Thicker Than Water


brian_icon.gif bill_icon.gif candy_icon.gif carolina_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif gillian2_icon.gif helena3_icon.gif helena_icon.gif leonard_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif scotch_icon.gif

Scene Title Thicker Than Water
Synopsis Phoenix prepares to rescue one of their own from the clutches of Humanis First.
Date October 18, 2009

Ruins of Midtown

The way the wind blows here, it sounds like the buildings are crying.

Mother nature couldn't be any more sympathetic to the hollow whistling of wind that blows thorugh the skeletal remains of Midtown's gutted skyscrapers. Just a block and a half from Ground Zero, the city lay in so much ruin and devastation that it's hard to imagine life ever existed here. It's like something out of a nightmare, where shattered concrete, twisted steel and the jagged frames of buildings eviscerated by nuclear fire stand like rotting carcasses left out as a warning to others who tresspass.

The sky has opened up with an icy cold rain, bitter on exposed skin like pins and needles. The ground underfoot is treacherous in some places; fields of shifting concrete and glass rubble mixed with twisted spines of rusted metal. It's here, where the hollowed out shell of the Chase Manhattan federal bank stands — the blasted ruin of a once looming skyscraper. Half of the building has been blown off, like a cigarette snapped in the middle, with the sagging upper portion of the skyscraper slouching against a neighboring building, precarious thousands of pounds of broken stone and twisted steel hanging overhead.

Pools of icy water collect where the street is broken, and across the street from the ruins of the bank, a multi-level parking garage has all but collapsed in on itself. Only one entrance has been cleared of debris, a subterranean ramp access to the garage's basement levels. Not far from here, old sewer access hatches at street level are camouflaged by the rubble and debris in the pale light of the distant living city.

It all comes down to this, to the retribution against Humanis First and the rescue of their captives. There are multiple ways in to the vault level of the Chase bank that the Phoenix mole Candace Allard had outlined, two street-level hatches and the parking garage ramp, all guarded and all active. Considering the situation, the fact that Phoenix has decided to brave the rain under the cover of night is a brave one.

Just a block from the crater of midtown's ground zero, there's a reason why the police never found the Humanis First bunker, why no vagabonds and vagrants wandered in unexpectedly, because this close to ground zero risks the one thing that Midtown is now famous for: radiation. The clock, and the geiger counter, is ticking.

Candy is waiting by the entrance that they have choosen to use as their entrance into the place. Her eyes looking between all of them while she takes a deep breath. Her eyes scanning where she can see while she awaits the assault group. She keeps the weapon that Humanis First had given her, tucked into her belt more for show when she was in there then for when she goes on the offensive. The young woman is almost craving the chance to make some of those people burst like rotten tomatoes, a feral grin starting to spread on her face, and an almost berseker gleam in her eyes. She only lets herself indulge in that for a couple of moments before she puts that to the side, letting herself slip into the calmness of the sociopath that always lingers just below the surface.

The woman they call Marilena is tall, black, and clad in a brown and white track suit. She looks anxiously at the others and notes, "You know, it's likely the doors aren't open all the way through. If a door gets open, I can try to do an initial run, see if I can disarm or punch people, but I'm still not used to this ability. We should probably do it room by room, yeah?"

Helena, body and soul as one, remains where she's been all this time: in the vault.

Subtle woulda been nice. Not that Leo is ever really capable of subtle. Not in this life…and really, even when he's dead, no doubt he'll be knocking over the other angels' harps and leaving the golden paving stones of the new Jerusalem broken in his wake. He's got an AK-variant slung over his shoulder, along with clips of ammo at his belt, his best furious scowl on, and the air of a man who is entirely fed up with this bullshit. There's the weird hush around him that comes when he's clamping down on his power, the sense of pressure building. And also, for practicality's sake, body armor. Everyone should have it, in this little teaparty - he's been adamant about that. "Yeah. We clear it room by room, though the faster we move, the better." There are even grenades with him, albeit flashbangs.

Some folks get antsy before the big game and throw up a few times before going in. Some folks just sweat a lot. For others, well they chew gum. And with that a stick of winterfresh is popped into the tall figure of Scotch McCoy. A few chews before he's looking back towards Candy. The mask pulled down over the Reverand's face as the safety is switched off the rifle in his hands, a pistol stowed in a holster at his side- By the looks of how he is decked out-this is old hat. Thankfully though the bird cage provided the Kevlar which will be needed in this little assault.

Blue eyes flick over to Helena .v2 before he's looking down and switching off the safety to the H&K carbine. "Ditto." comes the Texan's response. "If you can be quiet-awesome..If not make sure they stay down." But then in the Marines they aren't overtly big on just knocking people out and taking their guns-more like shoot the fucker then kick away their guns. But, he'll do as he needs to.

"That sounds good," Cat replies to the woman hosting Helena. "I think it best to avoid making noise as best we can. Taking down guards as silently as we can, area by area, works," She's protected by body armor, her face is covered by a ski mask of the sort given to all others present, and she has comm gear for communications. This last is also a staple of Phoenix operations. Armaments for Cat are a pair of silenced pistols, an M16 slung over a shoulder, and grenades.

The panmnesiac speaks into her microphone, saying "We're moving in." This is for Peyton's benefit, she being across town and using her ability. Comm gear was provided to the clairvoyant so she can describe things she sees.

The weight of this body armor is uncomfortable on Carolina, despite that she's far more familiar with the whole black operations tactical situations oh my God shit gon' explode type scenarios now than she was a few weeks ago. All this kevlar and comm system and heavy artillery stuff is still fairly intimidating. For all that, the young cultist is doing all right, her face not over pale underneath the webbing of the mask on her face and her hands reasonably steady around the grip of her semi-auto.

She's been running evac locations through her head for the past six hours, making sure she has her ability's reflexes, so to speak, down-pat and at ready. Gritted in her teeth is the certainty that this is the right thing to do, and she's careful not to let that go, either.

Better late than never.

And apparently Brian had some pressing engagement to attend to that made him so late. Maybe he miscalculated how long it would take to get him dressed. After all there are thirty of him. Thirty identical soldiers all head to toe in black body armor and helmets, all armed to the teeth. The clone army is assorted behind rubble and behind buildings lined along the street. Sniper rifles, assault rifles, and even a single RPG launcher. Though this mini-army of clones would certainly be intimidating in different settings, stealth is the key here, not a million bullets and so…

"If it gets too dicy, I'll have this whole street covered well for backup. If we need to run out, it will be back into safehands." Brian says quietly, dressed in a sharp black suit. A black umbrella is held up with one hand, his sisters hand with the other. Tugging Gillian in a little closer to make sure she is under the cover of their umbrella, he glances over to Cat and then back to not-Helena. "I'll go in with three of me. The rest will stay out here in case there needs to be… distractions." A gentle squeeze is given to Gillian's hand.

"My job is pretty much to hold your hand and avoid getting shot, and I'm perfectly okay with this," Gillian explains, glancing over the shoulder at the black Helena. Who isn't Helena. But— Man, everyone has identity crises these days. "I got a gun too, but I know you're better at it, so…" she says, checking her free hand to make sure she has access to the gun. Her brother was able to load himself full of all kinds of weaponry, thanks to the not so small cache under their place of residence. "Try not to fucking die too much tonight, too, okay?"

Halfway across the city, Peyton Whitney is sitting in the comfort of her own apartment, curled up in her purple chenille throw; it's hardly a picture of comfort, however, as she's pale and tense, as she murmurs into the headpiece she wears, "All right. Going in…" she murmurs. Her first target for a sightjacking is Bill, to see where he is, what obstacles might surround him that the team will have to contend with. She braces herself to see something she doesn't want to see — she nearly always does, and the fact her head is still pounding with a never-ceasing migraine doesn't make the task any easier.

— "Where the fuck is he goddamnit!?" Face bright red and hands flailing, Bill Dean grabs at the collar of one of his armed subordinates, shaking him back and forth. "He isn't fuckin' answering his phone an' he was supposed t'be here a fucking hour ago to pick up the C4!" A furious stare, hijacked by Peyton Whitney, is focused across the concrete room towards another armed man. "Someone find me my god fucking damed Irishman before I start fillin' you shit-heels full of bullets!" As if to make good on his throat, the round-faced man withdraws a pistol from the back of his slacks, brandishing it around like a baton.

Through Bill Dean's eyes, Peyton can see the interior of the Midtown Bunker, but not all is as it should be. Something is desperately wrong within the ranks of Humanis First, and that much shows on the worried faces of the other young soldiers he has at his side. "Where the fuck is Khalid? Oh for fuck's sake is no one answering their goddamned phone!?" A cell phone is hurled in a fit of rage at the concrete wall, shattering into plastic parts and ejected batteries as that rage ebbs out from Bill towards his own men.

The rain comes down harder on street level, sheets of ice cold water drifting from the sky to the muddy pools between fissures in the concrete. Somewhere between Helena in Marina's body and Cat's masked form, another — albeit shorter — young woman stands with sky mask pulled down, wanting nothing more than the presumed dryness of being anywhere but outside. For all her worth, she should be shaking as much as Carolina is, but Delilah Trafford's been forced to grow up in many an unkind way in the last several months. That this is almost normalcy for her says many, unsettling things about the life she's chosen to lead.

Not far behind where Candy waits in the rain, the entrance to the parking garage lay open. Beyond here, the easiest way to enter the compound without being dropped into the middle of the Humanis First beehive, lies Helena's rescue.

As the assembled team begins moving on that position, ducking inside the relative shelter of the dilapidated structure, Candy is able to lead them at the fore down the ramp passage into the lowest basement level. Here, just below the street, burned out husks of cars lay amidst piles of concrete debris and shattered glass, evidence of the power of atomic fire against all of man's creations. Somehow, in the burned out remains, a ghost of the future is etched into the back of Cat's mind; a living reminder of the other threats still looming on the horizon.

Here, in the parking garage basement, two vehicles that aren't demolished stand. One of them is a battered and bullet-hole riddled ice-cream truck modified onto a more reliable frame of a Hum-Vee. The badly beaten and ravaged vehicle still seems drivable, and its familiar appearance seems a welcome sign that this is, indeed, one of Humanis First's nests. Next to it, a white conversion van lies unblemished, the very vehicle that captured Helena Dean and Wendy Hunter. Not far beyond, a hole has been blown in the concrete of the parking garage wall and cut away with precision tools, making for a tunneled entrance into the bank vault basement of the Chase building.

Not far beyond here, Candy knows, begins Humanis First's bunker.

Candy looks at all of them as they arrive, she's silent for the moment, letting the sounds of the outside world remind everyone that just behind them they can leave and not have to worry about it However, none of the assembled team is likely to be backing down from a fight that at least one of them feels is so much more overdue. She turns to look at all of them that are there, before she says, "And here we go." Turning slightly to regard those behind her, before leading them into the hornet's nest and into glory.

Helena of course, has no idea what's coming. She's fighting both a crave for more Refrain and a touch of agony from lack of further morphine, but otherwise, she's keeping quiet in her cell, with every intention of resigning herself to getting shot in the head before she'll go along with Bill's plans. The passing hours have been focused on internal review, the slow and inexorable stripping of any meaning that the man who is Bill Dean has for her. It's the only way she can cope.

Marilena is merely waiting to be told to make her first run. She wants her body back, she wants it back bad. She's completely unaware that she's not simply a transferred mind.

She's a copy.

"Always, darlin'," says Leo, genially. He's speaking to Gillian, presumably, even as he checks over his equipment one last time. Charge of the Redneck Brigade, ho. And then the slips the rifle into three-shot burst mode, as he mutters something in Arabic. It is, of all things, the Shahada, the profession of faith. Since when is Leo a Muslim?

And there's the way to go, Gun's brought up as he trots along with the rest of them. Already the the Txan is moving to come up and take Leo's flank. Safety off, and burst mode on- good. Adrenaline down the spine..He can feel it-And eyes remain peeled as they descend down into the hornet's nest. A faint smirk beneath the baklavva , as boots keep their soft tattoo-yeah he's ready. Well as ready for killing as any man can be.

No smacking of the gum, Scotch does look over though to Leo as the bits of Arabic flow out. A sigh before he's looking dead forward. "Our Father, who art in heaven..hallowed be thy name.." And like that the Pastor is softly rolling through the rest of the Lord's Prayer.

Her M16 is ready, the safety is off as she keeps it over her shoulder. The need to be quiet has Cat drawing out one of the silenced pistols. It's ready to fire as needed. At the edge of the breach she stands, her head turning toward Marilena. "Go full speed if we see anyone hostile and are spotted," she advises, "without getting shot in the process." Then she steps in to the building and follows through what lies ahead, eyes open and alert for whatever threats might immediately be seen.

Into her microphone she asks "Distant Eyes, what do you see?"

The Spanish mumble that Carolina breathes into her mask is roughly as prayerful as the words that Leonard spoke, though it's hard to tell that they're just as out of place in her as the redneck's were. She keeps herself carefully walled off from harm by the other operatives and socialites and such, aware of her role as getaway, that the use of her lies mainly in the end of this thing, which means surviving the beginning and middle. Inevitably, she winds up clinging slightly to Delilah's coattails somewhat.

The Englishwoman is, after all, the Phoenix operative she knows best. "Boy," she whispers ahead. "This kinda thing happens to you people a lot, doesn't it?" You people. Considering the ethos of she and her housemates, that's an ironic choice of words.

"You got it."

Another squeeze of the hand from brother to sister as he goes to set down the umbrella. The icy chill rain dropping freely on the pair of them. The umbrella is tossed to the side. Smiling quietly over to Gillian. "Just make sure you stay close, little sister." With that Brian is leading the pair of them along with the team. His silenced pistol is drawn out, though ahead of him move three copies head to toe fitted for combat. One bears a shield, and the other two assault rifles, sticking close behind ShieldBrian. The three move ahead of Gillian and Brian. But when Scotch and Leo start their pre-chant battle, Brian sucks in a deep breath and wears a somber expression…

"Little miss muffet who sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey…" A beat. "Along came a spider who sat down beside her and frightened miss muffet away." There. It looks like they're all ready to move in.

Peyton can't hear the words that come out of the devil's mouth, but she can tell he's angry and that the young men are worried. "Dean's in a room, a bunk with like four beds, the soldiers in there aren't armed and look worried. Something's up, they're worried about something. He just threw a cell phone. There's lots of people walking in a hallway, though; it's busy. Be careful." She leaves Bill Dean's perspective, happy as always to do so, and slips into … darkness?

"I don't know if my power's going on the fritz again, or if this is a mistake… I just tried to slip into the Irish guy's sight and … it's black, like it was for Wendy when she had the bag over her head. Doesn't feel unconscious."

She shakes her head, and lets her vision shift yet again. "Danko's riding a motorcyle in what looks like maybe Chelsea, so he's out of the picture, at least momentarily. Who do you want me to stick with?" Peyton asks Cat, blindly reaching for her Advil bottle as her headache begins to dig its claws into her temples.

Delilah hasn't said a great deal even through the sorting of body armors and weapons before coming here, and even now remains quite inexplicably quiet. Doing things like this have become interestingly mundane all of a sudden- a year ago if someone told her what she would be doing- Dee would probably laugh and walk away. If you told her who she'd be hanging out with, that may get the same reaction. The redhead follows without much fuss, right behind the rest when they do move. When Carolina mutters closeby, Delilah turns her head slightly to listen.

"It happens to us quite a lot, yes." Lina cannot see it, but Delilah does smile, and happens to make some good choices in her wording. You people is us people too.

"Just because you're my fucking human shield doesn't mean you're the older one," Gillian mutters under her breath in her raspy voice, just loud enough that the closest people would be able to hear. The closest one of course happens to have extra ears. Her hand squeezes his, and then she glances around to what she can see of the others. Most of her energy is flowing into one man, but she knows there's some to spare for the others. But that's not right now. "Just don't let me fall unconscious or anything, cause then you'll be short like… ten of you."

The tunnel connecting the parking garage basement at the Chase headquarters vault level is just under six feet high, lower in other places. The earth has been tunneled thorugh for about ten feet, opening up into a collapsed subway tunnel, before being blasted through on the opposite side. The change of scenery from parking garage to the toppled concrete slabs and twisted metal rails of the tunnel is abrupt, showing a clear sign that whoever was attempting to get into the basement knew what they were doing and where they were going.

Across the rails and up onto the adjacent platform, the next section of tunnel leads into the exploded remnants of a generator room for the bank. Pieces of broken concrete block off large sections of the basement, and some of the iron doors down here have been blown off their hinges by landslides of pavement, twisted metal and concrete debris that fell through from above. Raising one hand in a closed fist, Candy halts her motion, because not far ahead, the sounds of conversation ring out with clarity.

"…s'a fine fuckin' attitude that jackass has. Like I fuckin' know where the fuckin' Irishman is. Did he think to check Ireland maybe?" A hiss of breath echoes down the hall, and just beyond a blown out section of wall, Candy can make visual confirmation of the three sentries that guard the entrance to the bunker. Two are smoking, rifles slung loosely over their shoulders, and another is sitting in a rolling office chair, eating cold beans out of a can with a plastic spoon, complaining about the current attitude of one of their leaders — namely Bill Dean.

Now, in the face of their opposition, Phoenix is faced with the choice they're often forced to make: take lives in order to save lives. Never an easy decision, but one that has to be made. For some people, like the hydrokinetic spy situated at the lead of the group, the choice comes somewhat easier.

Candy wants nothing more than to turn the three guards into bloodless bags of flesh, but knowing the need for silence and secrecy, she holds off her offensive. Her eyes turning to the rest of the group while she calls a halt, and simpley holds up three fingers to let those behind her know what that there are three guards ahead. Her eyes flashing while she looks at Cat, eyes boring into the other woman while she awaits a simple nod of Cat's head to let her release the rage that she has been keeping inside. Knowing the plan, she merely points at Marilena and then towards the door, letting her know that she can go if she wants to. For now, however, the sociopathic hydrokinetic lets others decide if they want to kill the guards or do something else. Once cover is blown, however, Candy makes an inward promise to kill any that she can lay her power's sights on.

Marilena turns a moment to Gillian, unsure if an earlier comment was addressed to her. But confronted with a room full of Humanis First operatives, she takes a moment - plots her course in her head, and springs into action without waiting for the raven haired woman - a blur of brown that makes a sweep of the room, attempting to punch, elbow, or otherwise disarm each man present as she passes them.

There's only a snort at Brian. And sad to say, taking lives has gotten far too easy for Leo. These aren't children, these aren't guiltless dupes. These are terrorists, and that's what he signed on to fight, oh so many years ago. Now he's at it again, even if it's off the books. "Let me use the flashbangs, first, before we go in. I can get 'em around the corner. Stun 'em," he says, already readying one of them. And then Marilena's ahead of him, and he's changed his plan - right behind her, rifle in his hand, quite delighted to put a bullet into the ones Marina disarms for them.

A snort, and Scotch turns as they slow to send a finger in Brian's direction-but that is about it. There's a look as Helena seems to be heading in and there's a faint shake of his head. Obviously opening fire would be bad, but he does have a knife-As such he's going to wait and see before simply there's a faint Crackle as smoke picks up, and there the tonal discharge is heard as Scotch suddenly erupts into a plume of thick, acrid, and sulfur smelling smoke.

Sadly for the fellow eating beans in his seat, there would only be the sudden smell of a box of matches going up, along with the crackling sound. If he looks to see what would be there, he'd just be met with Scotch standing there, and the knife-previously drawn, going for the man's neck, as the other reaches to extend the head back. Make this easier, and a little more bloodier for all involved. Screw PR- this shit has to end now.

Candy is eyed in turn as she eyes Cat, and the panmnesiac takes just a moment to think. "Making them blow up isn't the best idea in the world," she counsels dryly. "If anyone ever comes down here and finds them, we don't want to have it said they were martyrs killed by some SLC ability. Can you use mastery of water to stop blood from flowing to brains instead?"

Having asked the question, she moves in after the others who've advanced and looks just briefly at the downed ones, ready to act against any still presenting a threat. Her silenced pistol is aimed at any such and, if needed, used.

"Keep focus on Danko, Eyes," Cat instructs into her mike. "Chelsea's close, if anyone gets out a radio call he may come and try to bring reinforcements." Although Wireless is hopefully preventing any such thing.

A little smile is delivered to Scotch from Brian happily. A little finger waggle given to him. Brian glances back over at Gillian. "I'm older." He whispers, before pausing allowing Scotch, Leonard and Marina to deal with the first three Humanis members. No reason to have them all rushing at three guys. There will be plenty of things to shoot and stab, so Winters temporarily lags back with his three combat-suited replicates. Looking to Gillian. "How long do you think Cat thinks about these nicknames? I mean, Distant Eyes. Are we Native American now? If she starts calling me Many Bodies, I'm straight up leaving." He then raises his voice ever so slightly. "If reinforcements come, they'll have 26 moderately angry me's to deal with."

"He's not heading toward Midtown, doesn't look like," Peyton says. "Looks like he's going toward the Lincoln tunnel. Want me to shift to someone else or stay with him?" She leans her head back on the arm of the couch, staring unseeingly up at the ceiling. A tear trickles down one cheek, not borne of emotion but merely strain.

Delilah is hoping to not have to fire the weapon she has readied- If she can help it, anyway. She can justify doing in someone like this, but doing the act constantly wears on someone with a heart as big as a whale. "I guess…at least she's not calling me Rainbow Toad?" Delilah barely holds a snicker. That is all that she has to say, hanging back nearby the gang of Brians and those others who did not rush forward, waiting for direction forward.

"Are not," Gillian says in classic sister talk style, but there's something softer in her voice, like she's forcing herself to be conversationalist. She keeps trying to look ahead, keep an eye on most everyone. It's pretty much impossible. Brian's got far more eyes than she does, so she'll just trust all of them to know what they're doing. "Fuck, she better not call me Battery Pack or something…" There's no glow around her hand, the power isn't quite enough for that anymore, it's just maintaining it. She's definitely staying near the Brians. She has bullet proof vests, but she experienced how useless they can be at times…

A flurry of motion and breeze blowing thorugh the bunker entrance leaves a bewildered and confused group of Humanis First operatives wondering exactly what just happened. One handgun lays on the floor, disassembled as much as a slide pulled off from the body of the gun can be, while the others simply have had their assault rifles taken from them. Unfortunately, the punches and kicks seem to come awkwardly and lacking in proficiency; Marina's body does not have the muscle memory Helena's does, it lacks the expertise of having some formal hand-to-hand combat training, leaving her knuckles sore, ankles tender, and the wrist on her right hand in sharp pain from a poorly landed punch to one of the men's jaws.

Despite her lack of finesse the speed at which the attacks are delivered laid out two of the men outright, due to the too-quick jostle of the backs of their heads into concrete walls behind them. The third guard, the one seated in the chair, is doubled over and out of breath from a super-speed kick to the stomach, one that leaves Marilena's ankle sore, pain shooting up the side of her calf. Hitting things at super speed hurts like hell.

The pained guard is only in suffering for a brief moment before his hair is jerked back by Scotch's hand, the gleam of light off of his combat knife shining bright before the flahs of metal across the guard's throat sends an arterial spray up along one wall and down to the floor in a drooling stream. It's a terrible, vicious thing to have to do to someone, sawing through that much carilidge and muscle tissue to sever arteries and silence a man all in one fell stroke. He gugrles, less noisily than a scream that he's trying to make, and the guard topples to his side, leaving a bright crimson pool beneath his thrashing body in a few moments it takes for him to go deathly still. Somehow, the sight of a man's throat torn out by the cut of a knife makes a playful jest about codenames seem in bad taste now.

There's reasons to fear anyone, evolved or not, and the brutality of this intercession is proof positive of that point.

Beyond what is now a secured entrance, Helena, Scotch and Candy can see the hallway beyond is clear. Closed doors are barricaded by debris moved from one of the other rooms, likely wayward entrances leading into collapsed or collapsing portions of the basement. Here, at the once guarded entrance, a runged metal ladder leads up to a narrow shaft and a metal hatch that opens out on street level, one of the two additional entrances to the bunker.

At the end of the hall, an open doorway leads into a spacious room divided up by portable curtains where folding cots have been arranged. It looks like some sort of battlefield triage center, save that it's being used for recreation instead. Bill was just near here moments ago, but now he's nowhere in sight. Branching off from this main chamber, other rooms lead into weapon storage areas and other supply stores. But what is most important, beyond this hall of twenty some odd men, is the distantly visible bank vault door, sealed shut and watched by two armed guards. That is their goal.

"If I try to do that, Cat, I may very well end up falling unconcious. I don't have that much of a fine control over my powers to always be doing that," Candy answers her truthfully. Though, as people start doing things, and she looks down the hallway, she steals herself for the head ache that she knows is about to come. Looking at the two guards to the bank vault, she concentrates, trying to get a feel for the water that flows through their veins. With a feral smirk, she forces the water in their brain to suddenly force its way out. Not in a spectacular explosion, but in a contained bleed in their skulls that makes the both of them suddenly slump and fall to the ground. Gritting her teeth a little, as the headache starts. Through gritted teeth, she says, "I've got one more of that, at best, Cat. They're dead." She growls softly, trying to force her way through the pain as she leads the group towards the vault.

"If I try to do that, Cat, I may very well end up falling unconcious. I don't have that much of a fine control over my powers to always be doing that," Candy answers her truthfully. Though, as people start doing things, and she looks down the hallway, she steals herself for the head ache that she knows is about to come. Given the fact that they just walked into a room with twenty-odd Humanis First troops, Cat gets a sidelong glance, before Candy finally releases the inner-animal that she has kept at bay. Deciding that now, the Humanis First members will pay for what she had to do. For every evolved that she had to watch get tortured, for every evolved that she had to participate in their torture and eventual death. For Helena and Wendy. The Humanis First members here will bleed gallons, and Candy has the method to do it. Despite being among the first in, Candy doesn't even stop to seek for cover at first, merely sidestepping to allow everyone else to enter in and join in on the fun. Her eyes focusing on one of the men closest to her, and in a matter of moments there is a sudden burst of a red cloud around the man, that fades out to pink towards the edges. He doesn't even have a chance to make a cry, just a gurgle as liquid rushes past his throat. Candy's concentration is just as soon on to another Humanis First member who quickly suffers the same fate.

Oh yes, there will be blood.

The real Helena can't even hear the ruckus. The vault's pretty soundproof, not to mention dark.

"Owwww, hell." hisses Marilena, once she's finished making her round. She stands to the side, trying to keep out of the way, her heart beating fast from her moment of effort. And even beyond that, there's another group, this time of even more men. She doesn't think she can hit that many people in one go, not because she's not fast enough, but because she doesn't think her hand would hold out. She looks for something to use as a club, instead. Maybe one of these downed bastards has an asp.

Hey, hey, hey. Other people getting kills in. He'll just have to catch up. Leo's raising dust like Pigpen, the unthinking imprecision of adrenaline. He's right at Helena's elbow, Marilena, anyway, looking to her, and then trotting along at her side. She's limping, and that has him scowling. "Let me get in first on this next one," he asks her. "We'll use the flashbangs, stun 'em. Should last a long time, for you," he suggests. "Signal me and we'll go in side by side."

Nothing is said after that brutal display, nothing to go with the gurgled scream or now the ever pooling crimson at Scotch's feet. He was taught once, in War you do what you have to so that the guy next to you can survive. Even now the Pastor's higher calling of showing mercy doesn't even seem to factor into it. No- this Shepherd's focus is on dealing with wolves-not with showing them mercy or charity. That is fuck all, out the window.

Knife wiped clean, before it is slid back up in the tact vest he has on. Rifle brought to bear as he catches up to Marelina and Leo. "You okay to go?" figured he might as well ask, as Leonard comes up with tactics. "Before you toss, let me get a look and I'll jump in and cover your flanks..See who I can pop-" Did she just go in? "Huh.." Yeah that sums that up.

"We can come back to Danko later," Cat states into the microphone for Peyton's benefit. No commentary is made on a name Brian might know very well was meant to hide her identity. "I don't see Bill yet, having a look at his location now would be a good thing." She eyes Candy for a moment as she replies, and peers around the doorway's corner to see the first man drop from sudden loss of blood. "That'll get their attention," she remarks, raising her weapon to start aiming at men inside who may soon be raising weapons and trying to fire their way.

A moment of further contemplation tells her to face Marilena and make a suggestion. "There are two guards closest to the vault, and Bill can't be seen here." He could, for all she knows, be in the vault. They need to, also, keep anyone from going in there right now. Seeing their fellows dying could cause those guards to rush in and try to kill the captives. Her silenced pistol is trained on them, she aims two quick shots at their heads. "Keep anyone from getting in there." She doesn't say anything to others, she seems to believe they'll all get it and open up on the gathered men.

The epileptic seizures of gunfire— the light, the noise, the growing heat— stiffen Carolina in degrees. It was a good thing that her boyfriend had prompted her to do a few stretching exercises before teleporting in, or else she'd be at majo risk of pulling something and making a complete ass of herself while everybody is running around sassing at each other in verbiage warmly smirky with familiarity and, you know, murdering easy as you like.

Fffwhhh. She breathes in, breathes out. Keeps her gloved hands loose at her sides, and her eyes wide in her head, swallowing her slimy heartbeat. Ready on an instant's notice to fling up a gateway turned against a wall or turned against its own target as soon as counter-attack comes around the corner, if counter-attack's coming around the corner. "How much further is it?" she asks, her ordinarily alto voice a few octaves higher than it ought to have been.

Knife and blood. Brian's lips draw into a thin line as they progress towards the vault. The next room having a lot more people in it, but Brian doesn't really make a dash for the room. The gaggle of armed replicates simply wait, deciding to avert their eyes from unconcious and or dead bodies. A hand squeezes Gillian's gently. They have a big team, and rushing in might clog things up a bit. For now, Brian's just going to wait his turn.

Peyton lets her vision return to her surroundings for one moment, a second of relief, before her pupils once more dilate and her living room disappears, replaced by what Bill Dean looks at.


"He's in the vault," she says, loudly, knocking over the bottle of Advil that sat open next to her on the couch, dozens of little brownish-orange pills spilling out around her. "Dean is in the vault with Helena, I don't see anyone else in there with her," she says urgently into her microphone.

It dawns on her Wendy is missing a second later, and tears begin to blur what is really Bill Dean's vision.

Delilah keeps to the opposite side of where there is a huge red mess in the room forward- she steps carefully around to avoid the man that got bled like a poor old pig, and possibly over one of the men that got the consciousness whapped out of them. Lilah's throat feels dry, but only because of the nervous film producing on the inside- not to mention the fact that there are no respawns. She stays next to Carolina for now, quite reasonably sensing the other girl's uneasiness down here and making sure to keep a few people in her sight, though for the most part Gillian. If there is going to be a rapid escape- Lina plus Gillian, right? They likely did tell her what Gillian does, right?

When Brian stays put, his OLDER sister does much of the same, squeezing his hand back and moving to reach for the gun again. This time Gillian pulls it out, cause even if everyone's worried about martyrs, guns don't mean Evolved. Guns could be anyone. Guns could be their own people.

They say in a moment of trauma or accident, it all happens too fast to realize. In a way, that's perfectly correct. Most everyone down here has been in enough violent spots — even in some regards Carilona — to have felt the adrenaline of life-threatening fear pump thorugh their bodies. It hastens reaction time, makes the world seem to stagger-stop in place, and it's only when the stacatto pop of small arms fire rings out underground that it truly starts.

It's not Phoenix opening fire, it's Humanis First.

Backtracking on the event later makes it a bit clearer to recall, but the haze of confusion that comes in the moment after Candy enters the barracks hall seem to blow by in seconds. A body hits the floor with a wet slap of blood atomized out pores, and by the time it takes Candy to groan out a response and setle her eyes on what's happening around her and the second target that shares the same fatew, alerts are being shouted down the barracks hall. The gunfire comes from the first man able to raise his weapon, three shots in a burst in Candy's direction, only one of them hits her. It's a punch to her vest, one that sends her off of her feet and against the concrete wall beside the door. The feeling of being hit with a vest on it like getting kicked in the chest by a horse with precision aim; it evacuates the lungs of air and blinds the senses. It may save a life, but bruised ribs are bruised ribs.

People are scrambling, confused, two men are dead and hardly anyone in the room is armed. The two guards at the vault door take a knee, leveling their rifles to bear as they aim down the hallway, ready to try and pick off people who move in. The loud report of an M-16 being fired blasts from the left most guard down the hall, peppering the wall beside Candy thanks to the obscurement the curtained partitions made of her staggered form.

While some of the men are running for their weapons, others are falling back to supply rooms and behind concrete pillars that support the wide-open barracks room, trying to take advantage of whatever minimal cover they can. This place was never meant to be defended from an attack like this, it was meant to never be found.

Danko is going to be pissed.

Candy lets out a grunt as the bullet catches her in the chest, and flings her against the back wall. Her mind shocked for a couple of moments as it tries to catch up with what the hell just happened. She's choking and sputtering, trying to get air back into her lungs while her eyes look on towards the fighting, dimly aware of what is gong to happen. However, a smile still peppers her face as adrenaline pumps through her veins, have in celebration of that fact that she isn't dead yet, the other in victory over having done what she intended to do when she stepped in. With everyone firing at her, the doorway should be clear for the advance of those behind her.

The party has clearly begun. "Right. Now," says Leo, with a calm that isn't really feigned. There's that pure adrenaline clarity with him, now. He pitches one of the flash grenades down into the chamber where Candy's done her work - it sails far beyond what an ordinary arm should be able to, back among the HF partisans. Then he's wading in with gun and power, shooting those he can see, reaching to try and drag out those wise enough to take cover, hauling the enemy out one by one like a ratcatcher. "We take 'em down first and then we deal with it," Leo says, staunchly. "I'll get the door."

"Shitfuck." Comes the Pastor's voice as he ducks his head back, some bullets clearly whizzing. A look as he tries to catch a clear bead on someone before he's looking to Leo And there's a faint nod "Meet you down there.." eventually. After all this is where Scotch shines, or can shine and will hopefully open up a hole or two for some of his fellow birds. A grunt and there comes that crackle as the smoke clearly shows once more. the tonal discharge signaling out the teleporter's departure.

Only to have him reappear in the room, gun a blazing-rifle's shots precise for the quick targets he can see before he's jumping again, ever moving. The good news about this is that Scotch's own jumping will disorient and possibly get some good kill shots. The downside of it? Well, simple-He could port himself into the line of fire, if not careful enough. Here's seeing how this will go.

Things are moving fast now, and Cat is a fast thinker, doing so on her feet. She hears Peyton reporting the location of Bill inside the vault and the absence of Wendy. It causes her to become angered. Damnit. This was supposed to go according to plan. Rescue both, be the one time there wasn't an element of failure, but one captive is gone. Words are spoken sharply into the microphone. "Tell me if he seems to be aware of trouble outside, is he raising a gun or anything to kill her before she's reached? Then… track where Danko's heading, he may be headed toward where Wendy is kept."

At the same time, she's getting a look toward the vault door and seeing people not doing what she asked. It makes her anger rise a bit more. "Goddamnit," she says, "what part of make sure no one gets to the fucking vault door do people not understand? One of them might charge in and kill Helena!"

She turns to Carolina and speaks to her sharply enough to hopefully inspire what she wants being done, to get through the woman's fear. "Portal, now, here to the vault door!" The M16 comes off her shoulder, readied to use on anyone in her path at the other end, as she calls out "Cover me!"

There's a scratching thump of a boot behind Delilah, a guttural cough from the Mexican teleporter when impact catches her off-guard. Ugh. This is fucking insane; she's already braced against the deafening wail of the vault protesting Leonard's telekinesis before he's done flipping operatives out, one by one, end over end. 'Shitfuck' sounds about right, but nothing escapes Carolina's teeth except a trickling keen of breath as she focuses her mind through the gauzy translucency of Scotch's trail. A vein twitches out in her forehead, above her brow, fighting down an incipient headache as she fights to track the turns and jumps of the situation report in flash-frozen frames.

She sees her window of opportunity instead of noticing the blood puddling underneath her boot, muddied, dripping down the rim of her pant leg's cuff. Abruptly, two gates form in the air, effectively sandwiching the struggling remnant of operatives, bruised by blunt trauma and further disoriented by wracking noise and stinging light. The terrorists return-fire. Hollow-points hail screaming through the distorted air, hailing into the blurrily armored figures— only those blurry, armored figures aren't Phoenix operatives, but the Humanis soldiers themselves.

The rounds are called cop-killers for a demonstrable reason: they slice through the terrorists' PD-standard kevlar precisely the way they were, ironically, built to.

Those who didn't find cover, anyway. It takes Carolina a twitch of another thought to implode, reform the gates rotated. She steps forward without limping. "Go!" she yells. "Hurry! I might be able to box them in!"

"Cat sounds mad guys."

It's addressed to the three black clad Brian warriors. The lead Brian in the suit sounds and looks very disappointed in them. "And personally, I blame you three." A swing of his silenced pistol and the other three of himself turn and make their way for the next room. Two assault rifles are raised as the two men wielding them crowd in behind ShieldBrian. The three Brian's join the fray, letting out bursts of fire as they slowly and tactically enter the room.

"Someone cover Cat!" The remaining Brian exclaims, pulling Gillian's hand. "Wanna jump in a portal?" He asks with a little smile. Glancing over to Delilah he motions for her to come along. "Let the big boys fight. Let's go save Cinderella." Holding to Gillian's hand tightly, Brian ducks his head as he starts sprinting with Gillian in tow to the first portal.

"No, doesn't look like it," Peyton whispers now regarding Bill. "He just looked up, like he just heard the gunfire… Be careful." She doesn't want to look away and yet she also doesn't want to watch what will happen next; she's happy to have that decision made for her, and drops her perspective from Bill, blinking a few times to clear the tears from her eyes before focusing on Danko, a man she's never met, but seen through other's eyes. "He's stuck in traffic in the tunnel. I'll stick with him. Talk to you later." She clicks off her microphone, pulling the headset off and curling up miserably on the sofa to watch traffic from the eyes of a motorcyclist in the Lincoln Tunnel.

Only because she knew it was coming, does Delilah not readily flinch away at the ensuing sounds of bullets leaving chambers; she is able to tuck herself around the corner of the previous room and pop off a couple of rounds, but she waits to see the destinations and actions of the few teleporters that they brought down. Scot is crackling across the room at intervals, and Carolina has found a way to open an offensive with a largely defensive power. Brian beckons her onward with him, and he does not need to ask her twice; he has clones covering Cat, while they need people down there now- so Delilah tails the replicator and the amplifier, sprinting off with them across the floor.

Oh— what the— hey. Gillian is all grateful for the protection of her brother and not having to fire into a crowd, or get shot, but then he takes an initiative and pulls them even closer to the door. "Last fucking time I save the Princess," she curses under her breath, wishing she'd invited him over for dinner and augmented him from a safe spot, but then she couldn't reach out and split her ability between others. They all knew the signal if they needed more power, so she waits to see it so she can send out a thread, and prays she doesn't get shot.

Everything happens in the span of just four minutes, and in the time it takes for guns to fire and blood to fall, that is an excruciatingly long period of time. Gunfire fills the air, screams, shouts, calls for backup and booted feet charging from adjacent rooms only to run headlong into stray gunfire fills this dank concrete tomb of a facility. Bullets bounce and ricochet off of stone, bodies hit the ground in rapid succession.

Flashes of smoke and audible crackles in the air come one by one as the pastor known as Scotch manages to flit like some ephemeral figment from one place to another, halting only long enough to spray a burst of gunfire and vanish, letting bullets whip through umbral smoke and nothing more. He reappears several feet away, another burst of gunfire and a flicker-snap of shadow and sulphurous stench, this pattern repeated in a hop-scotch advance up the hall until he makes one final jump to the vault door.

"Everything I did…" Peyton can't hear Bill's words, but she can feel his lips moving and see Helena's expression, "I did for you, I— your mother. S'not fair, what happened t'her, I never wanted any of that!" A gun is brandished in the air, the feverish words of a madman now trapped in the vault as much as Helena is. "All I want t'do is put things right. The— the things like me can't be trusted. Chestnut, you've gotta realize I did this all for you…" A shaky hand holds the gun up to the side of Helena's head, blue eyes welled with tears from a twisted mixture of psychotic rage and guilt.

The men at the vault door, armed as they are, weren't prepared for the abrupt assault of a teleporter, and they've chewed thorugh their first clip trying in vain to hit him by the time he's at the sealed entrance. One flash, a flicker of a knife, a spray of blood and then a hiss of shadow, smoke and brimstone before the loud report of a handgun goes off, and the crouched Humanis First gunman jerks to the side from a point-blank shot to the side of his head.

With the entrance to the vault secured, Scotch flickers and whirls out of existance in rapid side-steps between space to avoid gunfire that pings off of the vault door as one end of Carolina's portals whorl open nearby. Humanis First operatives stagger back and away from the gunfire, weapons clattering to the ground, armor piercing rounds that tore through their own men having never had a chance to taste the blood of the invading force.

As the Brian formation moves in to the bunk area, his gunfire takes quick succession to sweep up stragglers ducked for cover. Carefully planned and aimed shots fell one man after another, shots precicely chosen and the lack of true fear of death keeping him as calm as a mirror-still pond. The surviving men, held up in the weapons locker room — visible thorugh an open doorway from the barracks — duck in and out from behind cover, taking shots in Cat's direction. But the focus of the ex-Company agent manages to pick one off combined with Cat's concentrated fire, along with his partner inside of the room.

Bill's breath stinks of alcohol, and his hands shake and tremble at the sounds of automatic gunfire just outside of the vault door. "A'never meant t'take her from you! God, y'have to believe me… it— you an' yer mum were the only things that mattered. When I found out— when I knew our marraige was on the skids, I din' have any other— " Bill's upper lip twitches, "I lashed out, at you, at her. You know my temper, things a'said… god I never wanted her to end up like that. A'just— I was so upset." Hearing the gunfire getting closer and closer outside, Bill scrambles to find a semblance of balance to the fear and guilt he both feels and exudes from his body unconsciously.

Thirty-six men, dead in the time it took Candy to pull herself off the floor. Four minutes felt like an eternity, four minutes and thirty-six lives cut down. The shooting has stopped before they even make it across the hallway. At the door to the vault, the rush to get to where Helena is being captured is impressed only by the knowledge that Bill has locked himself inside the vault, and the combination-lock bank vault door is sealed shut with him inside with her. Everyone near the door can feel the crushing wave of guilt and despair emanating from inside, like walking into a room full of depressed alcoholics, their negative feelings are consuming. So too is the proximity effect of Bill Dean's ability when he realizes all hope is indeed lost.

"M'so sorry, Chestnut." Bill's finger twitches over the trigger, blue eyes wide in the pitch-black darkness of the vault, his hand shaking more when the sound of gunfire outside stops. "This isn't how a'want you t'remember me," he says with a line of snot running down his face, the cold chrome of the gun pressed under her chin. "M'so sorry."

The gunshot inside the vault is almost hard to hear on the other side of the door.

Candy starts to stand up from her position on the floor, a finger coming up to finger the bullet hole in her chest briefly, before she starts at a sprint towards the door as well. Knowing who is behind there, and having a promise of a bath that she very well intends to keep to the occupant inside of it. Her eyes still filled with that feral gleam of a woman riding the edge of sanity and just barely keeping it under control.

Leo's scream, however, is not. That's not his power, he's not Elisabeth. It does nothing save warn of his coming - incoherent, nearly inhuman, speaking of nothing but rage. He pops out of Carolina's portal with that unholy enthusiasm, and comes to a halt, hands raised like he's the Sorcerer's Apprentice and the brooms are getting way the fuck out of line.

It's like another apprentice entirely that he deals with the vault door. Here, guns won't be doing the trick, but the combination of raw fury and Gillian's boosting. Heedless of the battle going on behind him, he fixes his gaze on the reinforced door. And ….stares? It doesn't seem to do much at first, but eventually, there's the shiplike groan of the immense metal door buckling. Nearly too slowly to be seen, at least to start with. His rifle bumps forgotten at his side, he's sweating bullets, and slowly starting to sag…..but the door peels away. Enough to let someone in….or out.

There are two people in the vault. One of them is a corpse.

The figure on the floor had a gun pressed to its temple, and so when the shot was fired, bits of skull and flesh and blood and gray matter splattered across the ther person, huddled tightly as they can against the wall, staring at the lifeless body and trembling, mouth parted without any sound coming out. Shock has rendered the pupils dialted at what was just done, and being ground zero of that wave of despair doesn't help matters.

Helena Dean stares down at the body of the man who was her father, dead by his own hand. A sound emerges from the back of her throat, wordless, an animal's keen. She can't stop staring.

When it is said and when it is done, there is a blood on the reverend's hands, and the small bit of smoke leaving the barrel of his gun. Done in quick-deadly effeciency, the work a man of God should not ever, undertake. Scotch shakes t' rivulets of blood from his blade, before he's taking time to quickly reload his pistol. "Door's clear." comes Scotch's voice finally, before he's turning to head in once Helena has cleared the door. Save there's not even that moment. Just the look from the taller man over her shoulder, before there's a pause

"Jesus, have mercy.." murmured before gun is put away-blade to quickly follow-Its then that the lamb shows from the lion, a snap out of it, and hands move to catch the young woman's shoulders, so as to pull her back from the grizzle sight. One instinct down and another taking control, as McCoy finally fills the roll he was called to-or tries. "Commere.."

It is the best he can offer right now.

Moments later, Cat also is through the door. She takes time to survey the situation silently, features returning to calmer expressions. The shot she heard just moments before made her heart leap into her throat, had her frantic to reach the door and key in the combination Leonard made unneeded. The blonde Helena is looked at, if possible she'll make eye contact and share without words her understanding of grief for a lost parent. No matter what they've done, or will do, whether hero or not the bond remains. The pain comes.

What comes into her mind is the memory of being told her father hadn't come out of the reactor, and the man who said it was the most noble thing he's ever seen. Caught in this, she just looks at Helena for an extended stretch, not even mindful that the other body containing Helena is still around and may come to see this.

Arriving at the vault, Brian steps in neatly after Scotch, shouldering around Leonard. Frowning at Helena and then over at the dead body he allows Scotch to initially comfort Helena. Just outside the vault his own voice is calling, "All clear." With all the Humanis operatives taken care of the Black Clad Ninja Brians start to reload their weapons.

Thirty was overkill. But, what you gonna do? "Dee." He turns slightly to face Delilah. "Help her out of here. She shouldn't have to look at this." Brian strategically positions himself with Gillian at his side in front of Helena's line of vision blocking off the sight of the body. He glances over at Gillian, at this moment very thankful that he at least has some semblance of family that isn't a terrorist killing machine. 'I love you.' Is mouthed to his sister before he's looking back to Delilah and Cat.

It looks like all the bad guys are knocked out or dead, up to and including the long-limbed corpse and its matted blond hair on the floor of the vault at Helena's feet, as far as Carolina can see. She can see pretty far, through the matched portals her ability affords. Exhaling a ragged sigh, she slumps back on her feet, the curve of her spine meeting the wall with fatigue heavier than her whole body is big enough to be. "Shit," she says rasps wearily, dropping the gateway in the interest of conserving energy. It'll be awkward navigating the distance between wrecked furniture and ragdolled Humanis First! corpses, but merely awkward.

Better them than us.

"Shit." Disconcerted, she repeats herself without even thinking about it— finds herself slipping slightly, almost stumbling against the smeared muck of blood underfoot. She manages to catch herself before falling into a heap, on one bent knee, blinking saccadically in the fluorescent light. God, but she's tired: the kind that hurts in your bones. "C'mon, guys," she calls out. Her fingers scrabble the floor, close around something cold, metal, an empty clip. She tosses it toward the vault in a clicking series of skips and rebounds. "I heard somebody yelling 'backup.'"

Between the sudden stop of everything and Brian snapping her out of that limbo left over from being shot to the end of the corridor, Delilah barely has time to realize that Scotch has Helena's body, and the dead man on the floor has to be William Dean. Brian's voice causes a vertical crease to embed between her eyebrows under fabric, and next thing Delilah is turning to find the taller and less chalky Helena in order to try and pull her away from the vault; a gesture to hurry, but with warm hands now free of a gun, it is gentle to the touch and almost pleading. She can hug Helena's face into herself later, time permitting- her dad, evil or not- is dead. "Lina's right. Someone had to have called. We need to all get out now."

"Fuck," Gillian says as she looks down at the body, and all these things are starting to become old hat to her. She's just glad her brother managed to guard her from much more than a few beads of sweat and a little bit of a headache. "Don't think I can keep augmenting you much longer," she warns, pulling back all but the thread she's sending into her brother. She looks over at Helena's blonde body. At least she's not a vegetable. "Yeah, if someone called for back up, we should get the fuck out of here. I haven't gotten shot yet and I'd like to keep it that way."

It's not so much that reinforcements were called for, it's that while they arrived and were gunned down, one can never be too certain of the finality of death, not when you're dealing with zealots that crawl like cockroaches out of sight. From beneath the bodies of his own comrades, one of Humanis First's soldiers in Bill's cell rises up with a pained cry, blood pulsing from a wound on his side where he had been struck by a ricochet, his hand coming up — but not quick enough. A single loud pop of gunfire from one of Brian's entourage jerks the young man's head back, legs buckling and hands falling to his side as a spray of red ejects from the back of his head. He falls limply to the ground, and the clink-tink-clink of something metal falls at his side.

The grenade rolls, not towards the vault as he intended, but towards one of the already slouching support columns holding up the sadding concrete ceiling. "Grena— !" Barely slips from Scotch's lips before his words are drown out by the thunderous sound of an explosion. In an instant sound is deafened by the blast reverberating off of the walls, nothing more than pained ringing in the ears and muffled shouting. Someone is screaming, someone is struggling thorugh the smoke and debris floating in the air, clouds of stone dust as thick as chalk dust.

The entire building shakes, the floor rumbles and a groaning creak comes from the ceiling. This place was never meant to be a prolonged institution, but the blast of the grenade going off ensures brutally that it never will be again. The rock overhead shudders and splits, and the entire Midtown Bunker is starting to collapse in on itself.

In the chaos, in the smoke and the disorientation and the noise, someone fails to notice they've been wounded by shrapnel, drizzling blood on the floor.

Asphalt jolts and shakes underneath the seat of Carolina's trousers, yanking her attention up from the thigh wound she'd been staring at with almost childish morbid curiosity. Dark eyes pop wider still inside their sockets, a shriek swallowed with a haggard pant of breath.

Even being half deaf from the discord before doesn't make grenades easy to ignore, not when they're bringing the whole fucking bunker down above your head. The mutant supremacist throws one arm back, splitting her nails against the wall in an effort to haul herself up onto her feet even as she steadies the other, angled out into the empty gulf of the hallway. Light bends, warping along a now-familiar disruption of patterned forms, physics ceding to the strength of her will.

The fabric of space rips ingress, seams an exit out into the street a hundred yards above and away from the bunker's imploding concrete boundaries. Somewhere over Brian Winters' shoulder, he sees the outward wink, ripple and flash, an unexpected generation of light in the otherwise inert ruins.

Candy runs for the portal that is opened when the bunker starts to fall all around here, not wanting to stay here. It makes her rather said, as she had grown to like those moistured covered walls. As soon as she is outside and taking a couple of steps to get out of the way of the rest of the probably stampeding task force. Her eyes watching for the grime-covered version of Helena to appear.

When the limited edition prisoner Helena appears into her field of vision and out of the rain, Helena feels the rain purposefully starting to seek her, as the young hydrokinetic delivers on the promise of getting her clean when she rescued her. However, once that final task is complete, and Candy realizes that she is free of Humanis First, that perhaps she can finally make absolution with what she had done, that look of dispair and haunting come back to her eyes while she studies Helena. Was that one life worth all the lives that she helped to ruin and end?

In the vault, Leonard realizes Helena's cuffed to a rail, trapped. Not for long, though. Leo staggers in, reeling drunkenly, to stare at what used to be Bill Dean… and then he notices that his fearless leader is still bound. There's a clink, the cuffs simply burst off her wrists like they were made of straw… and Leonard promptly passes out. Not a mark on him.

It all happens so fast. As cries of a grenade are heard, there's Marilena, trying to get around Dee -who's only trying to help, as Marilena looks at the redhead and motions her toward the teleportation portal. "Go!" she says, and pushes her way into the room. She sees the body of Bill Dean and can't help but think that it's the sight of his dead body that makes her dizzy…until she realizes that Scotch still has the other her, and Leo has just collapsed.

Her other body…her real body. It's so small. And this one, it's the body of an athlete. A lot stronger than her own true form.

She looks down at her friends, and decides she needs to take advantage of that.

Leo's arm is slung around her shoulder, while Scotch, clutching her true form, is dragged by the arm. She puts forth a burst of speed, aiming low at the shoulder, so when she's close enough to the portal, she can just pitch Leo forward and through, and use the momentum to send Scotch and blonde Helena through as well.

Her heart is pounding so hard. It's a lot of effort. Why does she feel so dizzy…?

Her regard of Helena Original is interrupted by the sound of the rifle fire and the grenade detonation. It draws Cat back to the present to notice the building is coming down and there's a portal open for escape. Eyes watch as Leonard and Scotch are sent through it with the original Miss Dean, then she glances back toward the Brians still present, Gillian, and Delilah. Eventually eyes settle on Carolina, then slide back to Marilena.

She might've said, before leaving, to use the explosives HF had planned to employ in framing them to seal the place off, to make it look like someone got careless, but that's been taken care of by HF itself. She also doesn't believe anyone else present needs to be told to go through the portal. Running forward, she tries to pull Marilena through with her into the portal and emerges from the other side.

"Okay. Just wait til we get up, and I can absorb a few of me. Don't let go until I can get rid of a few or I'll lose control." Winters says sternly. His clones won't fade into existance, he'll just start to freak out at not being able to tell which one is him or where he is and start flailing wildly, that's all. But then a different set of his own eyes catch someone moving. His own voice echoes Scotch's yell as he's rapidly pulling Gillian down on to the ground, throwing himself on top of her with his arms spread out to more fully shield her.

"Fuck! Let's go." Rapidly scrambling up, his hand thuds against something cold as he tries to rise up in the smoke. His hand searches somewhat until he realizes that he's feeling up Helena's dad's corpse. Fighting back the gag reflex, one hand slips into a pocket, pulling something out swiftly and quietly pocketing in his own coat.

"Hurry!" He yells as he fights to stand up. He and his gaggle of clones book for the portal.

Delilah is hard to get around if she wants to be, but this time not so much. When Marilena pushes herself away and motions Dee off towards the escape route, the younger girl practically falls in that direction as if suddenly pushed herself. That is not the case, but when it comes to taking directions, she is very attentive- and frankly, with the bunker literally crashing to doom around her head, all she can really do is hightail it towards the portal with the rest of them.

"Might wanna hurry, but— fuck, I'll hold on as long as…" Grenade. That. Not what she wanted. Gillian clings to the clone that's closest to her, keeping a thread of energy going into him as they make it through the portal and to the other side. She needs him to stay on her feet, but she's not bleeding, from the looks of things. But from the paleness on her face and the visible strain remaining, she really wants to go and lay down somewhere and sleep for a while.

The building shakes, a rumble, a shuddering upheaval that sends a wedge of concrete slamming down between Marilena and Cat, the sudden slip of the hand she was holding sending her staggering and tumbling back out from the portal to the broken street beyond. It's only here that Cat can see people still running for cover. She looks back in to the portal, that slab of stone toppling over and collapsing to one side to reveal not Marilena standing there, but a more petitte form struggling to walk in the clouds of dust and debris.

We humans are fickle things, united by ideals of nation, religion, race or family by something as simple as loyalty.

That scramble of uneven footing towards the glow of Carolina's portals sends Brian's replicants running for their lives as the Humanis First bunker threatens to collapse in on itself. Groaning stone and falling masonry mix with the sounds of rapidly loudening slams from the upper floors of the Chase skyscraper pancaking down onto one another high above. The slamming collapse comes one after another, billowing clouds of dust blinding vision in what may become Phoenix's tomb. But one by one, led by the light of Carolina's portals, Phoenix and their allies find themselves deposited back on street level, even as the dozens of other Brian replicants on the street are running for cover. The escape does not end once they hit the pavement, because the Chase skyscraper is collapsing, teetering like a wobbly toddler losing his balance, one floor after another swallowed by the tiered collapse of structural integrity.

Allegiances can shift, but true ties to one another, to those who are truly loved and trusted…

The last Brian gets out of the portal holding his sister close by his side, the pair can see the entire building sink some fifteen feet down into the ground, and through the view of Carolina's portal, Brian and Gillian can barely make out the hazy outline of the young woman collapsing to her knees in the basement on the other side of the gateway. Carolina slouches down, one hand held at her side, the gunshot she took during the firefight having drained her, stolen her strength and left her scratching for scraps of lifeblood not left. She looks up, and the young woman's eyes meet with Brian's, in the moment before the ceiling collapses down on her entirely ina blinding cloud of stone dust and debris. Her portal flickers and winks out, like a television turned off in the middle of a broadcast.

…to those who we entrust yourselves to…

Staggering, Scotch struggles to a knee, trying to drag both Helena and the catatonic Leonard by the arms and out of the shadow of the skyscraper, retreating as it's remains sway to one side, and begin toppling inwards towards the Midtown crater. In the billowing cloud of dust and debris rising up from around the skyscraper's collapse, a blur of wind and speed parts the dust, as Marilena's mind-copied form comes rushing out, racing the collapse of the building's toppling concrete and steel like an avalanche behind her. Under one arm, she carries Carolina's prone form, having been snatched from the jaws of the collapsing bunker at the last moment.

…and to those who are family all but in name…

From their vantage point further away, Cat and Delilah can see Marilena stuttering and faltering as she runs. One side of her white track suit is stained a bright red, and when she stumbles and falters in the shadow of the collapsing skyscraper, it almost looks as though they'll both be buried alive. Scotch steps up behind Cat and Delilah, a whispered prayer hushed in the back of his throat as he watches Marilena struggle and stagger to drag them both out of the encroaching building's shadow.

…they are the ones that truly matter.

One final push of super-speed sends Marilena blasting across the pavement towards where the others have retreated to safety, and she stumbles and falters mid-step, tumbling and cartwheeling on the ground, bouncing on the asphalt as Carolina's limp form falls free of her arms. The two lay side by side, blood pooling beneath them, and the skyscraper's collapse falls far enough away that only the massive cloud of dust that follows consumes them.

They say blood is thicker than water…

When the dust clears, when screams of panic and fear turn to horror and denial, Marilena and Carolina lay still in the street. The taller's white track suit has turned a blood red, her eyes stare wide and open at the starless sky sending icy rain down to wash the blood away. The ground runs red with it around them. The only difference is, Carolina still barely draws breath.

The proof of loyalty isn't in the blood…

The other no longer does.

It's in the spirit.

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