Shades Of The Old Grind


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Scene Title Shades Of The Old Grind
Synopsis There's something to be said for repeat business. Wolfhound gathers round to prepare a hunt for a target they've captured previously.
Date December 28, 2020

The email in the organizational inbox for Wolfhound makes Asi slowly blink. She rubs her hand over the side of her face, leaning back very slowly in her office chair while she continues to skim the contents of the encrypted attachment.

The light of the screen reflects off her eyes as she sits in the office lit only a window at the back of the room. Just before she's figured out her opinion, what she means to do with this information, how to back herself out of involvement with it, a notification pops in the corner of her screen.

It's the same email, forwarded from Avi, this time to her personal Wolfhound box. It comes across in the tune of Can you handle setting something up for this? Thanks. in not so many actual words.

Eyes closing hard as she pulls herself closer to the desk, Asi lets out a slow sigh before beginning to set up a meeting planner open to all the active Wolfhound agents.

from: Tetsuyama, Asi
subject: Government Contract, PISEC escapees
time: Monday, December 28, 2020 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
location: 2nd floor Conference Room

Merry Christmas to us. A credible tip was submitted for follow-up on the location of one of the PISEC escapees. A contract has been put out for retrieval. Details to be discussed at the meeting.

Mind bringing a bag of the good stuff, Elliot?

2nd Floor Conference Room

The Bastion

The Appointed Hour

The television installed up here serves close well enough for sharing vital mission intel. She can cast information from the tablet she's brought with her up to it, anyway, and this is much more comfortable than the chillier ground floor conference room, in her opinion.

Even if that room is soundproofed and this one is not.

Asi rests the tablet against her hip, taking the time to look out the window while she waits so she can soak up the warmth the last bits of sun offers at this golden hour.

The familiar cadence of Devon Clendaniel’s boots echo off the tiled floor as he turns from the hallway and into the conference room. His thumbs tap at the screen of his phone as he walks, adding a few final words to a text message before the meeting begins. The send arrow is tapped before he's half way into the room, and the screen is closed with a quick swipe.

As he tucks the phone into his pocket, he gives notice to the display first, then Asi second. “Hey.” It's the standard greeting, at least from him. Dev wanders to his usual chair, and drops himself into it.

Avi looks like he hasn’t slept well as he walks into the conference room this afternoon. He offers a nod to Devon and Asi, then moves to his usual chair near the head of the conference table, then sits forward and folds his hands, resting his brow against them. It doesn’t look like a hangover, it just looks like he’s dealing with something.

“Tetsuyama’s taking point on this,” Avi says with a motion toward the television. “I’m going to provide a little color-commentary on some finer details, but by and large she has the most intimate knowledge about this so I’m relying on her expertise.” Sitting back with a sigh, Avi folds his hands in his lap, looking to the front of the room.

Elliot enters the conference room quietly, setting an airpot of coffee on a side table. He takes two mugs from a serving tray and fills them, turning to the table. When he sees the partially sapient Avi he sets one of the mugs next to him, handing the other off to Wright as she enters the room.

Wright looks fresh from the shower, hair still damp and tussled. She pulls out a seat and drops into it. She kicks the chair beside her out as Elliot reaches for it, sliding in beside her with a coffee of his own. “What’s different about this coffee,” Wright asks suspiciously, smelling the drink. She then borrows Elliot’s senses as he samples his own to check for any underhandedness. “What did you do.”

“Experimenting with a custom blend of some of my favorites,” he replies quietly. He looks to Avi and shakes his head as if to say, Nothing weird.

It's been a long day for some, and it looks like that includes Huruma; she arrives like a ghost— or Batman, take your pick— sitting herself down in one of the seats near the head of the table, whichever empty one she gets to first.

"Slide that here, would you?" One hand rubs faintly at temple and the crook of eye and nose, Huruma's eyes on the coffee pot. Presumably she'll be able to swipe some of that before sitting back to give Asi the floor.

"DiMico and Hadden are out on NYPD duty at the moment, so I think…" Asi squints as she counts up the number here. "We've got enough to meet quorum. If any of the others show up, we'll catch them up as we go."

She tries to skim right past Avi's comments as much as possible by skipping ahead in the slide. A dated aerial photo of Plum Island appears on the television. "A little history about what we're looking at: The Plum Island SLC-Expressive Center, also known as PISEC, was established as a research facility for SESA back in 2017. SESA employees worked alongside a retinue of US prisoners on research into various SLC-E topics. What interests us here are the prisoners in that equation."

The slide changes to one where the facility on the northern side of the island is spewing smoke, one of the outbuildings collapsed in on itself. "Late 2019, early 2020 there were a series of prison breaks conducted by Mazdak. Liberty Island was the first to be hit about this time last year, followed by PISEC a month and change later. Prisoners convicted at the second Albany Trials were sprung from PISEC, and by name—" and face, as those come up one by one, "they are Donna Dunlap, Bruce Maddox, Odessa Price, Kyla Renautas, Richard Schwenkman, Mohinder Suresh, and Peter Varlane."

"In the days following the prison break, Price was recaptured thanks to a tip, and Schwenkman was confirmed dead in the rubble. The rest are in the wind. Dunlap, though, was sighted several times recently in Cincinnati, Ohio." Stillshots from street camera footage show several angles of a slim woman in a dark hoodie crossing a certain intersection on multiple days, and one shot is from inside a local drugstore. She wears the same clothing each time, hood always drawn up against the cold, but face left uncovered. "After a tip was called in, positive ID was pinned, and then we were called with the confirmation."

Asi taps on the tablet in her hand to scroll to the next screen, which shows an opening down into subway tunnels. "Based on information the Deveaux Society shared from their store of Company information, I've strong reason to believe Dunlap is hiding in the local subway system. It was abandoned decades ago for not being structurally sound enough to handle subway traffic, but never torn down. That made it the perfect site for a facility hidden down there— and given Dunlap's history as a former Company Agent, and the sightings of her being so close to where these tunnels open up, it doesn't feel like a jump to assume that's where she's camping out."

Turning back to those seated, she lifts a brow. "Any questions so far?"

Huruma shakes off the twinge in her brow with a small roll of her neck, leaning forward onto the table and resting chin on the back of hand as she watches, and listens. She may already know the run-down, but Asi's role here is orientation for all of them.

"If she's there, pinning her in wouldn't be difficult — given her ability, I expect she'd see us first?" It comes formed as a question, lifted at Asi. With you so far, gal.

Devon leans back in his seat, casting a glance to Huruma as she speaks up first. “Depending on the number of passages leading to the site she's chosen,” he adds to her assessment, agreeing that it shouldn't be difficult and voicing some caution. He turns back, looks up at Asi and the display. “Any idea if she's with the other four?”

“Abandoned subway,” Elliot says, “That sounds… not up to code. Any chance we have intel on the Company site at least?”

“Before that,” Avi chimes in, sitting forward in his seat with a grunt of effort, “I gotta remind you Dunlap is a slippery fucking snake. She’s slid between our fingers a few times now. Huruma’s the only one left on-squad right now that was with us at Operation Skycastle in Detroit back in 2018. We thought we were going after Dunlap but she saw us coming a mile away and we wound up going toe-to-toe with an Institute enforcer done up with a Gemini cocktail.”

Rubbing his face, Avi looks over at the screen, then back down the table. “Dunlap is ex-Company Kill Squad and Institute Security Executive for their San Francisco branch office. She’s an expert marksman and professional sniper. Her ability on top of years of Company training is heightened vision. She can magnify her sight like a fucking telescope. We don’t know her maximum range but safe to say if she has a clear line of sight she can probably count your freckles as long as you’re not over the curvature of the Earth.”

Avi looks at Huruma, having mentioned her involvement in Skycastle, then looks back around at everyone else. “We think Dunlap can also see into different spectrums of light; infrared at the very least. Hiding in the fucking dark isn’t going to do a lot. But I’ve got some technological countermeasures in mind. But we’ll get to that.”

“Now here’s the rub,” Avi notes with a more quiet tone, “based on intel we’ve received from the DoJ, Dunlap was never a willing participant in the Company or the Institute’s shit. The Company picked her up when she was fifteen or sixteen and legendary shit-stain Arthur Petrelli had her indoctrinated into the Kill Squad under threat of death. She got rolled up into the Institute when the changing of the guard happened, and from what Dunlap confessed after her capture, they leveraged her relationship with a doctor to keep her in check.”

Avi reaches inside of his jacket and produces a crumpled photograph of a blonde woman in a brick red turtleneck. “Doctor Adrienne Allen. French paleobiologist who the Institute hired to research the genetic history of Expressives back in the day. Allen wasn’t aware of the darker dealings on the Institute and when the group’s collapse happened Dunlap grabbed her and tried to make a run for it.”

Avi sets the photograph down on the table. “Adam Monroe targeted Allen for whatever god-fucking-knows reason during the war, abducted her and Dunlap and used one to get the other to cooperate. Nobody’s ever gotten their hands on Doctor Allen, and all signs pointed to her being in the Praxia Arcology when it collapsed, but her body hasn’t been found which leads me to believe she might’ve gotten out. Possibly with Dunlap’s help. We don’t know. But odds are if she’s alive Dunlap is either looking for her or found her.”

“Praxis’ records aren’t clear on what Allen’s Expressive ability is — except that she has one — and it somehow has to do with gene manipulation.” Avi slides his tongue against the back of his teeth. “I also have it on good authority from our retired Major that Allen may be, distantly, related to Francois. So there’s tangles up one side and down the other of this.”

Realizing he’s just been stream-of-consciousness rambling, Avi clears his throat and looks back at Asi. “Sorry.”

Calmly, Asi shakes her head. "No, no. By all means. This is precisely the color commentary we all signed up for."

Better, it's more actionable than she was expecting— even if it muddies the waters. The less mission-critical details he's highlighted regarding relations and intentions wouldn't have mattered had this been a Mugai-Ryu operation. With that unit, a cold, hard line was drawn for them by the government they served, one that didn't care if a person was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or had a gun to their head once a target was declared.

But this outfit was different. Wolfhound was something else entirely. They weren't an extension of the government— they just occasionally worked with them.

"It's unclear if Dunlap's with any of the other escapees. Price's testimony, for whatever it might be worth, said she didn't see any of the others following the prison break. Dunlap is the only one who's shown up on camera, but it is possible there might be others with her. If not Allen, should she have found her…"

A pinch of her fingers and a forward movement groups several files out and sends them to the tablets placed on the conference table. "Attached are files of the others. Suresh is SLC-N, Varlane has a cellular manipulation ability, Maddox has the ability to flick others' powers on and off like a switch, and Renautas possesses a telepathic link between herself and her twin brother."

Looking to Elliot, Asi nods with a touch more confidence. "While we don't have blueprints of the facility's design, the location of it was documented including tunnel passes we'll need to take to arrive there— if we follow the path laid out by the Company. The information regarding just how far her ability extends…" Asi allows a glance momentarily back to Avi, indicating she wasn't aware of that level of detail regarding the ex-assassin's Evolved ability and is adapting on the fly, "leads me to believe that requesting a tunnel map from the local government would be a prudent call. Even if we can't take her by surprise, maybe we can at least better pen her in. I'm open to thoughts."

“If she’s at ground level,” Elliot says, “She could see to the horizon about three miles away. If she’s underground she’ll be limited to the next bend in the hallway. Assuming she doesn’t have a crows nest in a skyscraper, in which case her range could increase drastically.” He taps a search into his phone, then mutters under his breath for a moment. “From the top of the tallest building in Cincinnati the horizon would be about 30 miles away.”

“Probably not a situation in which I can put my infiltration skills to use, unless that facility is actively staffed. I could do some sneaking around in the tunnels I guess,” he adds.

Wright’s eyes remain on the presentation. “Company files might mention specific access with the goal of keeping their entry on the down-low,” she says. “There might be closer access points in high-traffic areas we could pin down with that map. Drop in through the skylight.”

"How many times are we going to have to catch this lot…?" Huruma mutters, irritated on the surface, even though she listens and waits patiently as ever. One hand lifts to run a palm over short hair, tongue pressed thoughtfully on the inside of her cheek. "It's a pity we can't negotiate something on her behalf—" Before they catch her, perhaps to dissuade a conflict and simply put her back in to serve time.

"Penning sounds more viable the longer I consider her ability as it is. More than I thought it could do, honestly." Especially those finer details Avi's given. A look moves over to him as she comments, more intent on finding out what trick he has for avoiding a bird of prey. "Send someone in on the top—" 'Skylights' "set up at either end?"

It's Asi's prerogative, however, and Huruma turns her gaze forward to the younger woman accordingly.

“She can’t teleport.” Avi says in response to no particular person. “What I’m saying is, if she sees us odds are we can see her at some point. She’s good, but she’s been caught before. Last time was in an underground environment, so like Elliot said using her ability’s limitations against her. But if she does see us, if we can keep all the exits covered? We just smoke her out like a fucking English fox hunt.”

“We’ll need intel on the site and building. Chances are good she’s keeping an eye out for us. Jet, flashy armor, familiar faces. But the good news about our fucking attrition rate is that most of you are fresh faces to her and any intel she has is decades out of date.” Avi opines, folding his hands on the table. “We come at this carefully, it might work out. As far as making a deal beforehand… if she hadn’t run from PISEC maybe we could’ve, but the DoJ is probably gunning to make an example of her between the PISEC and Liberty Island hits Mazdak pulled.”

Asi is silent for long enough that a pause laps over the room. It doesn't normally take her time to tap out notes to herself, and yet here she is. At least the Japanese keyboard she has set up uses simple drags rather than needing to dance her hand over a larger, Roman keyboard.

"We can take a few days to take closer reconnaissance before moving," she announces absently while she finishes working on whatever she's typing. "Ensure we find her at a moment best suited to us. 'Foxhunt' this, rather than give her an opportunity to grab an eye on us…"

She begins to frown at her notes before she looks back up. "I'm thinking this is more than a two or three-person job if we're to cover the exits and drop in through the skylight. The NYPD might have to live for a few days with only one or two of us being on standby for SWAT calls." Tablet still in hand, she asks of the table, "Can I count on all of you to be there for this?"

"That includes you, Epstein," Asi specifies without looking at him. "I'll need you on the Tlanuwa."

“How far in advance do you want on-site recon?” Elliot asks. It takes a while to stage a snatch-and-grab, even when he doesn’t need to infiltrate the site first. “You want me to haunt the areas she’s been caught on camera?”

"Making an example is a waste of time." Huruma grumbles tiredly, skimming the information in her head over again. She seems more amused, however, at Asi's inclusion without a blink. Maybe they could attach a crane game claw to the Tlanuwa, if that's what she's thinking. "I think I can stay up on street level and track people from there. If not, I can come with one of the entry teams. Depends on depth…"

“Yeah I’ll fly the bird.” Avi says with a resigned sigh. “She’s low profile but that engine is a screamer. We get at about two-thousand feet we can do a drop, but I’m not sure if coming in from the sky is good with Eagle Eye as our target. I’d recommend flying us in to about the 1 mile mark, then dropping off a ground team and keeping the Tlanuwa’s engines hot for evac.”

“If she's still up to her old tricks,” Devon asides to Avi. He's betting she is, with how often the woman seemed to always be one step ahead of the Hounds. “I agree. Take a ground team, we can survey the area a day or two before and chart exits that need to be closed. I think we should position Hounds in cover at those points the evening before and move in before dawn. Catch her while she's still sleeping.”

Asi looks up from the pad to look to Elliot. "Would you be ready to go by tomorrow? We can get a rental and drive out, take a drone or two with us in the back. Everyone else can fly in with the Tlanuwa. There's an airport just over some hills in the city."

Her head tilts to the side as she agrees, "With luck, we only need wings to get in and out of the city, and don't need an emergency extraction. We come in quietly from multiple angles, stake out the exits, move in at dawn. Tlanuwa is on standby to help us pursue or extract when we're done." Lowering the tablet to her side, Asi gestures with her other hand to the door. "I'll go find Scott and see what all needs done to secure passage for the Tlanuwa, and send expectations to the team to be ready in three days. We'll be in touch while on the road."

"See you all again on the First?"

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to Wolfhound.

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