Six Letters, Unexpectedly from a Concealed Position


eileen_icon.gif ethan_icon.gif feng_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Six Letters, Unexpectedly from a Concealed Position
Synopsis On a stakeout across the street from a suspected Humanis First safehouse, three members of the Vanguard remnant are taken by surprise by a former ally.
Date October 13, 2009

East Harlem

East Harlem was and is still referred to as 'Spanish Harlem' or 'El Barrio'; a majority of its population is of Hispanic descent, especially originating from Puerto Rico. It also includes immigrants from around the world. East Harlem is no longer quite the low-income neighborhood it once was, due to the increase in housing prices across the board, but it remains one of the neighborhoods where making ends meet is merely difficult instead of impossible — in an economic sense.

The neighborhood is plagued by other problems. Although mostly unaffected by the explosion, the influx of refugees to East Harlem has compounded the issues present previously. Fresh foods, produce and meats alike, are scarce and expensive. Crimes of all sorts, from theft assault, are frequent; drug trafficking and use is extremely widespread.

Windshield wipers squeak across the glass pane that separates the interior of the Ford Buick from the outside world. Rain runs down the windows in fat rivulets infused with the light provided by a flickering street lamp on the corner that's losing the struggle to remain lit. It's not the perfect weather for a stakeout, but as long as the vehicle's occupants remain where they are — two in the front seat and one sprawled out across the back — they're in no danger of getting wet, and while the heater might not work, all three are dressed for the sopping October night in heavy coats.

With no visible activity or signs of life from the supposed Humanis First safehouse across the street, Eileen has shifted her attention from the street to the newspaper spread across her lap. The tip of her fountain pen scratches at its surface, barely audible above the patter of rain glancing off the car's roof, windows and hood. "Seventeen across," she says. "Four letters. Former Italian coins."

There may not be visible activity, but that doesn't mean that everyone is slacking off. Raith, at least, is still paying attention. Half attention, at least, looking out for anything obviously suspicious, and occasional checking out the structure in more detail, using a digital SLR camera with a telescopic, low-light lens attached. Ugly, but useful. "There's Teo, for you," he says, "Always ruining your shots when you don't need him to be, but never around when you need a question answered. Try another one, maybe we can guess at it later." That heater would be Raith's first concern for repair as soon as he could get the vehicle into a garage. But given that they're only sitting in the car because the steering column and ignition module weren't screwdriver-proof, maybe it's not such a big deal after all. "You see anything, Ethan? Besides all the things you said you saw that I already said I didn't care about, I mean."

"Drachma." Ethan responds to Eileen's question easily. "Or rupies." His nightvision goggles are attached to his face, all the easier for him to eat the Mongolian Beef in his lap with. The chopsticks are poked clumsily around in the carton before a good sized piece of meat is raised up and dropped into Ethan's gaping maw. When Raith asks his question, Ethan starts to open his mouth. But it is quickly clicked shut when Raith says the 'not caring about' thing. So for now, Ethan remains silent on that front. Chew chew chew.

"Neither of those are four letters," Eileen observes from the backseat. The smell of Chinese food diffusing its savory spices into the air makes her stomach churn and gurgle acid — there's a reason she doesn't have a takeout box of her own propped between her denim-clad legs. Whatever appetite she has, it's lately been shying away from anything more complex than the bowl of congee she had for breakfast and the tangerine she peeled apart at lunch. "I think the answer is lire."

Her lips purse around the end of the pen to satisfy her oral fixation in lieu of a cigarette — it isn't polite to smoke in the car — and cause its plastic casing to click noisily against her front teeth. "Nine down, six letters. Unwanted radio noise."

"Try 'static'." It's simple enough to be right, but not so simple that Raith won't suggest it. "Come on, Eileen, you knew that one. I sure hope you did at least. And Ethan, I have to know. Did you try looking at yourself in the mirror with those on before you actually went outside? You look like a cyborg with a seeing disorder and an overbite." Wrap your head around that one, if you dare.

"Jensen." Ethan responds to the question about unwanted radio noise. His protruding gaze swings around to Eileen as if he is looking to see if that was the right answer. But undoubtedly he's wrong again and slowly looks back to his window. Searching for something, anything. Giving a soft sigh, he takes another bite. "I don't believe in mirrors." He answers over a mouthful of beef.

"But just because y'don't believe in something doesn't make it not real. I've tried not believing in you a dozen times." A chop stick roams over to jab Raith's arm briefly. "Fuck." He answers, sounding rather disappointed when he finds out Raith still exists.

Eileen removes the pen from her mouth and directs an irritated look at Raith in the rear view mirror. "If you're going to get all Oscar the Grouch about it," she says, "then maybe you oughtn't participate at all." Still, s-t-a-t-i-c finds its cramped way into the designated boxes and the clue for nine down is struck out with a deft flick of the young woman's wrist. "It's no wonder the two of you can't hold down a stable relationship with anyone except each other. Grumpiness is a very unattractive quality in a man."

"Our relationship is about as stable as nitroglycerin, but I'll still take that as a compliment." As least he's not trying to pretend that Ethan doesn't exist. Or at least isn't saying anything about trying to pretend he doesn't exist. "Be nice if Humanis First didn't exist. Forget about all that stuff about, you know, butting in on our turf. We wouldn't have to be sitting in this damn Buick, waiting for something to happen. We could be in a building somewhere. Roaring fire, roasting marshmallows. And we'd all sigh happily and think, 'This is just like the time they threw us out of Sports Chalet.'"

"Says the girl who bangs the ex-serial killing, angry, don't-talk-to-anyone man who lives in the attic." Ethan lets out a little chuckle- grunt as he goes to place his carton on the dashboard, dabbing at his chin with the back of his wrist. "At least we can be 'onest wit'each other. That's a very 'ealthy thing in a relationship." Ethan murmurs, again searching all around the car for any sign of any activity around and across from the house rather than just on it. "Raith. You're an asshole." A little smile. See? Honesty.

"I thought it was a Bed Bath and Beyond." He purses his lips before giving a shrug. "Wotever." Taking a moment of silence he finally half turns to retort to the young woman. "I've 'ad plenty of stable relationships. If I don't quote 'old one down unquote, right now, it's because I don't want to or I'm just too badass." With that said he gives an affirmative nod and goes back to sitting regular.

"I haven't been banging anyone," Eileen says tersely, her brow furrowed and the corners of her mouth knit into an expression that's almost as tight as her voice. "Not lately, anyway. And even if I was, it isn't really a relationship, is it? Just sex. I can get that anywhere."

Outside, a cab blurs by and sprays the side of the Buick in grungy runoff the colour of sewage. In the distance, the rumble of New York City's nighttime traffic continues to wrestle with the growling thunder for dominance. The rain doesn't show any signs of abating soon. "Speaking of: fifty-five across, five letters. Love poetry muse."

Why are they even talking about this? "Greek shit, right?" Raith asks, "Try another one. And no, Ethan, Cupid's not Greek." He's pretty sure Cupid's not Greek, at any rate. It was Eros, wasn't it? "Who wants to hear a story about California while we wait?"

"Cupid's greek." Ethan snaps back. "And 'oo said it 'ad to be Greek anyway. It could be Madonna." He points out… Though how exactly that all works out in an Ethan's brain is not so sure. A light sigh is let out as the Wolf glances into the backseat. "Sorry love, I didn't mean it like that. I…" He then just gives a shrug. Throwing his hands up a little.

Glancing around with his goggles, Ethan mutters. "This is so fuckin' boring. Always my least favorite part of th'job. I wish we 'ad a fuckin' bullet to liven this up." And with that he goes to grab his carton off the dashboard which was blocking his gaze from something he had not seen before. Something that he should have been aware of. Something that—

"Fuck, princess, down!" Ethan is practically falling to the side as one large hand goes to slap around the back of Raith's head and jerk his body downward.

Glass shatters, first the driver's side window, punching through right were Raith's head was just positioned, blowing out the window opposite of him after the bullet whips past Eileen's face. The rear driver's side window is next and then the window opposite of it. There's no other noise, just the tinkling of glass amidst the heavily falling rain. Shards of tiny safety glass come spilling in to the back seat, followed by a loud pop from the driver's side rear tire blowing out.

Three more pings pepper the side of the vehicle at the back of the car, then another loud pop of the rear driver's side tire being blown out. Layered atop the drumming of the rain on the roof, is a metallic ping at the hood of the car, followed by another — two ovoid holes punched in the car's hood. A gout of steam bursts out of the engine, fogging up the windshield in the moments before that shatters as well.

A Sniper. Perfect timing.

The glass in Eileen's hair catches the light and twinkles like tiny fragments of diamond woven throughout dark brown curls. Her back flush the seat, she braces booted feet against the passenger's side door and keeps her head down as she fumbles with the buttons of her peacoat, squinting against the sheet of rain that spills into the Buick from the yawning gap where the windshield used to be.

The crossword puzzle flutters to the floor of the vehicle and is joined by the pen a moment later, both discarded in the frantic process of freeing her pistol from the leather shoulder holster she wears under her jacket. Her thumb slides across the safety, flicks it off in one swift motion.

This is New York City. There are pigeons here, somewhere, and as the sound of shattering glass continues to ring shrill in her ears even after the pieces have settled, she's reaching out to flocks in their roosts and trying to pinpoint the sniper's location. "Humanis?"

"For their sake, it better not be!" Raith is angry. Not so much at being shot at and nearly killed. That's nothing new. No, he's angry at being saved by Ethan Holden. "Okay, here's the plan," he begins, working out the details in his head. "Open the passenger doors, and slide out. I think there's only one, but watch the streets. Eileen, if you have any friends up there, find out where this jerk is. I've got a little surprise for him in the trunk. Everyone got that?"

"Couldn't get a look. Birds. 'e's shootin from right…"

A moment of pause is given while Ethan makes sure Eileen is looking at him. A single finger locates the position of the sniper while his other hand furiously works at the straps of the ridiculous goggles. "You got 'ardware in th'ba—" But as he speaks, Raith is already giving instructions that match his own. A snarl is given. "Don't listen to 'im princess, listen to me."

Kicking his door open, Ethan reaches into his jacket to pull out his sidearm. Glass is swept off his jacket as Ethan slowly hunkers himself over to the opening. "I'll cover you till y'get th'trunk. Then cover me while I move up to that car in front of us then across the street. I'll try to get close to 'em." And with that he's sliding out of the car, letting off a carefully aimed shot that is doomed to never hit anything save for a few raindrops. But it's a loud scary noise.

A loud p'tang sends sparks just over Ethan's head when he gets out of the vehicle, and the glass face parking meter opposite of the car shatters from the ricochet. High above the city, pigeons begin to leave their roosts, taking wing to the rainy skies as they swoop and turn through the spaces between buildings, searching for signs of the sniper. With the heavy rain and the long since faded light there's little help to be given to them, and when another shot breaks out, there's no muzzle flash to aid the birds in their search.

A bullet punches into the side of the car, stopping somewhere on the frame with a loud pang. Ethan can feel the hairs on the back of his neck standing up, and all Eileen can recall is the day Feng shot Gabriel's arm nearly clean off not far from the Lighthouse.

Eileen uses the toe of her boot to free the latch, allowing gravity to swing the rear passenger side door open the rest of the way rather than slam her heels into it. The crack of Ethan's gunshot has her flinching and clenching her jaw around gritted teeth as she climbs out onto the pavement with her cashmere scarf trailing behind her.

"I can't see anything," she says in a gasp, her voice blending in with the sibilant hiss of rainwater and smoke rising from Buick's ruined engine. It's so cold that her breath leaves her chapped lips in the form of a silver mist so fine it goes unnoticed by her eyes, and not just because she's rapidly switching between her field of vision and what can be seen by the birds winging raucously through the air.

It isn't much. "What do you want me to do?"

"Sit tight," Raith replies, sliding out after Ethan less like a man and more like a snake might, keeping as out of sight as possible. He's counting on their assailant having night vision gear; perfect target for a flash-bang that Raith carelessly didn't think he'd need. Clearly, the rules of New York are different than they used to be, and frags don't cut it anymore. "Ethan, I can get it out through the back seat, just need you to cover me for a second. See if you can guess where he is while you're doing that. Eileen, keep those birds searching. He's either in a window or on a roof. We'll narrow it down based on what you can see. Ready…."


With that, Raith scurries around the rear passenger door in a low crouch and half-lurches into the back seat, grabbing the latch on the seat and throwing it down before shooting his hand into the trunk compartment and pulling out, with some difficulty, a large, and heavy black duffel bag. Back on the pavement, he pulls the zipper open and immediately begins to assemble his Very Bad Surprise for their unwelcome friend.

"On th'bright side." Ethan says with an astounding amount of cheer.

His head bobs down at the ptang, "We don't 'ave to sit in front of this fuckin 'ouse anymore. If 'umanis ain't shootin' at us, then they would 'ave come out already and 'ave started. And if it is them, they won't be stupid enough to come back to this location." So that's one house down in New York City that they don't have to stake out anymore. Good news indeed.

Placing his back to the ajar door, Ethan tilts his head back somewhat as he counts the bullets that their invisible assailant has fired. Eight. Leaning out from behind the door, three shots are let out in the general direction of the sniper fire where he ever so briefly saw the rifle. Two more shots. "'urry up, Jensen."

Brickwork explodes a floor below where the sniper is perched, and in response three more quick ping sounds punch further holes in the car, trying to track Raith's movements. It's only now after continuing her search that Eileen is able to spot a dark figure moving across one of the nearby rooftops. Draped in a black rain poncho, the dark hair matted down against the brow of Feng Daiyu is a familiar look. She recalls the day he stalked out of the jungles in Brazil into the middle of her camp when she was first introduced to Rico Velasques and Iago Rameirez. Now, here, in the rain and with a sniper rifle, they're on entirely different sides.

The running sniper drops to one knee, a better angle now on the car as he levels his barrel up towards Raith, and then only at the sight of something in his periphery does he swivel that sniper rifle up and take aim on one of the pigeons, firing a shot straight into one that erupts in a puff of feathers and gore that seems to all but disappear in the rain.

Save for two shots on Grigori in St. Petersburg, Feng Daiyu has always been a crack shot. Tonight is not the night to be on the receiving end of it.

Eileen wipes the water from her eyes with the sodden sleeve of her coat, already heavier on her slim frame than it was a few minutes ago thanks to the moisture accumulating in its wooden fibers. The soles of her boots squeak against the pavement as she leans her shoulder into the side of the car and rests her hip against the back tire still intact.

An unspoken mental command brings the pigeons streaming around the nearest corner and across the street, the collective roar of their wing beats rivaling the thunder in the background. As one, they converge on the car, but rather than cover its perforated shell in their sleek gray bodies, the flock whorls around it, obscuring the sniper's view of the three silhouettes taking shelter in its shadow and providing them with extra cover.

"Roof!" she shouts, straining to be heard. "Three o'clock! It's Daiyu!"

Clik. Clak. "What timing that asshole has," Raith comments, voice level even as bullets whiz past his head and impact and ricochet around him. Clak. "Okay, here's the plan. Eileen distract him for a couple seconds. Get out there and run around, shout, wave your arms, whatever. If you can get some birds up around him as a marker, that'd be swell." Clink clink clink clak. "Ethan, find us another set of wheels. Someone's bound to call the cops over this." Cha-chak. "Eileen, go! Go!" Raith doesn't pop up right away, but waits for a couple seconds to give the 'rabbit' a chance to do its work. When he does come out of hiding, he swings around on Feng's reported position a big can o' wup ass. The sound of the rain is drowned out, and the birds and even the thunder are challenged for the title of Loudest Mother Fucker on the Block as Raith splits the night wide open with the heavy roar of an M60 machine gun; powerful, belt-fed, and hungry for ammo.

How's that for hardware, Ethan Holden?

In a flurry of feathers, at Raith's command, Eileen's dark shape explodes into Feng's viewfinder. Of the three, she's the smallest and the swiftest on her feet, presenting the most difficult target to hit. Ambient light illuminates her hair and skin, casting it in a silver glow that brings out the paleness in her face and neck, the only parts of her body — save for her hands and the rings glinting on her fingers — that aren't covered by the soiled material of her clothes. Staccato footfalls crackle around the fine sprinkling of broken glass that covers the street as she splashes through puddles and ducks around a nearby newspaper stand in an attempt to draw the gunman's fire away from Ethan and Raith in the few precious seconds before the latter opens up on his position with the M60.

What was that?

Did Raith just tell him what to do? Sniper or no sniper. Hell they could be in the peak of World War III, Ethan could be making a huge mistake and that still wouldn't make it okay. And when Raith tells Eileen to go hop around, Holden's mouth jerks open. 'Under no circumstances…' or 'Never are you ever to…' But in the short amount of time he has to make a decision Eileen is already running out like the distraction rabbit and Ethan has no time to insult the decision making. Poo. But with the combination of the birdshield, Raith's gunfire, and Eileen's running Ethan has ample cover to run.

Breaking out of the pigeon cluster, Ethan is sprinting for the car only fifteen feet ahead of their own now useless car. The Wolf holds his pistol to his side tightly as he crouches low going for the Civic in front of them. Holding up the pistol, two shots are let out to break the glass of the driver side window, provide easy access.

A belt-fed gun the likes of which Raith is firing through the rapidly diminishing haze of birds is like the hammering fist of an angry God crashing down on Sodom and Gammorah. The M60 utterly obliterates the brickwork and masonry of the front of the tenement building that Feng Daiyu is using for cover. He has no recourse but to throw himself prone and roll to the side as bullets rip across the concrete railing and blow fist-sized pieces of stone apart. Ammunition is funneled out of that weapon at a speed so great that it is hungrily eating through the heap of chained rounds Raith has stored in the trunk.

Stone dust, shattered glass, the rumbling thunder-roll of the gun firing and ricocheting bullets bouncing between adjacent structures makes for the noisiest possible assault on a single man. Feng is forced to crawl face-down on the rooftop, slithering like a man come serpent across the concrete rooftop to the rear side, up and to the edge and— no fire escape.

A hiss that is drowned out by the sounds of warfare in the streets slides out of Feng's throat, and he's forced to look back to the side of the building being obliterated by the machine gun, the occasional flash of a tracer round every 5 rounds streaking up into the rainy sky. Raith Jensen is out of his mind.

Out of his mind or not, the massive amount of lead and metal Raith is putting into the air is exactly what the three on the ground need. A safety blanket. After only two seconds, Raith lets up on the trigger and allows the night to quiet down enough for Feng, and anyone else listening to realize that Jensen Raith really is out of his mind. What other kind of man would be singing at a time like this?

"Held our fire 'til we seed their faces well, then we opened up our squirrel guns and we really gave 'em hell!" Once more, Raith squeezes the trigger on his weapon, throwing another burst of lead in Feng's direction and again masking the sound of the rain spattering against the pavement and sizzling on the M60's hot barrel.

Flinging his elbow out, it smashes against weakened glass shattering the drivers side window. Reaching in the door is quickly unlocked and swung open as Ethan slides in the drivers seat. Pistol placed in the cupholder, Holden is quickly breaking off the bottom panel of the steering column and readjusting a few wires. In a matter of minutes the car hums to life as Ethan pauses for a moment…

Daiyu. Up there. On the roof, being the gay. He could go take him right now. Or he could be a responsible adult and go back for Raith and Eileen… Hrrmmmm.

The break between the gunfire lulls Feng into a false sense of security, climbing up to press himself against a low wall that connects to the rooftop stairwell before another volley of gunfire and singing fromt he ground shattered potted plants perched on the wall above his head, sending potting soil and shredded plants down on the back of his jacket and rain poncho. Scrambling away with his head down, Feng comes up to the door and reaches inside of his jacket for his sidearm, bringing it out he presses it to the door next to the knob and squeezes off several shots, blasting the lock and knob mechanism apart before dropping on to his back, presses his feet up against the half wall, and pushing himself on his back across the rainslicked roof towards the door.

From the ground, he angles the door open and ejects the clip from his pistol, rolling inside and tumbling down the first half-flight of stairs to the landing. Once inside, he's out of line of sight from Eileen's birds, disappeared into the darkened and abandoned building. Hes gone just long enough for Ethan to get that car runnign and rush down several flights of stairs to the third floor. No time to train a shot or use the scoped rifle, he pops in to view of the window four floors below where he was and opens fire thorugh the glass. The first few shots aren't even in the neighborhood, but the last two of strike Raith square on. Both times in the chest. The nine-millimeter parabellum rounds are flattened like soft taffy against the armored vest he wears beneath his clothing, but the impact is enough to knock him square off of his feet.

That they might end this now hasn't just occured to Ethan. From her vantage point on the side of the street opposite the two men, her back up against the wall and bone white fingers clasped around the grip of her pistol, a rain-drenched Eileen is looking up at the roof through the hair plastered to her cheeks and rumpled brow. She can't see Daiyu from where she's standing, and she can't hear him either thanks to the deafening roar of Raith's machine gun, but she has a fairly good idea of where he is based on where the birds saw him last and the path the spray of bullets is cleaving across the roof.

Or did. As Raith goes down, Eileen swings her aim up, steadies her arms and squeezes two shots off at the window.

"Fuck!" It's obvious that something's up with Raith as he's thrown off-balance and stumbles down onto his ass. The belt of ammunition tumbles out of its gun-mounted drum and spills onto the slick ground, still connected, but now in all sorts of twists and turns. Quickly rolling against the wrecked Buick and slamming one of the doors, Raith examines the burning thumps he's just acquired. His Dragon Skin did exactly what it was supposed to do; two holes in his shirt where both rounds bounced off his chest. He'll have some large, angry bruises for sure, but he's otherwise fine. "Loading," he says, hopefully just loud enough for Eileen and no one else to hear as he pops open the top cover of his weapon and pulls the belt out. It'll be easier and faster and safer to just start on a fresh drum, and his partner needs to know this is the case so she isn't left wondering why the dragon stopped breathing fire.

Knuckles go white as he watches Raith collapse in the rear view. He'll be fine. Even if he isn't going to be. That's okay too. His eyes flick to the side view to take in Eileen taking off two shots. His lips spread into a thin line as the car is shoved into gear. He has to be responsible. Ethan's foot slams down on the gas pedal.

And the car shoots forward.

The engine roars powerfully as the Civic zooms towards the abandoned apartment building. Water sprays up on either side from the tires path, rainwater quickly obscuring the view from the windshield. But it doesn't matter. Straight forward. The rest of Ethan's clip is emptired into the windshield before he casually lets it drop out of the bottom of the gun. Leaning forward with his face on the steering wheel he goes to take his extra magazine out of his back pocket. Reloaded the safety is flicked on before being tucked back into his chest holster. A glance to the rear view to see the quickly shrinking shapes of his comrades and then…

In an explosion of drywall, brick and ex-door the stolen civic bursts into the bottom floor of the building giving it a rather abrupt stop. Which in turn makes Ethan press the proverbial eject button.

Arms out as a shield burst through the glass first, the Wolf going flying out of the car and toppling into the darkness of the abandoned building.

It's hard to see in the dark, but the way Feng jerked away from the window right when Eileen shot at him made it look like she might have hit him. Though it's difficult to discern how well fromt he distance, the dark, and the rain. The maddening act performed by Holden that sent a car straight thorugh the wall of a building has left the Wolf laying prone on the concrete ground floor, where no furniture darkens the concrete-floored and empty warehouse-like space. Only iron supports for the ceiling divide up the space in narrow columns.

By the time the Wolf has pulled his battered, bleeding and scraped form up frm the ground, there's a small miracle that he didn't dislocate both of his arms. Only then is there a thunder of footsteps coming down the stairs, and when Feng Daiyu bursts out of the door, one arm tucked against his chest like a broken wing, the faint droplets of blood he's leaving in his wake may as well agitate Ethan in the same way it would a shark.

Feng's gun immediately comes up, only to be swatted to the side by Ethan's herky-jerky slap of the weapon with one hand. The weapon fires, shattering into the concrete underfoot before Feng finds an approaching fist lobbed towards his head. The older man ducks, weaves to the side, and moves to swing up with a kick, but the pain at his shoulder causes him to stagger aside and slam into the brick wall by the stairwell instead.

He can barely make out Eileen and Raith across the street, and Ethan's already coming at him again. A staggered punch from sore hands, blocked by his forearms, a roundhouse kick to the bloody shoulder elicits a scream, and finally Feng drops his gun.

The Chinese man staggers back again, reaching inside of his jacket as he leans away from a jab towards his throat, and whips out a small canister clutched in one hand, ring-pin around his thumb. The pin pops out and the canister hits the ground, and immediately begins hissing and spinning in a circle as chalky gray smoke issues forth.

Eileen has the sense not to fire into the smoke. Her chances of hitting Ethan are as high — if not higher — as hitting Feng, and that's not a risk she's willing to take despite launching herself out into the open just a few minutes ago. Clambering over loose chunks of rubble that clack and crunch against one another as she struggles to find and maintain a foothold, she climbs over the ruined wall and into the building, maneuvering around the side of the wrecked Civic with one arm held out for balance and the other training her pistol on the shadows swirling hungrily around them.

Green eyes swimming in moonlight frantically move through debris, searching for any sign of Ethan in the smoke. "Holden!"

It was good news when Raith heard the engine of a car fire up and roar. And then, Ethan apparently had an accident. After processing that information for a few moments, he chances to look out at the havoc just in time to see Eileen clamber into the building after the now-wrecked Honda Civic. And what else, exactly, can Raith do except to slam the palm of his hand against his forehead. Clearly, he's the only one in this group who's not insane.

Unlike Eileen, Raith doesn't go running into the fray, but instead scoops the loose ammo belt into the duffel, sling that over his shoulder, and dash a short distance up the street to find them another car. One that he won't be wrecking. Bad news is all the easily stealable vehicles have already been stolen. The next best bet is the oldest vehicle left, a beaten-up Nissan Altima that doesn't look like it's going to run for much longer anyway. At least Raith doesn't have to feel guilty when he smashes the window in and makes the can his own, placing the M60 in the passenger seat and bringing out his Glock 18, along with a screwdriver and an ignition module. Unlike Ethan, who was content to mess with wires, Raith will simply force his skeleton key to turn the engine over. And all Ethan and Eileen have to do is stay alive for a minute while he does it. Maybe they can get shot a couple times each. That'll learn 'em.

The crunching and snapping that sound and feel like they might be broken bones are Ethan's first clue that this was probably a Bad Decision. The broken glass embedded into the top of his head and stuck along his coat is hint number two! Untangling limbs with other limbs, one hand slowly presses against the ground to slowly push himself to his back. One bloody and maybe broken hand going into his jacket. Pulling out his gun, he doesn't have to look at it to tell that it's broken. So that's what stabbed him in the ribs. His hand comes up shakily to grasp at the door frame he lays near. Grasping desperately Holden slowly is able to pull himself up to a sitting position. A bleeding temple slaps gently against the bare wall, a drop of blood sliding down fluidly. Another surge of effort has Holden on his knees and finally he's scrabbling to pull himself to his feet.

Not exactly having the whole balance thing down just yet, he stumbles backward, back colliding into an iron support. Letting out a grunt, the man turns to slam one shoulder against the support letting out an oddly satisfied grunt. And then the footsteps….

The room seems to be going in and out of focus, like whoever was handling the reel in the projection room was on his first day and probably going to get fired before his second day. Feng isn't the only one who is damaged by Ethan's kick. His scowl speaks volumes as he rapidly brings his foot back down to try and catch his balance before…

Slamming into another wall, Ethan's hand goes to push against it as the ninja smoke starts to envelope them. One hand reaches out towards the now slightly distant Feng. The hand makes grabbing motions as if he was able to reach through all the smoke and distance that separates them and pluck Feng up by the scruff of the neck. Or maybe… Squinting Ethan is able to focus on Feng's head for just a moment, a finger and a thumb closing together as his mouth makes a spllsh sound. But unfortunately, Ethan does not have that power. Letting his arm drop, he staggers backward, arm flying up to secure a place over his mouth and nostrils. By the time Eileen has caught up to him the Wolf has tumbled back onto his ass and is looking at the smoke pathetically as Feng no doubt, is getting away."Don't worry I think I smashed 'is 'ead with m' thumb."

Well, he probably won't be trying that trick again.

For at least a week.

In that swirling smoke, Feng is as much a ghost as he was in the rain, swerving through the billowing cloud like a sidewinder, leaving a drizzled trail of blood from that gunshot wound in his wake. Out of the hundreds of bullets that sprayed across this stretch of ghetto, it was Eileen's that managed to tag the elusive assassin. And to think ust a few days ago she was cursing herself while playing with an airsoft gun at a carnival. Unfortunately, Feng isn't going to give her a giant stuffed panda. The reasons Feng Daiyu is slipping away out that loudly slammed back door and into the alley behind the building are manyfold.

Ethan just drove a car through a wall and nearly killed himself to strangle to life out of him. Eileen somehow managed to shoot him despite being Kazimir's delicate china-doll for the duration he knew her in the Vanguard, and Raith Jensen— hasn't changed at all— which in reality is just as bad. But it means his intelligence on the group as a whole is degenerating, they're taking more risks, they're getting better at what they do, and most unlikely— they're working together.

The roar of an engine in the alley comes just moments before the peal of tires squealing on pavement, and Raith can catch a glimpse of a silver Audi sliding out from between buildings, spinning on the wet pavement, and peeling out to the south like a bat out of hell thorugh the driving rain.

The smoke grenade continues to hiss, then sputter, and then stopts its spinning as an abortive pop of smoke comes out of the nozzle at one end.

Eileen's slim arms encircle Ethan's midsection and clasp hands in front of his chest, hauling the man to his feet with all the force her body is capable of exerting — and while that isn't much in comparison to what Raith, Gabriel or Peter might be able to muster, it's enough. With Feng gone, her pistol has been shoved back in its shoulder holster — safety on — and abandoned so she can focus on maintaining her hold and keeping him upright until Raith can secure a vehicle. With any luck, he won't drive this one through anything.

Although the distant wail of police sirens have yet to pierce the relative stillness of the night now that bullets are no longer whizzing through the air and scattering pieces of brick, plaster and drywall all over the sidewalk, they don't have a lot of time before the authorities respond to the sound of gunfire. "You fucking idiot," she breathes down Ethan's neck in between choked gasps and hoarse heaves of exertion. "What the hell is wrong with you!"

The departing vehicle doesn't go unnoticed by Raith. Not bystanders; they would've bailed out as soon as the shooting started. Not Feng's buddies, either, unless they're totally heartless. They just might be. Whoever it is, it's probably bad news. But Raith notices it only for a moment, before he he shoves the freshly modified ignition module back into the steering column, inserts a plain key and gives it a twist. The wiring, hastily redone, provides poor contact, but after struggling for a moment, the engine turns over and the vehicle comes to life.

Rule #3: Seat belts. Quickly buckling up, Raith pulls the car onto the street and brings the nose around to face the opposite direction, pulling in front of Ethan's freshly made entrance and honking the horn twice before he climbs out and go back to the Buick. Snatching his camera up, he hurries back to the Altima and gets back in the driver seat. Every one of them is going to need some serious drying off time after this mess.

Pressing weakly against the slick ground, Ethan goes to try and carry himself away from the wreckage. But he isn't so successful at that until Eileen bearhugs him and bodily heaves him out. As they near the car, Ethan allows this time to pass by in silence as he tries to suck in breath and stay conscious. As they make it to the Altima, Ethan's hands splay out to use the vehicle for support. Managing to open the back door the Wolf flops into the backseat, not bothering to close it behind him. Once in a hoarse chuckle is let out.

Head throbbing, still a few pieces of glass lodged in there, one arm dangles down as his chuckles bubble out of his mouth. Blood trickles down past his ear, and down the bridge of his nose.

"'oever owns that car is going to be piiisssed."

Eileen climbs into the car after Ethan and pulls the door shut behind them with a loud explosion of sound that rattle's the vehicle's frame and resonates throughout it's interior. She's fumbling with the straps of a seatbelt in the next instant and pulling it across Ethan's chest to snap him in.

Her face pinched into an expression of utter fury, she glances over at Raith's reflection in the rear view mirror and says in a voice that's much too level, much too quiet: "Drive."

"No shit, really?" Raith doesn't wait for an answer, but accelerates gradually - safely - down the street and away from this mess, heading for… anywhere. "Take the gun apart, carefully. We have to ditch this car first chance we get." He doesn't elaborate on why. He simply trusts that Eileen will figure out he knows something she doesn't, and that Ethan is too messed up to realize at the moment, and won't ask any questions.

"SNAFU, eh?"

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