The Beginning Of The End, Part II


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title The Beginning of the End, Part II
Synopsis The Company faces their greatest challenge yet…
Date August 31, 2010

We founded the Company in 1977…

Beneath the flickering glow of fluorescent lights, the Company Investigations Department is scheduled to gather for its morning meeting. A monthly status report of cases solved, information handled and projects coming down the pipe. Situated at the head of the long conference table, Martin Crowley stirs sugar from packets into his coffee, offering a thankful smile to the peppy, young Liza who begins her morning ritual of bringing caffination around the conference table.

We were special people with unique abilities, banding together with the common goal of protecting each other from a world that did not understand us.

On the far end of the table, agent Albert Rossling folds back a copy of the New York Times, brows furrowed as he reads the headline ALL-INCLUSIVE MANDATORY REGISTRATION HAS ARRIVED with measured uncertainty. As she eases her way around behind Rossling's chair, Liza Messer lays her hands down on the old man's shoulders and gives a squeeze, then turns and sets a coffee down — prepared black as night, just the way he likes it — at his side.

We all came from different backgrounds, different walks of life, but most of us had faced persecution for what we were.

The analogue clock on the wall reads 8:45, another full fifteen minutes before the morning meeting gets underway and only a small portion of the seats around the conference table are filled. Stepping into the doorway to the conference room, agent Bianca Karina rests both her hands on either side of the doorjam and leans into the room, one brow raised and glasses slouching down the bridge of her nose. "Has anyone seen Gael? Grant said he saw him headed down to the lab to pick up a report, I wanted to let him know that the September requisition forms came in."

We have done things we're not proud of to this end. We murdered, brain-washed, lied and cheated to hide the existance of our kind for as long as possible. The world was not yet ready.

Looking up from his notes, Martin lays them down on the table and offers Bianca a lopsided smile. "Na, las' time I saw Gael e' was givin' me the stink-eye for puttin' Harper on the floor." There's a chuckle from down on Rossling's end of the table from that comment and it elicits a crooked smile from the bearded Englishman. "I'll trade y'Gael for a Bob though, he still hasn't come in this mornin' an' I need 'im t'sign off on the closed case files before the end of the day or DHS will be sideways up m'bloody ass."

We were not ready for the world…

"Sorry," Bianca says with a soft exhalation of the words, slowly walking in from the doorway, hands folding behind her back. "I think I heard that Bob and Elle had an argument yesterday, he might be coming in late. Dalton should be here somewhere, I'll flag her down a little later for you to sign everything over." Seeing no sense in leaving now that she's already here, Bianca moves to stand behind her chair, arms crossing as she leans forward and rests her weight against the back of the chair. "How is everybody this mornin'?"

… and nothing has changed.

Despite her announcement at the last meeting such as this that she was going to be quitting soon, Allison looks fairly…calm and not at all bitter as she enters the conference room and moves to find herself a seat. She settles into it, nodding to a few of the other agents before she leans back, forgoing the cup of coffee that the others are enjoying. Instead her hands clasp together over her stomach and she seems prepared to simply patiently wait for the start of the meeting.

"Anyone know if harpers out of the gulag yet?" This from perky mc perkyson, who's happily liberating her coffee from Liza with a big grin and a one armed hug - coffee is in the other hand as she swings in the door in white heels and lavander suit. Hair impeccably pinned up in such a way as to be messy chic. "I miss his bluetooth and him talking to himself" Flora sighs, in such a way as you might not know whether she's serious or kidding. The cup tips back, testing the warmth and then smacking her shell pink lips. "Faaaaabulous breakfast Little liza jane, please tell me you have cruellers somewhere? pretty please?"

It is early. Fifteen minutes early. Lashirah Lee is often on time. Maybe five minutes early if she has a presentation prepared. Yet she crosses the door's threshold, a certain change to her demeanor. It isn't confidence, per se. But there's an economy of motion, a certain look to her eyes. The look of someone who didn't sleep much, even by her standards, last night. Someone troubled, not by a dream, but by a lack of one. In one hand is a slushino, in the other hand is her laptop. She takes a seat on the far side of the table from the door, and settles in, taking a cup of coffee as they are passed around. Lash only rarely turns down caffeine.

Rain makes his way into the conference room as well, peppy, awake, and up beat considering the time of morning. He has a coffee already in hand, espresso actually, and is sipping idly from it as he listens to messages on his phone, deleting unimportant ones and such what.

He strolls into the conference room, closing his 'berry up and dropping it into his pants pocket. He tips his head and coffee cup to everyone present before he moves to pull himself out a seat, then slips down into it with a lazy flop, legs crossing at the ankles and his espresso is deposited on the table top, the young agent leaning back to stretch out in his chair.

"Tired," Corbin says from his seat at the table, his head actually down against the table as if he's trying to get rid of a headache, or get a few extra minutes out of the day in a half-nap while he can. They have some time, so surely no one will mind if he spends them with his head on top of a folder of paper work. "Anyone want to put a bet on how many bodies Lash'll have to look at this coming month? Closest person who doesn't go over could win the pot." They haven't ever done this before, but the longer the year gets, the more he seems like himself, and less like the man he became after Hokuto's chair became perpetually empty. Like it still is.

Sitting in his normal spot around the table, Assistant-Director Benjamin Ryans sits quietly, brows furrowed thoughtfully. It's been an already rough day for the older man. His ever present fedora sets perched on the table, his blue eyes focused on it.

His legs are crossed, ankle resting on his knee, the foot bounces slowly… up and down to a rhythm only known to him. His suit is a lighter gray today with a dark blue shirt underneath. Even though he's very tired, being unable to sleep last night, the coffee isn't touched. Not that's he's rude about it, Liza gets a softly spoken thank you.

Lashirah's entrance gets a nod, Ryans eyes focusing on the world in front of him finally. His attention is on Bianca, but he avoids the question of how he's doing, "Probably, just something came up. Sure he's floating around the place." Shoulder straighten a bit, his gaze searching those present, it's hard to know what he's thinking. Corbin's comment however, gets a small flicker of a smile. Eyes move to the lab tech, "You have a guess there, Lashirah?" If anyone would have an idea of the body count coming it, it would be her.

Hair a little damp from her post five-mile-run shower, Veronica enters the conference room looking somber; dark circles suggest a lack of sleep. Having worked late the night before, she spent the night on a lounge sofa — not sleeping, thanks to a hundred indecisions keeping her awake, making her vacillate between staying for this meeting and fleeing the country or going underground.

The fear she has for the future makes it impossible for her to follow good advice. Though she's trembling inside, Roger Goodman's words have strengthened her resolve to try to change the ominous future he painted for her.

She follows in on Corbin's heels, only sorry she hasn't had a chance to warn him or Ryans of what's to come… it would only endanger them, and it would look strange for her to stay knowing what she does.

Never has she felt so alone as she does now, sinking into a corner chair, and giving a reticent nod of greeting.

"Harper's back from Russia," Martin notes with one brow lifted, "I saw him here yesterday talkin' t'Gael, probably about that executive order on April Silver. He's a weasely bastard, it ain't no surprise that whatever was detaining him in Russia couldn't keep 'im for long." Crowley's eyes flick over towards Veronica once he notices her settling in. "You look like hell, Sawyer.""

"No crullers today, Flora. Sorry," and the way Liza manages to say sorry is as though she'd just kicked Flora's puppy, a lip-wobbling big-eyed expression of apology. Flora offers a snorted laugh to the expression and a crooked smile, sitting forward and pushing her chair out with her legs.

"Okay!" Flora exclaims with a chipper tone of voice, rising up from her chair and, "I'm going to take my coffee and make a quick run up to dispatch and file my communication logs, I'll be back down before we get started. Marty's always a little late on the beginning of the meetings anyway," the blonde illusionist adds with a smile, "it's like these meetings are cursed to start late or something."

Tongue-in-cheek commentary aside, Flora's peppy click of heels and brow-waggle to Liza has her hustling with a folder under one arm towards the conference room door, even as Martin offers her a look over the frames of his glasses and settles in to move his notes aside. "Alright," the executive of the investigations department begins, "we're… still a bit short've people, but I just wanted you all t'know that this month's work in the investigations department was our most productive month all bloody year. I think we're finally getting inta' the swing of things."

Looking down at his files, Martin lifts up a hand and rubs his forefingers and palm over his brow. "Unfortunately, I haven't received our three-month review from DHS yet, which means wether or not we actually impressed federal brass is another matter entirely. So far, though, so good."

Heels clicking down the hall come louder when agent Gracie Lee comes walking in from the outside, offering an uncharacteristically welcoming smile as she makes her way over to the empty seat beside Allison, settling down in and smiling warmly to the therapist. "Morning," Gracie offers along with a soundly approving look, it seems that persistence on getting Allison to stay here at Fort Hero may have paid off. Gracie doesn't have many friends in the Company, and Allison is about as close as it gets.

Gracie may be pleased, but the welcome Allison gets from her just has the therapist looking a little surprised. But she recovers quickly and returns the smile. "Morning," she says with a nod. Then she's glancing curiously to Martin, but falling silent.

Lashirah chuckles a little upon hearing of Harper's return. A private joke she doesn't share. She gives a tired smile as she slips at her super-charged slushie. Then she stands up long enough to take off her lab coat and drape it over the back of the chair, apparently finding it too warm or too restrictive of movement even as she settles back in and watches the door with a bored expression that doesn't reach her very alert eyes.

Rain remains lounging in his chair as Martin begins to speak, the young man's head turning, and eyes coming to settle on the man. He lifts his hands up, lacing his fingers together behind his head, his eyes focused though, alert and attentive as the meeting begins. A faint smile tugs at his lips before he breaks his hands apart to pick up his cup and take a slow sip of the hazelnut especresso within. The cup is held in his hand, heat bleeding into his flesh, warming it.

All talk of possible body-betting seems to have fallen aside, and Corbin puts his head back down for a moment on his arm, before taking in a deep breath (like trying to breathe in all the caffeine in the air that he's not drinking) and then looking back up at the boss, and then over at Sawyer— who looks a little like he feels half the time. "Do we get a pizza party for having a productive month?"

Eyes cut over to Martin at the mention of Russia and Harper, it's a good thing he's able to school his face. Brows lift ever so slightly, "Russia? That is one of the things I miss." He admits softly, "Assignments taking you to other countries." The words are flat, with no real inflection.

"I think the only place I have not been is anything fun.. or tropical." A small smile touches his lips, glancing over to Martin. "Tends to be either cold, rainy… a third world country… or in the middle of a war."

The older agent quiets for a moment, "I am pleased to hear about the increase in productivity. I'd say your little idea works pretty well, Crowley." A grin is flashed to Corbin, a soft chuckle escaping him. Call it his need for something that isn't life threatening, or . "Why not." His tone turning lightly amused. "Friday, I'll buy pizza's for the department." He gives each person a pointed looks. "Make sure requests need to be in my office by Thursday, or you all will have to deal with what I get."

Pineapple and Ham… not that they need to know that. Ryans will just surprise the lot of them.

Brows knitting together at the mention of Silver, Veronica stacks her files together, making the already neat stack even neater and straighter for something to do while they wait and while Martin buys them time by giving them his version of a pep talk — which, for anyone worried about keeping their job and keeping the Company afloat, is rather a shoddy pep talk, all things considered.

When Crowley addresses her, she lifts her weary eyes and tilts her head at him. "And you need a haircut. Tell me something I don't know."

Martin looks hurt — or at least he is feigning it very sincerely — lifting one hand to twirl a finger around a curly lock of shoulder-length brown hair. "I'll 'ave you know that ladies love m'looks."

Cracking a smile at something entirely less sad than Martin's hair, Liza offers a look over to Corbin and offers her answer of, "You know if Ryans didn't offer to be awesome we were probably gonna' have to resort to eating rubber cafeteria pizza or have Lashirah fry them up on a bunsen burner, 'cause I dunno any place that delivers in thirty minutes or less to Concrete Bunker, Long Island." There's a bubbling laugh that slips from the tiny blonde as she moves down to settle into her seat beside Rossling at that comment.

"Nine," Bianca suddenly interjects unrelatedly and belatedly, "corpses, I mean." Pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose, the brunette agent looks back and forth between Lashirah and Corbin. "I think she'll look at nine bodies, that seems like the safe estimate, anyway."

Looking up at the clock, six minutes left until meeting time, Martin closes his folders and moves his paperwork aside, then goes through the motions of booting up the computer that is interconnected to the displays on the desk. "Rossling," Martin asks off-handedly, "did you ever file that report on the field work of agent Deckard when— "

The entire building shakes.

In that instant the lights go out in the conference room, dust and plaster settle from the ceiling to clatter down on the conference table. Reverberating thorugh the concrete, the bass-beat of that distant explosion carries for nearly thirty full seconds. When the red emergency lighting snaps on and floods the conference room with crimson illumination, the flash of emergency alert lights by the door and the wail of an alert klaxon that croaks through the halls and into the room.

When those lights come back on, Martin Crowley is already up and out of his seat and holding a gun, his thumb sliding over the safety to disengage it. "Oh God, oh God… what th' bloody hell was— " Another loud noise rumbles inside of the concrete facility, a loud bang and a reverberation that carries down the corridors, sounding very much like explosions.

Back stiff, eyes wide and lips parted Martin turns sharply to look at Bianca who is rising from her seat and then to Ryans. "Benjamin," Crowley urges sharply, "Benjamin it— we need to go." Looking suddenly understanding of what is going on, confusion bristles thorugh the rest of the room as Rossling and Liza jolt up from their seats and Bianca is going for her gun as well.

"Crowley, what the hell is— " Bianca is cut off by an almost identical question from Rossling.

"What's going on?" Given that Crowley seems to be aware of what's happening, Rossling's query is directly addressed to the former assistant director. Crowley, to his credit, just creeps to the office door and hunches his shoulders forward nervously.

"We're under bloody attack. I— I don't know, but the Klaxons!" Shouting over their noise, Martin looks back into the conference room. "Director Dalton told me that if this alarm was ever triggered, I had emergency responsibility t'get the entire investigations department up t'the Laboratory Level. Each department head has evacuation orders in the instance tha' bloody alarm goes off," and Martin points ot the ceiling with his gun.

"A'need all'a you who're here t'follow me to the lab floor. M'not sure what's goin' on, but Sabra was explicitely clear. We go when the alarm sounds, if it ever sounded an' we don't bloody well look back." Staring slack-jawed and wide eyed, Liza actually drops her coffee to the floor with a splash, terrified of the ramifications of what she's listening to.

"We're under attack?!" Comes the incredulous shout from Bianca, "What do you mean we're under attack, we're the Company!"

"I'm betting on ten," Allison says in response to Bianca's guess. Just before she freezes at the shaking, her gaze flicking up towards the now useless lights. Then she's pushing her seat back and rising like the others, before she, too, is going for her gun. Then Bianca's shouting has a look of pure agreement crossing her face. "Who would dare to attack us? And here?" she asks, brow furrowing as her eyes slide towards the door, as though expecting an enemy to walk through it at any second.

Lashirah frowns at what Martin says as she pulls her laptop back into it's bag, which she slings over one shoulder, her sidearm coming out of it's holster as she stands up and heads towards the door, going around the table by Ryans, slowing down to whisper something to him under the klaxons.

Rain arches a brow at Allison's statement. He himself doesn't seem all that shaken, but then, he usually isn't. The kid tends to take most things in stride. He calmly slides up to his feet, coffee still in hand, but he doesn't reach for any weapons, just sips his coffee as he takes a look about. "Yes, because we've /'never/ been attacked in one of our own facilities before." he glances over to Allison with a soft smile of amusement, then looks to Martin, and finally to Ryans. "Sir?" he asks the man, waiting for orders on where to go and what to do.

Amusement is nothing like the expression on Corbin's face when the joking and betting is broken by— explosions. Corbin hadn't been in the Bronx building when it was attacked, but he'd been there when Paulson and Ichihara launched their little attack on the building. It hadn't come with explosions like that. Ones that he felt in his teeth. It certainly woke him up. The first thing he thinks of isn't escape, it's the archives. But that's on the way to the lab level, so he quickly adjusts his ruffled clothes and checks— crap.

Why does he always always forget to bring his gun when it's needed.

"Anyone have a spare firearm?" the archivist asks sheepishly, as he moves to follow. His fists won't do much good either in this case. But he can throw paper work at them.

Much like Crowley, Benjamin Ryans is on his feet, his gun in his hands. His eyes meet Martin's for a moment, he knows, a chill runs through him. It's His hand is in his pocket already, pulling his blackberry out, in an attempt to get something punched into it. A single word: Rebel. Just enough to alert the entity to the plan set in place to alert his daughters to go for cover and to warn Bennet of possible incoming.

"Follow Martin." The Assistant-Director calls out over the sound of the alarms. "I'll hang back and cover our rear." He wants to say it… who he believes it may be. After all his experiences, the stuff hardly any of them have seen in the path months. He feels he knows what it is. "And keep this in mind…" He pulls his other firearm and holds it out to Corbin, eyes on the younger man, "If they are wearing suits… aim for the face plates, for the eyes."

She'd been warned they were coming — but she hadn't expected for them to attack. What had she expected? A friendly meeting? A changing of the guard? Pink slips and RIF notices? Not explosions.

"Fuck," Veronica breathes out, jumping to her feet and pulling her own gun. She picks up her files — some of the cases she never archived because she knew she wouldn't get access again, and shoves them at Corbin at the same time Ryans hands the other of their circle of trust his extra firearm. He can keep a few more files out of their hands.

"And people died the last time our facility got attacked, so you might wanna dump the coffee and move your ass a bit quicker," Veronica snaps at Rain, pushing him forward into the hallway, then reaching to herd Liza out as well, clearly trying to get the "kids" to safety first.

No Signal

Every single mobile device in the building has lost signal strength. Fort Hero may be hundreds of feet underground, but signal boosters and relays allow Blackberries and mobile devices of all kinds to function in the concrete block bunker. Suddenly, however, no one is going to be text messaging, calling for help, or communicating out of the facility.

The building's communications have been locked down.

Out in the hall behind Veronica and Rain, Martin takes a few steps through the doorway, watching down the other way from where Rain can easily throw up a forcefield, Company-issue .45 held out in both hands. "Benjamin, Dalton's orders on this were to evac to th' lab floor. We need t'head down to the A-Wing stairwell, it's the fastest route. It'll take us directly to th'— Flora!"

Shouting at the top of his lungs, Martin calls out to the sight of a blonde running down the corridor as fast as she can, her heels missing, stocking-clad feet slapping against polished concrete floors as she runs for dear life from something, coffee gone, paperwork gone.

Ducking back inside the door to use as cover, Martin feels Rossling push out the gap beside him, firearm leveled down the hall and past Flora. DIstant popping sounds fill the air, too far away to be on the same level, but the staccato rhythm of automatic gunfire is unmistakable. It makes Rossling's face turn pale, makes him flash a look to Liza, then over to Corbin with a frown.

"Here," the voice comes from Gracie, not Rossling, as the redheaded agent hikes up her shark-gray skirt, revealing a small 9-milimeter pistol holstered on her thigh, offering it out to Corbin before pushing her skirt back down and kicking off her heels, withdrawing her standard-issue .45 from inside of her jacket.

From out of Corbin's periphery, a woman in a carnation red business suit is sitting on the edge of the desk back in the office. Hokuto Ichihara's psychic phantom haunts the back of Corbin's mind again. One brow raised, the gold-eyed woman watches him nervously. "I'll be your second pair of eyes," she offers with a confident tone of voice, sliding down to step barefoot onto the concrete floor, pinstriped slacks having cuffs rolled up to her ankles. "We'll get out of whatever this is together."

The look Allison gives Rain isn't amused. It's the complete opposite of amused. And, perhaps, the immediate stress of the attack has caused her to lose control, maybe she's just tired of other Company agents, because eyes gleam silver as she tells him, "If you're going to be like an ass, bray like an ass." Unfortunately, it does have her ability behind it, so she's expecting donkey sounds shortly.

Once the words are out of her mouth though, she's moving quickly after the others, pausing when she hears gunfire. "Well hell," she mumbles, remaining near the others at the doorway, glancing to Martin with an arched brow. "Let me guess. The gunshots are coming from where we need to go?"

Lashirah moves with a serenity that just isn't natrual in the situation, a calm that shouldn't be possible as she shouts. "People, partner up, watch eachother's backs, and let's MOVE." She pauses and looks at Corbin a moment. "Corbin, is there a protocol for destroying the archives if need be? If so, now might be a good time to remember if there's a way to trigger it on the way past." She starts for the stairs, heedless of most of the other concerns one might have.

Except one thing. She flips the safety of her side arm off, and hums a tune. Ryans, hopefully, would be amused by the refrain to "Back in the USSR" being hummed under the sound of klaxons and alarms.

Rain turns his head, eyes darting over to Ryans. "I can cover our rear better than anyone sir. Unless you want me at the front. But I'll block progress forwards, I won't block anyone if I cover the rear." Rain, offering to rearguard. The young man reaches into his pants pocket, not for a weapon, or his black berry, but for a stick of gum. he pulls out a pack and pops a piece of spearmint gum into his mouth, chewing slowly, the wrapper, and the pack, tucked back into his pocket. He blinks as Veronica pushes him along, but no, he keeps hold of his coffee. "I have no gun, nor tazer. I don't carry fire arms unless ordered to on a mission. All I have is my power right now. No need to drop the coffee." Is Rain scared? Certainly, but he can handle his fear. "I will hold the rear of the group. If bullets start flying I can hold them for a very long time while you guys get to safety…" he looks to Veronica, then to Ryans. despite his youth, he is an agent, and he knows that if he rear guards he might not make it out of the facility. But if it purchases the lives of everyone else, he's willing to do it.

Rain's head turns and a consternated expression crosses his features. "Bray?" he asks, the word apparently not one that Rain recognizes. (Mostly because I don't and have no clue what it means.) The man has a flash of pain across his features as he simply can't obey the command he's given, after the pain clears from that bit of a mind implosion he scowls at Allison. "Not my fault you don't know how to state yourself." He steps out into the hall though, and immediately moves towards Flora, no concern for his own safety. He runs headlong down the hall in her direction, and the moment she is passed him, there will be a nice watery looking barrier popping up in the hallway, blocking most if not all of it off from any sort of gun toting psychos that may be following her.

With all these files, Corbin does the only thing that he can think of to carry paperwork and run with a gun at the same time. He folds the folders over and shoves it down in his pants, held in place by the belt. Not sanitary, but it keeps his hands free. And he wishes they could stop into his office on the way so he could pull a bullet proof vest on.

"Thanks," he says to thin air as he checks the weapon over, to make sure the safety is off and there's bullets ready to fire at whatever might come at them. "Really wishing there had been a date— and really wishing I would have decided to tell her yesterday." Cause what if he never gets the chance? What if it was his grave? What if he just found some way to travel along with Hokuto, instead of passing on. Like she did.

Better not to think that much on this, if he can.

But he can't help it. As everyone talks about positions, and he talks to himself (or so it would seem), he almost doesn't notice that he was directly addressed. "Oh— if that alarm's going off, I'm sure the archives are taken care of." Even if he wants to make sure, personally, the important part now… is getting out.

"Dammit." Ryans hisses softly, at this point he can hope that Rebel will notice the lack of communications. The entity has been pretty privy to things since the two started working together. The phone is pocketed, his fedora is snatched up and shoved on his head, as he hurries through everyone. "They cut off our communications." He offers with a growl. "I don't think they plan to let most of us out alive. Move." It's probably the first time most of them have had anything but calm from the old man.

Not now… He's pissed and it shows. He motions Crowley to lead the way. "Go, Crowley." He grabs the man's shoulder and turns him towards the door. "No time for explanations, lead them damn it. I'll have your back." He growls, before stepping out of the door with Rossling, gun sweeping the opposite way as the other older man.

"Rain." He snaps out the name. "You take lead with…" Of course, Rain is suddenly off doing his own thing. There is a sigh, but he moves on. "Alright, Martin, I'm with you. Lashirah… with me. Someone stick to the kid." There is a jerk of his head towards Rain. Ryans is nervous, that he's at least not showing. How do they go up against, what he's been up against lately. He glances back at the group, two fingers pointing at his face. "Remember.. .The eyes ladies and gentlemen. Head shots if not wearing suits. We will more then likely be out manned. Take every advantage."

That said, Ryans grabs Martin by the shoulder and pulls in the direction indicated. Time to go.

"Flora, can you … make an illusion of some sort, make them think we're gone, that the place is deserted, something, send the monster and the monkey porcupines around to buy us time, I don't know, but do it fast, and keep running," Sawyer says, moving toward the back of the group, gun raised. If they want her, they won't kill her, right? And she can pretend she doesn't know who they are — long enough to maybe do some damage and buy the rest of them time.

"The rest of you go ahead, and I'll catch up. Rain, go with the group and put up barriers behind you, that's a good idea — I'll just be on the other side of them." Goodman's words of her playing the hero echo in her head. She can try to buy them time — her job as a Company is about to end, but she can do this one last task.

She turns to look at Ryans, shaking her head. "You have kids. Go."

Flora's adept at running in her pantyhose, a female necessity at times it seems. Gun out, she throws a hand up behind her, as if flicking away something nasty and disliked. "Way ahead of your sawyer" In truth, she's tossing up an illusion she's so good at doing. Seen by anyone who might pursue behind her and she wheels around the corner, bringing up the rear of the group. It's unseen by their group, but they know her well enough to know. Another thought, and the requested porcup-onkies and two Montauk Monsters are seen appearing, milling about the hall.

"Dead agents in the elevator, two, casing at their feet, guns out. One of the is Garten. Gunfire one floor up at minimum. Not safe back that way" The blonde hollers. "They'll see empty hallway and the beasts till they break through" or till she gets out of range. Her perfectly messed hair is now just messed.

Dragged ahead by Ryans, Martin shakes free of the grip and offers a brow-furrowed stare up at the assistant-director before wagging his gun in the direction of the hall up ahead, striding that way quickly. "We'll head to the A-Wing stairs and head down, now that the power's out an' we're runnin' on reserves the elevators'll be off." Running down the hall with Ryans, Martin offers a look back over his shoulder, then a look back up to Benjamin. "You need t'trust me when we get t'the labs. I know it ain't gon' be easy… you'll see why soon 'nough."

Back behind Martin and Benjamin's vanguard of the group, Liza Messer looks shaken, but keep mumbling procedural mantra under her breath. At her side, Albert Rossling has one arm around her, the other holding his gun out and down towards the floor, sweat beading on his brow as he strides along at Ryans' heel.

Gracie waits until Flora catches up, then watches Veronica moving to take up the read beyond Rain's shield, narrowing her eyes in worry before offering a curt nod to the brunette. "C'mon," Gracie urges to Allison, starting to break into a run behind the others, gun held down in a double-handed grip at her side. Grant, please be okay.

Seattle, Washington

Ross Dam Facility

Deep, panting breaths acompany fast movement. The distant sound of gunfire echoes thorugh the white-painted halls, and three agents move swiftly down the corridor, their dark suits silhouette against the wall of windows viewing the cascading waterfall running over the Ross dam. Turning back down the hall, the man in the lead is iconic in appearance: An inl black suit, white shirt and blue tie, chalk white hair and pitch black brows. Director Balfour casts a furtive look back to the two Company agents following him, one young man fresh out of training, blood dried on the side of his face that isn't his own, and a woman just a couple years his senior, black hair showing a streak of blonde in her bangs.

"Agent Dunlap," Balfour notes as he moves to look out the windows viewing the dam, spying the black helicopter that landed in the parking lot. "I'll need you and Kirkland to go ahead towards the rendezvous point…" Balfour's eyes narrow as he watches men in black fatigues with goggles and helmets fanning out from the helicopter, guns raised. "I have an agent waiting— "

The sound of a close gunshot has Balfour nearly leaping out of his skin, turning around and leveling his gun towards an open space where agent Kirkland was once standing. Disbelief crosses Balfour's face as he sees the young man dead on his back, blood pooling out beneath himself and oen eye bloodshot from the blast at point-blank range to his temple.

Lifting his gun towards Agent Dunlap a moment too late, Balfour hears three shar gunshots fire in rapid succession, sending him staggering back against the tall windows, blood running down the panes at his back. His gun, heavy now, falls from his fingers before knees buckle and Balfour slides down the window, looking up to the black-haired young woman training him in her sights.

"Donna," Balfour hisses in disbelief, but Donna's brows only furrow, eyes narrow.

"You were going to let that Mendez painting come true," she hisses at him, stepping through the blood on the floor, one finger brushing over the handgun's trigger. "Lemay offered me a better chance than you could of circumventing it. I'm sorry, Sir."

Lowering her .45, Donna instead reaches for the taser clipped to her belt, and Balfour's expression changes from resignation to confusion. "They didn't want you dead," is all she can offer in explanation, before the snap of taser fire drives into Balfour's chest and has him wracking on the floor with a scream, electricity popping down the tether lines.

"You're going to pay for what the Company did to me," the young brunette intones with a glowering countenance, continuing to send electricity snapping through his body from the taser. "How's it feel?"

Long Island, New York

Fort Hero

Reaching the end of the hall and having turned right down the corridor, Benjamin Ryans and Martin Crowley approach the A-Level stairwell, though the moment Crowley comes into view from the stairs, there's a shout from down below and a crack of automatic gunfire. Martin staggers back and ducks out of the way, bullets peppering the concrete ceiling with a shattering sound. "Fuck! How'd— they're already bloody ahead of us!?"

From the bottom of the stairwell a shout comes up, "Department of Homeland Security! You are under arrest! Lay down your weapons or we will use lethal force!" This is an absolute cluster fuck. Martin scrambles away from the stairs, looking back to Ryans. "We can go through th' medical wing an' down through there into the labs!" Boots are clomping towards the stairs behind Crowley. Turned around like they are, Rain and Veronica are suddenly at the fore of the group.

Grimacing, Allison nods to Gracie and moves to follow the others, her gun held out and down by her side, her eyes remaining that spooky silver, even though she's not speaking. Her brows lift, however, when she hears the yell from the stairwell. "Department of…What the hell's going on?" she demands of no one in particular as she changes course to head for the medical wing. Maybe she's speaking to Martin, maybe to Ryans, maybe to anyone in the group who has an answer to her question.

One thing is for sure. This is not how she expected her employment with the Company to end, with gunfire and potential arrest.

Lashirah shouts out. "Down the stairs in the back of the medical bay! Should be a cabinet down there labeled 'In Case of Zombies'.. If you get there first, break it open and enjoy the toys!" Lashirah's supernatrual calm hasn't ended. She looks at Ryans. "Back to the Good old days of being just the Company, hmm?" She states softly. She pauses softly. "… I hope I'll see it." The last words are to herself, barely hearable, as she calmly walks, pistol ready, two hands holding firm to the grip, as she covers Ryan's movements with an efficency born of practice, and a calm born of a mix of certainty, and maybe, a faint glimmer of hope.

Rain nods to Veronica, and he turns, letting his shield drop. He can't move with it, at least not yet. It's something he's practicing, but not something he's managed to do yet. "I'll stick with you then, and I'll bring up barriers if they're needed." Yes, he's insisting to be part of the rear guard. He moves along at the rear of the group with everyone else. A sad sigh escapes his lips when he hears the Homeland security thing get shouted out, and then the group is reversing direction and he finds himself in the lead with Veronica. "Operate in secret, be dealt with in secret. What a fucking irony…" Yeah, he used the F word, probably the only time another agent has heard him use it either, or even swear for that matter. He moves along, jaw clenched as he makes ready with the barrier, concentration on a hairline trigger. "What are we going to do?" He asks in a soft whisper.

Rain, at this moment, regrets not having a fire arm, not that he says anything about it, but it would be slightly reassuring to have it in his hand, even if he probably wouldn't use it. His footsteps are fast and confident as he moves with Veronica towards…wherever it is they're going.

Surrounded by friends, some dead, some alive, Corbin can't help from grimace at the voice of the people attacking. Not 'terrorists' or 'gang members'. But the people they were supposed to be working side by side with. "Pizza party has been replaced by death-party, apparently. If I survive this, I quit," he says quietly, making his statement known, as he hurries along. Headshots aren't his thing, shooting people at all aren't his thing. But…

"For our most productive month, they're certainly pulling out all the stops. Good job, people. We did so good, they want to arrest us or use deadly force." And what did they do to deserve it? Well— honestly. What didn't they do? He has a serial killer hanging out over his shoulder and watching his back, for one. Forward to the med-bay.

The Assistant-Director ducks back as well with a hiss of irritation, "I've got a few guesses." He says to Martin, a sideways glance going to Lashirah. What he wouldn't do to have teleporters at their disposal. He shoves the door shut and holds it there while looking back at the group. "You heard the man." He snaps.

Allison's question, gets a shake of Ryans' head and he starts down the opposite way. "Short version, Allison. Our usefulness just ran out and the government has come to collect." His hand clasps Lashirah's shoulder in passing, it's a reassuring gesture. He plans for them to get out. "I almost consider it a compliment." He adds to Corbin's own comments, though there is no humor in his words.

As Ryans hurries back down the way they came, he calls. The man's voice has carrying power, "Rain! Barrier behind us." He motions back the way the group was suppose to go.

Veronica finds herself leading the stampede through the halls toward the medical bay, no idea what the hell lies in front of them — so much for being the sacrificial lamb. She grabs her firearm and her taser, the first in her right and the latter in her left. When the medical bay's doors come into view, she peers through the windows, to see if there's anyone lying in wait, before kicking the door open and sweeping the room, hoping that there's no surprises.

The upside is that around them, all anyone else will see is hallways devoid of people, save for porcupine monkey's and Montauk beasts gallivanting around and making noise, maybe even making a mess or two on the floor. Courtesy of the not Perky flora who's loping through the hall with the others.

Confused and scared medical technicians are hunched down behind their desks in the medical wing, white-dressed nurses and surgeons that work on call for the Company, level zero security clearance operating strictly on a need-to-know basis, the most comparable thing to innocence in the Company's holding. When Veronica comes in and sweeps the room, one of them slowly rises up from behind his desk, raising gloved hands. "A- Agent Sawyer, what's going on?" The other four slowly rise up when talking — not shooting — happens.

However, at the back of the group where Ryans and Martin are now unexpectedly taking up the rear, they can finally see the faces of their enemies coming up the stairs. Black clad in SWAT gear, helmets, goggles and flack jackets, they are not Institute but DHS. Neither of those facts stop Martin Crowley from firing on them. The first man up the stairs takes a shot to the chest, going backwards into the man behind him and taking him down the stairs with him.

Crowley starts to back up, even as Rossling pushes Liza behind himself and fires past Crowley towards another DHS anti-terror task force operative coming up the stairs. There's a puff of red from Rossling's shot when the gunman's head jerks back and he disappears down the stairs and out of sight. "This won't hold for long!" Rossling shouts, mere moments before a hissing sound comes from the base of the stairs and a tear gas canister comes flying up toe steps, clattering ont he ground and spinning wildly, spewing gray smoke.

"Behind me!" Rossling shouts as a wind builds up inside of the hall, blowing his jacket open and sending the smoke back down the stairs. It's a localized air control, requiring considerable focus on the old man's part.

"Albert!" Liza screams as Rossling steps to the front of the group, keeping the smoke back while Martin breaks back towards where Veronica had headed, not far behind Ryans.

"Rossling, c'mon!" Crowley shouts back to the atmokinetic, but the white haired old man keeps one hand held out, churning the smoke down the stairs to keep it from flooding the upstairs corridor. Some choking and gagging echoes from the stairwell, mixed with sounds of pain from the men who had been shot.

Watching the smoke, Gracie exhales a shuddering breath and hurries back into the medical bay with Allison at her side. "The stairs are this way," the redhead explains, hurrying past the confused medical workers towards a rear stair access, only to hear an explosion of gunfire from that direction too. The noise of automatic weapons is fearsome when echoing in a confined space and the stairs at the back of the medical bay's rows of cots, gurneys and curtained off recovery spaces is no exception.

Screams join the gunfire, but also a familiar voice. "S— Sawyer, is that you!?" Grant Fitzpatrick's voice calls up the stairs from down in the forensics labs, eliciting a hitch of Gracie's breath and a shout as she rushes towards the stairs as he calls out for, "A— a little help down here!"

At the back of the group, Rossling starts to turn from the smoke, contented with the way he's managed to bottleneck it at the base of the stairs, thick and choking. There's a noise though, from beyond the smoke, one that once Ryans hears he knows what it means.



Striding through the smoke, dressed in white plastic chemical suits, black visored respirator masks covering their faces, Retrievers of the Institute are the last thing that should be here in Fort Hero. The MP5 submachine guns they carry are primed with a click of the slide as they emerge through the smoke, and Rossling's eyes grow wide as he watches them approaching. «Targets in A-Wing Stairwell,» one crackles over his external speaker, «hostile. Neutralizing.»

When their own little group starts firing, it has Allison starting, just a little, until she spots the armed men behind them. "Dammit," she mutters, before she turns away to follow along with Gracie, moving to help Grant and just put as much distance as possible between her and the men Rossling is dealing with.

She gives a quick, worried look to Gracie. "There's too many of them. I can't stop them all," she says, tone apologetic, and her knowledge of the smoke behind them nonexistant. But at least she can follow the plan, go to the supposed safe spot of Martin's, hopefully with at least Gracie in tow.

Lashirah shouts. "Everyone in, go go go!" Even as she takes the marginal cover of a doorframe as she does quick aimed shots, going for the faces. What I would give for my bag of tricks right now… Shot, shot, retreat towards the next bit of cover, covering Ryans the whole way. She doesn't leave her partner in this behind. It's to him, she makes one sly little quip. "Wishing we were back in the USSR, boys?"

Rain is on it, the moment Ryans says to the back, he switches, falling back behind the group, walking backwards at a quick pace to try to keep up, watching alertly for people following them. If they do, they'll be sorely disappointed, and unless they're packing a car or a tank or something similarly huge, they won't be getting through his barrier any time soon.

"If gunfire starts… you guys go. I'll catch up if I can, but I wouldn't bank on being able to get out of there. With any luck they'll bounce back and kill them but…" His shoulders shrug, and his shoes keep scuffing along as he walks with the group, or rather, at the rear of the group. Then there's a gas canister, and finally the guys in suits. Rain's face falls, and his eyes close for a moment before he simply steps behind every one in the group, and his hands lift, a barrier springing into existence in front of him. He swallows hard, but doesn't look back at the rest of the Company Agents, his eyes on the other side of the barrier and the men in suits.

"Shit — " Ryans skids to a halt when he hears that familiar sound, turning to look behind him. Seeing Rossling still standing there he shouts, "Albert run!" The formalities of last names are dropped, for the fear that Ryans is feeling. Even as Rain hurries forward, Ryans is lifting his gun to prepare to fire into the Homeland and Institute agents, if need be. He's aiming for the head of course.

"Do your best son," Is murmured as the kid passes him, Ryans hates what they are going to have to do. Once the barrier is in place, the assistant-director turns and runs. A part of him wonders about the others else where. Old friends and allies… young kids still fresh in train… and Sabra. He can only hope they get out.

"It's not gonna matter if that's what I think it is. Kid, if you rely on your ability, you're going to die," Corbin says to Rain, now knowing that it won't matter if they get their hands on a gas mask, or hold their breath. Thanks to a certain someone who he tried to warn about this very thing. He fires his gun a few times when he has to, but it's not his favorite job— right now he has to do it. It's what needs to happen. To insure that grave he saw in his flash isn't an actuality.

As he moves, he turns to the medical person, "Lash, does the med lab have full bio suits? It'd probably take too long to put on, but that may be the only hope power-boy's got if he decides to stay behind and try to help us out. Same with Alice." No, Allison, he knows your name, he's just shortening it in his abruptness.

"At least we know you kick ass without yours," he adds to Vee, using his mouth to stay calm.

The gunfire from below too evokes another string of swears from Agent Sawyer, her eyes wide as she looks to the stairwell and the sound of more guns, along with Grant's voice, and then back to Rain, telling them to go on without him.

"That barricade's not going to do much in a moment, Rain, that's negation gas," she says, moving to push her firearm into his hand — it's up to him if he chooses to use it or not. "If you want it. Otherwise, turn yourself in, and hope they go easy on you," she whispers, her brows furrowing and her throat catching a bit. The reality of their situation is grim — she doesn't see a way out of this.

She turns to the room of Level 1 "lab rats," and she shakes her head, unsure of what to tell them. She hopes that the arrest order doesn't apply to them, too. "Surrender if they come for you," she tells the lab crew, "and tell them the truth, that you're Level 1, don't know anything, or follow us, but it's dangerous either way." She glances at the others, for any of the team to argue with her; she can't be responsible for the "civilians'" lives — not with Goodman's words ringing in her ears about being used to do wrong in just another capacity.

Without waiting for the argument that may or may not come, she moves toward the stairs to answer Grant's call for help, descending toward the sound of gunfire.

When Allison and Grace make their way down the stairs, they arrive in the forensics lab to find it demolished. Tables have been flipped over, computers lie in pieces on the floor, some of them looking like they were cleaved in twain by nothing short of a sword. Sitting on his side in the middle of the floor, Grant Fitzpatrick is surrounded by blood, some of it his, some of it not. Dressed in a hospital gown, it's clear he came down from the medical wing, having been recovering from injuries sustained the other night in Staten Island on assignment.

Ahead of Grant, at the sliding glass doors that lead out of the forensics lab, there are the scattered remains of three men in black fatigues. Scattered because they have been divested of their limbs, some cut in half, others sliced at an angle or covered with bone-deep lacerations. Holding one bloody hand out, Grant is hyperventillating, his free hand clutching his side where stitches have clearly torn and a fresh gunshot wound has struck him in the chest too low to be a shoulder wound. His breathing sounds wet, lips are pink.

"There's— more…" Grant wheezes, keeping his hand held out, "they— they're ducking for cover on the other side of the glass doors." Glass doors held open by severed limbs scattered between them.

"Grant!" Gracie shouts, rushing from the stairs and over to Grant's side, taking a knee next to him and training her gun towards the door. Grant's shoulders rise and fall quickly, his hand trembling and face pale. "Oh God, oh God… Grant, it— it'll be okay. Lashirah!" The other agent Lee is the closest thing to a doctor here. Panic is making Gracie unprofessional. There's nothing they can do — right now — for agent Fitzpatrick.

Chicago, Illinois

Company Training Center

Black armored boots crunch down on charred paper. Cigarette ashes fall to the floor, and bullet-dented armor dully reflects the glow of fire crackling on burned furniture littering a torched office. Plastic and metal clicks as the armored figure bumps her helmet held in one hand against a plate of armor on her knee. Sweat-soaked blonde hair hands down to her square jaw, a cigarette bobs up and down between her lips, and her free hand presses two fingers to a bluetooth headset in her ear.

"This is Roland," the severe-looking blonde murmurs into the comm, "We're clear here. Lemay is doing a room-to-room sweep of the dorms, we didn't get Director Skinner," she notes in a frustrated tone, looking down to a charred pile of bones and molten flesh crisped black nearby to where she stands. "He insisted on going down with the ship. Orders?"

Roland's eyes angle towards the door to this charred office and she nods her head in silent reaction to the words of her commanding officer over the headset. "Gotcha, I'm estimating about forty-five arrests here alone. I'll let Lemay know he's in charge here and get moving."

Pausing, Roland furrows her brows and looks down to her cigarette as she plucks it from her lips, trailing smoke in the air. "Oh and… no sign of him here. I think your informant may have been right, he's probably in Texas."

Long Island, New York

Fort Hero

«Kinetic barrier!» One of the white-clad Institute retrievers states as he stands at the top of the stairs, looking at the forcefield and lowering his gun. The gray smoke, that which Veronica incorrectly identified as negation gas, is just ordinary tear gas judging from its smoky coloration and effervescent movement now that Rossling is backing away and lowering his wind manipulation.

"Come— come alone," Rossling stammers to Liza, taking her by the shoulder and moving her back from where Rain is holding off the Retrievers as best as he can with his barrier. "He's buying us time." Liza's response is nothing short of a choked sob, tears welling up in her eyes as she's led back and away. All her career she's wanted to be nothing but just as brave as Veronica Sawyer, and now faced with a true crisis, she's starting to break down like someone her age.

As Rossling and Liza retreat towards the medical ward, the retrievers keep their guns lowered. One asks of Rain, «Drop the barrier and let us past. Surrender and this will go a lot easier on you.» The other one, far less diplomatic and patient instead turns to call back down the stairs.

«Call the specialist up here,» sounds like a mechanical assessment of the problem Rain's barrier presents. «I don't think he's going to cooperate.»

Seeing Grant covered in blood has Allison's doctor instincts kicking in. She may practice as a therapist when she's not being a Company agent, but you can't just forget years of training, nor the Hippocratic Oath. At least Allison can't. She follows Gracie over to the fallen agent, kneeling and setting her pistol down before starting to bark out orders to the other woman. "I'll take care of him, you focus on covering us. You see anyone, tell me."

Silver eyes move over Grant's injuries, then she tugs off her jacket, using it to wrap around him tightly over the wound in his side, hoping to stem the bleeding there. "Grant? I need you listen to me. For right now, you don't feel any pain. I need you strong so we can get you out of here, okay? No pain."

Lashirah looks over towards Allison on her way past, seeing she has the medic situation under control, even as she ducks down behind the cover offered by the desks, sliding to a stop near the cabinets. She uses the butt of her pistol to break open the glass and pulls out a small metallic oval, with a handle and a pin. She gives a Cheshire grin as she pulls the pin, squeezes the handle, and counts to two before throwing it out the door and covering her ears. Lashirah, it seems, understands the meaning of 'lethal force' better than DHS agents do.

Rain turns his head, eyes going to Ryans, and he tilts his head a bit. There is no hesitation about staying behind to help the others escape. He might not be the most obedient of agents, but he is dedicated. "Get everyone out of here." He replies back to the man before turning his eyes on the Institute guys, a wry and twisted little smile gracing his lips. "Well then boys…" he calls to the men beyond his barrier. "Why don't we have a good long sit down? We can talk this out surely." He flashes the guys a smile, and actually does just that, drops down and sits indian style. "Heck, we can start up a drum circle. Though, we dont' have any drums…" he hmmms, then shrugs his shoulders. Not once does he look over his shoulder towards the rest of teh group. Veronica's words get a soft smile. "Well, then I'll just have to find out if my barrier holds back gases won't I?" He takes the gun from her with a nod of thanks and smiles, though it's a sad sort of smile. "Help Ryans get everyone out of here, please." Eyes go back to the men on the other side of the barrier as they talk about specialists and ask him to cooperate. "Come now. You guys know I'm not going to do that. So, we can all just sit down a spell, calm down and have us a chat allrighty? And when your specialist gets here we'll have a party." he grins at them, but in reality he's concentrating, and concentrating hard on his barrier, trying to push it away from him, to move it, trying to put some distance between himself and the men, maybe even force them back down the stairs, bottle them up even further.

He stands at the top of the stairs watching what goes one down the hall, waiting for Rossling and his trainee to catchup. Ryans starts after then, the last to leave, but he pauses… turning back he calls. "Rain! It's okay. Give us a few moments, then surrender. No need to die here." He gives a short nod to the young man before racing after the others finally.

Into the lab, he's surprised to see how many are there, but he doesn't stop. He's not surprised at the condition of the forensics lab, with hope, Lashirah did the job. Doesn't take long to see Allison hovering over another on the floor. "Grant." There is concern there, leaning over to briefly grip the younger mans shoulder gently. "Hold on, okay." The words gentle with concern.

There is a glance for Allison, before Ryans is up and moving to Martin. "Alright Crowley… what now." He is barely able to cover his anxiety, his voice calm, but strained. Of course, at the same time he watches Lashirah toss something. "Oh damn.." He pulls Martin with him for cover.

"Any advice on how to get out of this alive?" Corbin asks the air, or more accurately the little flicker in the corner of his vision. Probably not the best person to ask in this case, since she died in a combat situation that… involved a guy in a mask. Not the Institute, but someone well trained, who chased her down and stabbed her until she died. But they don't need to know he's talking to the dead. And he hopes no one asks. He could be talking to anyone.

And a second later he is. "Lash, you're supposed to detonate that from a safe distance!" Corbin suddenly yelps, as he lowers his head and guards himself against the explosion he expects to follow. Lethal force is a definite thing he understands in this case, cause it will keep them alive and free, but—

Her smile reminds him far too much of another cheshire cat.

The grisly scene doesn't seem to faze Veronica; she hurries to the bodies that strew the lab, grabbing a weapon from one of corpses since she gave up her gone to Rain. When Lash is lobbing the grenade of sorts, she follows Corbin's lead and ducks down. She turns to survey the others in the lab with her, then up the stairwell to those left behind. Her brows are knit, and she gives a shake of her head. "How many are there?" she asks Grant, nodding to the doors. She can't see a way out of this, and her face is contorted with worry and guilt for not having warned them — Goodman gave her a warning; she should have warned the others.

When he said they would come for her, she didn't think they meant like this.

Flora can buy them too. She never was one to really run, and with Lashirah popping out something hand held and potentially… eardrum breaking, Flora's popping back into the room that Rain is holding the barriers up to keep people at bay. A flick of fingers, concentration, and just like that, to the room she's in, the other room looks like it did, minus people. Overturned and strewn about furniture, but no people as Flora sinks down to the ground, legs tucking to the side and back flush with a wall. Her own handgun put down and slid away from her so that no one can say that she lifted a gun and shot at them. Less harsh a sentence if you don't resist, isn't that what they're saying?

The noise of a fragmentation grenade going off is only briefly loud for those in the lab. What follows next is the whine of tinnitus and nothing else but muffled sounds. Smoke blows from the doorway, the scattered remains of two more DHS counter-terrorism specialists now lay in the hall surrounded by the shattered frame and shrapnel of doors. Working his jaw open and closed, trying to hear his own voice, Agent Fitzpatrick looks up to Gracie, then down to Allison, the blood seeping from the wound she can tell is filling his lungs. He'll either bleed out, or he'll drown.

Dazed by the noise of the grenade, Gracie pushes herself up to her feet, shakily looking towards the hallway where the grenade had gone off, then back to Grant. On the far end of the lab, Martin and Ryans were spared much of the noise burst, leaving Martin with ringing ears but the ability to at least communicate behind it.

"Have y'ever seen the section of the labs, sealed off b'concrete?" Both of Martin's brows raise as he shuffles away from Ryans, "there was an accident here in the labs in the 1970s when th' Company was first experimenting w'the Shanti Virus. Apparently there was a mutation, a strain of the virus that was engineered t'cohabitate with somethin' like Ebola. It attacks th' body's cells, breaks down cell walls and causes liquefaction. It's what Pinehearst was using as the basis for their advent project…"

Stepping over the bodies and towards the hall, Martin looks left and right at the cross-unction, then back into the lab. "The virus was v'resiliant, long lived, near impossible t'kill. It got loose in th' lab, they 'ad t'seal the whole ward off, researchers an' all…"

Martin moves into the middle of the hall, back up against one wall and gun clutched in his hands, looking back into the forensics lab then down the right corridor. "C'mon, We gotta go tha' way."

Upstairs and down a hall, pressed with her back up against one wall, Flora Anderson stares her fate in the eye. The illusions she creates down the hall serve as a mask for their escape, just as much as Rain's forcefield serves as a barricade to hold back the enemy. For now it had worked, both of their efforts. But then, one by one, things begin to shut down.

First the Retreivers move to stand aside, as if making room for something. Then comes Rain's forcefield, crackling, flickering, then fading away entirely. A moment later Flora's illusions fail, revealing the medical bay where medical persons are ducking and cowering out of fear and apprehension. Blind hope that if they cooperate it will be better.

Then he steps out of the thinning tear gas, dressed in a black suit, tall and wiry, head bald anf coal black eyes focused on Rain down the barrel of his taser. Rene is better known as the Haitian in Company Circles, the glimmering half-heli necklace he wears as iconic as his cheekbones and features. "I'm sorry," the Haitian intones, before squeezing the trigger of the taser and sending darts into Rain's negated form, ten-thousand volts— designed to incapacitate.

The sound of the grenade has Allison leaning over Grant, protecting his body with her own. Once she realizes that she's not blowing up, she looks up to Gracie, her expression one of sympathy and apology. "I'm sorry," she whispers to the other woman. Grant gets a similar look before she pushes herself to her feet, forgetting about the pistol that she set down when she first knelt by the agent.

Seeing Martin head off, she glances back towards the hallway full of DHS people. She may not have heard Martin mention the Ebola, or maybe, unable to help Grant, she just doesn't give a damn. So she touches Gracie's shoulder lightly. "Let's go," she tells the other agent before heading off after Martin.

Lashirah heard quite well what was mentioned. she pulls out three mmore items from the cabinet, pocketing them, before waiting for Ryans to lead.

Flora's palms go up, displaying lack of weapons. Not armed any further, a wince when Rain is tasered. He does have an offensive ability. She's already sitting down, and with a quick glance to the taser that sinks it's prongs and delivers it's charge to Rain, she's pretty sure that she knows what's coming now down her pipe. There's a respectful nod to the Haitian from the illusionist. Well played. good game, no hard feelings on Flora's behalf.

She can claim later that Richards made her do it.

Rain is not a stupid individual, not at all. So when his power starts to flicker he knows exactly what is coming, or at least, he has a very very good idea. He lifts his gun up, not bothering with his power, knowing it wont' work now. He lifts his gun, and for the first time in his life, fires it with the intent of hurting people, pulling the trigger to send shots down the hallway, aiming for the hands of the institute men, only to pull his weapon around when he sees Rene. His eyes widen at the sight of the man, even if it was who he expected. A look of disgust crosses the young man's features at the betrayal of the Haitian. As the bald man steps up and apologizes, Rain takes aim, hesitating for a crucial second before squeezing the trigger, electricity arcing through his body in a white hot flare of pain and debilitation as his limbs spasm and the young man drops to the floor, not quite limbless, and remarkably enough, not unconscious. He writhes on the floor, right hand uselessly trying to lift the fire arm again for another shot. He does manage the motor control to spit in Rene's direction though. Being experimented on by certain demented Pinehearst doctors gives one a pretty good tolerance for pain, leaving Rain in a lot of it, but not blacked out from it.

Brows lift under the fedora as Ryans gives Martin a startled look. That was where they were going?!? The old man looks completely without words, trying to think to what to say to that. Finally, however, he motions everyone after Martin, his motions jerky. "No time to relax, lets go. Now."

He moves to kneel down next to Grant, once he sees people leaving his side. The man might be dying, but he's still alive. This is one of the hardest things, Ryans is going to have to do. "Grant." He says louder then needed, to try and be heard over the ringing and alarms. He pulls out a Company issue firearm and reaches down to grab the man's hand gently. He brings it up so that he can press the handgun into Fitzpatricks hand. Both of his hand fold over Grants one, helping to get the man to grip the gun. "One last change Grant. One last stand. Help us… Help Gracie." He points back the way them came, before looking back to the man.

"I need you to give us—" The old man's voice actually catches. He shakes his head and looks away for just a moment, the brim of his fedora hiding his eyes for a moment, before he adds, "…give us time Grant. We need time." His head lifts again, one hand reaching to grip Grant's shoulder. "It's been an honor, having you on the team." The words spoken softly before he gets to his feet and hurries after Martin, it's up to Fitzgerald to help the team one last time.


This is not going to go well. Hokuto may be somewhere beside him, or inside him, but Corbin doesn't know how many of his friends and coworkers will make it out, how many will need to 'buy time'. "Lee, I know this is hard, but we gotta go." Watching one's partner bleed to death isn't easy. Watching one get told to stay behind, to help them, to make a final stand… If Rain can still move when this is over, he's sure he'll be behind him, but he fires another shot in the general direction of those intent on arresting or killing them, as he runs after the others. He doesn't dare fire too many. They have a limited amount of ammo.

Certain death or possible death — Veronica reaches to touch Gracie's arm lightly, nodding in the direction Martin leads. She waits, her gun aimed at the glass doors, waiting for the rest of the group to follow Martin or stay behind, before she turns behind to pick up the rear — hoping that when their hunters come after, she can either slow them down by fighting or turning herself in, buying the rest of the group time.

Upstairs and down the corridor, where Rain's growling screams are choked into the back of his throat bleary vision seems to catch up to the aftermath of his firing from where he lays on the floor. One of the Retrievers isn't even in sight anymore, but the blood on the walkway by the stairs is new. Electricity having flows freely through his brain has Rain's frame of perception a bit staggered, a brief moment of blacking out having occured between the gun firing and witnessesing the results, like a missing frame of film.

The other Retriever has his gun at his feet, clutching his arm and screaming a synthesized hiss of pain through his respirator as he holds the bloodied mess of his right arm, where a kevlar vest did nothing to protect him from Rain's Company-issue 45.

Even Rene was struck by the wild fire, holding his shoulder and glaring a wide-eyed look of surprise at Rain. As the blonde's hand lifts up to level the gun again, in spite of the tasering that had wracked his system, the whine of hydraulics behind Rain is too late noticed.

A booted foot steps down on Rain's wrist, pressing his gun hand ot the floor with surprising strength. Black plates of bullet-dented armor as in the blonde's field of view, and his stare matches up to the orange visored helmet of a man in armor reminiscent of FRONTLINE's. The designation 00-01 on the right chest plate means nothing to Rain O'Niel, but the voice coming from the crackling speakers on his helmet has more definitive meaning.

«Rene,» orders are orders, wounded ot not. «Knock him out.» on the heels of the request from a voice that Rain recognizes as Desmond Harper's, the Haitian is clearing the short distance between he and the blonde while Harper kicks his gun away.

The last thing Rain sees is reminiscent of what began his stay at Pinehearst, the hand of the Haitian creeping towards his brow, and a looming feeling of encroaching darkness closing in. Rain O'Neil's Company service began and ended with Rene's presence, it is only fitting the cycle close so cleanly.

His fate and that of Flora Anderson's are shrouded in as much darkness as Rain's vision soon is.

Odessa, Texas

Former Primatech Paper Facility

Lined up against factory walls, hands folded behind their heads and shoulders squared, Company Agents are being handcuffed by black-clad DHS counter-terrorism task force agents. Walking alongside them, a man in FRONTLINE styled armor with a heavier armor compositing barks orders to the men still standing. «Cristoff, Malinsky, Porter,» Lucas Edlridge's voice crackles through the warehouse over his helmet's external speakers as he holsters his side-arm at his hip. «Sitrep.»

"We're clean on this floor, agent Harper." Sargent Porter explains, slinging his AR-15 over his shoulder as he walks at Eldridge's side. "Cristoff and Malinsky are handling the detention of the captured agents, we're moving the wounded out to the field medical station to try and save as many of them as we can. The agents who had holed themselves up downstairs looked to have been trying to guard some kind of vault."

Eldridge stops, swiveling his visored countenance towards the DHS agent, reflecting the man's own face back muted and warped in the copper-colored visor. «A vault?» Eldridge yturns his attention to the hallway that leads deeper into the Odessa facility.

«Show me.»

Long Island, New York

Fort Hero

Bobbing his head in a slow nod, Agent Fitzpatrick looks up to Ryans and breathes out a wet, wheezing laugh. "You're— such a softy, you know that?" Swallowing a mouthful of blood, Grant forces himself up onto his feet shakily, despite a whine of protest from Gracie as she steadies his shoulders. "Go on," he offers in a hushed tone of voice to her, "go…"

Gripping his pistol tightly in one hand, Agent Lee shakes her head sharply from side to side, looking up to Ryans, then over to Lashirah and Veronica, then over to the stairwell as Rossling and Liza come down into the lab in a hurry. "No, I— I'll stay and hold them off with you. You're my partner I am not going to leave you here."

"Gracie," Grant hisses, pushing her hands off of his shoulders, "Go. Get— the hell out of here. I'll be fine, trust me… You know how— how stubborn I am, right?" There's a tremble of Fitzpatrick's jaw. "Please… go. You've got family to take care of." Those words sink Gracie's expression, have her eyes fall shut to hold back evident tears.

"Come on people!" Martin shouts from the hallway, popping out and checking the path towards the sealed off sector as Rossling guides Liza past Grant and Lee. Liza's eyes meet Veronica's for just a moment, and a smile crosses her lips, as if seeing Veronica okay made her strong enough to go on. She doesn't say anything, just nods once in affirmation. I've got your back, it implies wordlessly. It would break her heart to know that the inverse isn't true.

When Liza and Rossling make it past, Gracie leans in and brushes one hand against Grant's cheek, then tilts her chin up and presses her lips to his. The moment is frought with the realizations of what is to come, and that has tears rolling down her cheeks. When she pulls away from the kiss, her lips are bloodied. "I'll be waiting for you," she firmly asserts, taking one shaky step back, looking over her shoulder to Ryans, then back to Grant. "You know I will."

Grant offers her a smile, blood thick around his fingers as he turns for the stairs and starts a slow marching progress towards them. "I'll watch your back, like old times," Grant murmurs, rubbing his forefingers and thumb together, waiting for whatever comes down those stairs next.

Gracie turns away, rushing across the broken lab floor, stocking-clad feet leaving bloodied footprints through the remains of fallen men on her way to catch up to the others, leaving the partner she has served by the side of in the Company for years behind. He was more, now he knows. There's some solace in that.

The sight of Gracie and Grant brings a pained look to Allison's face, and guilt tightens in her chest. She couldn't save him, couldn't even help him, and that's something she'll have to live with. Then she's running after Martin, brow furrowed in concern. If only she'd quit just a little sooner she wouldn't be in this position. But no, she had to finish that one last case. She comes to an abrupt stop when she sees the lab door blown open, and the concern she's feeling only doubles.

Situations like this never go well.

Lashirah makes her way, slowly, carefully to the blown open hole in the wall. in one hand, she has her .45. In the other, she has another explosive device… she alone knows, unless up very close, if it's another fragmentation like the last, or a flash-bang meant to stun and disable.

The comment about him being a softy gets a rough chuckle from the old man. Benjamin waits for the others to proceed him. "Make me proud, Grant." Fingers touch the brim of his fedora into a salute, before he too disappears leaving the dying agent to his fate. The older man knows what that feels like and can appreciate what man sacrifice. After all, Ryans did the same thing in his vision. It makes the reality of Grants situation all the sharper for him.

Ryan is painfully aware as their numbers grow ever smaller each step of the way. Leaving members of the team left and right, sacrificial lambs. He hates each decision he's had to make, he doubts it'll be the last of them.

Following the group, despite the fact they could very well be running into melty blood running death disease, Corbin conserves his bullets for the final standoff, and keeps moving forward. "I hope you got a plan about what to do once we get here, that doesn't involve my blood seeping out my eyes and my brain melting. Cause I don't have a deathwish." Even if he might have for a while. And as he rounds the corner and sees the blown out doorframe, that seems to sound like exactly what may happen.

What happens to Hokuto if she's with him when he dies? He glances around for her, but doesn't see her at the moment. She said she'd still be around, but he half hopes she's not. "Starting to think none of us should be here." He's talking to her, whether he sees her or not, but it works for all of them.

Dark eyes soften as she sees that trusting look from Liza Messer, and Veronica gives a nod of encouragement to the younger girl who has made an unlikely idol out of Vee. As the group turns and heads down the corridor to the lab, the concrete that had vaulted off the entrance now blasted open somehow, Veronica stops at the turn, letting the others pass her.

Holding the M-16 taken off one of the bodies Grant had taken out, she jerks her head toward the vault, dark eyes solemn as she watches each face pass by her, their visages blurring with sudden tears that swim in her vision. She swallows hard. They are not bad people — they were trying to do the right thing and were misled with secrets and lies, but none of them deserve the hell they're going through now.

"I'll cover us. Keep moving," she says, her husky voice resolute, her jaw set. She'll either turn herself in to do what she planned on doing all along, or she'll die covering the group's retreat. Either way, she won't be going into that vault.

Gunshots echo through Fort Hero, there are battles happening everywhere int he facility, the distant echo of explosions going off, the blaring of the alarm klaxons under red security lighting. There had been fear that the end would come for the Company, Bob and Sabra has done everything they could to try and prevent the collapse, done everything they could to try and see to it that as many agents as possible survived. Behind the scenes, strings had been pulled, allegiances had been made, and yet still… blood flows.

What the fleeing agents under Martin Crowley's lead find is a gaping entrance where once there was a laboratory wing sealed off by concrete and reinforced steel. The scent of ozone lingers in the air around the darkened entrance, smoke still wafts from the demolished opening. Whatever Sabra had planned involved this being one of the escape routes out of the facility, and that only a handful of agents are here to escape sends a chill down Martin's spine.

"Alright," Martin explains, reaching into his jacket to withdraw a leather syringe folio, unclasping the strap holding it shut. "There was an antivirus made long after this wing was sealed, when Director Dalton came up with this escape route plan, we needed an exit our enemies couldn't easily follow us through. I've been carrying syringes of the antivirus with me since then in preparation for the potential hostile evacuation of th' facility…"

Martin looks back to the dark of the hallway where Veronica was, only now realizing that she's gone. "Wh— where's Sawyer?" The question elicits a look around from Liza, her brown eyes wide as she steps away from Rossling's side. Frantic, the young woman looks back and nearly opens her mouth to shout for her, only to have Rossling clasp his hand over it.

"Sawyer is taking up the rear," Rossling says in a tight tone of voice, and the words elicit a roll of tears down Liza's cheeks. Her eyes wrench shut, and the tiny blonde hunches back against Rossling, choking back a sob with a strangled sound of restrained noise. "She's a very fine agent," Rossling commends, "you will do her proud."

"Alright, we each need to take one've these syringes t'counteract exposure to th' virus. Odds are th' virus didn't survive all these years down here sealed up, but there's still a chance that it's here somewhere, an' exposure leads to presentation've death within five t'ten minutes of contraction. We can' take tha' kinda' risk. These labs will connect to a tunnel that leads right out to th' bloody ocean. We'll wind up on the Long Island south shore a few miles from the facility."

As Liza stops crying, she turns and buried her face against Rossling's chest, and the old agent wraps one arm around her. Having been silent all this time, Bianca Karina finally speaks up, her hands trembling as she demands. "We can't leave without Gael." Martin looks up to the brunette agent, brows furrowed, then snaps his attention to Gracie and back to Bianca again.

"We can, an' we are. You can look for Gael later, Bianca, but right now we all 'ave t— " Gunfire erupts from down the hallway, from the direction of the subway platform's entrance to the second basement. Blood erupts from Martin Crowley's mouth the moment bullets riddle him, glass shatters as bullets tear through the syringes he holds in that leather case, and the senior agent is thrown back against one of the concrete walls, then slouches downward leaving a crimson streak in his wake, sucking in sharp and feverishly quick breaths as one shaky hand tries to cover one of the many wounds.

Rossling turns as the gunfire happens, pushing Liza behind himself. Bottlenecked in the end of the hallway, they're sitting ducks. Charging down the hall, Rossling spots seven— ten— too many DHS counter-terrorism agents moving in formation, two stopping to fire while others move ahead. Rossling opens fire down the corridor, the loud report of his gun echoing off of the concrete walls as he creates a wind-tunnel, surging air down the corridor to try and slow the soldiers' approach.

"Take the syringes!" Rossling shouts, "We have to go! We can't wait h— " a hiccup interrupts Rossling's words as he staggers back, firing blindly down the hall now. Blood blotched red on his white suit at his stomach and Liza lets out a high-pitched scream. Pushing her further back behind himself, Rossling takes steps forward towards the DHS operatives, continuing to shoot even as another bullet slips between his ribs in a blossom of another red circle on the front and back of his suit jacket.

Bianca ducks down behind one of the barrels filled with concrete that had blocked off the door, beside Crowley, reaching for the syringe folder. "Oh God, oh— God. Benjamin!" It's a shriek, "Benjamin Crowley's not going to— he's— " hands shaking, she looks at the syringes and broken glass again. "Seven! Seven!" There's only seven of the thin syringes left intact.

How many of them were there?

Having advanced as far as they can, the DHS agents find a cross-junction down the hall, splitting off left and right and ducking out of sight to avoid reprisal. Rossling immediately drops to his knees, coughing up a mouthful of blood as his gun clatters to the concrete and the wind dies down. It all happened in a heartbeat of time.

When first Martin then Rossling gets shot, Allison freezes, staring at the red blooming on their clothes. The image of Grant flashes in her mind, then she's reaching for the closest person to her, giving a small push towards the entrance to that sealed off tunnel. "Go! Take the syringes and go! I'm going to make sure they're alive," she shouts, moving to Martin and going to her knees beside him, pressing her hands against the worst of the wounds, trying to slow the bleeding.

Lashirah takes the needles, and hands them out quickly. She knows there isn't much time. She sighs however, as she hands the syringe to Ryans. "… Starting over, we might be… Maybe we can make something anew, to do the job of what was. But we have to SURVIVE first."

"Martin!" Ryans moves to crouch next to the man, it's like a blow to the gut, each one of them. "Dammit, man." The seniors agent says gruffly, what can the oldest of them say. "I'm not suppose to outlive you all." The syringe appears next to his face, but it's ignored for the moment. His eyes drop to the wound Martin's trying to cover. Hands squeeze the man's shoulders, unable to say anything for a long moment.

Taking the syringe, a glance goes to it, before he gives Martin a meaningful look. "These bastards are going to pay in the end, Martin. Even if I have to pulls them apart brick by brick. I need help doing that. I'm only the brawn, I need your brains." The cap is pulled off and his drives the needle into Martin's arm. "You better damn well hold on, Crowley, or I'll make sure Hokuto haunts your ass."

The rest of them, he calls. "Down the hall! Go. Go." He takes the last syringe and sticks it into his own arm, throwing away the needle. "This is going to hurt, Martin. I'm sorry." It's rumbled softly, before he moves to lift the dying man. He has to try at least to save one. One he has a good grip does he starts down the corridor. Stopping to turn to look back at Allison. "Thank you." It's heart felt from the old man before he's hurrying down the destroyed corridor.

More leaving people behind. More life or death decisions. This isn't going to end well— it's already going badly enough. So much in his life he wants to keep, but all of it is getting blown away, in a few quiet moments. And only a syringe stands between him and his escape route. Hate needles as Corbin might, the possibility of not having his brain melt is enough to have him stab the syringe that's handed to him deep and depress the plunger. Hopefully it wasn't supposed to go directly into the vein, cause he's no doctor. "Hokuto could haunt him anyway," he says quietly, wincing at the possible gunshots that a few files shoved into his pants won't be able to stop, as he runs into the potentially contaminated lab, as quickly as he can. Which is nowhere near as quickly as some.

That syringe better do the trick…

And he hopes the people who stay behind manage to make it out somehow— even if it's in a white box.

Out of the corner of Corbin's eye stands the woman in red, her suit the same saturated color of the bloodied splotches of Rossling's white suit. Threading black hair behind one ear, Hokuto Ichihara turns gold eyes up to Corbin, watching him depress the plunger of the syringe, needle in his arm. Ink black brows furrow together, and the dreamwalker takes a step around Corbin, lifting up one hand to brush his cheek in a gesture so tangible it almost makes it hard to remember that she's gone.

Standing by Corbin's side, Hokuto reaches down and takes his hand, threading her fingers between his and looking down to their joined hands. Gold eyes alight back to Corbin again, and she takes a step forward towards the dark recesses of that demolished lab, looking back to Corbin and giving him a tug onward. The dead can stay at his back.

"Liza, Liza we need to go," Bianca hisses, looking down the hall and grabbing the blonde by the wrist, yanking her back. "Agent Messer!" Struggling away from Bianca's grasp, Liza's reddened and tear-streaked face contorts into a horrified expression as she watches Rossling roll onto his side, looking up at her with an embarrassed expression of all things, even as Allison moves to try and get to the wounded atmokinetic without exposing herself to gunfire.

"Get— her out of here, Karina." Rossling wheezes, his shaky hand reaching for his gun, turning to the hall and firing down it to deter the DHS crew from popping out again. "Get her bloody out of here!" Rossling screams, this time Bianca wraps her arm around Liza's neck, putting her into a choke hold as she drags her back towards the entrance, sticking the young girl in the neck with one syringe, eliciting a whimper and a scream of frustration, then swings her around and pushes her forward into the hall.

Gracie grabs Liza from Bianca, wrapping an arm around her and dragging her back. "Take your syringe," the redhead shouts, "I've got her!" Glaring down at Liza, Gracie pushes the blonde back and moves to step out of the doorwat towards Bianca and the hall.

"Make sure she d— " there's a pop of red at the side of Bianca's head and the brunette's glasses come flying off of her face as she falls down to her side with a jerk of motion without another word, blood and brain matter streaking the concrete wall beside her.

Gracie lets out a wailing scream on watching Bianca shot in the head, Liza scrambling back and away from the opening of the blasted passage, turning around and running to catch up to Benjamin, who leaves a drizzling trail of blood behind himself from Crowley. She's just stammering now, covering her mouth with one hand and trying not to make noise, looking back to the entrance of the lab as she hears Rossling's gun firing repeatedly, a stunned but reteating Gracie Lee stumbling backwards behind her, trying to find the frame of mind to actually will her feet to move.

She's too afraid to scream anymore.

Fort Hero

Forensics Lab

Creeping back into the Forensics lab, Veronica Sawyer narrows her profile when she spots Grant slouched up against a toppled examination table, a gun in one hand and a hand at his side. Brown eyes narrow as she looks around the room, then starts to step out to try and see if she can help, only to hear footsteps coming down the stairs. Ducking out of sight, Veronica stays hidden behind the concrete wall that the now dead DHS agents at her feet had occupied.

Grant, surprisingly, sits up when he hears footsteps, looking towards the stairs silently from his crouched vantage point behind the metal table. When black armor dented from bullet impacts reveals itself, branded with 00-01 Veronica's breath hitches in the back of her throat.


Hydraulics whirr as Harper comes down the stairs, the joints of his armor whining with each movement. In his right hand a high-caliber revolver is at the ready, sweeping around the forensics lab. «Central, this is Harper» he calls back to the command, «I'm down on basement level 2, signs of combat. The Company had a preparedness plan for us, I'm going to — » The sudden snap of fingers comes before the barrel of Harper's gun shears off as if sliced by a whisper thin knife. Jerking his hand away from the gun, Harper turns to spot Grant rising up from behind the table.

Scowling, Grant snaps his fingers again and creates a deep gash across the front of Harper's armor. Another snap of his fingers and there's a slash down the front of his visor, another snap and a deeper cut crossing the first one over his chest. Each lacination cut knocks Harper back a step, as if he'd been struck by some great, invisible sword.

Agent Fitzpatrick has no words for this murderer, the pack hound of this fox hunt. With another finger snap he severs Harper's hydralic line on his right arm, another snap as he advances severs the other arm's cable, blood now trickles out of Grant's nose as fast as it does from the wound on his side.

"You killed my friends," Grant breathes out through bloodied pink teeth, words clearly spat out as his fingers snap again, the lacination this time slashing a plate on Harper's shoulder in half, sending clattering ceramic down to the floor. That much force staggers Grant, causing him to clutch his head with one hand, wobble, and leave himself too open.

It's with a snap of clasps at his shoulders that Harper sheds his upper body hydraulics with a heavy clang, advancing on Grant swiftly. A balled up fist strikes the agent in the side of the face, sending him backwards, up and over the table. «This is Harper, engaging hostiles, I need backup.»

"Harper!" Grant howls as he gets back up to his feet, swinging his arm in a wide arc, not even snapping his finger anymore, the slashing blow knocking Harper clear off of his feet and into the back wall. "You son of a bitch!" Another swing of Grant's arm cuts a deep gash through Harper's plated armor on his thigh, then a backhanded swing slashes down through Harper's shoulder to the bone, spraying blood and splitting flesh at the exposed soft tissue.

Light-headed, Grant staggers and falls towards a closed metal cabinet, clashing against it and leaving bloodied handprints on the metal. Sucking in a short breath, agent Fitzpatrick looks up, staring Harper down as he flings his arm out again, cutting a deep slash across the faceplate of Harper's helmet, then another, then his eyes fall shut and Grant collapses down to his knees, blood spattering beneath where his head hangs, blood flowing from his ears and nose.

"Gracie," is what Grant whispers while Harper liberates a handgun from one of the dead Company agents on the floor, and when Grant looks up, he's staring down the barrel of a Company-issue firearm. A defiant scowl comes from the dying man, answered in kind by Harper behind the visor of his helmet, and with the finality of a gunshot.

Forcing her eyes shut, Veronica ducks around the corner and covers her face with one hand, then slinks to the side, turning down another corridor, unable to face Harper without killing him herself and ruining a plan bigger than just revenge, bigger than just punishment. Harper will have his coming, but Veronica Sawyer needs to survive in order to see that happen.

She needs to surrender.

Beyond where Sawyer has fled to surrender to the Institute, Rossling has stopped firing. He lays motionless on his side, gun held by slacked fingers, one half of his suit soaked blood red. The DHS agents haven't returned to this hallway, maybe they're circling around, maybe they're waiting for a sign. As Allison Richards sits with her back to the concrete wall beside Rossling prone form, she hears footsteps coming from the Forensics lab.

Looking up, the blonde finds herself face to face with a blood-spattered suit of black armor with a coppery-red visor. Chrome from a Company-issue handgun is leveled down at her, and as she stares up at the emotionless expression of that faceless mask, she hears a familiar voice crackle from behind the helmet. «You said something to me once that pissed me off,» Harper explains as the helmet shakes from side to side. «You know, I can't even remember what it was now.» A petty grudge squeezes that trigger and sends Allison's blonde head jerking back and away from the gun with a spray of red, sending the psychiatrist down to the ground. Looking towards Rossling, Harper trains his sights on the old man, then squeezes the trigger twice more.

Just to be sure.

Fort Hero

Abandoned Laboratory

Gunfire has been echoing from their backs for several minutes now and — against all odds — Martin Crowley is still talking. "R— Ryans…" his voice is slurred, speech drowsy, "p- put me down…" The environment that Corbin, Ryans, Liza and Gracie are escaping through is just as dry sounding as Martin's voice. Dust clings to everything, from old reel-to-reel computer towers, desks and chairs, books and papers left out right where they were when the lab was abandoned.

"S'just— a straight shot from here…" Martin mumbles deliriously, "m'slowin' y'down…" Crowley's words are hushed, but the scuff of Ryans' boots accompanies the agents escape through the concrete halls. It isn't until Ryans reaches another turn that things become decidedly macabre. Molten looking bones are slouched up against darkly stained walls. Threadbare labcoats stained with blood contain these spongy and warped skeletons, looking more like heaps of dust-covered cartilidge than a human skeleton.

Horrors of the Company's past.

Sight of the bodies has him slowing just a little, eyes flickering away quickly. "I'm not listening to you." Ryans says quietly as he hurries as fast as he can carrying Martin Crowley. He has already left too any agents behind. With each fired shot, he know another is gone. "Too many of the old crew are dying. The good agents. Even the retired ones."

He shifts his grip a bit, "They killed Ivan Spektor, nearly got Noah Bennet." The words curt as his shoes shuffle along, ignoring the feel of Martin's blood soaking into the suit he's wearing. He continues to talk to the man, to keep him focused. "Stomping us out one at a time. You hang on and you'll sticking one to them. Show them we're tougher stuff then they think."

"Martin, we need you to tell us where the hell to go," Corbin yells back, just so the man is aware they need more direction from one of their Directors before he checks out into the land of Hokutos. He does have a hand squeezing his own, a set of eyes that he can see and knows will always be watching him. "We'll get through this," he reassures, even as he keeps moving, hoping against hope that he's telling the truth. So many gunshots. So many people falling.

Old crew, new. Trusted and disliked. It doesn't matter. Their world is ending. The skeletons of their past have risen up in various ways, to seek their revenge. But they have a ghost of the past at least, to help guide them on. "Do you know the way out if he can't guide us?" he asks. Not to the living running at his side. But the dead.

"No," is Hokuto's unfortunate answer, gold eyes partway lidded as she looks back over her shoulder, "I've been… busy." Haunting the dreams of the founders in ways not related to labyrinthine sealed passages beneath Long Island. In the moment between that sentence and Corbin's next breath, Hokuto is gone, vanished from his periphery like smoke on the wind. It's only then that Martin starts talking again.

"Oh… bl— bloody hell… I'm seein' Ichihara…" there's a dry laugh from the British agent, followed by a wet and noisy swallow. "Y'just need to follow this corridor down… mmnh— " Martin's eyes droop for a moment, "d— follow it down to the T-Junction an' go right… someone was supposed t'clear the way for us, get access into the tunnels… Sabra din' tell me who. Whoever it is blew the door…"

Behind Ryans, Liza and Gracie are making slow progress, the blonde's head resting on the redhead's shoulder for a moment before they start to walk again. They've seen so many of their comrades in arms die today. Seen so many things come and go, so many beginnings end. "How far is it…" Gracie asks in a weary, hoarse voice, the popping sound of gunfire getting more distant at their backs.

"Half… half a mile? Maybe a lil' more." Head bobbing as he's carried by Ryans, Martin exhales a shuddering breath, then turns to look to his side. "M'seein' ghosts…" Martin murmurs, "she's…" he snorts, "m'subconscious s'very optimistic…" Dryly swallowing, Martin grows quiet as Ryans follows through the desolate lab, passing by door after door of laboratory.

Far behind them, Desmond Harper stands at the entrance to the formerly quarantined area, blood flowing from a cut on his shoulder inflicted by Grant, that arm all but useless from the torn muscle and the throbbing pain radiating up and down it. Furrowing his brows behind his visor, Harper talks into open channels.%r
«Benjamin Ryans, Lashirah Lee, Gracie Lee, Martin Crowley, Liza Messer, escaping through the unmapped portion of Fort Hero. They're on the edge of my projected senses, they'll be out of range soon. They're headed southwest, probably to the coast. Get a boat out there in case we can catch them.»

Harper turns slowly, looking back down the corridor towards the bodies strewn down it. «We'll hit them at their residences.»

Now out of Haper's vision, Ryans comes to the end of the hallway that Martin had described, where the concrete wall has been blown out by another shaped charge. Twisted rebar is angled inwards towards the concrete tunnel beyond where shallow water is flowing at a steady clib. Lightless beyond, the passage looks like a draining runoff pipe, likely ejecting somewhere out on the Long Island coast.

"I hear water…" Martin murmurs, "we're close."

Lashirah has put away the explosives for now… and instead has dug out a simpler item. A Cell phone. Not her company one, but a different one. If they are almost there… then maybe, just maybe, there would be one bit of a chance. Obviously, going home was not an option. but there WAS a chance, a slim one, that she MIGHT be able to get into contact with one person who could help them. After all… now, they too are on the run.

"Good." Ryans says when Martin talks about Ichihara. "Keep him talking." Ryans whispers under his breath, hoping that long dead woman can hear him. He angles a glance to Corbin, picking up his pace a little. He motions his head at the wall, wanting the younger man to go through the wall first. Benjamin slows to allow him to slip through, before working to get through it himself, Crowley and all. His movements are slower then he wants.

"Lashirah… hold off." Ryans grunts, noticing her pulling her phone out, while he struggles under the weight of Martin, "There is a plan in place, I know where we're going. It'll be safe. Bennet gave me an address."

With Hokuto no longer tugging him along, Corbin's still pulled forward by something else. The need to get away from this place. Like Lashirag, there's a phone he's thinking of, and a number he knows he wants to call. And call soon. Perhaps even as soon as they make it to the water. Very few people are better at running than she is… It will mean he'll have to explain his pixie girlfriend— and his ex-partner who is dead, but hanging around anyway.

"It's okay, Crowley," he says to him, despite not staying still long enough to be heard easily. "Hokuto's been here for a while. I just didn't report it. Most those times you caught me sleeping on my desk she was trying to kick me back into shape. And now it's your turn, so hold on. We're going to make it."

He'd told Hokuto she would be okay, as she died in his arms.

"Wait, did you just say Bennet?" The Bennet? As in What Would Bennet Do? Maybe he won't have to call that number after all.

Words echo hollow in that sewer tunnel, sloshing water, the smell of runoff and the coppery taste of blood mixing with salty tears. Each survivor of the Hammerdown on the Company feels the experience differently, headed down a flashlight lit tunnel they are being born again. At their backs, the dark ages of the past are what they tread away from.

It's a long march, through that tunnel, following the flow of the water towards an ever growing point of light at the end that may or may not be a metaphorical train. It's a long way going, but in the dark of the passage, over the twenty minutes it takes to walk through the tunnel, carrying Martin Crowley, Benjamin Ryans and his subordinates eventually do find daybreak.

The pipe exits out onto a sandy beach where the sun is still rising into clear skies, reflecting dow on lapping surf. Footprints in the sand already lead away from the tunnel. There, standing ont he coast, Gael Cruz looks expectantly at the people emerging from the tunnel. First comes Ryans, dropping down to a knee in the sand and laying Martin on his back. Crowley stopped talking a while ago, stopped responding to conversation. He's still, now, and when Ryans wips his hands down Martin's face to shut his eyes, there is — finally — peace on the former inquisitor's expression. Now, after all this time, he can be with his wife again.

Looking up to Gael as he turns, the salt and pepper haired senior Company official looks to Lashirah as her blood smeared and dirt smudged form steps out of the tunnel and onto the sand, adrenaline causing her hands to tremble uncontrolably.

Corbin Ayers comes next, spots of blood peppering the side of his face. Gael cannot see the red dressed woman in a long gown walking at his side, can't see that she doesn't leave footprints in the sand for anyone but Corbin, but Hokuto's gold-eyed presence has guided them this far. She slowly parts from Corbin's side, moving to where Martin has been laid, then takes a knee and looks down to the former assistant director, then up to Ryans, knowing that Delia's father cannot see her right now.


Hokuto closes her eyes, then looks back to Corbin. Silence is her farewell, she has work to do, and a student to watch out for.

Gael sees Lee and Liza making their way out of the tunnel, Gracie's expression showing the overwrought emotion, one side of her face red with blood. The look in her eyes when she sees Gael waiting is one of unbridled guilt. Liza sinks down to the sand, slouches forward, and just cries.

Gael will too. Just not right now.

Moving away from Martin, Ryans withdraws his cell phone from his pocket, checking now to see if the reception is any better, this far away from the Institute's jamming. Bars. There are bars on his' phone.

Oh thank you God.

Benjamin Ryans' hands shake as he uses one thumb to finally type the since word again, 'Rebel' and presses send. "Come on… come on.: His voice strained as he hisses the word out between clenched teeth, it takes everything in him not to shake the damn phone in his anger.

On the other end of that phone as it dials, there's a click, and a trimverate of voices answers the call. We have detected multiple transmissions from across the country when your phone went dark. Attacks on Company facilities presumed based on air-traffic and satellite imagery… are you well, Benjamin Ryans?

There is a look of relief on the former Assistant-Director's face as he hears the familiar voice. "It's good to hear your voices, let me tell you." The tip of his tongue wets dry lips and then swallows back the emotions that he's fighting to keep tempered down, it's not time to think about it.

"I need you to send the alert to the girls." Benjamin's words are so hoarse, the words scratching at his throat. "I need them safe, Rebel, please. Even if you have to send people to help." He falls silent for a moment, using the hand with the phone to push the brim of the fedora up, it almost looks comical. That hand sweeps across his forehead, wiping at the perspiration gathering there.

"I then need you to contact Bennet tell him…" Ryans voice hitches for a moment as those emotions threaten to overwhelm him. He just witnessed the violent down fall of the very organization he's been a member of for thirty years, he's allowed to be a little emotional. "…tell him to spread the word." The former agent takes a deep breath, before dropping the bomb that Rebel patiently waits to hear. "The Company has fallen. The last of us are on the run."

"We are being hunted."

Odessa, Texas

The Primatech Vault

A sound of thunder resonates inside of an enclosed space, crackling electricity released in a spherical blast as Lucas Eldridge appears on the other side of a heavy vault door, smoldering pieces of concrete and floor tiles clattering ot the ground around him when he appears, smoke rising off of his armor.

The vault around him is well lit and more like a display. Glass-faced cabinets show a wide variety of strange objects. Playing cards pressed between plates of glass, a kris-bladed dagger on a stand, a tiny wooden horse, several of the display cases are left open and empty, but one in particular catches Eldridge's attention.

There on one of the middle shelves is a glass jar, containing within it a clear fluid suspending a human brain in preservation. Across the top of the jar, there is a plate etched with a serial number. B037.

«Doctor Broome,» Eldridge offers into his comms, approaching the brain with slow, clunking steps.

«We found him.»


Some days he brings things. Today it's a box of candles, because maybe he remembers she liked these kind, shaped by hand with honeycomb textures. Might have been Lydia, anyway. Could have been one of the others. Either way, these, and a lantern of oil he says he brought from the twenties, the only antique in the world that's seen just a handful of years since its creation. This he lit to demonstrate it to her, to show off, of course, and it lights the corner of her modest room with golden light that flickers against a wind that doesn't exist. It brings out the bright colours in fire-light toned fabric stapled up on the walls.

The large window that stares out at Roosevelt Island has been veiled shut against the falling night, and he allows the light to be dim from lantern, and now, a set of three tall candles he whimsically lights with one of their identical siblings. The firelight plays against the embroidery of his waistcoat, over the silver ring around his thumb.

It still stings a little, where he'd jabbed wooden needle into a high point on her back, a soft sound of apology at the back of his throat. Now, he turns at the waist enough to see if the ink has resolved itself.

The red blanket is wrapped around Lydia's front, tucked under her arms to hold it in place while her long wavy hair has been pulled away from her back — half to the right and half to the left. As used to it as she is, she tenses under the prick of the needle, an odd reaction, but it occurs just the same. Despite the sting, there's something unusually calming about it all. The flicker of the lamp and the promise of home draw her eyelids closed creaselessly while the momentary tension fades as quickly as it'd come on.

Along her skin, in that earthy black ink, the image begins to form. The clearest of the image residing in the forefront is the face of man. His squared jaw-line, spiky hair, and soulful eyes stare beyond the canvas of Lydia's back, challengingly. His lips are neutral and his forehead creases into prominent wrinkles, so deep that they are visible within the lines of the image. Behind him is an almost indistinguishable profile — only a nose and lips. Behind that? The image of a hand, fingers spread as if to claw the painted lady, determined to leave a more permanent marking on her back.

With a slow inhalation of breath, Lydia's eyes open, her dark lashes flutter a few times as she contemplates the image displayed across her skin. When she speaks, her voice is rich, smooth, and confident, "Tyler Case." Quiet reflection floods the room for a moment before she explains, "You will find him in 2008 — in the Upper West Side." Her eyes close gently once again before her chin drops towards her chest, casting her gaze downward. "There are more, but it's hazy and I can't get a clear reading." There's a hint of discontent the fogginess of these supposed others, but its fleeting, lasting but a moment.

Easing himself to sit, Samuel Sullivan focuses on the disappearing images that vanish from Lydia's skin, an elbow against the arm of the couch with his hand cupping his jaw. "Some people are more important than others," he says of the ones that are too foggy. "But it depends on the time, depends on the place, as it so often does. Thank you, Lydia." His hand goes out to touch her bared back, a chaste setting down of four fingers in their splay, chipped black painting each nail, possibly applied for the express purpose of itching it away again.

His hand retracts again, the lingering notions of curiousity and reptilian interest only having that long to brush against her senses. "I've got another request of kinds. I'm looking for someone specific — one of my people, the one-eyed girl y'found, ran into some trouble in her errand from forty-five.

"An unexpected face, as it were. Do you think you could show me her?"

The fingers along her back earn a diminutive smile, small, be certainly present. There's no tension to be found underneath Samuel's touch; rather, her weariness melts away from under it. At this moment there's no concern about the outside cares of the world. This — the imprint of empathic tattoos upon her back — this is normal. "Not at all," she replies to the words of thanks while her own fingers lace together in front of her.

At the new request she straightens and her hands drop to her sides, pressing against the couch underneath her. "I can certainly try," is the quiet reply. Her chin lifts, stretching her spine one vertebrae at a time as her eyes close. With another hissed inhalation of breath she lets herself sink into the couch. And as she does so, the ink takes on new life upon its skin canvas.

The ink regathers, forming delicate contours when compared to Tyler Case. The jawline is far less square, while the cheeks are feminine and delicate in shape. Long tendrils of hair curl away from the angelic face, framing it in an array of long locks. The woman's lips curl into a small secretive smile. Her eyes are framed by a thick line of eyelashes.

Tension forms along Lydia's back with the figure an eerie unsettled feeling creeps over her as goosebumps form along her arms. Her eyebrows knit together with odd concern as her head tilts to the right. This is a woman she knows: it's Kaylee Thatcher.


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