numb that was elicit some worry.

Eyes still half lidded, she whispers quiet, barely audible reassurances to Nat, her expression neutral as she waits for something to happen. And then, finally, it does. It feels like a miracle in that moment, Quinn drawing in a cold, shocked breath as she watches the way be cleared. SHe doesn't help to clear the way, she doesn't take the lead on the way out, she doesn't offer words of encouragement. She just follows, cold and numb, holding Nat in the vein hopes that maybe what remains of their combined body heat may help warm one of them as the make their way to the embankment.

She just waits, like maybe she should have earlier, instead of letting out with her panicked shouting. A glance is given over towards Colette, the full colour visage of the other photokinetic holding her gaze. Rue's offer to get the boat prepped doesn't even draw her attention. She doesn't offer any sort of reply, or even thanks. Her mind has drifted elsewhere, a hand on the back of Nat's head. Okay, a boat. Now what?

As Calvin does the work of clearing the grate, Noa watches, her brows drawn together with worry. She shakes her head slightly at Benji’s question. “She said to hold tight, so I think they were coming for us, maybe but… I don’t know. I think maybe a car accident or…” Or worse. Her voice is soft, mostly meant for Benji’s ears but their quarters are small — too small, given the rising waters. She sighs softly in relief, moving forward carefully with Benji. When Calvin looks her way, she nods — a tacit thank you.

Noa’s not quite ready to be adult enough to say the words aloud.

She helps Benji to rest against the wall as she sets about clearing the path to the outside world, her hands too soon grimy and reddened by sharp edges of rocks and debris. It’s only in the stillness when she stops to wait for Rue to retrieve the boat that she begins to tremble with the cold, no action for the moment to distract her from it.

Nathalie is cold and limp in Quinn’s arms. Her face is turned over the older woman's shoulder as she leaves the drainage culvert, looking up at the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle, backlit by fires with the dark silhouettes of birds cast against clouds and smoke. Tears have cut a clear path down her face, eyes puffy and red. She doesn't understand why this hurts so much.

Behind them, Colette emerges from the tunnel following Jupiter’s sure-footed stride. Her bare feet are pale, and in the crisp night air she begins shivering harder. One arm draped around Tamara, Colette is blue-lipped and chattering, her lights now little more than dim pinpoints, like stars. “Tell me she's ok,” Colette breathlessly exhales to Tamara between shuddering inhalations of biting cold air. It doesn't even need to be the truth right now, she'd take the warm comfort of a lie.

Avi stands a few feet away, vacantly looking up at what Nathalie does. The birds, the last bits of Eileen Ruskin, wheeling through the air. His jaw tenses, and as Avi looks down his hands clench at his side and brows knit together. He nods, repeatedly, and then looks up to the firefight happening on the river. He doesn't see Jensen anywhere, or Jensen’s kid. As he heads toward the boat, resentment replaces rage.

“Get the fuck in,” Avi mostly says to himself as he approaches the Oar Place or Mine? He has to keep moving, has to get everyone out. “We— really just— we gotta go.”

Benji waits to feel worried about Walter and Ingrid. She huddles against wet brickwork, arms curled around herself as occasionally a muscle spasm jostles broken bone, as black spots bloom in her vision, and waits to feel worried about Walter and Ingrid. Worry never arrives, and it's less that she is has maxed out her capacity for worry, or that she's too tired or hurt or numb to process it, it's just that it seems likely that they're dead already and there isn't anything she can do about it at the moment.

And certainly, that information will take some time to sink in.

Maybe in her right mind, she'd point out to herself that radio signals are more delicate than living human bodies, but here, in the flooded dark, bleeding into it, human bodies don't seem particularly resilient. And yet, once the way is cleared, she moves with excruciating, hypothermic slowness, legs ambulating the minimal requirements for forward motion.

On the embankment and out in the open, she manages to stay on her feet, cold water running out of thick wool and denim. Blood is stained high up her neck, crimson diffused in clear water. The hand of that arm and that shoulder and that injury is likewise red, gripping onto the hem of her coat, cradled in. With her other, she fishes into a pocket for the handgun that Avi had given her, fingernails blue, and she turns it to offer it to Noa wordlessly.

Then, she reaches back for Calvin, as if to make sure he isn't going to go running off into the distance, never to be seen again. Her hand finds fabric, and curls in place. Let's go on a boat.

Calvin keeps his distance as a matter of course, hanging back, Noa’s nod tipped back even as he busies himself with capping the syringe. Yea sure. Just another day in this horror movie they’ve been transported into or whatever.

He’s last to wrest his way through the clog and out into the stink of cordite and sulfur, filthy water spluttering out after him at a lurch and trickle. Nigh immediately, gunfire dazzling along the far shore catches his eye, and he takes a step to better see, breath quickening, already running the maths on his ability to swim for it. He’s traveled time from the apocalypse future, what’s a mile of chilly river against that. That and the amphodynamine flushing warm through his veins.

A hand catches at his side. There isn’t much to grab, the cotton of his t-shirt clinging wet to his back.

He turns slowly against resistance, and the hem lifts enough to bare a glimpse of the book he has crammed into the ass of his jeans — a well-worn (and soggy) copy of Meditations. Embarrassing.

Calvin looks at Benji and, after a beat of I dare you to stop me eye contact, glances down. And back up again. With a slower, longer held breath fogged between them, he reaches to unwork the scarf Noa’s pressed into her neck wound — the better to knot it stiff into the start of a shitty, blood-sodden sling instead. Resentful.


As the ragged group staggers their way out into the open, Misty forays ahead, pausing only briefly to vigorously shake the water out of her coat. Head and tail both held high, she makes a beeline for the boat as soon as she spots it, only to stop at the water's edge, briefly dancing in place. When Rue forges out past her, the dog mouths a soundless yip; she knows what's up. Not even the sudden, sharp noises from across the river can dampen that enthusiasm.

Some distance behind, Tamara walks in step with Colette, an arm over her shoulders. "We're all okay," she assures, indirect echo of a promise made two weeks before. Her gaze lifts to the ominous silhouettes of birds aloft at untimely hour, flitting shadows limned in fire and smoke. If there's any augury other than the obvious to be had from their flight, the seeress fails to speak it.

Instead, she does what she can to help get everyone settled into the boat — including making Colette clean off her feet and put on shoes — and to get the small, comparatively stealthy craft pointed on its way downstream. As they drift, quiet, weary, and cold, Tamara leans against Colette, Misty curled up at both their feet. She turns her gaze not towards where they are going, but to the fading vista whence they came, silent witness to the half-seen contours of a broken island slowly dwindling into the night.

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