The 11th Hour


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Also featuring:

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Scene Title The 11th Hour
Synopsis A newly purposed Ferrymen safehouse in the ruins of Midtown becomes the center of an emergency evacuation when a high-value target of a clandestine government organization leads a heavily armed extraction team to the Ferry's front door. A race against time and the life of an innocent hangs in the balance; but is one girl's life worth the cost, or will the Ferry be forced to make a difficult decision?
Date April 14, 2010

Southern Brooklyn

7:23 PM

Ask any Ferry operative how many minors are under the organization's protection and you'll get a different number than the one given to you by the operative you asked before, but of everyone Ms. Michelle Kaneda would be able to provide you with the most accurate estimate. It's her job.

Bundled up in a heavy winter coat of palest gray and a pair of sleek black gloves that accentuate the lengths of her fingers while warding off frostbite, she descends the front steps of a squat brownstone that has seen better days, its front door painted a bright, vibrant red that contrasts with its drab siding. Snow and ice crunch under tapered feet clad in heels about one inch too high for her to navigate the stairs without trailing her hand along the wrought-iron banister for support.

At the bottom of the steps, she turns to tilt a bird-like glance over her shoulder at the brownstone's second floor window, where a small face framed by curls of dirty blonde hair is pressed against the glass and breathing fog across the pane.

Chelle raises her hand by way of farewell. In the window, the figure sitting on its sill mimics the gesture with a fist the size of a porcelain doll's.

It's just not good weather, for anything, and certainly not motorcycles. And yet — a single headlight sweeps around the far corner of the black, navigating wheels along the slick asphalt with more recklessness than necessary. A black figure on a black bike, the viser just as anonymous and flashing beneath the sometimes sporadic lights of the Brooklyn streetlamps as they blink on in this evening. As the figure gets nearer, it's only subtlely obvious from the shape of the winter jacket and bulky gloves that the figure is female — denim cuts lithe shapes of her legs.

The bike slows as she nears where Kaneda has emerged from the house, coming to a sharpish halt that could be more graceful than it is, but doesn't send the rider spilling. She dismounts, yanking her helmet up and off, and silk-fine blonde hair spills out with a shake of her head. Her face is plane of make up, round, lightly freckled, and impossibly serious.

"Michelle Kaneda," she says, barking off the words like bullets from a gun.

Salvatore Bianco went this way. Black jacket. Black bike. Reflective visor. There's a moment where Chelle's breath hitches in her throat and her hand on the banister tightens its grip with an inaudible calfskin creak, but when the helmet comes off and the light catches in cornsilk blonde hair instead of reflecting off a bald skull with sunken gray eyes, her arm grows just a little less rigid.

Her hand lifts from the banister and comes to settle, fingers slightly splayed, over the left side of her breast as though applying steady pressure to it might keep her heart from straining its way out of her chest.


The woman comes to a standing halt on the pavement, looking up one way, down the other, then up at Chelle as if trying to make a decision. "I'm not going to tell you my name," she says, steam hitting the air along with her words. Her brow is tense and her gaze steady, helmet tucked under the bent wing of one arm. "Not today. But I can tell you I work with the Department of Evolved Affairs, and that I know you're a part of a clandestine organisation that protects the people we try to protect. Your efforts in Summer Meadows this winter did not go unnoticed and you were identified among the volunteers." Her voice is low but clear, quick for clarity. "I'm sorry.

"There isn't a lot of time. Someone being protected by your people is in a lot of danger."

At the bottom of the stairs, Chelle's long legs, slender arms and tall, willowy build resemble a doe's, fit to spring and float away into the mist, but this isn't a forest — this is Brooklyn, and warnings do not come in the form of crackling twigs or leaves that shouldn't rustle. And even if they did, her immediate reaction to the one the stranger offers isn't to bolt. It's to straighten her back, incline her chin and gather her composure to her bosom as she studies the woman at the bike with eyes so dark they appear almost black.


The biker licks her lips, and, with the air of signing her life away somehow, continues to speak. "A girl by the name of Liette. She's being held somewhere in Midtown by your people — there's no reception, no cellphones, nothing. Her keepers will know more about the situation— "

Her forehead crinkles for a second, gloved hand sweeping back the tangles of her hair, frustration evident. "There was a leak, in my organisation — we were given her location by one of your people, but now an entity called the Institute is aware of it, and I don't know what will happen if they take Liette back." She switches her helmet to both of her hands, crunching a step back away from Kenada. "So here I am. Do you know the— the safehouse I refer to, ma'am?" Her earnest stare begs a yes.

The fear that had been in Chelle's eyes finds itself displaced by a more distrustful kind of caution as her mouth takes the shape of an uncertain frown. The Ferry's opinion on the Department of Evolved Affairs is a conflicted one and it isn't immediately clear where she stands or whether or not she's willing to do much more than stand there in solemn silence, quietly contemplating—

"I do," is what she finally says, and she's dropped her hand by the time the words have left her glossy pink mouth to go fishing in her purse for what is presumably a cellphone. "How long have you known?"

And with that confirmation squared away, the woman is already turning on the heel of her boot, headed back to her bike. "Half an hour?" is tossed over her padded shoulder. "I'm sorry I couldn't reach you sooner. But if you can haul ass, there's still time. That's what you people are supposed to do, right?" She swings a leg over the vehicle she rode in on, hesitating when she goes to put on her helmet to instead look at Chelle as if to check that this is true.

Cellphone out and in hand, miniature keyboard snapped open with a flick of her wrist, Chelle's lacquered nails skip deftly from button to button. She divides her attention between bike and screen, though there's no way for her to keep one eye on one and one eye on the other unless she spontaneously manifests an ability that might allow her to move them independently of each other. "In politer terms."

There's no need for Chelle to keep an eye on the bike, unless she desires to watch the woman nod once, cover her face as she pulls her helmet back on, the blonde locks of tangled hair spilling down the black of her back. The engine revs, and without further ado, she's spraying snow with her back wheel and hauling ass out of the neighbourhood as if she were never supposed to be here.

As the last vestiges of light fade from a pale sky devoid of colour, the illumination provided by Chelle's cell phone screen bleeds white. On it are three terse words that require no further proofreading before her thumb comes down hard on the send button.

To: <scott XXX-XXXX>
Frm: <michelle XXX-XXXX>

Draft a bulletin.

Ruins of Midtown

9:08 PM

"Why does the Ferry need so many guns?"

It's an innocent enough question from an innocent enough person. Standing in the dusty hall with plastic-shrouded windows flexing at her back, a young blonde teenager stares through an open door into what three years ago was a supply closet for the Armantine Insurance Company. Now, the aluminum shelves that were once stacked with copy paper, toner and sundry office supplies are stacked with olive drab ammo boxes, gun racks situated with AK-47s and loose boxes of rifle ammunition and assorted handguns.

"Girl," comes the immediately sighing response from the man stacking ammo up inside the safehouse, "if you think this is a lot of ammo you should see the stores down at the bottom of Grand Central." Dropping a heavy case of 5.56 ammunition down on the linoleum floor of the storage room, Andy Rourke rises up and rests one hand at his back, turning around to offer a bright white smile at the young Liette where she stands silhouette in the storage room doorway. "We gots' t'ave all this ammunition to protect ourselves from all'a the bad folks 'oo want t'try an' lock us up an' throw away the key, yeah?"

Stepping out of the storage room, Andy urges Liette back before turning around and closing the closet door behind himself, glancing over his shoulder to the teen. The lock clicks shut, and Andy tucks the key into his jacket pocket as he turns back to face the girl. "Now then, why're you all peepin' 'round out 'ere with me when your Doctor friend's probably got his head halfway up 'is own ass lookin' for ya?" There's a crooked, teasing smile on Andy's lips as he reaches out and slaps a hand gently on the laughing teen's shoulder.

"I got bored watching him sleep in the chair," Liette notes with a wrinkle of her nose, blue eyes alight to Andy. "I wanted to help out! Pop never lets me help out with anything other than tests, so I thought I could be helpful to everyone!" Andy's dark brows furrow, and in the silence between them after Liette makes mention of that desire, the only sound to back them is the crinkling hiss of the plastic covering the windows flexing from the freezing wind blowing outside.

Snorting a laugh, Andy nods his head, lifts up his gloved hand to muss up Liette's hair and steps past her. "Alright, you wanna' help out go wake up Doctor Brennan an' let 'im know I want 'im t'help me properly set up the medical stores here, since I don't bloody well know what half of these supplies are." Liette wrinkles her nose, lifts her hands up and furiously tries straightening her hair as she watches Andy move past.

"That's not helping that's running errands!" Liette notes with a puff of her cheeks out. Andy pauses and looks back over his shoulder at the teen, one brow raised and a laugh bubbling up from him as he shakes his head. "What's so funny!?" Liette demands with a stamp of her boot on the floor, "I can help!"

"I don't doubt that, girl. But you gotta get the doc up before I have you helpin' me lift boxes, yeah?" Andy cracks a teasing smile, watching Liette's expression lighten up as she bounces twice in place and then just turns around with an excited squeak, arms out to her side like some sort of multi-powered airplane and goes running down the hall, weaving between Ferrymen workers stapling plastic to still open windows and trying to get the new safehouse up to working order.

Liette rushes down the hall, boots clomping and smile wide, coming thundering thorugh a doorway into what was once the spacious floor of a cubicle farm. Jumping over a low coffee table she lands with both feet in a clomp in front of the ratty recliner that Doctor Harve Brennan has fallen asleep in. Teeth toying at her lower lip, Liette lets out an excited squeak, bends forward and presses a kiss to Brennan's cheek. "Doctor Brennan," the teen softly states, lifting up one hand to send a chilly breeze of aerokinetically manipulated wind down the back of his shirt, "it's time to get up!"

"I'm really getting sick of all this snow. Wouldn't be so bad if there was just a damn snowball fight or snowmen building contests or…or something," Melissa mutters to herself as she finishes getting the snow off her clothes downstairs, then tugs off her hat and scarf one handed, half-tucking them in one pocket of her coat. Then that is shrugged off and left to drape over her right arm, the left still in a sling. She hasn't been cleared to take it off, after all.

Heading up towards the others, Melissa makes no effort to hide her approach. Don't want to surprise those who are hiding after all. Not when they're on your side. "Hey everyone…It's just everyone's favorite southern girl…don't use any of those nasty weapons you got 'round here on me," she calls out, lips quirking in an amused smile.

"Don't worry yourself none, darling." The voice comes from a young man situated at the top of the stairs when Melissa comes up, irises glowing a faint green as he looks the blonde up and down. "You check out," he notes with a wink and a click of his tongue. Offering out a hand, the redheaded teen tilts his head to the side and cracks a smile. "Ain't seen you around here before, name's Jonas, I got set to do security detail for the armory under the feller in charge. His irises shift to a shade of red, then towards blue and purple as he talks.

"Sorry. Don't ah…" reaching down around his neck, Jonas pulls up a pair of sunglasses to slide over his eyes. "Don't mind the spooky-vision, just keeping an eye on everything going on outside." There a tip of his head as he regards his hand, then Melissa with a crack of a smile. "Doc Brennan's just down the hall taking a siesta or— I dunno maybe he's just asleep. I think the little girl with him's been expecting you."

The recliner, sadly, is comfortable. But when you've been safe house jumping for the last month or more, well, anything that's cushioned is tremendously comfortable and he'd flat out fallen asleep after launching into hypothetical situations with the young blonde in an effort to keep her intellect active and his own too. Only so much staring at walls and avoiding acknowledging that there are weapons here in this place.

But Brennan's snore - Yes, he snores - is interrupted with the blast of cold air combined with the double thump of feet near him and he's up, out of the chair, negating anything he settles his eyes on which is eventually Liette. "Lee, shit. God, you scared me. Something wrong?" He's rubbing a hand over his re-burgeoning scruff since he'd cleaned up for Preager. He's turning off the negation soon enough, looking over his ward. "You okay? What's wrong?"

The sound of helicopter rotors churning through the air makes a slow but steady climb in volume, starting first as a distant hum that resembles the noise given off by the Armory's multiple generators installed to supplement what little the candles and gas lamps strategically positioned throughout the second and third floors of the Armantine Insurance Company's gutted business space. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be a cause for concern; news choppers buzzing overhead and government funded fly-bys to photograph the destruction from the air are both logical explanations for the sound, but in the supply closet beside Andy, the safehouse's operator pauses to glance upward at the ceiling and the lamp hanging above his head when he first hears it.

Yuan Tien is pushing seventy. There's a reason he was put in charge of this supply shelter, and it partially has to do with his age because with age comes wisdom. Shallow furrows appear on his crinkled brow. "In this weather?" he asks no one in particular.

Melissa smiles and shakes her head at Jonas. "Doesn't bother me. It's kinda neat. You don't gotta hide your eyes from me or anything," she assures him. "And I'm Mel. Melissa," she offers, glancing down the hall. "And she is, huh?" Mel glances down and smiles, nodding again. "Glad to hear it."

Melissa starts down the hall to find Brennan and Liette, but she does glance back at Jonas once more. "Seriously. No need to hide your eyes. Being different is something to be celebrated, not mourned. Otherwise life would be one hell of a boring ride." Then she's hunting down the room with the doc and the kid, and smiling when she sees them. "Hey guys. How about this weather, huh?"

Snorting out a giggle, Liette shakes her head and rolls her eyes. "I'm fine," she says with a toothy smile, "But Mr.Andy wants you to help him set up the medical supplies in the store room." Rocking back onto her heels and then up onto her toes again, Liette seems like a bundle of energy here in the new surroundings. Behind her, the ka-chunk of staple guns affixing plastic to the drafty windows carries a steady rhythm by which she's rocking back and forth.

"Come on," Liette insists, reaching down to curl her fingers around Brennan's collar with a toothy smile, "let's go!" It's only now and this close to Liette that something unusual is noticed by the lounging doctor. When her hair blows back from a playful burst of wind she creates, there's a mark on her skin where Brennan had injected the syringe supplied to him, the one that he was told would degenerate something in Liette's blood that allowed her to be tracked. It's a pigmentation change on her skin around the injection site that didn't immediately show up, resembling a pair of closely set black marks.

"Come on, come on, we'll— " Blue eyes angle towards the hall emptying out into this spacious and mostly unfirnished room, and Liette's voice carries resoundingly. "Melissa!" Excitedly unwinding her fingers from Brennan's collar, Liette's booted feet clomp and stamp as she rushes towards the blonde, her skirt rustling around her warm stocking clad legs until she plows straight into Melissa, wrapping her arms around the blonde's waist and smiling broadly. "Melissa when'd you get here! There's sooo much going on! We're going to go help Andy stack up medical supplies! Come on, come on!"

Back down the hall at the stairs from the second floor, Jonas lifts his brows and leans forward towards one of the windows yet to be insulated with plastic. He squints, lifting down his sunglasses as his eyes shift their color from blue to a bright red, then through the spectrum towards green. Peering up at the helicopter, there's a hitch of breath in the back of his throat, an askance look afforded back down the hall towards where Melissa had just left from.

The hell. Is it a reaction to whatever it is that Vincent had her give him? Takes him a second to figure it out, where he's seen that before and there's a bubbling up of anger in the back of his mind. Doyle, Colette, Delilah, a few others, all had that same mark. It's enough to get him moving forward in the wake of the tug on his collar by the young woman and a glance to Melissa "Hey Melissa. Apparently, yes, time to help them with the medical room and then, I need to sit and chatter with liette and make a run out of the Safehouse. Think you might stay with her for a bit when I do, got time? I can check on your arm as well"

Out of the room they go, into the hall and towards where supposedly, he was shown the supplies would be and the room set up.

The rotorcraft that touches down on the roof of the building, effortlessly blowing snow off its edges in thick, silvery wisps that appear like threads of white from the ground, bears no identifying marks and eliminates the possibility of a local news crew making an emergency landing. The Kamov Ka-27 is a military helicopter that was developed for the Soviet Navy, but when the blades stop spinning and the door pops open, the soldiers that climb out aren't in uniform.

This may have something to do with the fact that their organization doesn't have one. Eileen's boots hit the pavement first and carry her several paces away from the helicopter as she starts toward the door that leads into the building's half-collapsed stairwell, one hand splayed across her midsection, the other adjusting the leather strap attached to the rifle hanging from her shoulder.

The Ferry is a network of hundreds. More than three people should have been able to respond to the bulletin that went out a little more than an hour ago, but the Ruins of Midtown are a twisted labyrinth choked with snow and inaccessible by car or truck. As soon as she determines that the coast is clear, she raises one gloved hand and signals to both Catherine and Raith still inside the chopper.

In a helicopter piloted by Jensen Raith, with Eileen aboard… She's done this before. And there's even frozen water on the landing spot. It's perhaps 100 degrees Celsius or so warmer than that occasion, and there are fewer people, but the imagery mostly fits. Cat, adrift in crystal-clear replayed memories of standing in a 'copter door with Veronica helping to yank people off the ice shelf, is drawn back to the here and now by Eileen's exit, then her hand signals. Boots hit the ground, the black-clad woman who never forgets alights and follows the bird whisperer.

Raith shoulders the pack resting on the 'copter's floor before he likewise hops down to the pavement, following after Cat and Eileen. Bundled in dark snow bibs and his fur-lined arctic coat, eyes covered by a pair of ski goggles, and perhaps predictably, visibly loaded with weapons and as much ammunition as he can carry: pistol magazines cover his belt at each hip, ready to feed the Glock pistol strapped to his right thigh, while the suspenders of his equipment harness carry magazines for the M4 carbine hanging from his left shoulder, accenting the bandolier wrapped around his chest that holds, for his convenience, six fragmentation hand grenades. And that's to say nothing of what might be in the pack slung over his right shoulder. A pair of KA-BAR combat knives- one affixed to his left calf and the other to his right forearm, round out the outfit worn by Rambo Claus.

Melissa laughs and braces for impact, though she's almost too late, then she's wrapping her good arm around the teen and giving her a tight hug. "I just got here a minute ago. Just enough time to take my coat off and say hi to Jonas. And we're stacking medical supplies? Okay, okay. Lead the way, Liette."

After that Mel looks to Brennan and nods. "Yeah, sure thing. I'd love to stay with her for a while. And I'm hoping that you'll tell me I can ditch this godawful sling." Sure she dressed it up a little courtesy of a bunch of Sharpies, but a sling is a sling. They're not fun. But are they more or less fun than helicopters carrying Rambo Claus and bad news? That's the question.

Brows furrowed and blue eyes alight at Brennan, Liette's nose wrinkles and her head cants to the side slightly. "You're not going to go running off in the middle of the night in this weather, are you?" Liette chides to Brennan's back as if she were the doctor's mother all of the sudden. Huffing out a breath the blonde teen folds her arms across her chest, offers a look back over her shoulder at Melissa and then just starts skipping ahead after Brennan.

With Brennan up ahead down the hall, passing by the ammunition stockroom, he notices a warning declared on the door's exterior: Caution: Ammunition and Firearms. Do Not Open. It's admittedly a warning duct-taped to the door and written in Sharpie marker, but a warning none the less, that's why Andy's the only one with a key right now; can't have an unlocked armory with teenagers around.

Further down the hall, standing at the doorway to the medical room that was once an office break room, Andy Rourke is ambling around with a stack of metal first-aid kits in his arms, settling them down on a wheeled gurney in the middle of the floor. Just on the other side of the room, in the closet where Andy's going to have Brennan setting up the medical supplies, the flicker of the lantern overhead still has earned Yuan Tien's attention, though Rourke's eyes are now alight to the roof too.

"'Ey boss," Andy asks towards the supply closet door, "did— did tha' soun' like the bloody 'elicopter landed on the roof?" There's a sudden, nervous expression that dawns across Andy's face, and as he steps away from the gurney to go out in the hall and find out what Jonas has seen, he's practically walking head-on into Brennan. A sharp inhalation of breath and a hand over his chest has Andy backpedaling, shoulders slouched and head hung. "Oh! Bloody hell Doc, you almost gave me a heart attack." Dark eyes lift from the floor to Brennan, then to the doorway behind him where Liette stands on her toes. "Did you 'ear tha' copter?"

Did he? There's a glance upwards, listening intently for something beyond the generators and a hand comes out to snag Liette in her cheerful manner so that he can anchor her and gesture upwards. The Physician glances to Andy and the others wit him before he's turning on his heel, his turn to snag Liette by her collar and back to where they were. Paranoia still high, "Lee, get your bag, Get your jacket, get them on now, understand me. Mel, help her. Fast" They might have minutes, or seconds.

"Andy, where's an exit? Something quick and emergency that doesn't involve jumping out windows" He calls back, heading for where they came from so he can scoop up a sweater, start quickly putting his arms through the sleeves, followed by his jacket. Quick Lee, might be Rebel or his friends.

"We have room onboard for Dr. Brennan, the girl and one other," Eileen says as she arrives at the stairwell door and gives it a brisk rattle that reverberates through the upper floors of the building in the form of a booming echo. Locked. "When you get there, tell everyone else to take what they can carry and fall back to the Terminal. We won't be able to salvage everything." The Englishwoman says you because the hand at her midsection hasn't moved and she's leaning her shoulder against the concrete wall beside the door for support; she's in no condition to take the multiple flights of stairs that separating the rooftop from the section of the building that the Ferry has chosen to utilize.

Downstairs, Tien is issuing orders of his own. "No one leaves," he practically snarls at Brennan. "You'll freeze to death sooner than you find shelter."

It's a reply in two parts, coming one right after the other. The first is a nod, just before Cat raises her booted right foot and kicks sharply at the locked door with the hopes of making it open. "Got it," she follows up. Her jaw is set, she's all business.

When the lock shakes and rattles, but (barely) holds after Cat's initial assault, Raith steps up and gives it a proportionately more forceful kick of his own. By their kick-powers combined, the lock- rusted, distended and frozen- shatters as if it had been sprayed with freon and tapped with a chisel, the door swinging open. "Ladies first," he says, and for good reason. Even if those downstairs don't know Cat much better than they know Raith, they are far more likely to panic if he's the first thing they see coming down the stairs. He doesn't shout anything down the stairs: As far as he knows, the two with him on the roof would be the only ones who would understand that it was 'only Jensen.'

Fast? That's going to be very not fun. But Melissa nods and reaches for Liette, to head back to where they were to get Liette's jacket. "C'mon honey." She glances at Tien. "And a shoot out of evolved proportions is better, then?" she asks dryly, before taking off with Liette.

She tries to shrug on her coat as they walk, wincing as it means moving her left arm more than she really should be. She keeps an eye out though, for each doorway or window they pass, just because a protective Mel is a paranoid Mel. And while Liette may be a little scary in her own right, she's still a kid. And the moment they get in the room with Liette's stuff, Mel is being super helpful in grabbing the bag, if it's obviously out there, while Liette puts on her jacket.

"Boss is right, Doc. You'd turn into a bloody docscicle before you even got to Gran' Central. Bloody exits— all the windows on the floow below us are practically doors right now anyway. The snow's gone and proper-fucked us on using the ground floor entrance we'd planned. There's only one operational stairwell down to the second floor, the one that Jonas watches o'er by the room you were nappin' in." Dark brows furrowed, Andy glances back over his shoulder to the supply room towards Tien, then back over towards Brennan and the now worried looking Liette behind him. "Hey ah, Doc? Not— not to be all Chicken Lil' on you or nothin', but— what's goin' on?"

Backpedaling away from Brennan when that message is established through their psychic link, Liette turns to offer a nervous look up to Melissa, brows lifted and furrowed at the middle. "Lissa we gotta go, Doc says— " Liette's words are cut out by the sound of Jonas screaming from down the hall.

"Incoming!" The redheaded teen shouts as he scrambles down the hall. "Holy shit we have incoming! Infra-red picks up about a dozen snowmobiles headed this way through the ruins! Two men per! They're practically right on top of us, the storm's hiding them!" Skidding to a halt, Jonas looks down to Liette, his irises a bright ruby red as he looks up beyond Brennan's shoulder into the medical room, then just barges past the doctor.

"Tien, s— sir! They're coming from every direction, what do we do!?" Behind Jonas' words, the roar of snowmobile engines encroaches on this location, the erratic humming growl of these machines drawing closer and closer by the minute.

Seven floors above, Catherine Chesterfield and Jensen Raith are descending down through the eviscerated gullet of a building that is barely still standing. Structurally the office building is nominally intact, but the interior and north face suffered such extensive damage from the blast that its condition is reminiscent of the Ferrymen's "Hotel California" safehouse, with eviscerated walls open to the freezing wind, snow and ice crusting the stairs, twisted rebar and crumbling concrete all around. There's a reason why the safehouse isn't up this high.

On their way thundering down the stairs of the northwest stairwell — the only remaining intact stairwell — Raith and Cat can hear the crumble of the steps near the top where the broken stairwell forms a bridge of cracked stone, the wall to the right entirely missing save for a few pieces of bent steel and broken trimming of glass. At least the stairs are holding their weight.

"Liette and I will Leave" He fires back, pulling on a toque, gloves, working at getting his pack hefted onto his back and grabbing the aluminum framed compact snowshoes. "We won't freeze. She and I have the necessary clothing, She's got an ability to make a fire, we can get somewhere soon enough and hole up, we'll be fine. Thank you for your concern but she's my concern and I'm not about to let her get scooped up by a technopath and his goonies. We'll surface at another safe house"

Buckles are snapped and he's heading over towards Liette to help her into her stuff, mentally counting down how much time has been spent. Too much time, too much time when every second counts. "Andy. Tell me an emergency exit, or I'm going to have to take the stairs because Lee doesn't have a trick in her bag to jump out windows" She could maybe use her aerokinesis, but only on herself and he needs to stay with her. But Jonas is yelling about snowmobiles and how close they are. Andy's talking about the second floor pretty much leading out onto the snow. The booted foot and rattlings that filter down make his blood run cold and without further ado, he's heading out the door with packs, snowshoes and teenager as the door is kicked. "Mel, get to some place safe. Lee, come on. We're going down. You'll use your aerokinesis to keep up a wall of snow between us and whomever is coming, once we're out there."

Shit. Shit. Shit. Did they get too complacent? Did someone bring a phone with them? His hand is closed around Liette's and heading towards the room he was napping in and for the stairwell fast as his and her feet can carry them. "The people hunting Liette, they're here" He bellows to Andy, finally answering him. "Scatter, now."

Tien may be old, and he may be getting a little heavy around the middle, but rhinoceroses have distended bellies too, and the strength and speed with which he moves is comparable to one as he closes the distance between himself and Brennan and seizes the younger man by the front of his coat and slams him into the wall with enough force to crack the cement at his back, causing smaller pieces to tinkle down from the ceiling above their heads.

It's display of power and force that a normal human being shouldn't be capable of.

Yuan Tien isn't. Normal. "Are you trying to get these people killed?" he barks, but he isn't answering Andy yet either. "You know nothing about this area, nothing about the terrain, and you do not give my people orders." He punctuates this last statement with a sharp slap to Brennan's face with the back of his callused hand that isn't enhanced by his ability. If it was, the doctor's head probably wouldn't be on his shoulders.

«Contact.» Eileen's voice crackles over the radio, her words addressed to Raith and Cat, who are also incidentally the only ones who can hear them. «I'll try to buy you as much time as I can. Hurry

Down the stairs she goes, at as fast a clip as she can with the perilous condition of things. «Are there birds around to send through windows?» Cat's booted feet probably do make a good amount of noise as she descends, even though still several floors above. Time being of the essence, she doesn't settle for just getting there as fast as possible; she opts to help the cause by calling out ahead. "Brennan! Grab Liette, tell others to snatch what they can carry and bail now! Then you, Liette, and one other come to the roof. Helicopter is us!"

Maybe they'll hear her, maybe they won't, but as she goes the message is called out over and over until/unless a response comes.

"Round 'em up," Raith says, apparently deciding to stop when they're still four floors from their goal, "No friendlies come up after you!" The pack is dropped to the floor and the ex-spy, ex-soldier pulls equipment out and immediately sets it up. The assumption is clearly that anyone coming up the stairs after the party of extractees will be each of two things. One, hostile. And two, will have the chance to read three final words of English text before their life comes to an abrupt end: 'FRONT TOWARD ENEMY.'

Melissa shakes her head at Brennan. "I'll give you some time to get the fuck out of here. Unless they got a negator on their side, it'll work," she tells him, giving Liette a quick hug before she's led out of the room. She draws in a deep breath and draws the pistol from the small of her back, just in case. It only takes one hand to shoot a pretty little Glock after all, so she should be good…right? And bullets are a good addition to crippling pain!

Looking to Tien, Melissa shakes her head and explains. "Did you not hear? Bunch of people on snowmobiles. And they're probably after them," she says, pointing to Brennan and Liette. "They need to go and get as far away from those people as possible. You want to order your people to do something different, dandy, but they gotta go."

"Stop!" Liette shouts as she pushes past Melissa, blue eyes wide and brows raised as she stares up at Tien, "Stop!" The wind around Liette begins to pick up, swirling bursts of air that carry dust and crumbled bits of plaster from the floor up and into the air, followed by sparking cracks of flame that emit near her hands in blue crackling quality. Jonas takes a few long steps back and away from the doorway when Tien snaps at Brennan, glowing eyes wide as they shift to their normal blue.

"Woah— woah. We— we can talk this out. We've got backup plans and stuff for— I— " Jonas takes another step back past Melissa, then waves Andy out the door. "Andy, gimme the armory key." Stepping up to one of the plastic wrapped windows, Jonas' brows furrow and his eyes spectrum shift down to red again. "Oh shit!" Is the only warning he can give before the building shakes from the sound of an explosion one floor below.

Semtex charges set on the windows blow glass into the floor below where the argument is happening. Five blasts around the perimeter of the structure from the first snowmobiles to arrive at the structure. High above their heads, a pair of owls circling the building offer night-vision reconnaissance against the approaching men. What Eileen sees down on the snow below is confirmation of some of her worst fears.

Climbing off of the snow mobiles, men clad in white NBC suits, the kind used for radiological hazard and biological hazard cleanup are racking assault rifles and removing plastic cases from where they're harnassed on the snowmobiles' rear seat. They're masked, black plastic visors and three-vent respirators, arctic survival jackets worn over their suits with fur trim on the hoods.

The first thing Eileen recognizes that they begin setting up look an awful lot like mortar launchers. Ten men infiltrate the ground floor through the blown out windows, and from the floor above Brennan can hear confused screams from the Ferrymen operatives down below, and the loud rattling of automatic weapons fire. There's not even a warning, just gunfire.

Now just three floors from their goal, Raith and Catherine can hear the rapid-fire pop-pop-pop-pop of automatic weapons discharging below them, that following the explosions earlier indicate a seige that Raith had fortunately come prepared for.

There is a ferryman who is attacking him. Wall to back and the side of his face tingling, Brennan's negation snaps into being even as an ache rises up his spine, taking away whatever ability it is that the heavyset man has. Just in time for the swing of Brennan's fist into the mans face with a strength that many don't know that the good Doctor has. His biceps are usually hidden under sweaters and shirts since the winter he's met them that come from remaining fit in the gym, hauling around three year olds and a few other things. It's quickly followed with a sharp and quick knee to the groin, going for the cheap shot so he can push him away, very much aware of Liette's use of her ability right now.

"Then you deal with your people and I'll deal with mine" His being Liette as he keeps negation up and grabs a hold of her arm and his bag without glancing to her so he can lift a foot and forcibly kick at the push bar for the door and start going through. There's another pause, the rumble of the building and he's forging ahead with his own plan. They have weapons here, to hold people off, buy them some time and Liette can cover them ability wise. Out into their stairwell and down, fast as can be.

The thing about raiding by night is that it's dark. So dark that it's very nearly hard to notice when one of the men rat-tat-tatting away behind an assault rifle vanishes as cleanly as if a black pall had been thrown over him. In the blank space no broader than the blink of an eye (or the hook of an arm) between muzzle flashes, he ceases to be.

Unfortunately his location is only a mystery for all of twenty seconds, because that's when he reappears approximately fifteen feet above one of the oompa loompas setting up a mortar launcher outside. Two men, one mortar launcher, a span of fifteen feet and gravity.

Oh, and the gun. Hopefully he has time to think about letting go of the trigger on the way down.

«Mortar launchers on the ground. Rasoul's army used the same setup in Madagascar, and we have confirmation that the American military is in possession. If anyone down there has an ability, they shouldn't count on being able to use it for much longer.» Eileen's report over the radio punctuated by the crack of her rifle. Down on the ground, one of the men manning the mortars hits the snow and does not get up again, dark fluid oozing out in a pool under his back. When the Englishwoman moves to the next, she visibly flinches behind the sight of her weapon and looks over the barrel to confirm that what she's seeing isn't a hallucination. Yes, apparently, there are men falling from the sky. «Pigeons,» she says in response to Cat. «If you want strength in numbers. Have you found the girl yet?»

Without his ability, Tien is as vulnerable as any other old man his age. The blow to his face snaps his nose, covers Brennan's knuckles in blood, and causes the safehouse operator to slump against him as that knee is being driven up between his legs. As the doctor is pulling away, he falls the rest of the way to the floor and is unable to put his hands out in time to cushion the impact.

Stairs, stairs, and more stairs. Cat keeps going, pace quick as the structure allows, not taking time to reply to Raith. The radio is used for replying to Eileen, her voice sharp and sounding concerned. Maybe even a bit fearing, a very unusual thing from her. «Shit! If I get gassed, I won't have the first clue where I am or what the fuck we're doing! Be prepared.» There's a break in her transmission as she takes a few more stairs.

«No sighting yet, calling ahead. Send pigeons in to lead Brennan to us if you can.» And back to calling out. "Brennan! Get Liette and one other, evac to the roof! Now!"

«Watch your feet on the way up.» Raith chimes in as well, providing an important safety tip one floor up- one more line of defense- from where he and Cat parted ways. <Don't trip on my mines.» With connection number two tightened, Raith once more shoulders his pack and grabs the two small spools of electrical wire from the ground before advancing up towards the next level, back towards the roof. Two directional mines is all he's willing to risk, for as full of holes as it may be, the structure still has enough intact walls for the blast waves to bounce around a bit and cause some serious havoc.

And if there's a risk of Cat losing her senses, he needs to be on hand to extract her as well. This is less than ideal. Scratch that: This sucks.

"Oh shit," is Melissa's initial reaction to the blast, followed by a short string of cursing designed to make a sailor proud. "God dammit Brennan, don't run into the guns," she snaps after the doctor. "Mother fucker," she whispers, before she's moving off after Brennan, having heard Cat's yelling. "Brennan! Roof! It's our people! Get your ass up there now! I'll follow and cover you! MOVE YOUR ASS!" Because if she has to come down there and get him, she isn't going to be pleased.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!" Is all Andy can shout as he bolts down the hall behind where Brennan had run after battering an old man to the floor. Reaching into his jacket pocket he starts fumbling with the key to the arms locker, getting it open and turning to Jonas who'se crouched by Tien's side. One hand covering his own mouth in shock, Jonas looks up to where Brennan disappeared to, then back down to the old man.

"Hey— come on old man, come on get up we gotta move." One hand on Tien's wrist, Jonas looks up when the armory door is opened and Andy moves in, grabbing a handgun up off the rack and tossing it back to Jonas, who awkwardly catches it in midair. "Dude— Dude I— I've never fired a gun in my life." Andy looks back over his shoulder, grabs another off the rack and one of the AK-47's, slinging it over his shoulder before making his way to Jonas' side.

"S'real easy," Andy explains as he flicks the safety off, "you just pick it up an' point it at something you want dead and squeeze. Breathe out, no panicking, one shot at'ta time. You got the basics." Slapping his hand on the back of Jonas' head, Andy's following on Brennan's heels again, snaping back the slide of his gun and turning to one of the plastic wrapped windows, "Oh bollocks."

When Brennan makes his way to the bottom of the stairwell, there's a horrifying revelation when the remainder of the stairwell that should go down to the ground floor is blocked by a cinder-block barricade. It's a temporary one, cinder-blocks mortared loosely together with paint buckets full of concrete in front of them, the kind designed to be taken down by a sledgehammer eventually, probably when the weather gets beter and the ground floor isn't mostly full of ice and snow.

"Brennan no! Brennan no we can't! They're shooting!" Liette protests, struggling at the grip to her wrists, eyes wide and a worried look coming over her when she sees the concrete blocked wall. The door ahead of Brennan that leads to the second floor bursts open, and a scream emits from within as a young brunette woman that Brennan remembers seeing from Summer Meadows — though never got her name — runs in with a panic. There's a loud explosion of gunfire from beyond the doorway, a yelp of pain and the young woman collapses against Brennan, howling in agony. Tiny black rubber balls roll away from her on the floor when she slides down Brennan. They're not firing lethal rounds.

Outside there is a spray of gunfire as one of the Institute retrievers is flung bodily into the man controlling the mortar launcher. He tumbles head over heels, finger squeezing the trigger and spraying the snow with a powdery line of rubber bullets. The mortar launcher goes off, at a crooked angle, firing a metal canister into the air and clanks off of the second floor wall, then explodes in mid-air on the ricochet in a cloud of yellow gas. The spinning, hissing canister falls down and disappears into the snow, a mustard-colored cloud of gas rising up from the hole.

Other noisily foomp, foomp sounds come from around the building, however. Where Melissa stands on the third floor the plastic sheilds on one of the windows tears off the frame when a metal canister blasts through right over Andy's head as the Brit falls prone on the ground. The canister clatters to the ground, and then explodes in a haze of yellow smoke before spinning and dancing around the hall on the floor. The gas isn't tear gas, but it's thick and difficult to see through. Andy coughs, by sheer merit of being in the cloud, swatting as his face as he gets to his feet, eyes wide. "What the fuck is this stuff?"

Melissa knows. Not first hand, but she knows the feeling. Almost instantly when the gas hits her exposed skin, there's a tingling sensation, like the way spicy food tastes on the roof of your mouth. But it's everywhere, soon stinging her eyes and making them water, and soon giving her a mild sense of disoritation that she hasn't felt since Moab. She's being chemically negated.

"Oh god— " A hacking cough punctuates Jonas' words, "Oh God! Tien get up!" He and the Ferryhouse operator are lost somewhere in the gas cloud in the same hall as Melissa and Andy. "Oh god I can't see! I— I can't see! Old man come on get up! Oh god!"

Coming bursting through the stairwell door on the opposite end of the building from where Brennan went down, Catherine Chesterfield's black clad form emerges out into a hall that's back half is flooded with a mustard-yellow gas, screams of confusion are coming from inside, coughing and choking, and downstairs she can still hear gunfire.

Down on that floor, Brennan can see a white-clad man in the NBC suit turn towards the open door, his black visor hiding his expression as he levels that assault rifle towards the Doctor, then spots Liette and lowers the gun. «Doctor Brennan,» comes a hissing click from the retriever's respirator, «hand over the girl.»

Plan A is a possibly failure. Even as he's standing there, looking at the barricade. Little time to backpedal when a summer Meadows woman is being hit by non-lethal rounds, and Mel's yelling is lost in the cacophony of rounds being fired, the woman screaming and Liette yelling, but he eventually hears it, hears Melissa's order and he points up. With a kick, the door is closed to that second floor, putting his full weight on it and bearing the woman. "Lee! Either go up, or you blow down this wall right here" A quick gesture to the bricked up wall. "Use it as strong as you can and you do it fast. Now Lee. Before they come through this door! I have a plan"

The appearance of non-lethal rounds are enough to make Something down there hesitate. Something that soaks at night vision — an error in the snowy landscape, black shadow smudging back around like a curious shark without any readily evident source. This time when it swallows someone up off the outskirts of the assault team, the victim doesn't immediately reappear.

«They've released the gas.» From the roof, Eileen has no way of knowing whether or not Cat and Raith are already aware of what she's saying. She pauses to watch through the scope as another one of the Institute's men seemingly vanishes into nothingness. This isn't an ability that she's seen before, not exactly, and it's with more caution than the situation would otherwise dictate that she selects her next target — a man chattering into a radio by one of the snow mobiles — and squeezes off her next shot. «Windows are blocked except for the ground floor. Give me a few minutes; I can cover you on your way back up.»

Tien should be shouting, corroborating Cat's orders to flee into the stairwell and retreat toward the roof. Instead, the only noise he makes is a thin, rattling gasp that decreases in intensity with every breath of neurotoxin he sucks down as he struggles to recover from the blows Brennan dealt him. In spite of Jonas' urging, he isn't even trying to get to his feet.

«I see it,» Cat reports as she stares at the cloud which conceals confused screaming, coughing, and choking people at the hall's other end. «Word delivered.» She takes a step back, watching that cloud of gas, and addresses Melissa. "Time's wasting! Get Brennan and Liette, let's go! If I seem out of it when you catch up, get my attention and give orders, don't mince words. Tell me head for the roof. And be careful on the stairs, there's some nasty surprises on them!"

She goes back through that door to start the climb, not having any desire to stick around and get a dose of that gas.

Melissa's eyes widen as realization of what happens dawns on her. "NEGATOR!" she yells, to no one in particular, it seems. That knowledge brings a rush of fear. She's not unarmed, her hand is firmly grasping the pistol, but it's not the same as her ability. For all intents and purposes, it feels to her like she's now got two bum limbs instead of just the one.

"Doc, Liette, ROOF! NOW! I can't cover you anymore! Get your ass in gear!" she yells down the stairwell, coughing at the smoke. But smoke or not, she does go down and try to grab Liette, to start pulling her up the stairs. Or trying to, anyway.

Shaking her head repeatedly, Liette's eyes are saucer wide. "I— I can't! I can't get a gust that strong in here, not indoors!" There's a slam against the door, a kick from the other side trying to open it as Brennan braces against it. Another kick, another slam, and the door's pounding on its hinges. Liette backs away, looks to her left and then looks back to the door. Another firm kick comes, and a crackling noise of a voice barking over the respirator. «Doctor Brennan open the door! We've come to take the girl back where she belongs!» The moment those words come spilling out from the retriever's respirator on the other side of the door, followed by another swift kick to try and force it open, Liette's eyes are growing saucer wide.

"Home?" The blonde breathes out the words, taking a step towards the door before barreling down the stairwell, Melissa comes swooping in. She wraps an arm around Liette's midsection and hoists the teen up with her one good arm. Liette lets out a shrieking scream, fingers curling into the air as she's liftes, tears welling in her eyes. "No! Stop!"

When Melissa drags Liette up the stairs it's into the descending cloud of yellow smoke rolling down the stairwell. The teen coughs and chokes, eyes watering and all the power she has sapped from her by that mustard-colored vapor. The door bursts open, Brennan finally unable to hold it, and the Institute retriever immediately opens fire with his automatic weapon, sending a three-shot burst of the rubber bullets into Brennan's abdomen, blistering skin and blossoming bloody welts from the impact. The force of the shot sends Brennan backwards in the cinder-block barricade, slouching back against the wall and down onto the concrete-filled plastic barrels. «Where is the girl?» Demands the assault-rifle wielding retriever.

The girl, is screaming.

Dragged by Melissa up the stairs, Liette's screaming in either fear or horror or something else that Melissa isn't quite able to recognize. The blonde carrying Liette can hear the sound of gunfire downstairs, see the muzzle flash in the cloud of gas, and when she emerges onto the other side, Andy is staggering out of the cloud with his pistol aimed back behind him. "Jesus fuck where's Jonas and the ol' man!? God damnit!" Glancing back over his shoulder, Andy makes eye-contact with Cat, "Holy hell the calvary is here let's get out!" Running ahead of Melissa, Andy comes up to where Cat's standing, and that cloud of gas is steadily creeping down the hall behind them.

In the haze of the gas, Cat can barely make out Jonas blindly trying to drag Tien's unmoving body by both arms out of the smoke, choking and coughing and struggling without being able to see.

There's not enough room on the helicopter for everyone.

God damnit it to hell and back, Melissa's snarled at by Brennan as she's dragging Liette through the gas. Any attempt to reach and try to grab a hold of her is not happening thanks to the rubber bullets that leave their mark on the physician's abdomen. No negation gas down here, and his own ability it turned on in case the guy in the suit is evolved.

The dark haired man's glare turned on the suited man, Brennan launches himself towards the man, hand going for the gun first and foremost try to wrest it from him in an attempt to then bring it down across the mans head, trying to ignore his middle and the pain. "Melissa! Liette!" He bellows.

Woop, woop that's the sound of the police…jabbing the stock of a stolen (borrowed?) rifle from his recently vanished compatriot into the lower back of the Institute Suit that Brennan is in the process of groping. For those others in a position to pay attention — and there are probably a few — Vincent manifests behind the guy's back as a distinctly italian (and distinctly bald) man in the squidink furl and coil of his own abrupt appearance. Short. Too short for Brennan to see behind his assailant. Hard eyes. The kind of guy you don't want to try to lie about how much you've had to drink tonight to.

The second jab is shot stiff at the back of the poor guy's head, and then he's out again in a vacuum swirl of shadow that kicks back over itself whiplike to roll into obscurity. Rubber bullets pass through without finding purchase and unless anyone can think of anything less ballistic to try on him faster than he can funnel through the open door and on upstairs, he's gone.

The number of pigeons and crows that Eileen has at her disposal is limited by the weather and her need to divide her attention between what's happening on the ground and what's happening on the roof. Birds with feathers that glint silver, gray and black launch themselves from their roosts in nearby buildings, skirting shards of glass that cling to the lips of shattered windows like teeth and protrude from rotten gums. Wing beats and shrill, cacophonous avian voices join the sound of automatic gunfire below as the scattered flock assembles and descends in smaller groups upon the men outside.

Epstein isn't going to be happy when the report hits his desk tomorrow morning — assuming he still has one — but Epstein's happiness isn't Eileen's concern. «How many of our people are still inside?»

"It's the gas," Cat calls out when Melissa is heard to shout about a negator. "Get moving, follow up the stairs! Now!" She only looks at Andy for a brief moment before sticking her head partway back through the door to see if the Moabite can be spotted, along with anyone else, and count heads. «I count six. Have one with me, girl and one other coming, three remain behind. Time is short. Evacuating now, on stairs.»

She starts moving, back up those stairs as swiftly as she can safely do so. There's room for three, looks like they'll be Rourke, Melissa, and Liette. There's no time for collecting Brennan anyway.

As she moves, flashbacks threaten to settle in, of the battle at Jersey City when Carmichael showed up and took down both Brian and Al. There was no choice but to use her thermite grenade and leg it. Then there's Dani's face, her screams as her thumb was cut off. Abandonment. A few other flashes follow. Abby telling her about Helena being snagged on the bridge is one. Other people who didn't immediately surface after that operation. Then Moab and people being scattered in time and space. There's been a theme, each time she channeled efforts into finding and helping locate/rescue them.

All except for one.

«Cat, there are two clackers by the door on the roof,» comes Raith's voice over the radio, «The one of the left, when you're facing it, is for the mine on floor seven, right side is floor eight.» As the man speaks, he's already abandoned any post where he could be 'helping,' instead deciding that the best way he can help is getting them out of them. Already, Eileen can hear the low, droning whine of the twin turbine engines as they begin to spool up and slowly start to spin the co-axial rotor blades. «Anyone starts coming up that we don't want to see, frag 'em.»

"Liette! It's me, it's Mel! Calm down, Brennan's coming. We're getting out," Melissa says as she works her way down the hall towards the staircase as quickly as she can while dragging Liette with her. Not an easy task either. "BRENNAN! MOVE IT!" she yells without stopping, hurrying up the stairs, still coughing from the smoke, and starting to get tired with the effort of a one-armed drag.

"Wh— where— where— Melissa!?" Liette is in a near hyperventillating panic. Her eyes are stinging from the gas, tears welled up fat and dribbling down her cheeks. She's willingly moving at Melissa's side now, stumbling over her own feet, then tripping over Tien's legs as she stumbles out of the yellow gas and spots Cat. Blue eyes wide, Liette's even more puzzled now. "C— Miss Catherine!" Taking Melissa's hand and squeezing it tightly, Liette spins around and looks at the gas behind her, then continues following the blonde through the doorway and to the concrete stairs.

"Where's Doctor Brennan!? How— how'd I get here!? I— I was just— we were at the Garden— " Melissa may not understand the blabbering that Liette is rattling off, eyes wide and tears streaking her cheeks, but up ahead the brunette leading the way back up those stairs is well aware of the dissonance that Liette is suffering from. All of those recorded memories contained solely by her mimicry of Catherine's ability have been completely lost, and now she's struggling with the juxtaposition of the present and what her last memories were.

"Oh God… oh God." Standing by one of the broken fissures in the concrete at the stairwell, Andy Rourke looks out to the snow beyond, to the Institute retrievers dragging members of the Ferrymen out of the safehouse into the snow outside of the building. "Bloody hell we— we're not leaving are we?" Dark eyes look up accusingly at Cat's back as she winds up the stairs, and when Melissa and Liette pass by him, and thunders back up to catch up to Cat, boots clomping hard against the concrete. "We're not just going to leave, tell me we're not running!?"

Down a flight of stairs, along a gas filled corridor, and down one more flight of stairs, Doctor Harve Brennan is nursing a gut-shot inflicted by rubber bullets. There's blood blossoming from burst capalaries in his skin at his stomach beneath his jacket, there'll be bruising all purple and black and yellow and scabs that will stick his shirt to his skin, but he's alive. If those had been live rounds, he'd have not gotten up from the shot.

The Institute retriever on the ground isn't entirely down for the count, judging from the groaning he's emitting and the hiss of pain coming thorugh his cracked faceplate. The Ferrymen woman who was shot in the back is nearly incapacitated from the pain, hunched over in Brennan's arms and crying against him. Thorugh the still open doorway, he can see white-clad men in those suits dragging people out of the building through the ground floor windows, zip-tied arms bound behind their backs, two-by-two sweeps not yet noticing that one of their own is laying in the doorway far off from them.

Back upstairs in the gas-filled hall, an inky black cloud of vapor slithers its way thorugh the mustard-colored fog harmlessly, what does smoke and ink know of neuro-toxins? Nothing. The coiling tendrils of dark vapor slither and drift thorugh the doorway into the stairwell, able to percieve Cat, Melissa, Andy and Liette going up, but also behind the vaporous cloud a young redheaded boy trying to slow drag a bleeding Chinese man across the tile floor blindly.

Liette's gone with Mel, he's not going after her. Brennan stays where he is against cement barrels and brick walls, holding the ferrywoman with him and trying to reassure her. No move made to attack the white suited guy any further. The Doctor has to trust that the others are going to get her out and safe. He'll have to count on Praeger to keep him safe.

"Jesus Christ, what a fucking mess," says the air at Jonas' ear, dejected ophidian smog blacker than the stuff dissipating sulfer yellow as it contracts and condenses into something that looks a lot like a human being. Too upright and automatically formal to be particularly terrifying even for an incoporial ghost, fog trails and all, the vapor golem rankles its nose and filters abruptly into tangibility.

Ridiculously, Vincent is in a suit, complete with underarm carry. It's a nice one too, probably expensive. The collar is flawless and his tie is knotted just so.


Assault weapon slung aside with a clatter, he stoops to jerk the old man with the bloodied face up off the tile, bending at the knees and not the back as is presumably ideal for lifting limp carcases. Hopefully with some help, because seriously, this isn't what he signed on for and he's probably going to get bled on. "Stairs are this way, Scooter. Feel free to jump in any time."

Tien's sinewy arm loops around Vincent's shoulders and neck, his fingers clutching feebly at the material of his suit. There is, inevitably, blood. It oozes from the old man's nose and saturates the younger's collar, bright red against white even in the dim half-light of the hall. On the floor below them, the generators have gone dead and plunged the safehouse into darkness, leaving only the candles and gas lamps to provide illumination to see by. Details are elusive. Instead: vague, flickering shapes.

«We have room for six,» Eileen says over the radio, «maybe seven with the girl, small as she is. If we want to risk a pass after we take off, there's a chance we can provide enough cover fire for the people still trapped inside to find a way out the back. Sewer access.»

Stairs and danger, multiple conversations to hold as she climbs them. It's this which chases away flashbacks and the image of lover abandoned to die. Cat addresses Andy first, after considering what Eileen's just remarked on and the information about defenses from Raith. "Choices are slim," she informs the man dryly, "if we stay in the building we all get captured. So evacuation is needed. I don't call it running, I call it evade and regroup. The helicopter has room for maybe seven people. Three who came to pluck people out, three from the building, and maybe one more. After we get airborne, we can take a shot at persuading the heat to back off and cover others escaping. But no guarantees."

Over her shoulder, she looks pointedly at Rourke without slowing her pace. "Whoever doesn't get out, we can work out some plans for later. Sometimes people get left. But I never forget."

Then her voice softens a bit, as Liette is spoken to. "It's scary, Liette, I know. Your mind feels all fuzzy, like there's things you want to remember, think you should remember, but it's all a fog, right? The cloud back there, it messes with abilities. It stops you from accessing the memory enhancement you got. It'll wear off before too long."

Back to general information. "Watch the stairs carefully, they're not in the best shape. Don't trip over anything. It'd be… really bad." And Eileen. «Understood. On stairs and inbound.»

It doesn't take long before the whine of the helicopter's engines is mixed with and soon covered by the 'thu-thu-thud!' of the rotors spinning, still partially disengaged from the transmission and not moving or lifting off yet. «Sooner rather than later, Cat,» Raith says over the radio, «This is a helicopter, not a tank, and I'd rather not find out if they can shoot worth a damn.»

"Yeah, yeah it's me, sweetie. Just calm down. You're gonna be okay. I promise," Melissa says, keeping a hand at Liette's back as she guides the younger girl up the stairs. Brennan…there's worry, definitely, but right now Liette is Priority numero uno. As soon as she hits the roof she's heading for the helicopter, still with that hand on Liette's back. "Check this out. We get to ride in a helicopter," she says, trying to spark the girl's curiosity to drive away the panic. And as soon as she gets close enough, her butt is on that ride out of here. Good bye Hotel California!

Downstairs, slouched against the wall and breathing labored, aching breaths, Doctor Harve Brennan hears the shrieking cries of birds thorugh the doorway into the second floor. Flapping wings and screams, gunfire and absolute pandemonium. Backing thorugh the doorway there's a blast of gunfire as two more Institute retrievers step over their fallen comrade, black and gray feathers fluttering past them from gunfire peppered pigeon remains.

One of the men turns to aim his gun down at Brennan and the woman with him while the other drags the bludgeoned retriever out of the way further. There's a blast of flame down the hall, and Brennan can see one of the white-clad men of the Institute with a hand held up in the air, calling up a rolling wave of fire from in front of his hands, throwing it down the frozen concrete corridor towards the birds. It seems that the retrieval squads have Evolved among them as well.

«Doctor Brennan,» the retriever with the gun leveled on Brennan crackles through his respirator, Brennan's own face reflected in the glossy black visor of the mask, «we're going to have to ask you to come with us.» The young woman slouched against Brennan is lifted away by the other masked agent of the Institute, an arm slung around his shoulder as he looks her over, then starts to lead her out into the hall where the pyrokinetic is keeping the birds at bay.

«This is ground unit six to home base, we have the Doctor. No sign of his companion yet.» The masked operative nods once, watching Brennan thorugh the emotionless visor, and the doctor can't hear the response that the retriever is receiving. «Affirmative. We're sending up a pair.» Two more men from the Institute come storming in to the stairwell, rifles loaded as they head up the stairs into the yellow cloud of gas. As they depart, the one by Brennan looks down to the doctor, withdrawing a side-arm from his belt, a tranquilizer gun. «This is for your own protection, doctor.»


Upstairs, Jonas scrambles up to his feet at the sound of Vincent's voice. "Who— o— okay." Stumbling along after the sounds of the DoEA operative's voice, the redhead's boots slip and squeak on the floor from melted snow underfoot. The longer Jonas follows Vincent blindly, the more the color begins to return to unfocused blue eyes. By the time he's through the doorway and into the stairwell, there's a crackle of color from his irises and they switch to red as he turns back towards the hall. "Oh god! Move!" Jonas throws himself at the door, swinging it closed just in time to hear the hammering of rubber bullets bouncing off of the metal door. "They're right behind us!" Jonas screams up to the others several flights of winding stairs above where he, Vincent and Tien are.

"This feels like runnin'…" Andy grouses as he looks down towards a claymore mine on the stairs, then down back the way he came towards the sound of Jonas' voice. He can't yet see Vincent, a few floors below. "'Ey! Joney! Watch out up 'ere, we got mines or somethin' on the stairs!" Careful to step around them, Andy looks back behind himself then up the stairs to the door that Cat, Melissa and Liette are emerging through.

Out on the rooftop, the wind is whipping across fast enough to sling hair around and cold enough to steal breath straight from the mouth. Snow drives on the freezing wind, and in a way the weather is reminiscent of the last time this helicopter flew, when the Invierno sank off the coast of Staten Island in the freezing cold wind and icy waters. It's a different army now, different faces, but Rico's reliable old chopper still has lives to save.

"Where's Doctor Brennan?" Liette whines as she turns from Melissa, glancing back over her shoulder, then about faces towards the helicopter, its twin rotors spinning faster and faster as Raith primes the engine up. Walking towards the chopper, the little blonde's eyes settle on the gruff soldier seated in the pilot's seat, headphones covering his ears and microphone angled towards his mouth. From Raith's countenance she focuses on Eileen, letting go of Melissa's hand and moving briskly towards the chopper, her wild blonde hair tossed about in the breeze as she offers a hand up to the dark-haired avian telepath to be helped up inside. Blue eyes aren't watching Eileen though, they're watching Raith, brows furrowed.

Move. Mouth fallen open to ask why and not willing to risk waiting for an answer with the way the kid's scrambling to shut the door, Vincent complies. Adrenaline surges into a fluid collapse of one form of matter into another that sees both himself and Tien flushed in a viper strike of dark vapor halfway up the next flight. It's a leaping false start more than it is true escape, and Lazzaro is quick to square his free hand at the man he's toting around's middle to keep him from falling over or anything else inadvertent when they reappear in a snarl of smoke scarcely a beat later.

"Mines or something," echoed at an undertoned mutter audible to his captive audience under the rattle and bounce of rubber off of metal, he gives Jonas' a look that would do Sam the Eagle proud. Were he present. And sentient. "Run for it," he says after a set of his jaw and a glance aside, "I promise not to do anything unusual with your grandfather." And in a turn of fog, they're gone.

Eileen's gloved hand captures Liette's wrist and, with some difficulty, the Englishwoman hauls the teen — who isn't much smaller than she is — into the helicopter and into one of the seats. She pulls the strap across her chest, fastens the buckle and adjusts it for good measure. It's better for the restraints to be too tight rather than too loose. "Don't worry about Dr. Brennan," she says, casting a glance back over her shoulder to the lip of the roof where a pigeon with a mangled wing and bloodied feathers has come to land, its glossy chest heaving as it trembles with fright, beak parted into what looks like a grimace but isn't really. Birds are limited in the facial expressions that they're capable of making. "He'll look after himself."

With Melissa, Liette, and Rourke having passed her once they reached the roof, Cat is waiting near the doorway and watching to see if anyone else comes along. She knows where the clappers for those claymores are and is hoping not to use them, but she will if need be. Eyes glance over at the aircraft, then back down the stairs to see if any more friendlies approach, and/or hostiles and how close they are behind.

Once all friendlies are clear, whether or not hostiles are close behind, she can use the claymores to prevent pursuit by blowing the stairwell into uselessness.

Even over the roar of the helicopter's engines and rotors, the sounds of explosions remain unmistakable. Raith doesn't bother asking if it became necessary to deter pursuit: Better to detonate them regardless, rather than leaving live ordnance lying around. «If there's anyone not on-board, you need to fix that right now. We are leaving.» Or are almost leaving, at least. «Eileen, how much time do you figure the rest'll need to get out?»

Melissa climbs in after Liette and sits down next to Liette, strapping herself in. She's flown before, enjoyed it, but helicopters? Now that is a whole other story, and the pain manipulator doesn't seem to like this new story. Once she's in though, the pistol is set in her lap and she reaches for Liette's hand. "It'll be okay honey," she says to the girl, smiling in what she hopes is a reassuring manner.

Reflexively trying to lean forward in her buckled seat, Liette furrows her brows and looks over at Raith in the pilot's seat ahead of her, head tilted to the side and one lock of blonde hair tipped over her ear. There's a squint, only in the moment before her memory kicks back in. Immediately Liette's past recollection and present recollection collide back together and there's a weak, keening sound of a cry in the back of her throat.

Sucking in a shuddering breath, the blonde's eyes immediately begin to well with tears, lower lip wobbling as she realize what's just happened. "No…" Liette whimpers looking up to Melissa in the sea beside her, "N— No— D— Doctor Brennan," then immediately Liette's hands are scrabbling for her seat buckles. "You have to let me out! You have to let me out Doctor Brennan's still down there! They just want o take me home! They want to take me to Papa!" Black boots kick against the floorboards and Liette's pale fingers struggle to try and figure out the latching mechanism for the belts. "Let me go! Let me go!"

Stone dust billows up from the doorway to the stairwell, and choking and stumbling thorugh the cloud of clinging debris that has powdered his clothing gray, Jonas comes into view from the stairwell with no sign of Tien with him. Lurching forward, the red-eyed young man's irises shift, down the spectrum of light to blue as he comes towards the side of the helicopter. "Wait!" He screams, arms waving from side to side as he runs, oblivious to the cloud of slithering black smoke blending in with the dust kicked up from the exploded claymores. "Take me with you! Don't leave me!"

"Let me out! Let me go! Let me go I want to be with Pappa!" Liette shrieks, twisting in her seatbelt, matchstick thin legs squirming as she frantically panicks, the compounded situation of both Brennan's disappearance and the words that had been said by the retrievers bringing her to a frenzy.

"Don't leave me behind!" Jonas screams as he runs up closer to the helicopter's side door, "Don't leave me behind!"

«I don't think we can spare more than a minute or two.» Eileen's voice is drowned out by the roar of the rotors. Much the same as she had for Liette, she takes Jonas by the arm and helps him the short distance between the paved roof and the helicopter's interior. Melissa is in charge of Liette; there's not much she can do to calm the girl from where she's standing except to crack the butt of her rifle against the back of her skull, and this is something her father might do.

That's not to say brutality doesn't run in the family, however. «Target their transportation and the mortars. Kill anyone left on the ground who isn't one of ours. Cat, can you handle the machine gun?»

With the last person she knows and believes to be coming now on roof and taken into helicopter, Cat abandons the doorway and heads for the bird herself. «Got it,» she tells Eileen. The door gun is taken in hand when she's aboard, a cursory examination made to figure out the mechanics of it before eyes are trained outward to sight what may remain on the ground as they make airborne departure.

With a quick glance over his shoulder, Raith is satisfied that they are good to go, switching his voice input from the radio to the helicopter's intercom. «Buckle up. Here we go.» Pulling up gently on the collective level and moving the cyclic control forward, the Ka-27 slowly rises from the roof and slides gradually forward, picking up only a little airspeed. Rather than heading for the open water, however- which would, admittedly, be the smart thing- he brings the 'copter around to the not-so-safehouse's street front and carefully shaves off fifteen feet of altitude, rotating the bird on its axis to give Cat a nice 'alley' view of the Institute goons below. There's no doubt that they've spotted the helicopter by now: It's not exactly the most silent thing in the area. But that still leaves their door gunner with several seconds to go wild while her targets get over the initial shock of, 'Where did that come from?!'

Melissa quickly unstraps herself to try to control Liette, to calm her down. "Liette! Honey, listen to me! Those men aren't good men. They came in shooting and setting off explosives. They're not good men. And Brennan will be fine. I promise. We're not going to let them have him. It's just like when we left him at the Den. He'll catch up with us."

"I need you to calm down though, sweetie. Please, calm down. For me? You know I'd never let anything happen to you, right?" she asks in a soothing tone, while she just really wants to strap back into the seat and hold on for dear life. Though she is gripping the seat hard enough that her knuckles turn white.

She doesn't aim to kill any of the Institute men on the ground, but she does fire. Aim is made at those mortars as best she can. Cat hasn't much time in doing so, with the need to evacuate, but she very much intends that batch of equipment will never again be used to disperse the negation gas. Hopefully at the same time anyone detained or about to be detained by the Institute is able to make a clean break as their captors take cover.

With Cat manning the door gun Jonas is free to take her seat, but the bus is full and Cat's job is standing-room only by this point. Jonas' red eyes sweep around the interior of the helicopter, hands cupped over his ears. "Where's the guy in the suit!?" Jonas tries to scream over the noise of the rotors spinning, lips moving and noise coming out by nobody on God's green earth is going to be able to hear a damned thing he says over the sound.

Admittedly it also means that once the chopper gets moving and the freezing wind blowing in thorugh the side door starts swirling around that Liette can't hear Melissa either. All she can do is struggle futily in her seat, tears streaking cold down either side of her cheeks, shoulders heaving and eyes coming shut in a whimpered sob. The young blonde looks up towards the pilot's seat, then over to where Eileen sits in the chair next to him, dark hair blowing around, and finally looks back to Melissa with brows furrowed and lips downturned into a frown. She's stopped struggling… at least for now.

As the helicopter lifts up from the ground, Cat is given the first view of what the situation on the ground looks like. Just two blocks from ground zero, this building is one of the few best standing structures left, even if only the southwest side is still intact. Men dressed in white are scrambling on the ground, scattering in the snow, some trying to get into cover of the building, others trying to train ground-based mortars on the airborne targets. The ping-ping-ping of real live bullets ricocheting off of the side of the helicopter comes with the muzzle flash of automatic weapons from the ground.

Unfortunately for the men from the Institute, intending not to kill someone with a .30 caliber machine gun and not killing someone with the .30 caliber machine gun are totally different things. The minute that gun begins firing, there is no other sound that can be heard other than the mechanical roar of the belt-fed machine gun spitting out rounds, searing hot bras sshell casings raining down like snowflakes from the bottom of the helicopter and every third round is brilliantly a tracer.

Flashes of red in the white snow are unavoidable as men zig and zag through Catherine's field of vision and the rumbling handle of the door gun is more of a beast to handle than she anticipated. Bullets pepper the side of the helicopter again, Liette and Jonas are both screaming but no one can hear them over the crunching growl of that gun's fully-auto fire and the repeated muzzle flash lightning up Catherine's face as she lays fire down on the snow below, demolishing vehicles, equipment and men in a haze of red mist and ice.

Behind the machine gun, Catherine is much more forgiving than Eileen would be. From her vantage point in the co-pilot's seat, she cannot see the other woman taking aim on only the mortars; her view is restricted by the helicopter's windshield, and so what she witnesses does not correlate with Catherine's intentions. As far as she's concerned, her orders are being followed… with less precision than she likes.

«Take us back to Staten,» she's telling their pilot. «Come in low on the west side. We can't chance being spotted by the airfield.»

«Pack it up and shut the door, Cat,» Raith calls over the intercom with a nod to Eileen's statement, «RTB, we are bugging out.» Another two seconds to give Cat's last firing cycle a chance to finish before the nose of the 'copter swings south and west and once again dips down, although more deeply this time, imparting much more significant airspeed. With most of the local structures damaged and some partially demolished, their pilot is clearly more daring than he otherwise might be, since the risk of crashing into things is reduced. But once they have that airspeed, Raith pitches the nose upward and picks up altitude, just enough so the majority of structures are not a concern. «Home free in ten minutes, kiddies. If you have to go to the bathroom, hold it.»

Melissa may not be able to hear the screaming, but she can certainly see the looks on the faces of Jonas and Liette, and she grabs Jonas, pulls him closer to her and Liette, and wraps her arms around them both as well as she can. Yeah, it hurts to move her arm, and she'll probably get yelled at by one of the medical type people she knows, but Mel? She just seems to naturally nuture. And even if they can't hear her, she's saying, "It's okay. It'll all be okay," over and over until the gunshots cease. It's a lie, at least partially, and she knows it. But sometimes people need that lie.

Intent and possibility with such a weapon are indeed two different things, but with live fire coming at them intent changes anyway. Cat rakes any target not perilously close to a Ferry operative with the door gun until advice to cease firing is heard. The roar ends, the safety is set in place, and the door is closed. Eyes then go to checking condition of evacuated persons, including Liette. She thinks to speak about the man she calls Poppa, but refrains. There'll be time later to try convincing her about the wrongness of keeping people in tanks as lab rats against their will.

Right now she replays the whole thing, wondering if anyone on the wrong side of things saw her face.

If they did, they didn't see if long before being sawed in half by the gunfire.

With the M1919 folded into the upright position and the bay door swung shut, the chopping noise of the chopper's rotors drown out the sounds of fear from both Jonas and Liette, and the terror of what has transpired here will likely scar the both of them for a long time to come. Liette's first true exposure to violence came from the very people that had been protecting her on both sides. The Institute firing into crowds of Ferrymen operatives, the Ferrymen firing down onto the Institute, it's how wars are justified: they fired first.

When the helicopter roars over the skeletal hulks of concrete and steel away from Midtown, the captured Ferrymen and slaughtered Institute will be left to count in the days to come, but even as the Remnant's chopper cuts through the snowy night air and towards the glowing, lighted end of Manhattan's island, the wheels of propoganda are already spinning.

Several hundred feet below in the city of New York, a line has been drawn in the ice and in the snow. Soon enough it will serve as a channel for the blood to be spilled, but for now it's an indelible reminder that sides are being carved out.

Both sides will look back on tonight in the future and wonder, if this is when the war started.

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