Setting the Tone


alia_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif felix_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

jessica_icon.gif monica_icon.gif niki_icon.gif niklaus_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

aric_icon.gif brian_icon.gif

Scene Title Setting the Tone
Synopsis Cardinal gathers the members of Endgame to go over the plan to strike the Staten Island Hospital. Peyton is struck with nightmarish images from within and warns about what's in store. Niki-player's note: If you're squicked by descriptions of blood and gore, as I am, just totally skip over the aqua text in this log. <3
Date August 9, 2010

Redbird Security Solutions - Basement

"Thanks for coming, everyone," Cardinal greets those just arriving in a serious voice, muted from his usual bantering tone, dressed for the evening in a black t-shirt and black jeans, shit-kicker boots toed in steel sheathing his feet. "Just… before we get started, if anyone wants to step back from any of this? I wouldn't blame them one bit. Nobody's being forced to come on this op. It's going to be dangerous… and it's not going to be pretty."

Grab your gun… time to go to hell…

The basement level of the Redbird Security Solutions offices is unfinished; boxes of soundproofing tiles sit against a wall painted with multiple layers of electromagnetism-absorbing paint, the white metal frames of what will be a wall of glass standing empty dividing off a third of the basement where the firearms practice lanes are going to be set up. Folding chairs have been set around for the meeting, and one wall is plastered with blueprints, satellite photographs (with Google Earth logos), and hand-written maps and notations of a particular building.

I'm no hero… guilty as charged…

"The target was formerly known as the Staten Island University Hospital. It is currently held by the Commonwealth Institute, where they've been illegally holding Evolved prisoners - including members of our own organization and the Ferry - and performing horrific experiments on them. They've been doing work with drugs, retroviruses, with artificial intelligence, with cloning and mental reproduction, and we only know a little bit of what they're doing."

Search… and destroy…

"As of today, I've recieved word that the entire facility has gone dark. They've lost control."

Elisabeth is leaning back against a wall to Cardinal's left, her arms crossed as she leans there. Assassin chic seems the order of the night, since she too is wearing black — in this case a black tanktop and black cargo pants tucked into her combat boots. Maybe just because she's getting more comfy in those clothes than her civvies lately, as much as she wears them. Her head is resting back against the wall as she watches the group and her expression is a little bit furrowed, as if she's worrying.

Monica is there, taking up a chair of her own and wearing all black from head to toe. She just hasn't kicked the habit yet. At least the hood isn't up, though! The sweet, southern girl from N'awlins probably seems like she'd be the first to back off at the offer, but she doesn't seem to be contemplating it at the moment.

While she seems to take most of what Cardinal says in stride, those last words make her eyebrows lift as she looks over between him and Liz. "What does that mean? They aren't moving shop, you don't think, right?"

Leaning against one of those concrete walls yet reinforced by the paint that earns his scrutiny, Niklaus Zimmerman looks deceptively severe in the stark lighting of overhead fluorescent bulbs. Wire-framed and round-lensed glasses sit low on the bridge of his nose, high brow furrowed and brown hair unkempt, though haphazardly swept away from his face in a way that reveals his receding hairline. Wrinkles cut unflattering lines down his face that seem deeper and darker in the desaturating light that highlights the imperfections in his skin.

The matte and washed out colors of Niklaus' black slacks and powder blue button-down shirt seem all the more business-like than his expression conveys, that the crease of his brows could be over some Stock Market crisis and not this wouldn't be entirely out of the question. He looks, in most respects. like a disgruntled investment banker fresh off of work, right down to the patent leather shoes.

"It means, fraulein, that 'zis does not bode well for us," Niklaus notes as he leans off of the wall, one hand motioning towards one of the folding chairs note yet around the table. It rattles away from the stack of others like it, drifts up into the air as if on strings than creaks noisily as it unfolds with a motion of Niklaus' hand and settles down on all four rubber-footed feet, "science out of control, foxes running the henhouse…"

Stepping around the chair, Niklaus slowly lowers himself down to sit, crossing one leg over the other at the knee, hands folding in his lap and one brow arched as he lays his focus squarely on Cardinal. "We are walking blind into the mouth z'the dragon."

Jaiden has claimed a spot for himself - the new guy - near Elisabeth, sitting on one of the folding chairs, turned around backwards, straddling it as he listens. He's been here all afternoon, peering at the maps a little after Cardinal put them up but not asking questions just yet. Unlike Cardinal and Elisabeth and the girl he doesn't know, he's not dressed in black, instead opting for blue jeans, a blue T-shirt with the logo from an Australian football team, and black steel-toed boots. "Either things have gone horribly wrong and we need to go in and find out what happened, or horribly right and we need to find out what happened. It's going to be fun*." With air quotes around fun.

*Actual fun not included.

A fucking ray of sunshine — not given the dress code for terrorist-chic that went out, Peyton is wearing her usual for the summer. Today's attire is a bright pink sundress with matching flip flops. The bright color doesn't help conceal the dark circles under her eyes, partially from the prior night's drinking binge and partially from the prior night's utter lack of sleep due to the nightmares that come from having to look in on the building that Cardinal is discussing. She doesn't say anything, watching each person speak and petting the half-grown red puppy that lies at her feet. She certainly looks like she wandered into the wrong meeting. Her brows rise at Jaiden's use of the word 'fun,' and she glances back at Cardinal.

Felix is….about as somber as Liz. He's dressed in a blue t-shirt, black fatigue pants, and his own black combat boots. He looks utterly grim - the new haircut, if a buzz that brutal can really be called a haircut - and the new cleanshavenness only accentuate that permanent haunted look and the lines newly acquired in the past few years. He's only about thirtyseven….and he looks like a tired fortyfive. He's loitering near his fellow member of FRONTLINE, and keeping his comments to himself, for now.

Elisabeth adds to Niklaus's comment, "It means that if they've been using viral and biological agents, the possibility exists that every goddamn one of them is dead in there, and the team they sent in after the fact to check on the radio silence is also dead…… and that by going in, we could end up the same way." Her tone is calm, but very stark. Not hugely encouraging on this one.

The rapid click of stilettos coming down like a crescendo on the staircase goes unheard due to the precautions Richard Cardinal has taken with his operations hub.

So Niki's out-of-breath entrance seems rather sudden. All hot pants and back-seamed stockings, a rhinestone-studded bra - or maybe it's a bikini top - and a feather hair clip.

All in black.

So it's like stripper-terrorist-chic? At least Peyton isn't the only one who doesn't look like she doesn't belong. "Don't stare," Niki grumbles flatly as she finds herself some space on the floor to drop her duffle bag - also black - and sits down next to it, "I just got off work. Girl has to keep up a legitimate job to keep the government guessing." If one can call it that.

"It'd be nice if it meant that the prisoners broke free and took control, but we're not that lucky," Cardinal admits in rather wry tones, one hand turning up in a shrug, "We're never that lucky. The Institute already sent one team in to investigate — and immediately lost contact with them."

Off to one side, Aric's perched on a chair frowning to himself as he listens to everyone speaking and takes in all the new faces, and there's a Brian that's standing near some of the maps, studying the old blueprints that were located in the library. Don't think he's not listening, though, his expression serious and intense.

"We aren't…" Whoa, there. Cardinal's gaze rakes up… and then down, and a smile crooks to his lips, "…Niki. Good of you to join us, have a seat." Now that he's gotten his brain back on track, he looks over towards Niklaus, "…we aren't going in blind, though. Peyton, as much as I hate to ask…"

"Bloody hell." If it wasn't abundantly clear before now, Jaiden has a very heavily accented Australian tone to it, dulled a little by his time in the United States. "Full NBC suits won't do us much good, then. Was there any response other than dead silence? They went in and boom, nothing?" Jaiden pauses for a moment. "Let's back up a step…what do we know for certain? Anything?"

"Watch those eyes, Richie. That's my cousin you're browsing." Monica lifts an eyebrow, only half teasing. But, she flashes Niki a warm smile and sits up a bit to pay better attention. "Well, it was always sort of a death trap in there, now it's just a different kind of death trap." But, Jaiden's last words get a nod, and Monica adds her questioning gaze there.

Liz's brows shoot sky-high at Niki's get-up and she covers her mouth, trying to make it look like she's not smirking. Cuuuuuuute outfit. And Cardinal tripping on his tongue for a moment at the sight of it makes her actual have to stifle a chuckle. A whisper manipulated so that it reaches his ear alone is spoken behind the hand, and then her attention goes back to more serious pursuits. "The list of what we know for sure is pretty short and mainly includes the floor plans and some names of people they've taken to hold hostage and some names of people we know who are working there." She pauses and looks at Cardinal. "Is the good doctor," Bella Sheridan, she means, "going to be able to give us a head count?"

"It's about all I'm good for," Peyton says lightly, self-deprecating grin curving her lips upward. She glances a little shyly around the room — not everyone here has seen her actually in the midst of her power. Though she's learned how to hide it a bit better in public, there's no need to here.

Her eyes lose focus, the pupils swallowing up the dark rings of her irises until it appears that her eyes are black in color, but for the slightest ring of the russet-brown surrounding the pupil, as she lets her perspective shift from her own to that of one of the various Institute "residents" she has seen.

The moment Peyton's vision snaps to another's senses, the first thing she sees is the vague suggestions of shapes in a dimly lit room. Flickering, sporadic illumination of crackling fluorescent lights reveal a scene of visceral gore, a trail of blood syrup thick that draws like a broad brush of paint across a white, tiled floor. Ribbons of flesh are discarded along the path, along with broken chips of bone and tufts of hair.

A slurping sound accompanies the vision, hands outstretched towards a skull cracked open like a coconut, a flap of skin holding broken bone and torn hair in place, revealing the puffy, reddened tissue of a blood engorged brain. A hand palms the face of the victim, too many fingers on one hand, too many knuckles on each finger to be human, but the skin tone is. The other hand scoops a quarter of the brain out of the skull, tearing it away from the cluster of nodes and wrinkles like a piece of broken cauliflower and lifted up to — from the crunching — Peyton can imagine is a mouth. Whatever she's looking through the eyes of is eating brain tissue.

All around the room, unclothed bodies lay on examination trays, covered with black threading of stitches, but perhaps more unsettling than their presence is that they are all breathing, chests slowly rising and falling in sedated sleep, organs harvested while they rest. There's a wet snap and another piece of the brain is torn away from the central mass, blood pulses up into the half-emptied bowl of the skull, diluted with spinal fluid.

Another hand comes into view, more human and delicate donned in the blood-stained and shredded remains of a lab coat's sleeves, holding a scalpel in one hand that carefully severs the optical nerve so that an eye can be plucked from the front of the fresh body's face. Peyton can see the eye plucked out of the socket, dangling occular nerves hanging from the back in clean cut before it too is popped into the Doctor's mouth to be consumed.

It's only on that eye being eaten that Peyton realizes why this vision is so disorienting.

She's viewing it through more than two eyes.

While Peyton is transfixed in her seat on that vision, Niklaus is sitting up in his chair, first flashing a worried look to Monica in confusion, then a jaw-slacked stare at Niki. His brows furrow, one hand lifts to lower his glasses down from his face entirely as he stands in the middle of the conversation, brows raised and disbelief painted across his face. "Barbara?"

Wrong sister.

The Fed….well, the former Fed, is watching Peyton with sympathy. He remembers her. Remembers her gift, what he knew of it. Still silent….though nothing anyone has yet said has improved his mood a whit.

The clairvoyant's eyes widen, unseeing as they seem to be, before her face grows pale and her hand comes up to cover her mouth, her chest suddenly heaving suddenly as she jumps to her feet. The brown swiftly comes back into in her black, black eyes as she runs from the room and for the restroom. The retching sound is followed by sobs for breath that travel down the hallway to the main room. No one can be in doubt that whatever Peyton saw was seriously disturbing.

The little deaf dog scampers down the hallway to follow his mistress — he cannot hear her retching or sobs but can tell something is amiss.

Meanwhile, Peyton makes a mental note not to drink the night before an Endgame meeting — ever again.

Felix invokes his right to make a note of the obvious. And says, almost sotto voce into the stunned silence that follows Peyton's reaction, "That's really bad."

Ziiip! Niki pulls open her bag and pulls out a pair of black cargo pants… and stuffs back in a hot pink feather boa and what looks like it may have been a matching piece of, uh, string to match. She tugs off her strappy heels and then lays down on her back, staring upside down at the German. "You must be Niklaus," she muses, shimmying her lower body to pull her pants on over her stockings and shorts. "I'm Niki," for now, "not Barbara."

With a quiet huff, Niki pulls her pants over the curve of her backside and her hips, zipping and buttoning them before sitting up to procure a pair of boots from her bag, setting her heels in in their place. "Sorry you had to meet me dressed for my, uh, day job." She tugs on one boot and starts lacing it, then bothers to actually glance around the room, eyes settling on the clairvoyant. "Uh… Peyton's looking a little gree-" She falls silent and tracks the woman's movement with her eyes. "That can't be good."

"Oh, hush." Cardinal rolls his eyes at the self-depreciation from Peyton, dropping back a step as she closes her eyes. To the others, he offers with a shake of his head, "As I said, we're not going in completely blind. Peyton should be able to do some… psychic reconnaissance, so to speak, and see what— "

Then the clairvoyant goes rushing out of the room, and he looks after her with a widening of dark eyes and a brief flash of guilt across his features. "Oh, hell. Pey?" A pause. "Uh, so…" He looks back to the others, fingers raking back through his hair, "…I'm guessing it's not good news."

"Like I said…" Air quotes. "Fun. Bloody hell." Jaiden closes his eyes and looks over to Liz. Hell of a pool to leap into for the first time, isn't it.

Monica stands to her feet as Peyton does, looking worriedly over at the other woman. And when she runs off to throw up, Monica takes a moment to get a bottle of water from her own bag, which she sets by Peyton's chair.

Of all the things for some people to have never known about Elisabeth before…. that she's a sympathetic puker is probably one of the ones no one would have guessed. She does okay most of the time, but when Peyton bolts for the restroom, the first round of heaves makes Liz herself go pale before she literally shuts off her hearing. Swallowing hard, she basically makes it so that she can't hear anything outside this room at all. Her arms clench a bit more tightly around her middle, but beyond that she makes no other overt reactions to the situation. "Fuck," she whispers, stepping back just a little, instinctively seeking the knowledge that Felix has her back since Richard's up in front of everyone. Because she knows how bad some of the things Peyton has seen are — and she's never seen the other woman react like this, not that she can recall. Blue eyes tick upward to meet Cardinal's gaze first and then she meets Jaiden's, regret in her expression. Sorry, man… she warned it wouldn't be pretty.

"Yeah…… uhm… So not to put too fine a point on it, I gather we're going to be facing the National Guard, among others. So far, the Institute has not alerted anyone to the problem they're facing — and FRONTLINE would usually be the first line of defense. So far as we know, no one has come back out." We'll get that update soon, Elisabeth bets. "When shit hits the fan, they're going to send all available bodies to try to stop us, and my boss is going to be derailing FRONTLINE's response times. But she can't hold them off us for long — this is what FRONTLINE does. So we're going to be on a very short timeline."

A moment later, Peyton returns, eyes wet and red, the rest of her pale as she wipes her mouth with a tissue. "I'm sorry," she whispers softly, leaning on a wall. Von trots behind her, his ears quirked curiously with worry. "I… I looked in at that doctor, the old guy. He's not… he's not right. Too many hands… too many fingers on too many hands. The room he was in was full of bodies."

She shakes her head, her dark hair falling around her face as she stares at the ground. "Not… not bodies. They're alive, but they're open and stitched up and have body parts being taken out and… and he was…"

She leans her head back against the wall, her eyes tightly closed, as if to refuse to look at anything else, anything else ever again. The world just can't be right after seeing what she just saw. "He was eating their body parts. Brains. An eye." She begins to shake, her arms wrapping around herself as she slides down the wall to sit, knees hunched in front of her chest.

Wide eyes stare vacantly at Niki when Niklaus is corrected and the German swallows his words dryly and with difficulty. "My… mistake," he offers in a hushed commentary before shifting his attention only fleetingly to Peyton, as much as whatever it is she saw seems to have shaken her to her core, Niki's presence may as well be the glowing bauble of an anglerfish for Niklaus. Steeling himself, the German sinks back down into his seat and breathes in slowly through his nose, tongue sliding across his lips as attention remains locked on the blonde.

Now isn't the time, admittedly, for a family reunion, but soon— maybe even once the meeting closes. Niklaus can be patient, if nothing else. At least for a little while.

"I assume since you asked me here that you have need of me in this altercation, yes?" One of Niklaus' brows slowly rises. "I will admit that this is not exactly my concern, but I have said once that I owe you for my liberation, so I will consider my assistance to you here part and parcel repayment for your, ah, services rendered?"

"Jesus…" Jaiden remains in his seat for a moment, hanging his head down slightly, taking a deep breath and shaking his head. Seeing someone so colourful hit with a vision so powerful that she had to flee to evacuate her stomach causes the normally smiling Australian to frown. "Right then." He reaches into one pocket of his backpack sitting at his feet, fishing out a small metal flask, unscrewing it, and taking a quick slug of whatever's inside. "With something like that inside, I think I'll be glad to be facing the national guard and Frontline." He coughs softly, looking to Liz for a moment before speaking up. "I'm new, obviously….I'm Jaiden. Fresh off the boat, as it were. Picked a hell of one to start one, I guess." He lets out a breath. "Is there any idea how short of a timeline there is, and how will we all get away once the teams going inside are successful?"

"Dmitri?" A shade or two of colour bleeds from Cardinal's features at the revelation, and he turns towards the wall, one fist slamming against it in a solid punch. "God damn them — I told them, I told them to fucking kill them, but no, they thought they could control the insane motherfucker…"

A breath's drawn in slowly, then exhaled, eyes closing for a moment as he pulls himself together. "Right." Straightening again, he turns back towards the group, explaining in tight tones for those who don't know who they're discussing, "Dmitri Gregor. A particularly psychotic biologist whose past experiments included a baby farm where any SLC-positive infants were thrown into incinerators and removing organs one after the other from a regenerator and implanting them into himself… apparently he's developed some sort of… ability to absorb body parts from other people. Alright. At least it's not a virus, but… obviously the inmates are running the fucking asylum here."

To Niklaus, he nods once, "Yes. Afterwards, we can discuss other arrangements - and I can see what we can do in return about your debt, alright?"

Alia walks in to the sound of a fist hitting the wall… sensible tennis shoes… or maybe they are skateboarding shoes, not heels either way, making little noise. Her backpack is over her shoulders, and she is more than slightly wary.

They were…. what? Oh….. oh God. Whatever Jaiden has in that flask, he better be sharing damn near immediately. Elisabeth looks vaguely ill now too. "Christ." She moves to borrow the flask from the Australian, though not for herself. She steps over to Peyton and squats down next to the girl, wrapping an arm around her shoulder tightly. Only then does she look back up. "FRONTLINE's teleporter is on the West Coast, and she won't be recalled for this. They'll be on a training run outside of the city limits, so we'll have…. at best guess, maybe 30-45 minutes before the FRONTLINE unit rolls in? That's assuming that people like Bax — Jordan Baxter of the old SCOUT unit — and other NYPD Evo teams don't simply show up to help. Which could happen, but being that it's out on Staten, that's bought us a little leeway as well." Her jaw clenches. "That's a guess, though — and there are already units out there on Staten protecting that fucking place. We can't move up the timeline; I don't see how we could mobilize any faster than we are. But … I think we're going to need to put some surveillance on the ground out there to see what we can see. Is anything or anyone going in or out between now and then? Things like that."

Elisabeth glances to Cardinal. "I don't know if we've got enough bodies between us, the Ferry, and Messiah to pull that off." But that's his specialty. Making things happen.

Dmitri. Peyton nods, her eyes still closed before hands come up, the palms pressing against her eyes, hard enough to cause those swirls and whorls of light and color in her retinas, in hopes of wiping out those images from her mind. The dog tries to crawl into her lap, though seated as she is, she has known, so Von just paws at her leg and whines a little before lying down, his muzzle resting on his paws, dark eyes on Peyton.

She takes a shaky breath as Liz crouches beside her, and her eyes open again. "I'm sorry. I'm okay. I'll be okay." If okay means never sleeping again without seeing that in her nightmares, sure. "I … I need to check on Gillian," she whispers, taking the flask from Liz and taking a swallow. Hopefully Jaiden won't mind.

Monica puts a hand on Peyton's shoulder, a frown on her face as she looks over at Cardinal. "There gonna be any good news at this meeting?" Just… out of curiosity. But, her attention turns back to Peyton to whisper quietly, "You need anything?"

Jaiden's flask is placed on a nearby chair within easy grabbing reach for anyone who wants to come grab it. It's Bourbon, and good bourbon to boot with a peppery taste that mellows into a sweet butterscotch at the end. "Thirty minutes…" He looks up as the flask is taken, looking at Peyton sadly. "If it helps, Shiela, when we're done that won't be around anymore."

"At a meeting like this," Niki observes dryly, looking a bit ill herself, "there's rarely any good news." She finishes lacing up her other boot and then pulls a black light-weight knit top on over her bikini, zipping her bag up again before pulling herself to her feet.

A compact mirror is pulled out of her pocket before she leans up against the wall. "Where do you need me, Richard?" The real question is where does he need Jessica, but she's hoping that much goes unsaid. "I can set up on a grassy knoll somewhere if you need cover fire outside." A glance is given to her reflection in the mirror, and then to Niklaus before returning back to the mirror. She reaches up swiftly and plucks the dark plumage from her hair, tossing the clip down onto her bag.

"I'll leave that up to you, Niki," Cardinal informs the stripper assassin, "You could take up a sniper point somewhere in the area, or you could go in with us and help us rip through the building up close and personal. I won't kid you, there's danger to both - if the 'Guard moves in and starts blanketing the area, your point could get spotted."

There's a pause as he looks over to Peyton with a worried little frown, then back to the others, "There's more in there than just Gregor. There's a scientist called Bao-Wei Cong, that… appears to have turned himself into some sort of hulking ice monster with crab pincers — I think he was experimenting with the Advent retrovirus, I don't even fucking know anymore. Fortunately, we're not going in alone."

"Messiah's pledged its help - if you don't know who they are, you haven't been watching the news. They're a bunch of violent terrorists, but we have the same goals, at least in this situation. I'll be meeting with the Ferrymen council this evening to try and get help from them. Even if they don't go in with us, though, they're willing to set up triage for us."

Alia walks up to Cardinal, and hands him a sheet of paper, grinning. "Order in." She says simply, before finding herself a seat. "Train late, sorry." She brushes out her outfit a little.

Those watching Peyton will see her pupils dilate again and know that she is (perhaps stupidly) daring to use her power once more — though this time the attempt is short-lived. She shakes her head, blinking, and her pupils constrict back to normal as she looks up at Cardinal from her seat on the floor.

"Gillian's asleep or unconscious," she says, before shaking her head at Monica, appreciating the other girl's concern. The only thing she needs at the moment is the erasure of the vision she just witnessed — and Monica, as talented as she is, does not have that power. "Do you need me to check on anyone else?" she whispers to Cardinal, closing her eyes and leaning her head back against the wall wearily.

The Australian listens quietly to the visions as they're told, resting his chin on his crossed arms over the back of the chair. "I'd probably be best outside, Cardinal, if you're wanting to stick me somewhere. Lots of water out there for me to play with and open areas let me keep mobile. But if you want me to come in, I can do that too."

"Ice Crab Monster?" Monica has to blink at that, a hand moving to her hip. "That I've got to see." She gestures to Niki, though. "Same here, if there's something you need done… just say the word and get me the YouTube video." She does give Peyton's shoulder a comforting squeeze before she sits down again, her chin in her hands and her elbows on her knees.

"I will echo the Austrailian's concerns," Niklaus notes with a demonstrative gesture over to Jaiden's unfamiliar figure, "I would like to know how we intend to make a safe exit from a battlefield possibly including — but not limited to — z'National Guard?" One brow raises over the frames of Niklaus' glasses and the German looks around the room thoughtfully. "I know we seem to be manifold with talents, but without a proper exit strategy we…" his hand wobbles see-saw like in the air, "are up a creek with no paddle, yes?"

Pushing up his glasses with two fingers, Niklaus recrosses his legs and clears his throat. "Furthermore, I will need to know your definition of acceptible collateral damage, so that I know how much I will need to restrain myself, mn?" Tilting his head to the side, Niklaus lifts a hand to scratch at the side of his cheek, glancing at Jaiden again before returning his focus to Cardinal. "Or will there be seperate planning from 'zis meeting?"

"No… no, that's enough, Pey. More than enough. Thank you." A breath's drawn in, exhaled, and Cardinal rakes a hand back through his hair, "There'll be more planning, yes, I'm not going to send us in there without an extraction plan, that'd just be throwing our lives away. It depends on what the Council says tonight, largely."

Then he fixes the German with a serious gaze, "We have a list of people we're going in to extract. Aside from that? I'm not expecting you to pull any punches, Niklaus. The gloves are off."

Niki's compact mirror snaps shut and she slides it in her pocket. She smirks, "I've always found something immensely satisfying about snapping crab legs." The tone is all Jessica. "I'll be coming with you," she informs Cardinal, and then switches her gaze to Monica. "You stay where I can keep an eye on you."

Monica looks over at Niki and lifts her hands as if in surrender, "I'll be right there. Promise." She looks over at Cardinal only after that, to make sure it's alright. "Ah… what do we have as far as equipment? Weapons? Anything?"

Nodding, Peyton can't help but look relieved that at least this night, she doesn't have to look in at any more nightmares. She slowly rises, back sliding back up the wall she slumped against, cheeks coloring just a little at the scene her reaction made. She moves to her seat once more, noticing the water bottle left by Monica and picking it up, fingers twisting the cap off before swallowing. The puppy follows her, curling up on her feet once more, tail thumping the ground slowly.

"I think I'm more a liability than anything else if I go in with you, but I can be eyes and ears from afar, if we have those radio thingies?" she offers, despite what she's just endured. Little does she know her clairvoyance has already been counted upon.

Alia stays quiet as she listens.

The aussie gives Nikalus a glance when 'the gloves are off' come from Cardinal's lips, wondering what this man has in store for anyone unlucky enough to get in his way. His flask is retrieved and tucked away, the man straightening slightly in his seat. He listens, soaking in the information given like a sponge.

"I think, herr Cardinal," Niklaus' lips creep into a smile, "that you may not understand what the scope is when you say gloves off, but I will give you chance to see 'zat first hand, and… perhaps learn choice wording." Leaning back and folding offering an askance look to Niki, the German rolls his tongue over the inside of his cheek, then slowly rises up to his feet and comes to stand behind his chair.

He watches her, the way Niki handles the compact with noticeable scrutiny, before looking away with a distracted shake of his head to square his focus on Cardinal again. "If that is all for now, I believe… Niki?" There's a slow arch of one of Niklaus' brows, "and I have some personal matters to discuss, if you do not mind?"

"I think that you underestimate my resolve, Niklaus," comes Richard's reply to Niklaus's words, meeting the German's gaze with one that's flat and serious, "Once our people are out, I don't plan on leaving anything left of that complex, if I can at all help it. Some things… can't be tolerated."

He nods, then, "I imagine you have a lot to talk about. Unless anyone has any questions, I think we're done here. I'll be working out tactics with the other factions involved, and we have someone acquiring weapons and equipment for us already."

Jessica looks annoyed, albeit mildly, her jaw clenching for a moment and it looks as though she may be repressing the urge to roll her eyes. The compact comes out again and she glares at her reflection a moment with a shake of her head as she wipes a fleck of smudged mascara from the corner of her eye.

Then her expression softens and the mirror is replaced back into her pocket again. Niki nods her head. "Keep me informed, Richard. Call me if you need anything." The blonde bends down to tuck her hair clip into her duffle before hefting the bag up and slinging the strap across her body. A small, but uncertain smile is directed toward her long-lost brother. "Shall we?"

Picking up her lime green bag, Peyton pulls it over her shoulder, glancing at the rest of the room. "Are we done? I'm going to get home," she says quietly, a flat affect to her tone and expression. It's better than trembling and sobbing, though. Perhaps. "Just let me know when and where and all that." She doesn't want to see inside that building anymore, ever again, but she has sworn herself to this cause for as long as she is able — and by her count, it's only a few more months. She may as well be of some use now.

"Yeah." Cardinal surrenders his proverbial podium, stepping along over towards where the former socialite is standing and reaching out to give her shoulder a squeeze, his voice dropping a bit, "I'm sorry, Pey. If you need anything, just— let me know, alright?"

As the meeting begins to break up, he turns back to look at the blueprints of the hospital plastered across the wall, wondering if he's leading his people against it to be heroes…

…or victims.

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