Seeking The Magi


delilah_icon.gif lene2_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Seeking the Magi
Synopsis After careful planning, Richard and Delilah go to meet Martin Pines… only to find unexpected guests.
Date June 8, 2019

“…going to be nice, don’t worry,” Richard reassures his companion with a shake of his head as he makes his way down the sidewalk beneath the New York sun, dressed nicely today; a tailored pinstripe suit that he wears quite well thank-you-very-much, a fedora shading his face, both gifts from the late Charles Deveaux. It seemed appropriate somehow for today, even if he stands out slightly with the outdated look in the post-apocalyptic ruins of the year twenty-nineteen. A pair of dark glasses guard his eyes from the light, hiding eyes too dark to be entirely natural.

A lift of his head takes in the red brick of the building that they’re drawing close to, the shadow of a passing truck sweeping over them and the wall to darken it briefly before it moves on, part of the bustling life of reborn New York. “Is this the place?” he asks Delilah, “I haven’t been here in awhile admittedly, but it seems familiar…”

School's out, but she's left Walter at a friend's place; he deserves some time to be a kid, after all. No need to drag him into any of this. Delilah walks alongside Richard, mismatched to his dapper look with a belted dress and leggings; the former is patterned with little mushrooms. The wind picks up some locks of her hair, undone as it is. Her laugh for his reassurance is only a little dry. Okay, okay.

"Yea, this is it." Brown eyes tip up to the brick facade before she starts for the front doors, perfectly confident in leading Richard inside. "Hard to tell when there's going to be a live show, so I dunno if Lene's here, but I think Martin liveshere, or at least stays sometimes?" This part she isn't so confident about.

Ascending the metal staircase up the side of the building to the second floor main entrance, Richard and Delilah are given a panoramic view of the industrial waterfront. The canal that cuts through this portion of the Safe Zone is choked with freight barges loaded with shipping containers from Red Hook. While the building containing WSZR is retrofitted, many of the old mills in the area now serve as warehouses.

By the time they've reached the door, the skies have fully clouded over and a misting rain drizzles from the gathering. The studio is dark inside, save for a few high ceiling lights, making it hard to see who is inside. A brick propping the front door open indicates that the station is running and a faint hint of jazz wafts out through the subtly ajar door.

“It looks like someone’s here, regardless,” Richard observes as he notes the open door, as his ears catch that dim music. A smile’s flashed to Delilah, and then he’s stepping towards the door to get out of that unpleasant drizzle.

As he crosses the threshold, his voice lifts a bit, “Martin? Jolene? Are you in?”

Not too loud. He doesn’t want to interrupt a live broadcast or anything.

Delilah strolls right in, just missing the settling dew that now tickles the air in her wake. A smile is given to Richard as he notes the music, and she half-closes the door behind him, propping it open without letting in the rain.

"Definitely sounds like it." Dee has no concerns about her volume, "Mister Pines? Joooleeeene?" Sing-song, familiar, her usual chipper when she comes around with Walter in tow, or to pick him up. That it's a little misdirecting doesn't escape her.

Jolene is here. Physically, anyway.

No one can hear whatever she's listening to on her oversized headphones, eyes closed and feet hop-skipping across the floor. Her hair is darker than it was the last time either of them saw her, more a natural brown than a dyed red. Moreover, she's fucking dancing and there's not a cane or crutch in sight.

Hands on her headphones, Jolene bounces to the beat, head bobbing up and down, mouthing the words to something that absolutely isn't smooth jazz. It makes her jerky, terrible kick-punch dancing appear all the more arrhythmic. It's only when she lets out a squeaky, “Walkin’ on sunshiiiiiine” and throws her eyes open that she sees that she's not alone and just



Ohmygod!” Jolene howls, flailing hands ripping headphones off of her ears, eyes wide and body contorting as if to try and hide her entire everything from the weight of crushing embarrassment.

Richard, beneath the edge of that fedora, is grinning like the proverbial cheshire cat. “Hey, ‘Lene,” he greets casually, bringing up a hand to tilt the shades down his nose to regard her over them, “Sorry for surprising you like this. Hope we didn’t give you a— “

Then he stops dead, “Whoa, wait, are you— “ He looks around for the crutches and then back, “You’re dancing!”

The only reason Delilah doesn't pop out of her skin is thanks to Walter becoming a threat to national security, when he was returned one of the last times he was here. She watches stock still for a few moments, wincing in half-apology when Jolene screams and fumbles. To Richard, a similar look, this time with a squint. Did she forget to mention that part?

"Hey, honey, sorry to bust in on your Risky Business!" How can you be mad at this smile?! It's hard, and Delilah knows she's infectious. Wields it like a hammer on nails just like her laugh. "Take a breath or two, huh? Nice moves though."

“I fell!” Jolene shouts, like an innocent person. “Into— a Doctor! A very good doctor!” Her eyes are wide, face flushed with color and hair messed up from the way in which she tore off her headphones, which are still blaring Walkin’ on Sunshine.

“Uh, what’re you all doing here?” Lene thinks to ask once she's had even a moment to think about it. “Did did I trip over the cable from the receiver? Is WRAY not broadcasting? Is Walter here and I— uh— did he misplace himself?” All the while she's bending down and picking up the dropped headphones.

At that terrible lie of an explanation, Richard can’t help it— he bursts out laughing, flattening one hand over his face as his shoulders shake in quiet mirth for a few moments. Then he’s waving his hand dismissively, “…I missed you, ‘Lene. I have no idea how you infiltrated my ranks back in the day, though, because you are the worst liar.”

He’s grinning, all the same, clearly pleased that she fell into a doctor. “It’s good to see you walking— and, ah, we’re looking for Martin, actually.”

"I sure as hell hope not." Delilah quips back, shaking her head. No, Walter is not here, he did not misplace himself. "He's safe playing in mud with his friends, I'm sure. Don't make me think about it, I'll just cry about the laundry…" Despite the whinging, she steps forward, more than ready to just sucker Lene into a hug. C'merrre you.

"He's right, you're shit at lying." Just to back that up. "Yea, we're looking for Martin, is he busy?" Dee can hear the distant contrasting sounds to Jolene's rocking out, so she thinks he must be here, at least.

Wrapped up in Delilah’s hug, Lene is quick to return it, pressing her cheek to the side of the redhead’s hair. “Pines? Oh, no he said he needed to— ” Whatever Jolene was about to say is cut down by the sounds of glass breaking as a high pane of one of the tall windows shatters and a metallic canister comes clattering to the floor. The second it lands there’s a pressurized hiss that erupts from it and spills out with a gray-yellow gas that no one in this room has seen in years.

Negation gas.

Fuck!” Jolene screams, grabbing Delilah and dragging her away from the gas as it blooms into an ever-expanding cloud by the entrance. It hasn’t enveloped them yet, came through the wrong window do, but a second crash comes from the next window in line and a second canister comes clattering to the floor, pop-snapping and breaking into a wild spin as it too begins to belch out the wretched bile-colored smoke much closer than the first, but still not quite close enough to swallow them in its murky embrace. Lene’s arms are shaking, her eyes are wide, and she is sliding rapidly down a traumatic slope into a panic attack.

At the same moment, Richard’s phone buzzes three times in his pocket in rapid succession, text messages.

The crash of glass has Richard instinctively lunging away from the sound in case someone’s just thrown a grenade into the room - some instincts last a lifetime. But it’s not a grenade. It’s something far more insidious, and as that ochre gas begins to bleed from the canister his eyes widen when he whirls back to see what it was.

Then another. This isn’t just some protester who scavenged an old canister from the ruins. This is something else.

The phone buzzes, but the CEO of Raytech doesn’t have the time to check his messages right now, even if it seems likely they’re related to the current issue. “Dee, get her out of here,” he barks out even as color begins to bleed out of him, darkening like a filter’s slide was being pushed towards one end and flattening back in a shadow’s sweep across the wall. Gas only works if you have lungs to inhale it. “Jolene— Pines, where did you say he was?” …where he was

The glass shattering is a cold reminder that this is still a violent world; the clatter of metal prickles at her neck, eyes sharpening from one to the next, her body shifting in front of Jolene, eyes widening, brown darkening, light paneling off of them like something in the night. Green-yellow, a far step onward from weeks ago when Richard got a reaction from her.

"Be careful!" There is a tempted look in her, as if she wants to jump in and chuck them back. But no, there's Jolene. "Come on, hon, now." She knows the panic. Dee grabs Lene's hand and drags her off further into the building. "Get in my bag, there's a pistol -"

“H-He — He’s— ” For a moment Jolene is helpless, watching the gas roll toward her. But the moment Delilah touches her hand, the moment she’s physically grounded back in the moment something snaps back into place inside of her.

“He’s at the Church!” Lene suddenly shouts, roughly stuffing a hand into Delilah’s handbag and withdrawing the pistol there. “Church of Ascension, across town! He got a call, said he had to go!” She pops out the magazine, checks the ammunition and slaps it back in and loads a round into the chamber with the practiced movements of someone who grew up exactly where the fuck she grew up.

As Richard sublimates into darkness, no longer affected by such trivialities as gas, one of the doors into the mill — not the front entrance — is kicked open. It’s impossible to see who is doing the kicking immediately, but the sound of gunfire is felt bone deep. The clatter-chak of an AK-47 reverberates through the walls, even as a burst of automatic gunfire tears through the shadowy silhouette that was once Richard Ray. “Qutil aljamie ma eada alhadafa!


Lene pivots toward the sound, not thinking, still internally panicking but now she has a gun. Three rounds pop off, followed by a grunt and a slam onto the floor, more bursts of wild gunfire, but this time they’re peppering the ceiling. Two more voices join the last one, “'Iinahum muslahun!

Delilah’s phone in her purse chirps three times with a cheerful text message chime.

“There’s another door this way!” Lene shouts, aiming into the encroaching clouds of swirling yellow smoke while directing attention to the one path not enshrouded, deeper into the building where Delilah was taking her, but toward stairs that ascend to the next floor.

All the while, smooth Jazz is playing.

The bullets that strike the wall behind Richard kick up little sparks as they hit the brick, pinpricks of pain to the living shadow that inform him of just how dead he'd be if he was just a few seconds slower.

It's a sobering thought.

As those voices rise in Arabic, his mind whirls in confusion. Mazdak? he thinks to himself, What the hell is Mazdak doing here?

"Run," is the sibilant whisper-hiss of the shadow to the two women as he sweeps to the foil, a roiling haze of darkness that slithers towards the gas and the door that was just kicked open under the cover of the gas.

He knows that they're both combat-trained, can both likely take care of themselves — is sure that Jolene had made preparations for an attack on the station just out of ingrained habit.

Martin Pines, however, is potentially in a great deal of danger.


Something in Delilah told her that Lene would be perfectly at home and perhaps even more stable with a weapon; she is pleased to see she isn't totally mistaken. Her breath intakes sharply at the rattle of gunfire, sound held back down her throat. Noise isn't their friend right now, even if the sound of their steps and the pistol hover after them.
The chime of her phone punctuates their flight, timing more than coincidental, she imagines; Delilah isn't new to the idea- - timing and non-coincidence runs in the family. The voice of the shadowmorph that sinks into the surroundings only gets a nod aimed at nothing. That's the plan.

When her companion makes a turn and she follows, the stairs upward earn a blatantly skeptical glance before Dee does as instructed, keeping her head down as she tails after Jolene.

Blindly, one hand fishes in her now open bag to find the phone there; her intent is foremost to silence it, secondarily to take a quick glance over the screen. She swore it was on vibrate, really.

Unknown Caller
Don’t go out that door! Get to the roof, they’re not watching the west side fire escape.

Without time to process what’s happening, what she’s read, Delilah watches as Jolene moves down the hallway toward the rear entrance to the studio and at the last minute skids to a stop and wheels about-face and comes barreling at Delilah and tackles her to the ground. A split second later that door is kicked open and a hail of automatic gunfire tears through the hallway over their heads. In the tackle, Delilah’s phone is sent spinning across the floor and out of reach.

Two men in tan colored plate-carrier armored vests come striding in single file. One is watching the rear of the building and the other training his sights ahead. Their gear looks like former US military arms, likely leftovers from the pullout in Iraq when Mazdak drove US forces out years ago. There’s a pop, pop, pop of gunfire and Jolene hits the lead man in the arm and neck, sending him sprawling back into the figure behind him, gunfire spraying up at the ceiling.

Lene uses that moment to scramble to her knees and haul herself and Delilah around the corner of the nearby brick wall seconds before more bullets come down the hallway. Chips of stone explode from beside Lene’s head and disturb her hair, eliciting a yelp of fright.

Not far away, but out of their sight, Richard moves unseen below two more Mazdak operatives moving in from the west fire escape. They’re the only two he can see, but a white panel van is parked in the alleyway below. Each of the Mazdak operatives is clad in a gas mask, striding through the yellow haze of the negation gas with minimal visibility, unaware of the threats around them.

A few degrees of universal vibration to the left or right, and these operatives would be no obstacle to Richard Ray, vanishing within the hungry darkness of his being. This iteration of the man missed seven years of practice with his ability, however, and even since reacquiring it has been careful about using it as compared to his once-frequent stints spent in ephemeral form.

Therefore, he needs to be more careful in how he deals with these men.

Shadows drift and move strangely through the hazy opacity of the gas, but only one of them with purpose as it sweeps up one of the men, a tendril drifting across the edge of a gas mask, then the other, a slender sliver of rubber pulled away into nothing. The pin of a gas grenade on one man’s belt similarly sublimates to nothingness, creating perhaps the first overt sign that something is wrong with the situation.

Delilah grunts as she is taken to the floor, a hand braced on Jolene so they don't, you know, smash heads. Her phone's gone, but she read it all. It's a doable loss, wherever it's scattered to. Lene doesn't need to do all of the work dragging Dee around; she's been a normal civilian for a long time now, but once the adrenaline sinks in, instinct rises up like an old bicycle. As Jolene directs her up and away, the redhead's hand drags slick over the floor in her wake. The sheen of something translucent spills like a drop of gasoline; slippery, sticky, frictionless when it touches boot treads.

The yelp from the other woman startles Delilah just as much as the near miss; when they've gotten around the corner, a quick check, no blood, just brick dust. She raises a hand to direct Lene's eyes at her for a second; her other one is held away, half behind her back. Brown eyes dark, the illusion of tacky, sloughing skin down her arm.

"We need to get to the roof. What's the fastest way up?" Whoever it was, they didn't have to help when they needed it most; but they did. Delilah's trust can be confounding, but also profound. She welcomes an ally at face value.

Broadcast room,” Lene hisses, “there's a ladder.” Even through the smoke the sound of soft jazz emanating between the pop of gunshots and cries in Arabic are a compass indicating their salvation. Remembering Delilah’s ability, Jolene opts not to take her by the hand and instead remembers the ferocious woman she'd heard stories about growing up in the wasteland. This is Walter’s Mom, she's tough as nails.

“This way,” Jolene says after waiting to listen for the sound of movement, bolting out from behind cover and using the edge of the blooming cloud of negation gas to mask their flight. At the same time, the two Mazdak operatives coming in through the side door jolt when one of their tear gas canisters explodes on a belt hook. There's screams of confusion, shouts, and more gunfire that flashes orange inside the smoke as they fire back at the direction they'd come from. But soon gagging, retching, and coughing becomes the new staccato rhythm.

The lone operative in the back entrance pauses in the hallway, back against the brick wall, then turns and fires blindly into the drywall opposite of him. Plaster explodes around Delilah and Lene as bullets rip through the wall behind them. If they'd been a step slower, a moment of hesitation would've been the end of everything. Instead, Delilah can feel the bullets buzzing past her back, hear them ricocheting off of a distant wall. They plow through the partly open door into the broadcast room and Lene turns toward the door and levels her handgun at it. “Go!” She shouts, “I'll be right behind you!”

His mischief managed, the shadow sweeps down past the pair of operatives choking on their own gas, living darkness pouring down the bars of the fire escape and dropping down to the ground below. Richard slithers over to the van, defying gravity as he slithers up the back wheel.

If there are more operatives, they might be in the back, and he needs to judge how many they might have to deal with.

Lene and Delilah, he has confidence, can handle the few left inside. They were soldiers in the same war he fought, so long ago now.

At least Dee knows her way- - relatively- - around this place, if just the public-y spots. Following Walter around, really. She moves with Jolene, breath jagged as the tear gas canister bursts; it isn't on them, though. Still feeling the thrumming of bullets hitting the wall.

"Jolene, fucking christ, this is no time for that hero shit," Yet Delilah has more to worry about than Lene getting hurt again when she just got everything back. "The last time someone was right behind me- -" The redhead doesn't finish, a dripping ball of substance drooling at her hand. Fist. Some other portions of her get more than the sheen of sweat. "Fucking hell."

In the end, hurried words and hesitant emotions have the debate floundering; Delilah turns away and moves onward, smearing excess slime across the front of her dress rather than let it slick the way up.

Seeing the trail of slime, Jolene looks up at Delilah and concentrates. There’s a momentary sensation of a tug at the center of Delilah’s chest, like pressure. It’s soon matched behind her eyes and a faint violet glow shines beneath her skin and through her veins. But then it’s gone, and as she ascends the ladder she realizes she’s no longer excreting the toxin from her skin any longer. Jolene looks back to the doorway, watching Richard’s shadow slither across the floor and toward the back entrance.

The sight of it causes her breath to hitch in the back of her throat.

It’s not him, she has to remind herself.

As Delilah pops the hatch in the roof open, Jolene turns for the ladder seeing that the coast is momentarily clear. Richard, on the other hand, comes out of the smoke into the oncoming path of another Mazdak operative. There’s a body right nearby, riddled with bullets, likely from the small arms fire he’d heard through the chaos. The Mazdak fighter sees Richard but doesn’t know what to do other than fire straight at him. Bullets punch into the wooden floor, a couple strike nails and spark, but the light is so short and so brief that it’s pins and needles. It’s the first time Richard’s used his ability like this since getting it back, since before the war.

He’d forgotten how intoxicating being Evolved was.

Up on the roof, Delilah emerges beside a rusting old HVAC outlet. She hauls herself up onto hands and knees, wind whipping across the roof and air fresh rather than the sick sour-sweet smell of the negation gas. At first it’s hard to tell where she’s expected to go. There’s a slender black railing to her left, a fire escape down. As she approaches that side of the building, Delilah can see someone else across the way, on the adjacent building to WSZR.

Silently, a woman with a wind-blown mane of blonde hair waves Delilah down, crouched behind the boxy HVAC conduits of the adjacent building’s rooftop. She has a backpack slung over one shoulder, loose red flannel tied around her waist, sneakers. Black-framed glasses. She’s got to be around Delilah’s age, and from the way she’s waving

She might want Delilah to jump. Across. The roof.

There’s always that brief tension at first, and then the realisation that he’s invulnerable — he’s not, of course, but it feels like it. If Richard had lips, he would grin without mirth at the moment.

Brief holes appear for a pinprick of a moment where the bullets struck the wood, but the darksome wash that is his tenebrous form carries onwards towards the operative, spreading out and lunging on either side in an attempt to surround the man.

“Who sent you…?” …sent you… “Tell me now or I’ll swallow you whole and leave you in the dark forever…” …tell me…

The ominous threat echoing in the room, but despite his words there’s no plan to dally for long - or to try and devour the man, for that matter. He doesn’t think his proverbial mouth and stomach are big enough for that.

That pressure and light is completely foreign; Delilah only realizes what it did when she makes it to the rooftop. She looks back, taking a deep breath of air and pausing only long enough to worry more. Her hair flaps around her face as she moves further onto the roof, eyes scanning the space around herself. Nobody is - -

Here? Eyes catch the first bars of the fire escape, then the waving girl. Naturally, she is confused as shit.

"Are you kidding me?!" Delilah hisses, toeing closer to the ledge so she can take a peek downward into the alleyway. She really doesn't want to try and jump. If she misses, she may as well have let one of the gunmen get her. She has many reasons to be overly cautious.

The gap doesn't look too far, not if Delilah goes out onto the fire escape. The distance is just four feet, and she has a height advantage on the other roof. The blonde waves her arms, wordlessly, then checks her watch.

Dee,” Jolene hisses as she comes up behind Delilah. “I think Richard’s distracting them. I saw four more on the other side of the building by the street, we’re surroun— ”

She sees the woman on the other rooftop.

Whothefuckisthat?” Jolene whisper-shouts ag Delilah, stealing a glimpse back at the hatch to make sure no one has followed them.

Inside the building, the Mazdak fighter confronted by Richard stares into a yawning embodiment of darkness, for a moment board rigid and then in another moment backpedals and fires pointlessly into the shadow again. The effect has the result of driving the gunman scrambling backwards, slip-tripping through the blood of the fallen attacker and out the rear door.

Richard can hear the sliding slam of a van door closing further away than that, quite possibly the other Mazdak operatives either preparing to leave or getting something. Whatever they're doing, it's not far.

“Worthless…” An irritable hiss from the shadow like a thousand dead serpents whispering in the dark, the tide of darkness flowing after the retreating man - after and around him, flowing over the man’s blood-slickened shoes.

The sound of the van is Richard’s target now, because either they’re fleeing - which is good - or they’ve got something he needs to deal with coming out of the vehicle.

The check of the distance gives Delilah a more fortunate feeling, and she is looking up at the girl when Lene comes rushing up after her. The update is heard, but it's the latter to get an answer.

"I don't fuckin' know, but I ain't stayin' over here." The redhead turns her face to Jolene, brows high. "We're jumping, come on." Delilah, still habitually careful, snags Jolene by the sleeve and coaxes her with when she swivels onto the fire escape. With this closing some more of the distance, crazy Walter's crazy Mum is now absolutely going to jump down to the other roof. It's not so far. She can make it. Jolene is just as capable!

Delilah at least has some knowledge of how to land without hurting herself; time to see if she remembers it.

“Oh my god, oh my god Delilah,” Lene splutters as she’s pulled to the stairs, watching the way Delilah inches forward, testing the weight on her front foot, the way she’s judging distance. “Delilah,” the way she just springs forward and jumps up onto the fire escape railing and then, “Delilah!” leaps across the gap between the buildings, landing and rolling forward and winding flat on her back rather than back on her feet, but all in all a 9 out of 10 landing. A little bumpy but no worse for wear.

Immediately waiting on the other side of the roof, that blonde woman comes scrambling out from behind the HVAC vent, swinging her backpack off of her shoulder and looking up over the frames of her dark glasses as Jolene looks at the gap between the buildings, looks back over her shoulder, and seems torn.

Come on, the blonde mouths. Come on, do it. Delilah can hear an exasperated, “Fuck it!” Come from across the roof, followed by a clang, ponk, shriek as Jolene leaps from the fire escape and flies through the air, arms windmilling before she crashes down onto the roof, likewise rolling forward in a motion she’d practiced growing up but hasn’t had much call for in years. When she comes to her feet she’s wincing, immediately reaching for her shoulder. Maybe a 7 out of 10 landing.

“Ladies,” the blonde says, pulling out three gas masks from her backpack, pulling one of them over her face, smashing her glasses against the bridge of her nose. “Hurry.” Seeing the gas masks makes all the color drain out of Jolene’s face, but she grabs the one handed out to her and hastily fumbles, tugging it on to her head.

“There’s boards across the gap of the other three buildings, we go over and down and they lose track of us.” This strange woman says as she zips up her bag once Delilah’s taken her gas mask. “Name’s Lisa, if you need to get my attention.”


Meanwhile, Richard’s shadowy form has moved out of the building and into the gloomy streets under mercifully gray skies. Were today sunny, his ability to maneuver out here might not be as precise. He circles around the WSZR footprint like squid ink come to life, finding a white panel van with no one in it. Further away, he can hear sirens, the blaring weee-ooo of Military Police vehicles. They’re still blocks away.

But Richard hears movement back out front of the building, and as he comes swirling around the front of the structure, he can see two Mazdak fighters meeting up with the third that ran away before. “Ealaa alsth!” He shouts, pointing up to the roof. One of the two men who’d come to join him is carrying a fat-barreled stout firearm, the kind designed to fire —



A canister of tear gas is launched out of the gun, spiraling through the air spraying caustic white smoke toward the roof of the neighboring building.


And another.

Shit, thinks Richard as he sees the grenade launcher tilted up towards the rooftops and sees the canisters hurtling through the air. There’s three of them, so assuming human form would be a poor idea at this juncture - he’s just got his day to day firearm on him and he’s not armored - but there’re sirens in the distance, so distraction’s the name of the game today.

The motile darkness sweeps across the pavement like a diving raptor’s shadow, swirling up over the leg and chest of the man using the grenade launcher and trying to cover his face in opaque darkness to impede his aim.

“Oh no you don’t,” hisses the tenebrous form. …you don’t…

Dee's thoughts go through a series of 'no no no no's until she actually jumps; from there, a determination to follow through as clear as anything. Knowing how to tumble, she lands and rolls, flattening onto her back, shoulders thumping against the rooftop - -

"Who the hell- -" She doesn't get to really ask anything of Lisa, but of course it was headed for her. Delilah collects herself, one hand out to take Jolene's for a brief clasp; once she lets go, she's taking the blonde's offered mask and pulling it down over her head. No questions, now, just doing. If this girl knew what was happening, what do they have to lose?

"Thanks," Lisa doesn't need to be coaxed. Jolene, maybe; Dee does if she needs to, more than ready to get the hell out of there. She doesn't hear the distant thump of the firing, but Delilah does see the arcing shape and smoke heading their way, chin tipped up to look until it isn't. "Move it or lose it!"

Delilah’s nudge to coax Jolene into movement was necessary. For as steely as she should be, having grown up in that wasteland, the sight of gas masks had her frozen in panic. The touch of Delilah’s hand to hers, a subtle grounding, brings her back to the real world just in time to dodge the scalding hot tear gas canister as it clatters to the rooftop.

Move!” Lisa shouts, running in the direction she’d indicated in her initial hastily blurted out plan. Jolene is right behind her and Delilah, scrambling across the rooftop with billowing clouds of gray gas at their backs. Lisa slows, then steps out onto a pair of planks bridging the gap between the buildings. “It’s safe it’s fine!” Lisa calls out, arms out at her side, wobbling and windmilling as she tries to hurry across two plants spanning an alley.

Down on the ground, in the scuffle with Mazdak, shouts of confusion and frustration fill the air. Popping gunshots, ricocheting bullets, and then everything feels like it slows down for Richard. He’s in one of the Mazdak operative’s faces, fluttering around the Keffiyeh scarf that covers his mouth and nose, and then one of the others drops something on the ground. Fumbles it, more.

The sonic shockwave that comes from a fumbled flashbang isn’t the problem. Richard feels it, but also doesn’t. Because his world has become searing pain from the flash that erupts from the device. Searing, scalding pain, reflexive grasping, reflexive movement. The urge to do nothing other than get away from the pain.

There’s screams filling the air, the Mazdak operatives were struck by their own flashbang, staggering around dazed and in agony. But one of them is screaming louder. As Jolene, Delilah, and Lisa are crossing the beams they can hear it erupting up from the direction of the WSZR building like an animal, not a man. Blood-curdling screams emit from at their backs. It is a howling, mournful, and anguished scream that then diminishes into nothing.

Behind the WSZR building, one of the Mazdak operatives lays on the ground, dead. His entire face, the bones beneath it, are simply gone. Flesh is smoking around the edges of the dissolved mass of pulsing blood and gurgling chokes, like someone scooped his face away with a pair of open hands.

It was just a flash, and that’s a mercy - anything sustained at that many lumens may well have killed Richard. As it is, that momentary flash is going to leave him with a need for medical attention later.

After he recovers from that brief, pained frenzy of instinctive fear, the realization of what he’s just done hits him in a flash as painful as the physical one.

A hissing shriek that resembles no sound a human has ever made echoes through the air, the living shadow leaping across the street in a streak as he moves to get away as fast as possible, running off pure instinct and horror for the moment.

Hopefully he was enough of a distraction, because he’s not going to be that helpful for the women on the roof right now.

"Just don't bloody look down." Resist the temptation, Jolene. For Delilah. She is between the others when Lisa starts to cross, spinning Jolene to the spot in front of her. Chicken goes second. "Focus on the other end. I'll be behind you." Dee's voice is in her ear, hands on her shoulders, contagious in her determination.

When they're following Lisa's path across, that blood-curdling scream pierces the air; Delilah doesn't look back until her feet are on firm rooftop. That shriek sends chills down her spine, though there's something about it that calls out in despair, at least to her- -
But this, Dee can't fix. Whatever that was, it's vanished. Quieter now, she issues a short, "hurry."

And hurry they do.

Sirens are rapidly approaching as Delilah, Lisa, and Jolene cross another roof and another series of wood planks crossing the building. After each crossing, Lisa kicks the boards down into the alley to cover their escape. At the third roof, she pulls a ring full of keys from her jacket, unlocking the rooftop access and holding the door open with her foot.

“Down to the street!” Lisa shouts, “Military Police will be crossing our paths to get to WSZR, you two go west toward the river, I’ll go south. That should prevent any of us from getting caught up in the crossfire.” She motions to the stairwell, urgently.

"Lisa," Delilah ran across rooftops for you, blondie, and she's not giving you up just like that. Brown eyes get too piercing when Dee stalls a few moments, mouth thinning and brows knit. "Who the hell are you?" It's about as good a question as she can pose right now, all things considered. The sound of sirens getting closer still, however, is too concerning. "Ah," A more colorful swear gets stifled into a frustrated noise, and a lift of finger to Lisa before Dee starts down.

"I'm gonna find you," From anyone else it'd be a threat. The redhead wags a finger, jabs air. "Andprobablyhugyou, but also ask a whole lot of fuckin' questions." Delilah only waits for Jolene now, still giving Lisa the eyeball before they disappear.

Lisa only lingers a moment, flashing Delilah an inscrutable smile before she breaks off in the direction of Williamsburg. Jolene watches her go, shoulders tense, then takes Delilah by the hand. “C’mon, we’ve gotta go and…” she looks around, hearing the roaring tires as Army humvees come rolling by filled with military police, sirens blaring.

“We need to get out of here.”

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