Rats Under the Moon


cat_icon.gif claire_icon.gif claude_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif flint_icon.gif hiro_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

With NPCs by:


Scene Title Rats Under the Moon
Synopsis It would seem that even a man with no sense of who he is still manages to rally friends about him. Friends and… blood-thirsty, crazy people in stolen convertibles.
Date March 10, 2009

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

The moon is full, a huge round pupilless eye that stares down across Midtown's ruins and probably adds more light to its skeletal spectacle than all of the functioning lamps there put together. It's eleven o' clock in the evening and only the most desperate of mice and hobos are out. The road to the air facility in Queens is clear liked bleached bones.

Despite that the black carapace of the prisoner van is windowless, Deckard can see all this and more out of the single eye he retains. Still, it's rather like being carried around in the belly of a giant black ant, whose mandibled digestive process has long since begun to pollute the chemistry of his brain and also knock him around a lot. He's mind-wiped and black-and-blue. Got that way before they tasered him and threw him into the van, bodily. Somebody called him a freak.

He isn't the only one — freak, prisoner that is — installed along the bench. There are two others zipped up in orange canvas bodysuits and their skin boasting similar rosettes in varying quantities. The three make a row, seated along the left side of the van, their feet cuffed and their hands cuffed and both cuffs linked to each other and sturdily secured to the van itself.

Safety first.

There are just as many guards as prisoners, but no more. Seated on the bench opposite their charges, they stare humorlessly out from underneath helmets and over their rifles, full tactical gear lending them a certain aspect of brutality that either highlights the probability that they're ruthlessly practical assholes or that the Evolved threat really has to be something.

The prisoner on Deckard's left is a tall and raw-boned Hispanic girl. The one on his left is a fat fellow squinting myopically at the stray fly that managed to get into here, buzzing helplessly against the strip of fluorescent that demarcates the exact center of the van.

To say that Deckard is relaxed might be an exaggeration, but it only took one vicious crackle and snap of well-aimed taser prongs to knock the fight out of him for the first part of this trip. So. There really aren't many other ways to be. Not with his bandaged wrist cuffed to his bruised one, and both of them chained to cuffs around his ankles, and both of them chained to the van. Definitely not with three gunmen seated just across from him and his new friends.

It's been kind of a surreal day, and he's just about hit the point where he's willing to go with the flow. Fine. He's in jail and someone apparently beat him up and erased his memory and now he's in a van and in dire need of a shave. Sure. Great. Bristle-bearded chin tipped down to his chest, he studies himself more than he does the outside world breezing by, scruffy head moving dimly with the bump and jostle of the van around him.

"…I have two kidneys." He says so like it surprises him a little, however distractedly, and leans a little further forward to better squint at his own midsection. The hell.

As the van cruises along, the driver is listening to his music. And it's dark in there. Now and then he may glance to the side and look out of the passenger window, noticing stuff he's driving past on the right side. But most of the time he looks straight ahead.

It's when the driver looks to the right again and sees an angry-faced Japanese man that he almost comes out of his skin.

The van fishtails just a little, bumping the passengers and prisoners around in back as it does.

Driver fumbles for something, and Hiro thinks it's probably a weapon. It doesn't matter though because Hiro Nakamura is having none of that. He holds a short knife up easily, laying it at the driver's throat. "Drive." he commands simply, then talks into a little handheld radio. "I have the driver secured." he reports. Probably to the rest of the team he's here with.

Incoming. Cat raises her wrist to her mouth and speaks into the microphone there, making use of her comm gear. Her eyes go from one person to another present with her. Clad in all black, the five foot eight inch tall woman has her features and brown hair hidden by a ski mask, customary for her when she comes out for operations like these. Ski masks were also made available to the others involved; one never knows when cameras are in play, and she knows now how very thoroughly DHS uses traffic cameras. Not having faces seen is a Very Good Thing.

The strap to the M16 at her shoulder is adjusted, her other hand holding a pair of boltcutters. Confidence is placed in the body armor under her clothing.

Hiro may have the driver secured, but there's a scrappy, petite blonde in a very stolen red convertible Mustang with the top down, with a large bald man riding shotgun, that has other plans for him. And she's just short of tailgating the van.

"All right. You've done this before, yeah? Duck and roll. The van'll be stopped soon enough." Claire Bennet glances up into her rearview mirror and then turns her eyes to the back of the van in front of her again. "I'm so sick of people like us being locked up in that prison just because we're different. No more." This time, she glances to her right, "Love you, Uncle Flint." Just in case, you know.


As bald as he might be, he's pulled on a black skull cap and has on as usual a black hoodie like top as he frowns, that hick accent of his (hick, not thick) filled with that 'I'm about to do something stupid cuz my niece is crazy' trepidation and he's not wearing a a seatbelt, reaching up so he has something to grip on to as he takes a deep breath and shakes his head. "Done this before? Kinda, but then the train blew the hell up and people burnt up to death and got sand up my crack…." He mutters and finally just stares at the brunette woman. "I love you too, lordy have mercy if ya ain't a crazy bitch just like yer ma…" He utters fondly, preparing to launch himself out of the top of the car like a trailerparkish jack in the box.

Once Flint's clear of the vehicle and safely rolling on the shoulder, and not being crushed by traffic, Claire hits the gas and passes the van on the left, grinning at the roar of the engine. It reminds her of another time. She grinned then, too.

Right before she slammed into a wall in an attempt to kill the bastard that tried to rape her.

Vengeful just as much now as she was then, Claire jerks the wheel sharply to the right, crossing the lane of traffic directly in front of the van before slamming on the breaks.

Showtime, indeed.

"And then we'll just ask Deckard where the keys are," Teo says, words simple, register and tone peculiarly light in the darkest hour of the night despite that he's also covered up in armor, ski mask, gun, radio, looking every bit the negative and inverse of the goofy moniker he's earned. Teo isn't actually talking to himself, though from anybody's perspective it would look that way.

You can't see him with your eyes, but there's a man beside him. "Nobody has to get hurt." There's a slight edge of emphasis on has to, likely subconscious, probably symptomatic more of nerves than any real malice borne toward the men who have Teodoro's friend captive. Pointlessly, he glances at the radio when Hiro's voice emerges, acknowledges Cat's response with half a smile.

And then the Mustang. The color drops out of his face and into his voice: "Figlio di—"

Perhaps surprisingly, the transport driver had been keeping up pretty well with this bizarre twist of events. Samurai magically appears in shotgun and holds knife to throat. He sneers. Apparently Evolved, attacking Evolved prisoner wagon. The situation isn't very difficult to track until he realizes he'd taken his eyes off the rearview at precisely the wrong moment, almost doubletakes at the sudden swerve of the Mustang and lunatic pilot ahead.

The physics of the situation are about as subtle as your average Michael Bay movie. Either the prisoner transport stubs its metaphorical toe on the convertible and goes ass over teakettle into upside down, or he tries to stop. "Can't," the man tells Hiro, brusquely, an instant before he slams his foot into the brake.

Despite that all of the prisoners were shackled in place, they were left with enough freedom of movement to go bouncing like piñatas. The chains snap taut, rebound, send the Hispanic woman slamming shoulder-first into Deckard's ribs with a shriek and the other man's shoes slam into the slippery metal floor in some desperate effort to anchor himself against the chaotic seesaw of movement.

The guards, lucky for them, fare much better with helmets and — you know – seatbelts.

It gets worse when the van slams nose first into the convertible, crushing the side of it like somebody trodding on a crimson aluminium Coke can. Both vehicles belch noise into the cold air and come to a screaming halt a dozen yards down from where the Phoenix operatives are crouching. Sparks snake orange into the air, separated from Hiro's eyes by the thickness of the windshield.

Claude's voice blares loud at Teo and Cat, four simple words and instruction that's probably more open to interpretation than he meant for it to be. "Stay out of sight." The next instant, Hiro's radio crackles out: "Who the bloody Hell is that?"

Two. Two kidneys. Definitely more than one but less than three hunched up under his rib cage. Long face drawn slack and narrow jaw set at in aside in vacant bewilderment, Deckard sits himself up straight again. The iris of his remaining eye is a cold ring in the dark of the van's interior, bioluminecent blue ignorant of any weird looks he might be receiving in the beat before the van fishtails. When they left, there was one skeleton up front. Now there are two.

In about the time it takes him to refocus on the guard to see if anybody else is aware of this and/or thinks it is unusual, everyone in the van gets a lesson in momentum. There's a woman sort of in his lap and a guy sort of falling all over the place to his right and a lot of yelling, some of it in his own voice. In the end he has the same reflex as his neighbor, feet braced to the floor and battered wrists jerked up to try and use the chain as a stabilizer, to little effect. His head cracks against something. Possibly someone else's head. Whatever it is, it shuts him up, and everything slows. Way. Down. For just a second.

Well, thank god for helmets. Which presumably the SWAT goons guarding the prisoners are wearing. "Goddammit," comes a distinct voice with a molasses slow drawl. "Report," This presumably to the other guards. The lights within may have gone off, but there's abruptly the glow of scopes, little beams of light that move as the guards reorient themselves. And then one of them's trying to get into touch with the driver. "What happened?"

Hiro got a warning. It wasn't a great warning, but it was enough for him to pull his knife away from the driver and go wide-eyes at what just occurs in front of them as the convertible cuts them off in a way that cannot be accidental. He's not going to argue with the driver, but instead has time to turn his personal timeframe into a slowdown.

Nakamura's time dilation isn't always so precise as he'd like it, to be honest. There are times when instinct just takes over and while it might've been wiser just to teleport free of this place his instincts told him SLOWDOWN, and that's what happened.

It gives Hiro enough time to actually put away his knife and, haha, buckle his seatbelt! Even though things crawl by in slow motion around him he moves with some urgency to get that done before the collision hits. And then suddenly there is the slow-motion slam as the van crams into the convertible and it becomes something of a sparking fiery doorstop beneath the front of the vehicle. Feeling his mass strain against the belt, Hiro watches the crumple of the hood as it warps and buckles under impact, and then looks aside at the driver as he screams obscenities in a voice that sounds like a foghorn to him.

Snapping back into normal time, Hiro slaps back into his seat. And then he's working to get unbuckled from it. His radio's flown down into the floorboard so he can't answer it just yet.

She's on the move as the Mustang cuts in front of their target and is t-boned by it. Cat's voice quietly utters the Italian word for excrement. The instruction from Claude to stay out of sight is heard and heeded, even as she seeks to approach the van and find out the answer to the question about identity of the Mustang's driver.

She also, while on the move, keeps her eyes and ears open for both witnesses and the sound of sirens from emergency response units. And there's another concern brought to mind, one which is worse than the cops.

"Heads up, guys," Cat speaks into the radio, "this might bring out helicopters and Carmichael."

A bloodied figure pulls itself from the wreckage of the Mustang, slapping absently at the fire eating away at the opposite sleeve of her jacket until she decides simply to shed the garment. Which, really, makes it easier for Claire to unsling the shotgun from her back. She approaches the driver's side door at a steady clip.

Flint is picking himself off and dusting off some where off to the side behind the van and he jerks both arms down at the same time the soft sound of something igniting as blue flame lick and tease over his fists and some what up his arms without burning him and he starts to smile slowly. That was his niece! Yay for genetic reckless stupidity.

Staying out of line of sight isn't supposed to be too difficult when the van has no windows. Unfortunately, there are suddenly more people around. Teo's bringing up rearguard for Catherine on foot, keeping out of the way of the rearview mirrors, prudent and rifle in hands, only to find himself profoundly astonished by the sight of a bright blue pyrokinetic standing in the middle of the asphalt he was trying to get across.

He doesn't waste any time staring; he can stare and ask at the same time. "Who the fuck are you?"

"We're under attack!" The answer blows back in across the guards' radios from the the cab, where the driver is just as quick to exploit his suddenly renewed state of having no knife right up under his face. He doesn't bother getting out of his seatbelt. No; the first thing he goes for is the .40 at his hip. And the first thing he tries to do with that is put a new hole in Hiro's face, but his reflexes are staggered, his aim's off, because there's a crimson girl coming around the erupted nose of his vehicle toward him. "These fuckers are Evolved. 'Least two—"

Across from Deckard, there's a wild rattle and clank of metal and straps as the other officers free themselves and struggle to their feet. One of them seizes the Hispanic woman by the collar and hauls her off him, hurls her back into place against the wall. Bang. Another rights out his rifle, moves toward the van's back doors on strides just a more graceful than anybody ought to be under such circumstances. He glances over his shoulder at his cohorts. Signal.

Something in the uneven middleground between a grunt and a sigh muffles out from Deckard's direction when the weight of his female company is hauled out of his lap. His hand is damp. That much registers before the bodies moving around him pull back into focus after a few hard blinks and some rattling while he tries to resettle himself mostly upright again. "Jesus Christ." Even when he's being dragged off to prison forever and ever, shit has to go wrong. Bit by bit, reason and reflect returns enough for him to look over his shoulder at the guy with the gun moving for the back doors. People are about to die, and he's chained into his seat like a goddamn dog.

"Hit the panic button, it's gone wrong enough," says one of the armored guards. "If it's nothing, they can laugh all they want. Keep 'em covered," Half of the guards remain, guns pointed at the prisoners. The other half move out, defensively, trying to assess the threats - a pair of them hurrying forward to try and assist the driver.

Do you like how the driver was shouting into his radio? These fuckers are Evolved? And then squelch? Thank Hiro for that. As soon as he got unbuckled he reached across the cab and very smartly hammerfisted the driver in the neck. It knocked him out like an off switch, which is what happens when you strike the brachial plexus nerve like that.

Then he fishes his own radio out of the floorboard and says into it while opening the passenger door, "I'm okay. Someone else is here. Someone with a gun." And who can walk out of a twisted metal car.

Hiro kicks open his door and hops out, a little unsteady on his feet. Which is to be expected after that kind of a stop. He sways a little, gets his balance, and then walks around toward the back of the van, well out of headlights and on the opposite side of the van from the girl with the shotgun. Dunno who that is just yet, so he'll take any excuse not to run into her first.

This operation is turning into a giant pile of crap faster than fast. Cat's steps move along quickly toward the van, as she sights the crazed Mustang driver with shotgun and man with blue flame approaching the vehicle, along with Claire getting out of it, and the guard coming out of the van. The boltcutters are slung over a shoulder by the strap she attached to them, and her M16 comes off the other one, fingers moving to switch it from safe to semi. Behind her ski mask, Cat scowls. The weapon she really would've preferred be present for all this wasn't available.

Maybe the shotgun wielder and the man with the blue flame are hostiles, maybe they're not hostiles. She decides that given the way the Mustang drove in front of the van and the actions those two have taken since, they must have the same goal in mind. Rival faction? New players in the mix? There'll be time to figure that out later. Action now.

Her M16 is aimed at the guard in sight, and an order is barked out in her loudest clear and carrying stage voice.

"Face down, now! On the pavement, hands behind your head!"

She has to hope the man has enough sense to realize he's outnumbered and be obedient.

There's a creak of metal as Claire throws open the driver's side door. One skeletal arm, bones a living, moving thing, knitting together before Deckard's special vision, pulling another skeleton out of the front seat roughly. The smaller skeleton throws the other skeleton to the ground. Outside, it's loud, and inside the BANG! is muted. A flash of light as pellets enter the larger, prone skeleton, peppering its skull with lead.

And the ground outside with blood and thicker bits of tissue and brain matter.

Above Claire's head, the driver had been slumped over sideways in the seat, his face sticking to, stretching against the inside of the glass and proudly sporting the mark of a Hiro-fist. His eyes were closed and mouth slack, peaceful sleeper, and he fell just as bonelessly out under the yank of her arm. That was, until Claire makes his entire face go away.

No panic button happened there.

Not that it would have mattered, anyway. "Wireless has outgoing transmissions covered," Teo tells his shoulder — or, more specifically, the black electronic box clipped there. The blue pyrokinetic is too busy looking at the vanload of armored goons to answer his question, which makes sense. The shotgun blast and sudden cloud of red through the distant headlights gets him up, pushes him into a side-step in time to see the second guard who had vacated the van turn, alerted by Catherine's loud instruction, raise his M16, and send a scream of gunfire at the middle of the woman's torso.

That really wasn't the plan. At all.

Teo starts to take a half-step toward her attacker, pointlessly or no, when the edge of Hiro's broad frame peeks into view behind the agent. Despite that the agent is a foot taller and probably a hundred pounds heavier, that's enough to turn the Sicilian back to the man who Cat had originally privileged with her attention. He makes good on her threat, a spate of gunfire hurling him backward and onto his ass with a grunt of pain.

Inside the van, Deckard is privy to a strange spectacle. A wiry stranger's luminous skeleton steps in onto the metal, sidling neatly around the lone gunman left to guard the prisoners.

Claude has a gun, clothes, and everything, but the gunman appears blissfully unaware of his presence until the gun makes cold contact with the man's neck. "Deckard." On either side of Flint, the two prisoners are staring at the pistol that suddenly appeared in thin air. Their eyes flick haphazardly to and fro, searching out the origin of the Englishman's voice. "Where have they got the keys?"

There is a man with a gun still in the van, so. Deckard does the wise thing, which mostly involves sitting very still and being very quiet while he tries not to stare too much at said gunman, lest he provoke an accident. His head turns minutely after the open swing of the driver door, following the slack line of muscle and bone Claire drags out of the corresponding seat with unthinking curiosity. Maybe she's going to get in and drive them all somewhere. Or she needs the radio. Or…uhhhhh she could just shoot him in the face. Buckshot makes an artistic mess of brain and skull at such close range, ricochets tenting in against the van's near wall, followed shortly by the tickling tap of shattered bone and whatever else.

Deckard blinks slowly, such that it takes him a couple of seconds to realize someone is talking to him, and that someone is holding a gun to the neck of the guy who was previously pointing a gun at his face. He opens his mouth, closes it, slants a sideways look back at Claire and accompanying dead body. If there are familiar skeletons in this mess, he hasn't gotten a good enough look at any of them to make an ID. "I…" What is going on? The breath he forces out through his sinuses is one of blunt exasperation. "One of the guards has them. Right front pocket. I don't — know…" he twists around, trying to get a bead on where the guard in question wound up. "He's out there — somebody shot him. You know I'm going to get blamed for this, right?"

That armor….well, it's helping, some. Because the goon Teo just shot is flung back, but he's not particularly wounded. Bruised, perhaps. Before he even bothers to get up, he aims back at Teo from his prone position, and lets off a few bursts of fire.

The HomeSec Agent in the van is…..startled to say the least. He freezes, eyes darting to and fro, trying to spot the source. "We got a Claude in here!" he bellows. Hey, the name is not original, is it?

All this gunfire and shouting and flames. It's very uncivilized. The much more civilized "shring!" sound of a cold steel blade being drawn free of its scabbard issues from the shadows of the passenger side of the van. The silhouette that is Hiro Nakamura stands there with sword in hand, the steel of the Kensei Sword catching some of the ambient light before he just ceases to be there.

The guard that fired his assault rifle at Cat suddenly experiences the worst and final night of his life as his head simply pops off and bounces unceremoniously to the ground, rolling a couple of times with his mouth working silently. He's still alive until the blood loss causes him to go unconscious in a few seconds. The body slumps to the ground in a heap.


The one Teo shot finds himself in a somewhat similar situation, his right forearm falling off as if he were part of a Monty Python skit. It's like an invisible force suddenly just sliced them free.

Almost simultaneously to having vanished on one side of the van Hiro Nakamura appears next to Claire and says, "The Cheerleader." He holds up a hand to her. "Please don't shoot."

She hates it when she tries to be merciful and all that, and they don't obey. Cat sees the man she ordered to lie down and put hands over his head not be smart and do what he was told. She intends to squeeze the trigger of her M16 a few times in response, but suddenly he's in two pieces and collapsing, just as one of the rounds he fired at her strikes her body-armored chest.

Cat staggers back two steps, then drops to the ground where she lies groaning a bit and beginning to gather herself. It's less painful then when she, Al, and Brian got blown across an entire street, but still hurts. Rather like being struck in the chest with a sledgehammer by a heavyweight boxer.

"The Time Traveler," Claire responds in kind to Hiro's greeting. "We're on the same side," she confirms, keeping her gun pointed away from him, though still ready to take out the next target. She isn't quick to jump to her own defense of why she killed the man Hiro was content to simply disable. It wouldn't change anything. "I have work to do," she informs him, moving forward with the intent to step around the Japanese man and move toward the back of the vehicle .

So Claude's name rings a bell. Probably flattering for Claude. Upon confirmation that the mook he's holding at gunpoint doesn't have the keys, he has little compunction about bringing his elbow down on the base of the man's skull at the culmination of a vicious arc. It drops the agent onto his knees with a noise that sounds more mechanical than human, the strength fading out of the skinny line of his throat as he tumbles helplessly to the floor.

"Oi!" Claude shouts out, yanking the rifle out of the guardsman's grasp. The long, ugly geometry of gunmetal vanishes from sight the instant the HomeSec operative's glove parts with it. "The bugger with only half his arms left is the one with the keys. Right trouser pocket!"

Heavier than his comrade, Teo's only breathing like a dying person by the time his attacker is effectively relieved of half his arm; better than not breathing at all. "Y'a'right?" His question is a slurry mess wheezed in Cat's direction. The M16 winds up dangling, dragged at first, until he lurches across the pavement, winds up stepping up the screaming HomeSec goon's leg on his way to grabbing keys out of the canvas pants pocket. There are like three pants pockets. He finds it on the third, hurls them overhand in the general direction of the van.

They hit the Hispanic woman's shoe, slide, skitter to a halt on the patterned metal at the bottom of Deckard's camera view.

A guy's head just fell off. Nobody seems to care very much. Well, maybe care is the wrong word, but it's hard not to notice, and hard not to stare, at least until metal scatters over metal. For a second, there's nothing. The Hispanic woman looks at Deckard, Deckard looks at the Hispanic woman. In the next second, there's a long-nailed hand clawing after his face and squarish elbow planted firmly in her sternum while he wrests his way down past her for the keys.

It doesn't take him long to get out at all. Not nearly as long as it should in the dark of the van, but it's clear enough to him what goes where, and with a series of fumbling twists and mechanical clicks, he's able to shake off the shackles and hunch up to his feet. The keys are dropped back onto the seat with a muttered, "You two are on your own," and he's moving. Out out out, tripping his way through the distorted van and out into the chill night air and damp asphalt looking like a crappy Halloween costume with the eye patch and the prison duds. For the millisecond he just stands there, anyway, because without so much as a glance around to see what's what and who's who, he bolts. He's not staying with these people. These people are insane.

Sword still out, Hiro follows Claire and insists on talking. "We're both doing the same thing. Let's slow things down. I'm here with friends." He glances into the back of the van only to find Deckard taking off. Man, it's like watching a fleeing animal. Hiro doesn't seem to care in the least, but he does know why he's here and gets on his little handheld radio to say into it, "I think that's our target running off into the dark. On the side of the highway like a fool." Brief pause, "I got the one that shot." He is concerned for Cat's welfare, but she seems alive and there'll be time to address that all later.

Then again maybe it's not so foolish to run from an area with a shotgun-toting brunette who survives car wrecks and a teleporting Japanese man with an openly-held katana in hand.

"I will be," Cat replies as she sits up, speaking into her radio. The voice sounds a bit pained as she reports "Body armor works. But still feels like being sledgehammered." No more Doctor Nice Cat, the woman decides. If she faces HomeSatan people again, and they're armed, she shoots them in the head without delay.

She grits her teeth and rises to stand, taking a look around in the direction Deckard fled, next asking "Do we try to catch up with him, or let him go? And who are the unexpected helpers?"

"Nothing to slow down." Claire ignores Hiro's suggestion of alliance. She climbs into the back of the van. "Here, let me help," she insists, taking the keys from the shaking woman and freeing both prisoners without a second thought. "Now move. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." Once the van's been vacated, Claire tilts her head back toward it. "Torch this puppy and let's get the fuck out of here," she tells her companion. Though she glances back to Hiro. "Don't suppose you could give us a lift?" Because alliances can be convenient when you've crashed your car and don't feel like stealing a getaway vehicle.

"Copy that, Nakamura. Deckard's out. Going the wrong way," says Claude's voice over the radio, while Claude himself observes the long orange stripe of Deckard's back departing into the fuzzy radius of still-functioning vehicle lights and a small fire that seems determined to grow, exponentially, in defiance to the black, muggy cold of night.

Dragging the agent that he had downed behind him, the invisible man steps out of the van, with a backward glance to confirm that Claire is assisting the two other convicts on their scrabble to freedom. Claude flips back into the visual spectrum long enough to offer Hiro a nod, before ditching his handful on the pavement. "Someone needs to take him to the car.

"Kids?" He's quick as gallantry to volunteer the Phoenix operatives in question, unable to see Hiro himself from around the boxy contours of the vehicle itself.

Teo is kicking the one-armed operative's fallen rifle out of the way. The arm that is no longer attached to him sort of bumps and slides along with it, until the friction against concrete separates the severed limb from the weapon in a way that would probably make the Sicilian feel queasy if he had time for that. His attention strays upward at the patter of running feet, brows stooping underneath the mask. "I'll ge" Some form of answer to the radio begins to merge with a question for


He doesn't manage to fully verbalize either option, before there's an arm the size of a tree wrapped around his leg and hurling him to the pavement in an ungainly sprawl. They roll. Smear the pavement with three oddly symmetrical iterations of a pattern in blood. Somewhere between the elbows, Teo remembers where he stowed his knife, stabs, upward, grinding it in until the mess slicks the handle out of his fingers. The man's weight crashes into him, propelled neither entirely by dead gravity nor by strict force of aggression slams the back of his head into the ground. There are stars.

Deckard is hauling ass like he just escaped from a creepy prison van because a bunch of scary people with swords and shotguns wrecked it and then murdered several of its occupants.

Which is ironic, because he did. It either hasn't actually occurred to him what he's doing, or he doesn't care very much. Likely some mixture of both. He's just running.

Briefly Hiro regards Claire, who has been giving him this…well, an attitude really. And he decides to give her some of her own medicine back. "Is there anything to lift?" he asks with that stony expression he's so good at before giving a nod to Claude. "You want to catch Deckard while I check on our people?" He's got no kind of problem whatsoever with Claire letting loose anybody she wants to from the van. Whatever their crimes, they probably aren't as bad as the government's.

Without waiting for an answer from Claude Hiro walks around the van to regard the officer with the severed arm, and then frowns as he looks down at the scuffle in the dark. Insanely he can't tell who it is fighting just now so he's still visibly coming to a decision as to who to help.

Her ribs are sore. She probably has bruising on her chest, this she'll check out when she gets home. And there's an idiot agent wrestling with Teo. Cat scowls, though no one can see it under the ski mask. She strides over to the scuffle and seeks to place the barrel of her M16 against the man's ear, and sternly tells him "You really should quit fighting. You lost, it's over, now go bandage yourself before you bleed out." If he makes any move other than to obey her, and immediately, she very much intends to fire a round.

For a moment, Claire is torn between helping Teo or turning tail to run. Hiro's comment earns him a bemused look. "Nothin' now, Kenshin."

Flint utters some curse about Claire being 'a goddamned psychopath' as he sends a burst of flame at the van, maintaining it until the vehicle's burning well on its own.

"Let's get the fuck out of here," the dark-haired young woman mutters, turning to run back in the direction they came, Flint hot on her heels - no pun intended. "Be seein' you around!" she calls over her shoulder to the others. As long as her friends and family remain behind the walls of Moab, it's likely she'll continue to cross paths with Phoenix. For now? She's just a rapidly disappearing figure in the night. It's as though even the moon doesn't want to shine down on Claire Bennet tonight.

Bandages probably aren't going to stop this guy from bleeding out, if the new moisture-weight added to the already considerable mass of Teo's armor is any indication. Still, the sudden press of the barrel against the operative's head seems to give the remarkably obdurate agent an excuse to stop moving, finally, and he goes slack as if Cat had simply ordered him to relax.

"Fah-ckin' mutants," is his last drawl, exhaled, and then the soldier is a boneless heap sloughing off a shove Teo's knees.

It's disgusting. The younger man scrambles unevenly into a sitting position, tracking gummy red hand prints on the ground below him. His word of gratitude is a rasp; he glances up in time to see the van catch on fire, a dervish of blue light and tangible heat, obscuring Claire's fleeing figure. Hiro's stoic regard unnerves him for a fraction of an instant before he staggers upright, twisting his head around in something of a panic. "Where the fuck is Deckard?"

Being trailed across the ruins by an invisible man. Or, at least, a man invisible to everyone but him. Claude is agile as a billy-goat over the concrete shoulders of the highway barrier, picks his way over a gutter and hangs back on the convict's tail. "I'm tracking him," Claude reports. "I'll bring him 'round if I can. Otherwise, Wireless can track this signal. Pick him up when you've got a car."

When Teo asks which way Deckard went, Hiro just points off into the dark, the side of the road. And then he watches the van burn, the firelight playing at his features and causing the steel of the Kensei sword to shimmer in the gloom in spite of the blood dripping from it. Slowly Hiro turns around and walks away, sword held low as it plays in the light.

"Who the hell were those people?" Cat asks the departing Hiro.

She has a car, and a safehouse, well, a safe floor. That will be their destination, in Greenwich Village. Cat calls this out to Claude over the radio so he can tell Deckard and they can pick them both up. She stashes weapons in the trunk and takes care when they reach the vehicle to not seem to have done anything like what they just did. There will be traffic cameras, and she knows what those mean. To that end, Deckard's features will be obscured.

It just wouldn't be good at all to have him spotted, and linked to them. Not good at all.

Cat's words cause Hiro to pause and he answers simply, "Claire Bennet. I don't know who the other one was." He looks at Cat and says, "Glad to see you're okay. I was a little worried there." Offers the slightest of smiles, and then he vanishes like a blink.

Teo is left to blink at the coruscation of firelight and new crimson off the smile of the samurai's sword, then to curse and take a step backward at the sudden eruption of the prison transport's engine depressurizing in heat. It occurs to him, fleetingly, No wonder Deckard ran. Less people here, now; Teo sheds machismo long enough to wrap an arm around his ribs, reminds himself how to breathe.

"Glad he's on our side," Teo mutters, falling into step behind the woman. The gurgling behind him stops. Blood lakes out out of the discarded HomeSec agent, steeping into hair only a few shades paler. Leaves one alive, asleep on the roadside, with a Hell of a story to tell; one that will be of little use to anyone. Teo creases a blink out of his eyes at the mention of that name — Claire. "Thanks. But how d—?"

But Hiro's gone, then. Empty air remains unavailable for response, despite the crackling noise of combustion and radio waves in layers behind the two Phoenix operatives. Just the car, coordinates, pick-up. It didn't go according to plan, but it went: they're almost home.

March 10th: Don't Call Me Kitty
March 10th: Inventory
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